Podcasting Setup in OS X – Version 1

Podcast Setup v1
This is the first version of my podcasting setup that I’m relatively happy with as it is clean without too much things going on. I’ve used this for Corner Geeks and some Tech Talk Coffee Shop episodes.

If you’re curious of what podcasting is, it is the production of podcasts. Podcasts are basically recorded shows that are downloadable off the Internet. Do listen to Simply Geek #8 – Podcasting where they discuss it in further detail. Those interested in podcast production check out Simply Geek #17.1: Podcast Production Part 1 and Part 2 that I had to opportunity to play guest in

I explain the process of my setup in the Youtube video below

Setup includes the following:

  • Zoom H1 – bought off Ebay for about US$100
  • Steel Series Mobile Devie Adapter – bought at Chong Hock in Kiulap for about B$26. This is needed as the MacBook Pro has a headset jack instead of individual stereo out and microphone in jacks
  • A regular headset
  • LineIn – a free software utility of OS X

An alternative to LineIn is Audacity (enable “Software Playthrough” in the Transport menu and click “Start Monitoring” in the input device) or LadioCast but LineIn is the simplest method for this setup. For Windows and Linux users, the Audacity method should work just fine.

If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment or tweet me @thewheat and in the mean time listen to some Brunei-made podcasts: Corner Geeks and Talking Aloud

Live Stream Setup for Ran8adidas

So a couple of weeks back we had the honour of live streaming of Ran8adidas (the 8th year anniversary celebrations of Ranoadidas.com) at the International Convention Center (ICC). We share with you how we managed to get mobile video in the field with the ability to add overlays and mix the audio source with any audio source while at the same time live streaming and recording it.


(Watch on YouTube)

Watch the recorded video from this setup at http://www.ustream.tv/channel/ran8adidas

Our Setup:

  1. WebCamera for iOS (US$2.99) running on an iPod Touch or iPhone to act as video and audio sources out in the field
  2. Mobiola WebCamera (free) on the streaming computer to retrieve video and audio from the iOS device (they show up as webcam video and microphone audio devices)
  3. 3G modem used as an Internet connection
  4. OS X’s Internet sharing to ensure the iOS device and the computer are on the same network
  5. CamTwist (free) to add overlays and text
  6. MacBook Pro line-in port to receive sound from the mixer
  7. A USB sound card to be used as audio out for monitoring
  8. Soundflower was used as extra audio devices to aid the transfer of audio from audio sources to audio outputs
  9. LadioCast (free) for audio mixer/switching between mixer and iOS device audio
  10. uStream.tv (free) to stream and record the live video and audio

Other notes:

  • The video quality wasn’t great and it was a trade-off between faster frame rates vs better image quality and resolution which were limited factors of the WebCamera application (192×144 vs 480×360, but I’m not sure to measure the frame rate). We decided on better image quality as it would be made worse by the spotty 3G connection
  • We tried using uStream Producer (free) but it was inconsistent as it dropped after 30 seconds. I wonder if this could be due to the 3G reception.
  • If you have an Android device you can use IP WebCam (free) to stream the video and audio from the device to a computer. I used 2 different instances of VLC (free) to play the video and audio. The video could then be captured using CamTwist and the audio controlled with LadioCast
  • We experimented with PocketCam for iOS ($4.99) paried together with the PocketControl (free) client software but the delay in video and audio was too great, ~10 seconds.
  • Alternatives to CamTwist (OSX) are ManyCam (Windows / OSX) and WebCam Studio for GNU/Linux (Linux) but CamTwist has quite a few nifty features and would recommend it

