So much cool stuff. So little time.

Photospheres are my new hotness

By Steve Withers, in , posted: 17-Dec-2013 17:35

I have a new tech fascination.


Google's Nexus 4, 5 and 7 devices (and some non-Google phones sold through Google Play in the US) come with a camera app that includes the photosphere mode. This mode allows you to stand in the core of a virtual sphere of app-guided photos of the scene around you - 360 by 360 - and capture, in a single image, everything in sight be it up or down, left or right or anywhere in between. 

It's "streetview" for Everyman and you can do it pretty much anywhere.  

Even better, you can submit your freshly-shot photospheres to Google Maps so everyone else can see them, too. This is particularly good when you're able to go places the Google Street View cars can't. (UPDATE: You can also submit photospheres previously uploaded to Google+ Photos or posted on Google+). 

If you don't have a Nexus device, you may be able to install the new camera app anyway, though you must make sure your phone has a gyro sensor (different to an accelerometer)....or it won't work. The details are on the XDA-Developers site. 

Here are links to a few of my recent photospheres. These are already available on Google Maps, too.  

One Tree Hill  

Island Bay Beach (Auckland)

North Head

The best technique is to hold the camera in the same point in space - vertically and horizontally - and change it's orientation. I can imagine a high level of precision might be possible with a tripod, but you also have to take the photos fairly quickly as things in the scene are moving all the time - like clouds, water, people and vehicles. I've found the best method is to hold the phone screen at the tip of my nose for most shots and just change the orientation of my head as required to follow the guide dots. This keeps the parallax / perspective changes to a minimum while also allowing you to take the required 30-ish photos in about 1 minute. You also don't want too many horizontal things (fences / railings, etc) close to you as they will make it difficult to stitch the final image together in a way that is acceptable to Google Maps (if you plan to submit it). They do not accept "lego world" photosphere images where the horizon looks chunky. This is a common problem at the beach as the waves on the shore are dynamic through the course of the capturing process...and the app will stitch the waves together and leave the horizon looking like a set of childrens blocks left lying around.

I'm still an enthusiastic 3D guy, but I'm really loving the photospheres, too.

Anyone else into this?  

(Update: I added a link and it treated the saved post as a fresh blog post  - My apologies. Won't do that again). 

A Cheap 3D TV

By Steve Withers, in , posted: 18-Oct-2012 08:09

I've been wanting a 3D TV for a while, but the pricing has put me off. Generally, they cost about NZ$1299 and up for a 40" screen and you have to buy the glasses at about $100 / pair and each person needs one, so I'm looking at 5 pairs of glasses for about $500. Plus, no one broadcasts in 3D where I live, so 3D can only be for playback, not broadcast reception.  

There had to be a better way...and there is if you're prepared to compromise on screen size.

I recently bought an LG D2542P 25" "Cinema 3D" monitor for my PC from PB Tech for NZ$338+GST. I found it supports viewing of any 3D content I have that is in side-by-side parallel format. This is the default format for both my LG 3D Max phone and my Fuji Real 3D W3 camera, so it is a perfect match.

On my Windows 7 64-bit PC, the Tri-Def  3D software (included with the LG D2542p) supports all 3D formats I've tried it with - excluding obvious ones like anaglyph where the "3D" is embedded in a 2D image using different colours. It also allows for watching 2D content in 3D on the fly (on a PC). All I need to see the content in 3D is the $1 'passive' "Real D 3D" glasses I bought at the movie theatre when I went to see a movie. Cost of 5 pairs = $5.  

I have been using my "Magix Movie Edit Pro MX Plus" video editing software to compose higher-quality 3D videos for local viewing. It's the same software I use to make 3D videos for upload to YouTube.   

3D TV 

This worked so well on my PC we went out and got a cheap (NZ$124 on special) Philips BDP5200 3D Blu-ray  (with Wi-fi and ethernet) player from DSE. But we soon found it was hard to use the PC when people wanted to use the same screen for watching 3D movies.

