December 17, 2007

online converter/direct-to-mobile content...


ok... so it's not rocket science, and the moniker is way cheesy, but kinda cool in terms of elegant simplicity. indeed, it continually amazes me that the major mobile players don't harness these kind of quick and dirty tools to drive consumer awareness/experiences related to what they can actually do with their devices...


December 12, 2007

open. enough already...

so... over the last few months, with a crescendo in recent weeks, google, verizon and at&t have proclaimed their "openness" in the mobile realm.

reality check:

let's start with google's open handset alliance and android OS. whatever becomes of this (and there is promise), remember: openness is not about enabling applications and content (and extending a fixed internet-based business) around a single mobile operating system. openness is about agnosticism.

now, let's consider verizon's "any device, any application" promise. great PR (and again, there's promise), but do recall that verizon's wireless network is designed on a proprietary wireless air interface with a unique set of required specs (less open or at least less scalable than the gsm model). same challenge applies to apps.

as for at&t's "we're the most open network" statements, well, again, promising.. proof. taste. pudding. 'nuff said

bottom line: as was referenced in last week's fortune article on the topic: "open is the new black." perhaps a bit more definition would help..., for whatever it may be worth, how 'bout the following basics as prerequisites for openness...

- freedom to choose a device. any phone. any network. your call (as it were).
- freedom to decide what your device might do. nothing disabled.
- freedom to access content. enjoy YOUR music, video, internet, whatever.

perhaps we might all challenge those that proclaim openness to live up to, or explain why they might not, such simple promises.


cell only users "more likely smokers, binge drinkers"

Survey: 13.6% of American homes have only cellphones - RCR Wireless News

wow. amazing blending of statistics...

November 11, 2007


...once again featuring dolan and a pile of leaves (raking of which courtesy of luke). from the mobile.

November 04, 2007

happy 19th morgan...

...holy sh*t, where did the years go? (from the mobile)

October 31, 2007

October 25, 2007

mossberg - "free my phone"...

...i'm not gonna review walt's recent piece on open access - just read it. here.

October 03, 2007 - another video tool

'couple weeks ago i posted a list of various and sundry video-capture-for-mobile-sideload solutions. commenter on that post directed me to as a potential competitive alternative to (which i'd mentioned in my post).

after quick review, some quick observations:

- zamzar converts from flash video url or uploaded video file (various formats accepted, 100mb max limit). the file upload is a nice addition for folks that don't already have conversion software (but at this not-yet-mainstream stage of video capture/convert/upload activity, i'd imagine most anyone who's doing this will already have a desktop solution).

- like vconvert, zamzar features numerous formats to choose from in terms of your converted destination file (and not just video formats...).

- unlike vconvert that converts and prompts immediately for download, zamzar takes your email address and shoots you a note and a link from which to download once the conversion is complete. what i've not tried yet is acccessing that mail and link from the mobile and pulling converted files direct to the device - that could be a nice feature.

- zamzar also has a handy little convert button for your mozilla-based browser toolbar.

in short, another nice tool for the box...


September 22, 2007

September 19, 2007

video capture for mobile sideload...

...had a request from a colleague yesterday asking about a certain video capture solution. thing is, i wasn't sure which one he was talking about so i ended up sending him a catch-all list of various solutions that i use on-and-off, pretty much whatever came immediately to mind. that catalog recaptured below.

