Off the Top: Wireless Entries
Many of you know I have a relationship of hate with my Palm Treo as it (well it has been four of them) a really poor phone and device.
I have been trying for some time to weigh my options for a new phone. I really have wanted a phone that works globally. I needs to be a great phone. I needs to have e-mail and web capability. It must sync with my Mac and be capable of handling my full address book (1300 entries - stop your nattering) and my calendar. It must be a stable phone (not crash multiple times each day) and be responsive. It needs to have a camera of decent quality of 2 megapixels or greater.
The Should Haves
I really want an unlocked phone. This has a few advantages that include being able to change carriers if one is not meeting my needs, drop in a SIM when I travel to get lower telecom rates, and the phone is not crippled. I not only have a crippled Treo (thanks to Sprint) that keeps me from transferring files to and from it via bluetooth, but my old Nokia 3650 was crippled by the old AT&T from similar file transfers and using it as a dial-up modem. My old Nokia was moved to T-Mobile and the transfer did not fix the phone being crippled. I would really like the phone to have 3G data capability, partly for Skype and part for downloading documents. I would like the phone to have quad band, which means it will work in most countries around the globe with out changing phones.
I really would like to have WiFi capability built into the phone. It should have the ability to add Skype. I should have the ability to add applications to the phone. It should have the capability of acting as a dial-up modem via bluetooth for my laptop or one of my other devices. It should be easy to use. It should be very responsive - I touch it and it immediately does what I ask and not sit for 3 to 10 seconds before responding. It should have GPS or the capability to use external bluetooth enabled GPS devices to use with phone based applications. It should have a full QWERTY keyboard (2 character toggles could work too). I also like the Treo screen size, which works well for web browsing and reading documents. I would also like a touch interface on the screen (it is an ease of use thing I have grown accustom to with my 8 years or more on Palm devices).
The Should Not Haves
It should not be locked to one carrier (this is not a deal breaker, but for the international travel it is important). It should not be more than $600 (USD), which is about the going rate for unlocked smartphones. It should not be huge (to quantify the Treo is bulky, so it should not be thicker or wider and/or longer than the Treo). It should not crash multiple times each day. It should not require wires to transfer data between my main computer (laptop) and the phone, as well it should not route this trough the internet.
Things That Do Not Matter
I really do not care if my smartphone can play music or play videos. Having this capability would be nice, but the occasions when I want this functionality I have my iPod with in easy reach and it serves me well.
Yes, I have been looking at the Apple iPhone. I have been looking at the Nokia E61i for quite some time. I have been looking at the Blackberry devices. Lastly, I have been looking at various Sony Ericsson devices.
This is an utterly amazing phone. I have spent a lot of time in Apple retail stores testing every inch of the iPhone. It is the most stunningly easy to use and responsive phones I have ever run across. It meets all of my must have requirements and does not match any must not have requirements. The lack of not being able to add applications (particularly GPS and Skype) means I need an data connection to get applications and functionality. This is really not good as international data rates are horrible and WiFi is not always within reach in many countries, so this is a huge problem (cheaper or unlimited international data would solve this issue, but it is not an option as of today). The lack of 3G and true GPS is also less than optimal for me. The ease of switching from mobile carrier to WiFi is fantastic and the preference for WiFi use is a great plus.
Then there is the AT&T issue, which is a provider of last resort for me. The downsides of the iPhone are not huge and can be worked through, many likely getting resolved with software updates over time (3G requires different hardware and is the only non-upgradable detractor), but AT&T/Cingular has notorious high rates for data and horrible customer service. The rates I figure could get resolved, but getting AT&T to let existing customer change with out charges or other painful experiences (read hours on the phone arguing and debating). When I compare AT&T to T-Mobile there is comparison for customer service, T-Mobile is utterly fantastic, has a great site that lets you add and remove features with out penalty and their customer service is kind and will often bend over backward to do what ever it takes to keep you (their customer) happy.
Then we have the AT&T censorship and customer monitoring issues, which are not new. In recent news AT&T admits it has censored many bands (after getting caught censoring Pearl Jam) and the censoring is nearly always political in nature. AT&T has also been overly willing to offer up customer data to the government. With all of the name changes AT&T has gone through it seems that it has also confused its own country of the USA for the USSR.
The iPhone being tied to AT&T makes it really a difficult choice for me. Moving to AT&T will be done as a last resort.
I had a lot of interest in the Nokia E61, which did not have a camera and a camera is a must for me. The Nokia has all of the must haves and none of the must not haves. It is nearly perfect in every way, but does not have a touch interface on the screen. It also can be a little quirky in Nokia kinds or ways, which means interactions are not always as easy or seamless as the could be. I have read bits with getting the E61i to work with WiFi properly problems. The E61i is not as beautiful as the iPhone, but it does cover many of the bases that I need it to, including SIM card swapping and being fully unlocked (or the ability to buy it that way). One slight downside has been finding a place to find the Nokia line up in the US to try and buy. I have resorted to trying international friends phones and looking at Mobile Planet to purchase (Dell is now selling the E61i, but it takes 2 to 3 weeks to ship).
I continually have looked at the Blackberry as an option. The bulk of most of the devices (other than the Pearl) has been a turn off, as the device will likely live in my pocket. While I like the functionality of the Pearl (it has a camera and meets the must haves) and I really like the size compared to other Blackberries, the lack of a full keyboard and the smaller screen are drawbacks.
The Sony Ericsson phones have a similar problem to Nokia phone, in that they are rather difficult to find in the US unless you go to Mobile Planet. I have mostly resorted to trying international friend's phones. The lack of a full QWERTY keyboard has been a downside and some of the models have seemed a little bulky. The P1i, which is new to the market has been really interesting and could fit the bill, but I have not seen one. The P1i does not have a full QWERTY keyboard, but has a similar keyboard to the Blackberry Pearl, and it has a touch screen. It is missing WiFi too, which is not a killer. The biggest downside is it is over $600 price limit (making it more expensive than the iPhone).
