Sunday, June 7, 2009

Testing, Testing 1 2 3

This short post is a test of the BlogPress app on my jailbroken iPhone. This is part of my continuing preparations for our World Tour. I am considering using this application to publish blog posts while travelling. Let's see how it works.

This is a test picture to determine how the photo upload functionality works.

*Mobile Post from 2009 World Tour*

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Mapping the Tour

The preparations for the world tour continue at a frantic pace. Over the past several days I've focused my attention on creating a Google map the includes all of the destinations that we've planned so far. This map features the locations and the trajectory of our trip. I've even included short description for each element on the map. You can even find contact information of our accommodations, where appropriate; when it is not personal to respect the privacy of the friends who we are visiting in Japan and Turkey.

This map will be a living tool that will be updated throughout the trip with stories about our experiences and the places that we visit in each stop of our tour. For now, it provides an interesting visual perspective regarding the trip that we have planned. This map is a way to bring this trip to life that helps us visualize and plan the trip, and share our vision and experiences with friends and families.

View Julio & Lauren's 2009 World Tour in a larger map

I have not made much progress in the next steps that I identified earlier this week. Here is a quick updates of the baby steps that have been taken:
  • I've identified the following applications for capturing and publishing video and images on the iPhone: for video I plan to use Video Recorder V3.0, which is available only for jailbroken iPhones. This application (pictured on the side) enables capture of long low-resolution 14fps videos and supports direct upload to YouTube. To capture pictures I will use the standard camera application; the Mobile Photos application will be on hand to support upload of pictures to flickr. From a sound perspective I am testing out TweetMic. This application creates tweets with links to an uploaded version of the recorded audio file.  I have not found a solution to post any of these types of media directly to our Tour blog, nor for publishing written blog posts.
  • By the end of the weekend our official World Tour travel blog will be up and running (I only half belief this claim at this point in time, but I am willing to continue being optimistic about it). Lastly, I have not yet finished developing a list of additional technology requirements such as cameras, book readers - but I think we will have little more than a second iPhone and a camera in terms of additional technological gadgets.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Easy iPhone Ringtone Hack

I recently learned the easy and free way to create ringtones for a non-jailbroken iPhone. I know I'm behind the curve on this one but I'm sure there are others out there like me.

Each ringtone is actually just a short (30-second or less) sound file that is saved in Apple's proprietary ACC format with a "m4r" extension, as opposed to the original extension "m4a". The iPhone automatically recognizes any files in it's library with this extension as a ringtone.

So how do you prep and convert a standard music file into a ringtone? Here is a link to two sites that provide a clear outline of this process. Now you are free to rock whatever ringtone you want on your iPhone.

Using GarageBand
Here is a link to a post on the Lifehacker blog regarding how to use GarageBand (version 4.1.1 or newer) to create a ringtone from existing music files. If you have GarageBand this is definitely the better and easier way to do this.  Link:

Using iTunes Only
Here is the alternate way to accomplish the same thing. In this scenario you don't need GarageBand - you do it all through iTunes. The one important limitation is that this will only work on unprotected music files such as mp3s. Link:

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Reading List: Interactions, March & April 2009

It has been a long time since I've posted anything regarding my readings lists (or my Interaction Design exercises for that matter). Today l'll focus on addressing the first of these deficiencies by sharing my reading list from Interactions March/April issue (I've already read the May/June issue but don't want to get ahead of myself).

Article 1: Problems before patterns: a different look at Christopher Alexander and Pattern Languages
In this piece Molly Wright Steenson examines Christopher Alexander's notion of pattern languages, and the importance of the  problem definition element of a pattern. So what the hell are pattern languages? Pattern languages are developed to help non-experts participate in the design process. Patterns are self-contained entities that describes a problem that reoccurs within a given environment. The pattern also contains the core solution that enables the people to use this same solution "a million times over, without ever doing it the same way twice." If anyone knows of other good resources on this topic please leave a comment.

Article 2: Embodied Child Computer Interaction: Why Embodiment Matters
The next interesting piece from this issue comes from Alissa Antle. In this article she explores the importance of embodiment in child computer interaction, and the cognitive role the embodiment plays in general. Alissa also investigates briefly opportunities that are afforded via embodied interactions and cognition (check out more about The concept of embodiment from my previous posts regarding Dourish' book).

Article 3 and 4: Identity theft and the challenges of caring for your virtual self and The Ambient Mirror: creating a digital self-image through pervasive technologies
These two piece are part of this issue's focus on privacy and security in our digitally connected society.

The first piece, by , adresses the security of the digital representations we create to communicate our identities in the virtual world of bits and bites. These representations encompass our profiles on ecommerce and media sites, as well as our data from social networks. One interesting area that is explored by Jennifer is how individuals are often positioned as the source of identity theft, despite the systematic prioritization of profits and self-interest on the part of organizations who hold the data.

Dimitris Grammenos's piece offers an interesting exploration regarding how pervasive computing may impact our lives, as it continues its invasion of our physical and social worlds. The world he paints is a stark contrast to the notions of Big Brother. He examines how pervasive technologies, embodied by the idea of an "ambient mirror", could augment and enhance our lives - from extending our memory to self-knowledge and improvement. He also briefly addresses social considerations of such a technology.

Article 5: Taking a broader view of the human experience
Mark Vanderbeeken provides a valuable counter-perspective to most designer's narrow focus on usability (and aesthetics) at the expense of broader human considerations such as technology, ethics, economics, culture, belief systems and sustainability. The broadening of our perspective is crucial for designers to be able to play a positive and constructive role in shaping our fast paced

Monday, June 1, 2009

Jailbreaking and Calendar Making

Technology planning for our world tour continues unabated as our departure date looms closer and closer. I'm happy to report some progress and successes have been made during the past few days with my old iPhone and the World Tour calendar.

First and foremost I was able to get my jailbroken iPhone to work on T-mobile's network. I received a PrePaid sim card that worked with little fanfare. That's right, I am no longer a captive prisoner held back by ridiculous contracts and code. This is an important development because I now know that I can use this phone with third party GSM sim cards from around the world during our world tour.

For anyone who is interested in learning more about how to jailbreak your iPhone here is the set of resources that I used. It was pretty straightforward, the heavy lifting has been done by others.

Please note that there are risks inherent in this process and I cannot vouch that it will work on your phone nor can I guarantee that it won't have negative long term impact on your device. In other words, do this at your own risk.

The most helpful resource that I discovered was the iPhone Blog. Here you can find step by step instructions on how to jailbreak your iPhone using the Pwnage tool. Make sure to read all the the instructions once over before you attempt to jailbreak your iPhone. I believe there is little risks of permanent damage. However, you may end up having to do it several times as I was forced to.

Another helpful resource is the's wiki Pwnage 2.x Guide page. This resource also features step by step instructions on how to jailbreak your iPhone. However, I think the instructions featured here only work if you have previously jailbroken your iPhone using Pwnage (they differ in only one way from the instructions on the iPhone Blog, which did work for me).

The second area in which I have been making some progress is on the official tour calendar. I've set this up using google calendar and it includes all locations, flights, and dates from our trip. I've also created a second calendar with logistical information for Lauren and me (e.g. hotel names, wedding even schedules, etc). The purpose of this calendar is to serve as a planning and sharing tool. Here is a link to the latest and greatest version:

Here is my next steps for this week:
  • Identify capture and publishing solutions for audio, video, images, and text on iPhone.
  • Create blog and test out the publishing solutions.
  • Develop list of additional technology requirements such as cameras, book readers.