CornerGeeks.com

CornerGeeks.com has been registered and podcast content will be available there. I will probably retweet announcements and updates but probably will not post the tech content here. The website is still a work in progress but thought it should be up and beta tested haha. Feedback will be most welcome. Have a great week guys!

Corner Geeks 10: Online Storage and Dropbox

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Dropbox https://www.dropbox.com

  • Free 2GB with no file size limit
  • Can increase storage by referrals (250MB for each up to 8GB). Must sign up and Install
  • A Dropbox folder . Anything you drop there will be synced to any computer that access to the same folders
  • Stored locally on computer (no need to download to retrieve as it is auto downloaded when changed elsewhere)
  • Simple. Just save files in the Dropbox folder
  • Can share folders (full read and write access only)
  • Versions of documents for the past 30 days
  • Public folder: but folder link does not show all files in that folder, i.e. must direct link to each file
  • Bandwidth limits for public files: 10GB/day limit for free plans, 250GB/day for paid plans
  • Quite expensive for paid plans:
    • 50GB $9.99/month or $99.99/year
    • 100GB $19.99/month or $199.00/year
  • Clients for: Windows, OS X, Linux, iOS, Android, BlackBerry
  • Web Access via website
  • Closed source
  • Recent security issues: optional passwords, config.db issue

Corner Geeks 9: Live Streaming setup for Ran8adidas

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Show Notes

What we wanted

  • Live streaming of the event
  • Video
    • multiple cameras if possible
    • perhaps one overview shot
    • one on-the-go camera following events like the Twitter hunt. Follow contestants around “Amazing Race” style
  • Sound
    • clean sound from the mixer for opening ceremony / speeches
    • also want to capture atmosphere/sound around the camera
  • Internet
    • need for streaming
    • simplest of them all. 3G dongle
  • Master control at the laptop controllilng the stream / switching audio and video accordingly

Mobile video

  • DSLR / camcorder approach:
    • Possible but need wireless transmitters making it cumbersome
    • DSLR sensor limited time
  • Keep-it-Simple-Stupid approach:
    • Use smartphones with Wifi and cameras
    • Small, simple, only need wireless access point if needed
    • Possible to attach external microphone to device for interviews
    • Advantages
      • Can move around freely
      • Requires no additional hardware for video capture hardware on computer.
      • Fairly cheap and easy to setup if you already have the devices (more people have smartphones now)
    • Disadvantages
      • Latency
      • Lower quality?
      • Potentially unreliable connection vs wires? Wireless inteference. Network going down?
      • No zoom!
    • Mobile Video apps
      • IP Webcam
        • Android
        • Free
        • Starts a webserver on camera device. Accessible from any computer on the network. View and listen in a browser
      • PocketCam (Desktop software)
        • iOS / Android
        • US$4.99 / BND$6
        • Windows or OS X software to be installed on the host
        • Creates video and audio device driver on host. Once connected access like a webcamera and USB mircophone
        • Audio lag!
      • WebCamera
        • iOS / Blackbery / WinMo / Symbian
        • US$2.99 / US$19.95 / US$19.95 / US$9.95
        • Works similar to PocketCam: Windows or OS X software to be installed on the host
        • Used iOS version that can take video and photo from camera and it will send it to host computer
      • There are other apps for Android and iOS but many do not provide audio which is what we wanted
    • Multiple Camera feasibility study
      • IP Camera: separate VLC instance for each video and each audio for each camera. Gets complicated very fast
      • Pocket Camera / WebCamera: only one PocketCamera / Webcamera host software allowed to run at one time on one machine
      • Not possible to use multiple cameras using only one app. Mixer and match is possible
      • Needed proper communication between in-the-field camera user and master control

Sound

  • Input from mixer via line-in on laptop (not don’t have get a USB sound card)
  • LadioCast for audio mixing and piping of audio. Can even monitor sound without sending it to live stream

Internet

  • Needed wireless coverage
  • Used iPod Touch as a WiFi signal monitor. Activated voice control, tap the wireless signal to hear the strength level (probably there is an app for this but did not explore)
  • To forgoe a 3G router: OS X Internet sharing (Connetify.me for Windows)

