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Sunday
Feb262012

Legally Speaking, PDFs Are Required

The Mashup App was designed to support all types of mobile users and all types of data including web, PDF, image, audio, video, time, and location data. More specifically, The Mashup App supports the unique requirements of legal professionals in the management of PDF content, report generation, and knowledge transfer.

 

To learn the mechanics of how-to save PDF content into your personal database, click here

 

In previous blog posts, we discussed The Mashup App's support for new types of data such as time and location. In this blog post, we will look at The Mashup App's support for PDF data and the unique workflow requirements of legal professionals.

 

 

Understanding the Structure of PDF Data

 

As a data type, PDFs are unique. The PDF format was originally created in the early 1990s as an electronic substitute for the printed page and predates the public web. Unlike a web page which does not natively implement the concept of pages, a PDF document is divided into a sequence of pages. Many times when a user converts a printed document into a PDF, the printed page numbers do not match the electronic page numbers. In a corporate presentation, this impedes collaboration. In a court room, if your electronic documents do not reference the correct printed page numbers, you will be laughed out of court because the lingua franca is the printed document and the printed page number.

So even though courts in many jurisdictions require the electronic filing of PDF documents and even more courts will distribute their judgements as PDF documents, any inter-document references must be to the printed page number and not the electronic PDF page number.

To support this requirement, The Mashup App will automatically capture the electronic page number and to support legal documents, you can also identify the printed page number and The Mashup App will maintain this association.

 

The Mashup App's PDF Editor before loading content

 

 

 

Size And Shape

 

Another unique characteristic of PDFs and specifically PDFs used in legal proceedings, is that they can be very large. Even on constrained devices, such as the iPhone 3GS, The Mashup App allows you to load very large PDFs perhaps containing hundreds or thousands of pages. 

 The Mashup App's PDF Editor displaying the US Supreme Court October 2004 Term: you can easily navigate the over 1000 pages

 

Large PDFs can also be published by standards committees. For example, the 2006 PDF Reference manual is 1310 pages in length.

 

The Mashup App can load very large PDF documents even on a constrained device such as the iPhone 3GS

 

As PDFs are electronic representations of printed pages, in the United States they are 8 1/2 X 11 inches in size but may be different sizes in other parts of the world. The Mashup App supports many PDF page sizes.

 

 

Just the 'Highly Relevant' Parts: PDF Document vs. PDF Pages

 

As we previously discussed in the blog post entitled: "Just The Important Parts: Documents vs. Snippets" The Mashup App allows you to pierce the veil of the document file and directly access the actual data. As we also discussed, here, here, and here, the desktop metaphor of files, folders and windows is an unneeded barrier to data comprehension, memory, and sharing. Furthermore, this is the wrong metaphor for mobile devices. The Mashup App implements an alternative by allowing you to directly manipulate the PDF data at the page level. The Mashup App also stores a reference to the document/file name from which the page was extracted. And with the ability to group related PDF pages together perhaps with other relevant data such as web, audio, video data and other PDF data... The Mashup App empowers you to graduate from the chore of PDF file management to data management and from data management to knowledge management. 

 

The Mashup App allows you describe your data in multiple languages

 

Annotating Time and Location Data to Your PDF Content

 

The Mashup App allows you to annotate time and location data to your PDF content. Because The Mashup App implements a spatio-temporal database, legal professionals can describe when and where a document was created, signed, destroyed, or any other time or location concept. 

Previously, we discussed the details of The Mashup App's support for time and location and we will not repeat that information in this post but will illustrate how ease it is to add location data to PDF content:

 

You can add location data to a PDF page to capture where it was created, signed, or destroyed... or any other time or location concept

 

 

Making Your PDF Content Accessible to the Print-Disabled

 

The Mashup App will automatically extract the text of a PDF page upon saving into your personal database. While the correctness of text extraction will vary from one PDF to another, you can edit the extracted text. This capability is important for the blind, low-vision, foreign language speakers, and power users who prefer audio to text:

 

The Mashup App automatically extracts the PDF page text and uses it for text-to-speech to empower the print-disabled

 

Since text extraction from legal PDF pages while most likely contain undesired artifacts, The Mashup App allows you to further edit the extracted text to aid in the comprehension of the text by the print-disabled.

You can then generate an audio file and save it with the PDF page. To further empower print-disabled users, you can email or generate a web page with the originial PDF page, the audio, and the text.

The Mashup App generates HTML5 web content including use of the AUDIO and VIDEO tags.

 

 

Publishing and Sharing Your PDF Content

 

The Mashup App provides you with the ability to cross-cut one or more PDF documents by allowing you to extract and group related pages while at the same time maintaining the relationship between electronic and printed page numbers as well as the association between the PDF page stored in your personal database and the source PDF file. When you export your PDF content, either as an email or a report, that information is preserved:

 You can generate a report containing PDF content. The Mashup App preserves the relationship between the electronic and printed page numbers.