After much debating options I am going to try the E61i as I can return it in 15 days if it does not work well for me. The little quirks and WiFi access will be the biggest potential frustrations. How much it frustrates me will be the key. It seems like it will be a large improvement over the Treo, which would be difficult to not beat. The ability to try the phone is really important for me. One thing I need to sort out is how to move my number from Sprint to the T-Mobile account easily (I will like move my T-Mobile number to Sprint or Verizon for a second phone option - as I have come to learn there are CDMA and GSM cities in the US and having at least a cheap phone on each is a good plan).
Should my trial with the Nokia E61i prove too frustrating the international carriers for the iPhone will likely be selected in the next couple weeks and I will see if that changes options for the iPhone being completely locked. The next question will be iPhone or the Sony Ericsson P1i, which will depend on the pain of AT&T.
I am off again, but this time I have clothes out of the cleaners and laundry done. The turn around from last trip to this trip was only a couple days. I am looking forward to being home for a bit, after this trip. I have about 18 hours of travel before I get where I am going.
I am quite looking forward to being with many people that are passionate about microcontent and microlearning. A conversation in early 2001 got me completely hooked on microcontent and its possibilities. We are finally beginning to see tangents of the microcontent world slip into use in the world of the general public. APIs, aggregation, tracking, metadata access, pushing to mobile, etc. are all components, when they work right. We are only a slice of the way there, but each little step gets better and better.
Things have been busy of late after a return from Vancouver, British Columbia from the IA Summit. It took a week to get through taxes stuff for a four month old company (as of January 1) and a large stack of e-mail (in which responding meant more e-mail).
Yesterday morning I had the pleasurable fortune to have breakfast with John Tackara of Doors of Perception fame. I really need to put two things out there that popped up in conversation that I need to think about more deeply.
Children today are not into the web tied to computers, but focus on their friends through the mobile voice and text messaging. I have been running into this comment quite a bit from Europeans, but increasingly from parents of teen and pre-teens in America. Having a computer is not a large interest for them, but they live in their mobiles as a means to connect, filter, share, convene, and stay tethered to those that matter to them, their friends. The quick 10 to 20 year scenario for this could mean the web is dead and is a technology that had an immense impact, but was a technology that was relatively short lived. Are our communication technologies trending through ever shorter life spans? This could bolster my thinking that the web is increasingly a temporary terminus for information to be shared and picked up and used in context in other media that is better situated within people's lives.
This leads us to context. I keep looking at much of the information that is on the web as being out of the proper use context for most people. We read information on the web, but the web is not the context in which we will make use of this information we find. The web as it has been traditionally built is marginally better than television, in that an address for a car lot flashed on the television screen is as usable as it is plastered on a web page. The address does us more good in our pocket, in driving (or mass transit) routes, in our mobile that is in our pocket, etc. than it does on the web page, but few web pages today get that clue.
I have also been thinking about tagging and particularly tagging in the folksonomy subset as the tags providing mental context to external information. We use the tags to pull back these bits of information or to aggregate this information when we pull on the digital threads that draw what is at the ends of these tag tethers closer to ourselves. A chunk of information or media out on the web is lacking context to our lives with out these tags. When we have needs, most always framed in the context of a need related to a subject we use tags related to that subject to draw back in that which we found or other people with similar vocabularies have found. These tags provide context for the few thousand chunks of information out of the billions that we have explicitly expressed interest in and have placed the context upon based on its relationship between the information or object and ourself.
I am currently sitting in the Portland Airport between flights using the Airport&039;s free WiFi and free power in a free business center. This is such a smart idea. I will try to fly through Portland when heading to the Northwest from this point forward.
I was able to sync mail that I did on the plane. I have refreshed my RSS feeds. Now I just need Gmail to work again (who is this little start-up Gmail that has such poor email service of late)?
I am back home in Bethesda, Maryland from my trip to the San Francisco Bay Area this week, coming only a couple days after getting home from Seattle. Today I was wiped out, some from the travel itself (red-eye overnight flights and getting up at 4 am on the East Coast to catch planes), but mostly from 19 to 20 hour days this week. The brain begins to go a wee bit with this shift.
I met with many wonderful people and had great conversations and business meetings, as I always do in the San Francisco Bay Area. The downside it WiFi networks blocking secure connections. I have had more mail blocked or "reached my quota" notices to fill a year all in one short trip.
Need for Better Mobile/Portable Communication
I also realized we (those of us that are not always stuck at a desk or have friends or collaborators that are not stuck at some desk) need much better communication. We need an address book and multi-medium communication tools that are a hell of a lot better than the poorly thought through mess we currently deal with. I was needing to repoint a group of people from one location to meet-up to another at 4:30 for a 7:00 gathering. People may not be pulling e-mail (which I did not have access to the account I sent the initial e-mail from and that caused 6 of 15 sent to bounce back with spam challenges, which I did not get on my mobile device for some very odd unknown reason).
Solving Communication with People in Digital Context
What is the solution? Again, (again that is for those that heard or read my Design Engaged presentation on Clouds, Space & Black Boxes, that I have yet to write-up, but come to a same conclusion for a very different reason) I know we need a very smart address book. We need an address book that has exhaustive contact information, should the person permit us to have this information, for their communication devices and means of accessing them. The address book should have contact rules based on that person's preferences. Connecting to a calendar for that person could instruct our address book the best means to connect to this person. Another alternative could be a ping service that our address book queries that tells our address book what is the best means of contacting that person.
Smart Address Book Contents
Once we have a smart address book that has all of the rules, or could be easily updated through the same ping service for the address book, we prepare our message and our address book selects the best means of contacting that person. We would have some information going out to e-mail, a blast SMS/text message to mobile devices, voice script that gets dropped directly into voicemail, calendar updates, etc. Not only should our networks (WiFi, mobile device, broadband mobile, etc.) not inhibit out transmissions, but our devices should use the best or a combination of messages that work for that person, based on their current context.
