Facebook Hello

Yesterday Facebook came with a new app for Android, Facebook Hello. I’m not surprised that this app comes from the Messenger team. Facebook just announced some changes to the timeline, letting you see more of what your friends are posting instead of pages. And in Facebook’s eyes your friends are those you communicate most with, and what better way then to harvest this data from Messenger and now Hello?

Hello replaces the default dialer app on your Android phone. But it does a little bit more then that, as it also connects with Facebook so you can see who’s calling, block unwanted calls and search for people and places. If your Facebook contact doesn’t have a phone number published, no worries, Hello makes it possible to call the person through the Messenger app! I find myself calling from Facebook Messenger more and more often. Sound quality is just awesome!


Facebook is only offering Hello in Brazil, Nigeria and the US right now, but it won’t be surprising if the app spreads elsewhere before long. It is by the way already fully translated in to Norwegian and telling me that my phone just got smarter!

TechCrunch has a lengthy newsupdate on Facebook Hello, also talking with the Hello Product Manager Andrea Vaccari worth reading.

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Trip to St. Petersburg

I was sent off to get to know and work at Norwegian University Center in St. Petersburg. March may not be the best time to visit the city, as spring was not quite there yet. But never the less I had three cold, but beautiful days there with lots of sunshine. Here is a summary of the things that I got to see in St. Petersburg.

First a few facts about the city. Saint Petersburg (Russian: Санкт-Петербург) is the second largest city in Russia with about 5 million inhabitants. It was founded by Tsar Peter the Great on May 27 1703. Between 1713–1728 and 1732–1918, Saint Petersburg was the imperial capital of Russia. In 1914 the name of the city was changed from Saint Petersburg to Petrograd (Russian: Петроград), in 1924 to Leningrad (Russian: Ленинград), and in 1991, back to Saint Petersburg.

Saint Petersburg was founded upon a swamp, with little sunlight, and it was said only cabbages and turnips would grow there. It was forbidden to fell trees for fuel, so hot water was permitted just once a week. As a result of pressed slave labour from all over the Empire, work on the city progressed quickly. It has been estimated that 200,000 people died in twenty years while building the city. A diplomat of the time, who described the city as “a heap of villages linked together, like some plantation in the West Indies“, just a few years later called it “a wonder of the world, considering its magnificent palaces“. (more…)

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Photographing Rock Ptarmigan in Oslo

Saturday morning I got up before dawn, before the last party people put their heads against their pillows, and headed for Ryen Varde, a small hill just outside of Oslo in the search for the last spot of snow. All this, just in the hope of photographing a rock ptarmigan observed here the last two weeks! I guess you got to be a little bit cuckoo to do this voluntarily… But, that’s me.


I was successful and got series of great photos that I’ve published as a photo story on my Exposure page.

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The eagle and a carp

The White-Tailed Eagles at Pusztaszer

I’ve posted a new photo story on Exposure from perhaps the greatest photo session I’ve had. Exactly two years ago I visited my good friend Bence Máté and spent two days with him in a photo hide to photo shoot the magnificent white-tailed eagles on the puszta.

Enjoy the photos and the story on my Exposure profile. I hope to have some more photo stories to share with you this spring, so stay tuned and please subscribe to my stories.

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Facebook Group Sales

Facebook with a market changing move

Hav you noticed how many local groups there on Facebook that sell used stuff? Facebook has noticed that too! Facebook is now in picking up the battle with eBay as it announced that it will be rolling out a new set of features for Groups, allowing users to buy and sell stuff using Facebook. The new part as far as I can see it that people posting in groups on Facebook will now have the option to add whether they’re buying or selling a certain item, and include prices and shipping methods. It is sure gonna make it much easier to do this type of business.

Currently, members in those groups usually post photos of items for sale and add details in the description. With the new feature, each profile will have a list of previous items bought and sold. Facebook is only the platform where the business is being done and Facebook emphasises that it’s simply giving users a new option and is in no way affiliated or responsible for the business done. This new set of features are still in a testing phase and suddenly it make sense that Facebook made Groups in to a separate app for Android and iOS. I think the Facebook mobile app other wise would have gotten to many features included.

Facebook Groups sales mobile app

The official words from Facebook have been published in a blog post:

“We will continue to introduce new features in the coming months to help people in the For Sale Group community easily connect, browse and search” and “These new features will roll out to all Facebook For Sale Groups in the coming months across iOS, Android and web”. Facebook Group admins who would like to participate now can nominate their Group on this link.

