Shooting Video in Portrait Mode :- That’s Not How You Use That

August 4, 2013

The smartphone has made us all videographers. We’re constantly pointing our cameras at friends, family and cats. Well, mostly cats. The problem is that too many of us are shooting these videos in portrait mode. And it’s the most annoying thing to hit YouTube since the yelling goats.

Video should be shot and viewed in landscape mode — that’s the “long way” instead of the “tall way,” the orientation that mimics your HDTV screen. Every time you see a video shot in portrait mode on YouTube or Facebook, you should weep for humanity and its inability to teach individuals how to shoot video so it fits properly into the same shape as the TV they watch in their homes. How much more brainwashing can society be expected to bestow on humans than non-stop video in the form of television, movies, and commercials shoved into their faces since birth? It’s a standard we should all know.

Videos, unlike photos, are almost universally presented horizontally. There’s a reason for this: It’s how we’re built to view the world. Our vision allows us to see more to the left and right than top and bottom. So when you shoot a video on your smartphone in portrait mode, you’re violating not only the set video standard, but also the laws of nature as they pertain to human sight.

It doesn’t help that video apps like Vine encourage you to shoot video while holding your phone in portrait mode. Sure it creates a square video, but it’s a bad precedent. So the next time you feel compelled to capture video on your smartphone, imagine what it will look like on your HDTV. If you see it in your mind’s eye as a video with enormous black bars to the left and right of the action, turn your phone sideways.

There. You just stopped your film school friends from having an aneurism, and you made your video about 80 percent better.


Obama Administration Sides With Apple on Import Ban Ruling

August 4, 2013

President Obama and U.S. Trade Representitive Michael Froman in 2011. Photo: Pete Souza/White House

In a letter from U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman, the Obama administration overruled an import ban on older iPhone and iPad models issued by the International Trade Commission at Samsung’s request earlier this year. The action allows Apple to continue imports of AT&T models of the iPhone 4, iPad 3G, and iPad 2 3G.

The issue centers around patents held by Samsung for the cellular data chips used in those devices. Samsung claimed Apple infringed on those patents, while Apple argued that Samsung’s patents were so-called “standards-essential patents” (SEPs) that Samsung had agreed to license at “fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory” (FRAND) terms.

In vetoing the International Trade Commission’s decision, Froman highlights concerns that owners of SEPs who have previously agreed to license patents under those FRAND terms can then engage in “‘patent hold-up’, i.e. asserting the patent to exclude an implementer of a standard from a market to obtain a higher price for use of the patent than would have been possible before the standard was set, when alternative technologies could have been chosen.”

Such administration action to veto an action by the International Trade Commission is rare. According to The Wall Street Journal, this is the first time since 1987 that an administration has vetoed a ban ordered by the Commission. The action doesn’t impact Samsung’s ability to continue its legal battle against Apple on the issue, but it means that it will have to take place in court, rather than before the ITC.

Froman’s letter (.pdf) also signals the intent of the Obama administration to keep a close eye on the Commission in other cases involving SEPs, encouraging the Commission to determine “whether a particular remedy is in the public interest.”

In January, the Department of Justice and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office issued policy guidelines around SEP enforcement (.pdf) that Froman cites in his letter. These guidelines indicate that the administration sees injunctions and exclusion orders like the one Samsung sought as potentially inconsistent with innovation and the broader public interest.

Infected PCs May Lose Internet Access In July

August 4, 2013

I hadn’t heard of this until this morning and verified this issue with our computer consultation friends at Bronxville Computer. Yes, it’s a legitimate concern, but don’t worry as it’s easy to see if your computer could be affected. From Today’s USA Today here’s the situation:

WASHINGTON – For computer users, a few mouse clicks could mean the difference between staying online and losing Internet connections this summer. Unknown to most of them, their problem began when international hackers ran an online advertising scam to take control of infected computers around the world. In a highly unusual response, the FBI set up a safety net months ago using government computers to prevent Internet disruptions for those infected users. But that system is to be shut down.

Most victims don’t even know their computers have been infected, although the malicious software probably has slowed their web surfing and disabled their antivirus software, making their machines more vulnerable to other problems.

Last November, the FBI and other authorities were preparing to take down a hacker ring that had been running an Internet ad scam on a massive network of infected computers.
“We started to realize that we might have a little bit of a problem on our hands because … if we just pulled the plug on their criminal infrastructure and threw everybody in jail, the victims of this were going to be without Internet service,” said Tom Grasso, an FBI supervisory special agent. “The average user would open up Internet Explorer and get ‘page not found’ and think the Internet is broken.”