Other things we used

  • Phone holder to tripod mount
  • Tripod: can place camera in certain places. Can extend tripod to get different angles
  • Charging cables! Must remember to charge mobile devices. iPod Touch 4G lasted about 2 hours of streaming

Final Setup

  • iOS Webcamera easiest to work with
  • CamTwist to add overlays
  • Ladiocast to pipe audio. Connected to mixer when needed. Add microphone from the mobile cameras when interviewing / asking questions
  • Tripod to place camera so no need to be there
  • uStream to send out stream and record it

Other Considerations

  • Phone upgrades:
  • Have a sign that says, “we’re streaming live”. While recording I was thinking of the implications of this for privacy
  • Have a dedicated chat room to interact with the viewers. At least had a screen of some hashtag that we could sometimes show on twitter.
  • Get better upstream for better video and audio
  • Have a dedicated screen / projector / laptop on our booth showing what’s streaming.

The HTC Flyer

We managed to get our hands on the HTC Flyer at Yappe Computer, Serusop, and it seems like a good 7" Android Tablet: an alternative to the older Galaxy Tab. It’s selling for B$859 (cash price) / B$886 (credit card price) for the 32GB model.


(YouTube link to video)

Specifications

  • 7" 1024×600 multi-touch capacitive screen
  • Stylus for use with the active digitizer screen
  • Android 2.3 with Sense 2.1
  • 1.5GHz CPU
  • 32GB storage (~7GB available for apps, ~20GB available as storage)
  • 1GB RAM
  • microSD card slot
  • 5MP rear camera with auto focus (no flash)
  • 1.3MP front facing camera
  • Standard micro-USB (no HDMI out)
  • Wifi: 802.11 b/g/n
  • Bluetooth 3.0
  • Audio supported formats:
    • Playback: .aac, .amr, .ogg, .m4a, .mid, .mp3, .wav, .wma (Windows Media Audio 9)
    • Recording: .amr, .aac
  • Video supported formats:
    • Playback: .3gp, .3g2, .mp4, .wmv (Windows Media Video 9), .avi (MP4 ASP and MP3), .xvid (MP4 ASP and MP3)
    • Recording: .3gp
  • Battery: 4000 mAh
  • Supports Adobe Flash

(Specifications from HTC Flyer Website, GSM Arena)

Notes on the Stylus

  • works in apps that support it otherwise touching the screen takes a screenshot that you can annotate
  • cannot be used to ‘touch’ all controls / buttons only digitizer palette brought up by touching the icon with the digitizer (not your finger)
  • requires a single AAAA (yes 4 As) battery which I have not seen in shops
  • has 2 buttons: 1 highlights text, other erases

Bundled HTC Apps

  • Notes application syncs to Evernote and allows infinite vertical scrolling. Allows text input, photo embedding, handwriting annotation as well as voice dictation
  • Reader application is a reading app linked with Kobo for in app purchasing
  • Watch application allows renting and buying of movies (but doesn’t seem available in Brunei, thus can only watch previews/trailers)

Other Notes
While it is a 7" Gingerbread (2.3) tablet instead of Honeycomb (3.x, which is the tablet optimized version of Android) it seems to be the better choice at the moment as apps will run on it with the only issue may be the way it looks. Currently is only one 7" Honeycomb tablet: the Acer Iconia Tab A100 and it was released yesterday. It is the first device to have Android 3.2 which is supposed to provide better support for 7" tablets compared to the regular bigger 10" Honeycomb tablets. However there seem to be some force close issues and app incompatibilities reported by This Is My Next and ZDnet (i.e. more work for the developer to fix problems).

On the entertainment side it supports 720p video playback, supports quite a few file formats and codecs but there is no HDMI output unless you get the dock to use with the extended microUSB connector on the flyer. The HTC Watch app is a nice feature but not being available here makes it of no use. For office use, there is support for Microsoft Office documents that allows editing with normal text entry and even the stylus (however, not all file formats are editable). Battery life seems a bit mixed with the Engadget review being impressed by it while TechRadar and CNET UK rated it has having bad battery life. BGR and Android Central give it decent battery life with typical use of 2 days per charge.

