Chumby and Greenphone, opening up the embedded device market

Recently two hardware announcements caught my interest, not only because cool mobile devices were introduced. More interestingly to me was the fact they brought the openness we all know from the open source software on our PCs and Laptops to the embedded devices market.
First Qtopia, announced the greenphone, a mobile phone that targets developers and geeks by enabling them to reflash the phones memory. This week,, goes even a step further. Their device, the chumby, targeted to replace the good old radio clock at your bedsite with something cool is more or less completely open. This means that you not only can download the software powering the device but also the 2D and 3D data files for the boards and the casings as well as a bill of materials etc.

So why is this important ? Let’s have a closer look.

The greenphone — freeing the creativity of developers from the restrictions of the phone manufacturers and mobile operators

Normally flashing a phone’s memory is something that can only be done by the manufacturer of the phone. In addition, Qtopia adds a version of its well known Qtopia SDK to the package.

The chumby — a fully open gadget

The Use of the Internet by America’s Newspapers

Fish HeadsThe Bivings Group recently published a report on the state of the use of the internet by america’s newspapers.

It summarizes the use of web and web2.0 features used on 100 newspapers websites.

Here are their key findings:

  • 76 of the nation’s top 100 newspapers offer RSS feeds on their websites. All of these feeds were partial feeds. … In addition, none of these feeds included advertisements. …
  • Only 31 of the papers offer podcasts on their websites.
  • 80 of the papers offer at least one, and often multiple, reporter blogs. On 67 of the newspaper websites (83 percent of the blogs), readers can commetn on these reporter blog entries.
  • … Only 19 of the newspapers allowed readers to comment on articles, …
  • Major Web tools pentrated both the most and the least circulated papers. …

PDF version of the study at the Bivings Blog.

Other have joined in for similar studies for Italy and the UK.

A more collaborative effort using a Wiki was started in Germany. I think this is the right approach in order to keep up with new and additional fetures as well as modifications on the newspapers websites. Maybe the findings should be integrated into the the respective wikipedia entries for the newspapers.

Sony GPS-C1: A photo geocoding accessory done the wrong way

Sony GPS-C1Geocoding photos. i.e. adding latitude and longitude to a photos’ metadata gets more popular every day. To my knowledge the following options for geocoding images exist:

  • “Integrated solution”: Professionals could use the nikon D200 with an attached Garmin (or compatible) gps and a serial cable to directly add the goecode to the EXIF Metadata while shooting the photo. (Does anybody know if there is a similar solution for professional canon cameras ?) But according to some comments the integration the whole package was very clumsy and cumbersome.
  • “Specialist applications”: The RICOH Caplio Pro G3 camera is mostly used for special applications. But with its integrated Compact Flash Slot it allows for direct integration of the geocode information into exif headers using either GPS CF cards GPS Bluetooth modules and ad Bluetooth CF card or a standard GPS receiver a serial cable and a serial CF card. This is definitely the best integrated solution wrt. useability but the camera does not fulfill the requirements of professional photographers.
  • “Synchronized data”: This is a solution that until now mostly appeals to geeks. In this scenario the geocode of the photo is not stored directly while taking the shot. Instead, a separate gps tracker is used to premanently track and store the position. Using synchronized clocks on both devices a postprocessing software like WWMX LocationStamper then adds the EXIF headers to the photos.
  • “Manual Postprocessing”: The bulk of todays geocoded images stems are manually geocoded using internet mapping services and APIS of the G-Y-M “triumvirat” (or should i say oligopoly). In contrast to the other solutions, the metadata is normally not integrated into the headers of the photo but only attached to it wrt. a hosting application (e.g. flickr).

Sony now tries to bring the synchronized data solution to the masses by offering an integrated hard and software package consisting of a small gps tracker and a set of windows only software. But as usual Sony doesn’t get it . The usual walled garden approach, combined with a technical inferior solution: Single purpose gps module, no expandable memory, tracking only every 15 seconds, …).