Adobe Edge demo - first impressions...

Had a play with Edge over lunch - just a simple keyframe animation (which is all it can really do). First impressions:

  • fairly easy to use if not a little cumbersome – adding keyframes/tweens is a little on the convoluted side
  • no ability to add interaction
  • no scripting ability
  • as you'd expect it outputs a lot of files (.js, .css, .html, image files) - in the very simple animation I did the weight of these files was about 250kb. That's about 240kb more than doing the same in Flash. Flash would only be one file (maybe two if you use swfobject.js to embed).

Final verdict – good but I hope for a lot more features in the final release of the software. However – I still can't see how HTML5 will ever take over from Flash for high quality, interactive, rich media delivered via a browser.

Facebook gets in your face - why are people upset about Facebook's facial recognition?

I'm a little bit confused as to why so many people are up in arms about Facebook's new facial recognition tool.

I guess it is kind of scary when you consider the huge amount of personal data that Facebook has accumulated on over 600 million individuals (and in many cases their pets as well) over the time it has been active. But isn't that kind of the point? We all sign up to social networking sites fully in the knowledge that our personal information is going to be in the public domain. And then we moan when it is.

However we set our privacy settings Facebook will still have all the information that we choose to put on the site stored somewhere on their servers. And also information about us we don't upload ourselves - images our friends have uploaded and tagged, links to things we "might like" posted on our walls by others, places our friends have checked us in to and a wealth of other data. Whether or not we choose to share this information with family, friends, friends of friends or everyone, Facebook still has it all – everything about us.

I agree that Facebook should really have allowed people to opt in to the facial recognition tool but I can't see what difference it makes that they didn't. Your face is on display every time you walk down the street sans paper bag. Most people seem happy for their friends to tag them in photos so why aren't they happy for Facebook to suggest to these friends that you are tagged? Even if you turn the technology off in your settings, Facebook still has the capability of being able to scan their enormous collection of uploaded images for your face should they, for any reason, decide to do it against your will. Facebook's photograph collection is expanding at about 1000 pictures per second… Odds are there are pictures of you on Facebook that you don't even know where taken. Possible in the background of someone else's holiday snaps or maybe snowboarding past a posing couple on a mountain piste in Canada.

I think what people are really objecting to is the realisation that technology can now pick their face out from a crowd - and they've unwittingly submitted hundreds of photos to the system that can do it. Suddenly the anonymity that the internet used to provide is gone. You can no longer hide behind the barrage of your flame–war or lurk in the dark corners of a forum. Over the past few years Facebook has slowly integrated into everything you do online… Console games ask you for your Facebook credentials so you can automatically post status updates on the levels you have completed. Other social sites ask you to link your Facebook account to them (Habbo Hotel for instance) and PC World's news site, only yesterday asked me to log in using my Facebook details so I could post something pretty much the same as this post – I refused which is why I am posting it here. Apparently even adult sites allow you to 'like' the things they specialise in – I can't think why anyone would be happy to post that sort of information about themselves on Facebook but the option is there.

In other words Facebook has managed, since it's launch in 2004, to sneakily infringe on our lives, bit by bit, and now boasts an gigantic database of pretty much every thing we do, everyone we know and all of the things we like. How powerful could that information be in the wrong hands? But I think the hardest point for everyone to accept is that we have all created this database ourselves!

The Big Switch - PC to Mac - Part 1

I've always been a bit of a hybrid computer user. By that I mean I am pretty much at home on both Windows and Macintosh platforms. Two years ago I made a vow never to purchase PC hardware again based on the effort it involves in installing / upgrading / configuring / etc anything to do with a PC. However - I continued to predominantly use Windows (Vista / 7) for a number of reasons - to list a few:

  • Most of my work is viewed by people using the Windows operating system seeing as this is by far the most popular OS - it made sense to text and view websites on the PC
  • All my software licenses (Adobe Production Premium, Adobe Web Premium, etc) are for the PC platform
  • In the past I used to do a lot of multimedia work utilising Director and often making Director talk to the system or peripheral devices - these sort of antics are so much more versatile within Windows

Recently I have done less and less Director-based work. I was also getting more and more frustrated with Windows Vista and Windows 7 (which, in my opinion, is as bad as Vista for crashing and silly glitches). I was spending most my days fighting with the Windows OS, trying to get it to do the simple things I wanted it to do. Things like opening a program form the ridiculously named 'Start' menu - for some reason most programs would not run by clicking on them. I had to physically locate the .exe file the shortcut pointed to and open it from there. Why this happened I don't know. I had also lost the will to find out. Copying files was also ridiculous - it would sometimes take literally hours to copy just a few hundred megabytes. Other times Windows would cite me 'days' as the estimated time.

