Category: Network Lifestyle And Activities

Surfing the Net while watching TV – now the thing amongst the young

 

76% of 18 to 24-year-olds Browse the Internet While Watching TV | eHomeUpgrade

My comments

I have read the eHomeUpgrade article about how young people are surfing the Web while they are watching TV. There are various factors that I have observed that are encouraging this kind of activity and are based a lot on observation and experience.

Younger people being more likely to be tech-savvy

Ever since the 1980s, information technology has become a key part of one’s education in most school curriculums. Initially this started off with “computer studies” or something similarly-named being a secondary-school subject, but has moved towards computer use being integrated in to regular school studies over the last twenty years.

Similarly, most younger people have been known to adopt to newer technologies more easily than people of older age groups. This typically has been noticed by the “kids” being the ones who can work consumer-electronics devices beyond the basic requirements like setting the clock on a video recorder, or being “nimble-fingered” with the mobile phone’s keypad to send text messages.  

The current home-computing environments that promote this activity

One is the proliferation of laptops, notebooks, netbooks and similar portable computers available new or secondhand at prices that most could afford as well as smartphones that have integrated Web-browsing capability being available under subsidised-handset contract. All these devices are equipped with an integrated Wi-Fi wireless-network adaptor which allows for use-anywhere functionality.

They would typically be used in a Wi-Fi-based home networks which has coverage that extends to areas where a television set would be located like the lounge room. Another situation that also commonly exists would be the colocation of a TV set and a a computer in a teenager’s own bedroom or the lounge areas that teenagers or other young people primarily use like “games rooms”, “rumpus rooms” or simply the secondary lobby in a two-storey house.

These setups would encourage the use of an Internet-connected computer while watching TV shows, which I have seen a lot of at home with a teenager who was often had a laptop going while watching TV.

TV shows running Websites

As well, most TV studios are operating programme-specific Websites that are seen as a way of extending the programme’s value. This typically includes the providing of extra video material, Web downloads, forums and the like and is often used as a way to make the show appeal to the younger generation.

It is also supplemented by information pages like Internet Movie Database and epguides.com as well as fan-created “unofficial” Websites for the various TV shows and show genres. They will have such information like episode guides with season, episode an “first-screen” information as well as biographies for the characters in the show, cast and crew details.

In some cases, this is also tied in with Web-based “catch-up TV” where you can see recently-screened episodes as well as supplementary video material.

The Social Web

This leads me to the Social Web being the primary reason for surfing the Web while watching TV. Here, viewers use the show’s Web forums, Twitter, Facebook and MySpace to chat with like-minded friends and fans, and in the case of the social networks, use “official front ends” like Facebook Pages and Twitter hashtags to participate with the show. Some TV shows like, panel shows or reality-TV shows may link these feeds in to the show’s fabric by having the compere read out selected content from the Social Web or have a ticker at the bottom of the screen showing similar information. An example of this is when ABC-TV Australia was running “Q and A” on Monday nights, they had a Twitter hashtag called #qanda and all of the Tweets with this hashtag appeared as a ticker on the bottom of the screen.

Recently there have been some social-network sites centred around TV shows where one can “check in” and chat with like-minded viewers about favourite shows.

The various social networks have been made easier to use with smartphones and similar devices either through a client app written for the popular smartphone and “Web-tablet” platforms or a handheld-optimised “mobile view” of the social network’s Web view.

Conclusion

The combination of technologically-astute young people, ubiquitous portable computers, the home network and the Internet, TV-show Websites and the Social Web all reinforce the fact that TV isn’t for lounging in front of anymore.

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Integrating TV and the Web nowadays

Article

The Emergence of Social TV via ‘Check-in’ – The Good and Bad | eHomeUpgrade

My comments

The Web has become increasingly integrated with our TV-viewing habits, whether through the use of “official” or fan-generated Websites for particular shows or events or users using Facebook to post information about shows that they watch from a laptop or netbook while watching TV. Some of the “official” or fan-generated Websites have integrated bulletin boards were people who like the show can chat with each other regarding the show or particular characters / actors.