The Smart Address Book in Action
Simply it would work like this (any device will do - desktop, laptop, mobile, etc): We create a message we need to send and mark it with the proper urgency and time to live (Tuesday night the message had 2.5 hours for time to live). In our address book we select the people we want to receive the message. Our address book pings that person's communication priority file, which checks who we are requesting the ping, the urgency, and the time to live of the message. The response back to the ping weighs our request and based on the person's preferences and availability (calendar or live settings) and a rating of how good we are in their eyes we are with our requests. The response tells our address book the preferred method(s) of contact for the information. Our address book adds the address/routing for the message in that person's preferred interaction mode and sends the messages. The smart address book and message preparation can be done on a device or on an external service. Either way we should easily have the ability to do it from any device we have at our disposal.
This should some much of the information routing problems we have. If our smart address book could also capture some of the addressee's preferences and rules it would be helpful too, such as they do not answer their home phone, but may answer their mobile phone, but their preferred method of hearing from us is IM or personal e-mail. I have really been noticing in the past couple of years that the world is made up of text people and voice people. It is all about preferences and understanding personal need and personal interaction efficiencies.
Attention to Personal Information Workflow
The rules could also account for often to contact a person when you have not heard from them on a request or deadline. There are cracks in life (some very small and some large) and things fall into these cracks. The smart address book and messaging system could trigger follow-up based on one's own known personal workflow.
I have been following Wade Roush' continuousblog since its inception a few weeks ago. Continuousblog is focussing on the convergence that is finally taking place in the information technology realm. I had a wonderful conversation with Wade last week and have been enjoying watching his 10,000 Brainiacs evolve in 10,000 Brianiacs, Part 1; 10,000 Brainiacs, Part 2; 10,000 Brainiacs, Part 3; and soon to be 10,000 Brianiacs, Part 4.
Wade's concept of "continuous computing" fits quite nicely in line with the Personal InfoCloud as we have access to many different devices throughout our lives (various operating systems, desktops, laptops, PDA, mobile phone, television/dvr, as well as nearly continuous connectivity, etc.). The Personal InfoCloud focusses on designing and developing with the focus on the person and their use of the information as well as the reuse of the information. It is good to see we have one more in the camp that actually sees the future as what is happening to day and sending the wake-up call out that we need to be addressing this now as it is only going become more prevalent.
Standing in Amsterdam in front of the Dam, I was taking in the remnants of a memorial to Theodore van Gogh (including poetry to Theo). While absorbing what was in front of me, I had a couple people ask me what the flowers and sayings were about. I roughly explained the street murder of Theo van Gogh.
While I was at the Design Engaged conference listening to presentations about mobile information and location-based information I thought a lot about the moment at the Dam. I thought about adding information to the Dam in an electronic means. If one were standing at the Dam you could get a history of the Dam placed by the City of Amsterdam or a historical society. You could get a timeline of memorials and major events at the Dam. You could also get every human annotation.
Would we want every annotation? That question kept running reoccurring and still does. How would one dig through all the digital markings? The scent of information could become the "stench of information" very quickly. Would all messages even be friendly, would they contain viruses? Locations would need their own Google search to find the relevant pieces of information. This would all be done on a mobile phone, those lovely creatures with their still developing processors.
As we move to a world where we can access information by location and in some cases access the information by short range radio signals or touching our devices there needs to be an easy to accept these messages. The messaging needs some predictive understanding on our mobiles or some preparsing of content and messaging done remotely (more on remote access farther down).
If was are going to have some patterning tools built in our mobiles what information would they need to base predictions? It seems the pieces that could make it work are based on trust, value, context, where, time, action, and message pattern. Some of this predictive nature will need some processing power on the mobile or a connection to a service that can provide the muscle to predict based on the following metadata assets of the message.
Trust is based on who left the message and whether you know this person or not. If the person is known do you trust them? This could need an ensured name identification, which could be mobile number, their tagging name crossed with some sort of key that proves the identity, or some combination of known and secure metadata items. It would also be good to have a means to identify the contributor as the (or an) official maintainer of the location (a museum curator annotating galleries in a large museum is one instance). Some trusted social tool could do some predicting of the person's worthiness to us also. The social tools would have to be better than most of today's variants of social networking tools as they do not have the capability for us to have a close friend, but not really like or trust their circle(s) of friends. It would be a good first pass to go through our own list of trusted people and accept a message left by any one of these people. Based on our liking or disliking of the message a rating would be associated with this person to be used over time.
Value is a measure of the worthiness of the information, normally based on the source of the message. Should the person who left the message have a high ranking of content value it could be predicted that the message before us is of high value. If these are message that have been reviews of restaurants and we have liked RacerX previous reviews we found in five other cities and they just gave the restaurant we are in front of a solid review that meets our interests. Does RacerX have all the same interests?
Context is a difficult predictive pattern as there are many contextual elements such as mood, weather, what the information relates to (restaurant reviews, movie reviews, tour recommendations, etc.). Can we set our mood and the weather when predicting our interest in a message. Is our mood always the same in certain locations?
Where we are is more important than location. Yes, do we know where we are? Are we lost? Are we comfortable where we are? These are important questions that may help be a predictor that are somewhat based on our location. Or location is the physical space we occupy, but how we feel about that spot or what is around us at that spot may trigger our desire to not accept a location-based message. Some of us feel very comfortable and grounded in any Chinatown anywhere around the globe and we seek them out in any new city. Knowing that we are in or bordering on a red-light district may trigger a predictive nature that would turn off all location-based messages. Again these are all personal to us and our preferences. Do our preferences stay constant over time?
Time has two variables on two planes. The first plane is our own time variables while the other relates to the time of the messages. One variable is the current moment and the other is historical time series. The current moment may be important to us if it is early morning and we enjoy exploring in the early morning and want to receive information that will augment our explorative nature. Current messages may be more important than historical messages to us. The other variable of historical time and how we treat the past. Some of us want all of our information to be of equal value, while others will want the most current decisions to have a stronger weight so that new events can keep information flowing that is most attune to our current interests and desires. We may have received a virus from one of our recent messages and want to change our patterns of acceptance to reflect our new cautionary nature. We may want to limit how far back we want to read messages.
