Posts Tagged ‘video’

Ai Weiwei – Evidence

I was fortunate enough to have some free time earlier today evening, and headed over to the Martin-Gropius-Bau to catch the Ai Weiwei (@aiww)exhibition titled Evidence. This is the first time I’ve seen Ai Weiwei’s work as I missed it at the Tate Modern in London a while back.

He is a modern artists. Playing around with a lot of different materials to come up with his artwork. And he makes use of the Web. I guess his claim to fame is that he’s all for freedom of speech & expression (something that’s hard to do in China – a dissident he is, if you must), and the fact that he’s a documenter of modern happenings (everyone is interested at the amazing pace of growth in China – he shows that by video recordings of highways, or driving around and recording his journey as an example).

For me, I was really moved by Zodiac Heads (Circle of Animals). I would so grab the rat, tiger and dog as examples! 

China in ten years (I first went to Beijing in 2004 – it has changed a lot in a decade) has become a lot more materialistic. The car of choice used to be the Audi; it still is, but you find a lot of other luxury vehicles on the roads nowadays in Beijing. So the Han Dynasty vases painted with metallic paint from BMW & Mercedes was great for cultural insight. Culturally, the want of antiques is also high and the Table & Chest with stripped chairs was also interesting – remove 1mm sheen from Ming Dynasty furniture and they look like new. What is the purpose of antiques again?

I enjoyed his Study of Perspectives (a selection at moma) as well. He goes to famous landmarks and takes a photo with his left middle finger.

He portrays the disputed islands (between China & Japan). I loved the stools because they each tell a story (6,000 of them). I enjoyed his re-enactment of how he was held captive by the Chinese authorities for some time. It’s shocking to see how you would sleep with a light on, always be watched by security guards and have everything covered up – where you have to do your own laundry and the only thing you get are 6 hangers. Its sad to see that his studio in Shanghai was demolished at a moment’s notice – but he made artwork out of it. He showed the evidence that was confiscated (lots of laptops/video recorders/PCs).

A protest pre-demolition involved river crabs (he xie). Guess that’s the beauty of the Chinese language :)

If you get the chance to check Ai Weiwei’s work out, its well worth it and will take you a good 2 hours (read a review in The Economist). You can’t take photos inside, but you will leave with a lot of memories. If you can’t see this one in Berlin, check out a video: Ai Weiwei – Dumbass. At five minutes long, it makes my video of the week.

The link between Yahoo!, Microsoft, Facebook, Nokia

Written 23 July 2012, but for some reason it never got posted. Better late than never I guess.

I tweeted (17 July 2012, 4:40am UTC+8): 

There’s an interesting link between Yahoo!, Microsoft, Bing, Facebook and Nokia. The bigger picture is competition against Google, Apple

This was literally moments after the news broke that Marissa Mayer resigned from Google to become the CEO of Yahoo!. I thought I’d expand on this link that I see.

Search is today not something that Yahoo! cares about. Its served by Bing from Microsoft. Bing is also the default on Windows Phone, the operating system that Nokia has taken a bet on (when in the USA, I use a Lumia Windows Phone and cannot complain). Search on Facebook is also powered by Bing thanks to a deal that Microsoft has with Facebook. Bing is a strong contender to Google’s search, and this space is clearly still getting investment (see how DuckDuckGo recently got VC funding too).

Yahoo! has mail that is very popular (it might still be the most popular out there). Microsoft has Hotmail. Facebook has “Facebook messages”. Nokia canned Ovi mail services. Yahoo!, Microsoft Messenger and Facebook Messenger also has instant messenger (IM) capabilities. Imagine a day when they all interconnect? It would be a straight fight against Google Chat.

Picasa is Google’s photo sharing site. Today the stream might be Google+. Yahoo! still has Flickr which is the Picasa equivalent, and for streaming? Imagine if there was a quick link to Facebook. Nokia can build in sharing to Flickr and Facebook quickly from their phones (they already have been doing this from time-to-time between phone releases including their MeeGo stint).

Videos seem to be missing from this big picture. Google has YouTube, and the rest of them have nothing with the exception of Facebook.

Maps? Nokia has got great mapping technology loaded on the Windows phone. It can supply this quite easily to everyone.

I haven’t once mentioned Apple yet. They use other search engines (and maybe the longer term strategy is something like what the Dolphin browser does: use Siri to search multiple search engines and aggregate the results so the user has no idea what search engine is being used). They have their own messenger service in iMessages. They have their own photo & video storage site – the iCloud. For maps, they are using OpenStreetMaps after having ditched Google Maps. I see Apple building their own ecosystem and going it alone.

