Technology

Technology surrounds us

Picasa 3.5 – now with facial recognition

Just read that Googles awsome photo-mamanger Picasa is beeing updated to version 3.5 and of the new features one do stand out – Facial recognition!

With the use of this feature you can have Picasa automaticly go through your photos and find images of you and your friends. This have been one of the great features that I’ve been waiting for in Picasa to make it a good contender for the photo management tools out there.

Looking forwad of giving the new Picasa out for a spin! As usual you can get it at http://picasa.google.com

HTC Hero vs. iPhone, a beginning

SO I AM ONE of the lucky few who got my hands on both an iPhone and a HTC Hero. This makes it possible to actually compare the two phones on a day to day basis to see which one of them makes the best handheld.

TO START OFF by some numbers and comparisons the iPhone is the expensive one of the two. The HTC is running Android and the iPhone is running the iPhone OS. They have about the same screen, the same size and the same battery-times. But I have to say that the battery in the HTC actually delivers a bit more punch then the one in the iPhone. Battery between the two is quite hard to compare though because I use different things on the two phones. For example I run my Facebook-app on the iPhone which makes me use that phone more then the HTC (yeah I know, I should be ashamed).

SO WHAT ARE the pros and cons after just a weekend with the HTC and about a month with the iPhone? Well first I have to say that the camera on the HTC feels quite a bit better then the iPhone equivalent.

iPhone
+ Design
+ AppStore
+ Simplicity
– Battery-time

HTC Hero
+ Personalization, you can change about everything
+ Camera
– Trackball, no use really with a touchscreen this good
– Android store, hard to find what you’re looking for but good when you find it

I WILL DO MY BEST to revisit this comparison when I’ve been using both phones for a bit longer. Most likely will there be more features or lack thereof I will find until then. But as for now, I have to say that the iPhone still is the champion of smartphones out there, even though it is one of the most expensive ones.

‘Audiobooks’ for the iPhone

QUITE OFTEN I FIND MYSELF in situations where I have to wait for someone or something for a few minutes or even up to hours. For a long time I have been a great fan of audiobooks to fill this spot in my life with both education and fiction. What made me a bit upset though was that the aggressive pricing on audiobooks, sometimes even higher then the printed edition. This have defenetly stoped me from buying alot of books which I wanted to own as digital editions. If pricing would be lower, I would buy more. As simple as that.

SO WHAT TO DO before the market is on the same track as me and set the prices on new books in a way where I feel that I want to contribute? Free stuff!

Librivox is a project where books which are no longer under copyright is digitalized into audiobooks by people for free. Just about anyone can pick up a book, read it in front of a mic and get it into the archive. Of course, this can not be done with new books which are still under copyright but there is so many classical writings which are not so it can actually be an alternative for quite some time.

WHEN I BOUGHT MY iPHONE I was really looking forwad to find a service where I could get audiobooks with a subscription-plan or perhaps with a solution using ads just as Spotify did with music. What I found was a small application called ‘Audiobooks’ by Travelling Classics. This was an interface to Librivox-readings which could be streamed to the iPhone and I was thrilled. If streaming is not you cup of tea there is also a version of the same app where you download the files and can listen to them offline. For all travellers and jetsetters this is a great opportunity to not having to stream data while abroad which can be costly.

THE INTERFACE of the app is not really good looking, it is instead nearly as simple as an interface can be just before it seem to lack something. But as the reason of the app is to listen to audiobooks, not to sit and watch the UI the problem disapear almost instantly.

AS AN EVEN GREATER BONUS on top of all this, the app is free.

Pigeon is faster than broadband

Do you ever feel that pages load too slowly in your browser or those files take forever to get downloaded?

An IT company in South Africa got fed up on the slow rates of transfer using a ADSL-connection and in frustration a member of the staff allegedly said that the data would get faster delivery even if using a pigeon. Said and done, the event was created as an idea that was about to be put into reality.

“We renown ourselves on being innovative, so we decided to test that statement,” Unlimited’s Kevin Rolfe told the Beeld newspaper.

A pigeon named Winston was carrying a 4GB memory stick while completing a one hour flight, and unloading the data from the stick into the recieving system was another hour. All in all the transaction to the receiving system was two hours. At the same time as Winston got air beneath his wings a transfer was initiated over the companys ADSL for the same amount of data. When the two hours have passed and Winstons data was secure in place out of the memory-stick, the ADSL had transfered amazingly 4% of the data.

The entire event was broadcasted and hundred of people is said to have followed the race between nature and technology and I myself must admit that I would have followed it as well if I just had found out about it earlier.

