I had the really wonderful opportunity to meet with Michael Rosenblatt of Atoms Express, just after their successful Kickstarter campaign. This gave me the chance to see the demo units of Atoms in person, test them, and get some idea of the really wonderful interactions that are going to be possible when these are available later in the Spring.
Atoms is Lego compatible, and I believe will be a really, really interesting addition to the building/making activities in libraries, and great way to teach basic engineering and programming logic. It’s also a great example of what happens when sensors and motors get really cheap and modular…for example, using just a couple of these bricks, you could easily build a bluetooth reporting gate-counter. Or a shelf-count measurement device that keeps track of how often books are moved on a particular shelf. The potential is, as they say, endless.
Take a look at the interview, and see if you can see past the “toy” and to the tool.
Awesome demo from the CEO of Canonical himself, Mark Shuttleworth. He not only shows off the flashy bits, but talks about the philosophy underneath why Ubuntu is moving this direction. The fact that Canonical believes that they can get a single code base running from a mobile device all the way up to cloud-server architectures is just…well, impressive would be one way to put it.
This is my 4th trip to the International CES, and as I packed for the trip, I was amazed at the difference in the technology that I’m taking with me. Each year I’ve tried to bring along any technology that I thought I might need to report something that happened at the conference, whether it be creating text, photos, videos, or some combination of the above. In my estimation, I’m now able to do better content creation with about ¼ of the equipment as 4 years ago.
4 years ago, if I wanted to capture decent photos and videos, I had to have a camera and a video camera. There were cameras that did well at both, but they were largely SLR or other extremely expensive and hard to use pieces of equipment. They were also well and out of my budget. So at that point, I traveled with a Canon point and shoot for still shots, and a Flip camera for video. To edit what both of these captured, I needed to carry a laptop, and at the time I had a 13 inch Apple Macbook. I also carried a Zoom h2 audio recorder, because neither of those were any good for pure audio capture, and my cell phone at that time (the iPhone 3G) didn’t have the best audio either.
Now? My iPhone 4S can capture HD quality video, is an amazing still camera, and is a great audio recorder. I am carrying my laptop, but at this point it’s a 13 inch Apple Macbook Air, at half the weight of my old Macbook. If it really mattered to me, I could edit the audio, video, and photos exclusively on my iPhone and leave the Air at home…or compromise, and trade the Air for my iPad just for the screen size. The “stuff I need to carry to cover an event” is now totally capable of fitting in my pocket, even if I decide to bring along a better microphone for the phone. It’s a bit easier with other gadgets in the workflow, but it’s an amazing change in just the last 4 years.
Time for an experiment! I’m heading to the International CES 2013 in Las Vegas tomorrow, the largest consumer technology show in the world. I’ll be tweeting, photographing, videoing, and otherwise throwing content at Libraryland from CES for the next 5 days. I set up a website and for the very first time decided to experiment with crowdfunding something I’m doing and ask for donations. Or, to put it a different way, I’m becoming a busker for the trip.
I’ll provide tweets, videos, photos, and hopefully some insight into the technology trends for the next 12-18 months. If you think that’s valuable, donate some money to the cause. As a bonus, I’ll be doing a Google Hangout on January 16th at 2pm Eastern time where you can listen to me talk about the trends I saw, cool new products, and things to keep in mind if you are doing technology planning for your library. I’ll also be upping the interactive component, and will be pulling people who are interested into the Hangout with me, where we can talk, you can ask questions, etc.
I think all the info you need is at the Griffey @ CES2013 website, but if not, there is a contact form over there you can use to let me know what I’m missing.
Obviously, I’d love to know what everyone thinks of this…it’s a huge experiment, so any feedback is awesome.
I razzed Erik a bit about taking 91 episodes to finally get around to talking to me, but the truth is that I’m thrilled to be a part of This Week in Libraries #91, talking more about myself, library technology, consumer electronics, LibraryBox, and more.
Really great analysis about why, come October, we’re likely to see a smaller-form factor iPad from Apple. The current betting pool looks like it will be a 7.8 inch screen, and given this chart, you can be sure it’s going to fill in that lower-end range for Apple.
My guess? They will probably have an 8GB version that starts at $199, and extends to the $350 or so range at a range of storage sizes. I’m curious what that means for the iPod Touch, long-term…but for now, I think they will likely just maintain the line. If anything, it might put a bit of downward pressure on the Touch price. I can see Apple dropping the lowest spec Touch down to $99, and the going up from there.
Apple is very, very good at taking the oxygen out of a market.
What is LibraryBox? It’s my newest hack, a hardware and software project that takes the “pirate” out of PirateBox to produce a tiny, battery-powered, linux-based, anonymous file server capable of serving arbitrary types of digital files to anyone with a wifi-enabled device.
But, you may ask, what is it for? It’s for any situation where you need to distribue digital files but don’t have or don’t want Internet access. LibraryBox is based on a fork of the PirateBox project, using the TP-Link MR-3020 router, an 802.11n router that is capable of running on a USB 5 volt power source. This means that for about $40 and some time, you can have a file server that fits in your pocket. I loaded my demo unit with the top 100 Public Domain ebooks from Feedbooks and Project Gutenberg, and hooked it up to an iPad battery pack that will run it for 16 hours.
This means I can be a walking digital library, giving people access to eBooks anywhere I happen to have the LibraryBox. These could be used in a million different ways, from bringing eBooks, Audio, even movies to areas with digital devices but without Internet access to just being a personal file server for conference slides or other resources.
More information, including pictures and such, are all up on the LibraryBox website. The code is all licensed under the GPL and is available on Github. Several people have looked at the project, and I’m hoping that others will see the value and help me make it better. There’s lots of improvements possible, and I (and hopefully many others) will be working on making the process easier and better for users.
I was lucky enough to interview Jason Chen via email about his new ebook startup Storybundle. He had some interesting things to say about the ebook market. Unsurprisingly, as a new ebook startup, he didn’t even consider libraries at first.
As to whether or not this is good for libraries, at the current time I hadn’t even considered libraries, so I’m going to aim for personal use for the first few bundles and see where things go from there. It depends heavily on the author, because the promo is a limited time thing, and making a sale to a library becomes a forever thing.
Here’s a look at color eInk, the next generation of the technology currently found in just about every eReader on the market. This particular screen (the eInk Triton display) is good for just over 4000 colors, and certainly isn’t the fastest page-turn we’ve seen…but the display is very, very pretty. Great contrast, sharp lines, and the color really adds a lot to the feel of the thing. Check it out: