Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Live Mesh now syncs with Snow leopard

I saw Steve Clayton demonstrate Microsoft's Live Mesh at the Thinking Digital Conference, way back in 2008.

I realized straight away that this was going to make a huge difference to the way i worked. No longer would I need to carry around a pocket full of usb dongles containing files to transfer between laptops and machines at home and in the office, and wondering if this was the latest version. No longer would i get home, to realize i'd left the memory stick with the files i was going to on work on in the office pc.

In fact Live Mesh goes a whole lot further and allows me to take control of my remote machines and access shared files remotely via a browser.

Needless to say as soon as I got back from Thinking Digital, I went on a mission to get onto the Live Mesh beta programme, and Live Mesh has been keeping my digital life synced ever since.

That was until I updated to Mac 10.6 (snow leopard) and discovered Live Mesh was not supported on snow leopard. It would be fair to say that I was completely gutted. I wasted no time at all in emailing Steve again and asking if he'd heard whether there was a new version of Live Mesh in development, he promised to let me know as soon as he heard anything.

That was a couple of weeks ago, and true to his word, i got an email from Steve today with a link to the latest version of Live Mesh for Mac that now supports Snow Leopard.

Microsoft quite often gets a bit of bad press, but this just another example of how well their evangelist programme works, of how they're listening to their customers and how far they go to support products that are not only fantastic but also in the case to Live Mesh but also free!

Associated links: Live Mesh, Geek in Disguise blog, Snow Leopard

Sunday, 9 August 2009

Creating a cover

Apple have always been amongst the most stylish of companies producing, what must be some of the most iconic of products produced. Not surprisingly MacWorld Magazine, has had to be be equally stylish to appeal to the mac faithful. This amazing time lapse video shows the deisgn process going into producing one of their signature cover pages.

Cover creation from Peter Belanger on Vimeo.

For the more technical amongst you the for the time lapse video, they used the Canon 5D Mark II with a 24mm-70mm zoom. They choise being down to its great image quality with high ISO's. Canon's sRAW1 giving the flexibility of a RAW file with the file size of a jpeg. The actual Macworld cover was taken with a Phase One P65+ digital back attached to a 4x5 Sinar X camera with a 65mm lens.

The video was produced by Peter Belanger, the soundtrack by The Brokenmusicbox, and cover design by Rob Schultz of MacWorld Magazine.

Thursday, 4 June 2009

Searching for meaning.

If the internet were a giant book, containing all of human knowledge, it would surely have a search engine as it’s index. And what an index that would be! With the seemingly infinite variety of data and the breadth and the depth of information on the internet, an index this big would probably fill the largest of libraries, on its own.
When you think about it, the accessibility and indeed the popularity of the internet, is due of the humble search engine. I mean if it weren’t for search engines tracking all this information, finding relevant information, would be like finding a needle in a haystack.
But we’re rarely satisfied with what we have, so merely getting pages of results to our queries is no longer enough. What we want now is to get only information that is highly relevant. This is where semantic search comes in.
“Semantic” just means meaningful, how do I know? I ‘Googled’ it! So what does ‘meaningful search’ mean then? Of course it has different meanings to different people, but most people agree that it should be; a search that understand simple ‘who, how, when, where and what’ questions, and that it should be able to provide clear,simple,unambiguous answers. For example you if you typed, “how old is Harrison Ford?’, or even ‘who is bill clinton married to?’, you might get the answers like ‘66 years old’ or ‘Hillary Rodham Clinton’.
You might be surprised to learn that Google have already introduced this technology into their search engine, (if somewhat quietly). Yahoo have also been working on their own semantic technology with a project called ‘Search monkey’. The Yahoo solution works with microformats to allow site owners, designers and users to hide additional information beneath the page, making it easier for search engines to interpret the context of a page and return more relevant results. Microsoft also launched 'Bing.com' their replacement to 'live search' previously known as project ‘Kino’ and possibly including some 'Powerset' Technology.
But is searching semantically enough? After all semantic searches will still only provide information that already exists on the internet. What if we want, answers to questions, where that particular information doesn’t currently exist. To do this firstly we would need to understand the question itself, then we would need to understand the data that could use to answer the question and finally we would need to be able to calculate an appropriate answers.

