Tag Archives: mobile

Aaron Brazell

MobilePress Allows Readers to Read On the Go

As a fan of all things mobile, I have been continually frustrated by websites that do not render a mobile friendly version of their sites. Let’s be honest, I’ve been frustrated by me not rendering a mobile friendly version. As a Blackberry user, I’ve been tormented by the inadequacy of the mobile browser that has been supplied on handsets for a long time. Each new iteration of the Blackberry OS improves the browser, but nothing has been breakout. (That said, I hear the new OS 4.6 which is shipping with Blackberry Bolds and Blackberry Storms is quite nice, but I have not been able to independently confirm).

Captured with Safari 3 Simulating the iPhone

Captured with Safari 3 Simulating the iPhone

Fortunately, now you can read this site on most mobile web browsers including the iPhone (with iPhone bling!), Opera Mini, Internet Explorer for Windows Mobile as well as Blackberry and generic mobile browsers. This thanks to a WordPress plugin called MobilePress. I highly recommend it as a must have for every blogger who wants or needs their blog accessible to mobile users (they are becoming fairly common place).

The only hitch seems to be on the Blackberry browser (<=OS 4.5). You must disable javascript support in your Blackberry Browser configuration. Failing to do this will cause most sites that load javascript/AJAX libraries to spin unendingly and eat up your device memory. The only way to solve this is to pop the battery.

Aaron Brazell

Blackberry Provides a Mobile Device Too!

Since the iPhone came out a year and a half ago, mobile app development has gone into an iPhone-only mode of development. Mostly. The web interface has made it much more conducive to providing a real rich environment for web applications and now that the iPhone 3G has arrived, apps are being produced left and right.

It’s all great, except Apple still has a minority market share in mobile devices. By mobile device, I am referring to smart phones: iPhone, Treo, Blackberry, etc.

In DC, we have a running joke about the iPhone. In DC the preference for a smartphone is a Blackberry. When I get on the Metro, I look around and everyone is fiddling on their Blackberries.

It’s a matter of utility and practicality.

In San Francisco, no one goes without an iPhone, but in DC iPhones are far more scarce.

Yet, mobile application development seems to trend toward iPhones. While iPhone rich applications are great for the “bling” factor, they represent a small minority of customers in the global market that actually can utilize these interfaces.

In my opinion, developers can work within the limitations imposed by RIM to provide rich Blackberry equivalents to their apps. The Facebook App for Blackberry is a shining example of great Blackberry app that has been developed within the context of the RIM framework.

It can be done. It should be done.

I was pitched an iPhone app by a PR guy yesterday and when I scolded him for having an iPhone app and not a Blackberry app as well, he corrected me and gave me access to their prior-released Blackberry version. After fiddling around with it for 30 mins, I realized it just doesn’t work. Why are companies putting out half-assed products?

The Blackberry Storm is coming out, by all accounts, in the next 2-3 weeks and I’ll be one getting it as soon as it comes out. Why? Because Blackberry users know our product sucks. But, we need it. It’s utility. It’s functional. It’s the hub of our digital lives. The Storm will theoretically change that and that is great.

In the meantime, mobile app developers have to recognize the market share and not take an elitist perspective that they can somehow push users to the sexier platform. Because in DC, purchasers don’t care about sexiness. They care about utility. I imagine this city is not alone in that regard.

Aaron Brazell

Thummit: Food Reviewing Comes to Your Phone

picture-4Have you ever found yourself sitting in a restaurant and completely turned off by the service you received? Or maybe you experience the best crab cake you have ever had?

Up until recently, the best you could do was go submit your review to sites like Yelp – if you remembered when you got home. Thummit, a Launchbox Digital incubation company based in Washington, D.C. hopes to solve that and similar problems for you using your cell phone.

The idea is simple, and builds on the successes of other mobile companies like Twitter: You send a text message to a designated number with your thumbs up, thumbs down, so-so markup and the service stores that review.

In a demo given to a small group of bloggers in their hip office space in the middle of Chinatown, co-founder Sean Greene outlined use cases where Google local results for pizza in Dupont Circle yields chain blasé such as Pizza Hut and California Pizza Kitchen while Thummit yields much more acceptable results for a foodie in Dupont: Pizza Paradiso, Alberto’s and Anna Maria’s Italian Restaurant.

The service is not open to the public as of yet and there is still a lot of work to be done. The service has been seeded by review content (fair use) from sources like Zagat and other restaurant review sites so new users will not feel like the community is dead.

Socially, the service assumes that as a user, you will get your most use out of it if you have trusted connections of friends and contacts who provide great reviews and might be inline with your own tastes. By cultivating that community and social network aspect, they hope to provide tailor-made results to you based on your preferences and trusted social connections.

Text messaging is the cornerstone, but even that remains to be fleshed out completely.

The usefulness of this service is, of course, the immediacy of mobile and content. I may not be inspired to write something on Yelp when I get home, but I am now and by God, I have a phone! This also takes the web technology aspect of reviews to a new level, further marginalizing the one-way communications of your daily circular’s restaurant reviews.

Aaron Brazell

WordPress Plugin: WP-Brightkite

Some of you have noticed that I’ve been doing some experimentation in recent months with geolocation. Geolocation is a very powerful aspect of the next generation web. Particularly in the mobile space.

