Not a lot of killer buzz coming out of CES yet

I know, the show has just started, but I have yet to see any ‘killer’ gadget emerge from CES 2007. Engadget, as usual, is all over CES, but a lot of other bloggers are swarming Las Vegas too. Gottabemobile.com reports on the OQO 02, the nicely updated ultra compact computer by OQO. It looks impressive, given that it has built-in WAN (Sprint EV-DO) capability, and a bunch of other refinements. It is, however, still very expensive at $2,000 a pop. Closer to $1,000 and I’d really be interested.

Also on the portable front, SlingMedia is revving up a release of its software for Slingbox access via the Palm 700p. JkontheRun contributor Kevin Tofel has the low-down here. The Slingbox is a great little device that allows you to place shift your television viewing. By place shifting, I mean you can watch whatever the Slingbox is hooked up to from a location that is physically distant from the location of the Sling. With the addition of a Palm client, I’ll be able to watch television from our DirecTV connection anywhere the Palm can pull down an EV-DO connection. Nice.

Michael Gartnberg of Jupiter Research explains CES 2007 nicely in his post:

The big theme at CES is integration and not convergence

This year, it’s all about how to integrate the diversity of devices that consumers are using into a whole that allows for the information and content they want to flow seamlessly from device to device.

One of these days I’ll find the time to make it to a CES. Until then, I’ll just rely on the great blogging that’s going on in Sin-City!

Jott responds to my query on how their service works

John Pollard, CEO of Jott wrote back to me yesterday regarding the processes that Jott employs behind the scenes.  He was kind enough to grant me permission to post his reply here:

Hi Nitin,
Thanks for spending some time with Jott over the holidays, and for your interest in general.

You are correct that we use a mix of human and machine technologies.   Not only would it be amazing for a machine to have such high accuracy with names, technical jargon, etc., it would be impossible to do it burdened by car noise, random accents, zero grammatical context and the typical low bandwidth cellular phone connection.   We are dead focused on making Jott immediately useful, in situations that are realistic.

The machine part gets very interesting over time, and we’re excited by the innovation that’s going to happen there.   But right now we wanted to deliver on voice-powered, hands-free, messaging and to do lists.  Lots of good stuff coming down the road too…

Best wishes and Happy New Year.

John

So, as we sort of suspected, there is some human interaction involved.  I guess the most important thing to note here is that the service is extremely easy, and the backend magic is nearly invisible to the user.  I certainly plan to follow these guys along in their development of this clean and elegant service.

Why Google Reader is my preferred RSS reader

Google keeps upping the ante with Google Reader. The latest addition is the trend page. This is really, really cool. The trend page gives you in chart and graphical format, a breakdown of your personal feed reading trends, which subscriptions are most often read, how many shares per feed, etc. Also available are frequently updated statistics for your set of feeds. Below is a quick chart of my reader habits for the last 30 days:

Usually, I average close to 400-500 feeds read per day, but this chart shows an average below that. December was a busy month off the web, I guess! The chart below has me a bit confused. I don’t remember spending so much time reading posts around midnight:

I suspect this reflects Pacific Standard Time (Google Time).

These stats are great to see on a regular basis. I wonder if they can split the data out to reflect what platform was used at which time. I do a lot of reading via my Palm 700p and the mobile version of Reader. With the EV-DO service on my Palm, nearly all downtime – like waiting in line at the grocery store – has turned into Google Reader time for me.

It seems like Google is spending a lot of time tweaking Reader, at the same time that some of it’s other offerings like Calendar and Notebook are getting stale. Hopefully the silence on those fronts reflects Google’s effort to put together a nicely Gmail integrated PIM offering (calendar, task manager, notebook, bookmarks, etc.). In the meantime I’m going dive into my own statistics and see how I can improve my reading habits.

Jott amazed everyone at the holiday family gathering

I wrote about Jott a few days back, and was slightly off the mark about it’s usefulness. As it turns out, Jott is not really meant for transcribing voicemail to text (that really would be a killer service), rather Jott is meant for you – the user – to be able to call Jott and leave a message that is then transcribed and delivered to your inbox.

The service is very easy to setup, and has an elegant interface. The real power of Jott, however, is its ability to transcribe voice messages to text. Over the holidays, while we had family visiting from Boston and New York, I mentioned Jott to the geeks amongst us. One of them, Yogendra Jain, is no ordinary geek. He’s been working in the DSP, intelligent voice arena for over two decades. So, naturally, I wanted Yo to critique the Jott service. He set up an account and off we went. He recorded messages that referenced his kids (both with fairly complex Indian names), some technical jargon, and a general grocery list. Jott nailed it all, to Yo’s amazement. What astounded us was the ability of Jott to decipher the Indian names, as well as the technical jargon. For fun, we then asked my brother the Neurologist to ramble on about a patient diagnosis. His message included complex medical terms, as well as medical acronyms, and Jott was spot on with that message too.