You’d be forgiven therefore, if you thought that this was the stuff of science fiction, but you’d be wrong. In mid May, Stephen Wolfram released ‘Wolfram Alpha’, he describes this as a ‘computational knowledge engine’. It’s limited to mainly scientific data (in its own database) at the moment, but it could change everything.

This post text was originally wtitten for the technotes column in the journal on 4th June 2009. Many Thanks to Lewis Harrison for the editting of the final piece.

Sunday, 31 May 2009

Releasing a WAVE of new possibilities.

Google never cease to astonish me with their innovation.  In a month when 'Wolfram Alpha' and 'Microsoft Bing' filled the technology headlines, and people were talking about Twitter and the way that real time search was changing everything, they announce WAVE and completely turned the whole communication model on its head.

In typical Google style, they keep there best until last, waiting until the second day of the Google Developer Conference in the Moscone Center, San Francisco on May 27 - 28, 2009, to show us WAVE. 

So what's so good about WAVE and why did i say it will turn the communications model on its head? Up until now we have tried to imitate none-electronic world (ie the paper world) with our online communications technologies, sending - then receiving, storing documents in folders, working in structured linear patterns publishing the finished product without showing how we got there, keeping separate information in separate places, reading-writing-sharing-collaborating. All this could soon change. Wave allows us to work together in an altogether different way, working in real time to seeing content as its typed, utilizing richly formatted text, photos, videos, maps and other tools.

And its not just the way that we communicate in the sense of instant messaging and text, that is going to change its also things like blogs and websites, imaging being able to collaboratively leave comments to a blog post, where you could use text,images, movies, maps and more to make your point, or a pole where you could discuss your opinions in real time with other users, and that is only a beginning, the implications for the way we watch movies, sports or tv, or even the way that we play games or do puzzles on line could be radically different, and after a day, we haven't even started to explore the possibilities. Imagine the way that mass collaborations may work with science or the arts, the way that we conduct research or that we learn. Its like Lars and Jens Rasmussen, have opened a flood gate on web development and release a wave of new possibilities

Part of what makes what the Google Wave team have done special, is that its all open source, and its all possible in the browser (yes its html 5 so you will need a modern browser, but one the whole it doesn't need any special add ins). So we're likely to see the technology being pushed to all sorts of extremes with developers coming up with all sorts of clever and innovative ways to utilize this technology, in other words we ain't seen nothin yet!

Google have always been great innovators, but they've never been satisfied with that, they seem determined to rewrite every rules and make us rethink everything we thought we knew. 

Related posts: Google WAVEWill google wave goodbye to twitter?

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

5 things to do if you didn't get Thinking Digital tickets!

Its hard to believe that this years Thinking Digital Conference is now less than a month away. The event, now in its 4th year, is rapidly shaping up to be amongst the best tech conferences around, not only nationally but internationally. One of the things that really stands out for me is how much the speakers themselves seem to enjoy the event.

Not surprisingly the tickets sold out pretty quickly. So as Herb Kim and and his team, put the final touches together, what can you do if you didn't manage to get a ticket, here are my top 5 suggestions;

1. Come to Newcastle anyway and hang around hotel bars hoping to bump into the speakers, although you may have to watch out for hotel security throwing you out.
2. Get yourself on Amazon and order copies of the speakers books and start speed reading.
3. Watch some of last years talks on youtube and hope that nothings changed in the past 12 months.
4. Follow the blogs and tweets from the event, wishing that you'd found a way to get a ticket.
5. Send a strongly worded email to the boss asking why you're not there and demanding a ticket for next years event.

In all seriousness the Thinking Digital Conference is amongst the best conferences around, and i'm sure that those of you that did manage to get tickets will have a great time, meet lots of fantastic people and go home with a head full of great ideas and enthusiasm. If you really haven't been lucky enough to get tickets for this years event and would like to attend i believe there is a reserve list (although i have no idea how long it is) and there is always next year.