The final straw however was when the fully licensed and legit version of Windows 7 I ran on my MacBook using Bootcamp suddenly started to tell me it was not valid. All day, every day I was constantly reminded of this erroneous fact via a popup at the bottom right of the screen. My attempts to call Microsoft and resolve the issue resulted in being competely unable to contact anyone at Mircosoft. At all. I would constantly get referred back to my vendor or to a 'buy a new licence of Windows 7 now' webpage. My choices were a) pay another £150-odd for an OS I had already spend £150 on or, the more drastic approach b) sod it off and move over to Mac OS entirely. I chose to sod it off.

This wasn't going to be a cheap switch but I needed to upgrade a lot of my software and hardware anyway so decided to take the plunge. My plan was to do the following:

  • Purchase a brand new 27" iMac as my main workhorse to replace my almost useless Dell running Vista
  • Invest in a Time Capsule to handle day-to-day backups from the iMac and act as a WiFi base station (I had no ends of issues with communication between my PC, Router and Airport Express)
  • Continue to use my RAID 2 ReadyNAS to archive old projects
  • Upgrade (memory and HDD) and reformat by MacBook for use on the road
  • Use OSX Snow Leopard on both iMac and MacBook as my main operating system. The iMac would then have XP and Vista running on Bootcamp / Parallels partitions whilst the MacBook ran Windows 7 under bootcamp
  • Cross-platform upgrade my licenses of Adobe CS
  • Smash a thousand shades of living hell out of the pathetic Dell piece of crud that had been maing my life hell for so long

I have run out of time now but I will blog soon on how the Big Switch went and the teething problems I ran into.

Ten ways to look like you have an iPhone when you don't...

1. Talk about iPhones ALL the time. If someone tries to change the subject tell them about the new 'App' you have downloaded that fits with the new course of conversation.

2. Apend the words 'Sent from my iPhone' to the bottom of all your emails

3. Encase your existing phone within 3 inch think rubber padding. Get upset if you get a fingerprint on it.

4. Walk around looking down at your existing rubber-clad phone, try to bump into people

5. When turning your existing your phone on pretent to wait for half an hour before you can use it

6. Frequently moan about 'lack of cut and paste'

7. Charge your existing phone every two hours or immediately after any phonecall

8. Obtain some white headphones. Wear them all the time.

9. Tell everyone without an iPhone how they would be 'better off with an iPhone'

10. Become very, very angry if anyone says anything negative about Steve Jobs, Apple, iTunes or anything associated with these three things

Ten iPhone tips and tricks...

It’s about time I wrote the official Oast One top ten tips and tricks for the iPhone. Little things you may not know about that could just make your life that tiny bit easier.

So – no chat, straight down to business:

1. Screen Grab
This is an easy one. Simply press both the Home and Sleep button at the same time and you’ll hear a shutter noise whilst the screen flashes white. A picture has now been taken of the screen – you’ll find it in your Camera Roll.

2. Type Tools
In most applications that use the keyboard you can hold down various buttons for extra functions. Once the pop-up appears simply slide your finger to the character you need and lift off to select it. Hold down normal letters to get alternate characters with diacritic marks such as acute accents, umlauts and like. The ‘.com’ key will give you alternates such as ‘.net’ and ‘.org’. Holding the ‘123’ key will allow you to slide to a character and select it before returning the keyboard to normal characters – saving you from having to tap the key again afterwards. You can do the same with the shift key.

3. Tidy up email
You can quickly delete pathetic spam email without having to open it up or use the edit button. Just swipe the email to the left or right in your inbox. A delete button will appear. Tap to delete the message for good.

4. No place like Home
The innocent looking home button can be used for a number of time saving tricks:

  • Use the home button in the same way as the sleep button when your iPhone is locked
  • When browsing your Apps, press it once to return straight to the home screen
  • Double-press the home button to open your Phone Favourites for quick calling
  • When your iPhone is locked double-press the home button to access your iPod controls. Excellent for changing music when on the go.
  • You have some control over the above by going to Settings > General > Home Button

5. Unlock hidden Emoji
Ever wondered how to unlock the hidden Emoji (Emoticons) on your iPhone (2.2.0+)? Simply follow our instructions here.

6. Use your head (phones)
It’s surprising how many people don’t know that the microphone on the headphones houses a useful button. Simply squeeze it and you’ll feel it click. You can use this button for a number of functions:

  • Click the button once to play / pause music
  • Click twice to skip to the next song
  • Click thrice to rewind the current song / skip to the previous song

Whilst on a call:

  • Click to answer an incoming call / end a call
  • Click twice so send an incoming call to voicemail
  • If a second call comes in when you’re on one: click once to switch to the new call or twice to ignore it.

