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Introducing: fingerpoken - a mobile device as a touchpad/remote/keyboard

I'm giving a presentation this week at the Puppet Bay Area user meetup and while working on slides, I wanted to be able to present while not being attached to my laptop.

Enter: fingerpoken

Fingerpoken lets you turn your iphone/ipad/itouch into a touchpad, keyboard, and remote for another computer. The only required piece on your iphone is Safari. No appstore stuff to download!

Under the hood, it uses websockets and touch events and sends JSON-encoded requests to your workstation and will move the mouse, type, scroll, and more.

Project page: fingerpoken on github.

A short demonstration of this project in action:

The iTunes model

I bought my first few songs on itunes tonight. Easy process, but it's yet another apple product I don't fit into :(

For a full album in the store, I pay $8 to $14 for a CD, assuming I buy it brand new from Best Buy or another retailer. On iTunes, I pay $10 on most albums. In a second-hand music store, I'd pay somewhere around $3 to $9 for the same music.

Let's assume (correctly) that I'm not buying a CD for the purposes of ripping it and sharing it on bittorrent.

What am I gaining by using iTunes? Not much. If I ever lose the music I have to repurchase it (from what I understand), which mirrors exactly the issues of losing a physical CD. I'm additionally locked in to Apple as a vendor as soon as I purchase a song. Furthermore, for practically the same exact price, I get music with less quality and more restrictions. How does this make sense? Given that "less quality" and "more restrictions" automatically devalue a product compared to the same product without those problems, why does this business model succeed?

I'm not an audiophile, so CD vs 128kbit doesn't make me upset, but I do like to copy my music around. I have basically three places where I listen to music. My iphone, my house, and my office. All of my music is at my house. Some of my music is on my iphone, and none of my music is at my office. I can stream music from my house to my office, but only if it's in a format playable at my office, which usually means drm-free data so things like mplayer and xmms can consume it.

Only some songs are available in "iTunes plus" - an option to download higher-quality and drm-free music, and nothing I've downloaded today is available that way.

Even if you considered Amazon's MP3 service, it's still a better value to buy the damn CD and rip it yourself. Ripping a cd is a one-click action these days on every platform available, so where's the cost justification in these online services pricing their data at or above what I pay in a store? :(

I gave in and got an iPhone.

I picked up an iphone tonight at the apple store in the mall. Yay new toy. The setup process was pretty simple. In fact, I feel comfortable stating that this cellphone purchase was absolutely the most pleasant cellular experience I've had.

  1. Go to Apple store.
  2. Say "I want to buy an iPhone"
  3. Someone hands you a box with an iPhone in it. You pay.
  4. Go home, plug iPhone into PC.
  5. Run iTunes. Follow the trivially simple activation steps(*)
  6. Rejoice now that your iPhone is activated without ever having to deal with morons at the AT&T retailers
(*) My desire to keep my current Cingular AT&T account was satisfied. I was presented with the option of transfering my current service to the new phone. It even set me up with a data plan. Pretty hassle-free.

Much love to Apple for making me not have to talk to anyone at the AT&T retail stores.

  • Uploading photos to flickr is the same as my previous phone: emailing photos to flickr
  • meebo.com (web2.0fancy instant messenger gateway) happily works on the iphone.
  • google reader works too
Comes standard with a google maps and youtube apps.

Fancy. The first two project ideas that came to mind are a both remote-control tools. One for a universal remote (basically smash buttons on a webpage tells an IR emitter to do things) and one to remotely control a PC (mouse, keyboard, etc). I'm guessing there will be a VNC client for the iphone out very shortly after the Apple SDK is released, so I'll think about the infrared remote control project.