Posts Tagged: LifeBlog

Testing PixelPipe with Nokia Share Online

Tue 03.17.09 – Purple and Pink at breakfast.

Posted via Pixelpipe.

Update: Will PixelPipe push the photo to my server or will it live on their server just like Flickr does? If PP pushes to my server, I can use it for moblogging when I have a phone without Lifeblog (new Nokias), but if they just send the link to the photo that lives on their server, then why use it over Flickr for the same purpose?
Further update via my twitter: “Huh. PixelPipe is not any different for moblogging than Flickr or others. Photos on their server, not mine. Fail. #ownyourownphotos”
Even more: If Nokia is going to stop putting Lifeblog on their new phones after the Nokia N82, I wish they would open source Lifeblog so developers can iterate and continue to make direct phone to Movable Type moble blogging with no intermediary service or server.

The Big Switch Over, or Back to My Nokia N95

The WOM World folk let me keep one of the Urbanista Diaries N82’s through SXSW for better photo taking, but today I had to reset it back to factory settings & wipe the extra memory chip in anticipation of shipping it back to the UK and returning to the daily use of my Nokia N95.
To get my Nokia N95 back into daily use, I updated it to the most recent N95 update and optimized the files. Per usual, the update wiped all my settings and programs, so I had to reinstall ShoZu and Joiku, as well as redo my blog settings in Lifeblog. Only problem is that the 20.0.0.something update for the N95 has made Lifeblog incompatible with this install of Movable Type Open Source 4.1, or if not incompatible at least it won’t recognize the correct settings. The N95 12.0.0.something Lifeblog worked just fine with this MTOS 4.1 install, and so did the most recent update / OS version for the N82. I have run through the phone’s Lifeblog settings 7 times and reset them each time and it still can’t find this blog. Bah!
When I met up with Charlie in London a couple of weeks ago, he was surprised that Lifeblog was installed on the N82 and said that the N82 would most likely be the last phone that would have Lifeblog. Charlie unofficially confirmed what I had supposed for sometime now, that Nokia has left Lifeblog to die.
This will be a problem for me and my daily moblogging from my phone to this blog. I have tried for a few years now to convince various Movable Type perl developers to make a mobile blogging plugin that would work across a variety of mobile platforms to moblog photos and text to one’s MT 3.x or 4.x install, but to no avail. David Jacobs told me that his company, Apperceptive, has made such a plugin for paying customers and will be releasing a version to the public, but it has not happened yet.
Charlie is currently working with David on a blog for Nokia and hinted that one of the side projects would be a mobile blogging plugin for Nokia phones.
Please, please, please…


Nokia’s Sports Tracker could be ‘Photo Tracker’

