Anyone Received the New Swivl Yet?

An April 17, 2014 video from Ohio State University.

This is one of the first examples of the new Swivl.  Although you do not see the device itself, you do see the new tracking unit.

My original posting and addendums below:

I’ve been waiting for mine. I ordered it in early January 2014, and at that time it was supposed to be a 6 weeks wait. On Feb. 18th, I received an email that they would ship in early March. It is now March 12th and I just sent the company an email asking if there was some problem.

I haven’t seen any postings (by non company persons) showing off their new Swivl yet.

ADDENDUM:  I received a reply from the Swivl rep that said they would be shipping the new Swivl out in another couple of weeks.  That would make shipment the end of March.  That would be 3 months from when my credit card was charged.  *As much as I wanted to “play” with the new device, I sent an email cancellation notice and asked if there was anything else I needed to do to cancel my order.

ADDENDUM-ADDENDUM:  I did receive my order amount refund (by check, my choice) within a week!  Still don’t see anyone’s video examples from using the new Swivl.

It was sort of odd.  I was interested in this little piece of hardware, that had been offered at an extremely reasonable price during the first iteration.  The refinements and redesign of the proposed second iteration looked great.  But, the second iteration had a sizeable jump in price, and the company appeared to have put their energies in what I consider a tangent, Cloud Video.  The trick for Swivl was as a device that caused your camera to follow you, and remotely record very good audio.  I wasn’t interested in having a special place to store and deliver the created videos.  I can put those on YouTube.

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Logitech Z515 Wireless Speaker

I bought a small Logitech Z515 Wireless (Bluetooth) speaker a few months ago. I’ve got it in the office today, and have it hooked up to my PC.

One thought would be to take it with you and have a class outside. If you can figure out how to use your mobile device (iPad / Android phone, etc.) as a microphone, then you could put your wireless speaker at the “back of the class” and that would make it possible for your many students spread out under trees, etc. to hear what you are saying… not just those up front. I guess you could use this indoors for the same reason. Place the portable speaker at the back of the class to help students there hear as well as those at the front of the class.

ADDENDUM:  How disappointing!  I tried various apps, both for iPad and my Android phone and none of them worked, or worked along with pushing the audio via Bluetooth to the wireless speaker.

It would be nice to be able to use your iPad to view notes while giving a lecture and using it’s microphone to push audio out to (one or more) a wireless speaker (via Bluetooth).

Posting Using My Revue & WIFI Keyboard App from My EVO

Okay, I have found that my Logitech Revue System is good for something that I have been waiting for for a long while… in Internet time.  I am using the Chrome browser on my Revue System to connect back to my EVO phone, and am creating this blog posting.

I have been waiting for a Bluetooth driver and keyboard that would allow me to connect to the EVO so that I could take notes.  I tried out the WIFI Keyboard app several months ago and it worked, but I saw no advantage to having to have a PC or laptop run a browser, just so I could connect back to my phone and type on the small screen there.  But, for $99 for the Revue and already having the 32″ HDTV, and the app being free, viola!  This works great.

Not a Geek, Not a Geek, …

Although I have worked as a Computer Consultant with Fayetteville State University for a little over 15 years, I do not think of myself as a computer geek. I do “play” with a lot of software and hardware that should make me realize that I am a “geek”, but it just hasn’t sunken in yet.

For instance, I was looking through a “Top 40” (or 45) of free apps for the iPad/iPhone on Friday afternoon. It was a countdown and when I reached #2, I had already installed about 6 or 7 new apps to my iPad. I say, “My iPad,” but it’s not actually mine. It is an iPad that was given to me, on loan, in order that I might test it out especially regarding the Blackboard Mobile Building Block. Chet Dilday has an iPad Project and this was one of the units from that work. It is a WIFI capable, but not 3G, system which means that when you get out of WIFI range, you’re not linked to the Internet, so the GPS and real-time mapping functions don’t work then.

