Daily Archives:June 27th, 2007

Social… umm… well, Networking, actually

At CamViNe, our CODA system lets us put ‘albums’ of visual information onto an arbitrary number of ethernet-connected screens – we have several around the office.

We often use this for simple photo slideshows, but increasingly we want to display dynamically-generated information sourced from the web, so we created the CODA Markup Language (CML) which is easy to generate and produces beautiful antialised output for whatever information is currently of interest:

Time until smoke-free

One thing the system can do is take RSS feeds and convert them to CML, so we have an ‘album’ of our favourite blogs and newspaper headlines on one of our displays. But in the last week or so everybody’s been talking about Facebook, so I signed one of my screens up to the status feed of my Facebook friends. Ta-da! An instant way to keep in touch with what my pals are up to.

Facebook screen

This is fun stuff. Perhaps it’s the modern equivalent of having a pinboard with holiday postcards and change-of-address cards stuck to it…

Phone home

On Friday afternoon in the US, the iPhone will be launched, and one thing I’ve been wondering is how they’re going to handle the paperwork for the thousands of people who will be queueing up for a new AT&T contract – the first obligatory accessory to the device.

Well, of course, it turns out that Apple won’t require anything so last-decade as a signature on a piece of paper. From Steven Levy’s review:

Instead of going through the usual complicated contract signing and credit-vetting ceremony with a fast-talking and slow-processing salesperson, Apple has come up with a startling idea: you simply buy the thing and go home. Then you open up the snugly fit black box – the design blitz at Apple begins with the packaging – and take out the handset.

Setup is a snap. As with the iPod, the device is a satellite of Apple’s free iTunes software. Plug the iPhone into a computer with your iTunes library (Mac or Windows) and the automatic sync function not only carries over your songs, videos and movies on iTunes library, but also photos, your contacts and calendar items. It also copies your e-mail address book and information onto your phone. This is one of the few phones that easily imports your information from your PC; because this is usually such a painful process, the vast majority of people with mobile phones never get around to moving over all their contact and calendar items. Signing up for phone service is easily handled in a straightforward process through the iTunes store.

The features of the iPhone have been discussed elsewhere in a phenomenal number of column inches and podcast minutes. As Leo Laporte says, this is perhaps, with the possible exception of the PS3, the most eagerly-anticipated consumer electronics device ever launched. But Levy points out that it may also have a huge impact even for those who don’t splash out on this Mercedes of mobile devices:

In a sense, the iPhone has already made its mark. Even those who never buy one will benefit from its advances, as competitors have already taken Apple’s achievements as a wake-up call to improve their own products.

And about time too.

From our own correspondent…

My friend Pete Naughton is in Buenos Aires. There’s a lovely snapshot of life there in his blog today.

© Copyright Quentin Stafford-Fraser