The Mashup App allows you to email the PDF content saved in your personal database:

 

The Mashup App allows you to quickly select a specific PDF page or range of PDF pages

You can email specific PDF pages or groups of PDF pages

 

The selected PDF page will be emailed as an attachment and will contain both the electronic and printed page numbers

 

In addition to emailing items from your personal database, The Mashup App also allows you to generate a report. You have two options for your content when generating a report:

 

  1. Embed the content directly in the body of the report. The benefit of embedded content is that the reader of your report will see both your description of the page and the PDF content. The Mashup App does its best to ensure that if the document is printed, both the description of the page and the PDF page itself will be print together on a single sheet of paper.

    You can generate reports with embedded PDF pages. Your description of the PDF page is above the embedded PDF page. For the purposes of this example, the PDF page is highlighted in blue.
    Depending on which browser you use to view the report generated by The Mashup App, you will be provide with different options:

    Apple Safari 5.1 detects that there is an embedded PDF page and provides this menu option. Note that you can print the PDF page independently or together with the description. Safari does not need the Adobe PDF plug-in.


    Google Chrome 17 detects that there is an embedded PDF page and provides these controls. Note that you can print the PDF page independently or together with the description. Chrome does not need the Adobe PDF plug-in.



  2. Link to the content from the main body of the report. The benefit of content links is that the main body of your report is much smaller in size but it is easier for your reader to skip an important PDF page as your reader may not click the link. Perhaps a more important benefit is that your reader will be able to read the previous pages and subsequent pages. This is often needed in PDF documents containing trial testimony.


    The Mashup App can generate a link to the PDF page. When clicked, your browser will load the PDF file. Many browsers such as Chrome will also automatically scroll to the specific PDF page.


    If you click the link, a new tab or window will open. Many browsers such as Google Chrome 17 will automatically scroll to the specific PDF page. You can then scroll forward or backward to read additional pages.




    If you plan to copy the PDF page links to a blog or Microsoft Word document, it is important to understand how The Mashup App encodes the links:


    The Mashup App uses relative links so that to ensure that your reports are portable

    In Microsoft Word 2011 on the Mac and in Microsoft Word 2010 on Windows, you should use relative links and not the default of absolute links:


    Microsoft Word allows you to edit your PDF links. Make sure use relative links so that your reports are portable


 

Additional Links

 

  1. How-to use PDF content with The Mashup App
  2. How-to use location data with The Mashup App
  3. How-to use time data with The Mashup App
  4. Blog posts about time and location capabilities in The Mashup App

 

 

 

The Mashup App provides PDF content management, reporting, and sharing. By harnessing the capabilities of The Mashup App, professional are now empowered to graduate from the chore of PDF file management to knowledge management and knowledge transfer.

Friday
Nov182011

EPUB 3.0, Print Disabilities, and Siri

The Mashup App empowers you to create content for individuals with print disabilities. Since its initial release, The Mashup App has allowed you to generate text-to-speech audio files for any item in your personal database. 

 

This blog entry will discuss how to use The Mashup App to create an e-book for individuals with diminished sight or who are blind. The examples used in this blog post include copyrighted content from a famous child's book. In the United States, Congress has enacted laws enabling the adaptation of copyrighted material for use by the disabled. So whether you choose to use The Mashup App to empower a blind child because you are a rights holder or just a good Samaritan, this blog post is dedicated to you :-)

 

The Basics of Adapting a Print Book

 

  1. Convert the book into individual pages. You can use a scanner or the built-in camera of your device. The pages can be saved in JPG or PNG format, but PNG is suggested. If you use a scanner, it is also suggested that you name each file in this format: "1_of_A_Book", "2_of_A_Book", etc so that you can easily identify the page.
  2. Copy the individual pages to your device. If the pages are on your computer, it is suggested that you use iTunes File Sharing to copy the images to The Mashup App as this will preserve the file names.
  3. Import each image representing a book page into your personal database. Select the "Use a picture" option found in the "Create a Mashup Item" section of the "Home" view of The Mashup App:


    The Mashup App will display all of the images found in its protected area of your device's file system:



    Since it is easy to forget which page you have adapted, The Mashup App allows you to peek at the file content before saving it into your personal database. To have a quick look, tap the info button of the corresponding item:





  4. Use the Rich Text Editor to provide a caption for each image. On the iPad, you can see the entire image without needing to resize.