Action is a very important variable to follow when the possibility of malicious code can damage our mobile or the information we have stored in the mobile or associated with that mobile. Is the item we are about to receive trigger some action on our device or is is a static docile message. Do we want to load active messages into a sandbox on our mobile so the could not infect anything else? Or, do we want to accept the active messages if they meet certain other criteria.
Lastly, message pattern involved the actual content of the message and would predict if we would want to read the information if it is identical or similar to other messages, think attention.xml. If the Dam has 350 messages similar to "I am standing at the Dam" I think we may want to limit that to ones that meet some other criteria or to just one, if we had the option. Do we have predictors that are based on the language patterns in messages? Does our circle of trusted message writers always have the same spellings for certain wordz?
All of these variables could lead to a tight predictive pattern that eases the information that we access. The big question is how is all of this built into a predictive system that works for us the moment we get our mobile device and start using the predictive services? Do we have a questionnaire we fill out that creates our initial settings? Will new phones have ranking buttons for messages and calls (nice to rank calls we received so that our mobile would put certain calls directly into voice mail) so it is an easier interface to set our preferences and patterns.
Getting back to remote access to location-based information seems, for me, to provide some excellent benefits. There are two benefits I see related to setting our predictive patterns. The first is remote access to information could be done through a more interactive device than our mobile. Reading and ranking information from a desktop on a network or a laptop on WiFi could allow us to get through more information more quickly. The second benefit is helping us plan and learn from the location-based information prior to our going to that location so we could absorb the surroundings, like a museum or important architecture, with minimal local interaction with the information. Just think if we could have had our predictive service parse through 350 messages that are located at the Dam and we previews the messages remotely and flagged four that could have interest to us while we are standing at the Dam. That could be the sweet smell of information.
Today I finished reading the Malcolm McCullough book, Digital Ground. This was one of the most readable books on interaction design by way of examining the impact of pervasive computing on people and places. McCullough is an architect by training and does an excellent job using the architecture role in design and development of the end product.
The following quote in the preface frames the remainder of the book very well:
My claims about architecture are indirect because the design challenge of pervasive computing is more directly a question of interaction design. This growing field studies how people deal with technology - and how people deal with each other, through technology. As a consequence of pervasive computing, interaction design is poised to become one of the main liberal arts of the twenty-first century. I wrote this book because I ran into many people who believe that. If you share this belief, or if you just wonder what interaction design is in the first place, you may find some substance here in this book.
This book was not only interesting to me it was one of the best interaction books I have read. I personally found it better than the Cooper books, only for the reason McCullough gets into mobile and pervasive computing and how that changes interaction design. Including these current interaction modes the role of interaction design changes quite a bit from preparing an interface that is a transaction done solely on a desktop or laptop, to one that must encompass portability and remote usage and the various social implications. I have a lot of frustration with flash-based sites that are only designed for the desktop and are completely worthless on a handheld, which is often where the information is more helpful to me.
McCullough brings in "place" to help frame the differing uses for information and the interaction design that is needed. McCullough includes home and work as the usual first and second places, as well as the third place, which is the social environment. McCullough then brings in a fourth place, "Travel and Transit", which is where many Americans find themselves for an hour or so each day. How do people interact with news, advertisements, directions, entertainment, etc. in this place? How does interaction design change for this fourth place, as many digital information resources seem to think about this mode when designing their sites or applications.
Not only was the main content of Digital Ground informative and well though out, but the end notes are fantastic. The notes and annotations could be a stand alone work of their own, albeit slightly incongruous.
My new phone has given me a lot of adventures, nearly all of them positive. The Treo 600 has been everything I had hoped and a lot more. I had thought there would be some sacrifice having all that the Treo offers in one device. I have collapsed my cellphone, mobile Internet, and Palm device all in one nice package. The phone is as good as my Motorola 270c ever was and that was my best phone up until the Treo. The mobile Internet is better than the Hiptop, mostly because my Sprint service has much better coverage than T-Moble (I am a fan of GSM as it provides me not only US coverage, but the rest of the Western world, although I have not needed that much coverage, yet). I do need to get a better e-mail application than what comes with the Sprint Treo, but that can be worked out. The Palm works very well and I have all my favorite applications functioning just as they always have, some were a little buggy at first, but downloading the updates to the applications to run under Palm v5(x) rather than v3 made the difference.
One thing I was not ready for was the constant attention the phone gets. It, in and of it self, is a conversation piece. I read news on it when on the Metro and I get stopped there and asked questions about it. I have been asked at the Apple Genius Bar, elevators at work, the street, in the bookstore (I use mobile Internet to check my Amazon Wishlist when in bookstores and compare prices as well as add new books to the list while in the store), at sporting events (checking live stats and news), in meetings (checking calendar and adding events as well as checking Google for updated information on new subjects that pop-up in the meeting - many conversations have been with CIOs who have Hiptop, Blackberry, or Pocket PC devices and are not perfectly happy and want smaller better functioning devices), and many other locations as it is also my watch for the time being. The attention much more than my TiBook received a couple years ago, mostly on flights as the screen was brighter and the battery lasted longer than anything else on the cross country flight.
I now think I have a fantastic troika of devices (Treo, TiBook, and iPod). I have been happier with my TiBook than any other computer I have ever owned. It has been more stable, secure, reliable, and friendly to letting me do my work without getting in the way than any other computer I have used since 1982, when I first started using computers. Any other laptop or computer is a waste of money.
Tech Review interviews Rael about rising tech trends and discusses alpha geeks. This interview touches on RSS, mobile devices, social networks, and much more.
My recent transition to my Treo 600, was rather smooth. Which was good since I not only collapsed three, if not four, devices into one. I had to switch cellular providers as well as my phone, but I kept my phone number. I really have been attached to my number, far more than I ever realized before. The transfer of the number from one carrier to another was very seamless and took less than 10 hours.
