Photosynth now mobile…

It’s been some months years since the once Microsoft Research Project got public and Microsoft started offering it’s great Photosynth service to the public.

I’ve been using the Microsoft panoramic and Photosynth tools for years now and I tend to say that they are the best tools one can get to create fast, easy and high-quality panoramic images.

There is photosynth.net to store all those panoramic pictures like this one from 2008:

The photosynth technology itself contains several other interesting technologies like SeaDragon which allows high quality image zooming on current internet connection speeds.

This awesome technology is as of now available on the iPhone (3GS and upwards) and it’s better than all the other panoramic tools I’ve used on a phone.

the process of taking the images
after the pictures are taken additional stitching is needed
after the stitching completed a fairly impressive panoramic images is the result

Source 1: Photosynth articles from the past
Source 2: Photosynth in Wikipedia
Source 3: Photosynth on iPhone App Store

Achievement Unlocked: Scaring the hell out of people

Oh boy, it seems that Apple just screwed up big time when it comes to data privacy. Obviously everytime someone attaches an iOS device like the iPhone to a PC or Mac and it does a backup run this backup includes the location data of that iPhone of the last several months. Impressive logging on the one hand and a shame that they did not talk about that in public upfront on the other hand.

There’s a great tool available on GitHub which uses OpenStreetMap to visualize the logged data – it creates a quite impressive graphical representation of where I was the last 6 months…

Source 1: http://petewarden.github.com/iPhoneTracker/

great SIP Softphone for Linux and Windows

Thank goodness I can uninstall X-Lite! At sones we are using a SIP based telephony solution. And therefore some times a SIP softphone application is needed along with the obligatory hardware SIP telephones. Till today the only half-working software I knew for that task was X-Lite. But a colleague told me today that there is a better software which not even looks better but also works better than X-Lite.

It’s called “Ekiga” and it’s a GTK based open source application which can run on Windows and Linux. It looks clean and therefore nice and works great.

A special tip from me: Abort the Welcome Wizard because the only thing it does is registering you with ekigas’ own services.

Capture

Source: http://ekiga.org/

I am a space ship captain. Not.

So finally after years and years of hope and nerdy ideas I am able to hold a tablet device in my own hands and it’s not only as good as Picards tablet was back in that great “Star Trek: Next Generation” series, it’s better.

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Of course I had to import that particular iPad from the U.S. (thanks Alex!) – actually it was the first time I imported something that expensive. Beside some fun with the shipping company everything went fine. Since Apple just announced to delay the launch of the iPad in Europe for a month it’s nice to have a gadget just a few weeks after it was available in the U.S.

LUA is not only for WoW

It’s also suitable for anyone who wants to develop iPhone Applications.

hello-lua

“I started investigating how I might wire up — and then write native iPhone apps from — a scripting language. Lua was on my radar already. It’s compact, expressive, fast enough, and was designed to be embedded. Took only about 20 minutes to get the Lua interpreter running on the iPhone. The real work was to bridge Lua and all the Objective-C/CocoaTouch classes. The bridge had to work in two directions: it would need to be able to create CocoaTouch objects and also be able to respond to callbacks as part of the familiar delegate/protocol model.”

Source: Announcing iPhone WAX

Up-Grayed

Last week I upgraded my iPod touch to an iPhone… well actually I got a new iPhone 3GS aside the iPod.

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It’s a fast device – even noticeably faster than the 2nd gen iPod Touch. It’s got almost the same battery life like the touch for me and it was a plug-and-play experience to use it the first time.

What I wasn’t expecting is that the smooth experience suddenly came to a stop when I tried to plug the iPhone into my car – just where the iPod touch did the job for about 5 months (including that the touch got charged by the car along the way).

With the iPhone I got two error messages simultaneously:

IMG_0010

“Charging not supported by this accessory”

IMG_0009

“This accessory is not supported by iPhone”

Damn you Apple! What’s the problem? There’s a standard USB port which powered 2,5 inch hard disk drives previously and the iPhone just states that it cannot be charged with this accessory (e.g. the car).

