Google Stadia for Interactive digital narratives?

Yesterday Google announced Stadia, their cloud gaming project. The interesting parts of the announcement are…

  1. Play now on youtube
    I love the transition from watching to playing, 5 seconds and I’m sure with time it will drop down to even less.
  2. Play on any device and completely cross platform
    Really taking complete advantage of streaming and google’s massive cloud infrastructure.
  3. Record play state to the youtube
    Completing the circle, by sharing your state (not video) back to youtube, maybe even allowing others to play again with… This makes total sense because youtube is where they can start to show adverts too; although because its all generated it would be easy to advertise in the game its self.
  4. Share play state
    As mentioned above, you are not playing a video, but the game again complete with its world state, player position and player inventory.

Google Stadia on every platform

I think its quite a compelling idea and like everyone else, are interested in how much, how easy its to build for and will google get bored and kill it? I’m less interested in the exclusive games, game pad, etc but acknowledge  it will live or die by the games.

I do think theres some incredible possibilities for other types of media especially interactive digital narratives. It certainly could blow netflix’s interactive platform out the water. Said quite a few times, I find netflix’s interactive platform is horrible when you think, theres better more engaging experiences on the console attached to the same TV or even on the mobile you are using to drive it. With Stadia, its all the same thing.

Building your own private cloud?

Head in the clouds

I recently saw this from Gizmodo Australia, and read it with lots of interest.

Movies and TV shows come and go on Netflix on a regular basis, which means you might be half way through your favourite flick when it gets yanked from the service. The solution? Buy all your own content and set up your own private cloud-based streaming service you can get at from any computer or device.

The stand-out contender here is Plex, which we’ve recommended before. It’s new Plex Cloud service, now in beta, lets you use an Amazon cloud locker to store all your movies and shows and stream them from anywhere.

Previously, you had to host the files yourself, so that meant leaving a computer or network drive switched on all the time to get at your content over the web. With Plex Cloud that’s no longer necessary, though you do need to pay for a Plex Pass(from $US4.99 ($7) a month) and sign up for some Amazon storage (it’s $US59.99 ($79) a year for unlimited storage).

We’ve included a couple of other options if you’re not taken by Plex Cloud. They’re not quite as Netflix-like as Plex Cloud, but if you already pay for storage on these services then they’re good alternatives to consider.

Interestingly there was no mention of the friends sharing option which I have been using without the plex pass or plex cloud service. Its the advantage of self-hosting and having plenty of bandwidth at my disposal, but I like the fact you can also switch to have support from them too. Useful if your server goes down or something. This represents a more ideal solution.

I’ve always been interested in what happens when things are much more distributed. Plex is just the start, I already started looking into Emby and some other solutions for media. But for a long while I have been thinking about replacing some of the services I use which I believe I could run myself on my own server.

The whole owncloud thing has always interested me, but I’m weighing up having to be a sysadmin and my time. Although I found Docker which might take some of admin out of this in future. However I don’t want to replace everything, just the things I’m feeling less comfortable with (its about personal choice).

The ones I’m thinking about currently are Evernote, Last.FM and Instapaper.

Evernote I want to replace with something like simplenote (although I admit its not self hostable but my evernote’s recent restrictions have made me wonder why I pay for a pro account?). I looked at using Turtl but its not reliable and mature enough currently. On a related note, I’ve been tempted to install a GIT server at home. Then using a combination of GitignoreMindmup and some kind of GIT repository syncing between home install and Bitbucket; could be great for working on mindmups.

Last.FM with GNU.fm. I only use last.fm to scrobble/track my music playback. I also hooked up Libre.fm but noticed the actual server for libre.fm was just GNU.fm. It seems like a very simple service and useful when looking back for a song or podcast. Especially when placed in a calendar type system, it really triggers my memory. Its also worth noting the last.FM data lost recently has also made me wonder why I even need it. I mean I never use it for music discovery (as I found it rubbish) or anything else. I might as well dump my logs of usage to my google calendar?

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I just discovered Wallabag to replace Instapaper. Before I was using readitlater which became Pocket. I switched to Instapaper because of the deliver a mobil ebook to kindle every morning feature (heck I pay for this feature). But since i’m considering a epaper display android tablet which means it could read anything including PDF, RSS, ePub and Mobi. Plus I wouldn’t lose my kindle books because the Amazon app will run on it too. Having a smarter epaper device will squeeze out instapaper and likely mean I will read even more than I currently do (well worth the investment). I still far prefer to read longer stuff on a epaper display.

Theres no doubt I’ll start running more on my own server in future, already considered Open VPN and Zeronet. I think the money saved from certain subscriptions will easily pay for the electricity of hosting it myself?

Cloud Appreciation to the Cloud Atlas

https://www.ted.com/talks/gavin_pretor_pinney_cloudy_with_a_chance_of_joy

You don’t need to plan an exotic trip to find creative inspiration. Just look up, says Gavin Pretor-Pinney, founder of the Cloud Appreciation Society. As he shares charming photos of nature’s finest aerial architecture, Pretor-Pinney calls for us all to take a step off the digital treadmill, lie back and admire the beauty in the sky above.

