Armen Chakmakjian

Posts Tagged ‘sharing’

Features designed by geeks…

In iPad, Science Fiction on June 28, 2010 at 4:18 am

So I have a kindle (as you may know).  I love my kindle, but there are some days that this product reminds me of the latter days of the Palm handhelds (not the phones…think back before they bought handspring).

So Amazon comes out with a new set of features 2 of which I had waited for

  1. Pan and Zoom on PDF files
  2. Sharing (aka social media sharing)

So for Pan and Zoom, they did a good job given the hardware constraints.  you kind of use the same key to adjust the size that you do for the fonts, and then you pan with the joystick.  Works pretty well.  But this is a feature, while necessary, completely fails the easy to use test except for the people who design things like this.  You have to go to 2 different places on the keyboard and use the toggle to do several things.

I guess my main gripe is really the toggle. It’s such a goofy and inexact way of (probably) getting around violating someone’s patent on a touchpad for the product.  However, like I said, the feature allows you to do pan and zoom on pdf, so I figured it out and I’ll use it.

For the other feature, clip and share (or whatever they call it), from a kindle hw use model they nailed it correctly.  You use an existing known feature (highlighting) and then you give the user a choice (near the bottom of the screen) to share it.  The setup for facebook and twitter was easy but slightly slow because you have to do it on the awkward keyboard on the kindle.   Once you are done you go to the thing you are reading, and in this case it was the Atlantic Monthly Magazine which I subscribed to on the Kindle, and you highlight something.

Well, here’s where they goofed.  On Facebook (as you can see in the photo) , you get to see your personal comment, but there is no indication what article the clip was from (unless you type it in yourself).   You do see the Magazine.  However, the bulk of a text says Amazon Kindle twice in different ways, tells you that you’ve sent it to Facebook (well DUH!) and since you’ve got no indication what this is, I doubt anyone (but myself) has actually clicked on the link because they won’t know what this is.

On Twitter, it’s even worse.  Here given the 140 character limit, you’d think they wouldn’t waste space.  Every website that allows sharing, puts a little “wsj.com -” and then the title of the article and then a shortened url (bit.ly or whatever).  Not Amazon.  Look at the clip below from tweetdeck.  It says nothing!  it has just my text and an amazon URL and no indication what work the clipping was from.  OH, and an #Kindle hashtag.  you have no idea that this is an article from Atlantic.  All you know is that this is a link and that I have made an editorial comment.  I mean you could have put a hashtag for #Atlantic or something…

I don’t know, this feature doesn’t seem correct to me.  It looks like amazon has spent time trying to make sure that someone can get to the clip, they haven’t figured out how to tell someone WHY they should go.  Usually the why is Work & ArticleTitle and my editorial comment.

Anyway.  That’s my brain dump for this evening.

Pulse Smartpen and Livescribe Software

In Kindle, Social Media, technology, web 2.0 on January 8, 2010 at 3:02 am

So I got one of these for Christmas, Thanks Honey!

Of course the technology is neat, and on that alone I’d at least play with it.  For me it’s not just the technology itself, its how to use it with other stuff.

So for the not-so-technical, the pulse pen is a pen with a bunch of electronics in it.  It is used in conjunction with the livescribe notebooks, journals and pads.

The pen functions by writing just like you would in a normal notebook except that these pages in the special notebook have tiny little dots on them, almost too small to see with the naked eye, that help the pen copy everything you are writing.  When you dock the pen with your computer, the livescribe software reads everything that the pen stored and renders a page that has your penmanship there to share.  It’s as if the pen took a picture of what you were writing.

But that’s not all.  Since the pen knows where you are on the page based on those dots and the tiny little camera in the end of it near the pen-tip, you can do other things.  The pen as an audio recorder built in which means you can record your voice or whatever is happening at the time you are writing.   You activate the recorder by hitting controls at the bottom of every page that say record, pause and stop.  What you can do is hit record, start writing and it records whatever is being said or the ambient noise while you are writing until you hit stop.  If you tap on the paper near the beginning of the place you wrote at after you hit record, it replays what was recorded at the time you were writing.

