Nano-Sized Radio –No Not The iPod Nano!– Plays Derek And The Domino’s “Layla”

Nano Radio - First Real Breakthrough In Radio Millimeter Sized Wireless Receivers

Nano Radio - First Real Breakthrough In Radio Millimeter Sized Wireless Receivers

Chris Jablonski ZDnet column talks about a breakthrough in radio where a receiver was built  out of a single carbon nanotube. Apparently the radio detects and plays songs and it has been noted by Scientific American as one of the first truly functional nanoscale devices. The magazine believes the radio, which is only 200 nanometers long, will have a “measurable effect on the larger macroscale world.”

You can listen to the playback by clicking here.

You can read the entire article on the Scientific American Website by clicking here.

Android – Much More Than A Mobile Phone OS

In having to do some research of late on Mobile devices for a project at work my attention focused on Android. Whenever I undertake this kind of work and start seeking opinions I usually get it form people who have formed opinions based either from a consumer perspective or an experimental perspective.

Apple’s iPhone

Apple iPhone

Apple iPhone

For those who fall into the consumer camp they usually know their technology based on what they’ve been sold. When I started taking a close look at this just over a month ago I have to admit that I fell on the consumer side of the fence. Based on what I heard I concluded that the Apple iPhone was probably as good a platform to jump in and do development with. After all it had the numbers in terms of sales, I’d seen it adverted a lot on TV and everyone on the Inernet mentioned how cool it was. The only person who I heard say anything negative about the iPhone was Steve Balmer who pointed out that it was awfly expensive given that it didn’t have a keyboard.

The other system I heard about was Android. To be honest I didn’t know much about it. I knew it had something to do with Google, I knew it has something to do with a Google telephone and I knew it was Open Source. Open Source usually means that the system has a much bigger developer base and its proponents would probably look at the phone from an experimental perspective.

Over the past few days I’ve had a chance to to sit down and take a close look at Android. A lot of news surfaced on Android given the GSMA Mobile World Congress that occurred in Barcelona, Spain so here is a compendium of a few things I discovered.

Android Background

One thing I’ve discovered is that I really like this platform for development. Android was developed by Google and has yet to own even a small part of the smartphone market because of its newness. Android is an Open Source, Linux-derived platform with major hardware and software developers that are part of the Open Handset Alliance. This OS already has a cult following among programmers eager to develop apps because of  its flexible, Open Source, back end primary because Android promises to give developers access to every aspect of the phone’s operation.

G1 Android Smartphone

G1 Android Smartphone

When I did my initial research looking into Android I did not realize how new it was. As such when I first started looking at handsets for it, I didn’t realize that there was only one offical Phone (Android Dev Phone 1 or G1) which is a T-mobile G1. A G1 phone is unique because its equipped with Android Firmware.

Some developers had tried placing Android on other devices, such as the Nokia 810, only to discover that it wouldn’t talk to the units Bluetooth or GPS technology. Again this was because the Nokia 810 does not contain the correct firmware.

Most of the Internet chatter indicated that real Android devices would hit the market in the summer. This was because Google had announced new firmware for Android telephones called “cupcake”. What’s significant about the Mobile World Congress is that “cupcake” was released and the first G2 mobile phones were unveiled. Being a G2 device they contain the Android mobile phone firmware upgrade.

So what do these new G2 phones look like? Below is a video of one shot at this weeks Mobile World Congress.

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More To Android

However the big surprise of Android is that it appears to be evolving towards something way more than a smart telephony device. That’s because of its Open Source nature which is key to people with an experimental inclination to do much more with the device.

1080P Playback with NVIDIA Hardware

The video below was also shot at the Mobile World Congress. This is something that I didn’t expect to see related to Android. Below is Android running on a Tegra equipped handheld device. The significance of the NVIDIA technology is that it’s cheap for the manufacturer and the  video operates smoothly at High Definition resolution.

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NVIDIATegra Takes The Video Output Of A Mobile Device To A Whole New Level – 1080P!

This next video has two different parts. The first part is a mobile interface embedded in a laptop computer where the laptop’s display is what one would see on the mobile device. The second part shows the Tegra’s output from a handheld device on a large 1080p display including its ability to render 3D. This is a bit of a showstopper….

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Texas Instruments’ Android Zoom OMAP34x-II Mobile Development Platform

Below are a couple more Android Devices based on a rival to NVIDIA’s Tegra technology. These devices employ Texas Instruments OMAP34x-II Mobile Development Platform.

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Experimental Nature Of Android – A Wireless Blimp Demonstration

I believe the two videos below will show the experimental nature of Android and why I like it. The video’s are a demonstration of a wireless blimp controlled by an Android hand set…… and one of them is a wireless Camera blimp….