Lovely Ted talk and the interesting to hear the link to slowness, but watching the clouds makes me think about cloud atlas and the interconnectedness of life.

Your own personal cloud

The personal or private cloud is growing in popularity and I’m starting to see it spring up in the popular tech press more and more. Interestingly I keep starting a blog post then not finishing it because theres not quite enough to talk about. Then I heard Bruce Sterling’s 2012 South by south west talk (recommended to me by Imran)

The bit which really got me was the 5 stacks part.

“[There’s] a new phenomena that I like to call the Stacks [vertically integrated social media]. And we’ve got five of them — Google, Facebook, Amazon, Apple and Microsoft. The future of the stacks is basically to take over the internet and render it irrelevant. They’re not hostile to the internet — they’re just [looking after] their own situation. And they all think they’ll be the one Stack… and render the others irrelevant. And they’ll all be rendered irrelevant. That’s the future of the Stacks.

People like the Stacks, [because] the internet is scary now — so what’s the problem there? None of them offer any prosperity or security to their human participants, except for their shareholders. The internet has users. Stack people are livestock — ignorant of what’s going on, and moving from on stack to another. The Stacks really, really want to know you’re a dog.

They’re annihilating other media… The Lords of the Stacks. And they’re not bad guys — I’d be happy to buy them a beer. But really, a free people would not be so dependent on a Napoleonic mobile people. What if Mark Zuckerberg trips over a skateboard?

This structure won’t last very long… But you’re really core people for them and their interests. You are them. I’m them.

Bruce is right on the money. The 5 stacks have been trying to outdo each other for many years and see the whole thing as a zero-sum game, death to the end. This is not the way the internet or human society has to work or has to be. On the face of it, they are friendly but like a vicious dog (remember I’m not really a fan of them) they need a certain amount of caution.

Even myself are weary of how much data I hand over to Google. It may seem like I don’ t care but you would be very wrong. If I didn’t care I would sign up for Google Drive storage (I like the idea of being able to search across all my files, something which is tricky with Dropbox), would have moved from Evernote to Google Keep, etc, etc… I tend to keep my data across different stacks and deal with the migration and syncing myself. Its a bit of a pain and boy would it be easier to just dump it in Google’s cloud/stack. But I don’t want that.

I have been experimenting with my own cloud but not found anything yet which works the way I really want it to. The thing about clouds is they should merge and split or in other terms they should seamlessly blend. A personal cloud should consume and work with the other clouds. Now I understand the 5 stacks don’t really want to work with anyone else and will make there clouds/stacks difficult to inter-operate with but it can be done.

Some of you may say “Ian your dreaming…” but I point you at Trovebox which use to be Openphoto. The original idea was that you could store the photos in your own cloud and simply using an a bit of http linking and authentication, build your own decentralised flickr without handing over your actual photos. Another example is the absolute power of ifttt.com.

The lure of having a cloud which is as powerful and ubiquitous as other the other 5 clouds would be amazing. The advantages are all there but unlike the 5 clouds, you wouldn’t have to worry about it snooping on you and selling data to others. Increasingly more and more of us post Edward Snowdon.would like to something which we could exist and support our own ambitions not the shareholders.

Revelations that many governments of the world are able to collect personal data on-demand has called into question our desire and need to keep everything online. While we want to access and share our content, we want privacy and security as well. Whether it is photos on a social network or work documents in an online storage account, we want to know that we have absolute control of our data because it is ours, regardless of what services we use and regardless of how they choose to manage their Terms of Service.

Ok so were all down with Personal clouds? What are the projects I have been keeping an eye on? Cozy.io, Sparkleshare, Owncloud, Tonido and Amahi. Weirdly the last one isn’t really a Cloud but I’ve looked into turning it into a personal cloud platform.

The problem with the personal clouds is they are a long way off that ready state. They require a lot of hand cranking and can be a massive time and money hog. Which means only those knowledgeable and with enough money can afford the privacy…?

Its a shame but whats new?

Well nothing much but its fascinating what else you can do with your own cloud. I have seen a lot of activity around the idea. For example you have things like tent.io and you got to admire what Bit Torrent inc are doing in the labs, if only it was open source. Would love to use Bittorrent sync across the board but I just don’t trust it more than dropbox. In which case I might as well keep using dropbox? At least they have 2 factor authentication now and full support for Linux. Plus the amount of other cloud services which support dropbox is very high.

Ultimately if the personal cloud is going to really make a dent. It needs to be super flexible, work with others and support features which the others wouldn’t dare (bit torrent is one such feature)

Cloud Atlas is finally coming this way…

Cloud Atlas and Mapo, Seoul
I won’t lie, I’ve already seen Cloud Atlas a few times.

I couldn’t wait and I’m very glad I did, as the film is so complex and very true to the book. Everytime I see it I’m amazed in how rich the plot is and how amazingly gorgeous the each scene looks and feels.

As usual I want to see this in the cinema, ideally at the Manchester IMAX.

