nullstream weblog - January 2010

Apple Tablet This Week?


January 25, 2010 11:08 AM PST

Ok, the count down is on. Time to make your predictions. Let's see who can get the closest to the actual thing. This time around I'm trying to restrict my predictions to what I think it will have rather than what I want it to have.

Here is my overly detailed prediction:
[Updated to compare with actual]

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Don't discount Google's cloud storage just yet


January 12, 2010 10:09 PM PST

Today Google announced that cloud file storage was coming to Google Docs. After quickly reading the details, my first response (and pretty much everyone else's) was MEH. Only 1G for free with no local syncing? I'll stick with Dropbox, thank you very much. Seriously after all these many years of G-Drive rumors that was all they could come up with? But after some further though I think we may be missing the real potential here. I say 'potential' because this is only speculation, and may not be Google's intent, but hear me out.

Comparing this to DropBox is not fair. That is not where the real potential lies. In fact we don't need another DropBox. What we need is, well, cloud storage. Not a copy of all our locally generated content copied to the cloud, but rather one place to store all of our cloud generated content. Think about it, there is a general trend away from desktop and towards netbooks and web services. As we move more and more of our generated content to Web apps we have lost control of our files. They are sprayed all over different services and servers. I figure Google is in a position to fix that. Who better than Google to provide a nice open file storage API for any web service to use? Combine that with OpenID (via your existing Google account), and you have all your 'cloud' generated files centrally located, backed up, and securely under your control again. Brilliant. Of course they'll all be indexed by Google to provide targeted advertising, but we're already used to to that aren't we?

Am I right here? Is this were Google is going with this? Only time will tell.

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Streaming video to the iphone and ipod touch


January 9, 2010 10:06 PM PST

When I switched away from Windows Mobile I left behind a lot of functionality, some built in and some via 3rd party apps. Over time Apple has managed to add some of these things to the platform, like cut and paste (duh!) and Bluetooth Stereo support. Gradually 3rd party apps have also appeared to fill in many of the cracks left by my switch. I found another one last night - Air Video

I used to use TCPMP or BetaPlayer to stream Xvid files from my media server to my PocketPC over WIFI. I gave this up when I switched to the Apple platform. The iPhone won't play anything but mp4 and I'm not about to convert all my vids. Also the iPhone doesn't have any native support for accessing a network share. Now that problem is solved with Air Video. Air Video allows you to stream video in almost any format to the iPhone. Since the iPhone only displays mp4 the video must be converted (transcoded). Luckily Air Video will do that for you - either by queuing up the conversion or by transcoding on the fly.

To use it you need to install a server program on your Mac or PC and point it to the folders you would like to share. The server software uses Bonjour so you don't need to configure any network settings. After it is up and running the iPhone Air Video app will find the local machine automagically. They also claim some support for streaming across the internet, but I haven't tried that. You can also share iTunes playlists.

There are two versions of the app, one pay  (2.99) and one free. The free version limits the number of items you can see in a folder, but otherwise behaves the same.

I downloaded the server and app and after a quick setup I was streaming anime in .mkv format to my iPhone. Initially I was not able to see the subtitles, but I found there was a beta version of the server. I installed it and the subtitles appeared.

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