While the transcription was not instantaneous, as you could tell that messages were in queue, they were nearly 100% accurate. It made me wonder if there was some human intervention involved in the transcription process – you know, some processing center deep inside India that is validating what the computer spits out. I’ve emailed the developers of Jott to see if they are willing to share some of the inner workings of their service. Hopefully, I’ll get a reasonable response – and I’ll report back on what the tell me.

In the meantime, I’m adding Jott to my GTD workflow as another way to get notes into my inbox.

Gartenberg believes that Microsoft’s Zune is nothing to laugh at

 After the lackluster launch of the UMPC (Origami), a failure that had as much to do with the bulky form-factor as price, Microsoft is keying up another personal device for consumers.  Dubbed the Zune, most people have written it off already as an ‘also ran’ against Apple’s iPod.  Michael Gartenberg of Jupiter Research, however, seems to disagree:

OK, it’s pretty clear that the first iteration of Zune is pretty lackluster given where Apple and the rest of the market is. Underestimating Zune and Microsoft, however, would be a huge mistake. It’s not to say that this is a slam dunk for Microsoft but let’s look at the big picture.

Source: Michael Gartenberg – Underestimating Zune would be a huge mistake

All I can say is that the pictures comparing the two side by side make it obvious that the 1st generation Zune is pretty ugly, and bulkier than the iPod.  Microsoft is using a very aggressive pricing model ($249 for the current Zune), and clearly is willing to pump resources into this device to challenge Apple.  Maybe like the newest UMPCs, the second generation Zune will be attactive enough to own.

Silk Screen Movie Festival preperations in full swing!

Silk ScreenSo, the last few months I’ve been volunteering some of my time to help launch a brand new film festival in Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh has a fairly large Asian population, one that is active in many community activities, but until recently the disparate Asian groups haven’t had a unifying event to call their own. With the inaguration of the Silk Screen Asian American Film Festival, that will soon change. The brainchild of several motivated, and creative, Asians, Silk Screen is beginning to take a life of its own. The festival plans to become an annual event, eventually expanding to a range of arts beyond film. As a volunteer in this effort, and casual observer on the dynamics of putting together this huge effort on a shoe-string budget, I’ve been very impressed by creativity of the sponsors and patrons of the festival. Take, for example, the team over at Wall-to-Wall Studios, they have put together an amazing website , and associated collateral material.  They just released a film trailer that will run at all of the festival venues. Check it out here.  Pretty cool stuff, right?

Yahoo unleashes voice “Skype Killer” IM

Last year’s dubious purchase of Skype by eBay for an ungodly sum is looking even more foolish today.  Yesterday Yahoo! released the beta 7.5 version of Yahoo! Messenger with Voice.  This update allows Yahoo!IM users to buy phone numbers, call out, call in, and generally function in a world similar to Skype without having another IM environment to deal with.  Om Malik fills us in with some more details here.

More UMPC (Origami) details today

UmpcToday it was Intel’s turn to take the covers off of the UMPC platform. James Kendrick uncovered this page on the Intel website that begins to fill in the missing pieces to the puzzle. The Intel UMPC website reveals even more with four videos showing use cases for the UMPC here. The second video, “Mix work and pleasure” is the one that got my attention. Two of the other videos feature the device pictured here in action. Cool stuff!

UPDATE:  This link to a PDF brochure has some interesting UMPC facts that confirm many of the rumors floating about.

Blkorigami
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
UPDATE 2:  News.com has pictures of demo UMPCs from the Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco, along with some early indicators on pricing, power, etc.  My early verdict?  Nice, too pricey, and somewhat dissappointing.  We’ll have to wait for Microsoft, and ulitmately the product manufacturers for a better idea of what the Future holds for Origami.

Guy Kawasaki points us to Karl Hartig’s incredible data chart creations

Guy Kawasaki points us to a collection of charts that Karl Hartig has generated over time using all kinds of interesting data.  Not only are some of these charts visually stunning, but they provide a way to show trending data in a more dramatic fashion.  In other words, the data comes alive on these graphics.  Definitely worth a look.

Congratulations again to Marc Orchant!

Just like he says here, January 2006 has been a great month for fellow GTD’er, TabletPC’er, Weblogs Inc colleague, and pal Marc Orchant.  The most recent buzz that Marc has generated is around an article that was published in American Airlines’ in-flight magazine American Way.  Time Bandits does an excellent job of describing the power, simplicity, and effectiveness of David Allen’s Getting Things Done approach to time management.  Marc is a featured expert in the article.  Unfortunately, I don’t fly American that often (although I recently took their non-stop service from Chicago to New Delhi — great service by the way), so I would have missed out on this piece.  Anyway, check out the article when you get a moment.  Again, congratulations Marc!