tech

My Aperture Session: Ferns

by Tobias on September 6, 2011

My Aperture Session: FernsA screenshot of my Aperture “fern” session. Full res. uploaded so you can see the details.

I have been using Aperture (currently version 3.x) for a while to organize and do post production for my photographs trying to minimize the time I spend in Photoshop. This post doesn’t go into some of the Aperture jargon, so please pardon me if you are not privy to Aperture slang.

I have 504 photographs that I took of the small ferns (less than a foot high) that started sprouting just outside my apartment in Seattle back in May. After many hours of sorting the images, this is what I’ve ended up with:

79 stacks of images with the best pulled to the front of each stack. Only the first two thumbnails are images I have actually done any post production on. (As noted in my previous post, one stack, for example, is a set of 127 photos.)

I have it sorted by rating, so my current picks are at the top decending down to pictures I might not even use.

My next steps are to actually give more accurate star ratings, choose which images are the créme (and which are shit), then edit those images to polish them for publishing.

All this for ferns. Then again, I can’t help myself; I just love the shapes, textures and colors that fresh ferns have.

 

If you are curious to learn more about how I am using Aperture, let me know and I might take the time to go into detail. Cheers!

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(Click to see my Flickr set of test images used to write this article.)

The much loved photo app for the iPhone, Hipstamatic, is one of the first apps I booted up when I got the new iPhone 4. Sadly, I ran into some problems right away. What should be black & white pictures come out with odd blue swaths (like in this extreme example) in the darker areas. The other problem seems more serious: The first few times I took pictures it froze just as the shutter went off.  I took some time to look into both of these problems.

Hipstamatic tests on the iPhone 4

The new camera on the new phone is impressive.  Most of us have read the tech specs, but in use the 5 megapixel camera really goes all out for a phone. Impressive low light response, nearly instantaneous click & shoot, the ability to click on the screen where you want to be focused, HD video, and a built in flash.

I would love to be able to choose, in the application itself, what resolution I want to take the next picture.  I have frequently wanted to just get a quick snap shot, but then wanted to take a picture that I could use as a high resolution piece of artwork.  The resolution and processing is there, I just think they have to take the opportunity to use it.

It turns out that this built in flash is what causes Hipstamatic to crash.

Here is what is going on…

[click to continue…]

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I recently called 911 on my iPhone 3GS and was greeted with multiple busy signals. In the back of my mind I quietly rely on the knowledge that three little numbers can get me help in an emergency. I have sadly had to do this a few times; a busy signal is absolutely unacceptable.

I was driving South on 280 in San Francisco about to merge onto 101. I could see the blinking lights of a car pulled off to the small shoulder on the right. Traffic was moving at least at 50MPH getting ready to merge into a single lane going onto 101. Once I came upon the car, I realized they were dead center in the lane. I only had a moment to act and veered into my right hand lane nearly getting into an accident.

Thankfully, no one that I’m aware of was injured.

I knew right away that I had to report the car stalled in the middle of the lane. It was situated in a very precarious spot right at 2AM on a Friday night. The car was sitting there just waiting to cause an accident.

I got my hands free for my phone on, called 911 and looked for the nearest exit to pull off the road. I couldn’t believe what I heard in my ear:

A busy signal.

I tried again. Busy.
And again. Busy.
Must be a mistake. I tried again. Busy.


An old, but sadly undated, report by KRON Channel 4 about 911 issues.

I have heard of cell phone routing issues with 911 before, but that had been years ago. I had only assumed that this had magically been fixed since last time I had looked into it. Sadly that is not the case. Not only are the systems over run and the routing is out of date, there is no good front end solution to patch the problem for the user other than calling a different number (e.g., local police).

AT&T After Hours Customer Service Number: 1-866-801-3600

I finally got through on my fifth try.

Keep reading for more problems and some potential solutions…

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This video is best viewed in full screen mode in order to see it in HD.

Kandid Fullfrontal Consumption” is a short film that I shot starring my (usually) vegetarian friend, Mr. Where.

I edited the video before I wrote the music.

The process that I used was quite interesting. “How do you go about editing a video with probably a couple hundred edit points all in time to music that doesn’t yet exist?!?”

How the filming came about

You might want to read this after you have seen the short film. There are some spoilers below.