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Freescale to use Android, ARM for $100 Netbook

And finally if the Camera Blimp is not enough to convince you, how about the planned Freescale $200 netbook? It plans to use Android as well….. Enough said about what one can do with an Android equipped device. Android is a perfect development platform for a University environment.

….brad….

Bit Bucket Hits #10 In WordPress Fastest Growing English Daily Blog

number10There have been some banner days relating to this blog and today was one of them. I got a message from WordPress that on this date this blog hit number 10 on its fastest growing Blog category for English and number 19 when compared against all its language blogs. That’s pretty cool considering there are over 200,000 blogs on the WordPress site.

Thanks everyone and I appreciate everyone checking the blog out every now and then.

….brad….

Rogers Cable, Shaw Cable, Bell TV (formerly Bell ExpressVu) and Star Choice – Beware of the Killer Internet

Is Future More Local? More Free?

Is Future More Local? More Free?

Whenever I start to think about the future of media technology, production and distribution I tend to look for analogies that can be mapped onto emerging and future scenarios. Amongst the mess created from the two satellites that collided over Siberia and the internet talk relating to space junk, a post titled “Satellite Diss” by By Farhad Manjoo on slate.com almost got lost in the debris. However after reviewing it this morning it provides an analogous base that supports my own personal viewpoint on the future of media and its distribution.

“Satellite Diss” is an article on Sirius XM Satellite radio and its current business problems. After reading it I can’t help but think it provides some fodder that can be mapped to other distribution media. It’s also something that we as consumers and the Canadian Cable and Satellite TV providers need to consider as it appears that consumers are speaking about what they are willing to pay for in a changing world related to new and networked based media devices.

According to the “Satellite Diss” Sirius XM has some business challenges. The company is unable to meet a $175 million debt payment due at the end of the month, the company has more than $3 billion of debt and it has hired bankruptcy advisers at the same time its been talking to satellite TV companies about a possible takeover.

The report goes on to note that “Like print newspapers, travel agencies, and record shops, Sirius XM offers what seems like a pretty great service—the world’s best radio programming for just a small monthly fee—that has, in practice, been eclipsed by something far cheaper and more convenient: the Internet.”

Napster, Internet and iPods Have Changed Everything

Napster, Internet and iPods Have Changed Everything

Farhad Manjoo’s article goes on to point out that with the advent of Napster people got used to getting every song on demand. While Sirius and XM offer a multitude of specialty music stations, much of their business model was also tied to  exclusive acts such as Howard Stern. Personalities were used to convince customers to pay $10 or more a month for their radio service. However when Apple released their iPod MP3 player, and MP3 playes became mainstream, they proved to be the killer app that worked against Sirius XM. Even though the iPod itself couldn’t receive any radio signals, it could connect to a home computer and access a wealth of free radio content from the Internet. With the combination of Napster and Apple’s iStore, Consumers got used to downloading their content and the Dye was cast against subscription radio services.

I have to say that I have to agree with Mr. Manjoo’s assessment. In my case I just purchased a Hyundai Sonata. It came a three month free subscription to Sirius XM and an auxiliary input port to the cars radio system. The auxiliary input is built with an iPod interface as well as a stereo mini connector that will accept any other MP3 player’s output. When my wife and I saw that the subscription rate was $14.99 per month for the XM service we immediately saw much more value with the MP3 player interconnect. We can purchase an awful lot of MP3 players vs the $180.00 a year XM subscription cost.

The Power Of Radio Is Local

The Power Of Radio Is Local

But its not really the money. Like a lot of people I feel the real value in radio is with local news and information. In Canada free over the air Radio has made a real financial comeback based primarily on a local, local, local –almost narrowcast– mantra. And for me, while driving and listening to radio I tend to stick with information based Radio stations longer than music based stations.

“Satellite Diss” goes on to point out that the Internet doesn’t have to be the death of Sirius XM. It assumes that the company can get its debt in order and that if it does, the company might actually discover that the Internet can be its savior. Given that Howard Stern’s radio show is one of the most pirated programs on the internet, Manjoo’s advice is for Sirius XM to figure out a way to get it to the largest possible audience at very low prices. He asks the company to forget about their specialized hardware and move to making the service available  to every Internet-connected device on the market. Given the companies current situation this seems like sound advice.

In my Rogers Cable – Beware of the Killer Rabbit (Ears) For Free Over-the-air Digital HDTV post to this blog I pointed out one aspect about the free over-the-air experience. Jeffrey Breen’s positive experience reinstalling an over-the-air TV antenna system in his mothers home surprised him. Once it was completed and he saw the results, he started to question the value of a basic cable subscription. This is similar to XM’s subscription based model, its competition with free over-the-air local radio and free downloadable Internet content. In the case of the “Satellite Diss” post, not only does it question the viability of a subscription based business model but it questions the long term viability of “exclusive content” through closed channels being the savior of big media.