The method of mobile blogging that we are using during the Nokia Urbanista Diaries adventure to send photos from the Nokia N82 phone to the Nseries Urbanista website is as follows:
1) Turn on Sports Tracker. Start a “workout”. Make sure the GPS signal is strong.
2) Start going around on the adventures and take photos. Go lots of new places, takes photos, make sure the GPS signal remains strong.
3) Stop the Sports Tracker “workout”. Click on “upload to service”. Sports Tracker will find the photos associated with the “workout” route and send them to the ST server with the GPS data and athletic data.
4) The Urbanista Diaries flash app then pulls the photos, geo & route data feed to create a photo map and the slideshow that you can watch on the site.
At the beginning of the year, I blogged that I really didn’t like Sports Tracker as a mobile blogging app for the reasons that it is created to be a sports tracker and not a photo tracker, I also wondered why Nokia has allowed Lifeblog to go dormant rather than adding the geo data capacity to that established app.
During the course of January, I tried Sports Tracker out a few times while walking Scruffy McDoglet and liked it as a mobile app to tell me how far we had walked and at what pace, but I still felt that it was not an app for mobile photo blogging.
Urbanistas Devin and Jay both blogged about their frustrations with Sports Tracker while out on their journeys and Ryan has tested it before starting his part of the Urbanista adventure.
I am now at the end of my second full day of mobile – geo – blogging with the Nokia N82 and Sports Tracker has been doing a good job of tracking where I have been going around Chennai, has added most of the geo data correctly, and has been able to find and send without error most of the 200+ photos I have taken. I am certainly not going to complain about how Sports Tracker sent up all 150 photos from today’s 4th Chennai Photowalk, no, actually I am going to praise the hard work that the developers have put into improving the system in the last four weeks that the Urbanista Diaries has been going.
What I would like to point out here is what Sports Tracker could do to make the application a little more photo mobile blogging friendly or spin off a sister app that would be ‘Photo Tracker’:
1) If Nokia wants Sports Tracker to be adopted and used regularly by more than just the athletic or tech geeks then make the mobile and web based user interface be visual with photos and geo data at as the first level of interaction.
Find someone’s mom who loves to take photos but is non-technical (I will donate my Mom to the cause) and have her be the UI tester without any explanation, if she can use the app while taking photos and then post them to the server, then everyone can. Take a big tip from Nokia’s Lifeblog app for the phone on this. The photo thumbs are the first thing that comes up and then you can do things with them via 2 different menus (one menu with the thumbnail display and one menu for each photo).
How could this work for Photo Tracker, well make the “timing” start when one opens the camera app – this action should be a choice as not everyone will want every photo geo tracked nor the pull on the battery resources that the GPS and tracking app take. Each photo should have a manual (at the time or later) opt out feature, as some photos you don’t want geo tracked and some you don’t want sent to the Photo Tracker server.
2) Yes, allow the photographer to choose which photos get sent up to the server from each timed tracking activity either before sending the data and photos to the server. The fact that Sports Tracker currently sends all the photos it can find during the interval of the activity is either too much (150 photos from today’s photowalk! Yikes!) or some photos should not be sent due to privacy or it is just a bad photo.
3) Now onto the Sports Tracker web based application… The colors and layout of each workout profile may be conducive to sports based athletic training and tracking, but not for photography or showcasing one’s mobile photos. Photo Tracker should have the photos up above the “fold” not buried as tiny thumbnails at the bottom of the web page. Don’t get me going on the green & black color scheme…
4) Take a tip from any number of social networking applications and allow the user to configure the layout to suit their needs: Sports folk will want the athletic data prominent and Photo folk can make the photos prominent. Also, allow the user to change the stylesheet: ie the colors, typography and minor layout changes (see blogger, typepad, vox, myspace, et al for how folks can customize the look).
5) Take a tip from any number of social networking apps and an allow the view/user to easily find one’s friends recent ‘posts’ / ‘activities’. Right now it is very difficult for me to find the most recent uploads from Ryan & Jay and I can click on Devin’s username to navigate to his space on Sports Tracker at all. Take a tip from Flickr on this, Flickr makes it really easy for me to see the most recent photos from my contacts and friends.
6) Last but not least: Own your own stuff. Allow the advanced mobile photographer or web dev the option to host and send the data to their own website and make it apart of the settings in Photo Tracker to post to your own blog if you so choose (Atom Protocol anyone?). This person can then take the athletic and geo data via the xml/kml file and with the photos create their own mobile app.
Lifeblog lets me post directly to my website via the Atom Protocol and that is why I prefer it to all the other mobile photo blogging apps out there, but it doesn’t embed the geo data. Sports Tracker and Shozu both embed the geo data but they don’t let me send the photos and data to my own site but only to their websites.
Frankly, after how Nokia seems to have left Lifeblog high and dry, why should I put up two plus years of photos and geo-data to Sports Tracker if in 2-3 years it will be DOA as well? Data portability and/or stability for long term archival purposes and url links is important.
At the very least, make all the data and photos be exportable, not just on the phone but also on the Sports Tracker / Photo Tracker site.
Some folks may argue that Sports Tracker already does the job of athletic activity tracking well. This is true. Why fiddle with the system and add a full featured Photo Tracker? Well, that is how we are currently using the system for the Urbanista Diaries as a Photo Tracker, not a Sports Tracker.
One could also argue that ShoZu and Flickr do much of the same functions as we are using Sports Tracker to do and that I envision that Photo Tracker could do, so why recreate the wheel? In web world, the first to enter the market is not always the best web app in the long run. When was the last time you used Friendster? Applications developed later can learn from others before them, iterate, add new features or goals and come out with the stronger user base, ie. MySpace and Facebook.
Nokia, how about a full featured Photo Tracker that takes the best of Lifeblog and Sports Tracker mashes ’em up, iterates a bit, and makes this mobile photo blogger darned happy? How about it? Run with it.


My Day with Nokia’s Sports Tracker

When I first heard of the new Nokia mobile app shipping with the new Nseries phones, Sports Tracker, I envisioned a mobile stop watch combined with GPS and a how many steps have you taken monitor. Dull. Sigh. Where is an updated, GPS enabled Lifeblog?
Ok, I grew up in a family that was sports obsessed, esp. my first stepdad – my mom’s second husband. He was on the Olympic committee, competed in the Pan American games and has won in the Master’s division of the some sort of spin off of the Olympics (Allison, help me here). My childhood, from ages 3 to 13, was spent with the stepdad, mom, and various other mom-related relatives who were pathologically compulsive about exercising at very darned opportunity.
Beach volleyball in the evenings? Check. Olympic style kayaking and canoeing? Check. Surfing? Check. Running? Check. Skiing? Check. Hiking with a pace meter and stop watch? Check!
By the time I was 8 years old, I was hiding when the folks were ready to go out for yet another bout of daily evening EXERCISE! Me hiding with my mom yelling at me that it was time to leave. My high school rebellion was to cultivate super-white, never see the sun skin. To do this in an ultra-athletic, sun-worshiping family was even more rebellious than teenage pregnancy or drug use. I kid you not. The cousins that got knocked-up and/or were smoking pot were excused as long as they were in competitive sports and winning.
The cousins have sports trophies and I have a great collection of black vintage dresses and goth jewelry. I also now have great skin.
So, the nice folks at Nokia’s WOM World asked me to evaluate the Sports Tracker app, as it will be used on the Urbanista Diaries adventure as our way to track our path and upload our photos to the Nokia server.