Summary
While I wished they didn’t remove the calling ability of the device, the usability of the pen to annotate and take notes is pretty appealing. A good alternative to the Galaxy Tab if you don’t plan to use it for calling. Smaller and more portable than an iPad it is made more for mobility. The main reason to get this device is the active digitizer and stylus combo or if you just wish for a tablet faster than the Galaxy Tab whose age is showing. Nice to see HTC innovate with the Flyer and hope to see more with the upcoming Puccini, their shot at the 10" tablet category.

Corner Geeks 8: The Brunei Apple App Store

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A ‘live’ / non-Skype Corner Geeks recording this week as I sat down with @mfirdaus as we discussed the Brunei Apple App Store while also passing him the InstallESD.dmg file for Lion. We hope that this is the start of more services being opened to Brunei and perhaps a legal way for people to get music, movies and TV shows in the future.

Show Notes

  • Apple brings the iOS and Mac App Store to 33 new territories, including Brunei!

  • We can register with a Brunei Credit Card
  • AV Electronics, the premium reseller of Apple products, says they aren’t currently selling Brunei iTunes gift cards

  • Registration without a credit card is possible with the same hack/work around to register a US account without a credit card (try download a free app in the App Store and create an account from there)
  • Brunei just has an App Store, not a full iTunes store with Music / Movies / TV Shows
  • Not all apps available in the iOS App Store: e.g. WhatsApp (could be developer’s setting when publishing app or some other unknown restrictions)
  • Prices shown in store are in US dollars
  • App ratings are reset meaning Brunei apps could make it to the recommended list
  • Sources for US gift cards: PC Game Supply / Jerry Cards (I have bought once from each of these sellers before and can verify that they work)

Corner Geeks 7: Live Streaming – Part 2

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We get back into podcast producing and we resume our topic on “Live Streaming” (part 1 here) giving details of how to set up a more advanced live streaming system. Some related links on the topics we covered are listed below. Feel free to add your own links in the comments with regards to tools you use for live streaming

Live Streaming Services

  • uStream (Free): has co-hosting, recording features and mobile client (iOS, Android, Windows Phone)
  • Justin.tv (Free): has desktop and mobile clients(iOS, Android)
  • Livestream (Free)
  • Stickam (Free): co-hosting and mobile clients (iOS, Android, J2ME)
  • Vokle (Free): new and modern with good co-hosting feature and recording. Latency was an issue when we used it. No mobile client
  • Google Plus (Free): not really live streaming but can have up to 10 people video chat but latency was good
  • Vidyo (commercial)
  • Bitgravity (commercial)
  • Wowza: set up your own streaming server (i.e. make your own uStream.tv)

Live Streaming Utilities

Video Effects

  • uStream Producer (Free: OS X, Windows): easy transitions and allows output of webcam/pictures/movies/screen/music and also has PIP support. No text overlays
  • CamTwist (Free: OS X): powerful with many video effects. can do screen casting, slideshows, movie playback, changing of video sources, text and image overlays and so much more
  • ManyCam (Free: OS X, Windows): easier than CamTwist to use, has screen casting, displaying of images (slideshow), movies, text overlays
  • Webcam Studio for Linux (Free: Linux): seems like a CamTwist for Linux which advance functionality

Other Hardware

  • Eye-Fi: an SD card with wireless capabilities for wireless transfer from camera to computer
  • Zoom H1: used as a line-in recorder

Video Switching

  • BoinxTV (Commercial, Software): software is to be installed on a Mac to provide TV studio like functionality. Check out Daniel’s video of how it used it for the Making of Gear 65 #28
  • Tricaster (Commercial, Software & Hardware)
  • Sony Anycast (Commercial, Software & Hardware)