What about developer appeal? I see many a developer hacking on a Mac OS X laptop or a Linux laptop. With the Apple ecosystem, it is obvious to develop on OSX. With the Google Android ecosystem and the rest of their toolkit, its clear you can be OS-agnostic (they support Mac, Linux, Windows). With the Microsoft/Nokia ecosystem? It seems like you need a Windows box, and that automatically turns me away quite quickly (though upcoming HTML5/CSS/JavaScript will allow more development on this platform, in an OS-agnostic sense). Facebook is OS-agnostic too.

It is an exciting time ahead. All of this is great for consumers! Ecosystems are a building and it is awesome to see alliances being built

Apps are the new channels

<tl;dr>Video is going to be big. Apps that have video in them are going to be awesome. Multimedia on your iPad/tablet device is where it’s at for learning. Read on for 3 trends that I’ve noticed.</tl;dr>

John Gruber today said on the Bloomberg TV+ for the iPad:

This is the future of TV. The full Bloomberg news channel, free of charge, on your iPad. Apps are the new channels.

I remembered reading a couple of days back, Mark Suster talking about how he invested in TreeHouse (formerly known as Think Vitamin). Think Vitamin gives you high quality video training to keep you on the cutting edge of web development. It is a curated Udemy. They both have their space – I’d like to see it like TV programming versus YouTube programming.

Some takeaway from Mark Suster’s post: American’s watch 5.3 hours of television per day! Americans read less than an hour a day!!!

Learning by video is useful. Smarter universities are opensourcing their classes — not only the slides and notes, but they’re also putting audio & video online too. Some more progressive ones are even allowing you to take part in the class via an online enrollment, completely free (see Stanford’s Introduction to Databases).

It seems that Jason Calacanis has pivoted Mahalo yet again. After some layoffs, the company is pivoting from videos to apps. The blame seems to lie on Google’s Panda updates in where highly optimized SEO sites get hit. YouTube’s affiliate fees are probably not paying the bills.

So the pivot is to make instructional apps for the iPad that not only incorporate video, but some text of the techniques behind it. See apps like Learn Guitar, Learn Pilates, How to Draw!, and Walkthrough for Angry Birds. All the apps cost USD$9.99 with the exception of the Angry Birds walkthrough.

Why will this pivot work? Because instead of the web browser and search being the medium, you’re letting the App Store be the search engine. The web browser is now the app. The videos are already made, existing in Mahalo’s bank. You can download the videos if need be (I bet they are huge). And you’re bound to find it more useful to consume on your iPad rather than on your computer screen or TV.

There are many how-to books like The Complete Idiots Guide, et al. They sell for about USD$20-30 a pop. Why not get access to videos? Read text. Learn by doing with multimedia. This was the promise of Microsoft Encarta for example.

Instructional videos are very popular. I know friends in their 20s learning how to cook or even apply make-up techniques via YouTube videos. I also know people realizing that the iPad is very handy to be reading/watching videos while on the lounge, lying in bed, etc. Its also a lot easier to prop an iPad up to learn how to play the guitar than it is to bring your laptop there. Touch will allow easier pausing/skipping/etc. compared to a remote control.

The trend seems to be that of videos. We learn by seeing.

I was in Berlin recently, and visited the Topography of Terror. I read about this and the events that are explained there for O Level History. I felt connected by seeing pictures, reading additional texts, and more. Imagine the future of education: I deep-dive into a subject like this, and I can skim things a lot easier with multimedia available to me. I’ll understand a lot better & quicker than just reading pages and pages of fairly boring text.

So, are apps the new channels? I think Gruber is on to something. As are Suster and Calacanis.

The Nokia N8 has HDMI out. Will you use it? How?

Nokia World 2010 is happening today, and I got to watch snippets of the keynote via their live stream. I saw the demo from Anssi Vanjoki where he played a video, in full HD on all their screens. He was especially proud it did not happen via a computer in the back – it was live via the Nokia N8. It comes with a HDMI port. Note that many laptops don’t even come with a HDMI out (yet). So this is revolutionary right?

So I quickly asked on Twitter: Do you really watch movies out of your smartphone? If you do, isn’t the use case on it, rather than output to a TV?

I got some interesting answers, and lots of points to discuss. First, how I might use my smartphone to watch a movie:

  • Watching movies on my phone is something I envision doing when I commute. If I’m on a train or in a crowded LRT/MRT, I might whip out my phone and watch a movie. I might do this on a plane too, but the moment I get to a place with a TV its quite unlikely that I’d be interested in watching anything on my mobile phone.
  • I should not forget about video podcasts – I subscribe to quite a lot of them, but I tend not to watch it on my mobile phones. I presume my usage might increase if I carried an iPhone (because my podcatcher of choice is iTunes), but the moment I could whip out my laptop or iPad, thats probably where I’d watch the video. Plus quality is an issue – HDMI out is great and all, but if the content is lacking (as most video podcasts are – you want to ensure you get quicker downloads), it’s not going to look pretty on a TV.
  • I might want to watch videos I create on my mobile device. This is where it might shine – watching user generated content on the big screen. To be fair, the Nokia N8 includes a very basic video editor, and this might be where HDMI out might make sense.