The number is big for me as it is the second longest phone number I have had in my life, the first being my landline phone number in Virginia, which I had for seven years plus. My cell phone number will be approaching the same and passing it later this year. I not only make it easy on myself and others by having one number that I really use for most everything (the phone at home is rarely ever for me, except for the calls from my parents on the usual night). Truthfully I am rather addicted to the pattern in the phone number, which is not as catchy as my number in college (another story for another time). The number makes it relatively to remember, so I keep it.
My mobile number is tied to a state, er make that Commonwealth, in which I no longer live and have not for nearly four years. I no longer really associate myself with that pre-fix and neither do my friends. This causes confusion when they see the number and try to think who they know in that area code. Oddly I have filled out four forms in the past few weeks that have asked for just the area code of my phone, which I consider to be my cell phone and in a couple cases the request was these digits for my cell phone.
I know New Yorkers who have kept their 202 mobile phone numbers even when they move away, just for the status. But, I am not my area code. How much longer will it be before all area codes are irrelevant?
MIT's Technology Review discusses Randolph Wang's wireless PDA for personal information storage (registration for TR may be required). This brief description (I could find no longer nor explicit description at Wang's Princeton pages nor searching CiteSeer) is very interesting to me.
One PC at work, another at home, a laptop on the plane, and a personal digital assistant in the taxicab: keeping all that data current and accessible can be a major headache. Randolph Wang, a Princeton University computer scientist, hopes to relieve the pain with one mobile device. Designed to provide anytime, anywhere access to all your files, the device stores some data, but its main job is to wirelessly retrieve files from Internet-connected computers and deliver them to any computer you have access to. Wang√≠s prototype is a PDA with both cellular and Wi-Fi connections, but the key is his software, which grabs and displays the most current data stored on multiple computers. Wang has tested his prototype with more than 40 university and home computers on and around the Princeton campus. He eventually wants to shrink the device down to the size of a wristwatch to make carrying it a snap.
This is really getting to a personal information cloud that follows the user. This really is getting to the ideal. Imagine having everything of interest always with you and always available to use. Wang's solution seems to solve one of the ultimate problems, synching. The synching portion of this seems to stem from PersonalRAID: Mobile Storage for Distributed and Disconnected Computers, which was presented at a USENIX conference. I really look forward to finding out more about this product.
A handful of Treo resources: Treo Central (info & store); Treo 600 World (news & store); Handango - Palm Software (software review and purchase); MobileWhack Palm (reviews and links); and TreoMB (news, reviews, & message boards).
I took the plunge and ordered a Treo 600 with Sprint PCS service. Since adding a solid portable music player to my menagerie of gadgets, I was having to attend to four devices each morning. Yes, four. My normal cell phone with very good connectivity, but horrible customer service (a the customer is always wrong mentality). My HipTop, which got me hooked on mobile e-mail, Web, and IM, but did not have great connectivity and the PIM applications did not synch (only import and overwrite). My Palm which was my true PDA/mobile PIM and all information on it truly synched, but it did not have mobile connectivity. Lastly my iPod, which has been a great addition to the daily workweek commute and will soon be nice on longer drives and with great expanse of mobile memory.
The only things that may bug me are the smaller screen and the lack of bluetooth. The bluetooth may bug me the most as I have also had it with wires running every where. I chose Sprint for two reasons, great rebates when purchasing from Amazon and the faster connectivity.
One device will now replace three (Palm, cellphone, and HipTop) devices. I have already added the AOL IM (using the UK version as it is free, thanks to Real's tip on MobileWhack). I am feeling lighter already. I will be keeping this topic running for a while, I do believe.
The customer service from Sprint has been a little slow, but insanely courteous and helpful when you do get somebody on the phone (even "Kevin" who had a hint of an Indian accent).
I found, not only a great article on the Treo 600, but the answer to the bluetooth question. I have been wondering if the Treo 600 will work with the current Palm SD Bluetooth card. It seems:
The Treo 600 family also adds an SD/SDIO/MMC slot. This slot, located on the top of the device was also found on the Treo 90, and on all current Palm models. It enables the use of SD and MMC media for storage of more programs and MP3 audio or video and SD content cards like dictionaries, or game packs. More importantly it also is SDIO enabled, meaning that it will work with hardware accessory cards like Veo's SD photo card, Margi's SD presenter-to-go, or Sandisk's upcoming Wi-Fi and Bluetooth cards.
Handspring did not include Bluetooth into this device, but because of the SDIO slot it is an option in the future. Handspring told us that they are working with 3rd party companies to extend all the powers of the Treo to the Bluetooth card. This includes not only data synchronization like most cards, but the ability to use Bluetooth headsets, or act as a Bluetooth modem for a PC or Mac. Adding a Bluetooth SD card to the Treo 600 family will cost around $100 to $150. The current Palm branded card does not work with OS 5.
Phonescoop.com gives this interesting quote though: "Speaking of Bluetooth, the Handspring engineers specifically left room on the Treo 600 circuit board for a Bluetooth module. It won't be included in initial releases, but Handspring spokesperson Brian Jaquet said there was very strong possibility that an updated version would be released with Bluetooth."
Now the question is do I get one now or wait?
The Media Lab Europe's research lab for Human Connectedness really has some great things in progress. The most news worthy of late has been tunA, which is a wireless sharing of your personal music device, which extends your personal info cloud and creates a local info cloud for others. tunA was covered in Wired News: Users Fish for Music article a couple weeks ago.
The group's focus tends to be connecting people by digital tools using aural and visual presentation methods. There are some very intriguing applications that could come out of this research.
There are two new Apple/Mac books and one digital photography book from O'Reilly released in the last few weeks that I am dying to get my hands on. The biggest interest is Dori and Tom's Mac OS X Unwired. The Applescript the Definitive Guide will take me to the next level and help automate more on my Mac. I am also wanting Derrick Story's Digital Photography Pocket Guide, 2nd Edition.