Internet Connected Home Media Centres

Internet Connected Home Media Centre

I contend that given the pervasiveness of home based IT networking, it wont be long before we see the Media Center equivalent of the iPod delivering Internet sourced visual media on a mass scale. In fact it’s my belief that this kind of content will soon hit mainstream, if it hasn’t done so already. After all how long will it be before we see cable and satellite TV subscription packages like newspapers, travel agencies, and record shops are now viewed in the Internet age.

All of this activity plays to my belief that free over-the-air media, coupled with Internet delivery, is the future of media delivery. Hence it’s despicable to me personally that free over-the-air TV gets such a rough treatment in Canada. It comes from everywhere including the companies that own the stations broadcast stations themselves. There is almost no public discussion from them on picking up free Digital HDTV television over the air and they even dance around the issue of updating their analogue transmitters which is the basis of their business model.  In light of an August 2011 shut off date of  analogue TV in Canada, I can only attribute the lack of public debate to the fact that a growing number of Canada’s free TV stations are owned by the same companies that own our countries Satellite and Cable TV distribution companies. Given that those BDU’s business model is based on charging for TV delivery one has to wonder how committed they are to the concept of free over-the-air TV. I’ve yet to see any champion among them.

To conclude I invite you read an article by Michael McEwen. It’s in February’s Broadcast Dialogue and its titled In Search of the Holy Grail. In it McEwen talks of the sad state of of Canada’s conversion to free over-the-air HDTV and the lack of its focus on Canadian consumers. While the article speaks of a lack of Government leadership and on some aspects of Canadian Content, I can’t help but think it’s also missing the points I outlined in this post. That being the strength of free over-the-air HDTV coupled with the strength of Internet delivery, over that of subscription services touted by Canadian “big media”, is the cornerstone  for future media delivery.

Whatever you believe I feel McEwan is correct about one thing. The consumer is missing in whatever little debate is going on in Canada on this crucial subject. Given that the future of our television system appears to be driven by the Marketplace –a big point in McEwan’s article– I guess in the end we’ll have to vote with our wallets… And we’ll probably have to vote against this through the various BDU’s by simply saying no to their subscription plans. Isn’t that a great way to define Canadian social policy…..

….brad….

Rogers Cable – Beware of the Killer Rabbit (Ears) For Free Over-the-air Digital HDTV

Jeffrey Breen Yankee Group

Jeffrey Breen Yankee Group

Jeffrey Breen who oversees the development and operation of the Yankee Group’s client–facing systems and its internal infrastructure and support systems makes a couple of interesting observations about over-the-air ATSC television in a blog post titled Cable and Satellite Providers: Beware the Killer Rabbit (Ears) .

He talks of how he was pleasantly surprised when he hooked up a Zenith DTT901 digital converter box to his mothers older NTSC LCD TV set. It was not only the quality of the reception from the Boston area TV stations that caught his attention but the additional sub channels that the broadcasters  are able to broadcast using their single ATSC channel frequency.

Free Over The Air TV Is Worth Considering

He noted that the $50 to $70 set-top box provided digital-perfect reception of Boston’s network affiliates and more with several additional sub-channels to boot. The box provided automatic scaling, zooming, and cropping of HD and SD programming and it even included an on-screen program guide.

One thing Breen noted was “With DTV so easily available, of such high quality, and with such advanced features — for free — why would anyone in the city or suburbs ever pay a $9 or $10 monthly fee for a barebones “local TV” package again?”

Time To Reconsider Free TV

Time To Dust Off Those Old Misconceptions Around Free TV

Great question Jeff. I wish we had basic cable packages in Toronto at that price. I just checked Rogers Cable TV pricing in Toronto –note Rogers has the cable monopoly for the City–and it’s advertising its cable TV rates as low as: $32.97 /mo. That’s quite the difference. Jeff would also be interested to know that I just got a letter from Rogers noting that there will be (yet) another rate increase in the next few months. My initial calculation is that my cable will rise at least $3 per month from $61 to $64.  Yikes….

The solution that Jeffery Breen writes about is certainly worth considering. Especialy here in the Toronto area where we have the benefit of both the Canadian and American free over-the-air broadcasters. For Canadians interested in making the switch (or switching back) a good place to start is the Canadian Over-the-Air (OTA) Television Forums.

….brad….

Introducing Raven The Very First Web-Based Vector Editor

Raven is the very first web-based vector editor that mimics Illustrator. Raven doesn’t match its counterpart feature-by-feature but its results are pretty impressive.

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Video of the G1’s new virtual keyboard in action

We all know that Apple has over saturated the airwaves with advertising about its iPhone. However in case you’ve never seen it, Android is the Open Source equivalent and because of its Open Source nature it can be just as powerful appealing as an iPhone. It appears the community is waiting for an Android “Cupcake” update (which is actually a G1 phone firmware update) so that Androids development can progress further. While we reflect on all of this here is a video that show the interface to an Android phone.

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