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Bit Stories 2008-07-02: Recording Screwups, Moblin.org, Linux, MIDs, and NetMeeting

Here’s this week’s show! Have a listen, and check out the download/subscribe links and detailed show notes below.

This week’s show is only 30 minutes long and weighs about 28MB (it’s a 128kbps MP3). You can download the file directly, listen using the streaming player above, or (BEST OPTION!!1!) subscribe to the Bit Stories podcast feed in your favorite podcast aggregator (like iTunes). If you subscribe to the feed, you’ll get each show delivered automatically as it becomes available – probably once a week or so, with the occasional bonus video or audio segment thrown in for fun. Plus, we’ll love you forever if you subscribe! :-)

Bit Stories Podcast Recording Setup

Here are some free form notes from today’s show:

  • Yet Another Audio Setup

  • Embarrassing Confession: We recorded the last two shows using the built-in mic on my MacBook Pro, instead of the elaborate mixer/condenser mic that we have set up. Because I’m an idiot. The saving grace? It sounded pretty darn good! :-)
  • Have developers let the Tablet PC community down?
  • Brian paved and reinstalled Windows XP on his Samsung Q1 UMPC
  • Why XP instead of Vista? Not quite enough horsepower.
  • Josh has done the same thing (gone back and forth between XP and Vista) on his Asus R2H UMPC
  • Speaking of mobile device operating systems… Moblin.org
  • What the heck IS Moblin? Is it an OS?
  • Moblin is a stack of tools to help create OSes and applications for Mobile Internet Devices. It’s sponsored by Intel, and hosted by Intel Software Network
  • Ubuntu Mobile Edition (UME) sneak peak is out there, if you have a Samsung Q1 Ultra
  • Brian feels that he won’t be able to use a Linux-based MID because of the lack of mature ink/handwriting input support
  • It’s really hard to do an ink interface well
  • Will Atom-based devices ever have the horsepower to do handwriting well? Is this a hardware or a software problem?
  • Do open source projects do better when there’s a common, widespread demand and need for the result (like a web browser)? Do enough people in the open source community need and/or want good ink and handwriting support to motivate them to write it? Would enough people use it and care about it to make it worth their time?
  • Since Mobile Internet Devices are all about the Internet, having a good browser is going to be essential.
  • Windows versus Linux on these small, pocketable internet devices.
  • In general, lack of UI “polish” in Linux applications is a deterrent for non-geeks to adopt it.
  • Brian’s “essential” applications on his Samsung Q1: Microsoft Office, Firefox, and Microsoft Money
  • Is Firefox the exception to the “Linux applications don’t have a good interface/user experience” stereotype?
  • How easy is it going to be to “install any app you want” on the upcoming Linux MIDs?
  • The challenges of adapting applications to devices on smaller screen.
  • UMPCScrollBar – a great little app that lets you scroll windows around the smaller UMPC screen, so you can get to the “Install” and “OK” buttons that get pushed off the bottom of the screen.
  • Intel Software Network’s mobility community makes tons of resources, tools, and smart people available for people writing applications for these devices. Take advantage of us!
  • Without great software, Intel products are just a bunch of really tiny hot plates. :-)
  • Have we discovered the REAL reason Intel has chosen not to deploy Windows Vista? Is it because NetMeeting is no longer there? Microsoft stopped distributing NetMeeting in 1998 – TEN YEARS AGO. But Intel lives and breathes NetMeeting – old habits die hard. (Update after the show: according to Wikipedia, Microsoft released a hotfix that allows you to download and install NetMeeting on Vista. Guess we were wrong! 😉 )
  • Macs do Screen Sharing, based on VNC, but there’s NO way on a Mac to participate in a NetMeeting call, because it’s a closed, proprietary Microsoft protocol.
  • Google Docs is GREAT for live collaboration.
  • PowerPoint is a great presentation tool, but it is NOT a collaboration tool! It gets abused WAY too often. PowerPoint abuse starts early – Brian’s 7th grade son is already doing it!
  • New recording time – Wednesday morning instead of Friday afternoon. Hope this gets the show out faster, and Josh and Brian perkier.
  • Josh’s morning voice – he’s not a morning person. Brian gets up at 5:30 AM.
  • Stuff we didn’t get to this week: Brian dips his toes into the world of Twitter and FriendFeed, and next week is iPhone 3G day! Come stand in line with us!

The show is picking up steam – we’re hitting our stride, and cranking them out. Many, many thanks to our listeners – we love you guys! We love connecting with people through the show, and getting to know who’s listening. But the only way we can do that is if you talk to us, so leave a comment, email us, or find some other way to say “hi”, and let us know what you think of the show! :-)

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Exclusive: 23 minutes of hands-on with the Lenovo and Aigo Mobile Internet Devices

OK, so I’m a couple days late, and I know I’ve been teasing you with photos and videoappetizers“, but I hope the quality/content of these videos makes up for it. While I was in Shanghai, China last week for the Spring 2008 Intel Developer Forum, I stayed a few extra days to work with the Intel Software Network China team, with the hope that I might be able to score some hands-on time with some of the Mobile Internet Devices that were shown for the first time at IDF.

