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Wednesday, November 24, 2004

iPod Photo UI works for pictures should stretch to videos

I had a chance to play around with the iPod Photo, (Thanks Bomba.) Like the other iPods this is a great experience and the first real extension to the iPod concept since the launch of the Music store. Ironically few week before the annoncement I started to use iPod for storing pictures and other valuable personal content (see my post on it here), I only use it as a backup.

When I first read about the iPod Photo I was pleased that Apple did this product, as mobilizing your memories is one of the key thoughts we have in Lifeblog. The key thing missing is an easy way to share content. Well it is first generation for a mobile iPhoto.

Read more for my intial impression.

Here are my initial impressions:

1. I was surprised how fast it was. I assume they must store two thumbnails, the little and the full screen. With a rotator UI speed is a must.
2. I do agree it makes sense to have your're images in your pocket, that is one of the carrying thoughts in Lifeblog. However it opens up for a new type of use case coined by my friend Matti. The iPod Photo provides a new new way to torture your friends by suggesting: 'Should we look at some of my pictures, I have all my 5000 photos in my pocket....'
3. I think the resolution of 220x176 (the same as many smartphones, but positioned landscape) is too small for 25 thumbnails. I usually like efficiency in UI's, so I am bit surprised by my own reaction. Lets see if I get used to it.
4. I think the font is too small to be anti alised, the font is dirty.  This should be changed, designing low resolution bitmap font which loks good is not easy.
5. I found it amusing that the Slideshow settings where the first menu item.
6. There are no possibility to modify the content on the iPod Photo and hence no need for robust sync. with conflict resolution etc.

The reason the iPod Photo UI works is that iTunes and iPhoto share the same UI metaphor, or UI style as I would call it. Pictures are like songs and albums are like playlists. This metaphor holds as long as the user makes albums or do not mind lots of browsing. The only problem with albums is that eventually the pressure for nested folders arise and then there is little difference between.

There are no features to manipulate, organize or annotate your images, it really is a player for visual content. Lets see how they will evolve. If they want the iPod to succeed it has to become a 'platform' and without text input that is very difficult.

There are no way to search for images other than to browse and at some point one cannot browse and one will not remember in which album the image is. making a rotator based input method seems incident in the long run, if Apple wants to make iPod into a more general purpose device.

I read somewhere that Steve Jobs does not think people will watch movies on small screens, I tend to agree, but I see no reason why one could not watch shorter productions, the type of production consumers make with iMovie. To add the possibility to watch and share clips would be great. I am quite optimistic about clips as even a decent video photographer can direct a short 30 second clip conveying much more substance than a picture.

Pictures without words are not stories and stories is where the beef is. The photos needs to have some sort of access to the text on them, but this is omitted. This goes back to the primarely problem of the missing text input for this device.

I am looking forward to getting my hands on the device and see how I could use it in practice. More later.

10:02 PM in Technology | Permalink | Comments (5)

Saturday, November 20, 2004

LEGO innovating again

LEGO is back innovating. This time it has engaged kids in designing models using a virtual brick studio and factory where kids can design models and compete for the possibility to have them mass produced for real, more info here. The kids get their name on the package and they get enough of them to give to all of their friends. I found this concept extremely cool, it is the good old LEGO, the LEGO that brings the creativity out of the kids. Congratulations Mark (see the intersting article Mark wrote in ThinkAbout Times on page 13  about current LEGO developments.) and Lisbeth for creating this experience !. What makes it so cool is that winners will get their models mass produced.  It provides parents and kids the possibility to cooperate making the bond between kids and parents stronger. I was thinking of signing up with Karen, but she is too young ;-)

I looked at what kids where creating and submitting and it seemed to be alot of buildings. This makes perfect sense to me, there are not many good building models available and it seems that it what kids like to build. It correlates with my own building habits I had 30 years ago and that I have today. Karen and I cooperate on building buildings. The only problem buildings consume alot of bricks.

I went to their web shop and shopped around. I must say I found the site to be straight forward and easy to use. The key thing I was missing was a bit more of the: "People who bought this also bought that" so familiar from Amazon. What is cool on their site is the possibility to buy bricks by shape and colour, allowing you to get key building block in short supply in kits. I opted for a few bags of special and added their biggest box, the 1200 piece box. I found that the price (€39.99) is the same as for the 1000 piece box in retail, so shipping is not a burden, and with the special brick kits it became a real fun shopping experience. I think I spent more than 1 hour in the shop. The bricks arrived about 1 week after ordering, this was with slow shipping.

What I would like to see is more specials for signed up customers and good bargins. I am eagerly going to wait for a sale, I am very curious how dynamic their shop it. It has alot of potential, the challenge is how to drive more business into it. Another challenge is ofcourse the conflict between the physical channel and the virtual, but with LEGO having such a rich offering this could be avoided with some segmentation.

08:16 PM in Play | Permalink | Comments (0)

Winter wonderland. The first snow is always amazing, so calm and harmonious.

Winter wonderland
Winter wonderland arrived today in Helsinki. The first snow and lots of it The downtown Esplanade park looked like something out of a fairy tale.

04:26 PM in Play | Permalink | Comments (4)

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Karen meets her little sister Maud Elise.

Big sister meets the little sister.
Big sister meets the little sister.
Study of her face.
Study of her face.

Study of her hands.
Study of her hands.
Study of her feet.
Study of her feet.

