Having a smartphone is amazing. You can replace so many things with one, and they will do so much for you. I recently decided to use my phone as a fitness tracker, something I can definitely see happening in schools, with the large focus on obesity and fitness. I downloaded the free Runkeeper app. While I usually use my Cowon S9 for my playlists, I decided to take my EVO and track my run with the GPS. I did this for a few runs lately and LOVE what I get. In the image you can see my distance, the duration, my pace and speed. How many calories I burned as well as a Google Map showing my run. SO COOL! And this is just one of the apps out there that do this. You can also measure bicycling and other things. Great tool to use in your class or for your personal life.
I noticed more and more lately that companies are providing proprietary USB cables with their products. Of course Apple has done that for years. Now, though, I noticed more do this, like my new Blackberry Curve 2. Thankfully they provided a cable and power supply so I can charge it two ways. My nook, of course, comes with a proprietary charging cable, that thankfully does disconnect to allow me to plug in to any laptop. Then there is the new Cowon S9. While I love so much about it, it also comes with a proprietary USB cable.
Why? Why do the manufacturers do this? Well, of course to make money, but why do we allow this? Why is our government not looking into this for monopolies? Unfair business practices at the very least. And how this effects the classroom. For me alone, losing earbuds and USB cables all the time, it poses a problem. Once I lose any of those cables, it renders those devices useless until I can buy another. Do you think that will happen in schools? With schools buying iPod Touches, mp3 players, Kindles, and every other gadget, of course cables will be lost. The solution from the company? Buy a few extra cables. Of course, much like the high end Monster Cables, you *could* buy these more expensive cables. But then looking at a replacement USB, that may cost a dollar, why the need to spend $20 or more for a ‘specialized’ cable that does not additional work. Very frustrating, and it appears like this is spreading. Hopefully soon someone will notice and look into this sketchy practice. I really see no reason, except for profit, for this to happen.
Image used under Creative Commons license from flickr user vrogy
I constantly look for ways to put video easily onto a range of my small little portable mp3/mp4 players. With my newest purchase, the Cowon S9, I wanted an easier way than using the software that came with it (JetAudio) and Handbrake. While I love Handbrake in many instances, sometimes many of the simple features are way above my head!
On all the Cowon message boards, I found many people referring to MediaCoder, an open source transcoder. Well, if they are all using it, I would try as well. I went to MediaCoder’s site (http://www.mediacoderhq.com/) and figured I would download it. What I found, though, is many different varieties of MediaCoder.
MediaCoder comes in different flavors, specific to what you need to do. They have an Audio Edition for ripping audio, including ripping audio from DVDs. They have the Full Edition for transcoding both audio and video, a CLI version for those living at the command line, and then various Device Editions.
I headed to the Device Editions. Of course you will find an iPod Edition, but also a PSP, MP3/MP4, and 3GP Mobile Phone Edition. I selected the MP3/MP4 Player edition you can see in the photo. MediaCoder tries to simulate a player’s screen and when you choose a video to transcode, you can actually see it play on the screen. A nice little touch.
When opening the application, you can either use the buttons/toolbar to add files or just drag them to the box. You can set all the settings, and then go to work. I struggled at first, but then needed to make some setting changes, that I discovered here: http://www.anythingbutipod.com/forum/showthread.php?t=23552. Once I made those adjustment, I transcoded like no one’s business! I flipped the video over to the Cowon, and voila, good to go! Not too difficult, and many settings I could adjust, if necessary. Comparing it to Handbrake, it completed the transcoding quicker, but I think at first, the layout is more confusing. Both tools come with a lot of options, that the average user does not necessarily need. Both do the job, so I would suggest either for your transcoding needs!
Finally, after losing my iRiver E100 in the Pittsburgh Marathon (rain, sweat, and electronics don’t mix–who knew!), my replacement arrived. I did not use it much, taking it on a run soon, but first impressions make me think I will like it. About the same size as the iPod Touch, with a touchscreen. I actually like the little ‘plop’ noise when you touch icons.
Last night I finally transferred some playlists to it. Apparently it did not come in MTP format to begin with, so you could only drag-n-drop. After switching to MTP, I could add playlists.
Definitely a good little player so far. The screen (AMOLED) is gorgeous! Sound is good. I think this could definitely work in a classroom. More to come…
So I finished the Pittsburgh Marathon! My time was 4 hours, 56 minutes. Not what I ideally wanted, but with the heavy rain throughout and the possibilities of the calf and heel issues resurfacing, I was quite happy to finish. So yes, the rain started at mile 2 and did not stop until we got off the plane in Raleigh that night! In all seriousness, it did rain a lot, enough to make me decide to switch shoes at mile 20 (thanks mom and dad for having them out on the course!)
The rain and my electronics did not mesh either. I took my Blackberry along to take some pictures and be the first person to ever Plurk a marathon. Definitely did that, but I handed off my Blackberry to my Aunt around mile 18. It died, even with the Ziplock bag home I made for it and pinned in my pocket. Coming to the finish, the last 3 miles, I listened to POD’s Satellite continuously. While a GREAT motivational song, hearing it repeatedly did nothing for getting me to the finish line. So my iRiver e100 died as well.
That led me to the mp3/mp4/multimedia market. I definitely liked my iRiver Clix and e100s, as they work well with Ubuntu. The Clix actually worked with playlists and Amarok, which I REALLY liked. So when starting the search for a new player, that would probably be a must. I looked at iRiver, but could not find the Clix still on sale. I looked at their Lplayer, but I really thought the thickness may interfere when running. I heard good things about Cowon, so I began to read the reviews on their flagship, the S9. It really looks like the iPod Touch. Nice, thin, and sleek, with a curved back. A little smaller than the Touch, which is appreciated, as I tried to run with the wife’s, and its bulky size made it uncomfortable on my arm. It plays .ogg, so a definitely plus. Works well with Linux, even saying so on the website, and reports are it works with Amarok. I just ordered it, so I will discuss it when it arrives.