iChat works w/ .mac, AIM, and jabber. Gmail chat works though the jabber network. no other networks are supported. i really like the iChat interface, but the ability to video conference still does not work across networks. that means if i want to video conference w/ AIM, i need an AIM client; same for Yahoo and MSN. Skype is also obviously standalone. it would be so nice if i could do video chats w/ a Yahoo buddy while using AIM through iChat. in fact, it would first just be nice to be able to chat w/ a Yahoo buddy through iChat. there are other clients that provide multi-network accessibility, such as the wonderful Adium. there are also websites that provide the same service right w/in the browser, such as Meebo. but none of them allow of video yet. so as it stands, video remains a cool feature but rarely used.
to fix that, it would be great if Apple would configure iChat such that people could write plugins to allow connection to other networks and additional features. maybe it is configured in such a way and nobody’s stepped up for all i know (knowing the Mac community, i doubt that’s the case). Google Talk is open network – anybody can connect to their network assuming they use the same protocol. so add a Google Talk module to iChat – in fact, considering the strengthening Apple/Google alliance, i’d be surprised if such connectivity did not appear pretty soon. anyway, the ultimate point of this rant is to open iChat to all the chatting networks and to develop inter-network video connectivity.
i decided recently to start running again, as it will help tone more of my entire body than just riding my bike does. gotta get rid of that flabby belly, you know. being a tech geek, i decided to buy the ipod + nike attachment since it’s only $30. i wasn’t going to buy a pair of $100 sneakers just to make this thing work, so i started checking out some of the many DIY (do-it-yourself) solutions found online. i would have been perfectly happy doing that, had i not come across the nike outlet store at the round rock outlet mall while snapping pics for a theory paper. i needed new sneakers if i was to start running anyway, since my current pair is 3 yrs old and the shocks are likely worn out. i found the cheapest nike ipod compatible sneakers for $50 – one of the lance armstrong 10/2 sneakers.
so yesterday i read the instruction manual, transferred some of LCD Soundsystem, Muse, Lemon Jelly, Shins, and Radiohead to Cindy’s ipod nano (i couldn’t run to country, sorry), slipped the accelerometer component inside the new nike shoe, and attached the wireless component to the ipod nano. everything worked like a charm. scrolled through the menu to nike + ipod, told it to start a basic workout (open ended, instead of a timed or distance based workout) and got running.
this was my first run in years, so despite the fact that i warmed up and stretched, my legs still felt really tight. i ran around the neighborhood and around the UT Intramural Fields. it was so much nicer to run on grass instead of concrete. i started remembering some of my techniques / mindsets from when i ran cross-country back in high school. the only problem was that this time i was listening to music. i honestly am not too sure about listening to music while i run – which is obviously a big component of the this nike + ipod kit. i think part of my enjoyment of running (or how i used to enjoy it) was setting the pace to a song in my head, repeating that beat/refrain, and slowing it down or speeding it up based on my gait. when listening to music, the music sets the pace. that can be good, i suppose, at keeping your speed higher rather than lower, but the music would have to keep the same beat. the nike + ipod can be set to not play music and just track your running, so the whole point could be moot – it will still allow you to play your powersong, though, which is essentially a preset song of your choosing that’s meant to give you that extra mental boost when you’re running your last straightaway (or whatever).
an equally great component of this nike + ipod thing, aside from tracking your pace, distance and calories burned for the entirety of your workout, is the online community. the first time you sync back to itunes after using nike + ipod, it asks you to register w/ the nike + ipod website. once you do that, all of your stats are sent to and maintained at this website. you can draw and track your running routes through the embedded google maps interface. you can browse workout song collections (of course you can buy them on itunes as workout imixes). you can browse all of your runs – and it even gives you a line graph of each runs progress charting speed v. distance. you can browse other people’s stats, and view who has run the most or the fastest or whatever else by week, month, or ever. you can look for a partner to compete w/ anywhere in the world. you can set personal goals – my first goal is to run a 7:35 mile at least 5 times in a month. i’m that out of shape – granted i slowed to a walk for a minute or so mid-run, but my average mile on this 2 mile run was over 11 min.
there are loads of other features, and it’ll probably take me a little bit of time to fully appreciate how this works and to acclimate myself to the workout. the nike + ipod is a great attachment at the very least for tracking your progress – better than a cheap accelerometer and an excel spreadsheet b/c of the tools found w/in the online community.