Recently, there have been various sites like www.epguides.com which provide comprehensive information on many TV serials. In some cases, these can help out with environments where a broadcaster may show some seasons or some episodes of a particular series or simply to know how “behind” an overseas broadcaster is on a TV serial compared to the show’s home country.

Now the social Web is being further integrated with the likes of Miso and Tunerfish which are like a social network based around favourite or currently-viewed TV shows. In some cases, these sites have some form of integration with the main social networks like Facebook.

This has been brought about through the ubiquity of the home network with the attendant arrival of IP-enabled TVs and set-top boxes as well as the popularisation of laptops, netbooks, MIDs and smartphones that are connected to the Internet via Wi-Fi wireless links.

The real issue nowadays is whether many of us are likely to use these sites and are likely to have the laptop, netbook or iPad on the coffee table and logged in to one of these sites while we watch our favourite TV shows? Also would the experience work better if the user interface for these services was integrated in to one of the new IP-capable TVs or set-top boxes like the upcoming Android TV platform?

Now this is showing that the TV and the Web are becoming not just competing media but complementary media in the age of the home network.

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Could this e-government initiative be upsetting the applecart in Europe as far as the Browser Choice initiative is concerned?

Article

E-Government-Offensive im Microsoft-Browser | news.ORF.at (Austria – German language)

My comments and brief interpretation

Judging from my basic understanding of the German language together with use of Google’s machine translation, I had “got the gist” of this situation which would be considered hostile to the European Commission’s agenda concerning Microsoft’s Internet Explorer browser.

What I was reading here was that the federal government in Austria were placing heavy emphasis on Internet Explorer 8 as part of their “e-government” initiative. This was including a downloadable toolbar add-in amongst obvious page-optimisation for this browser.

Most likely, I would suspect that, like most large organisations, the Austrian government uses Internet Explorer 8 as part of their standard operating environment and they expect that most users in that country may have stuck with IE8 even during the “Browser Choice Screen” switchover. One could say that this government could get away with this practice because many public and private organisations supply iPhone client apps to make their “front-end” useable on an iPhone which may be platform-specific.

What I would like to see with this is that if the government sites become less useful or unable to fulfil their function because of the preference for a particular browser is concerned, then the sites should be organised to at least fulfil their function no matter the desktop-computer user agent.

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Product Review: Facebook Friend Wheel

I had talked about on this blog about the kind of influence different posts you make in Facebook will have in your Facebook Friend circle. In one of the articles, I had mentioned a Facebook application called Friend Wheel which shows a graphical representation of your Friend List.

You enable this free application by adding it to your Facebook Profile like you would with a social game like Farmville.

This application works through your Facebook friend list and identifies any situations where your Facebook Friends have other Facebook Friends that are in your list in their lists. Then it resolves these relationships in a graphical manner by plotting each Friend’s name as a node on the edge of a circle and showing each link as a line. It can show clusters of people who know each other through a particular community by “bunching” the people together. There is the ability not to plot friends that aren’t connected to other Facebook Friends in your list, which may be beneficial to those who have links with larger social circles.

The Wheel can he shown as a static image or, for most of us who have Flash-enabled Web environment (which doesn’t include the Apple iPad), there is a Flash version which allows you to hover over the name of a Facebook Friend and show their connections to any of your other Facebook Friends.

It can be slow with larger Facebook Friend lists, especially those that are well connected because of having to plot many nodes and draw many lines. But it is speedy with most Friend lists. There isn’t an option to take advantage of the “lists” function so that you can plot the Friend Wheel on the social sets that you define using these lists. As well, it doesn’t identify Facebook Friends who have subscribed to any particular Fan Pages or Groups.

One main use that I would find for this application is if you are investigating the “reach” of comments or other material posted on particular Facebook Friends’ Walls.

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Now Google is proposing search for the big screen in the home

 Google Testing TV / Web Search on DISH Network Set-top Boxes | eHomeUpgrade

Video business-news bulletin including story about Google’s TV / Web search

My comments on this technology

Google has become a byword for searching for information on the Internet in a similar manner to the way the word “Walkman” became a byword for personal stereo equipment or “Hoover” became one for vacuum cleaning. Their presence is now strong on the computer screen and the mobile screen, but the territory that they haven’t conquered yet is the television screen.