Karen was amazed to meet her little sister Maud. She wanted to see everything, feet, face and feet. Karen holding Maud was the high point, she really enjoyed being the big sister. One could feel the responsibility in her face. The thought -This is no doll, must have crossed her mind. The newborn was 48cm and weighed 3690g and is healthy.

We decided that she would be called Maud Elise. It fitted our criteria of being poetic, short, international, rare and memorable. One inspiration was Dronning Maud, the Norvegian Queen, I guess grand mother of the current King Haakon of Norway.

03:14 PM in Play | Permalink | Comments (5)

Saturday, November 13, 2004

It is a girl. Karen got the little sister she wanted.


A beautiful girl was born at 16.11. She looks like her mom and bigger sister. Now I have three girls. This is a great name day present.

04:27 PM | Permalink | Comments (13)

Friday, November 12, 2004

Hans Välimäki Finland's premier Chef becomes Lifeblogger and Blogger

Hans Välimäki, Finland's premier chef, holder of two stars in the Guide Rouge became Lifeblogger and blogger today. Congratulations Hans, you can follow him here. He is the owner of Chez Dominique, of which I blogged about here.  He recently opened Mecca, a trendy place for food and soul.

I wanted to test a hypothesis that Lifeblog, a blog and a cameraphone could be great tools for the modern chef living hectic lives shuttling between the public eye and the stowe.  I thought that Hans would be a perfect person to test my hypotheisis on, so I got in touch with him and presented my hypothesis. He bought into it.

Here are some of the rationale of my hypothesis:

  • Chefs are creating all the time and inspiration can come anytime, anywhere, having the ability to record it visually could help them to recreate it when time and place is right.
  • Chefs often work in teams and to achive consistency it is crucial to have good sharing ability, here a team blog could be great.
  • Chefs experiment, having the ability to record, different stages and variants could help them achieve perfection.

  • Restaurants are more than food, having the ability to record the life in the restaurant will become important mementoes in a long career.

09:36 PM in Restaurants | Permalink | Comments (3)

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Lifeblog 1.5 is public

I am really pleased to announce that Lifeblog 1.5 was also announced at the Nokia Mobility Conference today. Thanks to everyone who worked so hard to make it possible, I am extremly proud of you!

Lifeblog 1.5 is a significant evolution to version 1.0. It brings the possibility to blog directly from the phone or the PC to your TypePad account. It also enables syncing of blog post between the PC and the phone. That means you can have blog post in the phone as permalinks which can be sent by plain text message to friends, reducing the hassle of browsing to your blog. Lifeblog 1.5 also enable multimedia blogging, so you can share anything you have in Lifeblog. With the partnership announced earlier with Six Apart Lifeblog will now be able to blog directly to the cool new mix media templates that Six Apart have designed.

The 1.5 also brings many of the desired features from the summers Beta test, like easy back up, right click menu, ability to do batch editing. It will also have an improvement in the connectivity. The coolest thing with 1.5 is that the mobile application. It now has the best features from Gallery, plus the ability to make notes in the timeline, ability to reply to text messages. This makes it the best "Gallery" and this amazing S60 application is completely free! The whole 1.5 will be a free upgrade to registered users of Lifeblog 1.0. It will be available just after new year.

Another important note for all blogging techies, it supports ATOM. We have made some extension to ATOM, like multiple picture per post and MMS posting. We will publish them on the Lifeblog site in the new year and submit to the ATOM community.

If you want to learn more, check out the Lifeblog web site and the press release.

I think Lifeblog 1.5 with TypePad as blogging service will provide operators and end users with a fantasticc turn key solution for multmedia sharing. Hmm. that really sounded like advertising speak...sorry for that, but I on a roll....

10:13 PM in Technology | Permalink | Comments (12)

Leaps for the Series 60 platform

The second of November proved to be an important day for the Series 60 developers. Two key announcements were made at the Nokia Mobility Conference in Monaco.

First: A mass market Series 60 device was announced. The phone is called 3230. The 3k range of phones have traditionally signalled big volumes. It has been acheived by balancing the feature set and the price. The feature set is familiar from other Series 60 phones, so it will be amazingly competitive in its range. The ability to customize the SW at the factory should mean that it should become very popular among carriers. Its 1.3M camera leaves no one cold. The difference between VGA and megapixel is very significant and experiencing mega pixel shots on computer screen is very pleasant. Finally it will run all the S60 apps out there (eventully, also Lifeblog). What makes it so hot is of course the price. An unsubsidised price of around €350 will have significant impact, it is about 200 less than the others retail for and with carrier subsidies it will be a steal deal. I also think the design will have resonably broad appeal. Hence I cannot make any other conclusion this will be by far the most popular S60 phone, boosting the installed base to a totally different level. This is ofcourse based on my gut feeling ;-)

Secondly: The Series 60 platform will be the core code base for a range of new user interfaces in terms of screen size, resolution and interaction style. From the current 176x208 the platform will scale to 640x320, that is the same resolution as the new 7710 Media device has. It will also support the use of pen. As the Series 60 will be the common code base the amount of rework developers have to do between the different screen sizes will decrease, but I do not think it will be as easy as recompiling, the size difference in the screen is so significant that it makes sense to do some redesign in the functionality or atleast in the layouts. The goal is that it will be less work than developing for the S60, S80 and S90. You can read more here.

Both of these announcements are very significant for Series 60 developers, like our team (The Lifeblog team) and it will be interesting to see how this will serve the developers in practice. At least I am very optimistic.

09:09 PM in Technology | Permalink | Comments (0)