I wonder when these features will appear in Norwegian groups, locale, regionale and nationale ones. I can see sales of used camera equipment fast move in to Facebook groups from Finn.no and Foto.no. One thing is sure, Facebook is again changing the way we do things. Social security is something perhaps only Facebook can provide. Often people will know each others in the groups, which is a garantuee that the business will go down as it is supposed to.

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In the search of the best image stitcher

I love making panorama photos and have yet to find a tool that really works for me. So far I have used the free and open source Hugin, with various success. It often failed me, but once in a while made gorgeous panoramas. I also tried the first version Image Composite Editor (ICE) of Microsoft Research, but didn’t like it and feared that as it was from the research department it would be gone tomorrow. I was almost right, the last update of the first version was done in 2011.

This week Microsoft Research released a new version with a few major improvements and also great new functionality.



What is a panorama photo?

A panorama photo is a set of overlapping photographs of a scene shot from a single camera location, the app creates a high-resolution panorama that seamlessly combines the original images.

There are several stitching tools available for Windows and OS X, and many of them struggles being precise enough when partly overlapping photos to one big photo in the end. Modern smartphones with a good rear camera will have such a tool built in to the camera software and make panoramas on the fly.

ICE takes it one step further and can also create a panorama from a panning video, including stop-motion action overlaid on the background. Finished panoramas can be shared with friends and viewed in 3D by uploading them to the Photosynth web site.


What makes ICE stand out

ICE is the first free consumer tool that I know of that can fill in any missing pixels around the edges of your panorama, making a smooth boundary even in cases where you missed a shot.

It has a state-of-the-art stitching engine with no image size limitation and therefor even has support for “structured panoramas” (gigapixel panoramas)— panoramas consisting of hundreds of photos taken in a rectangular grid of rows and columns (usually by a robotic device like the GigaPan tripod heads).



Just a day before ICE v2.0 got released Department of Archaeology, Conservation and History made contact and asked if they could get ICE v1.0 installed on the student PC lab in the Conservation building. I was reluctant. As I started this blog entry, the tool had not been updated for three years. But as I learned about the new version and saw the video above, I was fast to change my mind. The PC lab will get ICE v2.0 installed and I hope to be able to follow up with a new blog entry on actual use of ICE v2.0.

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Coca Cola life

Vinterens vakreste eventyr

Når Bondens Marked tar en velfortjent pause, lanserer næringsmiddelindustrien tradisjon tro sånn omtrentlig 500 dagligvarenyheter (486 i år) i butikker over det ganske land. I begynnelsen av februar, altså i en kritisk periode for de flestes nyttårsforsetter om å gå ned i vekt, fristes vi til å fråtse i godbiter. Og det må vi, ja, rett og slett før det er for sent. Hele 35% av de nye varene overlever ikke det første året!

Jeg synes lanseringsperioden er spennende og leter hver gang etter produktet som mest sannsynlig ikke vil overlevere lanseringsåret. I år tror jeg imidlertid vinneren alt er funnet før det hele egentlig har begynt. Årets vinner må være Coca Cola Life. Jeg har brutt alle prinsipper i år og alt drukket to flasker brus, mot normalt en flaske i løpet av året. Og det bare for å få smakt denne naturlige brusen! Denne “grønne” colaen inneholder stevia, men i en slik mengde at jeg trygt kan si at det er den mest “kunstig” søte brusen jeg har smakt på lenge. Ja, bortsett fra Coca Cola Companys forrige slager i Norge, Vanilje Cola. Den fikk jeg og et par kollegaer et uhyggelig bekjentskap med da noen på kantina hadde kommet på at man i mangel på vaniljesukker kunne bruke vanilje cola i vaffelrøra!!!

Navne- (life) og fargevalget på etiketten henleder oss til å tro at produktet er helse i hver en dråpe. Men faktum er at hver halvliter fremdeles inneholder hele 34 gram sukker (ca. 13 sukkerbiter). Også denne Colaen er og blir en kalori- og sukkerbombe, og det på tross av at Coca Cola Campany skriver på etiketten at den inneholder FÆRRE KALORIER og Søt fra NATURENS KILDER.

– Dette er en veldig uheldig sammenblanding av en appell til folks ønske om at noe skal være naturlig og pushing av et fundamentalt sett usunt produkt. Den nye colaen lurer mer sukker i folk, sier Birger Svihus, professor i ernæring ved Norges miljø- og biovitenskapelige universitet.