    On the iPhone or iPod Touch you will most likely need to resize the image using the editor's resize tool:



    Type the caption:


    On the iPhone or iPod Touch, it might be challenging to type the content even though a child's book only has a few sentences:



    The Mashup App also allows you to use the speech-to-text dictation feature of the iPhone 4S. Audio dictation uses the same technology which Siri uses which accordingly requires an internet connection:



  5. Upon saving the image caption, The Mashup App will prompt you to save the image in an embedded format. This means that the image will be stored directly in the database with the caption and not as an external file. It is recommended that you save images in the embedded format:




  6. Tap on the "Details" button to provide additional information about this item:



  7. Since the default title for this item is "an image", we can have The Mashup App use the file name and pixel dimensions of the image:


    Or, we can provide our own title such as "Page 1":



  8. Since this book is not a history book, we do not need to associate this image with a geolocation. For example, if you had an image or PDF of the US Constitution, you could annotate it with the latitude and longitude of Philidelphia so that kids could see a map along with the image of the document. Scroll down to the "Text-To-Speech" Section:



  9. The Mashup App has synchronized your edits with the text-to-speech content for this item. Tap to edit this content. The Text-To-Speech editor will be displayed:



  10. Since we have many items in our personal database, we should provide a memorable description so that we can group other pages of this book together and then have The Mashup App generate an e-book with the pages in the correct order:





  11. We can visualize the database content of this book:




     
  12. Optionally, we can generate an audio file for each page using the Text-To-Speech engine of The Mashup App:



  13. The Mashup App's built-in Audio Editor allows you to save the entire text-to-speech audio or just a segment. In this case we will save the entire clip:



    To learn more about publishing audio and video segments, read this blog entry: "HTML5 Video, Time Indexes, and Permalinks".

    We should save the audio content into the same Category as the page for which it represents: 


    Since the Text-To-Speech engine generates an audio file in WAV format, The Mashup App allows you to export it in the more modern MP4/M4A format:



  14. Refresh the Category view to see the audio clip added. Because the generated WAV file does not support artwork unlike audio podcasts, The Mashup App displays a default image: 




  15. At this stage, you can have The Mashup App email your Quality Assurance team the page and text-to-speech audio or continue to adapt more book pages:



  16. In the next major release of The Mashup App, you will be able to export the Category of related pages as EPUB content:



  17. And then generate the accessible e-book:

     

 

 

Saturday
Oct292011

HTML5 Video, Time Indexes, and Permalinks

The Mashup App not only allows you to save into your personal database the content of entire video or audio files but you may also save just the important segments of the content. You can publish your audio and video content as HTML5 <VIDEO> and <AUDIO> and even display it wirelessly on your big screen TV.

 

In this blog post, we will discuss how to share your audio and video content using the database publishing features of The Mashup App. We will look at how The Mashup App generates HTML5 content and supports permalinks enabling bloggers to reference specific time indexes of the audio and video content. For information about permalinks, see this link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Permalink

 

Saving A Specific Segment of a Video or Audio File

The Mashup App is deeply integrated with the multimedia capabilities of iOS. This allows The Mashup App’s Audio and Video Editors to accurately track the time indexes of the content. When saving a video or audio segment, The Mashup App saves the start and end time indexes of the segment into the database. To aid you in identifying the clip, The Mashup App also saves a poster image of the first frame of the segment. Of course, you can select an alternative poster image and change the start and stop time indexes as needed.

Upon saving content into your personal database, The Mashup App will generate a unique identifier for the content. Subsequently, when you publish your database content, The Mashup App will use this unique identifier as a permalink.

If you group multiple clips into a Category, The Mashup App will generate a unique identifier for the category. The Mashup App will use this unique identifier as a permalink for the group of clips.

To review how to use the Audio and Video Editors to save specific multimedia segments, please review the Audio and Video How-to section.

 

Publishing HTML5 Audio or Video

 
The Mashup App provides the following 3 ways to share the audio and video items in your personal database. In all cases, The Mashup App will generate 4 files that are HTML5 compatible. Depending on the size of your audio or video content, this may take several moments to complete:

  1. Sending an email. The HTML5 files will be included as email attachments.


     
  2. Generating a report. You can copy to your computer the HTML5 files using iTunes file sharing. 











     
  3. Publishing a web site. You can copy to your computer the HTML5 files using iTunes file sharing.

 

The HTML5 files generated by The Mashup App are the following:

  1. AC_Quicktime.js. Used to support Firefox and Opera as these browsers do not support MP4, M4V, and M4A content. 
  2. UNIQUE_IDENTIFIER.js. This file contains JavaScript code to play and loop the clip. The UNIQUE_IDENTIFIER will be the database identifier described in the section “Saving A Specific Segment of a Video or Audio File”. 
  3. UNIQUE_IDENTIFIER.html. This file contains HTML5 markup and JavaScript code. The UNIQUE_IDENTIFIER will be the database identifier as described in the section “Saving A Specific Segment of a Video or Audio File”. This file can be used to provide bloggers with a permalink. 
  4. UNIQUE_IDENTIFIER.EXT. This file is your media clip. The UNIQUE_IDENTIFIER will be the database identifier described in the section “Saving A Specific Segment of a Video or Audio File”. The EXT will either be an MOV, MP4, M4V, or M4A file extension depending on the original file format. You can also export your content into a different format. 
  5. UNIQUE_IDENTIFIER.html. If you publish a Category containing multiple clips, then this file contains HTML5 markup and JavaScript code. The UNIQUE_IDENTIFIER will be the database identifier for this Category as described in the section “Saving A Specific Segment of a Video or Audio File”. This file can be used to provide bloggers with a permalink for a group of clips. 

