Picture Perfect Pda.

The Pda , the digital sidearm of the mobile cyber citizen. Always dangling down from the wiastbelt or tucked away in the sagging breast pocket. Its always around. So is mine. Coming to think of it : I've owned mine for over a year now. A year (in gadgetyears) is a long time ! Since the average geek like me switches cellphones / pda's every three months a product must realy be worth while to stick around long enough to even show the signs of  wear and tare. The tender love of being used over and over again, not even polished up to make it all shiny .. no no grim and grime smeared over its display as if they where battlescars in the conquest of everyday life.

I'm refering to my treo 650. I bought it second hand in october of last year. It was the first PDA to incorporate both my organiser, my phone and my GPRS connection to the outside world. A true all-in-one device that I have used and loved over the past year. But instead of going overboard on software, tweaks, add-ons and crap, i'm actually not using the device to its full potential just yet. I use it as my phone, have my contacts on there , keep my calendar on it and for the biggest part : Use it to check my emails. Occasionaly I snap of a picture or shoot a little video , but that is mostly it. Coming to think of it . I haven't even taken the effort of shoving a memorycard in the device so i can drag around some extra stuff.

The amazing part ? Even 'per default" the Treo 650 is a fantastic device. True , I haven't used it to its full potential but still it feeds the geeky needs of my life just fine. Ok , when it comes to sound quality it isn't the best cellphone I ever had , and it sure as hell is not very compact but .. its very sturdy and even comes with enough functionality to keep me satisfied right out of the box. 

 But I have been unfaithfull. Leering at competiters all around. Thinking it was time for a change. Not so much because the Treo was getting obsolete, but because I was looking for something new. So browsing around the net several cool possible replacements struck my eye.

There is of course the Qtec 9100 with its slide out keyboard and the magnificent though utterly useless Blackberry 8700. The latter has been in my hands, had infatuated me with its lightness , ease of use and fantastic screen.. But lacks any of the multimedia functionalities the treo Has. The Qtec 9100 promises Wifi connectivity but weighs down due to its bulky size and sharp price. So for the last few day's i've been mulling it over and over in my mind. Trying to decide what would be a good replacement, what device would have all the options i wanted .. What clipper could cut the cake and make the finals of my geeky pda-padgent.  The requirements ?

  •  Keyboard
  • GPRS
  • GSM/Phone
  • syncable with Mac
  • compact.

 Ok , i know the Qtec can probaly do all of these things to , but the fact of the matter is : Its too pricy for me. I'm not going to spend THAT amount of cash on a windows PDA. Ok , the embedded wifi would give me skype connectivity around the house. But the thing is still too bulky. Measuring up all the factors an unexpected winner takes to the stage : My own Treo 650 !

So i've decided i'll do a relaunch on the little baby. Polish it up , Give it sparkly new firmware, finally install some of the cool applications that came with it and wire it up to my current macbook so calendar and contacts are always in sync. I'll probably feed it a 1 gigabyte memory card and stuff that full of the craps geeks need on line.  Cause with built in phone, pda, gprs, camera and keyboard, the treo 650 still takes the cake. Ok , it doesn't have wifi connectivity. But you can't win em all.  

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Blackout during Globalgeek Podcast Recording.

Yesterday morning was your average sunday morning at casa del Knightwise. As we where enjoying daylight savings time an extra hour of sleep for some was turned into an extra hour of lounge for us. Childish as it may be , my wife and I love hanging out in front of the tv/computer on a sunday morning , watching cartoons like sponguebob and some silly american sitcoms. This of course would not be geek enough where it not that while i was having breakfeast/nickelodeon I was also browsing through the shownotes of the global geek podcast that we where going to record that same day. 

hackSo at 10'ish the homework was done and my good friend Dave Gray calls in to do some chitchat / soundcheck just before we start recording the show. Mind you : Dave is on the other side of the planet ( Near Brisbane Australia) and recording the whole podcast over skype in the two hour window we set up in our busy lives, is not always easy.  But no problems where expected. Or so we thought.

