Status: What I've Been Up To
So, as always, there's a bunch of stuff going on, and as always seems to happen in my life, when I start concentrating on one thing, other things fall by the wayside. I haven't been doing a lot of updating lately, which is a shame, as it's not because I haven't had anything to say.
But in the spirit of getting back into the groove of saying those things here, I thought I'd do a little bit of posting about what's been going on with me recently.
Gadget-wise, I've purchased a PSP, and am fascinated with it. In addition to having a couple of very nice games, it's potential as a piece of hardware is pretty broad, even though Sony has struggled to cripple it. While isn't supposed to allow you to run your own programs, people have now found workarounds for this for both the 1.0 japanese firmware and the 1.50 american firmware. I've got a copy of MAME, a GBA emulator, and a SNES emulator running on mine, as well as a chess program. Even without running your own programs it does still allow you to do a lot of useful things with the Memorystick Flash Card.
First among them, for me, is that it allows you to put your own video on the device. I've converted a number of Movies into the subset of the MP4 format it supports, and it rocks. The screen is bright and clear, the audio sync is good, and you can easily get an entire film onto a 512MB stick with acceptable quality. Sony, presumably worried about undercutting their own market for UMD movies, has hampered this capability a bit, however. The screen resolution of the device is 480 x 272, but the maximum resolution of video that you can play from a memory stick right now is 320 x 240 or 368 x 208. I prefer the latter format because it's the same aspect ratio as the PSP's screen, so video I compress that way is the right shape on both the PSP and while I'm working with it on my computer.
The PSP also supports JPGs and MP3s (without any obvious limitations), but it does not have a built in text reader, which is a shame, because the device makes a pretty nice book reader. In fact, there's a program for the macintosh called PDF2PSP which can easily convert a PDF into a series of JPGs suitable for viewing on the PSP. I've done this, and it works great.
Despite these limitations, however, the gadget community seems to be embracing the PSP's capability pretty enthusiastically. A lot of sites now exist where one can go to download content for a PSP, with more coming every week. I highly recommend psphacker.com if you want to keep up with every little thing, especially homebrew applications and emulators, and PSP|>rive.com if you're looking for podcast-style content such as videos, audio broadcasts or photo collections.
Anyway, my fascination with the video aspects of the device lead me to convert a number of my DVDs into PSP format so I could watch them on the go, and then I started thinking about our current direction at Clotho. We make a video converter as part of our MediaLandscape product line. Right now what is does is take output from a MediaSite box, and convert it into flash. I got to thinking that maybe there would be a demand for converting presentations so they could be viewed on the go.
So, I whipped together a quick set of proof-of-concept videos for the PSP, for a Palm-OS handheld, and my trusty Sharp Zaurus, and we sent them off with the folks who went to InfoComm and the Apple WWDC. For people who are interested, here's the flash version of the presentation I converted, and here's the file for viewing on the PSP. (If you can view MP4s, you might be able to watch it on your computer. On the other hand, If you are going to watch it on a PSP, here's the associated THM icon file.)
Reaction, so far, has been very favorable, and Clotho is now offering such conversion as a service, and is beginning to look at creation of a toolset for selling to people who want to do such conversions themselves. Neat, huh?