- let's start with this site lets you input any flv (flash) video url (e.g. youtube videos) and choose the format you want converted to and then download to pc for sideload to mobile. quite nice. has some issued with some drm-protected flv.
- another solution, pc-based and a bit more versatile - zdsoft video recorder. when launched, you just draw a square around whatever video (or game, or pretty much any activity) may be playing on your pc screen and it records direct (.avi format) to your pc. good example of use of this solution is to capture for sideload television programs, movies or music videos from sites like
- yet another option: sandisk's v-mate which allows you to record video to mobile flash memory cards from a wide range of sources, including hook-up to cable/satellite/terrestrial set-top boxes and dvd players. then just insert your sd card into a compatible portable device and presto: time and place-shifted playback.
- or: there's the smartmovie solution from lonelycatgames - a combined package of a Nokia s60 .avi player for your device and a video format converter for the pc. both are quite easy to use.
- 'course you can also download a free divx player for your device and use a different pc-based video format converter (there are countless) such as AVS video converter which converts back and forth between lots of formats, allows for editing, etc.
- and then there are the various extensions to mozilla-based browsers that also allow you to capture streaming video (like videodownloader for firefox. there are also pc-based programs like moviesextractor scout that will track and save streaming video to your PC in much the same way.

and the list could go on and on... any number of these solutions will require a nominal registration cost, some are free, others are trial, and some can just be found.


August 13, 2007

convert/download online video

this is really quite cool. i've been using pc-based zdsoft video recorder to grab web-streaming video and flash, but the vconvert beta site makes at least the first of those tasks yet simpler. seems a great way to snag web-based video and save for pc playback and/or mobile sideload (provided, that is, that the video's not copy-protected, a challenge that's irrelevant to the zdsoft tool).

August 12, 2007

bethany '07...

...has come and gone. another stellar beach week. now suffering post-beach a big way (guess it's time to start counting the days 'til winter holiday).

great shot of the girls on the 'tubes.

July 31, 2007

open access update...

while the actual text has yet to be published, the fcc today approved rules for next year's 700 mhz spectrum auction, rules which are intended to ensure more consumer choice in terms of devices, services and content.

yes, this is a step in the right direction. indeed, it's nice to see that the fcc recognizes that american consumers not only demand but actually deserve choice. good stuff. but, as commented in the july 12 post below, this rulemaking for an auction for spectrum that won't be available and/or built-out with networks until perhaps 2010 by no means fully addresses u.s. wireless network neutrality challenges, nor will it necessarilly impact in any meaningful, near-term way the largely closed, operator-dominated nature of the u.s. wireless market. but, well, yeah, it is indeed a step in the right direction.

sadly, the rulemaking is being rather remarkably misunderstood to mean things that it just simply doesn't. for example, contrary to popular media reports, the rules will not in fact "allow customers to use whatever phone and software they want" on the network. while, again, the detailed rules are not yet published, the less popular (but perhaps more fact-based) understanding is that the rules might require - in addition to prohibiting the operator from blocking or slowing competitive wireless and Web content - open and competitive access for devices built to network specifications, but not magic wireless networks that can receive and transmit signals from devices regardless of what radio standard they might employ.

and yet, even some of those purportedly in-the-know seem to fundamentally misunderstand what they're promoting - to wit, per online reports, in the wake of today's fcc announcement on the rules, the president of public knowledge said: "in the new wireless services created as a result of this decision, they (consumers) won’t be forced to abandon cell phones or other devices they have purchased when they change service providers." um... this is simply not the case - rather, it's a maybe/maybe not (more likely the latter) situation, all dependant on the radio network standard deployed by the operator and the radio network standard built into the device used by the consumer changing service providers. this, if you haven't gathered, is not a trivial misunderstanding...

stay tuned - this'll only get more complicated before it gets less so...

July 18, 2007

luke proves size doesn't matter

amazing performance from luke at recent swim meet. all heart and (very lean) muscle.

thanks to alex for the photos.

July 12, 2007

quick & dirty on wireless "open access"

so, let's see, earlier this week usatoday ran a piece teasing that the fcc is considering new rules for the upcoming 700mhz spectrum auction that would require as much as a third of the spectrum to be dedicated to a "truly open broadband network." the idea would be that consumers would be able to attach the mobile device(s) of their choice to consume the services, applications, content, etc. of their choice. sounds great (god only knows i've raved about this topic more than once over the history of this blog), right?

yeah, well, maybe. or not. would carving out a little chunk of spectrum in a band that has no global counterpart (and as such no network or handset manufacturing scalability) really address the fact that the u.s. mobile market remains perhaps the most carrier-dominated on the planet? um, probably not. indeed, a cynic might wonder of this whole thing is just a political sop, a network neutrality fig leaf to avoid addressing the truly fundamental challenges of competition and consumer choice in american wireless.

more to follow on this developing story...