i couldn’t log onto my MSN IM account through Meebo today – it said my password was incorrect. that’s pretty odd since i haven’t changed it. so i decided to try to log in to any MSN page that uses Passport, the username and password system for most Microsoft services. i immediately found that MSN provides a web based messenger, but lo and behold! what a shock! i could not log on b/c i WASN’T RUNNING WINDOWS. microsoft continues to baffle me for the way they alienate users. instant messaging is an internet platform. it is not, ideally, platform specific. there are loads of different clients out there already that allow you to log into nearly every IM service, and microsoft does, in fact, put out an MSN Messenger client for Mac – though why anyone would use it when there are lighter and cleaner options like adium (which connects you to nearly every IM service in existence) is beyond me. so why stop there? why put the restraint on web users that you be using windows in order to access the web messenger?! the whole point of web based apps is that they are accessible anywhere, from any platform!
here’s the message from the MSN web messenger site:
You must have the following to use MSN Web Messenger:
- A web browser: Microsoft Internet Explorer 5.0 or later, Netscape 7.1 or later, or Mozilla 1.6 or later, running in Microsoft Windows.
- An Internet connection (56 Kbps or faster recommended)
- A Microsoft® .NET Passport. If you have a hotmail.com or msn.com account, you already have a Passport.
- Popups enabled for this web site if you are using popup blocker software like the MSN Toolbar
some time ago i posted about how it would be great to have a desktop client that syncs w/ google calendar. that product is now available in public beta (though i’ve been testing it out since private beta – yay me) in the form of Spanning Sync. i’ve installed numerous beta builds of the spanning sync client as it’s fixed bugs and become more robust. i absolutely love it. Spanning Sync very simply does automatic bi-directional syncs of iCal on the Mac with google calendar. no buttons to press. what you create in iCal shows up in google calendar and vice-versa. Spanning Sync is now up to its 16th beta build, and supposedly the next version will be the final version ready for mass consumption. since i started using Spanning Sync, i’ve pretty much spent most of my calendaring time in iCal, and only opened up google calendar when i wasn’t on my own computer.
i also just received my invitation the other day to join Scrybe, another new online calendaring app. it has a great hype video (on their homepage, take a watch) and has been written up in loads of places. i’ve been eager to try it out. it’s big deal is how it shows your events in context – basically you look at the month view, but you generally only see events. well, w/ Scrybe, you can click on that day’s events and it gets larger so that you can see all of the times. all of the other day boxes in the month view shrink to accomodate this. there are to-do lists, multiple color coded calendars, and a few more goodies. i’ve actually been having a hard time w/ Scrybe – i think it could use a really good designer. you need that contextual view w/in Scrybe b/c it’s near impossible to understand anything going on in the month view – all of the events seem to bleed together. google calendar and iCal have this view down much better. if you combined the month view from gCal and iCal w/ Scrybe, then perhaps you’d have something. a really cool feature of Scrybe, though, is its printing options: you can select to print up your events and to do lists on a sheet of paper, and then it tells you how to fold it up so that it fits in your pocket. that’s great if you don’t have a PDA or blackberry or your computer around.
overall, i think i’m pretty happy w/ Spanning Sync and see no reason to switch to a different platform. it would be great, though, if iCal or gCal (or both) took a hint from some of Scrybe’s feature set.
i’ve blogged about it, emailed CapMetro about it, and emailed Google about it. for months. multiple times. i don’t know how many other people have bugged them to get it sorted out, but Google Transit finally works in Austin as of this morning! i was emailed today by a CapMetro employee w/ whom i’ve been discussing Google Transit. i tried it out, and it works wonderfully. i hope it gets added to the CapMetro homepage soon – i think it would really help people in catching the bus and taking mass transit, b/c CapMetro’s Trip Planner tool is woefully difficult to use (it can’t find major streets, like San Jacinto Blvd. which runs right through UT’s campus).
joost is a new p2p tv and movie viewing platform from the guys who created skype. a key component of joost is that it doesn’t contain user generated content – which means there is no capability to distribute copyright violation content. supposedly joost is in deals w/ production companies small and large alike, and essentially is aiming to be the platform for legal tv viewing on the web. it’s still in private beta, so i can’t say how it works or how great it is. i’d love to snag an invite, though, if any of you dear readers are feeling generous. it’s been hyped to high heaven, and was formerly known as the venice project – that’s before anyone really had any idea at all about its purpose. techcrunch describes a joost deal w/ viacom. here’s a screenshot:
apparently this site was started by its author as a method of character development, and since evolved into a series of short stories (1000 words or less). i like it. the site layout and colors are nice, too. and it seems to be a general rule throughout the internets that commenters are morons. except those who post on my site. only some of them are morons.