I bought a second LG D2542P monitor to use as a dedicated TV.  Problem solved. 

We have a Magic TV "My Freeview" set top box for viewing free-to-air digital TV. It and the Blu-ray player connect to the LG screen via HDMI. But as the screen only has one HDMI port, I bought a Digitech HDMI switch with 4 ports from Jaycar.  The Switch is HDMI 1.3b compliant (not 1.4) but works very well with the 3D Blu-ray player and the MagicTV box and I have had no problems. I also bought 2 x Concord 0.5m, HDMI 1.4 fly cables.

One little quirk: to get the LG screen to see the MagicTV box I had to connect a regular CRT TV to the MagicTV box and - via its setup menus - tell the MagicTV box it was talking to a PC monitor, not a CRT TV. After that, I connected the monitor to the MagicTV device and all was well. Maybe it would have worked anyway and I just wasn't being patient enough....but this way it definitely worked.

(Stereo-crossed 3D image - cross your eyes until the left and right images merge)
LG D2542P
Audio is fed via HDMI to the 4-port switch which also includes an audio splitter. I run a male-to-male 3.5mm cable between the HDMI switch an the 3.5mm "AUX" input port on my very cheap Philips stereo. My ears aren't that great (though not that bad, either), so I don't waste money on hi-fidelity audio gear I can't really appreciate anyway.   

Now I can watch normal 2D TV or 3D Blu-ray movies on my very cheap  25" 3D TV. I can use passive glasses instead of active shutter, so the glasses are cheaper and viewing 3D movies is easier on the eyes.

The smaller screen means we have to sit closer, but we found this actually free-ed up a big chunk of the living room / lounge and we now have space to use for other things, whereas before the CRT TV had dominated the room. As we aren't really heavy TV watchers, that was a big waste of space.  

If you want a 3D TV for cheap and you're prepared to make some compromises on screen size, then this will work great. 

Permalink to A Cheap 3D TV | Main Index

I love NZ mobile telcos

By Steve Withers, in , posted: 6-Dec-2011 06:48

I love you, Vodafone. I love you, Telecom. I love you 2Degrees. I love you, TelstraClear.

I am in Canada. You have not known 'Telco Hell' until you have tried to buy a phone and plan in Canada.

All the phones are locked. I wander up and down the aisles looking at the new-shiny phones....knowing they are all tainted...and beyond my reach. 

The affordable mobile plans are all limited to small geographic areas within "area codes". A call in or out is a toll call. You pay to receive calls and txts. You can get a 'national' plan for all of Canada, but it costs a lot. You can't get a plan for just the province you live in. It's your postage stamp.....or the whole country - all 7 times zones. 

Kiwis have it SO GOOD! Only the caller / texte pays. Phones aren't locked. You can get decent minutes for the entire country on both pre-pay and on account. Even data is becoming cheaper....(unless you're on Vodafone). 

So...thank you NZ mobile cell providers. Thank you. 

All that said....I still have a Bell Canada account because roaming on a Kiwi phone would be outrageously expensive by comparison....but at least all I have to do is swap my BCE SIM into my Kiwi phone, set up the APNs....and I'm away laughing. 


Why I'm Supporting MMP

By Steve Withers, in , posted: 21-Nov-2011 11:20

[Update: I've turned moderation on for comments for Election Day. I'll approve any comments and turn moderation off after the polls close.]

 I wasn't going to post about this on Geekzone, but someone else has and I think the issue deserves a few moments of my time. :-)

I support MMP for several reasons:

1. It is a fair, proportional system where each of our party votes has the same potential power to elect representatives provided we reach the 5% threshold or the party we support wins one seat.

2. My party vote lets me help to elect a whole swag of MPs from the party I support from across the whole country.  It isn't limited to 1/120th of the country. I can vote for - and elect - several people from the 'team' I support...and the party vote is a vote with *nationwide* effect. It is not limited to just one tiny electorate or a single candidate. My MMP party vote is my Big Picture vote and NO OTHER system offered allows us to do this. 