Audio Effects

  • Line-in (Free, OS X): simple tool that sends audio from one sound device to another
  • LadioCast (Free, OS X): an Icecast client but has the ability to do audio mixer and piping
  • Soundflower (Free, OS X): creates 2 sound devices which can be used as streams to pipe audio from one app to another
  • JACK (Free, Linux, OS X): Jack OS X – similar to Soundflower
  • VACard (Free, Windows)

The Zoom H1 Handy Recorder

Zoom H1 Handy Recorder
Earlier this year I bought the Zoom H1 Handy Recorder off eBay (US$105 including shipping) to be used as a line-in recording for my church but also for possible podcasting use. It has been used both as a stereo microphone as well as a line-in recorder for Corner Geeks. Check out the video review below or click this YouTube link

Overall, it’s a great budget recorder that can be powered over USB but sadly cannot be used as a USB microphone. I would highly recommend it for anybody who wishes to start recording interviews. If you wish for something a bit more compact the Tascam DR-08 may be better option.

Features (from samsontech)

  • Stereo X/Y mic configuration captures perfect stereo images
  • Same frequency and SPL handling as popular Zoom H2
  • Records Broadcast WAV (BWF) at 96kHz/48kHz/44.1kHz at 16-bit or 24-bit
  • Records MP3 from 48 to 320kbps for maximum recording time
  • Hi-Speed USB 2.0 port (mini USB)
  • Built-in reference speaker
  • Includes 2GB microSD memory card and one AA battery
  • One AA size battery allows 10 hours operation
  • Accommodates up to 32GB microSDHC memory cards
  • Track marker function
  • Low cut filter
  • Built-in tripod mount (1/4″, 20 threads)
  • 1/8-inch (3.5mm) external mic input
  • 1/8-inch (3.5mm) stereo line output
  • Auto record level
  • Optional accessory package (APH-1) includes windscreen, AC adapter (USB type), USB cable, adjustable tripod stand, padded shell case and mic clip adapter

Other Notes

  • Can be used with either external microphone or line-in recording levels
  • Stereo microphones are angled such that in an interview, one mic can be pointed to the interviewer and other other the interviewee giving better sound separation
  • Can dynamically change recording levels while recording without having to stop the recording
  • If external microphone / line-in cable is removed, the recording automatically switches to the in-built microphone (the opposite is true as well: automatically switches to external microphone / line-in once connected)
  • Can be powered off USB after turning on the device: great if you’re low on battery. I’ve had some issues where connecting the USB port to power the device causes humming in the recording, but that could be due to my cables, but it is something to note
  • Cannot be used as a USB audio device/microphone when attached to a computer
  • Plastic makes it seem cheap
  • Tripod mount is made of plastic so wear and tear may not be good to it
  • No windscreen provided so be careful of any wind blowing or breathing into the microphones that can mess up the recording
  • The rounded end on top of the recorder gives it a bulge and makes it a bit more difficult to store away without a proper hard case
  • May be considered a bit bulky compared to the Tascam DR-08 which is half the thickness

Podcasting Setup in OS X – Version 1

Podcast Setup v1
This is the first version of my podcasting setup that I’m relatively happy with as it is clean without too much things going on. I’ve used this for Corner Geeks and some Tech Talk Coffee Shop episodes.

If you’re curious of what podcasting is, it is the production of podcasts. Podcasts are basically recorded shows that are downloadable off the Internet. Do listen to Simply Geek #8 – Podcasting where they discuss it in further detail. Those interested in podcast production check out Simply Geek #17.1: Podcast Production Part 1 and Part 2 that I had to opportunity to play guest in

I explain the process of my setup in the Youtube video below

Setup includes the following:

  • Zoom H1 – bought off Ebay for about US$100
  • Steel Series Mobile Devie Adapter – bought at Chong Hock in Kiulap for about B$26. This is needed as the MacBook Pro has a headset jack instead of individual stereo out and microphone in jacks
  • A regular headset
  • LineIn – a free software utility of OS X

An alternative to LineIn is Audacity (enable “Software Playthrough” in the Transport menu and click “Start Monitoring” in the input device) or LadioCast but LineIn is the simplest method for this setup. For Windows and Linux users, the Audacity method should work just fine.