On the other hand everything else just works as it was working with the iPod. I can browse my music library on the iDrive I can listen to music – everything works, beside those two error messages and the not-charging iPhone. Thank you Apple B-) Maybe I need to up-grayed my car too?

new GPS track analyzer found

My beloved GPS analyzer “GPS-Track” has been discontinued :-( I wasn’t able to locate an old version of it so I had to find a new tool which does the trick. On the other hand I upgraded my Windows Mobile phone to a newer version – resulting in the not-running of my previous gps logging tool. So I had to find another new tool.

First the GPS Logging tool:

It’s freeware, written in .NET and worked out of the box with my bluetooth gps. It’s called “GPS Cycle Computer” and has a lot of cool features like Google-Earth KML export, the obligatory GPX support and a great several display modes.

GPS-Cycle-Computer

The GPS Logger exports an .GPX file which then is imported into the Analyzer called “GPS-Track-Analyse.NET”. This tool – obviously designed to analyze hiking – allows you to view the data in different ways, edit waypoints and export it to several other formats.

Bild 1

Source 1: http://www.gps-freeware.de/Vorschau.aspx
Source 2: the previous GPS Tracker Tool I used
Source 3: the new Windows Mobile GPS Logger tool

der bi-em-double-you !

Ich fahre ja seit 2000 privat diesen wunderschönen SEAT Arosa. Nun ist das Auto Ende 1999 gebaut und damit auch nichtmehr das jüngste – eine kleine Excel Tabelle hat aufgezeigt dass das Auto de-facto durch die verschiedenen Durchsichten und Reparaturen mehr als zweimal komplett bezahlt wurde. Auch machte sich ein verstärkter Öl-Durst in den letzten Monaten eher unangenehm bemerkbar – unter anderem bekam ich erstmals die “nicht genug Öl”-Lampe zu sehen.

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Das Auto meiner Frau ist da noch viel schlimmer dran gewesen – als Baujahr 1997 und mit dem Geburtsfehler “Opel” ist es ein Wunder dass es überhaupt bis ins Jahr 2008 durchgehalten hat. Nicht ohne Blessuren: die gesamte Elektrik tut mehr oder weniger das was sie will, die Rad lager hören sich an als wären ein paar Stahlkugeln in einer Waschmaschine unterwegs und die Lenkung an sich zieht so böse nach rechts dass man sozusagen die ganze Zeit nach Links lenken muss um geradeaus zu fahren. Und da ist dieser Geburtsfehler: Die Hütte rostet dass man glaubt das wäre ein Hochseeschiff ohne Lackierung. Nun ja.

IMG_3770

Den Opel haben wir schon frühzeitig in 2008 dem Gebrauchtwagenmarkt zugeführt und auch – wie ich finde (meine Frau ist da etwas anderer Meinung) – reichlich Geld dafür bekommen. Für den SEAT Arosa haben wir uns ein anderes, endgültigeres Schicksal ausgedacht:

Im November 2008 klapperten wir die verschiedenen Autohändler in der Umgebung ab – all die üblichen Verdächtigen mussten befragt, begutachtet, bewertet und letztlich ausgewählt werden. Prinzipiell stellte sich die Frage: Ein Japaner oder ein deutsches Fabrikat?

Wir hatten einen Honda Civic im Auge – aber aufgrund glanzvoller Ignoranz der Händler und dem doch extrem schlechten Preis-Leistungsverhältnis haben wir uns schon frühzeitig entschieden: ein deutsches Auto soll es sein. Genauer gesagt ein BMW.

Die ersten Erfahrungen mit dem ortsansässigen BMW Händler haben dann auch recht schnell Herz und Brieftasche geöffnet. Schon nach dem ersten Besuch war die Probefahrt klar gemacht – wir hatten uns nämlich recht schnell auf einen “Einser” eingeschossen. Den gab es in der richtigen Größe und viel wichtiger: Mit der gewünschten Gadget-Dichte.

