Interesting, this thing apparently already exists (manufactured by Polymer Vision, a spin-off from Phillips) and could hit the stores in mid-2008. Folding, e-paper displays have been in laboratories for some time, but it would be nice to see some real consumer product like this mobile phone arriving into the street. More: http://www.reuters.com/article/technologyNews/idUSL2063412420080121?sp=true
This is currently only the pilot call, and unfortunately some of the courses will only be offered in Finnish, but a significant development in any case: Hypermedia Laboratory is now joining forces with the Information Studies to offer a two-year MA track within Information Studies, with focus in Hypermedia (new media, digital culture and game studies emphasis). The special call closes already in March 3rd 2008; see: http://www.uta.fi/hyper/opetus/syventavat.php.
Today the Bluetooth adapter I have been waiting for finally arrived in mail. The model (Sony TRM-BT8iP Stereo Transmitter) appears not to be available outside the US yet, so I had to use eBay (which led into extra costs and extra hassle; some US dealers appear to have blacklisted European customers using PayPal with their credit cards). But now that I can finally experiment with the Sony DR-BT50 headphones Bluetooth link with my old iPod, all seems very promising. My old experiences with wireless headphones were from the infrared period, filled with hiss and breaking connections. But these things seem to be from totally different era. The DR-BT50 could have a bit more room for ears, so the size is an obvious compromise in travel headphones. But the isolation is good, the silent parts sound beautifully clean and all tones from low bass to high tones have also that clear and powerful quality you’d expect from hi-fi headphones (true hardcore audiophiles will probably disagree, of course — but these are for MP3 listening, to start with). The actual range of Bluetooth stereo is according to my experiments around 4-5 meters (12-15 feet), and the music will break if you go beneath thick walls or to another floor in the house. But in the pocket, in a bag, or in the table — no problem: complete freedom of movement, liberated from the wires. The downside of this system as compared to traditional wired headphones is that you need to charge them after travel or other use, but then again, you’d probably also charge your iPod in any case. Great! Now, if I’d only have a mobile phone that would connect with DR-BT50; so far no success with my Nokia E70. That phone is still Bluetooth 1.2 technology, and thus might never really work with a wireless stereo hands-free set.
As you can see from the photo, LanTrek 2008 is a lan party with loads of computers and young people in a large, darkened room: something that kids at least here in Finland regularly enjoy in great numbers. I gave there an hour-long talk about the digital culture for a smaller audience.
Today Communicatio Academica, the joint seminar of Finnish professors and researchers, takes place in University of Tampere. The main topic of discussion is the integration, unification or collaboration of Finnish universities. Deep-going, structural issues that touch the future of learning, science and scholarship in our country. Program (in Finnish, PDF): [link].
This is also fun: Steve Jobs presented his views to John Markoff, a journalist and blogger working for New York Times, including sweeping statements like “people do not read any more”; check it out: http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/01/15/the-passion-of-steve-jobs/.
Blogosphere is of course all afire at the moment about the announcements from this spring’s Macworld: the Time Capsule backup server, updated Apple TV, iTunes movie rentals announcement, and the sleek MacBook Air. (http://www.macworld.com/) Regarding the latest one, I must add I love the design, but the sharp and fragile-looking corners would not probably be the optimum characteristics to expect from your robust, everyday working partner. And most of the software we use for scientific analysis and media work come only for MS Windows operating system, so there we are. Thinking about that personal, miniature device to carry with you always, I am actually more interested in the direction that other devices, most particularly Nokia N810 Internet Tablet and Asus eee, that cheap micro-laptop, are taking. Links: http://www.nokia.co.uk/link?cid=PLAIN_TEXT_607323 & http://event.asus.com/eeepc/microsites/en/index.htm
One of the essential utilities in the media ecology of our home is the PRV — personal video recorder with search functions and a hard disk. We have the Topfield TF5100PVR, suitable for the DVB-T standard we use here in Finland. Since ‘Toppy’ has a hard disk, but no CD/DVD burner, the media archiving has its challenges, though. I think I have now finally figured a process to transfer Topfield recordings into DivX files for archiving and sharing:
- use Altair or similar program to transfer the .REC files from Topfield into a personal computer (a short, high quality USB cable is a must for this)
- use ProjectX to demux the .REC stream into audio and video components. At this point it is also best to use ProjectX to edit the recording, trim it of extra materials etc. (More instructions in Finnish: http://fi.wikibooks.org/wiki/Topfield_TF5X00/Tallennusten_hallinta — project home page: http://sourceforge.net/projects/project-x)
- Now you have .M2V video and .MP2 audio files of the recording, and these need to be combined into MPEG-2 before it can be compressed further. I tried several solutions, but the only that worked was DVDAuthorGUI program, which takes m2v and mp2 as sources for a DVD project; after saved to a disk, go to VIDEO_TS subfolder, and identify a .VOB file that contains the sound and video of your recording. (It might be necessary to use VLC media player to see the file contents http://www.videolan.org/vlc/.) DVDAuthorGUI is here: http://download.videohelp.com/liquid217/dvdauthorgui.p and good (albeit Finnish) instructions here: http://fin.afterdawn.com/artikkelit/arkisto/dvd_authorointi_page_3.cfm — I tried also to use Nero for making .vob files, but could not get the audio in and synced.
- After this, it is only one stop away from DivX, for which you need a tool like Dr. DivX: http://labs.divx.com/DrDivXDownload — the point of DivX encoding is that it provides a rather high-quality compression of video recording, and there are many DVD players that support playing DivX files (you should check the supported codec versions though, and update your player firmware when necessary). You only need the .vob file as the source file for Dr. DivX, and can discard all other files from the DVDAuthorGUI folders.
- The output from Dr. DivX should now be the .divx file that you can use. Enjoy! (Thanks for guys at DVDPlaza.fi and AfterDawn.com for tips!)
It is always fun to read how people try to guess the future; here we have what the researchers at the IBM labs think the next five years will hold for you: http://www-03.ibm.com/press/us/en/pressrelease/22683.wss (Smart energy controls, smart cars, smart consumer products everywhere…)
Offering some glimpses behind the curtains, Wired runs a story of iPhone: http://www.wired.com/gadgets/wireless/magazine/16-02/ff_iphone