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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Podcasts I’m listening to

Thanks to our office move last week and my home ADSL only being fixed yesterday after almost two weeks of downtime (I’m looking at you, Telkom and WebAfrica, I’d better get a discount this month!), the Nokia Music Store and N96 Geocaching and Navigation articles have been somewhat delayed. As a (once again, poor) substitute, in answer to @Fengol’s query, I thought I’d list the podcasts I’m listening to on my new ~45km commute, these are in the (apparently random) order in which my N96’s podcasting application lists them.

Just Vocabulary

Suggested by @tianatweets, this podcast aims to increase your English vocabulary. This could be really helpful for writers and anyone who has to get creative with the English language, and of course an expanded vocab’ couldn’t hurt the average man either.


Keeping with languages, but switching to Chinese, ChinesePod offers great resources for learning Mandarin. The lessons on their site range from the basics for newbies, to more advanced users. The radio-quality audio lessons are free, with a premium option making cd-quality lessons and supporting material such as dialog notes available. I have been working through the newbie lessons for a couple of weeks (with the goal of eventually being able to better communicate with my Tai Chi instructor), but only recently discovered the podcast, which offers a somewhat random mix of lessons from different levels. There are other language sites available in the “pod” network, including which was the first I was exposed to and is also excellent.

Slashdot Review

Probably the first podcast I ever listened to, SDR started out as a podcast reviewing daily news on the geek site Slashdot. It has since evolved to include content from Digg and other sites. What I enjoy about SDR is that it doesn’t just cover tech, but also other (equally geeky) topics from these sites.

Talk Radio 702

It may seem redundant to listen to podcasts of a radio station in my car, when I could just tune into the station, but there are some specific 702 features which are on during the workday when it’s not practical for me to listen to them. In particular I enjoy the Green Tip, Naked Scientist and Week that Wasn’t on Redi Direko’s show.

TGN: Reflections

Another one I’ve yet to listen to, Reflections is a collection of daily bible readings.

The Joystiq Podcast

The Joystiq blog is a great place to keep up with all things gaming, and their podcast is a good way to keep tabs on the big news in the gaming industry. It’s also cool hearing an SA accent in amongst the others when @LudwigK pitches in ;)

The Naked Scientists

In my high school days, Bill Nye was desperately trying to make science cool-and failing miserably. These days we have the The Naked Scientists, and I believe they do a damned good job. Besides the short Q&A session on 702, The Naked Scientists do of course have their own show covering new discoveries in science and it’s well worth a listen.

We Your People, Ours the Journey

These are the sermons of Rebecca Clark, aka @pastorbecca, a Methodist pastor in the US. I really enjoy her sincere, sensible and common sense lessons which take cognisance of the world as it is today. If you’re looking for a decent spiritual podcast you can’t go wrong with this one.

The ZA Tech Show

There are a number of local tech focussed shows these days, and many of them are quite good, but I find the ZATS to be particularly entertaining and informative. This is due in no small part to the regular involvement of  Simon Dingle, Jon Tullet, Brett Haggard and Duncan McCleod, collectively some of the best informed individuals in the local ICT industry today-well they do a damned good job of pretending to be at least ;)

[Update 02/05/2009]

I got a call from WebAfrica yesterday, and it seems they keep an ear very close to the ground when it comes to people talking their service levels. They picked up on my mention of downtime in this post and decided to give me a discount on my bill for last month.

Nicely done WebAfrica, once again I’m reminded why I’ve enjoyed using your services for the last 3 years and recommended you to others on many occasions.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Tech Tuesday: Vodacom’s banner injection still a (minor) pain

As I mentioned last week, we’re swamped at work, so this’ll be a super quick post. I’ve been trying for some time to find a good Last.FM scrobbler for my Nokia N96 (since I now use it as my primary music player). Sadly, every app I’ve tried has had network issues (this includes Mobbler, Vodafone Scrobbler, and Strands Mobile Player).

This morning I had a bit of a eureka moment and checked my access point settings (maybe all the talk of Vodacom’s JSE listing led my mind in that direction), and It turns out my hunch was right. It’s been a while since the whole Vodacom Banner Injection debacle, and after switching to the N96 the proxy setting hadn’t occurred to me. This is something of a testament in Vodacom’s favour, since other than the scrobbler issues I’ve really had no web problems. I would guess though that there are other apps out there that might be affected. So if you are having trouble signing in to third party services or applications, try visiting my previous post on the topic and following the instructions for removing the proxy setting, it might just be the fix you needed.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Empty day

We're working towards a bit of a monster deadline next week, so no tech
stuff today I'm afraid. It's quite possible there won't be one next week
either unless I get to it this weekend and delay the post.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Tech Tuesday: Shozu

I am convinced that one of the greatest additions to mobile phones has to have been built in cameras (the next truly useful big thing will be built in projectors, mark my words, but that's a whole other topic). The best camera you have is the one you have on you, and chances are if it's built into your phone it's always handy. One of the advantages of those gorgeous digital prints and videos you take with your cameraphone is that you can share them with anyone, on just about any platform-Facebook, email, Flickr, Twitter, your own website, the list goes on. Unfortunately the task of actually uploading media to all of these sites can quickly become tedious, especially if you want to add metadata such as tags and descriptions on each service.

Enter Shozu, the one sharing application to rule them all.