There are only about 20 MIDs in the world today, all prototypes, and they were pretty much all at IDF. As you can imagine, access to them is jealously guarded, and they were pretty busy being shown off, participating in photo shoots, etc. My access to them got postponed, rescheduled, and moved around a lot, until one afternoon, we got the call. “You can come play with the MIDs if you can be here by 5:30pm.” It was 5:00pm, and Welles and I jumped in a taxi right away, headed for the Intel Software group’s Mobility Enabling Lab. I didn’t have time to go back and get my “big boy” professional video gear, so these videos were shot on my pocket Aiptek Go-HD camera, secured by a GorillaPod. I think they turned out pretty well.

Big disclaimer: the Linux-based software for both the Lenovo and Aigo devices I used is NOT final – there are some features that aren’t implemented, and performance optimizations that haven’t occurred. This is NOT how they’re going to be when they’re released commercially. There are crashes, slowness, and missing features in these videos. Think of this as a preview of the foundations of the software – what it’s capable of in general. Then squint your eyes a little and imagine the final version, a little more polished, sitting happily in your pocket. :-)

First up, here’s a 13 minute video of the Lenovo Ideapad U8 Mobile Internet Device (MID). It’s one of the more unique hardware designs, with it’s flared end, special limited edition Beijing 2008 Olympic color scheme, and hardware number pad, for T9 text entry. In the video, I take a detailed look at the hardware (Intel Atom processor, two cameras – the rear one is 2.0 megapixels, SD slot, GPS, USB ports, etc.), and spend some time poking around with the software/user interface:


You can download the high quality (640×360) MP4 version here – the file is about 153 MB. You can also embed/share the video on your own blog or site by grabbing the Show Player code from the video’s page on blip.tv or by clicking “Embed” in the show player above.

Next up is 10 minutes of video with the MID from Aigo. I cover pretty much the same aspects of this device in the video as I did with the Lenovo Ideapad – hardware (sliding QWERTY keyboard, two cameras – the rear one is 3.0 megapixels, MicroSD slot, USB ports, “Smart Key”, etc.) and software and user interface. The Aigo device looks very similar to the Gigabyte MID, which has been floating around, making appearances. So much so that I suspect they’re manufactured by the same OEM, but I didn’t get any concrete information on this, so I’m just speculating. Here’s the video:


You can download the high quality (640×360) MP4 version of this video (117 MB) here, and get the embed code to share the video on your own site/blog on the video’s page on blip.tv, or by clicking “Embed” in the show player above.

Now that you’ve seen the videos, I hope some of your questions have been answered. And, no doubt, you have new questions. I’ll do my very best to get answers for you, so post your thoughts and questions in the comments below. Thanks for being patient while I got these videos ready. I have a TON more video content that I shot at IDF, and that will be coming out as it gets processed/edited. But this is the juicy stuff, so enjoy! :-)

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An Appetizer: Video of the Lenovo and Aigo MIDs at Intel Shanghai

I’m working on the video I shot while I was at the Mobility Software Lab at Intel Shanghai yesterday, getting some face time with the Lenovo and Aigo Mobile Internet Devices. I posted the photos late last night (thank you all for the comments!), and ever since then, you’ve all been chomping at the bit to see the videos. I have good news and bad news…

The good news is, I just posted an “appetizer” video, with a quick look at the MID hardware, comparisons to the Fujitsu and Samsung UMPCs (and my iPhone), and a glimpse of the lab. It’s about 2.5 minutes long, and you can watch it right here:


The bad news? The really detailed videos I shot of the UI and applications on both devices are too long to go up on YouTube (which has a 10 minute limit). I don’t want to cut anything out of the videos – I want you to see everything I saw. And I’d really like to have higher quality for the videos than what YouTube allows. But since my video service of choice, Blip.tv, is blocked in China, I can’t upload the videos until I get home. My flight leaves in about 18 hours. It won’t be long!In the mean time, please accept my apologies, and this “appetizer” video as a token of my love, along with the promise that the real “meat” – the UI video you’ve been waiting for – is coming soon. Over 20 minutes of it. And it will look better than YouTube. :-)

Thanks for being patient! :-)

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World Exclusive: I got to play with the Lenovo and Aigo Mobile Internet Devices (MIDs) at Intel Shanghai

There are only about 20 Mobile Internet Devices (MIDs) existent in the world. Most of them were in Shanghai last week for the Intel Developer Forum (IDF). 10 of them were in the Mobility Software Enabling Lab at Intel Shanghai, where I got special access today to shoot photos and videos, as well as some hands on time to play, with the Lenovo Ideapad U8 MID and the Aigo MID. They also had some other devices around for comparison – an old prototype UMPC with a pivot screen, a Samsung Q1 Ultra Premium UMPC, and a Fujitsu Lifebook UMPC. And I threw my iPhone in a few of the photos for size/comparison’s sake.

I’ll post a more detailed writeup of my impressions of the devices soon, as well as the video of the time I had with them (summary: the Lenovo Ideapad U8 looks and feels wonderful in my hands – I WANT one!). I spent several minutes on video with each device, examining the hardware and UI/software features. Right now, thought, it’s almost 1 AM, and I need to get up early to do a blogging training with the Intel Shanghai software guys. But I wanted to get these photos up and available as soon as possible.