Now they are working with DISH Network (one of two major satellite-TV services in the USA) to develop a TV-show / Web search user interface for use on the set-top boxes that DISH Network provide to their satellite-TV customers. Could this mean that we could be able to find RF-broadcast content as well as content on the Web like YouTube clips or Web sites such as online episode guides. They reckoned that this may need the use of a QWERTY keyboard near the TV.

But I have observed an increasing furtherance towards text entry from the couch, which would be important with Google’s TV/Web search. For example, some remote controls are implementing text entry on a 12-key keypad similar to how those teenagers type out text messages on their mobiles and others, including TiVo are issuing remote controls that have a slide-to-expose QWERTY keyboard for text entry. On the other hand. there have been manufacturers who offered small wireless or USB keyboards being pitched at “lounge-room” use.

This is even though I have seen situations where teenagers have brought laptops in to the lounge area so they can IM or Facebook friends while watching their favourite TV shows, or where I have used Google or the Internet Movie Database from my mobile phone to search for information relating to a show that I am watching.

So it definitely shows that the Internet is becoming part of the regular TV-viewing life rather than a separate activity.

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Skype-enabled TVs – Now Samsung is in the party

Articles

Skype-Enabled TV Ecosystem Keeps On Growing | EhomeUpgrade

Samsung makes Skype for new LED lit HDTVs official | Engadget

From the horse’s mouth

Get Skype on your TV: Samsung joins the team – Skype Blogs

My comments

I have been following the idea of using a common large screen TV with Skype and similar videoconferencing software on a common PC as a cost-effective method to achieve family and small-business group videoconferencing. This was since Channel 7 Australia had run a news item about it being part of linking older people who were confined to a nursing home with their younger family and also myself seeing it in action with some friends establishing a video-conference with relatives in Italy using this tool on their laptop.

When Skype announced that LG and Panasonic were integrating this technology in to their newer large-screen TV models at CES 2010, I was excited about this idea becoming closer for most people. Now, Samsung had announced this week that they were integrating Skype in the LED-backlit 7000 and 8000 series TVs. This has meant that another TV manufacturer has stepped up to the plate as far as Skype integration is concerned.

These implementations typically require a compatible Webcam (which has an integrated microphone) to be connected to the TV’s USB port and the TV to be connected to the home network via its Ethernet port. The user can then associate their Skype account with these TV sets to start videoconferencing.

The only limitation I see about the action so far is that manufacturers who supply TV peripheral devices like PVRs and games consoles aren’t providing the full Skype-based video-conferencing setup as an add-on to their devices. If this happened, especially in the form of a software download for the likes of the TiVo or the PS3, this could please people who own these devices to set themselves up for large-screen group videoconferencing.

It is also worth knowing that all of these implementations can yield a high-resolution picture but only if the computer on the other end is running Skype 4.2 or newer or if the device on the other end supports Skype HD functionality. Also the Internet service must support sufficiently-high bandwidth for the high-quality pictures.

At least this is a step closer to ubiquitous cost-effective group videoconferencing for home and small business. As well, it is one step taken to bring the videoconferencing practice out of the science-fiction novel and 1970s “future tech” book in to common reality.

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Use of the Ekahau Real-Time Location System in a residential or small-business environment

I have been talking by e-mail to Mika Kouhia from Ekahau about the use of their WiFi-based real-time location technology in the typical home or small-business network. The applications that may come to mind here will typically cover an emergency-response / nurse-call system that is an integral part of the at-home care of elderly, infirm or convalescing people; or small businesses, especially those who are partners to large business, who need to track assets in a similar manner to what is done by large organisations.