Corner Geeks 6: The Nokia N9

Play


Nokia N9

Related Links

Notable Hardware Specifications

  • Quad-band GSM/EDGE 850/900/1800/1900
  • Penta-band WCDMA 850/900/1700/1900/2100
  • Screen size: 3.9″
  • Resolution: 16:9 FWVGA (854 x 480 pixels)
  • AMOLED display
  • Capacitive touch screen
  • 8 megapixel camera with Carl Zeiss optics
  • HD quality video capture in 720p resolution at 30 fps
  • Wide-angle lens
  • Large lens aperture F2.2 for better and faster photos in low light conditions
  • Dual LED flash
  • Continuous autofocus
  • Touch-to-focus and exposure lock
  • Internal memory: 16 GB or 64 GB
  • RAM: 1 GB
  • Dedicated power, camera and volume keys
  • NFC (Near Field Communication) for easy pairing and sharing
  • WLAN IEEE802.11 a/b/g/n
  • Bluetooth 2.1 +EDR (Enhanced Data Rate)
  • High-Speed USB 2.0 with micro USB connector for transferring data and charging
  • 3.5 mm AV connector
  • Micro SIM card

Notable Software Specifications

  • MeeGo for Nokia N9 (MeeGo 1.2 Harmattan)
  • User interface simplified to three home views: events, applications and open apps
  • Swipe gesture instantly takes you back to the home view you started from
  • Multitasking and app switching through open apps view: a live snapshot of all running apps
  • Apps compliant with Qt 4.7
  • Software updates over the internet
  • Support for MS Outlook synchronisation of contacts, calendar and to-do with Mail for Exchange
  • Support for viewing documents in Word, Excel, Powerpoint, PDF and Open Document Formats
  • Online calendar synchronisation with CalDAV

Huawei Ideos S7 Overview

I managed to stumble upon the Huawei IDEOS S7 at Yappe IT Store in Serusop selling for B$399 (cash price) and when recording the video below I noticed that quite a few of them have already been bought. Check out the video giving an overview of the device

Specifications

  • CPU: 750 MHz Qualcomm Snapdragon (source: UMPCportal as we forgot to check the processor but it seemed decent enough)
  • GPU: Adreno 200
  • 7″ 800×480 (WVGA) Capactive Multi-Touch Screen
  • Android 2.2 with custom launcher
  • Front and Rear facing 2 megapixel cameras that record in CIF (352×288)
  • 8GB storage (7.51GB available but 116MB for apps)
  • 3G Enabled (standard SIM) with dialer (can make calls and text)
  • Can run Flash (installed from Market)
  • Upto 720p HD playback of mp4 (h264, aac), wmv files
  • Device seems rooted by default (Superuser was installed after factory reset)
  • Connectivity options: Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, GPS, microSD card slot, docking port, 3.5mm headset
  • Other hardware details: Kickstand, Removable battery, Optical trackpad

Pros

  • Budget price B$399: great budget device for a 7″ tablet and phone with calling ability
  • Able to run Flash for a fuller web experience (put settings as ‘On-Demand’ for better performance)
  • Android 2.2 thus you can do mobile tethering (share 3G via Wi-Fi)
  • Rooted
  • Cold boot / Restarts in about 1 minute
  • Decent Performance: it did not seem sluggish or noticeable slow but there were times where it took multiple touches to get the device to respond (could be also due to the plastic film on the device screen)

Cons

  • Only 116MB free for apps
  • A few default apps are landscape oriented and don’t rotate if device is in portrait mode
  • No Office software to read Word/Excel/Powerpoint files (doc/docx/xls/xlsx/ppt/pptx)
  • Battery life may be bad (based on Telstra T-Touch Tab reviews it only has 3-4 hours of typical use: CNET Australia, PC World Australia, Sydney Morning Herald. The T-Touch Tab is a rebranded Huawei S7 but has slightly different hardware)

I doubt this will get any future upgrades because it is an older model and Huawei is releasing an S7 Slim and also the recently announced Media Pad. The main issue with the device will be the battery life: having a removable battery aids it but then you will have to buy another battery and external charger to keep it running. I was contemplating on the device and using it as a mobile hotspot with my b-mobile Zoom! SIM card and using it as a tablet for reading and on the go computing. However with the possible battery life issues, the best bet for my use case is still the Samsung Galaxy Tab which will cost about B$250 more but you get better hardware and a better overall experience. But having said that, I believe this is the cheapest 3G and Flash enabled Android tablet in Brunei. If you’re looking for a budget all-in-one phone and tablet device, and don’t mind the possible battery life issues, this is a good deal.

