Breaking news! Facebook could be introducing QR codes to profile pages soon. These codes, for those of you who don't know, are a bit like the barcodes you find on products you might buy in your local shop, but are capable of holding more complex information such as a website address or a short message. Interestingly the functionality seems to have disappeared now, but after seeing this tweet (which pointed to some more information available at: http://www.technicavita.org/social-tech/mobile-sites/introduction-to-mobile-barcode-qr-technology.html):
Boxee is easy to use, mainly you need only six buttons on a remote to control it (the navigational keys, select and back). Sometimes you need to enter some text, maybe for a search box or to use the new feature of adding a comment to an item you liked. This can be time consuming with a normal remote, so the ideal device would have a little keyboard like the Boxee remote or the Logitech diNovo Mini ™ (which does seem a little expensive). The Nokia N900 has a nice backlit hardware keyboard though and a touch screen. One possible snag you might think is the lack of a “app” to control Boxee (such as the ones available for Android and iPhone), but “if you can't do something do something else” (according to a saying I may have made up). Fortunately it is possible to control Boxee through a browser, and this approach might work for other mobile devices too.
Despite the idea of "being in Cyberspace" and the power of the Internet to connect us to people all over the world regardless of our location, we often use a browser to find out about people and services close to us. These might be queries such as finding the opening times of a local store, the time of a train or local expertise. Each time we do this it is often necessary to tell the website where we are, typcially by providing a post code, but what if you don't know the postcode? Fortunately browsers and becoming much more clever, and some can even work out where you are.
Back in August last year I wondered aloud whether it was time for a remix of Ubuntu aimed at media centres and set top boxes. I was not the only one thinking along these lines it seems! In April 2009 “Element” was founded by Kevin L. Thompson with the aim of producing an operating system specially designed for media centres. They have just released version 1.0 of Element OS, a new Linux distributon based on Ubuntu designed around the concept of the ten foot user interface (a user interface you can see and operate on your TV from across the room). It was time to make myself comfortable on the sofa and see what this new remix is all about.
If you are ready to make that move to Linux, but don't know where to start, the Open University's new ten week short course Linux: An Introduction might have caught your eye. First though, a bit of disclosure, my day job is with the Open University (but don't take my views and comments as representing them) and I'm an open source enthusiast. I met up with Andrew Smith of the Maths, Computers and Technology Faculty, who is the academic behind the course, to find out more. I had many questions for him, including some from colleagues and those of you who follow me on Twitter.
If I was to walk into a mobile phone shop and demand a full size skateboard controller for my mobile or an interface to control an Etch-A-Sketch I wonder what they would do? Maybe they would laugh or insist that no normal person would want to do that or claim it can't be done. Yet last Thursday night in an unassuming corner of the east end of London, UK, I found people who were experimenting with these ideas and more. The event was the Push N900 Showcase, organised by Nokia, and I was delighted to be invited along. I even had a go at a bit of live video broadcasting with my trial Nokia N900 while I was there.
Boxee is a platform that is really going places. At one point it was a mainly for enthusiasts willing to spend the time on installing it and setting it up on their own hardware. Now it is moving towards mass appeal with the recent announcement of a Boxee Box, which users will just be able to plug in and go, and Boxee payments, which may make the platform more appealing to content providers. A great starting point before getting stuck into full scale Boxee application development is creating a simple RSS application that will just make a feed of a podcast available and give it presence in the world of Boxee.
In the first ever guest post on greenhughes.com my friend and colleague Dr Elpida Makriyannis explores the role of open source and openness in climate change science. Elpida is a Research strategist on social and environmental change and recently attended the COP15 summit in Copenhagen.
While leaders from more than 190 countries gathered at Bella Centre for COP15, the science behind climate change was being questioned after the publication of hacked or leaked emails. “Climategate” is a wake-up call for many different reasons. It presents a unique opportunity to discuss scientific practices in the 21st Century. It also strengthens the argument that scientists should show their workings. Open practices in science, secure public trust and help create an open, participatory, sharing society of educated and active citizens. From a 400 TB Linux-based database with information about changes in the world’s climate, to an open technology prototype service for forest monitoring, reporting and verification, to open source land surface climate station records and code and many others, scientific institutions and researchers worldwide are starting to embrace the open science paradigm.
Last night I attended the 3MobileBuzz New Year Meet Up in London. It was a great evening and was a chance to mix with people from 3 UK, 3MobileBuzz and also other bloggers and individuals interested in the mobile industry. The big surprise of the evening for me was being awarded the 3mbcreative prize! I did not expect to receive the prize and was really happy just to be nominated. Thank you to everybody on Twitter who voted for me. The picture on the right shows me trying to do an acceptance speech.
I am a huge music fan, I'll listen to all sorts of music ranging from the pop to opera and this is my experience of Spotify, a service that truly is a “game changer” meaning you can listen to virtually any music you like without having to go buy a download or a CD. I've been a Spotify user for quite a while and am now a premium (subscription) customer. There is one snag though, I am also an Ubuntu user, a platform not supported officially by Spotify. Despite this, it is possible to get Spotify up and running on Ubuntu and a few mobile devices. This is my experience so far of using Spotify.