Saturday, December 29, 2007

Earth View, a cool astronomy service

We discuss both mashups and location-based applications. This image shows the earth from a 1,000 kilometers above our campus. It will be dark or light depending upon the time of day.

It was generated using Earth Viewer, which can display various views of the Earth from various vantage points, for example, from the Sun or Moon. I used Geocoder to get our campus coordinates.

With the coming of low cost, location-aware cell phones and other portable devices, people predict that we will see a lot of location-based advertising. Can you think of other location-based applications? Can you think of applications you could build on top of Earth Viewer?

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

An excellent computer history course

We cover the history of technology and networks, and the University of Washington, UCSD and UC Berkeley offered an excellent course on the history of computing in fall 2006.

The course material is online, and includes short essays by the faculty, links to original material, and presentations by faculty and prestigious guest speakers, including many computing and networking pioneers.

Many of the presentations include photos of historic equipment and events. For example, the photo shown here was taken behind the scene of Doug Engelbart's historic 1968 demonstration of his work on personal and collaborative computing.

Note that the course material is organized using a wiki. It illustrates the use of a wiki as a simple, flexible platform for creating a Web site to support an ad-hoc project or organization.

Historic prototypes look old fashioned to us, like early cars or the Wright Brother's first plane. How will we see today's technology in the future? Is technology changing as fast today as in the past?

Tuesday, December 25, 2007, a service for making and hosting narrated slide show presentations

Intellectual property expert Larry Lessig became known for presentations built around narrated slide shows delivered as Flash files. This well-known presentation on US copyright law illustrates his style. Doug Kaye and Paul Figgiani used the same technique in narrating a presentation on recording telephone calls during interviews.

Kaye and Figianni used to convert a Keynote presentation into a Flash movie (PowerPoint also works). The presentations are also hosted at, and the user can watch straight through, pause the presentation or skip forward or backward.

What do you think of the narrated slide show as a presentation format? What are its pros and cons? Are there topics you would like to present using this technique?

A terrific how-to on recording broadcast quality telephone interviews with Skype

We cover audio processing, and Doug Kaye and Paul Figgiani have put together a terrific 22.5 minute presentation on recording interviews using Skype. You no longer need expensive equipment to make broadcast quality recordings of phone calls. A Mac or PC running Skype, a USB head set, a low-cost audio capture program, and this presentation are all you need. (Even if you are not recording telephone interviews, much of what they say applies to audio recording and processing in general).

For discussion of the presentation and more on audio recording and editing, see Kaye's Conversations Network forums.

Are there people you would be interested in interviewing?

Friday, December 14, 2007

A Web 2.0 book

Susan Kelley spotted Dive Into® Web 2.0, a book by Deitel & Associates. The book covers many of the same topics we do, and there is also an extensive online resource center -- you should check it out.

Like other publishers we have discussed, Deitel offers electronic and print versions of the book. You can read the HTML version free online or order a PDF file or a hard copy from on-demand publisher It will be interesting to see if they are able to keep the HTML and PDF versions synchronized.

This 81 page book is $19.95 in hard copy, $9.95 as a PDF file and the HTML version is free. Assuming you want a book, which version would you select at those prices? Would you like to read it on a portable device?

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Google and the opening of the cellular network

We discuss the open architecture of the Internet, a "dumb" network, that connects smart devices. Users, not the network operators, decide what hardware to use and which applications to develop. As such, we see rapid innovation and massive investment. We have contrasted this with the cellular telephone network in which the network operators control the hardware and applications that are developed.

The cellular network is beginning to open. New spectrum is being auctioned off and Google is lobbying the to open the cellular network. They are dominant in desktop Internet services and advertising, and would like to exploit an open cellular network to dominate mobile Internet services and advertising.

During the last month, the New York times has published four articles on the opening of the cell network and Google's role in it.

Individuals, organizations and the economy would benefit from an open cellular network, but do you worry that Google, if successful, may become too powerful?