Corner Geeks 5 Part 2: WWDC 2011 – iOS5

Play

Check out Justin Lee’s keypoint summary of the keynote or just refer to Apple’s iOS5 page or the features page for their info about iOS5.

Brief Show Notes

  • Lots of ‘finally’s
    • Notification Centre
      • Similar to Android: swipe down from top to see all notifications
      • But done better than Android
        • When notification comes in, shows snippet of info at top of screen then disappears
        • Notifications shown on lock screen
        • Direct access to act on notification from lock screen (swipe notification to access)
      • Also has 10 msg limit per app. MobileNotifier (the jailbreak app) has more. UI could be better on mobilenotifier though.
    • PC-less activation (makes it more of a standalone device and with iCloud could be a fuller laptop replacement)
    • iTunes-less
    • Wireless sync
    • Camera Upgrades.
      • Shutter button.
      • Launch from lockscreen (Double-tap home button and click on icon)
      • Crop photos, red-eye reduction, one-click enhancement filter thing (auto white balance, levels, etc similar to Preview on OS X)
      • Can create albums on iOS!
    • Delta Updates!! (no more 600+MB per update) Over the air!
  • Nice to have
    • Reading list (similar to instapaper / Read It Later): only Safari? no where else to access?
    • Reader view
    • Reminders (similar to Locale / Tasker for Android but those are commercial apps)
    • News stand: for magazine subscriptions.
    • Twitter Integration.
      • Twitter’s trying to be what OpenID wants to be? Online Identity?
      • Syncs Twitter Photo to contacts. (similar to what Android does)
      • Nice that it allows user to try diff apps without relogin (Though currently this still doesn’t work yet. Apps need to rewrite their apps. Even official Twitter App)
      • Twitter sharing in Photos / apps nice
      • Android sharing superior as doesn’t have to wait for Google to implement new share options: app needs to support receiving data
    • Photo editing
    • iPad
  • iMessage (lot of focus on security. mention encryption)
    • Replaces iOS SMS app. ie: could be seamless for normal users.
    • Allows iPod and iPads to use. Not sure about Mac, but it’ll be great if it could. (WhatsApp! not available for non 3G / cellulare devices like iPod Touch / iPad WiFi only)
    • Alternatives
    • Competitor Ecosystem Alternatives
      • Google: GTalk
      • Microsoft: Skype?
      • RIM: BBM
  • Some stuff not mentioned on keynote but is pretty cool
    • Typing shortcuts / macros. ie: the default on the OS was “omw” would autocomplete to “On my way”
    • Some UI improvements. Toggles in options.
    • Custom vibrations for incoming calls.
    • LED light can be used as notifications (older phones have had this: on Android side depends on manufacturer)
  • iOS5 beta and jailbreak
  • Available in the Fall (September earliest?)

Corner Geeks 5 Part 1: WWDC 2011 – Lion

Play

This week @mfirdaus and I talk about this week’s WWDC 2011. We will split this in 3 parts: Lion, iOS5 and iCloud as the discussion got pretty long. If you want to watch the video of the keynote click here but also do check out Justin Lee’s keypoint summary of the keynote or just refer to Apple’s what’s new section for their info about Lion.

Show Notes for WWDC 2011 Keynote on Lion

  • Bringing iOS to desktop: Trying to convert PC users using iOS devices to a Mac
  • User Interaction Changes
    • Multi touch gestures
    • Reverse scrolling, Smooth zooming. Scroll bars no longer unless scroll (iOS-like behaviours)
    • Emphasis on fullscreen app support (more for developers: OS supports fullscren better )
    • Launchpad: iOS-like launcher for apps
    • Mission Control: Can see everything in other spaces. Can manage spaces easier.
  • Airdrop: File sharing done easy/right for intranet (transfers encrypted)
  • Document versioning & Auto Save
    • Could be big for consumers and offices.
    • But will work with only iWork or all apps? (app needs to implement or an OS native feature)
    • Visual comparison similar to Time Machine interface: Can actually view old document to copy and paste
    • No need to manually save: new save as a new version
    • Delta saving so it saves only the changes (to save space)
  • Resume: Saving of program state: inspectors, window position automatically saved and restored when application reopened
  • Apps / MacStore
    • Delta Update
    • In-app purchases
    • Push Notifications
    • Apps install on all authorized comps: Buy once, deploy to all authorized computers. Good for consumers
  • New Mail app with updates
  • 250+ new features
    • Mostly are incremental
    • Some notable ones:
      • Full Disk Encryption
      • Quicktime: merge and rotate videos
      • Quicktime: record selected region
  • Price: USD$30. ~4GB only available on the Mac Store

