The iPod Killer?

October 26th, 2002

Imagine listening to the mp3 music files stored on your PC or server, from anywhere, via your mobile phone/device. Just browse through your music via your device’s display, choose mp3’s to stream to the device, plug in your headphones and groove.

Why lug around gigs of expensive portable storage space when the music lives at your house, or on rented Web server space? Why hassle with multiple copies of your music, one on each device and computer that you use, when that music can live in one place?

Someday people will store their music and other files centrally and use them via multiple devices in multiple places; that’s almost a given. But don’t we have what it takes to make that someday today? Don’t plenty of people who regularly listen to mp3s have devices that can support such a system?

Someone just needs to build device-based client software that allows folks to choose and stream down their songs, and the corresponding server software that talks to the device and serves up the chosen songs from the PC back home.

So what do you think — is the bandwidth cheap enough to make this sort of streaming practical yet? Certainly during weekends, when minutes are free, no? Shoutcast streams mp3s effectively from PC to PC, even over modem connections, so I think we already have sufficient bandwidth. The device-side UI would be quite a challenge, but what a great capability this would provide…

More power to you:

  • What if you could submit music search queries, right from your mobile phone device, to peer-to-peer networks like Gnutella? These queries would run through your Gnutella client on your home PC, and the files you choose would be downloaded to your home PC. Then you could stream those mp3s over your mobile phone too.
  • Combine this with song-ID-and-download software; now you’ve really got something. Imagine this: one afternoon you wander into your favorite cafe and you immediately love the song playing in the background. You tell special software on your mobile phone to identify and grab the song. The software records a few seconds of the song and sends this digital sample to your server or home PC, where software identifies the song, fires up Morpheus (or whatever peer-to-peer software you prefer), runs a search on that song and downloads an mp3 of it. Later, in line at the grocery store, you’d love to hear that song that you caught just a bit of in the cafe. So you plug the headphones into your mobile phone and you stream that new mp3 from your server. Sweet.

    Here’s how the software would identify the song based on just a sample: it would query the online CDDB database, which contains titles of thousands of songs along with unique checksum signatures for each song. A special algorithm allows software to quickly scan any mp3 and come up with a unique “checksum” or signature, which applies to that song and that song only. So if you have an untitled mp3 on your PC, you can scan it and submit the resulting signature to the CDDB database. The database will spit back the name of the song, if it recognizes it. (I know: the ambient noise would probably screw up the whole scheme, and the checksums in that database probably require -entire- tracks, but can’t a guy dream?)

  • How about a voice interface that lets you quickly request a given song by speaking it into your mobile phone device? Back home, the server software serves the track right away if it’s on your hard drive; if not, it tries to find it on Morpheus and streams it down to you as soon as it can.
  • How about direct streaming from Gnutella users?


I can hardly wait.

– Sean

Gameboy Boots

October 16th, 2002

gameboy-boots I’ve heard of “wearable computing,”
but this is out there…


October 12th, 2002

lobotomy“We are increasingly entrusting to software the various gathering, sorting and linking operations that we used to perform for ourselves and that were part of the process of thinking about a subject… The shift from book to screen may in its eventual impact on what knowlege is be as transformative as the shift from Newtonian to Einsteinian physics.”

– Sven Birkerts in Sense and Semblance

“Just as calculators can diminish our mathematical capacities, computers can rob us of the ability to synthesize the threads of data into the whole cloth of knowledge.”

– Neurologist Richard Restak, M.D.
in Mozart’s Brain and the Fighter Pilot

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The Silent Menace

October 3rd, 2002

Kid: “Bye Dad…”

Dad: “Wait, where are you going?”

Kid: “I’m going down to hang out on the street corner with some friends.”

Dad: “Hmmm. Is that Marcel kid going with you? You and your friends are going to talk aloud, right?”

Kid: “Of course, and don’t worry, Marcel couldn’t make it — too windy or something.”

Dad: “Well, okay. Have fun.”

Announcer: “Do you talk with your kids? Kids who talk are 94% less likely to become mimes than kids who don’t. So talk to your kids… and make sure they talk back. Parents… the anti-mime.”

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