What is the main complication that concerns the Ekahau Real-Time Location System

The main complication that limits this technology is the fact that most of the wireless networks deployed in this space only have one access point, typically the one that is integrated in to a wireless router. You may be lucky to use this technology on a wireless network that has an extra access point such as a wireless router that is repurposed as an extension access point and connected to the main router via a HomePlug powerline link or one of those access points that work with a HomePlug powerline backbone.  On the other hand, you would have to deploy “infrared beacons” around the premises and rely on the Wi-Fi wireless link provided by the router as primarily a communications link.

The infrared beacons work on a similar infrared frequency to the remote controls used to control the majority of TV sets and other consumer-electronics devices in circulation. Thus they won’t interfere with the passive-infrared sensors used in most security systems or automatic “sensor-light” setups because these sensors are tuned to an infrared frequency emitted as part of body heat.

The primary reason for implementing the technology in the home

Ekahau T301BD Wi-Fi Pager Tag

The primary implementation that I was talking about with Mika was to use their T301BD Wi-Fi Pager Tag which hangs around the neck of a person. This tag has an integrated display and two function buttons that also work as emergency-call buttons. As well, if the tag is pulled on the neckstrap, it can initiate an emergency response. The tag supports direct paging with push-button response, which can allow it to work with a “response-check” setup where if the user doesn’t respond within a certain time to a call, the system initiates emergency action. The display could come in handy by showing the person’s name, which would be a good help with people who have memory-loss disorders.

In this implementation, there may be the need to establish Internet access to the pager tag in order to permit this device to work as part of a solution provided by an external service provider. This may involve use of hardware or software on the network that provides at least dynamic DNS functionality and integration with UPnP IGD-enabled routers to provide access to the tag. The functionality could be extended to provide local nurse-call functionality with in-house location display through a local screen and / or Web page available through the home network.

Similarly, the pager tag could work with other technology to assist people who have memory-loss disorders by enabling the use of electronically-generated “reminder screens” for particular tasks. This is relevant to an article that I wrote about in my blog concerning technology that is to assist the elderly in their daily lives. Here, I had talked about a kitchen equipped with various technologies like pico-projection systems, RFID and Wii-style motion sensors to provide reminders through different food-preparation tasks.

How this could be taken further

Ekahau should then consider studying this application as a technology that suits the current home-driven health-care direction.

Here, we are dealing with an older population as people of the baby boom move in to the later years of life and more people live longer. As well, there is more emphasis on home-based health-care so as to provide patients with the dignity of being looked after in their own home environment. This also includes an emphasis on independent living for elderly people, including having younger relatives be part of the older person’s life in a support role.

Similarly, there are disabled or chronically-ill people who want to be in the familiarity of their own home and family and these people can be able to work as carers, whether alone or alongside paid staff members who work on a rostered system.

The supporting software could be integrated in to computing devices that work on any of the common desktop-computing, handheld-computing, set-top box or embedded-device platforms in order to establish an assistive-technology ecosystem in the home.

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Nigerian people now address their association with the 419 scams

Main article

‘Maga No Need Pay’: Nigeria Gets Creative to Fight Cyber Scams | Microsoft On The Issues blog (Microsoft)

Music video – “Maga No Need Pay”

Turn up the volume to enjoy this clip!

 

Direct link to YouTube clip for TwonkyBeam users to “push” to DLNA media players or if you can’t see the clip on this page.

At the moment, there aren’t any reliable sources where one can obtain the song as an MP3 file.

My comments on this action

Previously, I had written about social networking sites being used as part of 419-style scams, primarily in the form of the “lost traveller” appeal on these sites.

After reading the blog article about Microsoft assisting Nigerian music talent to take steps to educate the youth against cybercrime, I was impressed about how this country can turn itself around and out of the “419-scam” quagmire.

The song was emphasised at the youth there who would think it was cool to become engaged in these scams and other cybercrime, especially thinking they could “live large” on the profits of these scams at the expense of their victims or “maga”. It is part of the Microsoft-led programs which work in a similar way to “Hand Brake Turn” and similar redirection programs sponsored by churches and similar non-profit organisations to steer youth who are at risk of committing crime away from it.

Here, it is definitely a break from the usual information that exists about these scams where the emphasis is on preventing people becoming victims of these scams.

