Archive for January, 2010

Gwyn Headley

by Gwyn Headley

Managing Director

This morning The Times, The Telegraph and The Independent all had front page solus photographs of Steve Jobs holding up the new iPad. If only fotoLibra could have just one day’s worth a year of the publicity Apple gets!

iPad is a much better name than iSlate. Whoever thought iSlate would win out?

So Apple’s latest gottahave has finally been released. It’s as lovely as anticipated and it does several of the things that were expected. No phone, no camera, not even a little one buried in the frame looking at you so you can do video conferencing. Not needed because there’s no phone. But I suppose as it’s an internet browser it can Skype, so it could be used as a phone?

Of course I want one, and I want it now.

But what will I do with it? What basic need does it fulfil?

Most of us in the sedentary Western world live a three screens life — mobile, laptop, TV. When I’m not reading, I’m usually to be found staring at one of these objects. What I’m not so certain about is how much I hanker after a four screens life.

Which was always a good argument against Amazon’s Kindle, that clunky black and white book sales outlet. The new iPad blows the Kindle out of the water. It is incomparably more desirable. Put the two together and they look as if they’ve come from different centuries (which they probably have). Of course the iPad’s bookstore feature only works in the US, as Kindle’s did until very recently.

When all the brouhaha and hyperbole have been swept away, what have we got with the iPad? It’s a big screen iPod Touch with some software packages thrown in. It’s a big iPhone — without the phone.

I can live without it. For now.

But when Version 2.0 comes out …

Kindle for the iPhone

January 13th, 2010
Gwyn Headley

by Gwyn Headley

Managing Director

Amazon announced a Kindle app for the iPhone a while ago; I’ve just got round to downloading it.

Now I’m a fan of ebooks. It’s a great concept, and therein lies the future — but I still have reservations. I don’t think there will be a tipping point from print to ebooks any time soon.

It won’t happen as quickly as many gurus hope it will, because
1. New ebook readers are announced daily. One format must achieve dominance, by which I mean 80%+ of the market.
2. That format has to do everything: colour, sound, movies, the lot
3. They are furiously expensive
4. We’re not there yet

Amazon famously announced that on Christmas Day more ebooks were downloaded than than they sold printed books. The future had arrived.

Well, durrr. Who is going to be on line buying books on Christmas Day? And who is more likely to be sitting in their solitary flat with the turkey pizza shoved under the door, endlessly scanning the internet for stuff to download?

Weren’t 8 out of 10 of their top selling ebooks all giveaways? How many of the print titles were free? I think we’ve been handed some spurious statistics here, and it’s been repeated all over the place.

The chatterati WANT ebooks to succeed. And of course they will. But a lot of people have got to get their acts together pretty damn quickly if it’s going to happen any time soon.

What prompted this? Well, I downloaded the Kindle app, and then I downloaded an ebook from Amazon.

And this is what I saw:

Well, I’m sorry — I gave up right away. There are graphic standards to keep to in this world, and I refuse to dumb down to

THE INFORMAL EXE-
CUTION OF SOUPBO-
NE PEW

which is beyond pathetic as any sort of commercial offering.

Keep trying, chaps. I’m sure you’ll make it eventually.

The ebooks that Neil Smith and I have produced for Aaron’s Apps are attractive, readable, innovative, colourful, non-linear, a new way of presenting a guide book, a new way of presenting history, and (though of course I’m saying all this myself) a genuinely new way of reading a book. These are guide books that follow YOU about, not the other way around. One huge illustration, eight feet by six feet, 160 pages which you can read in any order, and a nifty way to locate yourself in a city 200 years ago, as easily as today. Impossible to replicate in a printed book.

Now THAT’s what I call an ebook. The world should be beating a path to our door.

Gwyn Headley

by Gwyn Headley

Managing Director

The US Patent Office has just granted a patent to Ryan Hickman of Mountain View, California (read Google) for identifying features in an online view of a real property and then replacing those features.

So if you see a poster or a billboard in Google Street View, it may not actually be there — it may have been replaced by a competitor’s advertisement. When you’re on the street, you see a big Pepsi ad, but online it’s magically transformed into a Coke ad.

I can see this would be great for cinemas and theatres, being able to update the features they’re showing, but otherwise this smacks a little of Big Brother to me. It will benefit large corporations. They will elbow out smaller businesses, like Waitrose and Tesco opening up next to the perfectly good Budgens in Crouch End.

I can’t help supporting the underdog. I am one.

Here’s the text of the granted patent. Read it and work out the implications, the ramifications, the possibilities. Rub your hands if you are in corporate life and get prepared to give yet more money to Google.

It’s damned clever, though.

Claiming Real Estate in Panoramic or 3D Mapping Environments for Advertising (granted January 7, 2010)

Abstract

Techniques for identifying groups of features in an online geographic view of a real property and replacing and/or augmenting the groups of features with advertisement information are described. The techniques include providing a geographic view of a property within an online property management system, identifying a region of interest in the geographic view, analyzing the geographic view to locate one or more promotional features within the geographic view positioned upon a real property region, providing a user-selectable link associated with the region of interest in the geographic view, receiving a request for the region of interest in the geographic view via the user-selectable link, receiving data to alter at least one of the behavior or the appearance of the region of interest, storing the data in association with the geographic view, and updating the region of interest within the geographic view based upon the received data.

Here’s an index to the fotoLibra Pro Blog for the whole of 2009.

As I complained 6 months ago, it takes a surprising amount of time to compile, so if there are any WordPress experts out there who know how to automate this process, we’d love to hear from you.

If you’re new to fotoLibra, welcome, and may we suggest you read through the HINTS & TIPS section, and if nothing else read Great Expectations. If you enjoy a bit of controversy, read BAPLA Shock Horror.

Comments are welcome, even on old posts, and will be read and often responded to.

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Happy Snow Year

January 6th, 2010
Gwyn Headley

by Gwyn Headley

Managing Director

Apparently this snow and cold isn’t confined to Britain. Seems like it’s snowing all over the world, except in Cape Town where that nasty Graeme Smith has been putting our plucky boys to the sword. It is glorious weather down there, 28°C, a warm breeze and cloudless skies. Yum yum. Newlands, and a bottle of Rust en Vrede to keep me company … a man can dream, can’t he?

Anyway, while it’s snowing — or, even better, when the sun comes out just after the snow, please get out there and use that camera. We always need snow shots, and cutomers usually ask us for them in May or June, so please be prepared now. As most of you know, I’m no photographer myself, but make sure you mug up on how to use that white balance control on your camera so the snow looks crisp and white.

Grey snow pictures don’t sell, except for gritty realist images of buses struggling to get up hills. We always need more grit.

Away from the winter wonderland, close observers will know that fotoLibra’s former technical development manager Neil Smith and I have been writing some iPhone apps together. Aaron’s Apps now has its own web site, so please check out http://aaronsapps.com to find out about the applications we’ve released (two) and the ones we have planned (eight at the moment).