Nokia N95 versus the N82 – Any Questions?

Irish Brothers - Nokia N95 Irish Brothers - Nokia N82
Photos of the Irish Brothers taken on Thurs., Dec. 27, 2007 at Alex’s Bar in Long Beach, Calif.

The true test of any camera is shooting movement indoors at night in low light situations with no flash. The ultra true test of any camera is shooting a band at Alex’s Bar in Long Beach, Calif, as there are no windows, the interior lights are low, the walls are all painted dark red, and there is no stage lighting whatsoever unless the band brings their own. Shooting live band photos at Alex’s is a huge challenge without a pro-sumer SLR camera with external clip-on flash, but extra flash is a no-no in rock photography as it distracts the band, and at many concert venues will get one kicked out of the photo pit for using a flash.
Any good music photographer worth their salt learns how to push one’s camera to shoot in any nightclub or concert venue situation without a flash early in their career. I learned how at age 15 with 400 iso film and setting my f-stops and shutter speed for low light but fast movement. With the advent of digital photography in the late 1990s, this became a challenge as most early digital cameras were point & shoot for daylight at best.
One of the fun & challenging parts of mobile photography with my various Nokia camera phones has been concert photography. To see how I can capture a photo with a camera that was never designed for low light / fast movement situations. Two of my favorite concert photos I have taken in 24 years of shooting shows were two photos I took with my Nokia 7610 – one of Social Distortion’s Mike Ness and one of Mike from the Riverboat Gamblers. The fact that the little kickin’ 7610 could get those photos… rock on! Rock on!
The big disappointment of the Nokia N80 and Nokia N95 is the delay between pressing the shutter button and … and… and… and.. and.. focusing… and… and.. and… photo taken. Many times this can take up to 15-30 seconds, esp. in low light situations. How many times did I wish it would just trust me and snap, like the 7610. Stop over thinking, just do it.
The glories of the Nokia N82 is that it just takes the photo. Rarely is there a delay while it thinks, focuses, and snaps. In most situations, even at night with the flash off, it trusts that I know what I am doing and takes the photo without fuss. Without the big delay to focus and refocus and pick its nose and refocus again, like the N80 or N95 does, the N82 about 90% of the time will take the photo that you saw through the viewfinder at the time of pressing the shutter button. Yay!
In the above two photos (double click for the larger versions) I took the one on the left with my Nokia N95 with no flash and the one on the right with the trial N82 with no flash. The Irish Brothers kindly made my job easier by bringing in their own bluish halogen lights that that cast a strong upward light. In the above photos, the N95 was able to capture the two front men clearly and the background decently. The N82 blurred the Keith & Karl a bit, but captured David the drummer and the background with great clarity and lighter than the N95 did.
I also used the flash on both camera phones, of which I am not displaying the results as it was not conclusive in this case. The N95’s flash did not add much illumination or significant difference, as the dark red walls of the room and lack of light eat up any of the N95’s flash real fast. The N82’s powerful Xenon flash was actually too bright and gave both Keith and Karl glowing red eyes, as well as added some flash light bubbles to the photo. In this case it was better without the flash for both Nokia camera phones.
Using the Nokia N82 to take photos at night and at a show was a delight. This is a big step towards camera phone I have been dreaming of, except for the fact that the N82’s pre-installed Lifeblog is not interfacing with this MT4 powered blog when there is not good reason why it shouldn’t.
Up next in Ms. Jen’s review of the Nokia N82 – all the night and indoor photos that I have taken with the Nokia N82.

Lifeblog on the Nokia N82

The Lifeblog on the Nokia N82 seems to be faulty. It will let me post to Typepad, but not to Movable Type. I have checked my blog settings on the N82’s Lifeblog, as well as access point settings, many times over in the last few days, and I have not been able to post to this blog from the Nokia N82’s Lifeblog, but I am able to do so from my N95’s Lifeblog.
Odd but true.
Why would Lifeblog have a different version pre-installed on the N82 from the version that comes pre-installed on the N95? I am able to send and receive emails on the N82, so it is not a data or email/ISP issue.
What makes it more frustrating is that the N82 takes kick ass photos that I would like to moblog here, but to no avail. To add to the frustration, Nokia does not have a mobile version of the Lifeblog site (yucky Flash) where I can go to download the newest version of Lifeblog. And as stated on this blog before, Lifeblog does not have an application updater on the phone as many mobile applications do, nor do they have an about button where I can see which version is currently installed on the phone, which makes troubleshooting more difficult.
Dear ShoZu, please allow for a generic Atom script Share-It destination (like Flickr does), where I can input the url of my blog’s Atom script, the username and atom password, so that I can use Shozu to post directly to this blog from a Nokia Nseries phone and give up Lifeblog which seems to have been deserted by Nokia.