Am 08.11.2008 ging es also mit einem blauen 3 türigem 1er in den Thüringer Wald – gerade noch rechtzeitig vorm ersten großen Schnee. Wir haben natürlich die Gelegenheit für ein paar Fotos genutzt:

BMW_1er_Panorama_Steinbruch_2IMG_3556 IMG_3551 IMG_3552

Die Kaufentscheidung war getroffen – nun ging es an die Planung. Der BMW Konfigurator ist da ein ganz nettes Spielzeug, wenngleich ich mir da noch die ein oder andere Verbesserung gewünscht hätte. Über Weihnachten und im Januar wurde das Wunschauto konfiguriert und dann am 13. Januar mit der Hoffnung dass der Winter ein Herz mit uns haben möge gleich mit Sommerreifen auf den baldmöglichsten Termin bestellt. Abholen wollten wir das Auto nicht beim Händler sondern direkt in München in der BMW Welt.

Den Termin bekamen wir ein paar Tage später vom immer noch sehr zuvorkommenden, engagierten und überaus netten Händler – ja das ist nicht übertrieben, der Mann ist auf jede unserer Fragen eingegangen und hat sich speziell beim Rätsel-Thema “iPod-Integration” extra nochmal kundig gemacht.

Nun ging die wirklich anstrengende Phase des Projekts “BMW kaufen” los: das Warten.

IMG_3815

Da trudelten dann im Wochen-Rhythmus die Bestätigungen, die finalen Rechnungen und so wichtige Dinge wie Kennzeichen-Tragetaschen und Informationsmaterial zur Abholung ein. Alles in allem hat das die Vorfreude natürlich enorm gesteigert.

Am 12. März war es dann soweit. Unser BMW war gebaut, poliert und fertig zur Abholung. Wir sind an dem Tag extra früh aus dem Bett da die Abholung selbst auf 14:20 Uhr angesetzt war. Das ist natürlich reichlich spät wenn man hinterher noch eine BMW Stammwerksführung machen will. Deshalb haben wir die Werksführung vor die Auslieferung gezogen und mussten so recht früh (4 Uhr, urks!) raus und nach München. Wir waren rechtzeitig da und natürlich war wie erwartet ein wirklich schöner Tag für uns vorbereitet worden. Der Empfang, die Werksführung, die BMW Welt selbst, die Präsentation unseres Autos – da fällt einem nur ein “WOW!” ein.

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die Abholer-Premium-Lounge

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die “BMW Welt”

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die Treppe für die Abholenden – da geht man
gaaaaaanz langsam runter

Auf den Bildern ist ja auch diese Treppe zu sehen – da geht man nach dem Fahrzeug-Briefing – also dem Teil wo dem Abholer sein neues Auto in Theorie und Simulations-Praxis erklärt wird – gaaaanz gaaaanz langsam hinunter. Um dann direkt vor seinem Neuwagen zu stehen. Und ganz ehrlich, bei der ganzen Show ist das schon ein erinnerungswürdiger Moment wenn das Auto dann endlich vor einem auftaucht.

IMG_4338

Außen weiß und innen ganz in schwarz.

Endlich war das Warten vorbei! Wir haben uns dann direkt auf die Sommer-Socken gemacht. Die Fahrt versprach nämlich spannend, oder doch zumindest interessant zu werden: Schneeregen und Nebel war angesagt. Das kam dann auch, war aber nicht die Spur eines Problems – schön langsam und sicher sind wir nach einem ewig langen Tag wieder zuhause angekommen. Die Nacht war dann aber auch nicht besonders lang – denn nur zwei Tage später sind wir umgezogen. Ja da ist sozusagen die “Coole Sache Nummer 2”. Den Bericht gibts dann aber in einem anderen Artikel.

DIY Photo Frame (with a twist)

I got these two quite old Windows Mobile Professional phones (with touchscreen and everything) and beside the fact that they are my phones I am using them just to display my calendar entries on my desk. Now I thought it would be a great thing if those two QVGA devices would display personal pictures in a slideshow.