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Skype videoconferencing coming soon to regular TV sets

Skype goes living room, embeds on LG, Panasonic HDTVs

Skype, toujours interdit sur 3G, investit les écrans de TV – DegroupNews (France – French language)

Skype Wants to Make Your TV More Social – GigaOM / NewTeeVee (USA)

Skype offers living room TV action – The Register (UK)

From the horse’s mouth

Get Skype On Your TV – Skype Blogs

My comments on this topic

Previously, I had written in this blog about the use of videoconferencing, especially Skype and Windows Live Messenger as a way for families separated by distance to stay in touch. This also included reference to a previously-broadcast television news article about this technology being used to bring older relatives who were at rest homes or supported-accommodation facilities closer to their families. The newscast showed images of the older relative at the supported-accommodation facility celebrating a birthday with the relatives who appeared on a large flat-screen TV set up as a videophone.

In that article. I had talked about integrating your flat-screen TV with your PC for video conferencing by linking your computer to the television via its VGA or HDMI inputs or integrating an older CRT-based TV using its composite or S-Video inputs so many people can benefit from the larger screen.

Over the last few days, I had read some articles about an announcement that Skype had made concerning integrating its functionality into regular “brown-goods” TV sets and associated equipment. The main thrust of this was to implement 720p HD Skype videoconferencing; and with selected Panasonic “VieraCast” and LG “NetCast Entertainment Access” TV sets, you add a webcam supplied by the set’s manufacturer to the sets and connect them to your home network to enable “PC-less” video conferencing. This definitely will appeal to people who find setting up or operating computers very intimidating and may also appeal to those of us who cannot stand the sight of computer equipment in the main lounge area and believe that computer equipment belongs in the den or study.

This will appeal to families who have distant relatives and want to use the TV located in the lounge room or family room to keep in touch with these relatives without much in the way of setup headaches. Similarly, these sets could lower the startup and ongoing costs involved with videoconferencing facilities for places involved with the care of senior citizens because the Skype-equipped TV sets will need very little in the way of staff-training and support costs. It will also appeal to small businesses, farmers and the like because they can benefit from “big-business” videoconferencing at a “small-business” price without “big-business” setup hassles.

As I have said before, this could be extended to other “advanced-TV” platforms like most of the “set-top-box” platforms such as TiVo so that people who have video equipment based on these platforms could benefit from this form of video conferencing without having to add extra boxes or replace their existing TV sets.

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Facebook Tip: Is someone saying things “off the wall” on the (Facebook) Wall about you? Who can read it?

Today (November 26) , a close friend of mine had a very bad experience with Facebook where he was pilloried by one of his Facebook Friends. He had become aware of this through viewing his Homepage and feared that he was going to be embarrassed by the post-writer in front of his other friends who have Facebook presence. This may be the usual reaction of many social-network users, especially Facebook users, when someone else posts something stupid on their Wall or page about the user.

If someone writes a post to their Wall, all of the post-writer’s Facebook Friends can see that post on their Home Pages which they see when they log in, and on the author’s Profile. But this post doesn’t appear on their own Profile. Nor can any of their other Facebook Friends see this post unless they have the post-writer as their Facebook Friend. A different situation may occur if someone writes the remark on someone else’s Wall. This may have it that the friends of both parties may see the remark.

It still is worth checking for mutual friends between the post-writer and yourself, especially if any of the mutual friends have become “sworn enemies” such as through a personal, workplace or business fall-out. A good utility to install on your Profile is the “Friend Wheel”, which allows you to see “who’s got whom” of your Friends in the Friend List. This tool, which I have on my Profile, draws a circle with all your friends as “nodes” and rules lines that indicate Facebook links between your friends. When you click on the “Click to enlarge” option, you will be provided with a dynamic circle where you can highlight a person’s name and it will show just their friends.

Similarly, browsing in the post-writer’s Profile may be of use so you can determine who are their Friends, especially any Mutual Friends. This is especially true where people browse around friends’ profiles to find out if the person they are after is on the social network.

Once you understand this situation, you can reduce the panic that you may feel with yourself in front of your friends if someone says something “off the wall” on their Wall.

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