Corner Geeks 4: New Media & An Introduction to Live Streaming

Play

Corner Geeks Episode 4 is live and this week we’re talking about New Media and give an introduction to Live Streaming. In the future we will cover Live Streaming in more details including the setup we used for live steaming the Ran8adidas event at ICC at the end of June.

Related Links

The Nokia N900 Icecast Server

This is the Icecast setup to stream radio from a Nokia N900 as discussed in Corner Geeks Episode 2. Follow the instructions below or watch the video below (direct YouTube link)

Setting up an Icecast Server on an N900

  1. Root the N900
    • Go to Application manager>>Application catalogs>>New
    • Write “maemo.org extras-testing” for catalog name
    • Give web address as “http://repository.maemo.org/extras-testing
    • Enter “fremantle” as the distribution
    • Enter “free non-free” for components
    • Download rootsh from Application Manager.
  2. Open Terminal
  3. “sudo gainroot”
  4. Install icecast via “apt-get install icecast2”
  5. Search for gstreamer lame plugin: “apt-cache search gstream lame”
  6. Installer the gstreamer lame plugin: “apt-get install gstreamer0.10-plugins-ugly-multiverse” (this may change, just the search results from the previous steps)
  7. Start the Icecast server with the following command (this combines starting a Icecast server and sending audio via a source client all in one command
    “gst-launch pulsesrc ! audioconvert ! lame quality=9 ! shout2send mount=/listen.mp3 port=8000 password=YourPass ip=ServerIP”You can change the mount, port, password, ip values depending on your setup.
  8. The Icecast server is now up and running (assuming there are no errors / typos) and this will stream any audio playing from the device.

To stream Radio on your Icecast Server

  1. Install the FM Radio application from http://maemo.org/downloads/product/Maemo5/fmradio/
  2. Open the application and tune into the correct frequency
  3. Start the Icecast server

A First Look at the Acer Iconia Tab A500

The Acer Iconia Tab A500 is the first Honeycomb tablet I’ve seen here in Brunei and is the first proper 10″ Android tablet. As with most Android tablets the specs are somewhat typical: 10″ (1280×800) with dual cameras running on the nVidia Tegra2. @mfirdaus and I managed to play around with the device for over an hour and below is the video overview we took of it. Below the video are further thoughts of the device and sample photos and videos from the device itself.


(watch on YouTube)

Full specifications (from Concepts and Acer specification pages)

  • Android Honeycomb(3.0)
  • 10.1” (1280×800) HD Touchscreen
  • 10.24″ x 7″ x 0.52″
  • 10 points Capacitive Multitouch screen
  • 1Ghz nVidia Tegra2 Dual Core processor
  • 32GB built-in capacity
  • Dual Camera (2mp front, 5mp back)
  • GPS, E-Compass, 6-axis Gyroscope G-sensor (auto rotation)
  • Long life 3260mAh x 2 battery
  • Dual display (HDMI output) (micro HDMI port)
  • microUSB expansion slot (up to 32gb)
  • Physical USB port (Full-sized USB port)
  • Dolby Mobile dual speakers
  • Acer Clear.fi app
  • Acer Social Jogger app
  • Acer Photo Browser app
  • Preloaded games (NFS Shift, Let’s Golf, Hero of Sparta)

Weight & Size
I have always thought 10″ tablets were a bit bigger than an iPad but in fact they are similar sizes: The A500 is longer and thicker but narrower than an iPad 2 (A500: 26cm x 17.7cm x 1.33cm, iPad2: 24.1cm x 18.6cm x 0.88cm). However the A500 is relatively heavy at 765g (iPad 2 is 601g), thus if you’re holding on the device it can get tiring.