Now, for the rather interesting answers.

Matt Armitage tells me that he watches movies and TV on his smartphone while he is at the gym. He usually does it via a video cable to the treadmill monitor. Furthermore he tells me that some treadmill monitors allow you to plug it in via an AV lead in, and others give you an iPod adapter (compatible with all iOS devices) and you can now use the touch screen interface on the treadmill. Advanced!

Carolyn Chan tells me that she watches Futurama on her iPhone. But when pressed if she would watch it on TV via her smartphone, she says no, largely because getting movies on the phone is already a painful experience, and poor battery life is not going to help the cause.

Asrial Baker and I had a rather interesting conversation. He watches full length movies on his smartphone, with proper earphones/headsets. Asrial does this on his long commutes, and he notes that others do it on buses and trains too. Asrial’s daily commute is probably over one hour but less than two hours, one way, everyday. He can get quite a bit done while he’s on the train. He goes further to tell me that its useful when you are at a hotel, and the hotel TV is not that entertaining, its best to have the N8 + HDMI out to enjoy your movies.

Now, I never thought of this use case. When I’m at a hotel, I’m usually beat from the day and I rarely have time to watch television, let alone a feature length film. But I do spend a lot of time at hotels, and recently during my vacation, I stayed in six hotels over 3+ weeks. I am writing this while in a hotel room.

Not all hotels have a HDMI input. Asrial says every hotel he’s been to had one. Thinking back, during those six visits, only 50% of the hotels had flat screen TVs. The rest were all CRT based, and would not have had any HDMI inputs. The one I’m in now, has 3 HDMI ports, but you’ve got to get to it via the TV. No chance of plugging your phone in to get it charged (otherwise, you’d have a flat battery in no time).


What you see above was taken in the Four Points by Sheraton in Kuching, Malaysia. That’s two power sockets, a 5 volt USB charger, computer VGA in, HDMI in, iPod in, and regular AV in. In recent times, I can only remember one other hotel that does this: Intercontinental Bangkok. What is common in hotels though is an iPod dock. This commonly connects to the TV as well, so you can enjoy music & videos from your iOS device.

David Lian tells me that the idea behind this is: everyone carries their personal content/media wherever they go. Of course, now which manufacturer/hotel ends up “getting it“?

On an airplane, for example a Singapore Airlines Airbus A380, you will get a USB port, an Ethernet port, and a video AV in port. No HDMI.

In conclusion, do you watch movies on your smartphone? How will you use HDMI out?

Jono Bacon speaks to Oracle on the MySQL Community

Jono Bacon recently spoke with Luke Kowalski, Oracle VP in the Corporate Architecture Group, about community in the context of MySQL. I’ve known Jono for sometime now, and I first met Luke at the MySQL Conference & Expo 2010 – I found out that we have a common shared interest: Formula One racing! Jono is somewhat of an expert in online, opensource communities – he after all did write the definitive book that O’Reilly published titled The Art of Community.

The video has made its way online, and Jono wrote a brief (and you can watch the video within his post) about what was discussed. You can also get it as a podcast – just subscribe to Oracle Technology Network TechCasts in your podcatcher.

Its under 25-minutes to watch or listen to, and I’d highly recommend you to take a look if you care about community, MySQL and direction. Choice quote: “Oracle needs to make a firm commitment to acting within the culture and ethos of Open Source to have an effective, fulfilling relationship with the MySQL community”. Definitely watch the video.

HOWTO: Make your videos 10 minutes in length for YouTUBE

I recently made quite a number of videos, that span about 0.5hr or 1-hour in length. YouTube accepts videos that are 10-minutes long and up to 2GB in size. allows FTP uploads, but your filesize cannot exceed 1GB per video. An hour long video from the camera is about 2GB in size. This is quick guide as to how I split videos.

QTCoffee exists to solve this problem. Quick, simple install on Mac OS X, and I was on my way to creating split videos. The command I used:

splitmovie -o -self-contained -no-fast-start -duration 10:00 sourcefile.avi

Now, in that directory, I get,, and so on. Easy as pie. Its donation-ware, but a commercial license will set you back USD$10. It occasionally reminds you to donate by popping up nagware in your web browser at random once every 10 times its used (I’ve not used shareware since Windows 3.1, and nag screens were a lot different back then). You can easily remove it (it tells you how, even!), by executing: defaults write com.pair.3am.QTCoffee BugMe NO .

Now YouTube is happy, and you can concatenate the files together as a playlist.

QTCoffee is ideal for me, because its scriptable, and can work on a large directory of videos. I wonder what the Linux variant for this is?