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November 30, 2006

Concept Share: visual collaboration

cslogo.gifConcept Share went live today, and is another example of visual collaboration tools that is springing up.

The focus is on visual, with the ability to upload files or urls for web pages, with future plans for uploading video. A team can use and compare visual images, say for website development or some other project that is visual in nature, and discuss. The application is ajax heavy, which allows a greater interactive nature.

The basic account is free, and with this comes restrictions. For example, you cannot add notes or edit on a visual image, somewhat restricting functionality. The chat function appears to be restricted, which doesn't give the user an opportunity to wean onto the product, before considering upgrading their plan.

That said, even with a free account focused on solo working, it has its benefits, including concepts or designs at a central point in an ajax supported environment. I've just tried it for a website I'm trying to develop, and always losing the urls of designs that I like.

There is future plans to include uploading videos, but due to current storage limits, its usefulness would be restricted, unless one had a large bank account and/or the ability to store such files externally and to be temporarily imported or displayed into the application.

I've not upgraded, thus not in a position to comment on paid accounts. However, if you do intend to go down this route, you will be interested in:

Free Customized Branding to any Bronze or Silver package, a $25 a month value. (Note: branding is already included in our Gold and Platinum packages)

To take advantage of this offer just sign up for any of our paid subscription accounts and enter:

Promo Code: BRDWEB06

Power of blogging: Part 1

thresherdiscount.jpgLast night I e mailed some friends about the Thresher 40% discount on all wine and champagne, from 30 November until 10 December. Want the discount voucher? You can find it here, with more information here.

The encouraging of folks to go and get merry this festive season, is a sideline here. I want to use it to illustrate the power of blogs. When I mailed that voucher, immediately I got asked how did I pick it up? The answer through blog reading: I ended up at Stormhoek via two other blogs.

This offer not being promoted anywhere, outside blogosphere, you won't find the promotion in stores, neither will you find it advertised elsewhere outside blogs. However, a week later (from when this offer first hit blogosphere) discount e mails and the mainstream is picking up on it, including trade press. Rumour has it that the Thresher website crashed 2 days ago, with so many logging into its store finder. (In fact the website is down right this minute: I wonder why?)

The benefits to Thresher, blogs are talking about them. Drip, drip marketing and everywhere. Bloggers respond to such marketing, and a market away from sticking an advert on TV or newspapers (with a dwindling readership). Furthermore, its not costing Thresher anything to get people to talk about them, this lack of advertising overhead can be used for a bigger discount. Furthermore Thresher is probably tapping into a market that would be more likely to buy from discounted online stores, say Virgin Wines, whilst ensuring those who are more likely to frequent their store, on the high street, pay the full whack.

This is one example, more examples to follow soon. In the meantime, go and find your local Threshers, open a bottle and get blogging.

AVG remains free

A few weeks back, I started to get an annoying pop up box on my machine, to say that AVG Anti Virus would not be free after 17 January. You now have to pay for the product, or bang goes any protection for you.

I fell for it, and started to look at alternatives. Other people did the same, and only yesterday afternoon I started to wade through different anti virus alternatives. If a decent free alternative wasn't available, then I wouldn't be paying for AVG since I've been told many times that AVG doesn't perform as well as other anti virus software.

A fluke. Seems AVG is saying version 7.1 won't be free anymore, pay up. What they don't make clear is if you upgrade to version 7.5, it continues to be free.

A clever use of English, and a way to get people to pay. Pay for a lesser product, yet the upgraded version is free.

7.5 is here.

Sending large files to another user

Sending large files over the net can be annoying at the best of times, IM restrictions, e mail server restrictions, and many people lack the FTP know how to upload a file to a host, that's if they have access in the first place. Even when there's access, there's eating up bandwidth to consider. If we're going to make more use of communicating say through languages such as BSL, solutions need to be in place as far as how to transfer files.

You could of course make signed video content private on somewhere like YouTube, upload our photos to a private space such as Flickr, but what if you wanted the file to actually reach someone's computer, as a private file sharing?

There's some solutions:

drop-parachute-large.jpgDropload - Upload a file up to 100mb, the intended recipient is sent an e mail with instructions on how to download. This can only be downloaded once, and stored on Dropload's server for 7 days.

dropsendlogo.gifDropsend - a similar concept, with a larger file limit, you can upload files up to 1gb. The free plan only allows you to send up to 5 file sends per month, with a pricing structure thereafter. You can also store files online, there's a limit in respect of space, how much depends on your pricing plan. The free account gives you up to 256mb.

yousendit.jpgYouSendIt - a free account allows you to send files up to 100mb, and as many files as you want. Otherwise, there is a paid account option.

zapr.jpgZapr - you need to download an application, and instead of uploading to a server, to be picked up later, the file is transferred directly from one computer to the other, which requires you to be online to transfer. However, as its using a variation of BitTorrent, its not really private.

exaroom.jpgExaroom - This is restricted to a Windows platform, and requires a download. Once installed, you can share the content of your My Documents folder with others using the same software. There's questions happening in my head, how this is controlled from a security point of view.

pando.jpgPando - a desktop application, which allows you to send large files up to 1gb. Although an application is required to use, it gives the look of large files being sent via e mail (both POP and web based e mail), in addition to acting as an IM plugin to send large files. This is Pando's geek version of how it works, but essentially it uses a BitTorrent based back end.