Please post any comments or questions you have either in this post, or on the photo’s page on Flickr. I want to answer all of your questions, but I’m going to sleep for a few hours, and don’t want to miss any of them. Please be patient, and I promise I’ll answer all questions. :-)

The entire set of 33 photos is available in this photoset on Flickr. Feel free to browse through all of the photos (bonus photos: some shots of the Intel Shanghai sales offices, which occupy floors 22-24 of the ShanghaiMart tower). Click here to view as a slideshow, and you can see full size/resolution versions of every photo on Flickr by clicking “All Sizes” on the photo’s page.

And now, the photos! Here are some that I think turned out best – be sure to check out all 33 photos in the Flickr set!

Aigo and Lenovo Mobile Internet Devices (MIDs)
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Aigo and Lenovo Mobile Internet Devices (MIDs)
Fujitsu Lifebook, Samsung Q1 Ultra, Lenovo MID, Aigo MID, prototype UMPC
Stack: iPhone, Lenovo, Aigo, Fujitsu, Samsung
Stack: iPhone, Lenovo, Aigo, Fujitsu, Samsung
Keeper of the MIDs, Lenovo Ideapad U8
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Bonus Video: My First Hands-On with a MID (Mobile Internet Device)

A few days before IDF, I met Holly from Intel via an email thread on who was going to Shanghai to blog, etc. She let me know that there was going to be a MID (Mobile Internet Device) photoshoot at some point, and invited me to come, shoot video, and check it out. Well, it turned out that the photoshoot took place at 8 PM the first night after IDF started, and didn’t finish until 8 AM the next morning. These devices are pretty much the only ones in the world right now, and they were needed for the keynote addresses both days of IDF. So the middle of the night was the only time they were available for a photoshoot. I passed.

But! On Day 2 of IDF, Holly came by the Upload Lounge with one of the MIDs – a unit from Gigabyte. She was supposed to do some “man on the street” video, showing people in Shanghai the MID, and asking them to show what they had in their pockets. But her video crew wasn’t available for some reason. SInce I was there with all my gear, and had time before the next session, I happily accompanied her out onto the streets of Shanghai (with Helen, our translator) to do the man on the street video.

But before we hit the streets, I shot this short clip with my Apitek Go-HD, to commemorate my first ever hands-on experience with a real, live MID. Here’s the video – about a minute and a half, not long enough to go into any depth. But it should be enough to give you a glimpse of what they’re like to actually use.


Holly is hard core – she was up all night long for the photoshoot, and still came around to do this. I would have chickened out and hidden in my soft warm bed for a few hours. Hats off to you, Holly! Hope you got some rest! And thank you for letting me touch the MID! :-)

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InstaResearch: What the heck IS a MID anyway?

Had an interesting conversation today in a meeting with some of Intel’s web marketing folks – the people who run blogs.intel.com/mobility, to be precise. We were talking about who actually had hands on experience with a “MID”, and that quickly moved on to the question of defining what, exactly, a MID is. And perhaps more importantly, what it is not.

So what did I do? I took advantage of the 1200+ people who follow me on Twitter, and did some “InstaResearch”. In other words, I asked my Twitter network:

What the heck do YOU think a MID is? Not just defining the acronym, but what IS it? What is it NOT?

Within minutes, the answers came pouring in. Here’s what people had to say:

@sunraven01 – It is NOT a device that only provides connectivity inside a provider’s walled garden.

@sharong – as close to omniscience as humans will ever get

@psteinb – Something that fits in my pocket and can give me access to ALL aspects of net platform

@Jerry_Makare – MID, Meat-In-Dumpster: An acronym used to tell dumpster divers that meat products are located within garbage receptacles. Yum.

@clint – Midi file!

@sharong – MID to me is more than just browser-its integrated feeds, its connectedness.M is also more than handheld-could be clothing

Update: a late(r) entry from Tablet PC guru Loren Heiny:

@LorenHeiny – “What’s a MID?” To me: The iPhone & iPod Touch are MIDs, though the iPhone is more a phone and the Touch needs more connectivity

@LorenHeiny – Why r the iPhone & iPod Touch MIDs? Because they provide some of the best browser experiences. Something I think is key to a MID

It’s interesting to note that everyone besides @clint, @sunraven01, and @LorenHeiny are people with whom I work at Intel. 😉

I’m going to withhold my own opinion/definition of “MID” for a little while, but I’ll blog it soon. Instead, I want to gather more opinions, and extend my InstaResearch. So I’m going to ask YOU – What the heck is a “MID” anyway? Is a UMPC a MID? Is a MID a UMPC? Is the iPhone a MID? What about the Nokia internet tablets like the N800 and N810? What about Tablet PCs? Smartphones and PDA phones and BlackBerries?

Post a comment and let me know what you think. I’d offer a prize for the person who gets the “correct” answer, but I’m afraid the whole point of the exercise is to illustrate how broad the definition for MID really is. So no prizes, but bonus points for creativity. 😉

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