Now, said Grasso, “the full court press is on to get people to address this problem.” And it’s up to computer users to check their PCs.

Here’s what you need to know from Bronxville Computer:

Here’s The Good News:

It’s easy to see if you’re computer is infected. Just click this link and you’ll see a photo. If the background of the photo is green, your computer is okay. If it’s red, then you’ll need to take action before July or you could lose your Internet access. The test takes about three seconds.

The coolest cell phones you may never see

October 1, 2008

CHIBA, Japan–If the concepts on display at Ceatec are any indication, completely deconstructing the traditional form factor of the mobile phone is one of the next major phases of design and development research.
Japan has one of the most robust mobile phone cultures anywhere, and it shows here on the second day of the show. Sharp, Fujitsu, NTT DoCoMo, and KDDI each had intriguing takes on the next form factor for devices used not just for mobile communication, but watching videos, playing games, and performing mobile navigation.
Take the necklace on the right. It alerts the wearer when there’s a call or a message incoming. It’s made by Fujitsu and, while it isn’t an actual product, is indicative of how cell phones are thought of here: not just communication devices, but accessories made to fit neatly and inconspicuously into the daily routine.

Then there were a host of phones whose screens and keyboards pull apart to be used separately. The Fujitsu version shown below uses magnets to connect the two pieces in the desired configuration. NTT DoCoMo was demonstrating a similar concept.

But as far as futuristic, elegant design goes, KDDI was far and away the winner. The wireless company showed off beautiful designs, which are nowhere close to being reality, but show the aspirations it has for the cell phone. The Ply was part of its yearly Design Project. (Here’s a picture of last year’s version.)

Designed by Hideo Kambara, the Ply imagines the phone as a device with a series of layers. One layer is a pop-up projector, another is a slide-out keyboard, and another is a printer, a game controller, and so on. The ones on display here and shown further down the page are just papercraft renderings.

iPhone 3G = iHeadache ?

September 29, 2008

t got off to a blockbuster opening, but software and network glitches have plagued the iPhone 3G in the past six weeks since its launch. Now, before all the Apple fans flip out, there’s certainly no way to measure the exact extent or scope of the reported problems. But the blogs and news sites continue to be abuzz about dropped calls, a slower network, and connectivity issues among other things. And anecdotally I’ve heard from several people who are frustrated by its less-than stellar performance, especially since the 3G network is such a key selling point. AT&T has simply encouraged people to download the latest Apple software updates, and because the problems seem to be occurring worldwide analysts aren’t pointing the finger at exclusive U.S. carrier AT&T so much as Apple.

So is it a software problem? Something in the handset itself? An underlying network issue? More hype than reality? Whatever it is, the reported problems are not what Apple needs, and may even be making some consumers think twice about upgrading or buying the new one. Personally, it’s all made me pause and realize my “old” iPhone works just fine, thanks. In any case, we’ll take a closer look at the iPhone 3G issues on the CBS Early Show tomorrow (Thursday morning), and Natali Del Conte from CBS’s corporate partner CNET will also be on-hand to discuss what’s going on. (She’s got some firsthand experience, too!) I hope you’ll be watching. Stay connected!

Week in review: Google enters the cell phone business

September 28, 2008

The unveiling of the first cell phone with Google’s Android operating system made the most noise this week. But news about new and improved online music services also played loudly in the background (as did the ongoing U.S. economic crisis).

T-Mobile USA and Google on Tuesday unveiled the first phone powered by Google’s open platform to much New York fanfare. The phone, previously code-named the HTC Dream, is now called the T-Mobile G1. It goes on sale in the U.S. on T-Mobile’s network starting October 22 for $179 with a two-year service contract.

T-Mobile USA’s parent company Deutsche Telekom will also be selling the device starting in November in the United Kingdom through its T-Mobile service. And the phone will be available throughout the rest of Europe via T-Mobile starting in the first quarter of 2009.

By most accounts, the G1, from a hardware perspective isn’t a game changer. The device, which has a full QWERTY keyboard that slides out from a touch-screen exterior, looks similar to other devices on the market, such as the T-Mobile Sidekick or Verizon’s LG Voyager.

But inside, the Google Android software offers an improved mobile Web experience, making it a viable rival to Apple’s popular iPhone (click here for comparisons between the iPhone and the G1) and a winner over other smartphones. Of course, until other partners in the Google-spawned, 34-member Open Handset Alliance bring their Android products to market, the G1 is shouldering a lot of ambitions.