July 06, 2007

lazy summer friday... the pool. less than a month to beach week. counting days.

from the mobile

June 24, 2007

poor man's mobile carkit

so... i was using the kid's car to pick up an electric-powered atv for dolan's birthday (another story), and noticed that brennan had one of those $10 car cassette adaptors plugged into the tapedeck (it's a late model car) so he could playback tunes from his mp3 player. waiting at a light, i plugged the adaptor into the headset jack on my n95 to listen to my tunes since, lacking sirius, the radio selection kinda sucked. took me less than one lost prophets track to wonder why the setup wouldn't work as a handfree solution for calls as well. and, well, it worked like a charm - i could hear megan clear as a bell via the car's speakers and she had no problem hearing me with the n95 resting in the cup holder. no doubt there are countless folks out there who've already figured this out, but i still found it to be quite cool. sure, a bluetooth headset or carkit is a more elegant solution, but hey, this works too - and quite well.

June 23, 2007

June 16, 2007

1st summer '07 swim meet...

dolan's 1st "A" meet - swimming free, back and believe it or not, fly - as an 8-and-under at the age of 4.

and he took 1st in back. amazing. way, way cool.

and the other kids were no slouches either - a slew of 1sts and 2nds. good stuff.

...from the mobile.

June 06, 2007

change is in the air... seen in manhattan, in a number of locations.

go ahead, unlock your life.

May 12, 2007

turning 12 on the 12th...

happy birthday kids! (from left: ryan, cullen, luke, brogan). life is good.

May 02, 2007

phling your music (and more)...

ok. so that's not fair. i'm giving phling better billing than orb when in fact i can't really recommend one over the other. but, really, "phling your music" sounds a lot better than "orb your music" so, well, whatever...

...anyway, what we're talking about are a couple of nice little apps/services that let you stream content from your fixed pc to your mobile (or another fixed pc if you like).

phling is the newcomer. easy online registration and app download (see UI image below) to your nokia series 60 device. streaming works like a charm, even over gprs, with little latency. stream any music from your fixed pc other-the-air direct to your mobile wherever you may be. you can also sample free indy music and, kinda cool, share your tunes with a limited number of friends. nice, simple embedded player in the app. only flaw i've discovered so far is that when you exit the app it doesn't always actually close. no big deal, but an issue to be sure. 'course, maybe it's just my device...

orb, in contrast, has been around for awhile. orb does what phling does and then some, adding remote access pc-based images and video, and even tv programming piped through your pc. orb's a bit slicker than phling in both fixed pc and mobile look and feel (see image below). chock that up to earlier-to-market maturity if nothing else. unlike phling, orb is mobile browser based and launches the nokia embedded realplayer for music and video playback - the result: a tad bit longer latency period in loading up your content. again, no big deal, but an issue...

in any event, both solutions represent pretty cool ways to place and time shift your content without having to take the time to or otherwise tax your memory card. try 'em out. good stuff.


May 01, 2007

ctia on skype

yesterday's FCC filing by ctia represents a potentially key inflection point in the ongoing net neutrality debate, specifically in the context of ctia's comments on skype's february petition asking the fcc to require wireless carriers to allow consumers the right to attach non-harmful devices of choice to networks of their choice (see my february post).

restricting myself to the petition's executive summary (entire ctia petition linked here), and with due (seriously) respect to legitimate carrier concerns - e.g. managing efficiency and security of networks, evolving business models to account for the the commoditization of access, etc. - i gotta say some of the arguments might be a bit of a stretch...

