Photo walking with Thomas Hawk

I’m spending the evening with Thomas Hawk learning about the photo world. He’s one of the most talented photographers I’ve seen, so wanted to follow him around as he took photos. Tonight we spent a few hours underneath the Golden Gate bridge. He’ll have some of the photos up later.

He’s the kind of evangelist I hoped I would be: an authority on everything photo. Including all of his competitors like Flickr, Picasa, Smug Mug, Riya, Tabblo, Vizrea, Web Shots, Photo Bucket, FotoLog, and others.

He works for Zooomr (three “o”s), but his regularly posts photos to Flickr and other sites. He knows, for instance, that photographers will get more traffic from Google Images than other image search sites (he tries to get his photos listed on them all).

We started talking about Zooomr, which is developed by a single person (Kristopher Tate) and I asked him why he joined up with Kristopher. The answer: because Kristopher added a feature (trackbacks) in one hour when other photo sharing sites wouldn’t do it after months of begging (they still don’t have trackbacks).

Their latest feature? Photo portal notes. Coming tomorrow. Thomas tells me that feature didn’t exist on any planning board before last Friday (Kristopher thought it up on the way to the TechCrunch party last Friday).

Anyway, Thomas told me that he knows developers at all the photo sharing sites and that they tell him that their main problems are keeping up with the huge increases in traffic (doubling small numbers isn’t that hard to keep up with, but when you double millions of users that’s a HUGE problem to work around).

So, it’s very easy right now for Kristopher to add new features, but he hasn’t hit that scaling wall that’ll keep him busy adding servers and building a team to deal with data centers.

Anyway, thanks Thomas for the great photo walk and an insight into your creative process.

SlingMedia has new wireless competition

I love my Sling Media box. It lets me watch my TV anywhere in the world. So, when Monsoon Multimedia’s Mark Rouchonik, director of IT, called me up and said that I had to see their new HAVA box.

So, I’m sitting here with Mark and Colin Stiles and this thing is very cool.

First, unlike Sling, it doesn’t need to be hooked directly up to your access point via Ethernet. You just need an 802.11g wireless network.

Second, if you’re on your home network the quality is a lot better than my Sling is. A large percentage of the time I’m using Sling I’m just sitting on the couch watching something different than Maryam is watching (hey, sometimes we don’t agree on the shows that we should watch. For instance, I can watch football while she watches old versions of Lost).

Third, it plugs into Microsoft’s Media Center. Which really rocks. Basically it fakes a tuner to Media Center (a large percentage of Media Center machines sold don’t have any tuners, if they have a HAVA box it will extend TV into those machines anywhere in the home that wifi reaches). I’m going to use this on my new Media Center that’ll be in my office upstairs while my satellite TV tuners will be downstairs.

Cost? $249 (there’s a $50 rebate right now until the end of the month). Only available on the Web right now, in retail in US in September, elsewhere around the world like Asia and Europe by the end of the year.

You hook your settop box (TV system) or, really, any video source like a DVD player, into the back. As long as you have an 802.11g network (must be “G”, not just the older “B”) it’ll work fine. You load some software on each client to view the video. Windows only today, but they are working on Macintosh versions. They are also working on mobile versions for Windows Mobile and Symbian (due around September).

Anyway, very cool device. I’m going to get one to compare more fully to my SlingMedia box, but the comparisons I’m seeing here look pretty damn good!

Second Life corporate training with John Hartman

Over the weekend there were several hundred Second Life enthusiasts in San Francisco. John Hartman (he blogs about Second Life and virtual worlds on his Thought Plasma blog) attended the conference and is sitting in PodTech’s offices now showing me some of the cool stuff he’s learned and some of the things he’s working on.

What caught my eye about John’s work is that he’s using machinima (which is a recording of Second Life’s environment and avatars) to do corporate training.

What’s unique about this is you can create virtual sets and presenters very inexpensively.

I remember visiting the set at TechTV (which was a real set that cost millions to design, build, and house). John could build a virtual copy for 1/1000th the real cost.

Some things he showed me was a singer who played a virtual concert. Her avatar was holding a guitar in Second Life. She was singing into a microphone thousands of miles away from the data center that houses Second Life’s computers (at parent company Linden Labs).

He recorded that singer and made a little movie out of it (uses Camtasia). Sorry, the movie isn’t yet up on the Web, he says he’ll try to get it up within the next week or so.

Another thing he does is use a program called CrazyTalk, which lets him animate the mouth of his avatar. He can give a speech and his avatar delivers it. He uses that to do corporate training to dispersed groups of programmers.

Other things he uses? Fraps, which lets you record machinima videos. Used to do Red vs. Blue, he thinks. But he says Camtasia is better for most of his screen-recording needs.

As to the Second Life conference he said the weirdest thing was being in a presence done by NOAA and right next to it was people selling sex toys. Ahh, the joys of a virtual world where the red light district is right next to the science lab. Heheh.

Rivers run Red caught his eye (they are an advertising agency) that are going to let you create your own video game using Second Life.

Oh, Eddie and Irina just got in and handed me a real newspaper all about virtual worlds. OK, that’s just so weird. I’ll get a photo up on Flickr in a few seconds.

Oh, Irina, nice video of the Zombies that attacked San Francisco on Saturday! No, that really has nothing to do with virtual worlds, I just included it cause it shows that real life is sometimes very strange, even stranger than what happens in virtual worlds.

I wonder if Zombies could do corporate training?

OK, OK, I was wrong about blogging

I’m taking a lot of heat for trying to hold bloggers to five rules.

I was wrong.

Stowe Boyd, who writes a bunch of words on a thing that DOES comply with my five rules, has the best rebuttal so far. Basically says “let it all hang out.”

Anyway, I’m all about inclusion. Being nice. Not being judgmental. Yesterday was when the egotistical elitist bbbaaahhhsssttttaaarrrrddd in me came out.


E-Frontier, where is your tech support?

I’m now tech support for when people are in pain world-wide. Just got woken up by a friend (who I won’t name here, cause it doesn’t matter) who introduced me to a guy who is in pain cause his software isn’t working that he paid for and he can’t get through to tech support for another hour.

The guy is Ed Ingold, editor of Primative, a magazine headquartered in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

E-Frontier is the company. Application is Poser Artist Application. 

What’s wrong? He bought the application. Ran setup. Then he tried to run the application. Says enter your name and serial number. Keeps rejecting his serial number.

He called tech support, got a new serial number, but that didn’t work. But now support isn’t open (they only are available 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Pacific Time, which means he has to wait until almost lunchtime his time before he can get his app up and running).

Basically this guy is super frustrated, and is trying to get E-Frontier’s attention.

Anyone out there?

Contrast this to the customer support you’ll hear about from Printing for Less.