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August 28, 2006

Flickr gets (geo) tagged; why not everything?

Flute practice
Originally uploaded by Frank Steele.
TechCrunch | Flickr To Launch Geo Tagging Today

I don't have a GPS receiver yet, but lately, I'm fascinated by some of the possibilities they present.

Flickr is adding an official Geotag interface today, joining some of their competitors. (It's already frozen up Camino on my machine, when I tried to tag some existing photos).

The Flickr implementation, using Yahoo! Maps (of course) is pretty slick, making seamless use of Ajax, and determining how precisely to tag your photos by how far you're zoomed in when you set their location. I've tagged most of my "out of town" photos, and it was straightforward to set up, and to browse other pictures from nearby. It may get a little clunky when there are 5,000 pictures of or from Alcatraz, but for now it's working well.

Click on the picture above, and you'll see it was shot in “Cleveland, Ohio” -- if you then click on the “map” link, it overlays a hybrid satellite/map view focused on the specific location of the photo.

This seems like a component of the perfect portable blogging machine, one of my ongoing quests. The Nokia E61 and E70 have my attention, since both offer full keyboards. The E70's camera is great for a phone, but not a major factor for me, since I don't think I would be happy using even a good cameraphone for images that matter to me. My ideal would be something like the UMPC tablets, but running OS X, and with EVDO or another always-on networking technology.

For now, the smallest blogging tool I've found useful is my 12" PowerBook -- it's the smallest thing that lets me be reading something on the web, click a bookmarklet, and be ready to type a post with the link pre-filled.

Add in GPS, and you could automatically note the location where you took batches of photos, geotag your blog posts, note stores, parks or other attractions you want to be able to find easily later, keep track of restaurants you like or hate, and a million other things.

I know you can do these things in Google Earth, but that presupposes always-on internet access, and so far as I know, few (no?) standalone applications are supporting integration with Google Earth or similar apps. What I'm thinking would be great would be a system-level geotagging interface: One menu selection tags the foremost document with your current location, accessible through a geotag update to Spotlight.

There's so much going on in the mapping space (is that a pun?) -- what's out there for the Mac that's letting me treat it as more than another separate application?

August 28, 2006 in Web/Tech, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 25, 2006

CNN's toughest mobile bureau

CNN Hummer
Originally uploaded by Frank Steele.
In 2003, CNN equipped two Hummers for mobile reporting from the invasion of Iraq in 2003 at CNN Center.

One of the two is currently on display at CNN Center, where I saw it on Wednesday.

The vehicles were mobile uplink units with portable video editing capabilities, but also served as homes in the field for a reporter, technician, cameraman, and driver/bodyguard.

Martin Savidge and Walter Rodgers reported from the two CNN Hummers.

Here's CNN's placard on the high-mobility multiwheeled broadcast vehicles, and here are two other views.

August 25, 2006 in CNN | Permalink | Comments (0)

Georgia Aquarium hits 3 million visitors

11Alive.com | Aquarium Marks 3 Million Visitors

The Georgia Aquarium had its 3 millionth visitor Wednesday morning, and I happened to be on hand.

Three million and counting
Originally uploaded by Frank Steele.

It was my 2nd trip to the aquarium, after an attempt back in January that was cut short because the crowds were just too thick.

On Wednesday, crowds were much more manageable, and I overheard one of the aquarium workers suggesting that the next week will be pretty quiet, with tourist traffic back up for Labor Day, and then school field trips picking up after the holiday.

Silhouettes 1
Originally uploaded by Frank Steele.

I have an annual pass that was a Christmas gift, but I'm not sure the experience is worth the $23.75 one-time admission. You can pretty much see everything in a little over 2 hours, and I don't think there's anywhere I would sit and just watch the fish. At the Zoo Atlanta, I could sit and watch the gorillas for hours. Maybe that's just me -- I saw license plates there from New York, Missouri, and New Jersey in addition to the expected Alabama, Florida, and Georgia plates.

The two big draws are the beluga whales and the whale sharks, which are the world's biggest fish. You pass through a glass-topped tunnel below the enormous tank that houses 4 whale sharks and thousands of other fish, then come around to a 60-foot wide tank window that's the 2nd largest viewing window in the world.

Whale Shark
Originally uploaded by Frank Steele.

Here's a Flickr photoset of the visit.

August 25, 2006 in Atlanta | Permalink | Comments (0)

August 21, 2006

Who'll buy a Zune?

Gizmodo | Exclusive Microsoft Zune Details

So details are beginning to leak about Microsoft's next iPod competitor, the Zune.

To recap for those who aren't following closely, Microsoft has decided to ditch its many hardware partners who have been part of the PlaysForSure initiative, and to recreate much of what has worked for the iPod. Instead of competing hardware providers offering a confusing mix of players, the Zune will be Microsoft-branded, allowing Redmond to keep control of the whole user experience, in the same way Apple does with the iPod.

PlaysForSure (which is, at best, on life support now) also allowed a plethora of online music stores, as Microsoft hoped to leverage brands familiar and credible to a variety of consumers, including MTV's URGE, Napster, and Wal-Mart. The Zune will apparently debut a monolithic Microsoft music store, much like the iTunes Music Store.

The single thing that I get the least is that the Zune is supposed to be Microsoft's "iPod killer for Christmas 2006", but it's apparently slated for release in mid-November.

Contrast that with the original iPod, which was released in October 2001, and was still widely considered a mistake long after the 2001 Christmas season had come and gone. Only wide-eyed Apple fanboys (like me) and people who had suffered through the hackish, inferior flash-based systems that came before (like me) were buying iPods for Christmas 2001 (and yes, I remember there were other hard drive players before the iPod).

So enter the Zune. There aren't really a ton of Microsoft fanboys out there, since Microsoft's hardware offerings are currently limited to Xbox, keyboards and mice. The Zune that's emerging from leaked stories around the net doesn't appear to offer any generational leap features when stacked up against a video iPod or nano. It's got a beefier processor than the current iPod video, but the next-gen iPod is expected Any Time Now.

There are hints of a Zune that interfaces with your Xbox, but those are out somewhere in the gray murky future. As a PSP fighter, leveraging Xbox titles, letting me transfer saved game state and highlight films to other Xboxes or the internet, you've got something new and interesting, but for now it's roughly on par with the iPod for features. WiFi may or may not ship with the first-gen box; there's a menu item for it in the prototypes.

For now, it appears the killer app at launch will be FM transmission and reception, so that you could listen to my Zune's music from your Zune, encouraging social sharing (but not sharing like file sharing, since you couldn't then take my music with you). They'll also include content at purchase, including EMI music videos.

From a marketing perspective, Microsoft faces a difficult task: They've got to simultaneously launch a brand, a device, and an online service, and they've got to do it between mid-November and Christmas, or concede another holiday season in which the iPod will get even more entrenched with consumers. From a decade-long perspective, it could happen, but it's not a threat to iPod hegemony for Christmas 2006.

My prediction: This thing won't sell well until it can move beyond the iPod.

Some Zune blogs:

Zuneluv | Microsoft Zune and Podcasting

Notes that there's been no discussion of support for podcasting in the Zune details released so far, and that Microsoft is likely to include content at purchase.

Zune Insider Blog

August 21, 2006 in Apple - iPod, General computing, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack