Sunday, August 23, 2015

WiFi + Train + Google Location = weird

For some while now, the Austrian Railways (OeBB) offer free Wifi at least on their premium trains ("railjet"). The trains are good and fast, the Wifi (most of the time, at least in Austria) is good, but it confuses the heck out of the Google/Android location services.
The trains operate all the routes from Zürich to Vienna, from Munich to Budapest, from Graz to Prague, etc etc.

And it seems that Google (and Apple as well) associate various geo coordinates to those access points, On my route from Vienna to Salzburg, both my iPad and my Nexus 5 "re-located" me to Graz, Linz and Prague, while I actually was just around Salzburg.

(For the convenience of readers outside Central Europe I include the map as a reference for the screw-up)

There must be some way to report those access points to Google so they exclude them from location services. The concept of mobile hotspots/access points should be too common.

Any idea anyone where I can report this ?

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Vertical Video - revisited

Can I just say TOLD YA.
Here to be precise.

YouTube for Android will play vertical videos in full screen

As much as we all might want to stop people from recording vertical videos, the Periscopes and Snapchats of this world have made these clips so prevalent that, sadly, they're just not going to go away. Giving in to the inevitable, YouTube's Android App is getting the ability to play vertical videos in full screen, ...

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Publishing in the 21st Century

I always found that one of the core features or tasks of a publisher it to spend money made with best-selling artists on the newcomers. This applies both to publishers of music (a.k.a. labels) and literature.
Call it a cross-subsidy (and yell fire if you are too neo-liberal for this).

Over the last decades it appears that this is no longer the case.  
It seems that corporate financial controlling measures are being applied to each author or book of its own (or artist/album), and if it can not turn a profit, it will not be published. Profits from say Harry Potter [1] stay with the Harry Potter team and division and are not invested to find the next promising author.
That's because everyone hates cross-subsidies. Even within one company.

I especially find this is the case in music:
Take the recent rant of Taylor Swift against Apple. She complained (whether rightfully or not) about the fact Apple will not pay the artists during the 3 months trial period, because they, Apple, themselves don't receive any money.[2] Let's for a second ignore whether this is fair or not, let's turn to a separate aspect:

Taylor Swift claimed in her open letter to Apple that she's is not complaining for herself (as she gets enough money) but for the young / indie artists:
This is not about me. Thankfully I am on my fifth album and can support myself, my band, crew, and entire management team by playing live shows. This is about the new artist or band that has just released their first single and will not be paid for its success. ...
So is she asking Apple to take on the role of a publisher? She is asking them to help (i.e. finance) the young artists. Shouldn't the labels be doing this with the revenues they already make?
Interestingly she does not mention that this could be done out of the revenue streams from her music, only from the young artists themselves. That's odd.

So this is only a little less greedy than actually asking for herself - as she claims this is not doing.
Not so philanthropic after all.

Where are the publishers or labels in all of this? By taking themselves totally out of this equation, they will get by-passed in the future. Why would anyone need a publisher, when they don't even fulfill one of their core tasks? What's the value of a label/publisher to a young artist?

Instead of greedily clinging to their old business model, which is falling apart, they should think of creating new and relevant offerings to their customers, i.e. the artists.



--
[1] I admit I have done the research on this author/book/publisher, I just use it as an example. Correct me in the comments if I'm wrong.
[2] Apple of course changed this after her open letter.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Yahoo Pipes no more...

So, Yahoo decided to pull the plug on one of their most interesting services: Yahoo Pipes.

So I revisited the service as long as it is still there. Turns out, the only 2 cases where I'm still using Pipes is for aggregating and filtering RSS feeds.

So I will look into one of the alternatives now, as listed here for example. 

Thursday, July 09, 2015

Quick Perl Hack

My regular commute train quite frequently has a delay of somewhere between 3 and 8 minutes, which is annoying when you really hurry up in the morning to be sure to catch it - it's only a 6min walk or so -  and then you notice that all the rush was in vain, because the train wont be there for the next 5 minutes.  But then again, you can't rely on it being late...

Wouldn't it be nice to already know this at home?
Well luckily on the website of our Austrian Federal Railways (ÖBB) and in their mobile apps you can watch the "Station monitor" as they call it. That is, you get almost the same screen display as the have in the station, with the delays showing - if any.

However, that would require 2 taps on my mobile .... way too cumbersome for me.

So I put together a quick Perl hack, just to stay in shape.
First analyze the webpage and the actual Ajax call in the background.
Then so some lenient JSON parsing, fix three stupid perl mistakes I managed to make within 1 hours. Filter on the train that I actually want, and send a PushBullet notification to my mobile and schedule this through cron on my QNAP for 8am every morning. Just in time to let me know whether I would need to speed up or not.

That was yesterday.

This morning, though, I of course did not get any notification, because I forgot the proper use lib ... in my perl script, so it would pick up my personal PushBullet library. Which of coursed worked during testing yesterday, because I was in another working directory. Will I ever learn?!

And at the same time I learned from my wife, that she is taking an earlier train this summer, so while I was at it, I updated the script to monitor 2 trains (with only 1 notification).

Should work fine now... But let's see tomorrow morning.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Vertical Video

The other day I was browsing the Internet Trends 2015 presentation by Mary Meeker from this year's Code conference (and I urge you to do the same).

Out of all the excellent observations and predictions, one especially caught my attention: Something Funny Happened on the Way to the Small Screen ... Small Screen Vertical Viewing Became Big Deal. (Slides 22ff).


Video buffs and know-it-alls (like me, ahem) always frown upon iPhone/Smartphone users recording (and posting) portrait/vertical video. "Look at those stupid idiots", we yell, "they don't even know that video is supposed to be landscape. Don't they know anything?" Bruhaha.

Well, bruhaha ourselves.

Where does it say that video has to be landscape? Just because the cinematic/theatrical screen was horizontal, and (almost all) PC screen are? Soon the majority of viewing devices can now be either - horizontal or vertical, like tablets and smartphones. And the phone is even more likely to be held in portrait mode (the tablet less likely). See the data in the presentation.

If content producers and designers focus on this as a design element, this can be a competitive advantage.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

FlickrTab for Chrome

How about an extension for the Chrome Browser that does nothing for your productivity, almost the opposite: Flickr Tab



All it does: it will show a photo from flickr every-time you open a new (empty) tab on Chrome. That's it.
No productivity value at all. But you get to see truly awesome pictures.
I installed it a couple of weeks ago when it first was released, and enjoyed it ever since.