A few days ago WOMWorld/Nokia asked "Have you made an Ovi app yet?" Ovi is Nokia's mobile app portal, similar in idea to Google's Android Market or Apple's App Store. My answer to this question was no, it hasn't occurred to me, but it turned out that a tool existed to turn any RSS feed into an app without needing to go to the effort of doing any coding. I had a spare half an hour so I decided to give it a try to see if I could make an app for this site. The app generator takes you through a wizard that asks you for a few settings, a few graphics and then submits you shiny new app for a review process. A couple of hours before writing this post I got an email to say my new app is now available in the Ovi app store - for free!
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.
Our relationship with the mobile phone is changing, and it is not just the high end phones that show evidence of this. The Sony Ericsson T715 is a new mid range phone available on 3 that comes preloaded with lots of features that will enable you to enjoy the web on the move, including built in Twitter and Facebook clients. You can also make calls and write texts on the phone, but that isn't very interesting; what is more interesting is that this is a great phone if you are into the "constant checking culture" now thought by 3 to be driving mobile broadband usage. Thanks to the kind folk at 3MobileBuzz I was able to try this phone out and see what it has to offer.
One of the joys of using an open source operating system like Ubuntu is that you can experiment with all sorts of ideas and not worry about constantly purchasing software or coming up against artificial limitations. By chaining some open source packages together we can do some quite interesting things, so it is fun sometimes to try a challenge. In this post I will show you how to take a text RSS feed and make it into an Internet radio broadcast that can be received on a dedicated device, so instead of being stuck in front of a screen you can catch up with your RSS feeds while sunbathing in the garden! The solution here is not intended to be production ready, and might be tough going for beginners, but the idea is it will give a basic overview which you can then go and experiment with. I'll be using Icecast2 to stream the broadcast, Ices to feed Icecast2 with files to broadcast, Espeak to generate text to speech audio files and a small custom PHP script to convert the text feed into a format suitable for ESpeak.
Back in January I wrote about a piece of software that I think has a very bright future in Boxee makes your TV social. One of the great features of Boxee is that it will take standard podcast feeds and then allow you to enjoy these podcasts through the software and potentially on your TV.
There is no doubt that the mobile is starting to make more of an impact on the Internet. Not long ago many people thought a mobile was really just for making calls and texting. It is difficult to miss the amount of publicity that the Apple iPhone and Google Android projects have generated recently. Many mobile phones come with a browser built in that is capable of rendering regular web pages and the price of Internet access from a mobile is dropping, and is often it is bundled with contracts. Ten years ago Nokia set this process in motion by releasing the Nokia 7110, the first mobile phone to have Internet access, it couldn't render regular web pages, only ones specifically written for mobiles but brought to the public the idea of Internet access in your pocket, available quickly wherever and whenever you need it. It has been a slow process for the mobile web, but it looks set to grow, and one social networking site in Japan has found that mobile traffic has overtaken non-mobile web traffic. A problem remains though, while mobiles are now capable of rendering regular HTML web pages, they still have very small screens meaning that web sites have to be redesigned to look their best. This, depending on how far you want to go, can be a time consuming process (and one I'm determined to do properly later this year!), fortunately there is a service available that promises not only to re-render your web content in a mobile friendly way, but also to render it in different ways for different devices, and to do all of this in the time it takes to have a coffee.
In many houses the TV and broadband line can be found only inches apart and in most cases no connection is yet made. The Internet had the power to bring about a revolution in the choice of programming available, instead of scheduled streams of programming that we have no control over we will be able to pick and chose what we want to watch from thousands of producers.
The Open University here in the UK regularly coproduces educational programming in partnership with the BBC. Some of these programmes are for a wide audience such as Coast, and other programmes are for more specialist audiences such as The Story of Maths. To catch these programmes you don't have to necessarily stay in and make sure that you are sat on your sofa in front of the TV at a scheduled time, instead you can catch the repeats on BBC iPlayer (sorry - UK, IoM & Channel Islands only). My colleague Tony Hirst recently created a mash up to find the OU programmes from the last seven days posted to iPlayer using feeds from Twitter, iPlayer and a Yahoo Pipe, he then presented the results in a web page. When looking at his blog post on this it struck me that it would be really nice if this could be presented in a way more suitable for a media centre PC connected to a TV, so this would mean nice big fonts, an attractive interactive-TV type interface and ease of use from a remote control, and then I thought it would be even better to feed this into MythTV, integrating seven days of OU programming alongside the rest of your entertainment.