7. Sleep button
You can use the sleep button to silence a call or send it to voicemail. Press once to silence, twice to route it to voicemail.

8. Text to fit
Whilst browsing text in Safari you can zoom in to columns of text by double-tapping on them. The iPhone will scale column of text to fit the width of the screen. You can do the same with images and menus. Double-tap again to zoom out. You can also zoom in and out of images in Camera Roll by double-tapping.

9. Save images
You can save images to your Camera Roll from Safari by holding down on the image. A pop-up will appear with a save button. Useful for changing your Wallpaper image.

10. Tap areas
There are various areas on the iPhone you can tap and certain times to useful effect. For example – if you tap to the left or right of the white dots along the bottom of your home screen it will switch pages without the need to swipe. In Safari if you tap the bar along the top of the screen the page you are viewing will scroll all the way back to the top (also revealing the address/search bar).

Please note that I am running iPhone software 2.2.1 on my iPhone. Some of the tricks mentioned in this article may not work on previous versions.

ShyBladder!?! iPhone App that REALLY takes the p**s...

Yes really... The title is correct! These IS actually an iPhone Application called ShyBladder! Obviously I am not going to waste my time installing it but the description says:

"Do you have trouble getting things going in the restroom? Perhaps just when other people are around... ...With ShyBladder on your iPhone, you will have a helpful prompt to get into your flow. With three different styles of running water."

What the hell? If I'm having 'trouble' in any restroom the last thing I'm going to do is get my phone out and start playing the sound of urine sloshing down the drain. My fellow urinees will probably think I've been recording the sound of them peeing and have some very pressing questions to ask me on the subject. Questions that start with 'What the f..." and end with my head and/or iPhone stuffed down the poopoo box.

Ridiculous!

***Updated*** iPhone - how to unlock the hidden Emoji for free...

So why do the Japanese get Emoji and we don't?

That just isn't fair... In an attempt to balance things up a bit I'll tell you how to unlock the Emoji hidden on your iPhone. Follow these four easy steps and you'll be grinning smilies at your mates (with iPhones) in no time:

  1. Make sure you have iPhone software 2.2 or higher installed on your iPhone 3G (not sure if this works with the original iPhone)
  2. Go to the App Store and search for an App called 'Spell Number' - it's written by a company called Waterworld and is FREE! Install it.
  3. Once installed open the App and tap in '9876543.21' - this is an Easter Egg that will unlock the Emoji hidden on all iPhones with software 2.2 and above installed
  4. Now to turn them on. Go to: Settings > General > International > Keyboards > Japanese. You will see that an Emoji setting has been added. Switch it on.

***UPDATE*** The 'Spell Number' application was updated on 6 March 2009 and the Emoji Easter Egg was removed! Bummer. However - it you search for 'Emoji' on the App Store you will find other applications that claim to unlock iPhone Emoji. Simply replace steps 2 amd 3 above with the App you choose to use.

NOTE: You only need to follow these steps to use Emoji - you can still see them on an iPhone 3G (v2.2+) without having them turned on. This means you can surprise all your friends by sending them a bunch of random images. (Believe me there is some wierd little pictures in there.)

Next time you type an MSN, send an email, update Facebook, etc using your iPhone you will see a globe button to the right of the Space Bar. That's where your Emoji are! Bear in mind that only people with iPhones (v2.2+) will see your Emoji - everyone else will see a strange Japanese character.

Vita R1 DAB Radio...

I've just taken delivery of a Vito R1 DAB/FM Radio and I must say... It's highly strokable.

 

See?

"So", I hear you all shouting in unison, "why the hell did you buy a £160 DAB radio in a world where streaming thousands of radio stations via the internet is FREE?"

Well really I wanted this:

The Tivoli Networks Radio. Again: Nice! This one is not just DAB and FM but also picks up your wireless Network and allows you to stream internet radio with gay abandon whereever you may choose to listen (within range of your wireless router of course). The only bummer is the price tag. We're talking £500.00. Luckily I was able to get a bit of a bargain Vita R1 on ebay. I'm sure the price of this internet-streaming-to-hifi-gear technology will come down in time and until then I am happy to use the lovely looking R1 in our kitchen.