So what did the telecom-company have to say about the great spectacle showing off their bad networks? Of course they are not to blame about the country’s infrastructure and also they claim to have asked the company with the pigeon to perform changes. But one might think that they would take the opportunity to actually show off some goals of how the situation is to get better instead of starting a blame-game. For me as a remote reader in another part of the world it just seem like they tried to get away.

The story is never the less great news in many places and it again shows that our networks is not build for big transfers. It was created to fetch information and exchange information, not delivering truck-loads of pure data. So for the next time you’re about to send those dvds containing pictures from your last trip to friends and family, check what it cost to send them in a box – not a package.

The full story at BBC
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/8248056.stm

Why Xbox Project Natal is NOT a game-changer

If you like me have read the articles and blogs about the E3-convention you have most likely heard of the Xbox Project Natal which will “change the way games are played”. In short there have been a piece of hardware developed which can look at the player and let the movement to be used as a controller in games. If you have seen those tv-shows where people run around in front of a green-screen looking at a monitor bolted on the side – this is more or less it.

The reactions from people seem to be pure amazement on how the intuity and uniqueness flashed around Microsoft in this solution. There have been thoughts on that this will kill of the Wii and that all gamers will start standing in front of their screens throwing stuff at other people on the screen which are throwing stuff at you. People who like to do these things are the “Nintendo-generation” which bought the Wii and will also buy the Wii 2. I don’t think that these people own an Xbox and probably wont do so either.

I must say that this is an idea which have been tested before with very poor results. All the movies shown this far have been with a poor response for the avatars on screen where delays of a second or two have been seen. At the same time there is nothing in these movies on the resolution for the “people scanner” which reads what the player actually do. For this to work they have to create something which in fact can compete with the Wii in response and simplicity. I don’t think this is it to be honest. Time may show me to be wrong in this but my gut-feeling is that this is another one of Microsofts attempts to do something good out of something great. Together with Bing the Natal will slowly fade away like a MMO with elfs and in a couple of years, be discontinued.

These are not the next big things in my book.

Apps in my iPhone

So, two weeks have now passed and I thought I could give a small headsup on what applications I have found and loaded into my phone. Just like most new iPhone users (I think?) I went out looking for some great applications the moment I got my connection. Some of them have already been deleted and others remain. Without any further ado, here is what apps I currently run in my iPhone.

Do you have any better alternatives for me or have you also tried any of the applications listed?

  1. Facebook [iTunes]
    Wheather you are someone just intrested in what your friends is up to or if you try to keep your status updated. This is the app for you.
  2. TwitterFon [iTunes]
    Best app I’ve found up to date for following and updating Twitter. Feel free to check out my personal Twitter stream.
  3. Evernote [iTunes]
    Keep notes, photos and lists all in one place which is indexed and made available in your phone, on your desktop computer or in a webui. Also index images to make them searchable. This is one of those applications you after start using can’t see yourself without.
  4. iTranslate [iTunes]
    Using Google Translate to simply translate text.
  5. Bloomberg [iTunes]
    Financial news and updated stocks, commodities etc.
  6. RunKeeper Free [iTunes]
    A tool with which you can measure paths you walk, run, bike or hike. Afterward you have access to where you went on a map together with speed etc.
  7. Photogene [iTunes]
    Simplistic photoediting directly in the phone like crop, levels and a few effects.
  8. Hemnet [iTunes]
    An application listing apartments, houses and lots out for sale in Sweden.
  9. Shazam [iTunes]
    Ever heard a song in a movie or in a youtube-video which you want to buy? Shazam can record a small portion of the song, analyze it and tell you the title and artist together with links to buy the song etc.
  10. Eniro [iTunes]
    Find people or places in Sweden.
  11. Google Earth [iTunes]
    Maps all over the world. Together with the GPS from the iPhone this can be used as a guide.
  12. WordPress [iTunes]
    I use WordPress on all blogs I currently manage and therefore this app let me blog directly from my phone and also manage settings and comments.
  13. Wikipedia Mobile [iTunes]
    Official Wikipedia-app, search for anything – anywehere.
  14. TV Guide Swe [iTunes]
    Swedish tv-guide.
  15. Big Stop Watch [iTunes]
    This is a better looking stopwatch for my workout-sessions.
  16. Prisjakt [iTunes]
    Find the best online-price for a product in Sweden.
  17. Button [iTunes]
    A game where you need to press a button. Nothing more. Highly addictive. (Why don’t you join my group: Sweden)