I picked up the Mac OS X Panther Pocket Guide, 3rd Edition last week and have found it to be a good little gem. It had a couple snippets that opened a couple doors I did not know about. It is a good price at under 10 U.S. dollars.
I have tried the Treo in the stores and the keyboard size is not difficult for me to work with, actually it is very usable. The screen size is a little small, but it would work well and it is not that much smaller than my Hiptop. I have had a Palm OS device for four or five years now and I really like the interface and the breadth of applications available is great also.
Using my Dad's Nokia I was very frustrated with the interface. It could really use a scroll wheel like my Hiptop has to ease the navigating menu options (there are many). Moving between applications is rather clumsy as the phone rang when I was setting bluetooth settings to his AIBook and we could not easily jump to the incoming call. That should never happen. The Web browsing was very slow on AT&T Mmode. I could get around more quickly on my GMS Hiptop. I really like the bluetooth capabilities on that phone and the camera on the Nokia is great also.
I have always expected more out of my Hiptop than it delivered. I have only used it as a phone two or three times and I still carry my Motorola 270c as my main phone. I have really become attached to having mobile Web, AIM, and e-mail. The interface it very usable on the Hiptop and one can easily move between applications to get to incoming e-mail or a chat while in a very different set of tools. I really want to see how the Treo handles this task switching. I also would like to read a long article or two on the Treo 600 as I use my Palm for reading news, articles, and books on the train commuting.
My last option would be to get a bluetooth phone (still thinking Nokia but in the back of my mind) like a Sony Ericsson 610 and get a bluetooth enabled Palm Tungsten series PDA. At this point time will tell. But, I am narrowing down the choices.
Kevin Werbach reviews the Handspring Treo 600 in The Triumph of Good Enough
More on Urban Tapestries:
Urban Tapestries is a framework for understanding the social, cultural, economic and political implications of pervasive location-based mobile and wireless systems. To investigate these issues, we are building an experimental location-based wireless platform to allow users to access and author location-specific content (text, audio, pictures and movies). It is a forum for exploring and sharing experience and knowledge, for leaving and annotating ephemeral traces of peoples√≠ presence in the geography of the city.
Uban Tapestries blog is a wonderful resource for things digital, mobile, and ubiquitous. The blog has pointed to Next Wave Interface Annual Seminar, which has supplied a great set of presentations. These two resources get to the understanding of enhanced user experience in any environment.
I have been running an incredible amount of running of errands the past few days since Will and Joy have been home. Many of the errands are just general errands, but as Joy is not able to drive for two weeks there is a lot of trips to make. We are doing well with the feedings and sleeping, so far.
We have been amazed with the amount of laundry that is generated. We knew that it was going to be a change in laundry, but not to the extent it has grown.
I also made a few modifications to the Airport WiFi in the house so that I can get a very good signal in the living room and in the bedrooms. I was going to add an antennae to the TiBook, but found that the Airport is not Omnidirectional as I had thought. By turning the apple on the Airport toward the room I really want coverage and moving the Airport six feet closer really helped. I have a 80% signal or higher. I can now hang out with Will and Joy in the living room and possibly the screen porch and in the bedrooms upstairs.
Over the past few days I have had a little more pondering time than normal. We were with out power, but thanks to the Net (wired and unwired) I could still post here, chat with friends, and had a site that was still up and running. I still had a means to communicate that allowed for updating from a mobile device, which my parents checked from a mobile device.
We did not have power, which meant no DSL (to me the dial-up was fingernails on chalkboard, only at last resort sort of endeavor. The Hiptop go me through to post. I could also e-mail with folks I had e-mail addresses for (found Hiptop truncates all my address book entries to only the primary address info, which is mostly work, and that was not were folks were the past four days around here). I really did not miss the power too much, although we cheated and went to a friend's house who had power and was out of town to do a load of laundry and recharge phones and laptops.
I did get to finish the book I started on vacation (The Discovery of Heaven), I still had nearly 300 pages left of the 735. I was rather disappointed by the ending, but the book made for a wonderful literary journey none-the-less. Much of the reading was on our screen porch and any snippet of time that was not tracking down places to get food or running errands, which took-up a great amount of time the past four days.
I not only grew with appreciation for our distributed information system, but I grew to miss the answering machine very quickly. We had a couple wired landline phone plugged in, but since Joy is still not greatly mobile I was getting the phone when it rang, well most of the time. I rarely answer the phone at home as the calls are rarely for me and I usually let the answering machine do the work for me. I also grew in appreciation for refrigerators and envious of neighbors with generators that powered their refrigerators so as not to throw out all their cold food.
Yesterday I left my mobile phone in my car parked at the metro station. I had to use a landline phone to call my stationary mobile phone to get messages throughout the day.
I did have my Hiptop, but many of the stored numbers are not up to date, like Joy's new cell number. Numbers not updated is attributed to the non-synching ability of the device. The phone qualities of the Hiptop version 1 were are not too good. I do really like the ability to get POP e-mail, IM, and Internet from anywhere I get a service.
WiFi in the lecture hall (in the New York Times) is the latest environment to add "back-channelling", which is members of the audience or class using instant messaging or group chat to discuss the lecture. SXSW a couple years ago was my first experience with WiFi enabled conference sessions and back-channelling, which was a little distracting, but at the same time provides another dimension to information input. Insta-fact checking would be very nice in work meetings.
A possible wishlist item could be Sony CLIE PEG-UX50, which has most of what I am looking for in a PDA and more, with one exception a lack of a phone for data when out of WiFi range. I have been eyeing the HandSpring Treo 600, which comes out in the Fall.
My friend Fred picked up an iBook just prior to his trip to Cambridge, England for a summer study session. So far the switch has been good. He has posted his first pictures from Cambridge on his .Mac site. His pictures bring back wonderful memories of mine from the other side of the Oxbridge family.
He has found a rather inexpensive WiFi connection in a coffeehouse there. If you know of others post them and I am sure it will be greatly appreciated.