 

In this example, The Mashup App generated a permalink for a single video clip:


The Mashup App also supports generating a permalink for a group of clips. If you group your clips into a Category and then publish the Category, The Mashup App will generate a permalink for the group:

 

 


The Mashup App will also generate a named link for each clip allowing you to directly reference any clip:

 


Exporting Your Content into Another Format


With the release of iOS 5, The Mashup App allows you to export your audio and video into a wide variety of formats. The process of converting from one format to another format is called transcoding. The Mashup App will determine the capabilities of your device and presents you with a list of compatible formats:

 

 

 

 

On the iPhone 4S, you can additionally export your content as a 1920 x 1080 QuickTime movie:


You can copy the new file to your computer using iTunes file sharing.

 

 

Additional links:

 

 

Sunday
Jul242011

Curating the Internet of Things

The Mashup App is an intelligent application that can use-- and only with your permission-- the location sensors on your device to help you remember the details of your trips. You can group, or mashup, related data such as pictures, audio, video, and web content to provide context and commentary to the places you visited.

As we have discussed in previous blog posts, The Mashup App leverages many advanced ideas from academic research. For example, your personal database supports spatio-temporal (that is, location and time) features. This allows you to save into your personal database time and location data in addition to web, PDF, images, audio and video content. By allowing a user to annotate the "when and where" of their content allows for example, a student to visualize on a map where a document such as the US Constitution was signed... and a rescue worker or archeologist to catalog his findings while still in the field.

The Mashup App has also benefited from research into data stream management systems. Specifically, if you choose to save a log of your trips, The Mashup App will receive a stream of location data from the sensors on your device and save the location data into your personal database. In general, generating and processing this stream of location data will not adversely impact your battery level and will consume between 5 to 10 percent of your battery charge per day.

The Mashup App helps you remember your trips by allowing you to create a location log. From the location log you can visualize your trip on an interactive map.You also have the option to have The Mashup App monitor your device’s battery and stop receiving the stream of location data from the device’s sensors at about 30 percent battery level. This will ensure that you can still use your device to make calls towards the end of the day.

Research into data stream management was mostly conducted in the early to middle 2000s. After seeing the meteoric rise of internet usage by consumers in the mid 1990s, researchers speculated that companies would create special devices that would also use the internet to communicate. It was envisaged that these devices would contain special sensors to monitor their surrounding environment for things like atmospheric or seismic conditions, levels of chemicals in the air or water supply, and would perhaps report on the speed, direction, and location of the device. This new phase of the internet was called the Internet of Things and sometimes the Web of Things.

Researchers also realized that enterprise databases where not well suited to handle the streams of data generated in the Internet of Things and began to build research prototypes that could better support these streams of data. These systems are called data stream management systems (DSMS) rather than database management systems (DBMS).

The Mashup App implements both a spatio-temporal database and a data stream management system. Your personal database can store both the web, PDF, image, audio, video, time, and location data that you have manually saved as well as the stream of data generated by your device’s sensors. 

 

Curating Your Location Stream
 

If you use The Mashup App to automatically log your trips, the stream of location data that your device generates will naturally include important and unimportant places. Consequently, The Mashup App will allow you to delete the unimportant places from the data stream. And if the data stream did not include an important place, you can manually add a location so that it better represents your trip. Likewise, for any specific location you can correct its latitude and longitude coordinates and augment the coordinates by having The Mashup App determine the corresponding street/postal address and neighborhood information through a process called geolocation. As discussed in this blog entry, The Mashup App supports 4 representations of a location including the latitude and longitude coordinates, the Google Map URL, the street/postal address, and the neighborhood in which the location is found.

 

You can send an SMS text message about each place you visited. And because your device uses cell towers to determine the locations you visited, The Mashup App allows you to correct your trip data.

Knowing the street address of an unfamiliar place can be vital while travelling-- for example to get a taxi or meet a friend in Washington DC when you are at Wisconsin Avenue and M Street-- but after the trip, the name of a neighborhood can be a better memory aid as it allows you to group related locations-- for example, "while in Georgetown on a trip to Washington DC".

The Mashup App can use Location Servers found on the internet to determine the street address and neighborhood of a location. The Mashup App will only send the latitude and longitude and does not send any personal information or the unique device id.

 

The Mashup App allows you to extract the important places from the location stream (which is more formally called by researchers as bounded subsets of the stream), group related places together by providing a meaningful description for them so that you will better remember your trip, and perhaps share your experience with friends. You can add photos, videos, and web content to the location data and provide context and commentary about the places on your trip.

When you want to memorialize your trip, you can save it into a descriptive category. 