3. My party vote gives me a way to vote positively for the party I support. I do not have to vote "against" anyone as almost always had to do in the bad old days.

4. I like list MPs. They are the people who genuinely represent me. My local MP is *always* from a party I do not support and definitely does not share my views on many, many topics.  Too many local MPs are long-serving party hacks who still date from the pre-MMP era having entered Parliament 20 years ago...and more. I'd like to do away with local MPs completely. 

Some don't like candidates being on both the local ballot and on the list. I have NO problem with this at all as it is plain to me there are two ways to elect MPs: locally and nationally. I do not confuse the two. A candidate they might not like in Taihape (or they like them almost enough and may just have come second) might be seen as simply awesome in Masterton, but they can't stand in both places. 

It's obvious to me that if you said candidates could not run locally and on the list, you would very soon find that no one in their right mind would stand AT ALL locally unless they thought they were certain to win. Such a restriction would effectively reserve the local seats - at best - for two candidates only. Some might not even be contested at all where people always vote one way. Why would anyone "waste" a good candidate in a local seat that can't win when it would make much more sense to have them on the party list? 

Leave it is as it is or get rid of local  seats altogether. Banning locals from also being on the list would convert local seats - effectively - into rotten boroughs for the worst party hacks...and local voters would be left with little choice.  


I don't like FPP because:

1. It gives 100% of the power to a single minority party the majority of voters did not support. If you hate "minority" parties having "too much power" then FPP would have to be the very worst of them, giving the whole lot to just one party who might have only 38% support (National 1981).

2. Under FPP, my vote is limited to just one candidate in just one of 120 electorates. The other 119 MPs are *completely* beyond my reach and utterly unaccountable to me in any way.  

3. FPP wastes votes and thereby steals seats from other parties and gives them to the party supported by the largest MINORITY. It is rare for a person to be elected with more than 50% of the local vote. Most people didn't want that person, but FPP saw them elected anyway. In the 2010 Auckland Council elections the two people elected in Albany Ward each got less than 10% of the vote and the other 80%+ of votes cast elected exactly no one. Across wider Auckland, 62.5% of votes cast for Auckland Council elected no one at all thanks to FPP. Of the 20 members of the Auckland Council, 13 of them didn't even get 30% of the vote in their ward. FPP is awful. 

4. For 20 years under FPP I never elected anyone. That sucks. No thanks. 


1. PV is a clever way to elect one person most people didn't actually want. The object of PV is still to give 100% of the power to a single minority party most people don't actually support and was not their first choice.  

2. PV only lets me vote in 1 of the 120 electorates. The other 119 MPs are completely beyond my reach and are utterly unaccountable to me. If I live in a safe seat for a major party I don't support, I may as well not bother voting. In Australia, there are seats that have been held by a party for 50 years and more. People who live there effectively have no one they want to represent them if they did not vote for that person. 


1. SM is another system trying very hard to give all the power to one minority party the majority of voters didn't vote for. It does this by effectively "stealing" seats from minor parties by discounting their party votes to 25% of their present value....and the lion's share of the list seats will go to the two major parties who are already able to win the local seats with as little as 33% of the vote locally (or 32% if you want to look at Peter Dunne in Ohariu-Belmont).  FPP again...and it's terrible.

2. SM limits your votes to just 1 of 90 electorates and a 25% discounted share of the list.  The other 89 local MPs are completely beyond your reach and utterly unaccountable to you.

3. If you don't like one minority party the majority didn't vote for having all the power, then you don't want SM.  


1. STV can be proportional if there are enough people running in each district. The proposal put forward suggest districts of 3 members in rural areas and 7 members in urban areas. The result would be non-proportional outcomes in those rural areas that would tend to favour the party that does well in rural areas. That would usually be....National. Meanwhile, in urban areas, with 7 members the outcomes would be more proportional, but at the same time giving the best shot to parties who don't normally form the laregst minority in urban areas.....(again...National). This highlights my major problem with STV: It is too easy to gerrymander by fiddling with the numbers in each district and the boundaries of the districts overall. The STV system proposed would exaggerate the position of a party with strong rural support and disadvantage parties less strong in rural areas. (MMP can't be gerrymandered: 10% of the vote gets you 10% of the seats. End of story).  