Mike demonstrates iChat unteathered. Yes video chatting from the South Street Seaport in NYC all with WiFi (no wires). I am so glad Mike got to test this and posted it so we all could see it works.
The New York Times has an article on voice telephone access in Africa, particularly voice over Internet in Ghana. This is of interest to me for many reasons, but it is very good to see the Internet can break the insanely high calling rates in Africa. Communication is a key to doing business and providing medical care, now the African monopolies are may be broken and advances begin. Yes, there are many more problematic growth and philosophical questions to overcome. The more than one dollar per minute outbound call rates may now have room to fall. Part of the solution is wireless access to get around the lack of in-ground infrastructure.
Don't get me wrong I greatly enjoy my Hiptop and the functionality it has given me that no other device has done so far. But, I am now tied to three devices (and I do not have an iPod yet -- you are more than welcome to correct this malady buying it for me from my Amazon wishlist) my regular cellphone (nearly ubiquitous connectivity in area, vibrate function is strong enough to get my attention, speakerphone is outstanding, and clear auditory capabilities), Hiptop (for mobile e-mail, Internet, photos), and my Palm powered Handspring Platnium (synched calendar, addressbook, Strip, JungleSoft (city maps), and document readers (for books like Cory's Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom.
No this is not optimal. I am seeking a Palm-based device that can pull pop e-mail and Internet using the phone, possibly through Bluetooth connection, while giving me the Palm apps that can be synched with my laptop and desktop address books and calendar. It would be nice to have the phone synch the addresses and calendar too.
No, I do not like the Hiptop apps for calendar and addressbook. One, they do not synch only have bulk over write capabilities, or at least that I have found. Two, I personally find the Hiptop calandar to be almost completely unusable. I can not move about the calendar easily, nor change and drill into the events from various views. When sitting in meetings and trying to assess my availability for follow-up meetings or deliverables the Hiptop calendar does is not easily usable for that purpose. I am also bugged by the lack of copy and paste. I do like the keyboard and the form factor for typing and surfing, much more than any other handheld I have tried.
I am thinking Sony Clie and a Sony Ericsson phone may be part of the solution. I have read many reports on the location services tied to cellphones, which use triangulation from cell phone towers and their extreme inaccuracy, I may be interested in having GPS on the one of the devices to better use location based services.
Ah, home again. We have new pipes through out our house and running water again. We also have a floor to ceiling hole in the wall in our dining room and in the ceiling of the dining room. We have a hole in the kitchen walls too to give access to pipes. We have a new energy efficient water heater, which should also help the cause.
It is good to be back in the house, even though it was only a couple days, it was very disruptive as life (such as work) continues on as usual, as do visits to the pre-baby doctor. I learned a very good lesson on this adventure, when booking a hotel get verification what they mean by "wireless" Internet access. It could be, as it turns out the IR keyboard that is used to control the "Internet in the TV". Wireless to me was WiFi, which means broadband. I was able to get use of a meeting room at the hotel last night to pull e-mail and pull some files I needed. I was able to accomplish that on a broadband connection in 35 minutes, which would have been 2 hours on dial-up. I was able to get back to working on an overview presentation I had to give today.
The funny thing was I was able to pick-up a few wireless signals in the courtyard. Some were managed and locked down and others were open. The signals kept varying in and out so I did not persue much farther. Last night I realized that the WiFi signals were coming from the Microsoft Offices that look down into the same courtyard shopping area.
Oh, nothing new on the baby front as all things seem good and no more sonigrams are planned. Junior is kicking quite a bit during playtime, which is 5:30am and 10:30pm.
Yesterday I ran across Matt's TiBook Wifi antennae tweak, which is found in Ars Technica's Open Forum and was suggested by Apple tech support. I can no sit in my living room only 15 feet away from the office and get a full Airport signal. I was only getting minimal signal and had to sit in just one spot. I am glad this bubbled up.
Business Week has a section focus on WiFi, which made me feel so ahead of the game, but most of my fiends were on board long before I was a year or two ago. There are many good articles for those that are just catching up to WiFi (pronounced like why-fi (as in sky)) and even some info for veterans.
Seemingly cool technology from Martian Technology, a wireless network drive with 120GB of storage and USB printer sharing.
iSociety Mobile Phones and Everyday Life, is a report looks at the impact of mobile devices as they impact everyday life. Looking at how we work with mobile devices today will help us set a framework for the future.
WSJ's Walt Mossberg offers his insite on Pentium M and Centrino. The Centrino portion of the Intel solution seems to be a sham marketing ploy. If device makers use a real WiFi card with full capabilities the device makers can not use the Centrino or Pentium M monikers that are tied to all the hype.
I am already enjoying my Hiptop for much of the reason that I picked it up. I wanted access to information. More importantly I wanted information to be able to follow me. I found information or thought of information I really have been wanting to have access to that information from where ever I am. I wanted the ability to share the information from where I was and have others be able to use that information to better their understanding.
Yes, I have had cellphones and have called others, but the information is not that useable in voice form. The information needed to be convered to data elements that could easily be used and reused. Voice only (at the current time) allows us to hear then act upon the information and not store that information in a searchable repository or to easily share that information back out.
Yes, I have PDAs (Palm-based handhelds), but they need to synch with other devices to share information and the e-mail capabilities were not the best around. The 3rd party applications on the Palm and the fantastic operating system that is fast and small are great features that will be hard to beat by anybody.
I have been looking for a solution to have the information I wanted when I want or need it in my hands. The Hiptop gets me much closer to that goal. I tend to use e-mail to share ideas with myself and others. This weblog is another method of doing the same. Being able to search for an address and get a map is a solid tool to have at all times.
This is a personal quest to have the Model of Attraction (MoA) extend back to myself. The MoA not only helps us think about the attration between the user and information during the finding tasks, to help improve findability, but in phase where the user wants information to stay attracted to them. My Hiptop is my information attraction device. I can push an e-mail to myself that has the name, address, time, and phone number needed to do to a party with friends that have come in from out of town. I can access my Amazon Wishlist when I am in a store to help remember the author or title of a book, CD, or DVD I have been seeking. This bookstore amnesia (or musicstore amnesia) can be a thing of the past. The Hiptop provides me the information in my hand and gives me the access to the information I do not have at hand wirelessly.