Incidentally, Google has since released the software developer kit that will allow programmers to create applications that will run on Android phones. Click here for more details on the G1’s offerings, or here for a roundup of all of the week’s Android news.

The music plays
One feature in the G1 that got a bit overshadowed in the launch hype is the inclusion of’s DRM-free MP3 store, which comes preloaded on each Android phone. That’s bound to catch on once users start to realize that–unlike with iTunes–you can put songs downloaded from the store on any mobile device.

Also big news for online music aficionados this week was MySpace’s much-anticipated debut of MySpace Music, which many see as the official stand-off between media mogul Rupert Murdoch and Apple CEO Steve Jobs.

MySpace Music, backed by all four of the largest recording companies, represents the most significant challenge to Apple–at least in terms of firepower–in some time. This is the first time the top labels have all joined in taking a stake in an iTunes competitor.

As with the Android phone, MySpace Music songs come from Amazon in the DRM-free MP3 format.

But among the many challenges the service faces is that it offers no hardware solution. Apple can provide everything a music listener needs–hardware and software. Also, while MySpace has long been an Internet concert hall, where bands went to market their wares to the Web, neither MySpace nor its owner News Corp. have much experience in music retail; consider that Apple has zoomed past Wal-Mart to music retail’s top spot. Some critics have said that something like MySpace Music should have been in place on the site years ago.

Also in music news this week, mobile phone company Sony Ericsson announced Tuesday that it will launch a music service called PlayNow Plus, which will feature unlimited music downloads, also from all four of the major labels.

PlayNow Plus will compete with Comes with Music, the music service launched by Sony Ericsson rival Nokia earlier this year. And out of the gate, PlayNow can offer a more complete music library than Nokia’s offering. EMI has yet to join Comes with Music.

Later in the week we also learned that Universal Music Group, the largest of the major recording companies, plans to launch a “Hulu-like” video portal.

The new venture would offer professionally produced music videos as well as other original programming that features the label’s artists. The Killers, Mariah Carey, Kanye West, and Amy Winehouse are just a few of the company’s acts.

The effort, sources say, allows the the label to squeeze more revenue out of music videos and offer artists a new and more polished platform to display their talents than what’s available online now. And it could help draw larger numbers of premium advertisers to music videos. Right now, YouTube has become the most prominent online venue for music videos, and all four of the major labels have licensed music to the video-sharing site; YouTube’s troubles at attracting top-tier advertisers are well chronicled.

And for those with an eye for indies, Muxtape founder Justin Ouelette this week explained that the bureaucracy of the music industry was just too much for him to deal with, which is why he took down the playlist creation Web site that became a hipster craze earlier this year. The site will be relaunching soon, he said, but strictly as a service for independent bands to share their own music.

Googles G1 phone will kill-off the PC, claim its designers

September 28, 2008

Florian Seiche, HTC (High Tech Computers) chief, the designers of Google’s G1 phone, has claimed that with its high-tech features, the new phone could make the personal computer obsolete.

Florian Seiche, whose company designed Google’s answer to the iPhone, believes the personal computer will soon join the ‘dodo’.

Seiche insisted that the phone is set to transform the way we think about the internet, and could even kill off the PC.

Google’s founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin launched the G1 phone amid a frenzy of excitement in New York this week.

“This is really big news for the entire mobile world. It is so fast, responsive and easy to navigate that you basically have the same browsing experience you would have on your desktop at home,” Telegraph quoted him, as saying.He said that its just a matter of a couple of years that people will look back and remember how “awkward” it was that they could only go online when they were sat down in front of their PC, because “it will just be very natural that you can enjoy the internet wherever you are”.

The G1 is touted as Google’s answer to the iPhone, the image it may easily pull off by taking advantage of Google’s wealth of applications that have already transformed the desktop.

It offers one-touch access to Google mail, which revolutionised web-based email services. It promises to make watching videos on the Google-owned YouTube a delight. Meanwhile instant-messaging via the Google Talk chat service could mean the end of back-and-forth text messaging.

The phone boasts so many “very, very cool and compelling features”, including an mp3 player with access to Amazon’s music download service, that he believes “many users will find it highly addictive”.

“That is all available on day one of the platform going live. So you can just imagine within six months, within a year, the vast kind of choices consumers will have about what to turn their mobile device into,” said Seiche.

And the most revolutionising feature is the phone’s operating system which will allow the phone to evolve into the future.