What do you do if you’re a person who likes to keep up with news but the source of the broadcasts is Windows Media Player?
This is all too common a situation for people like me who like to follow what is happening in their state Legislature, in my case Maine. Take my situation; working in health care, I like to keep up with what is happing, particularly with Bills being debated in Health and Human Services and Appropriations. Many states which broadcast their Legislatures use WMP which creates an unintended barrier for iPhone users since the iPhone won’t stream .wma or .wmv files. Or can it?
I want to share with our readers a couple of work arounds, the first described in my colleague Werner’s blog. I’ve been using Streamer (Free) myself because it has video and it is indeed very good, albeit with more bells and whistles than I need. The video is a bit jerkey too.
The other option is FStream (Free) and can have you up and running those pesky .asx streams. The set up is fairlyeasy, though be prepared to do a little digging to get the correct URL, if you have Safari, you'll need to go to View then down to View Source and look for the media player and file. If you have Firefox you’ll be able to right click (press Control then click) on the Media Player, open Properties and you’ll see the URL.
Of course if the web administrators just posted that URL under the player for everyone who doesn’t use WMP - that would open up Democracy a bit more.
I would encourage you to do your part and point out to web administrators for state or local governments that their broadcasts would reach more citizens if the URLs for audio and video broadcasts were posted. Now it is entirely possible, there’s a simpler way to do all this, if so give a shout and post your workflow. I love to hear from readers!
In my last S5 review, I posted up a basic unbox video, and general features about the Sonos ZonePlayer. I've been a bit tied up at work lately, but finally got round to posting up on the setup of this compact, but amazing, streaming audio system. The setup was both easy and frustrating. The easy part is following the simple instructions, but the hard part was getting everything to work. I learned an important lesson about the importance of reading the manual. Read on for the details, and more of my mediocre videos... :(
As many of you A2DP (high-quality audio) freaks know and also been pointed out in my dedicated articles (last, iPhoneMVP-frontpaged one HERE), full AVRCP hasn’t been supported on the (otherwise, A2DP-capable) iPod touches and iPod’s, not even as of the latest, just-released 3.1.3 firmware.
I recently had the chance to chat with Zvika Ashkenazi, the CEO of MobileAppLoader.com and I was able to learn some very interesting things about his company, the services it provides and I also learned how to track App Store sales.
Zvika sent me a graphic detailing January 2010 metrics for DIY iPhone apps. According to the graphic, MobileAppLoader was responsible for creating 436 apps for their customers which include realtors, auto dealers, restaurants, and hotels to name just a few categories.
As you know from my previous posts here, a number of companies have launched in the last year or so to help people and businesses create their own applications, not just for iPhones, but also for other platforms like Android and Windows Mobile. Previously, this sort of service was unheard of. If one wanted software developed, it could get pretty pricey. For large corporations, this was considered 'the cost of business', but for individuals and smaller companies, personalized or customized software was often out of reach.
Now, some people themselves are talented programmers themselves and can make their own apps. Some companies have developers on staff, while some companies can afford to hire an outside developer for a specific project - at a cost of $5,000 to $25,000 - to develop an application from scratch, that kind of budget is out of the reach for many people. Of course, one can get it for less, but even so, a ball-park bargain-basement sort of figure is still around $2,500. And most aren't looking to create super-sophisticated software, and don't really need to consider spending that sort of money anyway.
At the present time, MobileAppLoader claims that they are the #1 Do-It-Yourself iPhone App company. These stats do not include companies which build apps from RSS feeds or companies with less than 30 apps. Zvika explained that he generated this information by typing the name of the developer into iTunes. Now that I know how to do this, I anticipate hours of fun
Since MobileAppLoader doesn't build their apps via RSS feeds, I was curious as to their process. It's done by what Zvika described as a unique "App in a Snap" Wizard. A user signs up for an account on their site, and selects their business category. Then they chose a design from Iron, Bronze, Silver and Gold offerings and upload four images and type in certain details (contact info, URLs, feeds, text, etc...) and finally hits 'submit'. Behind the scenes, the content is then converted to a native iPhone app using objective-C using the Apple X-code development tool, and that process is then followed by a a quick quality assurance to make sure everything is working properly before the app is sent to Apple for review.
Apps built from RSS feeds can be very handy, but MobileAppLoader is very proud of the real-time interactivity of the apps they build using this method. For example, they've built a number of apps for towing companies and the apps include the ability to tell the towing company where you've broken down, show them a picture of your car and ask them to come and get you. So the app makes use of notifications, GPS and the camera. And that's just one example. Auto dealer apps include the ability of the dealer to notify a customer of their next service appointment. Prices start at $59.99 for setup and $4.99 a month.
Pioneer has a multitude of fabulous car stereo systems here at CES this year (North Hall, booth 1001). I was given demos of two of the more impressive models that have iPod/iPhone integration. The first is a new Stage 3 product destined for release in early spring this year (the AVIC-X920BT). This system has everything but the kitchen sink, including DVD/CD playback, voice control, navigation and a hoard of smart music features, including it's own iPhone/iTunes app.
This little speaker system from DGA has some really incredible output, so I agreed to mention it in our blog coverage at least. These guys were streaming live at the show, came by our booth and gave us a quick demo of it (called Livespeakr). I totally apologize (for reals) on the camera work in the video that is embedded after the break. The wavering camera was not on purpose, I assure you, especially with my wife standing right next to me the whole time...
Wow, did I see some cool audio-related stuff today at CES (mostly in the South Hall). Wish I could write about all of it, but I selected a few of the cooler things I got to play with or do. One of which was to record a demo blues track using the little USB recording setup at Blue Microphones (check out the video above).
The Mirage convention center was quite the gadgety place to be last night, and sorry about not having good pix from the event, but I had some issues with my camera just before. Oh well, I swing back later and post more shots on the cool stuff I saw there, but wanted to get some word out on some of the cutting-edge stuff now.