Is there an application you make use of, that is not listed here? How do you send a large file to another user?

November 29, 2006

Open Source Video Conferencing

Communicating online often relies on written languages, which can oppress the usage of signed languages. There's various peer to peer applications such as MSN Messenger, Camfrog and Skype, each with their limits especially when it comes to communicating using BSL or another sign language. Deaf people generally prefer Skype, as being superior in quality for live video chats. Some people have used Camfrog for multi chats, but it requires payment and not without its set backs.

Deaf people and those working in this field will be familiar with a commercial application from Direct Learn and their delivery of English based Online Conferences. What about conferences, where you could use a visual language, move away from the obligation languages, and get around the need to be in one physical place. A community with a wide geographical spread after all? There's two possible solutions.

dimdim_logo.pngDimDim: open source, in alpha, code that is downloaded and installed on your own server. Current restrictions are that "Attendees can use either Internet Explorer 6 or Firefox 1.5 while Presenters can use Internet Explorer 6 or Firefox 1.5 on Windows (XP/2000/2003) only. which limits the software somewhat, however it is still in alpha.

1videoconf.jpg1Video Conference is an open source video conference software for your domain, which is still in alpha trial. It is currently the 6th most active download on SourceForge. More about its features can be found here.

Who will be the first to try it, which software will you go for, and when will it be used as a serious application?

November 28, 2006

Deaf manufacturing through Crowd Spirit?

Crowd Spirit is a Scottish-French start up, which helps consumers address products that they would really like to see manufactured. You can submit ideas, through collaboration turn this idea into a project, with definite specifications. The end result to encourage people to invest money, make the product happen, with the view of being able to purchase this.

Deaf people often complain that products, especially mainstream ones, are inaccessible to them. Companies don't listen to suggestions, or in fact we've given up of anything ever happening. Could a collaboration such as Crowd Spirit address this imbalance, and through collaboration, we are empowered to get what we need in terms of accessible products taken by the mainstream more seriously, and investment poured into this? Could this an excuse to move away from deaf organisations, and a community drive, with communication straight with investors and manufacturers?

What product would you like (re)designed, that is accessible?

November 27, 2006

Get paid for vlogging

Deaf people are very slowly taking to vlogging, which can sometimes be a time consuming effort.

deafread.com currently has a contest where it will select the best vlog, the winner will be in receipt of $100. Since the site has a USA bias, then this is going to be restricted to ASL content. However, an incentive to get people vlogging.

What about other revenue streams, or how could you make money out of vlogging. You could slap adverts all over your site, but out in the mainstream, there's products that allow you to get paid for video content. Instead of just hosting vlogs on your site, or an external site such as You Tube where a third party cashes in on your hard earned graft, why not consider alternatives and earn some cash for your efforts?

The main entrant to the mainstream market has been Revver, where funding is described as:

"When you upload your video to Revver, we attach an unobtrusive advertisement to the end of it. We call this "Revverizing." Whenever anyone clicks on that ad, you get paid. We host your video for free, give you the tools to share it with the world and split the ad revenue with you 50/50..

This is indeed how sites such as the captioning site Harkle makes its money.

The mainstream gets a new entrant to this market, Break.com. As the video or photo you submit must get published on their home page, vlogs featuring sign language are at an immediate disadvantage, since they are unlikely to be understood by the masses. The site owners make the decision on which content is worthy, but it pays $400 (up from $250) for original videos, $2,000 for original short films and flash animations, $25 for original photos, and on a sexist note $50 for "Girl of the Day" photo.

One wonders when such sites for the payment of vlogs will exist or indeed compete, as what techies would call the emergence of the long tail goes.

November 6, 2006

Vloggies

Last night was the Vloggies, awards for the best vlogs online. Deaf people weren't included, yet as a visual medium that can empower sign languages, we should be embracing this.

With so much content being produced in spoken English, subtitling vlogs is a time consuming effort, therein lies a risk of exclusion. That is not to stop vlogs in sign language being generated, and as I've often said, for the first time we have an opportunity for publishing and more to the point distribution of sign languages. Cost prohibition, and previously technology has prevented this in the past.

The tide needs to be turned, and more vlogs need to be produced, even if it is to make a statement this can provide more for us, than just see a huge inaccess barrier (from spoken language vlogs).

Here is a tutorial on how to vlog, thanks Joe.

The question is, when are we going to see Sign Language Vloggies?

November 3, 2006

Harkle & Lonely Girl

Harkle is a new search engine that has been launched, to search captioned video / audio on the net. From the adverts at the end, presumably funding being raised through Revver

Deaf people looking at Harkle, often question what's the deal with the Lonely Girl vlogs. Because of inaccess means they've not followed vlogging trends, plus podcasts. Thus there's an an information gap, and it is assumed people are up to date on culture.

I'd only discovered Lonely Girl through danah's blog back in September, which is the only reason I was aware of the background and culture here. I would recommend you read should you need a context.