I found that Blackboard was willing to provide either an WIFI iPad or an Android phone to me during the Mobile Building Block test period. Since I knew I was going to get an iPad from Dr. Dilday’s project, I asked for an Android device (whatever that might be). I wasn’t expecting much from the Android device, and the iPad was still in its early release, marketing frenzy hype. But, quickly I found that the HTC Hero (Android 2.1) was an exciting little piece of technology.

Let me interject that I’ve never owned a cellphone. I’ve used two cellphones extensively, but both were provided to me via work. The Hero came to me at a time, just at the end of 5 months of self-imposed emersion in the new Web 2.0 technologies. This emersion process, at least at the beginning was painful. It’s not easy for a 56 year old man to learn about, begin to incorporate & embrace some of the new ways of doing things. And, I am not a social animal, or not a naturally social animal and I enjoy my privacy.

So, getting the Android and iPad devices and beginning to get a real hands-on feel for Web 2.0, especially as it might be used in higher education, became “fun.” Frankly, though I don’t use the cellphone as a phone. It’s all the other neat, “hook me to the Internet” applications that I enjoy: email, news, simple Blackboard admin functions, recording live video while I’m out, posting to my blogs, either text or audio while “on the road,” etc.

If you had asked me if I wanted a GPS device, I would had said, “No.” But, if you ask me now if I have enjoyed using the Sprint Navigation (GPS & Map) functions on my phone, “Darned straight I have!” I even broke down and bought a phone mounting unit for my truck, and a USB power unit that plugs into the cigarette lighter so that I can recharge the phone while I’m out driving.

So, the #2 free iPad/iPhone app was “AirVideo.” You use the program to serve videos from your PC or Mac to your iPad or iPhone. It was simple and quick to install, a free app on the iPad and then a free “Air Video Server” app to run on my PC (or Mac, etc.) The free version limited the number of video files I could list in a folder, but “out of the gate” I was able to stream, without a hiccup, both MP4 and FLV files. You can actually download your YouTube videos in either of those formats.

Why might I want to stream video from my PC to an iPad? Well, video length might be one reason. YouTube videos are limited to 10 minutes, so you could stream an hour video from home.

On Saturday, I drove up to Smithfield, NC. I ate a little, shopped a very little, and stopped by the Johnston County Library in downtown Smithfield to see if I could hook up to their WIFI (if they had it, which they did). Okay, I see that I am “geeky,” because I walked in with my iPad and the Apple Wireless Keyboard and asked if they had a local history section, and if they had WIFI. I was directed upstairs, and told, “Yes, we have free WIFI.”

I saw nothing interesting, to me, in the local history section and so I went to a nearby table and sat down, noting that the chairs were simple, but stylish. I started the iPad and hooked to the Library’s WIFI, and then started the AirVideo app. It found my Air Video Server instance, which was running on my laptop in Fayetteville, and listed the two folders that I had made available. There was my SIFAT video (of my time at S.I.F.A.T. in Wedowee/Lineville, AL back in 1983/4) and it started playing with just a little hesitation.

I pull out my phone and start the USTREAM broadcast app, and here I am recording live video of me using the AirVideo app on my iPad, and the video that is playing is something that I recorded many years ago on a VHS Camcorder (converted to digital video a year or so ago). And, part of the video even shows the PC technology that was “state of the art” at that time, an IBM PC with a 10MB Winchester hard drive with a monochrome green monitor.

So, the Library chair was interesting to me and I looked for a manufacturer’s tag on the back. I attempted to turn the chair over, to look on the bottom, but because there were a few other Library patrons nearby, I chose a more discrete method of looking for the tag. I switched to the camera app on the phone and attempted to take a picture of the bottom of the chair. There was a 2 second delay from when you pressed the trackball button to take a picture, which was perfect for giving me time to get the phone positioned beneath the chair. The first photo was fuzzy, but there was a visible tag. The second photo was fuzzy also, but readable enough to get the first 5 or so character of the manufacturer’s name. I went to the Google Search app and started to enter the manufacturer’s name and the search suggestions popped up a name with “chair” appended to it. That was it, I had the chair manufacturer and I googled for their website.