[click to continue…]

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Above is a ~20 minute (absolutely worth every minute) interview with the leading researcher, Dr. Robert Sapolsky, in the study of Toxoplasma & its effects on humans. This is a must see. [click here to read the full text of the interview]

“…this is a protozoan parasite that knows more about the neurobiology of anxiety and fear than 25,000 neuroscientists standing on each other’s shoulders…” – Dr. Robert Sapolsky

Toxoplasma (Toxoplasma gondii) [Toxo] was first observed in 1908. You may have heard of it as the crazy parasite that makes rats attracted to cats.  This, in its own right, is astonishing, interesting, & bizarre. It has also been widely known that pregnant women should stay clear of cat scat & other sources for Toxo as it can adversely affect the development of the fetus.

Dr. Robert Sopalsky at Stanford has taken this link to humans further & has been studying, in detail, how it is affecting humans with some startling observations, but we’ll get to that later.

[click to continue…]

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Post image for User Interaction Distortion

User Interaction Distortion

by Tobias on April 20, 2010

In a previous article, I equated using a physical keyboard in tandem with the touchscreen interface of the iPad as a User Interaction Distortion.

Sine Wave

Let us say that User Interaction is like a waveform.  A nice smooth waveform is a sine wave (pictured left).  Smooth changes from all positions.  A good user interaction should be smooth and flow from all points to the next no matter how basic or advanced they are.

Distortion in the audio world is when the signal becomes altered and more “harsh” from it’s intended sound.  More jagged edges, more randomness, and less commonality between states.

[click to continue…]

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Dear WordPress,

I am using your iPad application right now to update my blog. I am not breaking up with you, but I wanted to let you know that I am keeping my eyes open for something better while I hope you improve.

Back when we were together on the iPhone it was OK. I understood your limitations and I was working with them. I didn’t blame you. I knew that when we wanted quality time together we had to go back to my laptop.

continue the love letter…

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I have been making a point to really use the iPad that my father got while I have been visiting the Bay Area. To really understand a new device you have to use it. Not just play with it in the store, look at it on the web, make assumptions based on blog reports or tech details gleamed off the Apple website, but really use the damned thing.  To be absolutely clear, this goes for any new device; sorry iPad, you aren’t special in this department.

I have been surfing the web, poking at applications, writing a bit (as I did in my initial review of the iPad), reading books on it and the real test: Taking it to bed.

It did not call me back in the morning.*

“It is as if typing on a real keyboard has released my mental sphincter so that my mental flatulence is able to throttle the screen.”

iPad + Keyboard

For this follow-up review, I am again using the iPad to write the review with the WordPress iPad native application, but with a key difference: I am typing on the small Apple bluetooth keyboard tethered to it. I just finished tethering it and am testing this use case by writing this review. I can tell you right off the bat that my voice is different than when I was using the on screen keyboard. It is as if typing on a real keyboard has released my mental sphincter so that my mental flatulence is able to throttle the screen.

What I have come to realize is that the iPad is a wonderful Content Consumption Device™. [click to continue…]

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Ribbed for No Pleasure

iPad: Meh

by Tobias on April 6, 2010

I am writing this blog post on the iPad. (I am also going to try to use it in landscape mode while I try to touch type.)

[NOTE: I have made some edits to the post on my laptop as the WordPress app for the iPad wouldn't let me do everything I needed to. All embedded links have been done on my laptop and some other formatting.  I will try to keep this clear. I was only able to type in content & insert an image.  All other controls were missing.  All modifications will be in italics whenever possible so it is apparent what was done on the iPad verses on my laptop. All hypertext links were done on my laptop and NOT on the iPad. All formating changes, such as bold text are done via WP on my laptop.  Note that WordPress on mobile Safari was not useable enough to do this.]


My general conclusion is “meh”.

As I Type on the iPad

This is me writing this post on the iPad.

The first thing I noticed was that the screen PPI is far lower than the iPhone. [Editor's note: The iPad is 132 ppi and the iPhone is 163 ppi.] I would have expected there to be an increase rather than decrease in that department. The second thing I noticed, because I am a UI nerd, is that once a menu item is activated, clicking the same button does not deactivate it. Some apps have apparently noticed this and fixed it while others have not. A small thing, but definitely a sad oversight on Apple’s part.

It is indeed a nifty device, but nifty doesn’t cut it for this price range. The WiFi model does not include GPS, so have fun getting directions on the go (not to mention there is still no way to save maps locally on the device, neglecting the obvious GPS downloadable apps that would be useless anyway). The lack of a camera is by far the largest problem as I have mentioned before.

My review of the iPad

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