Screen
The 10″ screen was responsive and we didn’t feel at real / noticeable / annoying lag or unresponsiveness. At a resolution of 1280×800, that is the same resolution as a lot of 13″ or 14″ laptops and is of higher resolution compared to an iPad: this means when browsing you should see more content. Speaking of browsing, with the great browser which has tabs and the ability to install Flash, this would make a great web browsing device.

Honeycomb and Apps
Refer to the previous post on A First Taste of Honeycomb (Android 3.0): in short there are not many apps optimized for Honeycomb and the large screen, but regular apps can still run.

Connectivity
The killer hardware features are the microSD card slot, full sized USB port and micro HDMI.

The microSD card slot enables you to add storage without buying a new device. If you’re on a budget, just buy the lowest capacity device and add microSD cards for your media (do note that microSD cards could be slower than internal storage on device, but is probably cheaper and can be transferred to other devices in the future).

The full sized USB port means you can connect a regular USB keyboard to the device and start typing straight away if you really need to type out of an email / do word processing. This will easily make the A500 into a productivity device with the proper applications. The USB port also means that you can copy files to and from a regular thumb drive like a regular computer which is a great feature. I’ve heard that USB card readers do not work, but I have no confirmation on this.

The micro HDMI port means you can connect the device to a projector / HDTV with display mirroring (display on both device and projector/TV). While this is a great option, I still think an iPad 2 trumps with the VGA dongle because VGA is still very widely used and HDMI is not. For people wishing to use the device for presentations, I would think an iPad 2 with the VGA dongle would be much easier to work with. I don’t believe there is an easy way to convert an HDMI signal to VGA without an external box, which means added cost and added items to bring.

Cameras
The front facing camera is a 2 megapixel while the rear camera is 5 megapixels (and also has a flash) however the picture and sound quality wasn’t stellar: samples below. Do note that the device was covered with clear plastic which would affect both the video and audio quality but I wouldn’t expect quality to be much better than what we got. Audio quality is pretty disappointing. Photos are stored in JPG format while videos in 3GP (H264/AAC).

Photos (jpg)

  • Rear: 5 megapixels (2592 × 1944)

  • Front: 2 megapixels (1600 × 1200)

Videos (3gp format with H264 video and AAC audio)

Battery Life
We could not take the device home to test the battery life of the device but below lists battery tests from other reviews but most reviews say you can easily get an full days worth without issue.

Price
At B$728, the 32GB A500 is priced cheaper than a 32GB iPad 2 (B$798), but do note that a 16GB iPad 2 is cheaper (B$668). IMHO Concepts should have brought in the 16GB version of the Iconia Tab to undercut all iPad 2 prices because with most Android tablets you can add expansion via microSD cards.

Summary
As a consumer device, this is a great device for web browsing, reading and watching movies. If you have TVs/monitors with HDMI input, this is a possible media center device with a purchase of a microHDMI to HDMI cable or a microHDMI to standard HDMI converter. As an office device, this is a viable option is you have HDMI monitors / projectors. The USB port option is great for using external keyboards and transferring of files. Overall Honeycomb is still maturing and is hard to convince people with an Android tablet unless there is a particular function that they need/want that is available on Android or a specific tablet as the iPad, with iOS, has the advantage of apps. Would I get one myself? I doubt so, as I’m looking more of a 7″ device with USB host, VGA out (highly unlikely thus maybe HDMI out) and possibly 3G to wirelessly tether via a wireless hotspot so I may even look out for the Iconia Tab A100 which is a 7″ version that is coming out in a couple of months.

Other Useful Links

Corner Geeks 3: Portal 2

Play

We talk about Portal 2, one of the best games of this year and one of the games that has captured people’s hearts and minds (mine included) with the great voice acting, humour and songs that started with Portal 1. Great great songs written by Jonathan Coulton and sung by Ellen McLain

P.S. Portal 2 ringtones are free (for now?) so go download them now!

Other Links:

Still Alive

Want You Gone