Viva la digital audiobook sublimation

The New York Times published Say So Long to an Old Companion on the 28th of July.

The image above is the invitation from the audio department at Hachette for a party to mourn (read: celebrate) the passing of the cassette technology. Their final audiobook released on cassette was “Sail,” by James Patterson and Howard Roughan in June of 2008.

Cassettes held out far longer for audiobooks than music because they allow the listener to resume wherever they left off, in any device that supports a cassette (getting harder to find these). CDs took up about half of the audiobook market and digital download is already looking to surpass CDs in music.

This is great for me and the team, working on audiobook digital downloads. Developing software distribution allows an amazing amount of flexibility and ease of use. Digital allows us to resume where the customer left off (benefit of cassette), as well as provide a deeper connection through metadata and images. Through our Zip process, we help make it easy to put the audiobook on a device such as an iPod, WMA player, Windows Mobile or PalmOS phone.

Kind of like ice sublimation, audiobooks will sublimate directly to digital. No need to stop at a usurped physical media.

Mobile Phone GPS – Where are we going?

BlackBerry 8800 GPS

Most smartphones slated for release over the next 12-months include a GPS receiver, built in. After that, it will be a marked failure to not include a GPS in a phone. The functionality that comes with GPS is outstanding – mapping, directions, location based experiences, etc. We’re about to enter an age of advancement in technological capabilities that we’re just beginning to imagine.

Consumers are moving to smartphones. The hottest smartphones (iPhone 3G, BlackBerry Bold 9000, most of Nokia’s Symbian and HTC’s Windows Mobile offerings) all include GPS and an exposed API for developing applications utilizing their hardware. Anything people can conceive of for location based mashups will be coming (more on these mashups in later posts)…


Here’s a first application…

BlackBerry is a leader in mobile phone GPS. Recently a few services that announce the location of one’s phone emerged. Initially these were billed as a sort of low-jack for one’s phone, a security service for the insecure (or those who want to spy on their kids, etc).

I decided to try a few of these. Most felt slimy, like, “you always know where your phone is, and you could also know where your wife is!” … I don’t know about you, but my phone is loyal and doesn’t run off with strangers… And I trust my wife far more than a phone.

My goal with trying these services was to mash Twitter, Pownce, Facebook, and other social networking services with my location. Such a mashup will allow me to share my real-time location with all friends. I came across Much like the others, the idea is to provide you with the location of your phone. However, they have something the other’s don’t… Facebook and Google Earth integration (as well as a drop-dead-simple semi-RESTful API).

Friends can pinpoint me down to the meter on my Facebook profile, updated every 30 seconds. To be honest, it feels strange to openly publish this data. Security, and lack thereof, has us believing we shouldn’t share such information. But this fear is caused by the exception and not the rule. And in reality, my location in public isn’t private. Additionally, there are laws and common courtesies we live by, and I trust that people are inherently good.

Soon these services will be in the mainstream. Everyone will be able to pinpoint the location of anyone. Let me emphasize that… Soon everyone will be able to pinpoint the location of anyone. Not publishing your location will be like not having a mobile phone.

The problem with instantaneous time travel – relative versus absolute paths

I don’t usually get in to philosophical scientific stuff here, but this was just too fun to write about…

Flux Capacitor

image of flux capacitor intended as a joke – time dilation not included

There is a certain problem with time travel that a software engineer or sys admin will automatically understand. It has to do with relative versus absolute paths. As mentioned in the title, this applies to instantaneous time travel (time travel via time dilation does not experience this problem).

This realization came up while having an aviation discussion with AgentM regarding GPS. Somehow the idea of flying a small aircraft from today, 1,000 years in the future without GPS for navigation, came up. That led to time travel…

The problem is that the universe and everything in it is moving. A point along the equator moves, relative to the center of the earth, at 1,040 miles per hour. This means traveling 30 seconds backwards or forwards in time, to the same absolute path in space, would result in a spacial jump relative to the starting point of 8.67 miles (1,040 mph / 60 minutes in an hour / 60 seconds in a minute x 30 seconds).