first off, let's recognize that skype's petition speaks for a broader range of wireless industry players who, for customer sensitivity or other reasons, are mum on the issue. so, in other words, it may be a bit much to say that the petition is entirely self-serving, e.g. "seeking to apply monopoly regulation to vibrantly competitive wireless markets in an attempt to use regulation to facilitate Skype’s service and specific business model." and, while ctia is absolutely correct in saying "this is not a market which is broken" (and as such should not be victim to frivolous regulatory change), it might be a bit hyperbolic to suggest that "the re-regulation that Skype calls for would seriously impair wireless carriers’ ability to meet the demands of consumers."

the ctia petition executive summary makes repeated and appropriate reference to the competitiveness of the u.s. wireless industry, but might slightly undermine the credibility of ths point suggesting "wireless consumers have their choice of about 700 handsets with differing features, form factors, and operating systems." whle perhaps theoretically true, it is hardly the case in practice - walk into any carrier store...

ctia is right when it says "the u.s. mobile wireless industry’s success has been made possible, in part, by an environment of minimal regulatory intervention," but, in my humble opinion, skype is not "asking the FCC to upend a regulatory model that has worked so well to date." rather skype is asking the regulator to review and apply, as appropriate, decades-old policy (carterfone) that secures the right of telecommunications choice for american consumers.

let's face it, for a variety of reasons, u.s. consumers do not have the choice of mobile devices that consumers in other markets take for granted. and, u.s. consumers do not have the freedom in the untethered internet enviornment that they enjoy in the fixed internet world. is there a market failure that demands regulatory intervention as a fix? perhaps not. but the potential is real. the skype petition has prompted a dialogue that every u.s. consumer should value, a spotlight, a non-regulatory check as it were, on market behavior. let us hope that the debate goes on, to ensure, in ctia's words, that we protect "the true demands and interests of wireless consumers."

April 26, 2007

aging? nah...

if you're wondering what brought this on, the answer is "nothing in particular" - i was just tickled by the image.

by the way, i heartily recommend the "stumble upon" extension for firefox/flock - leads to finding random images like this one.

and, while i'm rambling - headin' home tomorrow. can't. friggin'. wait.


April 16, 2007

April 13, 2007

mobile memory card recorder

now here's a handy little solution (thanks to carl for the heads up)...

sandisk's v-mate allows you to record video to mobile flash memory cards from a wide range of sources, including cable/satellite/terrestrial set-top boxes and dvd players. then just insert your mc into a compatible portable device and presto: time and place-shifted playback. cool.

sandisk lists a range of video formats for capture and playback and suggests the possibility of up to to 3.5 hours of high quality video per gigbyte. pretty much any memory card format will work with the device, including mini- and microSDs.

needless to say, sandisk straps on the obligatory DRM figleaf - for home and personal use only, and (of course) in compliance with all copyright and applicable intellectual property laws, etc.

all-in-all, not bad for a quick $129...

April 03, 2007

leaving basketball behind...

...ok, so a couple of days have passed since georgetown's rather limp-wristed and ultimately losing performance against ohio state. ah well, sh*t happens, as they say, and the hoyas simply didn't come to play. but what a great season. can't wait 'til next year (and with march madness now behind us, i'll try to get back to more substantive posting going forward).

February 27, 2007

February 21, 2007

skype ups wireless net neutrality ante

very cool.

yesterday, skype filed a petition with the fcc asking that wireless carrier services be subject to the carterfone principle. huh? trust me, this is good stuff.

long story short (as mentioned in previous posts): the carterfone policy, dating back to'68, set the stage for american consumers to attach any device we might choose to the wireline network, so long as it doesn't harm the network. this is why we no longer have hardwired black rotary dials in our homes. competition and choice. pretty simple all-american concepts, no?

notwithstanding that both the original cellular rules in the 80's and the pcs (digital cellular) rules in the early 90's upheld the carterfone principles, the selection of devices available to u.s. consumers has remained pretty meager, due to unique features of the u.s. wireless market, e.g. subsidies, locks, etc.

what skype (and others, but not yet in this manner) is asking is that the fcc declare the wireless realm subject to the carterfone principle giving consumers the same right to attach any non-harmful device of their choosing to the network. um, well, yeah. why not? seems sorta self evident, no? (okay, okay, as expressed in previous posts, there are legitimate counter-concerns as well).