 3 2 1 …. Dave intro's the show and the recording starts. My wife turns to hushpuppy mode not to make any disturbing background noises and gives me a wink as Dave and I start to talk about the first topic.  Its all fine and dandy unti suddenly … no more Dave. I find myself finishing of a topic, waiting for a reply .. and hearing nothing. A quick check shows me : No Dave on line anymore ! I seldom swear out loud .. but this is seldom 🙂 Darn ! Where did Dave go.

Bless the power of the internet , i fire up my skype list , dig up daves personal cellphone number and call him up (thanx to rediculesly low skype costs a call to the other side of the planet is concidered peanuts.) but I get his voicemail. All kind of scenario's go through my head. What the frack is going on : No Skype , No cellphone , No internet connection over there apparently … Has a giant meteor struck Australia ?

But then suddenly I get a request to add a familiar name to my Skype list : James Gray (Dave's brother who joined us as a guest on the previous show). Extatic with adrenaline we try calling eachother right away , each getting a busy tone. But after syncin out who's the boss we manage to setup a call. Enter "Ell Dirty Hack".

 It seems that Daves house has fallen of the powergrid and in panic he wanted to call ME on my cell. Where is Knightwise's number .. Dave fretts .. On the computer .. is the reply. So the only option he had left was calling James using his cellphone. James puts the call on the speakerphone of his landline phone and calls ME on skype. And that way me and Dave get to communicate.  The difference in audio quality is hilarious (not to mention the time delay and the occasional translations having to be made by the 'airbridge operator James) It sounds like Dave is on the moon , James is sitting next to me and I literally feel on the oposite  side of the globe. But as creative as geeks get , we mananged to get it working. 

Thus I get the luminous idea of recording this hilarious skitt . I hit skype recorder and bash together some impromptu show. The whole thing is saved as an MP3 and sent of to our personal FTP server. Since Dave is going to be off line later (the time difference is NINE HOURS) I relay the login and password to James who tries to get them over to his brother.  Redundancy is king so I send both the login credentials AND the file via Email to Dave's place aswell.

Needless to say .. We had a great laugh .. The show we planned for this week is, of course, toast .. but the little skit we recorded is priceless. What did amaze me was the flexibility and the SPEED the all of us had in setting up alternate means of communications and getting things sorted to get in touch with eachoter and getting the necessary recources from one harddisk on the northern hemisphere to another one on the southern one. The smoothness, swiftness and creativeness we use when 'operating' the internet amazes even me sometimes.

You can read Dave's side of the story HERE.

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The paradox of mainstream media.

My good friend Dave Gray (also my co-host at the global geek podcast ) called me this afternoon with some great news. He got a reply from Scoble on his WordPress blogg actually encouraging people to get him on the A-list over at wordpress. Now I know this might all sound like jibber jabber to most of you , so let me explain. Dave has a Blog over at WORDPRESS. WordPress is a service that hosts people's blogs (the biggest service actually) and has a top five list of most read blogs. The Scoblelizer is one of these blogs (we call these people A-list Bloggers) . Made by Mr Scoble (former Microsoft employee and major internet celebrity). Daves Iny tiny article about the impossibility of getting mentioned in this top five as an average-joe blogger with all these A-list bloggers on the wordpress service. And mr Scoble replied ! encouraging everyone to take a peep at Daves blog.  Basically saying he was tired of being on the top five ant thought that it was somebody else's turn. The equivalent would be a Pablo Picasso telling the world to come take a look at the skeches you made in your hobby room. It all inspired me to write up this little article. 

The paradox of mainstream media.

One of the great things that have always attracted me in both blogging  and podcasting was the fact that the means to make the cut where the same for everyone.  In the beginning you would need an publisher to get your message in the paper , get a book out or whatever. You used to need a radio station to get your voice heard and you would have to sleep with the producer to get on the tube.