Some users will want to remember the places that they visited by their general location-- for example, "The National Mall" or "Capitol Hill". Other users may prefer to remember the places they visited during the calendar seasons-- for example, "Summer of '69" or "Late December Back in '63". And still other users may prefer to remember their trips by both the time and location-- for example, "Paris in Spring"-- or perhaps by the name of an event such as the "Cherry Blossom Parade".

 

When you want to memorialize the places you visited during a trip, The Mashup App will categorize the places by the day of the trip. Of course, you can provide a more memorable description.

 

The Mashup App empowers you to curate your digital data to create lasting and sharable memories... even if those memories originated from the sensors of a machine.

Saturday
Jun252011

Time: A New Type of Data

The Mashup App allows you to annotate time information to the data in your personal database. So you can add time data to web, PDF, image, video, and audio content to describe when the content was created, approved, or deleted.

Many types of users such as historians, archivists, rescue workers, and archaeologists have a requirement to document the relationship of time and location to other types of data such as documents and images. The Mashup App supports modeling both time and location data directly in your personal database as well as attributes attached to other data such as web, image, video, audio, and PDF content.

 

With direct support for saving time directly into your personal database, you can associate a group of data as being related to a specific event or time period. A researcher or rescue worker in the field can therefore catalog not only what she discovered but also when and where she discovered them. Furthermore, she can define the origin time and not only the discovery time.

Computer researchers and database companies have spent decades trying to develop time support for enterprise databases. Databases with support for time are also known as temporal databases. Though needed for many advanced applications, these temporal capabilities have not received wide adoption because corporate users have widely differing requirements and the industry has not been able to standardize on a core set of temporal features. On the consumer side of computing, the desktop metaphor and its use of files and folders has limited users to file and folder creation and last modified times. For files and folders, you generally need to know when a file was created or modified to ensure that you have the most recent file in case you have duplicates. File times are also helpful if you forget a file's name and have to guess about the data in the file. A user has no realistic ability to document that the data in a file refers to a certain time period or calendar event and is unrelated to the file and folder time. In temporal databases, this problem is sometimes refered to as the difference between database transaction time and real world valid time.

 

As professionals and home users begin to adopt mobile devices as their primary computing platform, it has become crucial to provide comprehensive support for time data. Accordingly, The Mashup App provides the following capabilities for time data:

  1. Every data item in your personal database can be associated with time information. This allows you to annotate web, PDF, image, audio, video, and location data with time information. Camera users realize the importance of knowing when a photo was taken but this capability also allows a user such as a historian or legal professional to document the creation, signature, or destruction of a PDF. Likewise a traveler is able to annotate trip data with the time that they visited each location thus providing a more memorable experience.


    The Mashup App provides detailed information about each place you visited associating time with location

  2. To support editing and undo, every data item in your personal database can have multiple versions each specifying a different time. By default, there is the version of the data at creation time and at last modified time. In this example, the user is editing a web article which was saved into her personal database


    In addition to saving web content into your personal database, The Mashup App allows you to edit and annotate web content by highlighting important sections and deleting irrelevant parts such as ads. You can undo your changes and revert to the original article.

  3. You can provide a textual description for the data which can include time information. This is an informal way to document time information. In this example, the user has saved an important web article by Virginia Postrel from Reason Magazine. The user has provided informal time information in the description:
     
    The category view allows you to search your personal database by description, URL, location, or time. As a memory aid, you can also sequentially browse your personal database.

  4. Every data item can have multiple time, location, and contact information associated with it. For example, a historian or legal professional will at times need to document the when, where, and by whom of a PDF for creation, signature, or destruction.

    Because many types of users including rescue workers, historians, archeologist, and legal professionals routinely deal with time data, you can associate time and location information with your data. You can also link a calendar event and contact information with your data.

  5. Time information may be defined either as a specific time or a duration. Users who work with time as a duration include historians and archeologist who need to catalog data as related to specific historical time periods. Also, legal professionals working in e-discovery need to group digital data according to contracts or laws in effect during a specific time period and geography. 

    For historical information, you might not want to define a caledar event. Nonetheless, you can add time information to your data and represent a time period or duration.

    As for users who need to treat time as a specific instant or event, this includes legal professionals who work in accident litigation.

    You can add time information to your data and represent a specific instance of time.

  6. Time information may incorporate uncertainly. For example, insurance fraud investigators may initially suspect when a crime was committed but may be uncertain of the length of time of the crime.

    The Mashup App allows you to navigate your personal database by time information.

  7. Every data item in your personal database may be linked to a calendar event from your device's built-in calendar app. Mobile professionals can access their personal database from the built-in calendar and address book. The user can tap on a special link which will display data from the personal database

    You can access your personal database from your calendar by linking calendar events with data in your personal database. This allows you to always have detailed information for meetings.You can access your personal database from your address book by linking contact information with data in your personal database. This allows you to access detailed context/biographical information about a contact.  

