Comcast iPhone App missing the technology

Comcast has created an iPhone App called Comcast TV Listings (iTunes Link). The application contains a searchable listing of TV programming not unlike i.TV (iTunes Link). While they uniquely offer up the OnDemand listings, I think Comcast is missing the boat here. They claim future updates to this application will bring photos, and actor information and the latest entertainment new (like we need to hear anymore about Michael Jackson).

I think Comcast could do their cusotmers and product offering a huge service by focusing on the technology and not the content. A Comcast application for my iPhone should allow me to schedule my DVR, while I’m away (like Tivo). It would allow me to manage parental controls so I can let the teen watch the semi-educational war movie while I’m still at the office. It would allow me to remote control my set top box. A Comcast app for my iPhone would let me stream media from my iPhone to my TV and from my TV to my iPhone.

Hey Comcast! Are you listening? You have the fattest pipe, internet in the home, and a set top box on every TV. You can do better than a TV guide. Just a thought.

What do you think? Leave a comment below and let me know.

URL Encoding and Decoding from the command line

I needed a simple way to URL encode a bunch of data, and in the past I’ve also needed to generate this on the fly in my shell scripts. Not finding a simple solution I wrote my own utility using PHP. If you aren’t aware of running PHP from the CLI it can be handy, and in my case PHP includes the functions urlencode and urldecode.

This was tested and used on Mac running Leopard. I’m certain it will work fine on most flavors of unix, provided you adjust the path to PHP and it’s running to support the CLI.

You can download the zip version of this file here urlcoder.zip
From the help:
Usage: urlcoder.php [-option]
This program takes input from STDIN or a file and encodes or decodes the data for use in URLs
Options:
-f  filename to de/encode if no file name is given input will be taken from STDIN.
-e  Encode the input.
-d  Decode the input.
-v  Show the version.
-h  Show this help.
Usage Note: running the command without a file or piping input will leave the application running, and entering data with a carriage return at the prompt will process based on your en/decode option.
This program uses the PHP urldecode and urlencode functions. From the PHP Manual:
urlencode – Returns a string in which all non-alphanumeric characters except -_. have been replaced with a percent (%) sign followed by two hex digits and spaces encoded as plus (+) signs. It is encoded the same way that the posted data from a WWW form is encoded, that is the same way as in application/x-www-form-urlencoded media type. This differs from the » RFC 1738 encoding (see rawurlencode()) in that for historical reasons, spaces are encoded as plus (+) signs.

Examples:

urlcoder -e -f filename.txt
grep -o search datasource | urlcoder -e
echo "mike strutton" | urlcoder -e
urlcoder -e
(input strings manually followed by enter)

If you don’t frequent the Terminal (or unix shell), you will need to extract the zip file, saving it somewhere in your path, and modify the file to  it to be executable (chmod +x urlcoder). If you don’t understand this, then I highly doubt you have any use for a urlcoder anyway.

Questions, comments, variations? Drop a comment.

…and I feel fine.

Sorry I haven’t taken the time to blog. There’s lots going on and my personal todo list is growing out of control. This post will let you know that I’m still here, and test my ability to blog in less than 5 min.

As for a topic I have none. As for this post here’s a couple of interesting thoughts and links for today:

  1. New iPods are out. Check out the Apple store for more details. The new shake to shuffle seems novel and I like the new Touches.
  2. iPhone 2.1 is almost here. Check back on this topic around friday.
  3. The above comes from a very skinny Steve-note announced today. Coverage available at TUAW.
  4. I heard someone say that Steve’s weight and the prices of AAPL’s stock go hand in hand. (if you coined this please sound off in the comments). 
  5. Is it the end of the world as we know it. (Financial Times article).  Thinking of the REM song…
  6. I’m coding an app for work. More on that in future post. 

OK, that’s it for now, back to the daily grind. BTW, total editing time 6 min. Fail. Sound off in the comments below. Tell me whatcha thinking.

Apple iPhone 2.0.1 update available on iTunes

Apple just posted the iPhone 2.0.1 update. As usual they have a non-desrcript “bug fixes” listed for the notes. To get the latest, fire up iTunes with your iPhone connected and hit Check for Updates! 

Let me know if this fixes the slow sync and neverending backup problems with iPhone 2.0. I’m also curious about Bluetooth compatibility in Visual Voicemail. My Plantronics headset quit working with VVM. 

As always I’ll post my own experience and notes here. Share yours with a comment below.

(thanks to Jon Lee for alerting me of this news just moments ago)

Update: The download is 242.3 MB

Update (again): the install took <10 min. I The iPhone seems a little more responsive especially in the contacts and keyboard. I updated WordPress, and played with a handful of app, before attempting a sync. The backup seemed to take <5 min, although I had already completed a 2+hour backup earlier today. I think the verdict is still out on this. As for my bluetooth, it’s a no go. My Plantronics 520 reamins unavailable in Visual Voicemail.

Update (again, again): I have since synced my iPhone 3 times, once after updating/installing 5 applications over the air (not through iTunes). Each sync has completed a backup in just a few minutes. For now, I’m thinking the iPhone 2.0.1 update has greatly improved the slow backup on sync issue.