All of that has changed thanks to the power of the internet . Now think about it : Everybody could be somebody. Everybody had an article , everybody has a voice and everybody has equal access to the masses.

But the maturity of the internet has taken its tole. Even in cyberspace we are becoming aware of what can only be called "mainstream media".  In our little microcosmos we have our own celebrities. Rest asured : mentioning their names to the average joe on the street will probably get you a "huh?-and-a-shrugg" but to us cybernauts ringing names like Scoble, Dvorak, Curry, Lewis and others are as common as apple pie in Alabama.  

Somehow sites like Digg, delicious and others that are the "lords of the lemmings" drive the droves of socially bookmarked surfers towards these mainstream lanes of Top-bloggers, Celebrity podcasters and unintentional amateur pornstars (hello Ms Hilton). So somehow I wonder if the single voice of the average Joe can still be heard.

And what about the average Joe ? An interesting discussion lately presented me with the following dilemma. Would you bend your words, twist your tongue and flex your ideas in order to be popular ?  Or would you rather speak from the core of your soul to ten people who appreciate what you are doing.

aloneI (for one) have made up my mind. With an itti titty podcast reaching some 150 people a week. My blog gets hit about 80 times a day. And you know what ? I don't mind. Once in a while one of my regular listeners or readers drops me a comment, taps me on the shoulder or even walks up to me at work and says : Great post ! I love that . I appreciate the small crowd more then the large amount of people that will probably never really care what I say , but just hit my blog cause "everybody does" or cause it was at the top of some list.

But in fear of being branded as "Sulking blogger with digg-rank-envy" let me reply that one of the greatest pleasures of writing is not being read, but to write. One of the joys in podcasting is to create from the core of my  soul and not molding my content to appeal to the masses. I wouldn't mind 50 000 people to FIND my site , I would just feel weird having to write for all of them on a daily base. Somehow all these eyes or ears would change the acoustics of creativity. Would I create just like that , or change my content in order to remain popular ?

So let my tree fall in the forest , I don't really care if somebody hears it or not. The joy is in making unique stuff that is read by unique individuals. If somewhere around the world ONE person smiles when reading this .. i'm satisfied. Because the reward of creativity is the creation itself.

Continue reading “The paradox of mainstream media.”

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Google buys Youtube .. And even the real world looks up.

It was the most funny thing yesterday morning. I was (as usual) listening to my daily dose of podcasts on my way to work, podcasts about technology and the latest news on the edge of real and cyberspace and beyond. At about seven AM I turned my Ipod off for a minute to tune into the regular news on the radio ( yep , i'm THAT kind of information junkie ). Since we had regional elections last sunday my interest was a little tickled just to know what some of these lame ass parties had come up with in order to work together , run the local towns and not loose face.  Then suddenly I heard something very odd. It even made me check the play button on my Ipod, just to be sure I was not tuned into another podcast. But no : Clear as day, at seven AM in the (mainstream) headline news  they announced Google had just bought You-tube.

 Now rumors where flying around all over the cyber-place about the business model of Youtube, the Future of Youtube and about the lame sod who was going to BUY Youtube someday. Even in the latest edition of the Global Geek Podcast , talk was cheap and speculation was high about this very issue.  But I never thought an event in Cyberspace would hit the mainstream news like that. A small smile of surprise crept along my face as I heard the crunching boot of cyberspace advance yet another pace in the world of the average off-line John. 

Untill a few years ago (i'm talking "95, "96) the internet was this obscure thing for geeks. These days everybody has an email address, every product features his or their website on the package and most people have an internet connection. Although it is still the case that those with their finger on the cyberpulse are a minute few in contrast to the big dumb mass, one cannot help but revel at the phenomenon how the digital world is slowly but surely seeping into the dry desert of the real world. 

Just to let the boys at Google know what they bought and what it's for .. I want to give you this little video.

 
This wonderfull little flick was part of a cabaret show Here is the original scene and shows the true power of You-tube. Take some good content , let loose the creative geeks of the globe to make something completely different out of it and then give them a medium to post it on. 

 

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The Office 2.0

livingYes yes , its the time of the year(s) again that the Knights in the Knightcastle get a little uneasy with the colors they painted on the walls , get bored with the arrangement of furniture and get overdosed by all the 'home improvement' programs on the tv. We dash out to the DIY store and go looking for paint. Now I must say I'm blessed with the fact that Nyana has excellent taste in colors. She picks out two shades of gray (that to me are not even different colors) and says.. 'This will go good together. ' As we left the store I remember grumbling and fretting that we did not go for some cappuccino like shades, and turning the room into one big Starbucks.  But when the paint went on .. the result was amazing.The rooms we did so far are the bedroom and the office / small living room upstairs. Now in our bedroom we obviously sleep. (get your brains out of the gutter). But the office / living room is a different matter. This room used to be my office. But because I had room to spare we shoved in an extra couch and a tv so Nyana could hang out while I was behind my beloved workspace. It worked out so well that we spend the most part of the winter upstairs. Nice and cocoon-y. The wife in front of the tube, the resident geek on you-tube.  But the mutter was in the clutter. Soon enough Mr geek thought it was needed to overstock the room with computer books, extra systems, a sound-mixer, microphone, main boards and cables lying around etc. To be honest , it sometimes looked like the lovechild of an overturned dumpster truck and a main board factory. This was neither relaxing nor efficient. Thus : The new office. Or could I say : The office 2.0.

 

office

 

We started out with a ruthless philosophy. This place had to be clutter free. Asides from the absolute essentials this room would have to breath out calm and efficient vibes. In order to achieve a TV-room / loungeroom / workspace we made sure to check some markers.

cables

  • Relaxing colors. Shades of gray replaced the beige and blue on the walls. The colors of the room should reflect calm-and-easy and by far attract any attention to themselves.
  • Furniture : As little as possible. My big office (the biggest one Ikea had) was sized down to its smallest by removing some extentions. Every bit of furniture is color coordinated .. well thats more something of a coincidence since we buy everything at Ikea and it matches nicely.
  • Cables : The lovely misses had an absolute zero tolerance policy for ANY cabling that was exposed to the naked eye. Also : NONE of the cables , power plugs or power supply's was allowed to hit the floor. A downpour of black power cables in front of an exposed office ? No way. Don't get me wrong. The girl is as geeky as can be .. But the place should not look like a fishing trawlers , nets included.
  • No clutter : Books, ornaments and what-have-you's that where otherwise crammed in our cabinets where removed. Just a little plant here, and a model of my  Enterprise NCC 1701 there. (and some nice starship diagrams nicely framed on the wall).Division bell ! : But probably the most important redesign was dividing the OFFICE (where you work) from the Lab / Studio / library part of a geeks room. Now 10 years of research have given us the conclusion that you cannot keep the geek out of the living room. And you cannot keep the clutter out of the geeks setup. So unless you want a TV room / IT-ground-zero.. You have to seperate the working geek , from the tinkering geek.  Our conclusion ? Move the books / spare parts / lab equiptment of the resident geek to the hobby room upstairs. This meant that podcasting- studio setup went upstairs and is now safely out of direct sight.

The results.

 
cablessWhat can I say : The results are great. Allthough  reluctant to give up my 'matrix style' surroundings of screens and keyboards piled up together. i'm honestly impressed by this new approach. My main desk now consists of my Macbook (docked) and one 19'' widescreen display. When in need of dual screen work , i just flip it open and am able to use my isight camera and more. Instead of using speakers and amplifiers I just routed the audio to either my headphones or the internal speakers of the monitor and thus having less clutter around.  Next to this setup resides my Ubuntu machine hooked up to another 19” display. Because the resolution matches up to the resolutions of two other systems I have around the house (my TV computer and my test system) it can run remote desktop sessions to these machines full screen. Its like having them around.. Without having them around.  Next , instead of using yet another computer to run Windows , i've opted to use virtual machine to emulate and run any other system I required. This all works fine on my AMD XP 3200 machine that has enough ram to run a nice little Windows XP either in Vmware  Player or Paralells. So you see : More machines at my fingertips without taking up space.