What is it?

In short, Shozu allows you to upload images and video directly from your phone to any of over 40 different sharing services, as well as to email addresses and FTP servers. I'm not going to list all the supported sites here, but suffice it to say Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Picasa and YouTube are just a few of the better known services in a massive list.

Shozu is a free application available for a large selection of phones. I use the Symbian version on my N96 (and all screenshots in this article will be from that version), but the Java version for other phones works just as well (minus some integration) and of course there is an iPhone version as well.

Why would I want to use it?

There are a number of reasons to use Shozu. First and foremost is that it's an easy way to send your photos and videos to all the services you use without having to first copy them to your PC and then upload them with each site's (often clunky) upload interface. Shozu offers a single, quick, clean interface to easily add metadata (including geotags) and upload items.

Additionally, Shozu is designed to be really data efficient. It can optionally upload scaled down images and each item is only sent over the network once, if uploaded to additional sites the upload happens straight from Shozu's servers. The application also offers smart management of access points, so if for example you have a WiFi capable phone, you can prioritize WiFi connections over relatively expensive GPRS connections.

Finally, as an added bonus, you can use Shozu to keep up to date with many of your social networks. After adding sites like Flickr, Twitter and Facebook to the application, you can subscribe to feeds of friends' updates, comments, statuses and photos.

How does it work?

Using Shozu involves 4 steps: downloading and installing the application, creating an account, adding sites and uploading media.

1. Downloading and installing

The easiest way to download the application is from Shozu's mobile site (, though the download can be fairly large (around 10Mb for the Symbian version) so if downloading on a PC is possible it's worth the effort [removed as corrected by Shozu's Manny]

2. Creating an account

Creating an account can be done by providing new login details the first time Shozu starts up, or by creating an account on I would suggest doing the latter, since the next step is easier that way.

3. Adding sites

There is an "Add Sites" button on the Shozu application's main screen, and in a pinch services can be added this way and immediately be usable from the phone, though uploads will only become available once the verification procedure has been followed for the site by following a link emailed to the user.

The slicker approach is to log in at and add sites there. The process for each service is slightly different, depending on the authentication required by the service (for example Facebook activation requires enabling permissions for the Shozu facebook application), but all are clearly laid out, step-by-step. There is no limit I'm aware of to the number of sites you can add, and you can even add multiple instances of any given service. So if for example you have two Twitter accounts you may want to send different photos to, you can add both of them.

At this point you can specify a 'one click' site, this site is the one that will be integrated into your camera application as I'll discuss in the Uploading Media section.

It's worth mentioning at this point that you may want to add some sites as CC sites rather than as 'main' sites. CC sites don't appear in the Shozu interface at all, but all uploads to 'main' sites are automatically copied to these services, making them perfect for backups.

4. Uploading media

Finally, it's time to upload media using Shozu. If the application is setup to remain on in the background and start automatically, it should integrate into your camera software by default. In this case, uploading photos and videos through Shozu is as simple as accepting the prompt to send to your one-click site after taking the shot.

For a little more control, this functionality can be disabled in the Shozu application (Options->Go to->Settings->Sending), and sending can be done explicitly from the Shozu interface. I prefer this as it allows me to add metadata to the media.

Once the application is open and activated on your phone, you should see a list of the sites you added (if those you added from the web are missing, try selecting "Check for updates" in the menu). Selecting any of these will open the menu for the relevant service, with one of the options being a "Send to .." button. Selecting the "Send to" option shows a list, with thumbnails, of the media on your phone which can be submitted to this service (photos for photo only sites, video for video only sites, and both for sites that can accept both).

From this view it is possible to view a larger version of any item (by selecting it); send a single item (Options->Send); add a caption, description and tags (Options-> Add details) or select multiple items (Options->More Actions->Mark multiple). It's also possible to cancel ongoing uploads.

The "Add Details" screen allows direct editing of the caption and description of the image (these will be preserved across all services that support them) as well as the addition of tags. Tagging is made even simpler by the option to select from a list of the 10 most recently used tags, in addition to specifying new ones.

Items awaiting upload are indicated in the service's send list with the Shozu logo and a green arrow, and those which have successfully been uploaded by an orange Shozu logo.

Uploading to additional sites follows the same procedure, except that items already uploaded via other services are indicated with a greyed out Shozu logo, and will not use bandwidth to upload (other than the request to the Shozu server). As described above, CC locations can be specified through the Shozu website to automatically copy all uploads to additional sites.

What else?

As I mentioned before, uploading isn't all Shozu does. It's certainly what it does best, but for those services that support 'feeds' in the application, it becomes a really powerful general purpose social media application. Accessing the menu for service with feeds implemented (by selecting it on the main application screen) shows an "Add feeds" option below the share option. Selecting this will display a list of feeds that can be subscribed to, and once subscribed these will be updated periodically and be available in the service's menu.

It's also well worth it to spend some time configuring Shozu to your liking and to make optimal use of your available connections. This will ensure you don't ring up a huge data bill from feeds and uploads.

Final word

In case it hasn't been obvious up to this point, I'm a huge fan of this application. It's a well written, user friendly application that implements sharing the way device manufacturers should out of the box. It is highly configurable to suit your exact tastes and genuinely useful. I can't recommend it highly enough and I guarantee once you start using it, everything else will seem inferior.


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