Mye tyder på at jeg får rett, da det ser ut som Coca Cola Company alt prøver å bli kvitt restlageret sitt. Narvesen selger nemlig 2 for 1, kjøper du en Coca Cola Life så får du også med en vanlig en, slik at du kan skylde ned vemmelige smaken. Eller var det introduksjonstilbud de kalte det?

Konkurransen om bli årets verste nykommer er imidlertid knallhard, for i år lanseres det også en ny pizza Grandiosa, flere glutenfrie produkter til de som tror de har matallergi (har stor respekt for dem som faktisk har det), asparges & grønnkål juice eller gresskar & rødbeter juice og sist, men ikke minst, Freia sjokolade med Ritz kjeks.

Fortell meg gjerne om hvilket produkt du håper og tror at ikke vil klare seg gjennom lanseringsåret i kommentarfeltet. Og gjerne hvorfor…

Sorry for writing this blog entry in Norwegian. Next one will be in English again, I promise!

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Another new phone – Lumia 735

A work phone is not enough for me, so I’ve had two phones for years. The reason is simply that I don’t expect my employer to pay for my many calls to Hungary. I’ve had a Nokia Lumia 625 for now. It was more then enough to do phone calls, but when Elkjøp did an evening sale on the Microsoft Lumia 735, I couldn’t look the other way.

One thing is that also the Lumia 735 supports Qi wireless charging (Sony Xperia Z3 with wireless charger), so gone is USB charging for both my phones. It also has a beautiful OLED screen that is bigger then the 625 and with a higher pixel density (PPI). It is also faster and feels way more snappy.


And I can’t help it, but I like the startup screen and it works really well for me! Another reason for me to also have a Microsoft phone, is the Microsoft strategy: Cloud and Mobile first. As many of you know, I use Office365 University and Onedrive (not iCloud, Dropbox and Google Drive). But I’m still a great fan of Owncloud. Hey Microsoft, please implement support native support for WebDAV, CalDAV and CardDAV and I will be a very happy Windows Phone user.

One last thing, after cleaning up all the apps that I didn’t use on Android and compare it what I have installed on the Lumia 735, there isn’t many apps missing (of course all the Google apps that I’m using almost on a daily basis).

Now give me Windows 10 for phones. I’m ready!

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ControlAir – A great way to control music on OS X

The Macbook Pro is almost always on while I am at home. If not for something else, then to have some background music while reading a book or doing a blog update. So also today, while writing the tip about the app ControlAir. It is a cool way to control music and movies without touching your Mac!

The app seems to still be in an early version, as I didn’t see anything in the preference window when I went through the setup process to get the my head in the correct alignment of the webcam.

ControlAir - Play some music

Currently, ControlAir supports a handful of apps including iTunes, Spotify, VLC, Quicktime Player, VOX and Rdio. And as always, support for controlling more media apps is “coming soon.”

ControlAir is available as a free download from the Mac App Store and a full length review can be read over at Engadget.

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Sony Xperia Z3 with wireless charger

This week I got a new work phone. I chose to continue with the Sony Xperia Z line of phones and not go back to iPhone. The reason is simple, the Xperia Z3 has IP65/68 rating, which means that neither water nor dust will stop the phone. Ideal when you are out walking a rainy autumn day or skiing during the winter.

One of the things I didn’t like with the Sony Xperia Z was the docking station. Every time I was to charge my phone I needed to take off the hard cover protecting the phone. So when getting the new phone, I went out and bought myself the WCR14 wireless charging cover. The cover is compatible with all Qi enabled wireless charging pads, but Sony do offer their own, the WCH10 which I also bought. This might sound really weird, but charging suddenly became so much easier!

I guess some of you have not heard of Qi before, but it has been chosen as the standard for wireless charging. Qi comes from traditional Chinese and means “vital energy”. It is an interface standard developed by the Wireless Power Consortium for inductive electrical power transfer over distances of up to 4 cm. The Qi system comprises a power transmission pad and a compatible receiver in a portable device. To use the system, the mobile device is placed on top of the power transmission pad, which charges it via resonant inductive coupling. We can only hope that the Xperia devices in the future will support Qi wireless charging out of the box and not locking us down to one special hardcover. I wanted to use the NFC enabled official Xperia Z3 style cover with smart window, but then Qi would not be working.

So next time you are to buy a phone, know that the following mobile device manufacturers are working with the Qi standard Asus, HTC, Huawei, LG Electronics, Lenovo (Motorola Mobility), Nokia, Samsung, BlackBerry and Sony.

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