2. STV limits my vote to just one district. MPs from other districts are utterly unaccountable to me. if I live in a rural district with just 3MPs, I'll probably find I can only elect someone I want with great difficulty if they aren't the party most people round here vote for. 
2. But STV is the best of the alternate systems and definitely will be my choice on the second vote......but it is poor second to MMP.  


The parties choose all the candidates who ever win seats no matter which system you adopt. There hasn't been a true independent (not previously elected via a party) elected locally since 1945. Some parties are more democratic than others. Candidate selection should NOT be confused with election. If you want to select candidates...JOIN A PARTY.

For example, the Greens rank their party list by national postal ballot of ALL members. You can't get much more democratic than that. Other parties may hold conferences with delegates selected / elected from each area. Still others see the party HQ just rank people. Again, some parties are more democratic than others.

Don't support any party that doesn't select candidates democratically. Under any system. Candidate selection isn't just an issue under MMP. Far from it. 

If you don't like one minority party the MAJORITY did not vote for ending up with ALL the power, then there is NO WAY you should be voting for FPP, PV or SM. 

If you want a fair proportional outcome where your vote is as good as the next person's when it comes to electing people from the 'team' you support....then MMP is the only way to go. 

If you can't see that electing 20 MPs via your party vote is better than - maybe - electing one or two via STV....then go for STV or perhaps one if the other systems that will waste your vote entirely and you won't elect anyone at all (FPP)....or will waste it locally AND discount it and give the list seat to someone else (SM)

But I'll be voting for MMP mainly I hate one minority party the majority didn't vote for having ALL the power....and MMP is the ONLY system that lets hold entire parties to account across the whole country.

All Blacks Auckland RWC Victory Parade in 3D

By Steve Withers, in , posted: 25-Oct-2011 12:02

I suspect this may be the only 720p HD 3D video of Monday's victory parade by the All Blacks up Queen St in Auckland.  I've edited out all the dead space as people passed, so you should find this engaging if you're at all interested in the people involved. :-)

I used StereoMovie Maker to fine-tine the parallax for the centre-of-interest in each segment. This video should not give you a headache. I'm interested in feedback on that. 

I then used Magix Movie Edit Pro MX Plus to compose the overall video.  It does a great job of handling 3D input files and adding transitions, titles and effects in 3D.  

This video plays perfectly in the YouTube app on the "glasses-free" LG Optimus 3D and HTC EVO 3D phones. It should also play perfectly on any 3D TV compatible with YouTube 3D display options. 

Or you can just turn the 3D off in the YT player and watch it in 2D. 

Switching ISPs

By Steve Withers, in , posted: 12-Oct-2011 08:18

I knew when I ordered the change from Orcon to Telecom that the transition would not go smoothly. 

In the 14 years I've been using either cable or DSL broadband I have never once had a smooth implementation with any ISP. For example, in 2008 it took ten days to get re-connected after shifting house...and I was with the same ISP. In 2007, connection finally came 5 days after originally promised....and so on back into the mid-90s with various ISPs.   

I was hoping this time might be different......but the order delivery target of 7pm on a Friday evening was an omen that all would not go well.

My existing Orcon connection died shortly after 7PM......looking good....

But after a couple of hours I still couldn't log into the Telecom DSL service with the user-id and password I had been given. The first line support people in the Philippines(?) said I had everything set up correctly and tried to put me through to the back end people....who had gone home. According to the recording on their phone line this was due to "adverse weather conditions in Christchurch"....on a reportedly sunny, clear Friday. Now you can see why I wasn't hopeful about a 7pm Friday delivery commitment. I've been 'here' before. :-)    

Whatever, my order was still open in the system.....waiting for something to happen. 

