iPhone Camera trick

June 12, 2012By jayapplications, technology

This weekend I stumbled upon a very useful camera feature when I was trying to zoom into a scene: left swipe right.

When you are in the Camera app, with one finger, wipe the camera screen to the right. What happens, as seen below, is that the camera roll is revealed.


This is extremely useful for a quick look at your last photo.

What is even nicer? Once you have slid into the camera roll, right swipe left. The Camera app is back.

The annoying part? If I button press into the camera roll there is no swiping that gets you back to the Camera app.

Try it out I bet you’ll like it.

Wacom Inkling

August 30, 2011By jayapplications, art, technology

Wacom has announced an innovative new tool for illustrators, designers, and hobbyists. It is slated for a mid-September launch and will be selling for around $200 (MSRP)—according to The Washington Post.

The two features that immediately leap out as revolutionary are:
Layers
Vector

Layers:
As a person is sketching they can make new layers on the fly. They can then use these layers in Photoshop, Illustrator, or SketchBook Pro.

Vector:
When the art is brought into AI it can be readily manipulated using vector line tools.

Check out the video for more info.

AMAZON PAGE:
Wacom Inkling Digital Sketch Pen (MDP123)

 

 

Mac OS X Lion: Launchpad

August 1, 2011By jayapplications, review, technology

I have updated my Mac to OS X Lion and overall I am very satisfied. There are a few nuances that are nuisances. Take Launchpad. Great idea, bad implementation.

Launchpad (LP) finds all available apps in the Applications, downloads, system folder, and a few other places it seems (though I could be wrong about that). It should grab all the apps I have available that isn’t the bad part. The bad part is that I can not, easily, decide what goes in and what is taken out. There should be someway to manage the apps that are in LP. Kind of a built in iTunes app organizer—but better.

One odd thing is that uninstallers and various other “apps” are added to LP. It is indiscriminate in what is added. Weird. I don’t like that. Especially when taken together with the fact that it is difficult to remove apps.

I understand adding everything from the applications folder. I even understand the uninstallers what I don’t understand is the aliases. I had a folder with Adobe app aliases I kept the containing folder on my Dock. Launchpad added them. I had each Adobe app showing up in LP twice. Odd.

Another oddity is that if you delete an app from LP it deletes it from your computer—this only applies to app store apps. I would prefer to be able to delete any app from LP without deleting it from my system. I would prefer that (x)ing out an app simply removes it from LP. It is just clunky in its present state it is very unApple.

However, I do like the idea behind LP. I prefer it to the Applications folder. I could see never entering the Applications folder again if I could just manage LP better.

Two tools that I have found that are worth looking into are:

Clearing Launchpad

And Launchpad-Control

Both are use at your own risk. But, I first used Clearing Launchpad and then found Launchpad-Control. I will probably use both.
 
UPDATED:

I can’t stand Launchpad. It resets itself after restart or something. I am not sure what the default reset is (because I don’t restart very often)—all I know is that I get everything working and apps set up the way I want them and then, reset. So, until LP is customizable via an Apple-created interface I am done with it. I was becoming the perfect compliment to Quicksilver.
 

Chill, I Got Fever.

July 2, 2011By jayapplications, miscelany, review, technology

Recently, I wrote about making the switch from Google Reader to Fever. In that post I explained that I would write a more comprehensive review later. Here is it.

Fever is a webapp. To use Fever, on my desktop, outside of a “browser” I use ChillPill. So, I hope not to confuse the two in this review. Primarily, I will be writing about the webapp.

Fever is mostly intuitive. It isn’t as straight forward as Google Reader (GR)—with GRs non-metaphoric category names. (Fever, uses names like Kindling, Hot, and Sparks which can be daunting for a new user. But, don’t worry they are easily explained.) But, a new user, to Fever, can get up and running in about 10(ish) minutes and have a good idea of what to do. The nice thing about Fever is that there isn’t a bunch of controls just the necessary ones. GR had so many controls that a new user can easily get lost. (I rarely used the web interface simply because I couldn’t stand to look at it.) In my opinion GR is cluttered. Fever isn’t. Fever is much more minimalist and allows the user to do one primary thing—read.