I looked through their online catalog and did not find the exact chair and began to think that this might have been an old style that maybe the Library got at a discount. I then thought to see where a showroom might be located. To my surprise, the only showroom in the whole United States was in… Smithfield, NC. Must be the distribution point for America. I entered the address in the Google Navigation window and found that the showroom was only a few miles from where I currently was.

[Got sidetracked… with work.]

Using QR Codes for Political Mailouts, etc.

Richard Burr Committee Contact - QR Code Image If you want to make it really easy for people with smartphones to import your contact info, including phone numbers, email addresses and a URL to your web site, you should include a “QR Code” on your mailers and print ads in magazines (they could be used in other places as well, all sorts of promotional items).

I visited your site and copied some pertinent info into an online form for creating free QR Code images. This is what it produced and the images of my HTC Hero (Android) phone show how easily the barcode reading app imported the data.

Scan the QR Code image with your smartphone for more information.

Contact info easily imported into the phone.

 

A QR Code image can also contain all the pertinent info for a “calendar event” including: event title, location, date/time, and memo – phone number, link to web page.  Someone that wanted to add an event to their calendar would just need to scan the image and click on “Add to Calendar”.

Audio Podcast via Cellphone

Well, it took about $20 and a couple of hours of testing, but I was just able to create an mp3 audio recording on my HTC Hero phone, and email/publish it to my Cape Fear River Steamers (WordPress) site.  Friday A

Surprisingly, to me, there isn’t an free Android app that creates mp3s from a recorded message.  I found a limited free app, HIFICORDER, which has a paid version for about $10 which will create an unlimited length (probably limited by SD card size).

USTREAM Broadcaster, Google Goggles & Talk to Me

I just got an HTC Hero (Sprint Android) yesterday to “play with” for about 4 months from Blackboard.  Seems they are encouraging the installation and use of their Mobile Learn building block by offering a test device (either an iPad or an Android). 

I already had an iPad to work with so I asked for an Android device.  The HTC Hero isn’t top of the line any more, and you can purchase for under $80 now.  It only has a 5 Megapixel camera, but it can also be used as a camcorder.  *But, here’s the thing.  IT’s CLOSE ENOUGH!  It’s close enough to let you know what the potential for spending a little more money, or waiting just a short time longer for the technology to slide within the boundaries of acceptable-ness for video.

I installed the USTREAM Broadcaster app and it worked fine “out of the box”.  Now the camera resolution and hardware speed leave something to be desired, but here I was walking out to my truck for lunch and I was “broadcasting live” as I went.  Also able to save a recording to the USTREAM site and also push to other video hosts including YouTube. *The app hangs every so often and has to be “force shutdown” -ed, but starts right back up.  Can even do polling easily (Yes/No) on the fly.

Installed “Google Goggles” today and started photoing objects all around me.  Doesn’t work well on images, but then I read that it was supposed to be a darned good “barcode reader”, and “Yes it is.” 

But, imagine getting a cheap barcode reading app that could be installed on our tech’s cellphones.  Hook the data up to something like FootPrints and you’ve got a mega-Inventory tool that doesn’t require a specialized barcode reader anymore.  $3.95 for an app, or maybe free if FootPrints programs it.

“Talk to Me” is perhaps the best surprise I had of the “free” Android apps I tried today.  It requires about 4 separate “free” app downloads, but this little tool works GREAT!  You can type or “talk” to it and it does very well at understanding (I have a Southern drawl.) US English and then translating into many other languages.  It will actually speak the translation for French, German, Italian and Spanish and type the text translation for other languages.  *If it can understand me, as well as Dragon NaturallySpeaking can in the Windows World for MS Word, then someone should be able to make a cellphone that you can easily speak commands to.