There are also the necessary cool little apps like the movies in the led display on the pen and a way of telling the pen that you are a piano, draw a piano keyboard, then change instruments and record music and a rhythm accompaniment.

The pages that are uploaded into the livescribe software can be replayed and you can hear the audio associated with your writing.  The whole thing is pretty cool although it seems like a lot of work for just a cool hodgepodge of features.

The better part was how I discovered the sharing aspect of it.  First of all the pen knows which pages have been written on and in which notebook.  So you can have many notebooks stored on your computer.   You can (at least on the mac) pick a group of pages to print to printer or print to pdf.  This means that you can give somebody notes if they’ve missed a meeting or a class…but if you print to pdf, you can even do more things…

For example I was able to print to pdf, and then take the saved document and load it in my kindle.  That’s kinda cool.  But then I was taking a class at work which had a blog for us to share the info and I posted my notes after each half day to posterous.com and it renders the pdfs through the scribd reader which means that just like embedding a movie or a picture, you end up with a scrollable or page turnable electronic doc embedded on the posterous post.  OF course you can email the pdf to someone else too.  Here’s an example on my posterous

One thing I haven’t figured out is if there was a way to annotate the stored pages so that you can turn the pages (which are essentially pictures) into searchable documents.   That would be cool…maybe its there and I just didn’t get to it yet.  It seems like something that the geeks who invented this would have on the product backlog

The other thing you lose when you convert to PDF is any audio recordings that were associated with that page.  Oh well not a deal killer.  but if the audio was still available and the bookmarks were transferable through the pdf, it’d be cool to read the docs on my kindle and then have it render the sound…that’d be awesome (ok ok, when the ipad/islate/newton2.0 comes out I won’t need to worry about this right?)

Oh I forgot to tell you.  On the inside of the cover page you’ll see all kinds of things you can tap that are commands to the pen to present something.  battery life, memory available in the pen…and also a calculator.  Now this is actually kind of cool.  you have the picture of a calculator, and you tap the buttons with the pen and the result is presented in the led display of the pen.  not bad.

OK so I’m a mac guy…

In Random on January 7, 2009 at 5:39 pm

But I’ve used everything before. DOS, ProDos, OS7, OSX, VMS, Windows 3.0, OSF, AIX, Blah Blah Blah…I’ve used their productivity apps…appleworks, office, iWork, DecWrite, Framemaker, EDT, TPU, EMACS, VI, Runoff, nroff, visicalc (ok now I’m dating myself) but have you taken a look at the iWork.com (beta) ?

If it is what it says it is…it’s damn amazing. I bought the first version of iWork just after buying my first mac in 2005 (on the day I left Teradyne online, literally on my way to farewell drinks). Keynote was always pretty impressive even before bundling in iWork. Pages started off as a cruel substitute for MS publisher, but since then over 3 generations have turned it into an extremely capable word processor/page layout combination. I wrote my book in pages and I love it. Numbers is ok as a spreadsheet, but has a lot of fluff and only slowly catching up to Excel if it ever will (I could not use it for my stats class because it didn’t have any of the data analysis add ons that Excel has).

Evidently, in iWork ’09 they’ve also added cross app sharing of stuff, so you can do mail merges and embed charts by symbolic links to other docs.

All that being said, what they are beta testing now is a step function different than desktop apps. You share your docs from your mac that you’ve developed in iWork, and others can annotate and edit them online and you can sync it back to your original. If they want to download a copy of their own, they can…and since it is in a browser, you can be on windows and download office style versions of the docs (rather than iWork native) if you choose.

Now you may say, so what, Google Docs, Groove and Sharepoint already exist…but they don’t look like this…the presentation of these products is really nice. I’m going to sign up for the beta, not sure what I’ll do with it, but it’ll at least give me the time to figure out what it is.