Technically speaking, I was able to get up and running in about 5-10 minutes. All I needed was my database credentials (which, was easy to find in my host’s control panel), a FTP program (I use Transmit), the Fever files, oh, and most importantly a hosted domain (ie. my own website). I use 1and1.com.

  1. If you already have a website (Which, if you are interested in Fever I would imagine that you do.) and a FTP program then you will need to go to the FeedaFever.com site and download the package.
  2. Once you have it downloaded, then you will need to upload it to your website.
  3. When it is uploaded you will need to follow the easy setup instructions to create your account. You can find these instructions under the Download/Add a License section.

    Download, unzip and upload to your server. Change the permissions of the /fever/ directory to 777 and visit /fever/boot.php in your browser to run the Suite.

  4. (While that may not sound easy. It is. I didn’t have to change the permissions because they uploaded as 777, but you will want to check them just in case. In Transmit you just command-i the folder, an info window pops-up, and you change the permissions there.)

  5. When this is finished, import your current RSS feed OPML file and then you are ready to go. (You will have to export this from GR.)

I really haven’t, directly, used the web app—much. I say “directly” because the ChillPill app that I use appears just to be a Fluid app.

 

My first impressions?
As soon as I understood the Hot vs. Kindling features better, my attachment to Fever has grown. “Hot” feeds are supplementary feeds that I won’t read everyday, but that I am interested in because of the information they might supply. So, in my “Sparks” category (this is where I store my supplementary feeds which are used to determine the temperature of the topics of the day.) I have Engadget, MacRumors, TechCrunch, and TightWind. Because of the articles they are posting in my “Hot” section today, July 1st, I have: MacStories, Open letter to BlackBerry Bosses, and information on Nortel Patents—as well as some other titles.

I don’t read Hot. I scan it. It allows me to see the hot news without having to sort through a bunch of posts. Kindling, on the other hand, are the posts that I am interested in following each day. Ones that I want to read everything (or nearly everything) they are writing on a daily basis. I have art, writing, and some tech feeds stored in Kindling.

Fever is refreshing. I have almost 200 feeds and I am able to focus on just those feeds I really want to keep up with. To me Fever is a near-perfect blogger’s friend. “Near-perfect” because it allows the user to quickly scan the primary topics of concern in their news circles. If I want to see what the main topics of the day for Apple, place the Apple feeds in Sparks and check out the hot, hotter, and hottest items for the day. I would love to see it add some features to allow the user to post snippets better, but that is me nitpicking.

 

Pros:

  • It’s mine. I control it.
  • Setup is easy.
  • Hot is an excellent way to filter “important” matters of the day.
  • I have a webapp as well as a desktop app.
  • If you have an iPhone (or other smartphone) the webapp formats nicely.
  • It has some interaction with Instapaper, delicious, and twitter.

 

Cons:

  • The ChillPill app takes up too much memory (it’s just a webkit browser—as near as I can tell.)
  • Could take advantage of the desktop experience a bit more.
  • Sometimes Fever can’t figure out the rss feed of a particular site (even a blogspot one I am not sure what’s the deal.)
  • Needs better integration with Instapaper. I would prefer to have Instapaper pop-in rather than being redirected to a different page.
  • On refresh the list I am viewing refreshes. Not usually a problem, but when I am half-way (or more) down a list and I am refreshed to the top that is very frustrating.

 

On the whole?
Fever is an excellent offering. I would love to see it come with a better desktop app. I would love to see it better integrate with other tools in a more revolutionary “webtop*” experience harnessing the power of the native UI and the power of the web. But, in the end I am happy with it. Yes, there are some gripes, I am picky. But, I am pleased with the product and have yet to have buyer’s remorse. I suggest you check it out, if you want to control your own.

