April 27, 2007 12:55 PM   Subscribe

I've recently become obsessed with truly mobile streaming video (a la Justin.TV), and would love some hardware and software input. For hardware, I just want a basic, small laptop. For software, I'm looking for something that does live GPS mapping on the web.

Okay, so Justin Kan's life isn't that exciting, but what he's doing has entranced me. I even started a blog about it, and the blog ended up getting adopted by them. But the next logical step was to try doing the same thing (with the full knowledge that I'm not particularly interesting either), and I've already started experimenting with my MacBook, an EVDO USB modem, and sites like Ustream.TV and Stickam and YouCams and Kyte and...

Anyway. Having done some live streaming from the beach and the park and my car and the like, I'm having enough fun to want to streamline things a bit. Simply put, a MacBook is already overkill for what I really need, and I think what I'm doing is a little rough on the little dear anyway. I also want to take the next logical step, and mashup some GPS and maps. So, my question has two parts.

1. What's a good laptop for this? Priorities are size, ports (I need at least three USB ports for my setup), and battery life. This machine will basically run, lid closed, in a moderately ventilated backpack. I won't need to power a screen, but the EVDO modem does suck juice. I'll buy extra batteries or a third-party battery pack to help on the power side.

I looked at some UMPCs, but they're overpriced, often lack keyboards, and have few ports. So I think I want the next step up. I see there are a number of decent laptops with small screens (7-12"), from off-brands (Everex) to overpriced Vaios, the latter having way too many features. I really want only a barebone hardware configuration. Anyone out there using a ultralight/slim/small laptop that they love?

2. Anyone sharing location information on the web? The other reason for moving to Windows is for the more widespread availability of GPS tools. The EVDO modem already has built-in GPS, and can work with things like MS Streets & Maps and Google Earth. But obviously the emhpasis is on utilities to help you know where you are. I know where I am. want to tell others where I am.

I've read that the Google Maps/Earth TOU has restrictions on doing this (I suspect they're developing a commercial application), so a home-built solution with their API may not be the best option. If it is, I'm not smart enough to code it just yet. The Mologogo service is the closest thing to an out-of-the-box solution I've found, but it requires GPS data from a phone, not a standard GPS device (a la a Garmin or something else hooked up via a serial port). Almost every other location-based social network-esque tool or widget (Dodgeball, Loopt, etc.) requires Windows Mobile or uses things like geolocating WiFi networks, rather than true GPS.

With geocachers crawling all over the place, and social networking all but overdone, I feel as if there must be some web-based tool to take basic GPS data and update an embedded map on the web, live. Is there?
posted by pzarquon to Technology (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
posted by desjardins at 1:32 PM on April 27, 2007

Response by poster: I've read that and other "GPS" tagged threads here. As I noted above, a lot of GPS utilities are focused on logging path or trail data. I'm looking to report location information live.

At the moment I'm browsing, which seems to be doing a lot of "live" stuff. I could use it right now, actually, but you'd have to have an account with them and be my approved friend to see my location on their map. I want something that I can just embed in the same page as the streaming video.
posted by pzarquon at 1:36 PM on April 27, 2007

If you're going to be wearing a backpack, why use a laptop? A laptop's form factor is designed to allow typing on a flat surface which you won't be doing. You're best off buying low-power components and building your system into the backpack. A Lowepro camera backpack is designed with compartments. Going with a custom system like this is better because if a component fails, you can easily fix it without having to crack open a case and it's cheaper than buying proprietary laptop parts.
posted by junesix at 3:56 PM on April 27, 2007

Oh yeah, and here's where I found the above link. You know, in that previous thread I linked before.
posted by desjardins at 5:26 PM on April 27, 2007

Sorry, I screwed up - I didn't read your OP closely enough. Good luck in your search.
posted by desjardins at 5:40 PM on April 27, 2007

Response by poster: Junesix, that's an interesting idea. I wish I was a MAKE kinda guy, that would probably work and save me money. Sadly, I'm lazy, and I'm trying to get to plug-and-play. Especially since when I get this sorted out, friends of mine want to replicate it. Watch out, world!

Indeed, so obsessed I am with this plan, I went and bought a Boost Mobile i415 to use the Mologolo app. Except I didn't realize I needed a data cable to get it onto the phone. And no local stores have one. Gah! So close!
posted by pzarquon at 7:18 PM on April 27, 2007

Response by poster: A late update...

The folks at Franson, who run the GPS Gate site, say that they will have a module that allows you to show your location on a Google Map to non-members (i.e. the public, rather than just other GPS Gate users) some time this month.

In the mean time, I got the data cable for the i415 and put Mologogo on it, and it's working great. It's yet another device to carry around, but other than that, I feel I've reached a level of mobile live video nirvana.

The different pieces to make it all work aren't that out of reach. It won't be long before people are running around like Justin Kan everywhere.

Then come the lawyers...
posted by pzarquon at 9:19 PM on May 6, 2007

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