Darren Waters

Learning more mobile lessons

  • Darren Waters
  • 24 Feb 08, 20:51 GMT

I've just spent a week using my mobile phone - a Nokia N95 - almost exclusively to blog text and video back to the Dot.Life blog.

It's been a steep learning curve but I thought I'd share what has worked and what hasn't.

The original aim was to use the phone to test the limits of what was possible with these devices and examine how the web can be used as a vehicle for delivering content more quickly to the blog.

The positives:

I've been impressed with the video quality of the N95. It tends to drop out when moving the device around but if you can keep it steady then you'll get decent footage, in decent light.

I've used a tripod for some of the filming, but given that the phone wasn't designed to work with a tripod I've had to strap it on in the most clumsy manner.

Most of the stuff I've done handheld and this gives more freedom to move around the subject matter. I could have then edited footage together to make a more polished package but that was never the aim.

I've been using an application called Shozu to do the heavy lifting of filing my video. Shozu is a free application and you can set it to send content to a number of different places, including YouTube, Blip.TV, blogs and even FTP.

I have it set to send to the BBC's FTP servers, for example. The application will also send photos to places like Flickr, and can move between using your cell network or an available wi-fi hotspot.

The ability to file to a third party website, like Blip.TV, means we can get video from the phone and on the blog often within 30 minutes. It's not always the case that we will need that sort of speed but having the option gives us more flexibility.

I can also envisage a time when for breaking news purposes the ability to shoot video and deliver it back to the BBC quickly and in reasonable quality - without the use of a satellite connection - is very useful indeed. I have resolved to always have this equipment with me.

I've been very impressed with people's attitudes to pulling out a mobile phone and suggesting we shoot some video. I had expected people to be horrified but in fact most people were extremely receptive and many were impressed by the novelty.

The negatives:

The N95's internal microphone was designed to deliver phone conversations and not audio from filming. We tried unsuccessfully to get a broadcast mic into the phone and attempts to have Nokia loan us an adaptor they have made for such a purpose failed. To be fair to Nokia the adaptor is not commercially available and they couldn't build one for us in the timeframe we presented them.

I've effectively had to do interviews twice to get the material I need for both the website, for radio and on the mobile phone. Shooting two minutes of video is fun but I was not getting the quotes, background info etc I needed for a fuller written piece. So my working methodology was to do the interview for radio or online first and then shoot a bit of video.

The Bluetooth keyboard I have been using works well enough but it is rather fiddly to type on.

Unsurprisingly, shooting video and sending it back to websites using wi-fi or the cell network drains the battery very quickly. Luckily I had spares to hand.

Follow up:

I'm testing out later in the week for live video broadcasting from the phone. I'm excited about the potential.


For journalism purposes the Nokia E90 is a better device. Sure, it's bigger and the camera is only 3 Megapixel but you get a full qwerty keyboard and a bigger (internal) screen.

The best 'trade-off' device is the E61i (rumoured to be soon replaced by an E71). It has a big screen, qwerty keyboard and most importantly great battery life. The camera's only 2 megapixel but I used mine to create a Youtube video at a recent London gig and it looked good. It works great with Shozu too.

  • 2.
  • At 10:00 AM on 25 Feb 2008,
  • Piers wrote:

Are you updating the blog via your N95? I've found a couple of tools for updating blogs, but none that are very easy to use. Any thoughts?

  • 3.
  • At 10:43 AM on 26 Feb 2008,
  • Sophia wrote:

My opinion on live video broadcasting is that the natural progression seems to be mobile and online. With regards to online live TV, it seems like this is here to stay and will eventually prevail. One site that sticks out to me as leading the way in this online TV revolution is I think they have the perfect combination of great quality, highly accessible and a live social network.

The future seems to be via IPTV and mobile so we should allows this tehcnogly to progress

check the Proporta line of batteries, they are external units that can charge and run your phone while on the go. They are much better than extra nternal batteries, no more booting the phone when you add power.

Regards, Michael

Gorilla Pod!

I bet this would come in very handy in place of a tripod.

Here's a tripod for you.

Unfortunately the N95 doesn't bring all tools in one, but with little patience everything can be achieved, as shown in this article:

Hope you find it interesting

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