 

* By which I mean: A better hybrid web/desktop UI. Something more iTunesish in nature without all of the clutter of iTunes.

 

 

Instagram’s Drawback

June 30, 2011By jayapplications, art, miscelany, technology

What do I do with Instagram (IG) post-iPhone?
 

 

 

 

I can’t close my account from the webapp. (At least there is no easily recognizable way.) I can’t upload more images via my desktop. So, now I have this account that is floating—floating and unusable.

I understand building a solid app around the best smartphone. What I don’t understand is making it the only way to fully experience the app. I know that IG has an API, but that API doesn’t allow other apps to upload (not yet). So, for now and the foreseeable future—I have an IG account that I cannot do anything with. That is a drawback.

Creative Confidence pt2

June 21, 2011By jayart, love, miscelany, technology, Writing

In my last post, I wrote about the decisions that I had made that have brought me to this point in my life. In it I, also, wrote about the decisions that are being made that will redirect my (and my family’s) path for the coming future as well as the insecurities that I have/am facing as we make this recalibration.

Dealing with insecurities is a reality that most people have to deal with. We only overcome those insecurities through maturity. Maturity comes through growth.

Maturity has nothing to do with getting older. Maturity is simply more time spent on a task or topic, deeper experience and understanding, more depth.
[via] whowriteforyou.com

(I am not sure that maturity has nothing to do with getting older, but I agree whole-heartily with the rest.)

Part of that growth is daily use. I most often call this muscle. Muscles are strengthened, hardened, and better equipped the more we use them. Those that exercise often and increase the ability of their muscles are able to utilize them better/longer than those that don’t.

The same is true of writing, drawing, or any other trade that we engage ourselves in. (Yes, there are those that are just talented—the ones that seem to just be able to pick up a tool, what ever it may be, and do incredibly. They are often the excuses that the rest of us use to shy away from our given hopes and dreams.) The more we exercise our art/trade the more we mature it and ourselves. The more we mature, the more confidence we gain. The more confidence we gain, the more we grow in passionate for our trade. The more passion we gain, the more we perfect our art/trade.

When your skills, your understanding, become mature, you will find that although the work may still be difficult, that you make fewer mistakes, start down fewer blind alleys, and that your results are almost uniformly of the quality you seek.
[via] whowriteforyou.com

As I have stepped back into this role of artist/writer I have come up against several fears. Among them are the fears of my tools. This may sound silly, but it is a legit fear. For the past ten plus years, whenever I did decide to do some art work it was nearly always digital. Not one hundred percent but mostly. I would sketch it, scan it, and then paint it digitally. Command-Z was my friend. Now, that I have moved back into illustration I am trying to become more traditional—whiteout is my new best friend. I am inking my sketches and trying to learn watercolor. (Yes, I still do paint digitally while I am learning. Though, I doubt I will ever give it up 100%.) The tools are somewhat intimidating. But, I know that once I use them, strengthen myself with them, and become more confident I will look back at my fears as both silly and needed.

Silly, because it is just a pen. My fear comes from making mistakes and having to do it all over again—or from being seen as a terrible artist.

Needed, because it is pushing me to become more acquainted with my tools so that I can overcome the fear.

For the most part, I have applied all of the above to drawing. That is because I am more comfortable as a writer right now. But, many of the same fears apply. Even now as I write this, I am concerned that a better writer will see my flaws.

They will.

There are always better—whatevers—than ourselves. Seeing that, understanding it, and moving on toward my goal means that I am maturing. It is no longer stifling me and killing my desire or my passion.

More than that, you can relax. There’s work to do, but you know how to do it. There are problems to solve, but you’ve solved problems like them before. And if the problems are new, they are interesting, not frightening.
[via] whowritesforyou.com

Or as I tell my children:

Practice make stronger. Passion make perfect.

