Cell phone as your “Mothership”

This article I read on about how Vizio and Google are reportedly building Chromecast features into TV’s got me thinking about an idea I’ve been noodling on for a while how cell phones are becoming the new wallet, but more importantly – they are really becoming the “mothership” of data for our lives.


Cell Phones – how far we’ve come.

Who would have thought that the old school cell phone would evolve to what we have today?

We have so much information “in” our cell phones.  We no longer remember anyone’s phone number, we can send small messages back and forth via SMS between phones, we can download an app to track our sleep behaviors, the phones wake us up, “sing” us to sleep and now have the ability to pay for items at the checkout.

Pictures – so many of our life’s memories are captured with pictures and videos stored in the phone.  What about all the places we go, all the geolocation data is in the phone.  When we talk, who we communicate to , what we say.  What about when the phone is off…is it listening?  It certainly could be. ( article from Feb ’15)

Phones are our “life line” – people do not do minutes without them.  A recent survey from HuffPost UK stated that 42% would rather forget their anniversary than their phone.

But what else CAN we do with them?

A whole lot really – if you think about the TV from the verge article, there is no reason why the display of your cell phone cannot be transmitted to a different screen based on your proximity to the screen and the activity you need to do.  Pretend you have your phone in your pocket – but you want to surf the web or do a google search.  Walk up to a terminal and it will popup a message “Hello vwtom, would you like to connect?”  If I say yes – it will ask my password and hten I can begin.  That screen is my temparary UI for the time being.  I walk away – go to my office, my screen pops up again,

Great – there are a lot of screens around the “world” and if the right sharing takes place then the new phones could talk with the TV too.  They could transfer their screen to the nearest screen with availability.  Then you could be playing angry birds on the big screen right from your phone.  Pretty cool.

Rebuild a TV Station on the cheap

My ooVoo Day With... John Wall

Image by klessblog via Flickr

I’ve been having some hallway discussions with our CEO Chuck Peters (or as I affectionalty refer to him as “Chucky P”).  I think it started after I was talking too much about how cheap I thought I could rebuild a TV station.  I was tossing around a number which was close to 10% of the cost the consultants were estimating.

So this morning, Chucky P called me to the table about the conversation.  He’s asys – OK, mr. 90% reduction in cost…HOW?  It was a much nicer was that he asked – but seriously, he said – “tell me more – how would you do it?”

The Methodology
You first have to agree – it’s not going to be the “TV Station” it is today.  It’s a digital distribution station, a DDS.  This DDS will do many of the things a traditional station does, but it must look and adopt some of the best practices of the web.

It will be hard – and I know I don’t understand some of the TV concepts and I can hear the old school media guys saying – this is all good, but what about…   the point is to try and think about what TV will be in 3,4 and 7 years.  I’m not sure TV as we know it will exist in 7 years, so why rebuild it now to currect specs.

Slashdot ran a post Oct 05, 2006 called “Could I Run a TV Station on Linux?

  • I’m working with a low-power television station to update their playback system. Currently they’re using tape and I’ve been tasked to move them to computerized playback (MPEG-2, etc.) There are proprietary solutions (very expensive) and there are companies that bundle software with Windows and standard x86 hardware. Overall, they are generally unimpressive and won’t sell the software without bundling it with their own hardware. Tom’s Comment:  Wow does this sound familiar – this is exactly what I hear from my co-works at the tv station still today…but the interesting part is the other comments, I found some interesting one – but I’m sure I missed a couple of gems.
  • Actually, you can address a lot of those types of problems (like playlist management, etc.) with one of the many mplayer frontends on their related projects page []. All you need to do is choose whichever one you prefer and mplayer is your best friend for video playback.

  • The things you need are a scheduler (to determine which commercials air when), a program format spec file (to tell where in a program file the actual video begins and ends so you don’t end up unnecessarily airing several seconds of black as you might if you just paused the playback of a TV show), and a mechanism for crossfading the audio between spots to handle the case where people run it right up to the wire. You need a switcher for the video—the ability to quickly change from one foreground full-screen video window to another without any glitching. This is a lot harder than it sounds. Finally, you need a player that can start pretty much instantaneously and without glitch in the middle of a program. I haven’t found that to be true of VLC at all in my experience, but maybe it has improved a lot in the last few months….

  • For a possible controller UI, you might check out SongCue on SourceForge. I designed it for radio automation, but combine that UI with a preview pane above each controller and show a still frame from 5 seconds into a segment, and you have a UI that would work pretty well for what you’re doing, too. Maybe even show live video in the preview panes during playback. (I wouldn’t recommend the code from SongCue, though, as it’s pretty much raw Xlib, not for the faint of heart.)

  • If I were writing such a thing, I’d start with a Mac OS X (10.4 Server) box. Xsan provides a supported mechanism for handling your storage needs. QTKit can do your playback, and Quartz Composer should make switching the foreground full screen movie pretty easy. The only potential snag I can think of would be that if you aren’t careful, you could mouse over onto the live output signal, but all things considered, it’s probably the easiest way to build an app that does what you want, IMHO.

You see – this is a two year old post with ideas we have not seen people look at or try.  This is all good stuff.  I have not even begun to speak about user content – there are two projects like this going on – one for sure is based on Drupal…an open source contnet management system.  Don’t even get me started on my favorite CMS WordPress – I’m SURE it could do it with one processor tied behind it’s back.

Here is also a pre-bult server from NetTVWorld (posted from CNet) which is calling it self a TV Station in a box and also – clains the idea of a reporter taking it with them to a story and broadcasting from there.  See link in comments to here.


So I’m not saying I can do it – but I think if you get a TV outsider who gets the web (someone like me) and a few TV people who really have a mindset to change the scene – it could be done…for 10% ok 20% of what they think!

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Ditch Your Cable Company With Free, Legal Alternatives

Could it be – it is possible to get rid of cable?

Ditching your cable company has never been more viable than it is today. The rise of online, streaming TV shows allows you to save on one of the most expensive household bills if you are willing to sacrifice a bit of the convenience of having either a cable box or DVR. The main question you will need to ask yourself is what shows you actually enjoy watching. Several name brand shows are now available online in free, ad supported formats; if your particular shows are not available then you may be stuck with your cable company, at least for now. More and more shows are always coming online, so keep checking back to see if your favorite show is available.

I think it is possible to get rid of cable in 2008 – IF you are not a live sports person.  That is the biggest thing missing from the internet offerings.

More People Tuning in to TV Online

Are we surprised?  With the writer’s strike making online TV viewing about as entertaining as back-to-back-to-back episodes of “Are you Smarter than a Third Grader?”

Another week, and another stat has just been released showing that people are increasingly turning to the web to consume televised entertainment. The latest from Solutions Research Group claims that 80 million Americans (43 percent of its online population) have watched their favorite TV shows on the web, and that 20 percent watch TV on the web on a weekly basis.

Who knows – maybe the writers strike will drive all TV viewing online…who knows?

Study: Ads in online shows work better than ads on TV

Interesting post at arstechnica “Study: Ads in online shows work better than ads on TV“:

Good news for TV networks: online ads work. As TV shows continue their lengthy migration onto the web, new research finds that the people watching those shows actually pay more attention to both advertising and content when they watch online.

I know it’s true for me…when I watch internet TV it seems like the ads are made specifically for that application.