If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment or tweet me @thewheat and in the mean time listen to some Brunei-made podcasts: Corner Geeks and Talking Aloud

Live Stream Setup for Ran8adidas

So a couple of weeks back we had the honour of live streaming of Ran8adidas (the 8th year anniversary celebrations of Ranoadidas.com) at the International Convention Center (ICC). We share with you how we managed to get mobile video in the field with the ability to add overlays and mix the audio source with any audio source while at the same time live streaming and recording it.

Watch the recorded video from this setup at http://www.ustream.tv/channel/ran8adidas

Our Setup:

  1. WebCamera for iOS (US$2.99) running on an iPod Touch or iPhone to act as video and audio sources out in the field
  2. Mobiola WebCamera (free) on the streaming computer to retrieve video and audio from the iOS device (they show up as webcam video and microphone audio devices)
  3. 3G modem used as an Internet connection
  4. OS X’s Internet sharing to ensure the iOS device and the computer are on the same network
  5. CamTwist (free) to add overlays and text
  6. MacBook Pro line-in port to receive sound from the mixer
  7. A USB sound card to be used as audio out for monitoring
  8. Soundflower was used as extra audio devices to aid the transfer of audio from audio sources to audio outputs
  9. LadioCast (free) for audio mixer/switching between mixer and iOS device audio
  10. uStream.tv (free) to stream and record the live video and audio

Other notes:

  • The video quality wasn’t great and it was a trade-off between faster frame rates vs better image quality and resolution which were limited factors of the WebCamera application (192×144 vs 480×360, but I’m not sure to measure the frame rate). We decided on better image quality as it would be made worse by the spotty 3G connection
  • We tried using uStream Producer (free) but it was inconsistent as it dropped after 30 seconds. I wonder if this could be due to the 3G reception.
  • If you have an Android device you can use IP WebCam (free) to stream the video and audio from the device to a computer. I used 2 different instances of VLC (free) to play the video and audio. The video could then be captured using CamTwist and the audio controlled with LadioCast
  • We experimented with PocketCam for iOS ($4.99) paried together with the PocketControl (free) client software but the delay in video and audio was too great, ~10 seconds.
  • Alternatives to CamTwist (OSX) are ManyCam (Windows / OSX) and WebCam Studio for GNU/Linux (Linux) but CamTwist has quite a few nifty features and would recommend it

Corner Geeks 6: The Nokia N9

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Nokia N9
Related Links

Notable Hardware Specifications

  • Quad-band GSM/EDGE 850/900/1800/1900
  • Penta-band WCDMA 850/900/1700/1900/2100
  • Screen size: 3.9″
  • Resolution: 16:9 FWVGA (854 x 480 pixels)
  • AMOLED display
  • Capacitive touch screen
  • 8 megapixel camera with Carl Zeiss optics
  • HD quality video capture in 720p resolution at 30 fps
  • Wide-angle lens
  • Large lens aperture F2.2 for better and faster photos in low light conditions
  • Dual LED flash
  • Continuous autofocus
  • Touch-to-focus and exposure lock
  • Internal memory: 16 GB or 64 GB
  • RAM: 1 GB
  • Dedicated power, camera and volume keys
  • NFC (Near Field Communication) for easy pairing and sharing
  • WLAN IEEE802.11 a/b/g/n
  • Bluetooth 2.1 +EDR (Enhanced Data Rate)
  • High-Speed USB 2.0 with micro USB connector for transferring data and charging
  • 3.5 mm AV connector
  • Micro SIM card

Notable Software Specifications

  • MeeGo for Nokia N9 (MeeGo 1.2 Harmattan)
  • User interface simplified to three home views: events, applications and open apps
  • Swipe gesture instantly takes you back to the home view you started from
  • Multitasking and app switching through open apps view: a live snapshot of all running apps
  • Apps compliant with Qt 4.7
  • Software updates over the internet
  • Support for MS Outlook synchronisation of contacts, calendar and to-do with Mail for Exchange
  • Support for viewing documents in Word, Excel, Powerpoint, PDF and Open Document Formats
  • Online calendar synchronisation with CalDAV