All values for speeds acquired from RASC Calgary Centre. Their page on ‘how fast?’ is an awesome resource.

That’s only relative to the earth – The earth is moving through space relative to the Big Bang’s origin at 1,342,000 miles per hour. A jump in time of only a single second, with a constant absolute spacial path, puts you off course by 372.8 miles (probably miles above or below the earths surface in the process).

Let’s go back to calculus for a moment. Remember limits of functions at infinity? This is how one solves the spacial challenge of instantaneous time travel. For those who left their calculus books at home, this limit describes change as a function approaches an instant (usually as time or speed approach infinity or zero).

This becomes challenging to apply to instantaneous time travel because all physical movements known to man result in an instantaneous speed of zero. As proof, take the earths movement of 1,342,000 mph (a pretty high velocity) and divide it by infinity (what would happen at an instantaneous point in time). You get a speed of zero. Kind of like taking a picture at 1/5,000 of a second… Most everything stops. Except this is 1/infinity of a second.

This speed of zero is your relative path. A relative path of zero means your absolute path does not change, and therefore you remain in the same location while the rest of universe kept moving. A major problem.

To solve the spacial challenge of instantaneous time travel (and so you can land in the same place you jumped) one must have an instantaneous relative path that equals the function of one’s present location’s relative path to all universal factors.

Such universal factors include, but are not limited to, the earth’s rotation, the earths revolutions in the solar system, the solar systems rotation in the galaxy, and the galaxies movement in universe. Additionally, forces like black holes, comets, gravitational forces of satellites, and wind direction need to be considered.

This function becomes incredibly complicated, but let’s assume we will be capable of such calculations at or before we’re capable of making a human’s instantaneous velocity 1,342,000 mph. Manipulation of such a relative path would allow one to come out of instantaneous time travel in a completely different location, effectively teleporting.

Put simply, for successful time travel and/or teleportation, calculating the instantaneous velocity will be necessary.

Twitter did some Spring cleaning – stale accounts pruned?

Black Holes

While doing my typical searches for new and interesting people on Twitter to add to the flow, I noticed something indicative of Spring cleaning. You see, when you search Twitter, you usually get pages of people who haven’t updated in a year or accounts with zero updates – ever – and six months stale.

None of those cases seem to be true for my latest search results. There are a couple accounts with no updates in a year, but they’ve got a lot of updates, so they’d likely not be pruned. Either Twitter created a better search algorithm (unlikely, since the results are haphazard and not chronological) or they pruned the dead accounts (makes a lot of sense – I myself got an old account). When I’ve worked at community driven companies, we’ve done plenty of account trimmings.

Twitter doing prunings makes a lot of sense. This is a benefit to the user base, and a huge benefit to Twitter’s load. If this is truly the case, you might do a search for your favorite name about now… And if it isn’t, at least rejoice in a better mechanism to find the people you’re looking for.

Flow – Day 9 – I switched to iChat for Twitter XMPP

iChat Count 386 – 7 minutes


When following a lot of friends in a flow environment and using XMPP, one sees the above numbers in less than ten minutes. I’d been using Adium, but Adium doesn’t smooth scroll between each received tweet. It constantly jerks messages upwards and has made it virtually impossible to have a meaningful experience. There are often times when I want to read each incoming tweet. A good, smooth, reading experience was needed.

iChat has a slightly smoother hit at each received message, and is therefore much more enjoyable to read. The interface is customizable enough, but nothing quite as nice as some of Adium’s minimal themes.

I was mostly hesitant to switch since Adium has outstanding AppleScript support. I’ve been thinking of prototyping something (given a couple hours – someday). Apparently iChat has something even better which I should have known about… Callbacks! A script can fire for each received message.

This will make dynamic, real-time, filtering a reality.

iChat AppleScript

The start of something very cool…