 

Saturday
Jun252011

Location: A New Type of Data

The Mashup App allows you to save location data into your personal database. Location data can include the latitude and longitude of a place, Google Maps URL, the street/postal address, and neighborhood of a place, document, or media content such as images, audio, and video. 

Due to the desktop metaphor of files and folders, computer users have had limited exposure to location data and usually only through specialized photo management applications and photo sharing web sites. Enterprise databases have recently added support for location data. Database researchers describe databases with location support as geo-spatial databases. 

Your device can determine the latitude and longitude of its location. Unfortunately, this may not be very accurate so The Mashup App allows you to edit the location data to ensure the best possible accuracy. Using the latitude and longitude information generated by your device, The Mashup App can then determine the street address of the location by querying Location Servers found on the internet. This feature is called geolocation. 

The Mashup App does not transmit any personal data nor does it transmit your unique device identifier and only transmits to the Location Servers the latitude and longitude.
 
In addition to the street address, The Mashup App also uses Location Servers on the internet to determine the neighborhood for an address. This is helpful so that you can search your personal database for locations in a neighborhood, a city, or a state. Likewise, The Mashup App allows you to search your personal database for nearby places. For example, you can find places within a few miles from your current location.

 
The Mashup App can display location data on a map and you can share your location via email or SMS text messages.

There are 4 major benefits for saving location data: 

  1. Saving your current location. The Mashup App can determine the street/postal address, neighborhood, and the latitude and longitude of your device. This is helpful if you want to remember an address  or information about an unfamiliar place. You can provide a detailed description about the location, describe nearby places, and share with friends.

    The launch view of The Mashup App. From here you can save your data into your personal database. With just a tap you can save, edit, and organize web, PDF, audio, video, images, location and time data.

    If your data has location information associated with it or if it is a real-world place, you can browse and search by neighborhood, city, or state.
    Of course, you can visualize your location data on a map.

  2. Saving your location during a trip. The Mashup App can create a location log which you can visualize on a map. This helps you remember the streets you travelled on a trip, perhaps while sightseeing. The Mashup App is intelligent and will do its best to limit the drain on your device's battery.

    From the location log you can visualize your trip on an interactive map.

    The Mashup App provides detailed information about each place you visited.

  3. You can add location data to web and PDF documents as well as images, audio, and video content. Users such as rescue workers, archaeologists, and historians can use The Mashup App to quickly associate location and time data with their artifacts while in the field. The Mashup App also supports comprehensive reporting allowing the user to generate GeoRSS feeds.


    In addition to generating an RSS feed, GeoRSS feed, and custom web site from your data, you can also generate a formal report with a table of contents.

  4. Alerting you of important nearby places. For the mobile professional or just a person getting their clothes from the cleaners, The Mashup App can automatically display the data related to a location just before you arrive. So if you save your presentations and receipts in your personal database, you can always be prepared. This feature is called Vicinity Alerts and is based on a technology called geofencing.

    The Mashup App also allows you to set a Vicinity Alert around a location. When you travel near that location, The Mashup App will notify you that you are in the general area of that location and display any data related to the location. Vicinity Alerts decrease the time it takes to search your personal database by preloading and displaying data before you need it. This is helpful for mobile users who travel for business meetings or when you go to a place such as the cleaners where you must display a receipt. If you save your presentation and receipt in your personal database, The Mashup App will automatically search and display your data just before you arrive at your destination.
Saturday
Jun252011

Just The Important Parts: Documents vs. Snippets

The Mashup App allows you to save into your personal database entire web and PDF documents, images, and complete audio and video content. The Mashup App also allows you to save into your personal database just the important parts of web, PDF, video, and audio content. And who decides what's important to you? You decide what is important and not the publisher.

Irrespective of the type of data, for example a document or movie, everyone recognizes that some parts of the content are more important than other parts. In fact many people wish they could just delete annoying ads or fast forward through the boring parts and get to the action. For the producer of the content, all of the content is valuable. But each consumer will assign their own value or lack of value to each segment of the content. This publisher-centric view of the content's importance is enshrined in both the desktop metaphor and on the web. On our computer desktop, we have to deal with files and the documents that they contain. You cannot extract the important parts of a document or a video or audio file and have those snippets and segments remained linked to their original sources. The best you can do is create a new file wholly separate and divorced from its original context. Without the broader context, a snippet by itself will eventually limit your memory of it and will dramatically limit sharing because of the inability to verify the broader context of the snippet. This can lead to allegations of taking a "statement out of context" and ultimately leads to a decrease in the value of the snippet.

On the web, we have an even worse problem because many types of web data types are read only and we cannot easily make a copy for our personal use. If you want to print a web page you will still get irrelevant ads and you generally have no way to just get the important parts that you want to memorialize. And if your browser allows you to save the content of a web page, the images are normally not saved on your computer but remain on the web. So you will have a partial solution at best. Audio, video, and even PDF documents are rapidly becoming read only content with no ability for the user to save a copy. This is all to the benefit of publishers and search engines who want to create scarcity and force you to continually perform the same searches and visit the same web pages. In the current web, the best most users can do is save a link to a web page and hope that the web page is not deleted.

