iPod video?

Speculation is everywhere: will Apple will introduce a video ipod? And now Apple is cranking up the buzzmachine again. “The company sent an invitation to reporters on Monday morning for a “special event” being held Sept. 7 in San Francisco. “1,000 songs in your pocket changed everything,” the invitation reads, referring to the release of the first 5GB iPod nearly four years ago. “Here we go again.”

It will be a video device, but not exactly video ipod. A different device that does video, not music. It needs a large screen. Which means get rid of that famous scrollwheel.

  • Apple won’t give the portable video market, no matter how small, away to Sony’s PSP.
  • It won’t be an existing iPod shell with video capabilities, because that would just suck. Dissapointment would abound. Video on that tiny screen? It needs a big screen.
  • The device will have a large screen, and will connect with iTunes 5 which will let you buy video and subscribe to video RSS feeds (iTunes 4.9 already lets you subscribe to video feeds).

Something like this?

video ipod

Somehow that mockup just doesn’t seem right. Not.. revolutionary enough.

Unlike the PSP, the video ipod probably won’t be loaded with features (wireless, gaming, you name it, the PSP does it). That’s not the Apple way. It will do 1 thing (video), and it will do it well. Very well.

The big advantage it will have should be its connection to the iTunes video store. If Jobs can pull off deals with enough television shows, movies and such, and present all that video available through the store, that might be an announcement that will wow people in the Apple tradition.

Anyway, enough speculation. They might just come out with something completely different.

Jason Kottke: “News.com ruminates about Google building a collection of tools that serve as a replacement OS. Where have we heard that recently? You’re welcome for the story idea and thanks for the non-link, guys…tech journalism at its finest. I hereby institute a policy of not linking to you for a year.”

Jeez. Jason, sure you’re an A-list blogger but I don’t think you can take the credit for the “Google OS” idea (I don’t think any on person can). Nag nag nag.

Hosting beyond the call of duty

EMAIL: Dreamhost to me: “I had to add indexes to several of your mefeedia_live tables because they
were *really* bad.”

Now that is beyond the fucking call of duty for a hosting service.

No wonder they’re out of dedicated servers until December. I’ve been with Dreamhost a few months now and I love them. I love them as much as my morning coffee. Their servers are zippy. Their support is good, and they know what they’re doing. They add indexes to your tables! And it’s a great deal if you have some small sites to host (and even if you have big ones, although they are growing fast and out of dedicated servers right now).

(Disclaimer: I get a bonus if you sign up through the link on this post, but that’s now why I recommend them. They add freaking indexes to your tables! Now you might think, I don’t want some sysadmin adding indexes to my tables. But if your tables were as bad as mine, you would.)

And: if anyone knows of another host with managed dedicated servers I can use with similar prices (US$ 2-300/month), please recommend.

Schluck together your own list of testees.

The mefeedia usability center is a hit! It took like an hour to program together (a table and some code), and I’ve started collecting a great list of users willing to be usability testees. Many companies find usability testees by paying a marketing company 100$ a head, and the quality of people you get is often low. OK, I shouldn’t say that. But if you want your own users to be testees, why not simply ask them? I can’t believe everyone (Typepad? 37sigs?) isn’t doing this. I’ll start testing soon, and report back on that too.

I’m still taking more people in the program, so sign up now.

Most people find usability testing to be a lot of fun (when else in your life do you get someone’s total attention to whatever you have to say?) I’m starting a bunch of low budget usability tests for Mefeedia – sign up as a Mefeedia usability tester! You can be anywhere in the world for this.

Where are all the UK start-ups? (plasticbag.org)

Where are all the UK start-ups? (plasticbag.org). Indeed! And the Belgium ones? In Belgium, for example, startups US style (a few people come together and create a great product) are almost non-existent. It’s hard to get money, it’s hard to get any kind of support, you have no peers and everyone looks at you like you’re crazy.

In NYC, on the other hand, a week doesn’t go by where I don’t have beer with people doing startups. The difference is amazing.

Using video to explain features or tell stories about features

37 signals have a post today showing a video explaining features of some product. Ruby on Rails has been using video to show off the product pretty well. Since I’m working on Mefeedia, a website for videobloggers, I’ve given a lot of thought to the use of video.

There are various ways in which to use video. You can make videos showing off features. Great. You can be lucky enough to have users making videos to show off features (like here for Mefeedia). Even better – sometimes at least. And you can use video for more “soft” purposes, like to tell stories about your site.

For example, I made an Instant Archive feature for Mefeedia, where vloggers can put an archive of their videos with thumbnails on their site. I did it while talking to my users, and Michael shot a video when we came up with this. That’s the advantage of having videobloggers as users.

The video is brilliant, really showing the foundation story of this one feature, and the enthusiasm we felt. It comes straight from the heart. It is linked from the Instant Archive page.

Haven’t videoblogged in a while. I downloaded the Ourmedia uploader and it’s good. I build this Instant Archive feature on Mefeedia today, and everyone just plain loves it, and it just struck me how crazy it is that you can truly only build good things if you really, really talk to users. Here’s the movie. (Quicktime, about a meg)

What services out there let you view, in real time, another computer user interact with their screen? I don’t need audio – I have a phone. It needs to be low-install on the users’ side. And I don’t need heavy applications, all I want is to see the screen of the other user and how they interact with it. The usability applications I’ve seen are overspecced and expensive. Webex is expensive. Any pointers?

Shelley: Snapshot in Semantic Time: “I also wish more folk would take the time to pull together the threads in a meaningful way like Peter Van Dijck did with the early semantic web discussions.”

We have a long way to go in enabling better conversations with our blogging tools. And better story telling. A blog post now is text and links. That’s good – especially the links. But there are many more structures that we should support, like the semantic web one I did. I had to do that manually. Or like what I was trying to support with XFML: mini structured directories that can link together. There is so much, and microformats are leading some of the way.

Of course, with video it becomes even more urgent. You can’t quote a part of a video right now, except in an experimental tool at Mefeedia. It’s hard to link to videos you like, because you don’t have a thumbnail available, or size information, and you really want to indicate size, type and such when you link. Except at Mefeedia, where I try to make that easier. It’s hard to link videos together in conversations. I’m working on that.

It’s all about mixing the ideas the social research people have about helping people to structure stories and conversations, with the ideas the web people have about web 2.0, you own your data, distribution and such. That mix will make some damn powerful stuff possible. I really hope we can break the wall of big binary video files, and make them more webby. We need that in order to have the kind of conversations blogging has enabled for text.

Just back from a long drive to Toronto, an Indian wedding (congrats Ro!) and a long drive back.