And it would be even better if they would get their pictures from the internet. And even better if there would be an application that would allow me or my wife to upload/delete pictures from the slideshow playing on all devices.

Thought said, and done. I did a little afterwork project today, taking me approx. 3 hours with everything from scratch.

So I made these parts:

  1. a webservice to upload, delete and retrieve the pictures

    This really is just a webservice very similar to the one I used in my DropBox application. It’s hosted on one of my machines and makes the pictures also available to the mobile clients.

  2. an upload tool to upload, delete the pictures comfortably

    I took the DropBox Application and customized it – it now resizes the pictures automatically before uploading and it can display a preview in the file browser.

    photoframe_upload_1

    photoframe_upload_2

  3. a small application running on my phones that displays this pictures using the webservice

    This one was made from scratch and consumes the webservice from above. It asks for the next picture URL, downloads this picture and displays it… and so on.

    photoframe_app_1 photoframe_app_2

Since it’s already up and running and looking great on my desk I wanted to share it with you. Don’t expect everything to work out-of-the-box but it’s a start for everyone who wants to have something like this. Oh – of course your windows mobile device needs to have internet access…

So as usual here’s the sourcecode of the whole package for your pleasure. Use it where ever and in what ever whay you want as long as you’re crediting.

PhotoFrame.zip (639,87 KB)

P.S: There’s a fun fact I did not know: I accidently double-clicked the windows mobile application on my Vista machine and guess what: It just runs! Yes, manage Windows Mobile Application running natively on Windows Vista:

funfact

Source 1: PhotoFrame.zip (639,87 KB)
Source 2: DropBox

How to create an m4b iTunes compatible audiobook from a cd

Let’s say you’re like me: You got several audiobooks on CD over the years and you even ripped several of these to listen to them in your MP3 player/car.

So what I have is a number of audiobooks ripped as mp3s on my harddisk looking something like this:

crnan1

If you only have the CD what you would like to do is rip the whole CD as ONE large m4a AAC encoded audiofile. We need it to be an m4a because we later want to inject chapter marks. If you have this big AAC file just skip the next few steps. But if you got those several small mp3 files – one for each chapter you want to merge them together and reencode them as m4a AAC.

There is a great free tool to merge these mp3 files together. It’s called (who would have thought) Merge MP3 and is available completely for free. It’ll create one big mp3 file out of your several small ones.

mergemp3nan

After you got that huge mp3 file you want to convert it into a m4a file with AAC encoding. I recommend using iTunes.

itunesconvertnan

When you got that one huge m4a file you want to load it into a tool called Chapter Master. It’s not free and will set you back $15 but it’s worth as I did not find anything else that was a) that cheap b) that comfortable c) working.

chaptermasternan

Load the m4a file into Chapter Master, add the chapters in the right order and at the right time. Eventually you want to add an album art picture. Click save and you’re done.

The resulting file is a m4b file recognized by iTunes as an audiobook with chapters.

Source 1: http://www.shchuka.com/software/mergemp3
Source 2: http://www.rightword.com.au/products/chaptermaster/download.asp

Spacetime Math tools

If you searching a tool for Windows, Linux, OSX and your windows mobile device…you may want to take a look at this:

“SpaceTime 3.0 by SpaceTime Mathematics is a revolution in mathematics software with 2D, 3D, and time graphing with MobileCAS® for algebra and calculus. With features only available in Mathematica and MATLAB, SpaceTime is the most powerful cross-platform mathematics software ever developed for computers and mobile devices.

spacetime

Source: http://www.spacetime.us/

Writing an application a day keeps the doctor away… a new Windows Mobile application each day

Chris Craft has did a very interesting project – He wrote a new application every day. The “Application Calendar” is now available:

“I have put together a calendar of applications for the 30 Days of .NET [Windows Mobile Applications]. Here you can get a quick feel for all the applications we’ve created so far, and will write in the coming days.”

anappaday

The best is – these are actually useful applications – like Trippr – a tool that displays all Flickr pictures that are tagged with your current location (gps based)… how cool is that? There are many more… Callblocker, GPS Clock, GeoCash and there’s one I sure will take a look at:

speedo

That’s a GPS based Speedo! :-)

Source: http://www.cjcraft.com/blog/default.aspx

german Citizens’ band radio over the internet…Freies Funknetz!