The Mashup App solves many of these problems by providing a personal database in which you can save your digital data: the whole content or just selective parts. Each data item in your personal database knows from where it originated whether it is a local file or a remote web site. In this example, the user extracts a video segment from a 1 hour video:

The Mashup App allows you to save references to entire movies or just important clips. You can customize the poster image and provide a memorable description. 

You can group related subsets into one or more descriptive categories. In this example, a user has extracted and grouped only 2 audio clips from a 63 minute audio podcast:

The Mashup App allows you to save into your personal database a reference to the entire audio content or to a snippet of the audio content. In either case, you can group your audio content into a descriptive category-- perhaps with other types of related data.

 

In addition to audio and video content, The Mashup App allows you to extract just the important parts of web and PDF content:

The Mashup App allows you to manage very large PDF documents. You can group related pages together into descriptive categories and save them into your personal database. 

The user can edit their data and in case of web content, the user can delete ads and other irrelevant sections using The Mashup App's web editing tools:

The Mashup App provides web editing tools allowing the user to annotate important areas and delete irrelevant parts including images and ads.


In the following example, The Mashup App user decides to delete some irrelevant parts:

 

And after deleting the non-essential parts, the user can then highlight the parts that are important:

In addition to saving web content into your personal database, The Mashup App allows you to edit and annotate web content by highlighting important sections and deleting irrelevant parts such as ads.

Saturday
Jun252011

Grouping Your Data: Folders vs. Categories

The Mashup App allows users to group data into one or more categories. 

In a previous blog post, we talked about the computer desktop metaphor and mentioned some of the shortcomings of file and folder names. We described how file and folder names as well as tags are not very helpful in reminding us of the details of the data stored in the file. We also looked at how The Mashup App allows the user to provide a meaningful and memorable description of their data.

In this blog post, we will look at the shortcomings of desktop folders.
 
In the desktop metaphor, folders were designed to group related files together and thereby exclude unrelated files much like a real-world folder does. But because file and folder names were not very informative, the concept of nested folders was needed to further isolate files into more manageable groups. Nowadays, most users use a limited set of folders and shun deeply nested folders for many reasons. One reason is that it is hard for many users to manage the multiple windows in which the folders popup into. Another reason is that open windows many not be restored to their previous state after their computer is restated. Several researchers have documented that many people have behavioral issues with organization (that is, they are messy) and that the brain was not designed to process deep hierarchies. The brain excels at grouping related items together better than it does at creating hierarchies of abstract and concrete items.

 

Another significant shortcoming of the desktop metaphor of files and folders is that a file can only be placed into a single folder. To minimize this problem, file and folder shortcuts and links can be used but the fact is that most computer users do not use these features.

And lastly, there is no way to document the reason why certain files were grouped together in a folder. If a desktop user has a small number of files and folders, then it is easy to remember the purpose of the folder. And if the purpose of a folder was forgotten, then the computer user can simply open the folder and read the file names or perhaps open each file and try to deduce the reason for grouping those specific files. 

All of these impediments are dramatically compounded when many users share the same computer files and with the passage of time.

 

The Mashup App solves these problems by allowing you to describe or categorize your data. At a basic level it is fine to think of a category as a container of data just like a folder is a container for files with the added benefit that data can be placed into multiple categories. But if you instead treat a category as a "categorization" of one or more pieces of data, then you are able to create knowledge from your individual data items. How so? Well, we need to take a step back and ponder on the nature of data, information, and knowledge as many philosophers and big thinkers have done. Most of us instinctively consider data to be just random stuff and information to be something more worthwhile but not necessarily crucial to any one person specifically. Knowledge, most people would agree, is the highest level of information importance and has specific meaning to a person... something that a person would seek, try to comprehend, and memorize to make it their own. Knowledge is the information that you want to remember.

Since we can save the data which is important to us in our personal database-- in other words, we can save important information-- but how do we make that information into knowledge? What's missing from the data? Our thoughts and rationale are missing. Instead of locking away your connection to the data, you should provide a context to the data and a commentary about it. The context of a piece of data is related data that provides a complete picture. You add, and thereby mashup, the related data to create a context. The commentary explains why data is significant to you. In The Mashup App, your commentary is called the data's categorization... or just category for short.

In this example, a user has grouped several pieces of related data. This data was accumulated over several years and documents their knowledge about the subject:

 You can aggregated-- or mashup-- different types of data into a descriptive category. Here a web article, video clip, PDF, and image were grouped together because it was important for the user to relate them.

By describing your data you are ensuring that you do not forget it. With The Mashup App you can preserve your memories and share your knowledge about the items in your life.