The next morning, I called again and they said they would follow up. Around 11:15am, I received a txt announcing my broadband was now ready to go. Meanwhile, my router had auto-connected and the data was flowing. 

OK..pain of install / connection was now over and was already beginning to fade rapidly as the first pages load. 

It's now Wednesday and I've been using the Telecom broadband the past few days and I have to say it is pretty good. Especially in the evening....when we can happily watch YouTube videos at 720p - even 1080p!! - with only a bare minimum of stuttering / stopping - if any at all. On Orcon I gave up ever trying to use 1080p and it would take literally minutes to NOT play. It was one of those options on the menu you stop seeing after a while because they don't actually work.

They work now.  

So far - delivery issues aside - I'm pretty happy and I'm also saving almost $100 / month over what I was paying before. 

I also noticed when I logged in to to check usage that my data quota is 80GB...not the 60GB I ordered. I phoned them up and the extra 20GB is promo of some kind. 

Fine by me. All least until the next time I have to disturb my connection. Why is it so hard after 15 years of provisioning?

Maybe someone knows. I don't.

Permalink to Switching ISPs | Main Index

3D Image and Video Sharing: 3DF33D.TV

By Steve Withers, in , posted: 16-Sep-2011 12:07

You have your 3D camera and you want to share your awesome pics and videos. What do you do?

I went looking for sites that specialise in enabling the sharing of 3D content and found a few. Each has strengths and weaknesses and none of them are perfect. But the price (free) is certainly not heavy and you can't really complain too much.

My aim in sharing 3D content was to make it as easy as possible for others who may not have much experience with 3D images and how to use them. I also wanted a site that let the user turn the 3D off if they just aren't up for it. I also like to view my images in red/cyan anaglyph full screen on my big PC monitor. The effect is amazing, but sometimes the parallax in the anaglyph images is 'off' and most sites offer no way to fix that. 3DF33D.TV Main screen

3DF33D.TV does all these things. This is why it's my favourite 3D viewing and sharing site by a reasonably wide margin. It's the only site out there that lets you fix misaligned parallax and see a good-quality, high resolution image (or video) at the same time. No one else comes close. The site provider / operator, Keith Fredericks, has put together something very special for us all.  

Up front, 3DF33D.TV requires your web browser to support WebGL. That means you need a very recent version of Firefox or Chrome. You should see prominent graphic explaining your WebGL options and how to enable it of you don't have it.

Once the WebGL is sorted (if you had to do anything at all), the default viewing mode is 2D. You have to select a 3D viewing mode in order to see it and the selection button is top and centre on the main page.

Select 3D mode 

When you click on the "Select 3D mode" icon you're taken to a page that offers a wide range of choice for 3D viewing options. To be honest, I don't know what half of them are (yet), but I'm sure the people who need them will identify them readily.

Main 3D Viewing Modes 

The main selection list above should be good enough, but if you need something more specialised, you can click on "Other Modes" and gain access to an additional list of 3D viewing modes. For example, regular (full colour) red/cyan anaglyph may be good enough for most things, but if you have an image that has a lot of red and / or blue in it, your glasses will make those parts of the image look......just wrong. So, instead, you'd click on Other Modes and select "Dubois", which alters the shading of the reds and blues in the images to optimise them for viewing through red/cyan lenses. A bright blue sky on a sunny day will look much more natural using Dubois red/cyan anaglyph than the regular full-colour flavour. It's this kind of flexibility that makes 3DF33D.TV a win for me. This works for both stills and video.

 Other 3D Viewing Modes

Fixing the parallax in red/cyan anaglyph mode (if you selected one) is easy for any still or video. MovingAdjust Parallax

the mouse cursor to the top-right in the image or video when, not in fullscreen mode, gives you access to the parallax adjustment tool (I don't know what Keith calls it.) With your glasses on, just use the mouse pointer to slide the white dot up or down until the ghosting disappears. Then you can make it fullscreen. The parallax adjuster is also available in fullscreen mode, but doesn't work. It will immediately go to the highest negative number and stay there, so best to do this before going to fullscreen.