The internet makes things possible some people dreamt of for years. One of these things is the possibility to stream live-voice-chat over the internet. Many people used the citizens’ band radio – CB radio – for the last decades:

Citizens’ Band radio (CB) is, in many countries, a system of short-distance, simplex[1] radio communications between individuals on a selection of 40 channels within the 27 MHz (11 meter) band. The CB radio service should not be confused with FRS, GMRS, MURS, or amateur (“ham”) radio. Similar personal radio services exist in other countries, with varying requirements for licensing and differing technical standards. In many countries, CB does not require a license and, unlike amateur radio, it may be used for business as well as personal communications.”

For several years now there is a group of people from virtually everywhere in germany who connect their CB radios to the internet – they link their “gateways” together using a software normally used by online gamers called “TeamSpeak”. All you have to do to take a look is to read this short how-to and follow the steps.

Here’s a sneak-peak at the current status of the server:

There’s even a livestream available (but sometimes not working):

Source 1: http://www.freiesfunknetz.com/
Source 2: http://www.goteamspeak.com/

publish your iTunes library on your network without actually using iTunes on the client

There’s a new version of Dot.Tunes out which is now available for free. That’s good news and if you ever wanted to access your iTunes Library and you were not in Bonjour range…try this great tool!

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“DOT.TUNES is not some lightweight iTunes utility. It’s a fully developed web server application that supports MP3, AAC, AIFF, WAV, MPEG, MP4, and MOV files, allowing you to share your iTunes library contents with your friends in other cities, your classmates across the dorm or the coworkers scattered throughout the building. DOT.TUNES contains a custom web server designed specifically to serve the audio tracks from your iTunes at lightning fast speeds. Through seamless integration with your iTunes base, DOT.TUNES easily handles large libraries without missing a beat.”

I tried it and it’s working quite well – especially if you consider that there’s a bunch of plugins available.(which you have to pay for)

Source: http://www.dottunes.net

How big is the difference between QVGA and VGA PDA displays?

My personal Windows Mobile device I use as my PDA and phone is a QVGA device… I am using it for over 4 years now and I don’t have any cause to buy a new one… and that’s for the most part because if I would buy a new device it would have to be smaller and have a higher screen resolution…(and run all programs I am using right now…) – such a device does not exist…but here’s a comparison available:

“The advantage of a VGA screen is not limited to information it can show. Everything looks way better. Fonts are smoother. Also on QVGA screens, images lose detail. Just look at the diagram above.
VGA screens are better for reading ebooks. I don’t think the text is too small to read, you can zoom in as you wish.
The drawback is, VGA screens consume more power and they make the device slower. At least my x50v is slower. And its battery life is terrible.”

my-qvga-vga-08

Source: http://mobilyazilar.blogspot.com/2007/01/what-is-difference-between-vga-and-qvga.html

real great and smooth Today Screen replacement for Windows Mobile

Just minutes ago I was pointed to an application that replaces the Windows Mobile today screen (and many other features) and comes along with all sorts of next-gen Touch Controls:

pointui

“After grinding our teeth with enterprise mobile systems, we came to the conclusion that end users need applications that focus on usability, performance and consistency.

Pointui (pronounced point-you-i) has been built from the ground up and sets the benchmark in pioneering the delivery of total user experience, never before achieved on a Windows Mobile device.

Our main focus is structured around simplicity and usability while extracting the most out of your current Windows Mobile device. All products we develop forge stability and dependability while maximising performance.”

 

The thing is – these guys deliver on their promise:

 

 

If you’re a Windows Mobile user, go and try this piece of software – it’s free and small.

Source: http://www.pointui.com