Saturday
Jun252011

Remembering Your Data: File Names and Tags vs. Descriptions

The Mashup App allows users to provide meaningful descriptions of their data using full sentences which is a tremendous improvement over the simple file and folder names we use on our desktop computers and the often ambiguous tags used on web sites.
 
In a previous blog post, we talked about the history of the computer desktop metaphor and mentioned some of the shortcomings of file and folders.

In the desktop metaphor, names are used more for managing and identifying files and folders rather than as an aid in remembering data contents. In the early days of computers, file names were limited to 8 letters and could only use the English language. 8 letters is a little more than 1 word. And using just 1 word to describe all of the information contained in a file is absurd. This was a barely manageable solution even when we only had a small number of files and folders.

Recently, computers have allowed the length of file names to be expanded and also support international languages. Unfortunately, even though we can use multiple words in a file name, the desktop window displaying file names usually truncates long names. So even if your computer allows you to use long file names or even a description, the nature of the desktop metaphor works against you.


On the web, most sites do not display a file's name and will allow the author to use keywords called tags to describe the content of an image, video, or other content. While tags can better describe data rather than a file name, tags also suffer from the same problem that file names do: ambiguity and a lack of context.
 
Here is an example of a 3 page web article from the URL:
http://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/03/19/programming_open_data/

and the printer friendly version is at this URL

The tags used to describe, group, and search for the article are mostly irrelevant because they are not descriptive and are ambiguous as are most web tags:


The editor's title is better than the set of tags but due to space requirements and the need to catch the eye of the reader, is a bit sensational:

 

The article itself is top-notch writing and a user of The Mashup App decided to save it to his personal database. Once saved, the user edited the article and deleted 3 irrelevant ads and then annotated the most important content using The Mashup App editing tools. The user decided to preserve the original web article title as the title of the saved data item but provided a more memorable description:



The annotations will remind the user and with whom she shares her data of the most important segments (in her opinion, of course): 



 




 
In summary, The Mashup App innovates beyond the desktop metaphor of file and folder names and allows you to provide a meaningful and memorable description for your data. Whether you want to use a one word description or prefer to use several paragraphs in multiple languages, The Mashup App has been designed to support your needs.
Friday
Jun242011

Saving your Data: Files vs. Database

Providing the user with a personal database to save their digital data is a core feature of The Mashup App.

Until recently, database technology was rarely used in consumer devices and was problematic to use on home computers. The desktop metaphor of using files and folders was originally created in the 1970s as a way to introduce office worker to the strange new world of computers. Using files to save data and folders to group files worked well for computer users when we had a small number of files, used only one computer, and had large computer screens. But this metaphor started to break down once we started to save 1000s of photos and music files at home and had to deal with 1000s of PDF and office documents at work.

In an attempt to solve this problem, computer researchers determined that the best general solution to this problem was to use database technology to manage data rather than just use files and folders. But software companies could not wait until all the operating systems such as Windows, Linux, and Mac where rewritten to use databases instead of files and folders. So they decided to create applications which used database technology to help specifically manage files such as photos or music. An application such as iTunes is a great example of a music manager and it uses database technology internally. Unfortunately, those applications do not allow you to mix different types of data such as music with photos and manage them as a group of related data.

Another shortcoming of files and folders is that they use simple names. How many Document.doc files have you seen? How many documents are stored in your "My Documents" folder? Probably too many.

So a major problem with files and folders is that they do not adequately describe the data inside of them. So to help us remember the data inside our files, operating systems started to allow users to color-code their files and provide keywords as a memory aid. Other techniques used included seeing a thumbnail of the content and performing searches on our files and folders. Those technique were helpful but most users still have a tough time managing and finding their data.

On the web, the companies creating blogging software and photo sharing sites also realized this problem and started to allow authors to use keywords to both describe the content and also group related data. These keywords were called tags because it was used for both searching and grouping.

On the web, users do not have to think about the mechanics of opening files and navigating through a hierarchy of folders because the desktop metaphor has been largely abandoned and database technology is used by most sites to manage content. But just like the music and photo manager applications on the desktop, these specialized web sites can not manage different types of data. Likewise, most web sites use simple labels to describe and group content in the form of tags.

The Mashup App liberates our digital data from the desktop metaphor of files and folders by allowing us to save our digital data into an advanced personal database. Categories allow you to group-- or mashup-- related data. Unlike files and folders which use simple names, The Mashup App allows you to provide meaningful descriptions for your data. The category view allows you to search your personal database by description, URL, location, or time. As a memory aid, you can also sequentially browse your personal database.

With The Mashup App, we get the benefits of files and folders and the benefits of database technology allowing us to both save and group web and PDF content, images and pictures, audio and video content, and even new types of data such as location and time.

And as an added benefit, we get the benefits of mobility because our personal databases are stored on our devices.

 

In the next few blog posts, we will look at the specifics of the personal database technology used by The Mashup App.