February 17, 2007

comvu - very cool...

wow. where to start (i s'pose by thanking james for the heads up on this) ...

go to comvu (link below), register and download the app for your nokia series 60 device. set up on both the device and online is quick and easy.

so what's it do? well, you launch the app on the phone and, using your integrated camera, basically start webcasting video. that's pretty much it. slick. the quality of the webcast video is not gonna do your camera justice, but that's a matter of bandwidth limitations as much as anything. but still way cool and full of promise. following is a link to an archive (comvu archives your webcasts) of a test webcast from my doorstep, concluding with a quick shot of the actual video playing back realtime on my laptop - quick test

(note: comvu is meant to allow direct linking to blogs, but i couldn't seem to get that to work. not sure if it's their issue or somehow related to which version of blogger - old or post-beta - they are linking to).

i'm gonna have to play with this some more. definitely yet another cool way to share experiences. and, imagine the potential in terms of journalism, medicine, security, etc...

and, lest i forget, go hoyas! (nice win today over 'nova)

February 14, 2007

location-based social networking

there's a whole slew of emerging players looking to extend the web2.0 social networking (or whatever) experience with location-based apps and services. while there are differences among them, the various services (all free) listed below share common features ranging from locating to mapping to tagging to sharing. having played with each briefly, i'm hard-pressed to define the unique value-add of any one over any other - in other words, i don't have a preference among them.for whatever it may be worth, while each allows for mobile device access/use, they are all still primarily optimized for the PC experience, and, each requires (naturally) some level of ongoing "active" engagement (input) by the user. "passive presence" and more mobile-optimization will almost certainly come with the introduction and mainstreaming of integrated gps handhelds. until then, while cute and fun, these services are somewhat limited in their location-based promise. mobility, after all, is the ultimate extension of the web2.0 experience - indeed, mobility completes it.

January 27, 2007

exorcist stairs...

...where better to stop to revel in the hoyas trouncing cincy.

from the mobile (gotta love that nokia n95 5mp image quality), with the kids...

nice start to the weekend.

January 21, 2007

morgan moves in...

...or out, depending how you look at it.

spent the day moving morgan into umd, wiring the room, etc. started out looking like a prison cell. ended up looking pretty much the same, but with a bit of color, a hint of warmth.

sigh. melancholy doesn't even begin to describe the mood right now.

from the mobile, from the dorm...

January 12, 2007

net neutrality debate re-opens...

not unexpected, senators dorgan (d-sd) and snowe (r-me) introduced a bipartisan net neutrality bill when congress reopened - essentially identical to the one they proposed in the last congress. in short, the bill would establish a national broadband non-discrimination policy, requiring broadband providers to meet a series of obligations, like offering comparable levels of bandwidth to third-party providers that they offer to their own affiliated services. and the fcc would be empowered to set up a complaint procedure for enforcing the requirements.

per senator dorgan, “the success of the internet has been its openness and the ability of anyone anywhere in this country to go on the internet and reach the world...if the big interests who control the pipes become gatekeepers who erect tolls, it will have a significant impact on the internet as we know it.”

nice momentum in the wake of the conditions the fcc imposed on AT&T related to its acquisition of sbc, e.g. a two-year moratorium on offering any service that “privileges, degrades or prioritizes any packet” transmitted over its broadband service.

in short, bravo. but let's not forget wireless...

January 11, 2007

myphonerocks on iphone

thanks paul, for the balanced yet provocative post. worth the read. linked here

change, incidentally, is in the air...

January 06, 2007

hoyas open 18-2...

...over notre dame in first 5 mins. sweet. (from the mobile)

January 01, 2007

welcome 2007...

...look out for dolan.

(from the mobile)