Creative Confidence

June 19, 2011By jayart, miscelany, technology, Writing

A little over fifteen years ago, I set out on a direction. It was a direction that changed my focus and job skills. I began to develop Flash websites and modules along side my illustrations.

Almost ten years ago, I made a firmer decision in that direction and while it was the right one to make at the time—it was a tough one. Shortly after 911, all of my illustration freelance jobs dried up (I am sure that happened for many). What didn’t dry up, as much, was the need for a Flash developer. So, for the most part I refocused my skills and became a Flash desdev.

Fast-forward ten years, Flash isn’t on the high that it once entertained. It isn’t dead by a long-shot, but it isn’t the king of the hill either. As a matter of fact it has been thrown down and is having to fight, once again, the climb to the top against faster, younger, technologies.

In light of this, and other personal matters, I have been taking an inventory of my skills and making some hard, but necessary, choices. Almost ten years ago, I chose Flash over and against my illustrations. Now, it is the reverse. I have made the choice to regain skills that were left dormant (and somewhat neglected) and retrain my hand eye coordination and regain a creative confidence. It has been worth while. I have, also, began to focus more on writing. They, both, come loaded with insecurities and risks.

What if I am not good enough?

This is the question I have to seriously ask myself, on one hand, and, on the other, it is an insecurity that I (and many others, including experts, ask themselves) on a daily basis—in short it is a fear.

Do I have what it takes to reposition myself as an author/illustrator?

If I would have kept at it, ten years ago, I would have a much higher quality art and writing than I have now, but would my family have suffered due to the fact that I wasn’t a great artist, but was merely “ok”. It’s the whole 20/20 thing and in hindsight I would have done it the exact same way. The question is will my future self look back and heartily say:

I would do it that way again?

I do not know.

For now my family and I are going to navigate the waters of relearning and changing of skills to reposition ourselves for the next ten years and beyond. Each day that passes I am growing in confidence that I can stand out, in the field of excellent author/illustrators, and make a difference through my art/writing. We have challenges ahead of us, but this change has already been a good one for my family.

Got the Fever

June 17, 2011By jayapplications, miscelany, technology

I haven’t been neglectful in my disdain for Google’s privacy policies. I have slowly been working to rid myself of their googleness. One more step was hosting my own Reader where I can sync between devices.

To that end I have purchased Fever. I wrote about Fever last year. I have been using it for a while now and really like it. I haven’t figured out everything about it, but it is a great tool. I actually like it better than Google reader.

I use Chill Pill on my Mac and I am able to use the browser to view it as well. I don’t have any issues with Fever. I do have some small issues with Chill Pill. Primarily, I wish it was better integrated with Instapaper. When I get better acquainted with Fever I will write up thorough review. So far, I am sold on it being a great purchase.

A Year of Blogging

June 14, 2011By jayart, miscelany, religion, technology, Writing

Thanks to Ray, over at Elowrah, I found out that the fifth of June was exactly my one year mark. I began with a post, entitled: Randomly Organized—I used the dummy hello-world and forgot to rename the link, but it was mildly appropriate. And, on June fifth of this year I completed a cycle with a posting, entitled: Pandas—also mildly appropriate as it explains how I un-stump myself. Since it has been a year of stumping and un-stumping.

I didn’t start out strong and there were many gaps in between, but I have succeeded in doing what I intended with it: posting about technology (mainly Apple and Adobe), about illustrations, religion, and last but not least writing. (In case you aren’t sure what that picture is about: it is my tag cloud. In short, it displays the content I have tagged the most. So, it appears that technology is my most written about subject; quickly followed by writing and apple.)

So, now that a year has passed, I think it might be good to reevaluate and randomize a bit more—not really. My random musings are in fact the intention of this blog. What I would like to do is write more; share my illustrations more; and, post more random technology and religious material. I have a few posts in the making and am excited to see them published.

Looking forward to tomorrow—while enjoying today.

Thanks for reading, Ray.