Saturday, 11 July 2009

The Cutting Room Experiment

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Jon and Ben from Cahoona have made their Social Media Cafe presentation available...

Friday, 10 July 2009

New Adventures in Eye-Fi

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@technicalfault and @paulie asked what my experiences with an Eye-Fi card were and I had more than 140 characters on the subject so here goes.

I bought a 2gb Eye-Fi Explore SD Card from eBay a few weeks ago. It arrived in a sealed pack sitting inside its own USB connector. When I plugged it into the PC it was instantly recognised, but when it fired up the browser to connect me to to register and configure the settings it told me that it had a known fault and it was impossible to register, configure or otherwise use. Doh!

However, the site captured my name and address and committed to send a replacement f.o.c. within a few days from the States. This replacement duly arrived and I was able to register it straight away and configure it.

(Config is about telling it your router's WEP key, setting up a directory to dump pictures into when it's near youe network and giving it your Flickr (or similar) login details should you wish it to automatically post stuff there. You can also input your Twitter details so that it sends you a DM to let you know when it's started uploading photos and when it's finished.)

If you don't want it to automatically send all you pictures to Flickr you can configure it only to upload photographs that you have "protected" in your camera's settings.

Once you're configured, you just need to set your camera so that it doesn't automatically switch itself off after a couple of minutes and, provided you're within range of your network it starts uploading your pictures.

In theory, provided your camera is on, it should start uploading pictures whenever you're in range of an open wifi network but I've never experienced this and remain to be convinced.

Anyhow, the Eye-Fi card works fine in my little Fuji Finepix Z20fd. However, I was also hoping to use it in my old trusty Canon EOS 300D, which actually takes Compact Flash cards. So when I bought my Eye-Fi card I also bought a converter so that I could slide an SD (or SDHC) card into a CF shaped adaptor and use it in my Canon. The good news is that the adaptor works, in that I can take photographs and they are saved on the SD card. However, the automatic upload functionality of the Eye-Fi card don't seem to work whilst it's in the Canon even if I set it so that it doesn't switch off automatically and where I opt to 'protect' selected frames.

A point to be aware of is that it does takes a long time to transfer the photographs from my Fuji, so if you take a lot of photographs like me do opt for the 'protect' option and be selective about which ones you want to upload in this way. Either way, it's a real battery drainer. I always carry two spare batteries with me along with the one in the camera and I've sat and watched it drain all three and still not be finished uploading.

Given that I've not really seen it work on an open wifi network, I'm only using it at home and, frankly, it's quicker, cheaper and greener to take the card out of the camera, bang it into the PC and whizz all the pics across in seconds/minutes than go through all of this palaver. It would be useful if I could set it up to recognise networks at friends', family, the office etc, but to configure this I'd need to input all the individual WEP keys and, as the config is done on the laptop, I'd need to trail it round to everywhere to set it up before I ever might want to upload from the camera 'in real life'.

So on balance, I like the Eye-Fi card in principle but they're expensive (£80ish) , faffy and, given that SD cards are pretty cheap, I don't think they currently offer huge convenience or represent value for money (but I'd love other's views - @spooons?).

Furthermore, chatting to @documentally about them, he tells me that a friend of his had some problems with one breaking inside his camera... the plastic does seem a tad more brittle than a conventional SD card... so if you're going to have a dabble... take care.

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

SMC at the BBC

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Last night saw Manchester's Social Media Cafe take another step forward as it tried out another new venue thanks to Ian Forrester (@cubicgarden) who'd arranged for the event to take place in the bar of BBC Broadcasting House on Oxford Road.

The venue enabled the parallel sessions from Joelly Black (@thecharmquark), Dan Donald(@hereinthehive), Ben and Jon from Cahoona (@ben_cahoona, @jonthebeef) to take place in clearly defined areas so that attendees could easily settle into the session of their choice or, like me, take a tour around all three.

Each session was well attended and opened up into broad ranging discussions immediately afterwards. This bit is always the best part - it's encouraging for the speakers and it also keeps the subject matter open-ended and free-flowing.

Speaking of free-flowing, the subsidised bar was busy all night and as the sessions wound up, the emphasis reverted to the S of SMC for a little while whilst preparations got under way for the next stage of evening.

Maria (@marialittlestar)from Littlestar had co-ordinated the production of #thejoyofceefax - a short film "crowdsourced" from Twitter-based conversations, through filming by individual contributors right through to its premiere at the Social Media Cafe. Before, the attendees could settle down to watch it though, we made time for a game of Ceefax Bingo as prepared by Dave Mee (@davemee). The crowd were issued with bingo cards each featuring 'random' page numbers selected from the Ceefax, Teletext and FourText archives.

With thousands of numbers to go at, it took a while for anyone to get a line, although Chi-chi Ekweazor ( @realfreshtv) did put in a fraudulent claim at one stage (see the video evidence below). Eventually the highly sought after Ceefax buns, which were put up as prizes, were shared by two eager winners.

So it was onto #thejoyofceefax film at last... a lighthearted look at people's memories of soon-to-be-no-more analogue teletext. @innovationmcr suggested that it would convert easily into an episode of Creature Comforts from Ardman Animations and I know what they mean. As it is, it's a neat little artefact in itself and I'm pleased to have contributed. I hope to share it here when @marialittlestar puts it up onto YouTube later on.

In the meantime, enjoy some photographs and video of last night's event.

[By the way, I bumped into that Rufus Wainwright on the steps of Broadcasting House. He asked me where everyone was heading, so I told him #smc_mcr. He was keen, but I informed him that his name wasn't on the list. Next time, eh? Use the wiki like everyone else mate. ;) ]