There will be some experiments to see if I can improve on the information attraction to keep the information closer to me. Am I getting rid of my Palm? No, as there is information in it that I prefer in the format it is in. I will be keeping my cell phone as it has great reception and is CDMA (I found having a non-dominant cell phone technology is an advantage during emergency times, like being in San Francisco during September 11, 2001, which is a TDMA and GSM dominant city. I was one of a few that had no problem getting a signal to call out). It is rather awkward having three devices with through out the day. We will see how it goes.
Cell phones cause brain damage? This has long been a discussion, but until know is has been a subjective argument. A new study examines cell phones burning holes in rat's brains. Humans don't have the brains of rats, but our grey cells are very similar.
Me, I perfer my speaker phone on my cell phone for driving and general conversation as it keeps my hands free to do other things. It seems I may be keeping other things safe also. I do have friends that that have developed tumors on their head near their ear and jaws, and yes they were regular users of cell phones. The type of cell phone seems to play a role also.
This is a test post from my Hiptop. This post was done from my regular management page.
I am sitting in the Austin Airport using an 802.11b wireless connection to collect and read e-mail and to post here. The world of wireless connectivity has been kick ass this trip. The SXSWi guerilla wireless efforts by Cory (boingboing) Doctorow were greatly appreciated and widely used and many of us would offer our first child or at least a beer for his fine efforts.
Another observation of this trip is the insanely wide use of Apple laptops. They were everywhere at the conference, it was almost as if they were in the conference bag of goodies. Those of us on Mac had little problem grabbing wireless connections and were showing our pictures to others we had taken. By the end of the conference many of the Windows folks were cursing their non-compliant and non-easy to adopt laptops. Not only were the graphic folks using Apple, but the tech geeks were too (this is where I fit in, believe me). Even Doc Searls was Mac'n around. In the land of Dell, Apple proved to be king.
I am somewhat saddend to be heading home and leaving old and many new friends behind. SXSW is a place were passion for the Internet rules and sharing our passion, knowledge, and experience is what it is all about. Hair color, age, gender, skin color, or location is not important as the passion binds us together. We are all out to make the Web and Internet a better place to be. To a person we all have become much better people because of the free sharing and passion. Jack Vallenti and his trying to label us terrorists is not only poor sighted but a fat lie. We share to grow and learn. Jack only want to play his Anderson card and shred our reality. (There will be more later to clarify and to help you understand what I mean by these comments.) Liars and fear mongers are trying to steal the truth, but Austin let truth ring out. You bet your sweet bippy, I'll be back.
I love all those I met and whose paths I crossed and wish all safe journies home. Keep the passion alive.
One thing about being a bi-OS kinda guy is that I now look for what OS software will run on. More often than not of late it is not easy to find. I guess I just assumed the Web was MS centric prior to my finding an OS I like much better. I never looked before and everything I downloaded ran. When I was running Linux I went to the Linux sites for software and the rest of the Web for MS.
Now the fun begins. I can now sit on the sofa next to my wife, not only work on my laptop but have access to the Internet using Apple's Airport. Yes no wires attached and I have full througput of our DSL line.
This is enabling me to watch the Winter Olympics opening ceremony and alternate tasks. I have been more impressed with the ads during the opening ceremonies, much more so than the Super Bowl. My favorite so far is the multi-sport Nike ad. Hands down my favorite add I have seen in months, not saying much as I really do not watch too much television, as I prefer to watch the interesting bits off the Internet. You ask what made the Nike ad so impressive? Not only was it the transitions, the relationships between athletes and youth and amatures trying the same performance, and the visual beauty, with intermixing a steady camera and a moving shot. The cinematography was beautiful. Full marks.
The Palm HotSynch software is used as the center piece to explain the idea of synching and keeping versions running at work, home, and on your Palm. Garfinkel discusses the Concurrent Version Systems that are used to keep versions intact as different people work on the same document or software code.
This synching of information is one area that still needs a lot of work, in my view. I keep and carry separate devices, because that is my choice. But getting information from my Palm to my cell phone is not a viable option at this point. I like each of the tools on their own merits, but having them synch or share information would be very helpful. Even using the Palm to read AvantGo is problematic because it does not allow me to use the information in a manner that works in the way I do. I often read an article from AvantGo and want to e-mail it to others to read or want to post comments about it in this space so I can find it and reuse it at later date as well as share this information. I can't with out going through the work of digging the information out off the Web. It does not need to be that many steps and should not be. After all I can click on an ad that is above the article I am reading in AvantGo and it will send me more information to the e-mail address stored for this purpose the next time I sync. Now just go that extra step and e-mail me the link to the article.
This is just a peak at what is around the corner as we get information applications in our dashboard that help us with direction routing, location based services, and other information. Keeping restaurant information we like synched from out car, our cell phone, to our handheld, to our computer at home is the next step. If we are driving around and have been stuck in traffic and get off the highway in a somewhat unfamiliar area, we can ask to find local restaurant located based on criteria we prefer. The location based service (LBS) may provide options and read you the review, we select which one we want and the LBS provides directions. The LBS if it is connected to our hands-free mobile phone could pass the number of the restaurant to the phone so to call to verify it is open and make a reservation, or could use a service like Open Table to do the same. Once we have had our meal and we liked the restaurant we can mark our review so it can be stored as a place we like, which would pass to our PDA to store and add to our favorites list on our central computer. Sound like George Jetson? It may not be too far away. Each of the applications to make this happen are available and the remaining component is synchronization and sharing of the information.
The article found that none of the networks use anything stronger than the built in security measures on the wireless hubs. The London area even has maps potting wireless access areas. Some see this access as a public good, but many of the enterprises networks, which house files and account information are wide open too.