Images can be up to 20MB each. Maximum resolution is 3048 x 1080. The site supports "png gif jpg jpeg mpo" image formats. It can also handle *.jps files if the file being uploaded has been renamed to end in *.jpg. Always make a copy. Don't mess with your originals. I have an LG Optimus 3D (P925G - XT flavour) phone camera and it produces *.jps files and this method works fine for me. It also accepts the *.MPO files from my Fujifilm FinePix real 3D W3. I recently bought "Magix Movie Edit Pro 17 Plus HD" for editing and producing more polished 3D video content (US$99 download copy). 3DF33D.TV happily processes the *.wmv files Magix produces.  

This is all goodness. Could 3DF33D.TV be better? Sure. I admit, I don't know what Keith's goals are for the site, so what might be good from my point of view might not with his vision of where he wants to take 3DF33D.TV. Keith posts a blog entry on the site every few days and they are always informative and or entertaining. His enthusiasm for 3D shines through brightly. He recently published a book: "The Future of 3D Media". I bought an e-copy copy via Amazon for US$9.99.

The site allows you to use tags, but has no folders. So if you want to organise your uploaded content you will need to think about a set of tags that will let you group your images in ways useful to you. I use permutations on the date that include my user-id initials as other people may also want to use dates and won't want my images mixed in with theirs. For example, we can't ALL use "201107" for July 2011 without overlapping. I also add a word or two about the main subject, the location - city and country, my username (so I or others can select only my images/videos) and the device that shot the image ("LG Optimus 3D" or whatever). There is a search function, but any new user will rely heavily on the "new, hot, random" selection choices on the feature pages to locate content of interest. There is no high-level topic index. You have to browse and when you find a user whose content you like, you can drill into it.

It's possible to rate images and videos as one to five stars. I usually do. But no one else using the site seems to use this much. You can also leave comments, but I'm one of the few who do. There is no real "community" side to the site. If you want forums for sharing, learning or teaching, you'll have to go to another site. The fonts on the menus can look a bit "chunky". In some browsers the words on the menus are black on black unless you're mousing over them. But generally the site is stable and stuff just works. I've found in video playback that the player doesn't really buffer much of the stream, so if the network path between you and 3DF33D.TV is being "choppy" due to congestion at some point, there is no way to get around it. For this reason, I can only very rarely use the 720p HD playing mode with the site, but the 360p mode works very well almost all the time.

The user community on the site is still quite small as far as I can tell, but the hit-counts on the content seem to be rising, so interest appears to be growing. The more content there is, the more people will want to go there.

The summary for me is that 3DF33D.TV is the best 3D sharing site out there. If you haven't tried it then it's time you did.

Internet NZ's NetHui 2011 was excellent!

By Steve Withers, in , posted: 2-Jul-2011 00:06

I took 3 days off work this week to attend the NetHui held by InternetNZ at the Sky City Convention Centre in Auckland. It was well worth my time.

I have been on the Net since 1990 and have always been interested in its operation, governance and related legal, social and cultural issues. I was on the old ISOCNZ Council for a year in the mid-90s. Attending this year's NetHui enabled me get caught up with the current state play on all fronts and get some idea of who the people are who get things done and make things happen.  

There were four streams on each of the first two days. You can see the program here.

The final day (today, as I write) was the "big" day with everyone in the same session. The keynote speaker was Harvard Professor Lawrence Internet legend in intellectual property matters. 

When a speech transcends mere words it becomes and 'event' and Prof Lessig's speech was an 'event'. One of the very best speeches I've ever seen. You can watch it here. Go to 22 minutes in. 

Sean Plunket, Lawrence Lessig and David Cunliffe

I attended many excellent sessions on "Digital Citizenship", "Access and Enabling", "Internet Governance" and legal issues like copyright and intellectual property. I won't even attempt to summarise all the "good stuff" that happened in the 3 days at NetHui. You can go to the site and read the notes collaboratively compiled by people who attended the various sessions.  