The Official UK Release date for Cloud Atlas is Friday 22nd Febuary.

I’m not certain it will be in the IMAX but I’m going to watch it on the Friday…

Who’s with me?

Cloud storage advice

We were discussing cloud based solutions in the office today, now that Dropbox offers double the storage for Pro users. I now have 130.25gigs of storage (up from 78gig) to sync and play with believe it or not, thanks to everyone who used my referral codes (mildlydiverting, seansines and djadams) plus HTC for the extra. We got into the topic of what I use myself?

I use Dropbox for general stuff and syncing across all my different devices including Ubuntu and Android tablets and phones. However I use Spideroak for actual machine backups…

Why?

Well I like what Spideroak do about security and privacy. Compare this to Dropbox’s terms… and what happened last year!

This was confirmed when I heard Steve Gibson’s Security now on Cloud Solutions.

Cloud Solutions
After catching up with the week’s news, Leo and I examine ALL of the various cloud-based synchronizing, storage and backup solutions we could find. I survey each one in turn, and Leo chimes in with his own personal experience with many of the offerings. We conclude that SpiderOak looks like the winner, though Jungle Disk is still in the running.

Zero knowledge encryption is very useful and although I know theres way to encrypt in Dropbox (I actually have considered using them myself for somethings) I don’t really want to encrypt and decrypt on my Android device each time.

For me right now, there quite different parts of the market (although Spideroak do have dropboxes too) and I’m happy with that for now.

Why I Turned In My iPhone and Went Android

Louis Grey, A large fan of Apple just turned his back on Apple, why? Well thats best explained by him. But there’s some real good points which I also made in a recent episode of TechGrumps.

For me, more than the over-used phrase of "open", the promise of true multitasking, and the platform’s integration with Google Apps, was one word – "Choice". Choice of handsets. Choice of carriers. Choice of manufacturers. Second behind the word choice has to be "Momentum". I can see that Android has momentum in terms of improved quality, in terms of the number of devices sold and users, and yes, applications, which are growing in quantity, soon to be followed by quality. I really do believe that if Android does not already have a market share lead over Apple yet in this discussion, they soon will. It is inevitable. The growth in the number of handsets, carriers and users will drive more developers to the platform, and the holdouts who are not there will eventually make the move. And yes, third is "Cloud" – the idea that I don’t need to be tied to my desktop computer to manage data on the phone, but instead, the phone is built to tap into data stored on the Web. Fourth is "Capability". The Android platform, as the Droid commercials offer, simply does more. The power of the mobile hotspot cannot be understated, and the iPhone is a zero there.

Agreed.

The best and worst of Hotel Wifi

Lloyd hotel from the north view

Hotelchatter posted up a list of its best and worst wifi enabled hotels. Its mainly American centric but there is a international version here.

Number one in the international version is the Lloydhotel.

Amsterdam: Lloyd Hotel. Free WiFi. Worked so fast in this large hotel. So fast we downloaded an entire season of The Office on iTunes within two hours.

Even 2 years ago it was flipping fast and effect-less. Every 4 rooms shared a wireless point and there was more that enough through-out the rest of the hotel to get wireless outside, the lobby and beyond. I think the only place you don't get wireless is in the lifts. I also got upgraded to the D level penthouse on the weekend, so I'm a little bias generally towards a simply awesome hotel.

Since joining Backstage, I've spent a lot of time in hotels and always try to pick hotels with Free Wireless. Usually the problem I get is that the wireless is in the lobby not the rooms or its not actually free its pay wireless by someone like Tmobile, BT or much worst Eurospot. The other issue is that most hotels don't care or have no one who actually knows the difference. When trying to book a hotel in Newcastle I phoned up about 12 hotels and at one point had to describe the BT open zone, Tmobile logos over the phone because the reception couldn't tell the difference between free and pay wifi. No lie!

So yes the situation in the UK is pretty dire once you get out there. I'm certainly thinking about submitting some of the hotels I've been to on the international hotelchatter site. I remember a hotel I stayed in during my last trip to Manchester, it costs equivalent to 10p a minute for internet access through a wired connection (there were no bundles or offers available) I believe it was operated by swissport or europort. And thats the biggest problem, you can read the website and find it does have internet access but what kind is unknown by even the staff or management.

On the upside, GNER trains have wireless through-out the trains and although it costs about 10 pounds for 24hours, its certainly worth it for a 6 hour journey to Scotland. Recently I heard the Cloud have covered the City of London (business square mile) in rich wifi. I don't think its free but at 11.99 per month for unlimited (yes what does unlimited really mean) data its not a bad deal if your wanting wireless in the UK. The cloud has also been pretty good about inter-operating with BT and I think you can even interop with Tmobile hotspots. There's no douht where ever you go now in London at least, there is some kind of wireless and its usually operated by one of the big 3. Sometimes I do see Orange hotspots, but I can't seem to get Orange to just add it to my existing mobile bill.

Generally its all a big mess but soon I'm sure like the Marriot adverts I keep seeing, hotels will wise up and start highlighting the fact they have free wireless (although I'm sure it will just get added into the room bill).

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