Another picture of the R1 I feel:

Another good reason for DAB is my girlfriend, Nicky. She is still very wary of computers (having not used one at work or even had one in her house until we moved in together a year ago) and would probably refuse to use something that she knew was in any way involved with the internet. She still kind of avoids my computer and I'm sure she believes it is sitting there plotting ways to kill her! I am being a little unfair - she has recently started sending emails (occasionally) and has even commented that my iPhone is "pretty cool" (begrudgingly). ;o) I think the key is to ween her onto technology slowly.

Back to the R1 then. The sound quality is pretty amazing for a unit of such a small size (H.W.D 17cm x 13cm x 13cm). Crisp bass and not boomy, which can be the risk when the bass port faces downwards. The cool looking control dial on the top is, whilst not ground-breaking in terms of what it does, easy to use and feels nice with solid clicks and a smooth turning action on the rubberised dial. There are two inputs - a jack on the front and phono's on the back - and a headphone output on the front.  There is also the option to plug in a external stereo speaker despite the fact that Vito don't actually make one. At least yet. The little illuminated black-text-on-white screen serves its purpose well and all-in-all I can't really find anything bad to say. Yes - its fairly expensive - but you're paying for the sound quality (which I don't resent) and the 'retro-modern' looks (which I love).

So if you're waiting for the price of Network radios to fall and are after a stop-gap, little radio for the kitchen or somewhere without a computer (or internet access) to stream radio from then I highly recomend the Vita R1. Pull one in...

Oast One hits Twitter...

I've been hearing about this thing they call 'Twitter' for a while. This week it's also come to light that both Barack Obama and Stephen Fry both use it regularly. I'd better check it out I said to myself as I clicked open a browser window and fired in the URL.

To start with I was a bit confused...

Effectively all it is, for those of you who may not know, is a way of answering the question “what are you doing?” in less than 140 characters. All your Twitter ‘followers’ can see your answers to this question as often as you care to update and they care to check the site out. In turn you can choose to follow as many Twitterers as you wish. All updates then get displayed in Chronological order on your Twitter homepage.

You can access this information in one of a number of ways - RSS feeds, Facebook, your mobile phone, Instant Messengers the list goes one. I have already added the Oast One Twitter RSS feed to this blog and I could even integrate it as a Flash application should I so choose.

So why?

As I said - to start with I was a little confused. Why would you want to be continually updating what you are up to when you have a million and one ways to already do so? MSN away messages, Facebook statuses, Blogs, email, SMS, etc etc etc... But it’s actually quite addictive. There is a real sense of community when you see the updates rolling in.

After signing up this morning I noticed that Chris Moyles (the Radio 1 DJ you either love or hate... or really hate) had signed up too only a few seconds before me; so I added him to the people I am following as a comparison to my own followers. No doubt his followers will spiral exponentially until, in his own words, he gets bored and stops using it whilst mine will probably get to about 10 then die out. Forcing me to 'get bored'.

It certainly does seem that through communications the world is becoming a much smaller place.

Oh - and Barack Obama is following me too...

2Mb Broadband for the entire UK. And then we're stabbed in the back...

Yesterday Lord Carter announced that by 2012 the entire population of the UK should have at least 2MB broadband access in their homes.

Excellent I thought. I live at pretty much the furthest point from the local, and by all accounts pretty dire, exchange and my home broadband struggles to download at speeds higher than 100Kbps. Awful when you think there's people less than a quarter of a mile away enjoying 3Mbps and two miles the other way rolling at speeds around the 7Mbps mark. Although 2Mbps is far less than the current national average Broadband speed (3.5Kbps-ish) it was was still going to be a welcome policy for people like me. Even though, at this stage, it was a bit uncertain as to who was going to pay for this massive communication upgrade.

But then today I woke up and recieved the newscast equivilent of a massive hammer in the groin! Lord Carter was suggesting that we all absorb a £20 a year tax increase. At first I thought this was not too bad if it meant we had these increases in Broadband speeds.

But then I learnt what the £20 was really for...

No - not the speed increase. Lord Carter required this extra cash to help the Music and Film Industry fight file-sharing! He wants to tax the UK's ISP's the equivilent of £20 per head which, of course, they would have to pass on to the customer. For absolutely NO benefit to them at all.

Now correct me if I'm wrong but I've never really noticed a massive lack of cash in the Film or Music Industry's. Why should the consumer pay to fight the debateable crime of file-sharing if it doesn't affect him or her in any way? I don't file share. I can't think of anyone else I know who does. As far as I'm concerned its the Film and Music Industry's probelm. Not mine. I would like to know why the government feels it needs to step in and help the poor film and music industry when, if my business was repeatedly being burgled, I certainly wouldn't recieve a govenment handout to upgrade my security. I would be lucky to get the police to turn up.