Twitter played a huge role (for those on Twitter). Following the #nethui timeline felt like mind reading as other people in the same session as yourself responded to what we were all hearing, as it happened. It was also possible to get some sense of what was happening in sessions in other streams as hot topics lead to bursts of twitter traffic and cascading retweets of points people had strong views about. Twitter played a huge role in the 'mind' of the NetHui and made it something quite different (for me) compared to other conferences I have attended in the past.

Several politicians gave speeches. Some excellent. Some not so much. ICT Minister, Steven Joyce; Finance Minister and Deputy PM, Bill English; Attorney-General Chris Finlayson a;; gave speeches. Some better than others (watch the live streams at the NetHui site if you're interested). Other MPs who attended were Nikki Kaye (Friday), Gareth Hughes (all 3 days), Claire Curran (Friday) and David Cunliffe spoke in the Friday morning session. Claire Curran said Labour would repeal the disconnection provision of the recently passed copyright law, which brings Labour into line with Green Party policy on this contentious issue.     

One of the other highlights of the NetHui for me, personally, was learning about "Computers in Homes", an initiative of the 2020 Trust to get people online who otherwise won't be able to do it on their own. I've been wanting to do something about this on the North Shore, but didn't really know where to start. Now I know.

This blog post hasn't even scratched the surface. If you get a chance to attend next year's NetHui, take it. 

As a 'geek treat', here is a 3D video of part of the Q & A this afternoon.  Lawrence Lessig answers a question about 30 seconds in. (Change to 480p resolution. It looks MUCH better. Once it starts playing you can use the "3D button to select options and change 3D modes. For side-by-side stereo, make sure to also select "full width". If using red/cyan glasses trying setting it to "Swap (left-right)" to get the 3D effect)

(L-R - Lawrence Lessig, Chris Finlayson, Colin Jackson, Judge David Harvey, Ross LaJeunesse and Rick Shera)

My Lifestyle transition from 'Big Iron' to 'Mobile Man'

By Steve Withers, in , posted: 18-Jun-2011 11:44

I worked on the Big Iron (mainframes) in the 1980s as a mainframe operator and systems programmer. I moved to PCs and servers in the 90s. In the Naughties I became a citizen of Laptop Nation. Each step enabled me to be more free and more mobile and to access more "stuff": multimedia, Internet.....anything digital. 

Now? I'm Mobile Man. If the device can't transmit, I don't want it. Dead weight. Why would I want a camera that can't instantly send edited images to wherever? Or a PC I can't just put in my shirt pocket? 

I gave away my laptop over a year ago to my uni-engaged daughter. My main computer, camera (still & video), stereo (nice old word), comms device of all types (email, txt, FB, Twitter, phone), is my (multi-tasking, access any data anywhere, any time) Android smart phone. 

The last bastions of PC required-ness are the touch-type keyboard for lots of words in a short space of time; playing big games on a big screen; and video editing....and even then it's a close-run thing on all counts. 

The SlideIt "swipe" soft keyboard I got from the Android Market for lunch money allows me to quickly type a lot of words very accurately by just swiping my finger around the screen. I'm writing longer and longer things this way.  

My phone has an HDMI out port, so if I had an HDMI TV ( I don't - my bad), I could already be playing phone games on a huge screen.  

For video editing. "Vid-trim Pro" lets me do basic selection of the chunks of video I want. Usually thats all I need anyway. The PC still does the heavy lifting. 

But on all counts....I can see the day very soon when a large screen phone or phone / tablet / netbook device will do it all. 

When I get my hands on one of those, I'll be Liberated Super Mobile Man. If you get on that bus first, save me a seat. I won't be long.

My ambition now is to travel overseas with what I'm standing up in, a spare shirt / undies / socks, my wallet, passport  Light as a feather. Won't even need carry-on. 

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