Oct 24, 2007

Divergence made Spectacular - Devices, Services, Tutorials, Ideas, Opinions

Ever wondered how all our devices and services fit together in one scenario? Let's rewind to this past saturday and watch it from my point of view. We'll talk IE7, Feeds, YouTube, Download.com, iTunes, iPod and Nokia 3250, so get your geeky glasses and hop-on.

Before I start, if you live anywhere there is 3G, WiFi everywhere, EDGE,... and have a mobile device that applies, you sure don't have to go through all of the steps that I went through, but read on, should remind you of the good'ol days. Also stay tuned till the end, a nice idea over there ;)

Part 1 - IE7 and Feeds

I downloaded IE7 this saturday. Too late on the wagon? I know, but I was retiscent towards the whole new Microsoft package, including Vista, Office 2007 and IE7. Nonetheless, this weekend, I decided to only go for IE7, just for tabs' sake. I had just got sick'n'tired of opening 10 IE windows on my taskbar. Now I know there are probably a 1000 fans out here shouting for Opera, Firefox, Mozilla,... I never tried any because, let's face it, I have a Toshiba laptop with 512MB RAM and 60GB internal memory, no need to slow it by putting more programs.
What I loved about IE7, beside the fact that it has lot less crashes than IE6 did, is integrated Feeds. I love that it lights up the feed icon when a feed is available on a page, which removes the need to look to see if there are any feeds (sometimes the orange icon is far too obvious, but sometimes it's nowhere to be found). I also like the fact that you can read your feeds inside IE, which is awesome. I immediately removed RSS Bandit, which I was trialling because it was taking too much RAM and HD space. I also love the immediate search funtion, just type a search in the address box and it looks for it in my engine of choice. Nice!

Part 2 - Importing OPML into IE7

What I immediately hated about IE7 was that when I tried to import my OPML file for all feeds, generated by RSS bandit, it imported nothing. A quick search on my good friend Yahoo and there it goes! Just open the OPML file in Notepad, and add << type="rss" >> (without the << >>) after each << outline >>, meaning almost at the beginning of each line, or feed address if you like.
I know that is pretty time-consuming and annoying, but it sure is faster than going to all your websites and subscribing to their feeds or inputing the address manually. Funny how the simplest program of all, Notepad, allows such a miraculous change in minutes. Now all my feeds are up and running in IE7 :)

Part 3 - YouTubing

After I got my feeds up and running, I started checking them out, and stumbled on a post with an embeded YouTube video (don't remember which one exactly). While watching it, I remembered my friends and I had a laugh just the previous day listening to "I like to move it" from the OST of Madagascar. King Julian is plain hilarious. So I searched for a video of the song and got this amazing videoclip (just check the old lady at the end, priceless):

I also found a video collection of funny clips from the movie itself, which was also very nice, so I thought "I should take these with me on monday to show them to my friends".

Part 4 - Download.com and the YouTube Downloader

I usually watch YouTube videos once and never need to download or keep them. But this time was different. I needed to get the flash video AND take it with me on some sort of portable device, which means I needed to download and convert the video. Head on to Download.com. Seriously, it couldn't be any easier to remember a web address. I tap "YouTube download and convert" in the search box, then select free in the liscence limits in the search results, and bam! I get a good list, a quick browse of each program and I settle on YouTube Downloader. Seems like a straightforward utility with everything I need. I get it and it's exactly what I expect. I can download any YouTube video just by pasting the address, I can also convert any .flv to iPod format (.mov), mobile phone format (.3gp or .mpeg), windows media player (.wmv),... And it's pretty darn fast!
I am extremely excited and I immediately grab both videos then convert them to .3gp, send over bluetooth to my 3250. But to my surprise, the quality turns out somewhat bad and I'm disappointed (my 3250 doesn't seem to grab .flv by itself nor .mpeg4). I decided then to convert them to iPod format, just to see and they turn out pretty fine. Next step: launch iTunes, add the videos to the library, sync my iPod video.

Part 5 - Nokia mobile as an iPod speaker, say what?!

This one you'll like! I have been doing this trick for quite a while and everytime it sizzles everyone around me.
So I had my 2 videos (the video clip and the funny moments) on my iPod. I have more than 2 friends wanting to watch. How do I show the video to all, picture + sound? I can try to show it to them 1 by 1, or 2 by 2, using each earphone for one person, but it's not practical. I have everyone else looking at the display, wanting to hear and eagerly waiting for their turn. And everyone will laugh at the video alone. NO. We need something more interactive. Speakers you say, right. The iPod doesn't have built-in speakers, I didn't buy external ones (yeah my iPod accessories have already costed me as much as the iPod itself so far), but my Nokia 3250 has speakers. Hm. And I have an iPod FM transmitter *glowing lamp over the head please*.
1 - I get my iPod FM transmitter, connect it to my iPod. Set it on 90.7 FM (free frequency here).
2 - I get my 3250, pop in the remote-control part of the headphone (not the earplug part)
3 - I open the radio on my mobile, tune to 90.7 FM.
4 - Loudspeaker please on the mobile.
5 - And now you've got the video playing on the iPod and the sound coming out of the 3250 as loud as it can get, as clear as it can get, for everyone to hear. No string ... euh earphones attached.
Now everyone is around the table looking at the iPod, enjoying the sound through the phone, laughing together, yet feeling quite disturbed by how genius you are with all those ideas you have. I know it's a simple trick, all you have to have is an FM transmitter. Some people do, some don't, but recent music players are coming with built-in FM transmmitters, so that trick could become even easier. I have searched over the internet to see if it has been posted somewhere, didn't find it so I thought let's go and write it down. Should give people some ideas instead of buying speakers for their iPod (I know the Apple Store won't have bankruptcy issues because of me).

Final Word

That was just an example of how complicated things can get when you don't have an internet connectivity on your device and can't play YouTube or internet videos immediately. The new S60 Touch UI will play YouTube through Flash 3. This post will sure make you think of how far we've come in term of convergence vs. this spectacular example of divergence I showcased using a device that was as hot as volcano lava just 15months ago.

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