 

And then there is the matter of the home server / media TV machine.

http://static.flickr.com/57/254610991_919af0e7d5.jpg?v=1159416879Instead of having a big ass tv in our little office/loungeroom we use a mac mini with a 19” screen and a TV tunercard. This whole setup (along with the main router) is compactly crammed into the little TV cabinet that we use. Having all that gear installed in that little space and just one cable leaving the setup makes up for serenity and no clutter whatsoever. To be on the safe side I did mount a smokedetector INSIDE the cabinet. Since the server keeps running at night, I want to be sure we are alerted should anything go wrong. This is a tip I give to all of you geeks who have machines running at night. Smokedetectors are cheap so , mount them over your “beyond midnight” machines.Epilogue.Allthough I did not expect it … the results are quite fab. Keeping the clutter out of the room has given us a very relaxing inviting room to be in. The screens are still the main focalpoints of attention, but due to the lack of crap around them, it works out just great.  My main desk is this minimalistic fortress occupied only by 2 screens and two sets of keyboards. I thought this was going to bugg me. No extra stuff to twiddle and fiddle with seamed cumbersome. No pheripherals piled up around the setup was something to get used to . But imagine my surprise when I actually found out that I was much more focussed on my systems and could work in a concentraded manner. Also the lack of phisical devices makes one use the virtual possibilities of ones computer more. Less craptime = more screentime. The wife is very happy with all this having a couch strategicly posted in the middle of the room , facing the tv. I can look over her shoulder and peer along to the mainstream mayhem withouth having to leave my chair.  All in all .. its a match in heaven.

 

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Can you spare a dollar ?

 

Send Steve a Dollar !

Not to start belly staring just now , but one should consider the future every now and then.  What would happen if the sky would fall down, Will we still play world of warcraft online after getting world peace to work. And .. What would we call podcasts if Apple tries to hammer down on the word .. "podcast". Huh ! .. yes  Huh indeed. Recently Apple has been sending out cease and desist letters to a company called Podcast Ready after they filed a copyright regarding a hardware device they where developing. After this letter that stated a big NONO in using the term PODCAST in this context , everybody in the poddosphere (isn't that the lamest word ever) started to get nervous. What if Apple would go after all of us ?  Well , first of all , Apple would need a legal department the size of China, AND you can only sew people for money if the actually have some.  But still , the unease resides.

Que Dave Gray from the Global Geek Podcast who thought .. Well , the mention of the name podcast in our show has an average market value of one cent. If I where to mention Steve Jobs or Apple's name in the podcast, that would be worth 10 cents. So why don't we send a one dollar cheque to Steve , just to cover the expenses. We pay one cent for every podcast, we GET one cent for every Steve Jobs / Apple mention. That, along with or one dollar cheque should cover expenses quite nicely. 

Dont believe me ? check THIS out 🙂 

 

 

cheque
 
 

 

  

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The Knightcast Episode 36 : The epiphany of simplicity.

The Knightcast episode 36 : The Epiphany of Simplicity.

Direct link to the show :

http://www.knightwise.com/podcasts/kc_3102006.mp3

 

Summary.

After a little hiatus , we are back. More then anyone we know how busy life on the edge of real and cyberspace can be. With information overloading us and hectic schedules its time for some tips for your cyber-lifestyle. So stand by as we turn into the digital Martha Steward and give you “the epiphany of simplicity”. Practical tips in organising your lifestyle and finding out how to chill out and relax from time to time.

Shownotes.

{mos_sb_discuss:5}

 

 

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