Vitrue Launches Redesigned Site

Vitrue (www.vitrue.com), the company I work for, launched a redesigned site last Friday. It’s been in the works for sometime now, since just after I started with the company in March. By no means does it take that long to build a site, but when you are busy with new customers and a recent acquisition it’s easy to get distracted. The new site is clean and easy to navigate, and highlights some of the work we have done with our clients. 

Anyway, I was part of the project and as you can tell, I’m really thrilled with the outcome. My role included launching a CMS, creating/packaging the video content and a handful of HTML. I’m also a participant in the company blog. Feel free to drop by and participate in our social media marketing conversations. And, congratulations to the rest of the team who had their hands in this project. Great Job!

My Dear Sister…

I can’t  believe I missed out on the Dear Sister parody from SNL last year. Thanks to Jon Lee for sharing that nugget of time killer beauty. The wonders of YouTube related videos had Michelle and I consuming many of the double parodies like Pirates of the Caribbean, Lost, The Tudors and a classic episode of Three’s Company. If you too have no clue about Dear Sister, then read on. Oh, and stick around for my very own stab at the double parody. Continue reading

Honey, you’re in charge of technology…

The article title is exactly what Michelle, my wife, said regarding packing for our annual family beach trip. What she really means is any missing batteries, camera chargers, laptops, etc. will be my fault!

So here’s my technology list for the family vacation at the beach:

  • Nikon Digital SLR, extra battery, charger, case and lenses.
  • Wife’s Casio Exilim EX-S10 point and shoot, w/charger
  • 2 old point and shoot cameras – good for beach and kid’s usage
  • Sony Digital DV camcorder, charger, DV tapes and bag (probably don’t need since point and shoots will do good enough)
  • Bagful of rechargeable AA and AAA batteries with chargers
  • iPhone wall chargers
  • 2 MacBook Pros, with chargers
  • Portable backup of home/business data (WD MyBook Studio) – just for safety not likely to use 
  • Firewire cable (hard drive, or linking the MacBooks for fast data transfers)
  • Spare D-Link Wireless router (condo has ethernet we can blast wifi to the pool from our balcony)
  • Extra ethernet cable to config router
  • Work’s external hard drive (I’m certain I will be working through vacation need to edit some videos)
  • Video iPods and (can use iPhone charging cables)
  • Video cable for iPods
  • Re-encode 25+ kid’s movies from media server for iPod (thanks VisualHub)
  • Charge & replace batteries for wireless headphones (we use the iPod as a mobile media server for the in-car LCD panel)
  • Get portable iHome (water resistant, beach ready version)
  • Sync old iPod Nanos with current music for use with portable iHome (better to lose/damage old nano then Video iPod or iPhone while on the beach)
  • Remind kid’s to pack chargers, headphones and games for their Nintendo DSs
  • Grab the latest Netflix DVDs (hope it’s something good)
  • Find s-video cable/adapter for MacBook Pro (can always serve a makeshift DVD player)
  • Find audio cable (headphone to RCA) to use with MacBook Pro and/or iPods
  • USB SDHC card reader (for all the cameras – no need to bring 3 different USB cables)

What I’m I forgetting? Let me know with a comment…

GDocs Spreadsheet Live Forms – bit me

As you will see in my prior post and update, I was trying to use a new feature in a Google Docs Spreadsheet that allows you to capture data from a form and have it auto populate a spreadsheet. The idea is a really cool concept, except that it requires some form of authentication, maybe because I was using my company google apps account. I also tried publishing my spreadsheet publicly but that still didn’t open the form to the public. If I figure out a solution I’ll post back here. If you have any suggestion leave a comment.

Oh, and I apologize for anyone coming to my blog in the last 24 hours and getting redirected to login at my companies Google Apps account… Whoops ;-) 

Vitrue on Bernaisesource

Dan GreenfieldDan Greenfield over at Bernaisesource has written a nice piece on Vitrue (my employer), Reggie Bradford (my CEO), Social Media (my industry), and Atlanta (my hometown). I worked with Dan for many years at EarthLink, he’s a sharp guy and is vastly becoming Atlanta’s social media PR guru.

When I caught wind that Dan would be stopping by to interview Reggie, I grabbed my video camera in hopes to archive the event for Vitrue. More on that later… Dan covers many topics with Reggie including his background, Vitrue’s platform and the importance of brand safety.

Dan also recently interviewed Paul Stamatiou whom I worked with at Skribit.com, the creation of Atlanta’s first Startup Weekend.

Nice work. Keep it up Dan!

Brightkite & Twitter (it’s not chocolate & peanut butter)

The other day Jeff Pabian (local blogger and friend), sent me an invite to Brightkite. Ironically he also posted a review of Brightkite on his blog. Hes’s done a great job explaining what Brighkite does and the potential value. I for one haven’t experienced the local connection he describes. I either don’t have enough friends or the demographics of my rural suburbs don’t line up. As a Twitter user, I was thrilled to see Brightkite’s integration. That is, until I used it. Continue reading