Boulder, CO-based Brightkite stormed on the scene a few months back as a location based micro blogging network. Members could take photos from the cellphones, send short messages to be posted to the service, and follow their friends. Based on the concept of location, Brightkite users could “check in” to a location. I am currently checked in at “Woodlawn, Maryland”, a fairly generic location since I value my privacy in my home. However, people can check-in down to specific addresses, cafés, places of employment, etc.

Though my fascination with Brightkite as a mobile microcontent network has faded, their is one aspect to it that I find extremely valuable in the absence of GPS on my Blackberry and the lack of ownership of an iPhone 3G. That is their KML file.

I set about creating a plugin that would parse the KML file of the most recent Brightkite check in location. Thus, WP-Brightkite was born.

Notably, for those folks interested in the geotagging content, the Brightkite plugin will parse latitude and longitude of the most recent checkin and geotag feeds using the ICBM RSS namespace. For a little extra bling, I’ve provided a template tag which drops a little Google Map next to the subject line of posts with geotagging (see this post, for instance).

  1. Upload the

    directory to

  2. Activate the plugin through the ‘Plugins’ menu in WordPress
  3. Fill out Brightkite user data on your profile page. Note: Standard WP permissions apply.
  4. Use the

    within your template to print a mini 10×10 map icon, clickable for Google Maps location.

There’s quite a bit more I want to do with this, but since I’ve been using it here on Technosailor.com for a few months, I wanted to get it into the wild and fix any bugs (thus the beta tag) before exploring more functionality.

Let me know what you think, and consider a donation.

Update: Please log a ticket here if you are having difficulties. You must login with your WordPress Support Forums username and password (here) to get new ticket creation options. The comment system I have here does not seem to be sending people notices of followups on support requests.

When logging a ticket, please tell me what version of PHP you are using and what version of WordPress you are using. Thanks.

Aaron Brazell

A Manifesto for Mobile and Location Based Social Networks

Mobile is hot. Untethering from computers is the next generation of the web and I’ve said it for awhile.

FindWhere CEO Jaap Groot and my friend and DoC co-host Geoff Livingston have co-authored a white paper (they call it a manifesto) for mobile and location-based social networks outlining eight requirements for a successful mobile endeavor.

The true local, mobile and social breakthrough requires a completely converged product that will be so intuitive and robust that community members won’t have to wrestle with such a service. Instead, it will be so easy and fun, online community members will clamor to be a part of the craze. They will actively engage, and voluntarily spread the word about their experiences, in hopes that their friends will join them online. The winning service will be so compelling that it will be viral.

They go on to describe the eight factors:

  1. Provide a base offering free of charge. Today’s social network user does not tolerate paid-for services.
  2. Work on a wide selection of phones.
  3. Offer an intelligent, simple user interface for accessing information.
  4. Use GPS rather than force users to manually enter their location every time.
  5. Integrate intelligently into existing social networks rather than further inundate people with a new one.
  6. Allow users to share and use their location data in as many ways as possible.
  7. Enable individuals to set various levels of privacy control for personal security.
  8. Monetize in an intelligent, non-intrusive way

Some of these factors are implemented better than others and some are not technically possible with the mobile client and telcos the way they exist now. Things need to change within the four walls of the carriers.

Twitter Brightkite Facebook Mobile
Free Yes Yes Yes
Phone Support Yes Partial Some
Mobile/iPhone Interface Partial Yes Partial
GPS Compatible* No No No
Existing SocNet Integration Partial Yes No
Location Data easy for Users to Use Yes No Yes No
Privacy/Security Controls Yes Yes Yes
Low Impact Monetization No No Yes
*GPS is carrier-sketchy. Verizon Wireless, for instance, disables in phones

As with all white papers, it is a call to action. A spotlight on gaps in the industry. One day, all of these items will be inherent in the social offerings but it could take 5-10 years to see that occur.

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Ubica a tus Amigos con Livecontacts

FindWhere lanza el beta de Livecontacts.

FindWhere, proveedor de servicios de ubicación y seguimiento via GPS, lanzó hoy la versión beta de su herramienta social de ubicación.


Livecontacts funciona en cualquier red celular GSM y eventualmente funcionará en teléfonos sin GPS. Según la compañía, pronto podrás incluir data de ubicación en tu mensajería de texto, juegos y redes sociales desde tu celular. El sistema de ubicación puede ser activado por el usuario según su preferencia.

La posibilidad de ubicar a tus amigos en tu celular (y que estos te ubiquen a ti) abre interesantes posibilidades (dodgeball ha intentado algo parecido), pero también nos obliga a pensar más a fondo en nuestra privacidad y hasta donde estamos dispuestos a cambiarla por comodidad.

Hasta ahora hemos estado dispuestos a compartir mucho de nuestra vida profesional y cotidiana via redes sociales como Twitter y Facebook con perfectos extraños que sólo conocemos por referencia (a veces de otros extraños). Aplicaciones como Livecontacts nos permitirán compartir nuestra ubicación física con nuestra red social… fomentando encuentros en el mundo físico. Se cierra de esta forma el círculo social, usando la internet para encontrarnos fuera de ella. Espero que esto sea para bien de los usuarios y nadie salga lastimado.

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