The shot below is one of several pictures I took while walking around Woodfield Mall. I used Posterous’s new iPhone app, PicPosterous, to essentially “live blog” interesting things I saw at the mall. The app is pretty nice, and I like how Posterous presents pictures as albums if I choose to group them together. WordPress would do well to update the way people can embed media on WordPress.com blogs… Anyway, to see the rest of the Woodfield album, go here.
When I finally bought an Eye-Fi card, I thought it was going to be super cool, because I would be able to dump pictures from the camera to my laptop without needing to mess with card readers or USB cables. Unfortunately it didn’t work out as planned. Firstly, it didn’t handle file types other than JPEGs (I think with the firmware updates that have been released, Eye-Fi does handle RAW files, too, but don’t take my word for it). Secondly, you couldn’t choose which pictures to send to the computer, or when you could upload them. You basically were uploading whatever you shot after you put the Eye-Fi in the camera and started shooting. If you were out shooting with the Eye-Fi card away from an AP and/or your home WiFi and computer, you couldn’t go back and select the pictures you took after you got back home. Thirdly, you had to set up wireless APs beforehand; you couldn’t just scan for and use any old WiFi AP available (again this may or may not be addressed now by new firmware updates) on the fly. And the worst part was that you couldn’t turn off wireless scanning if you knew you wouldn’t be in range of an open AP or knew you didn’t want to use wireless uploading for some reason. I didn’t think about this when I went to this year’s Chicago auto show and realized that my LX3′s battery had died in about 15 or 20 minutes, even though I fully charged it the night before. Luckily I had another battery and a different SD card to use. At that point, I stopped using the Eye-Fi altogether.
Now, it wasn’t exactly that incident that soured me on the Eye-Fi, though it was a big contributor. Also, many of the limitations with the Eye-Fi result from the functionality being embedded in the card, not the camera. So of course I know there’s a limit to what the Eye-Fi can do, given its form factor and how it was originally designed to work. Some of the issues I mentioned have been addressed by firmware updates, and sometime in the near future I’ll revisit my Eye-Fi and see what I can and can’t do with it. I’d be happy to retract all of my gripes if I find out they’ve all been fixed!
Actually, the main issue for me is that I normally like to edit my pictures before posting them online. Mobile-wise, I really liked being able to take pictures with my Sony Ericsson P1i, then do some rudimentary editing with the built-in photo editing software. I did some photo editing on my Nokia N95, but being limited to using the joystick to do editing, and the limitations of the app itself meant that I didn’t really use it much. Processing photos was better on the P1i because of the touchscreen. Also, I could optionally pen annotations right onto the photo. I continued to do mobile photo editing with my iPhone. At first the editing apps that showed up in the App Store were pretty useless for me — face melting, adding silly frames and cutesy little stamps. But eventually the category exploded and soon there were a ton of different photo processing apps, from utilitarian to whimsical, that piqued my interest. I check that category from time to time for new apps to try. I think it’s pretty cool how people have come up with some genuinely creative photo apps for the iPhone.
I’ve posted before that I have a couple pet photo editing apps that I love to use on the iPhone — Photogene and Tiffen’s Photo fx. Photogene is more like a Photoshop-type editor, whereas Photo fx applies various filters to your picture. Cropping was recently added to Photo fx, so if all you need to do before applying some filters is to crop the picture, you can do it all within Photo fx. Anyway, the “problem” with this setup is that the iPhone’s camera is not as good as my favorite P&S — the LX3 — or my D90. The iPhone is fine for moblog snapshots, but if I want to upload pictures from my other cameras, I have to wait until I’m home, sift through the pictures on the card, copy over the ones I want to edit, edit them, add title, description, and tags, and then upload them. Or, do this on the go with my laptop and hope I can connect to a WiFi AP somewhere because I don’t yet have a MiFi or some other method to tether my laptop to a mobile broadband account.
Perhaps you already know where this is going: my ultimate wireless picture-taking and uploading setup would be to take pictures with my LX3, D90 or any other digital camera, then wirelessly transfer certain pictures to some mobile device that would allow me to edit the picture, add metadata, then upload it. Alternatively I could do the editing in-camera (both the LX3 and D90 seem to have some rather decent in-camera editing tools) and then just use the mobile device’s data connection to upload to Flickr or elsewhere. I envision a couple different scenarios to accomplish this:
1. A device like an Eye-Fi or some other dongle connected to the camera communicates with my iPhone and either lets me copy the picture over to edit on the iPhone, or I edit the picture beforehand in-camera. Then I use a photo uploader app on the iPhone to upload the picture to Flickr or wherever else via the iPhone’s 3G or WiFi connection. For the briefest of moments, I thought perhaps that was what Eye-Fi’s iPhone app was going to enable. How sorely disappointed I was when I found out it was basically an uploader like Flickit (my Flickr uploader of choice on the iPhone) for pictures taken with the iPhone. WHAT? *facepalm*
I understand that the Eye-Fi uploader could have been restricted by the iPhone’s SDK somehow, but it would’ve been awesome if Eye-Fi could’ve worked out a deal with Apple to implement the type of uploader I described. Can you imagine how many people would consider the iPhone if it could act as a mobile broadband gateway for any camera using an Eye-Fi card? What up, Eye-Fi? Apple?
2. A mobile device such as the mythical (but hopefully soon-to-be real?) Mac tablet would be even better than a smartphone in this situation because it could have more processing power and more screen real estate in case I want to do more “serious” editing for a particular shot. Then I could feasibly use Photoshop Elements or something else to do the editing and have the regular arsenal of tools at my disposal. The touchscreen on the tablet would be like a Wacom tablet, enabling easier manipulation of the editing software with your fingers.
Before anybody balks at me, I realize that it may be possible to do scenario number 2 with a camera, an Eye-Fi, a laptop or netbook (or UMPC if you go that way *smirk*), and a MiFi. I’m guessing that you would be able to set up the Eye-Fi to see and use the WiFi AP that the MiFi provides (if that’s what the MiFi does; I’m guessing). That’s all well and good, but as I’ve realized when I’ve carried my MacBook with me along with all my camera gear to the yearly visit to the Detroit auto show, carrying all this stuff is friggin’ heavy! A device smaller and lighter than my MacBook is preferred. As an aside, I actually tried to use my N810 in a very kludgy setup with an external hard drive and a card reader to be a photo bin and/or a mobile photo uploader. The setup never really worked, unfortunately, and it was too unwieldy with all of the cords and external devices to be useful in a mobile setting anyway.
I would probably feel differently if I had a netbook with enough horsepower to run a photo editing app like Photoshop Elements. That might be what I’m missing, along with the MiFi. But I still am holding out for a Mac tablet as my dream device to be my photo editor and upload gateway. It might not work as well as I planned if the Mac tablet ends up basically being a large-screened iPhone, running the embedded version of OS X. In that case, the photo editing apps might be limited to those already found on the iPhone. That’s okay for the most part, since I try not to do that much editing beyond cropping and a little bit of levels and shadow/highlight fixes. But I would love something like a slate tablet computer that can do full Photoshop Elements or Aperture, if we’re talking about the ideal scenario. I really liked editing photos in slate mode on my Tablet PC back in the day. But I am primarily an OS X user now, hence my wish for a Mac tablet. YMMV.
I picked on the Eye-Fi a bit in my post, but really this semi-gripe applies to any of the cameras out there that have built-in WiFi or use dongles for WiFi connectivity. Often these cameras are locked into specific online services as well, which make them even less useful for my personal workflow. They never end up simply being a camera that connect to a wireless AP on the fly and upload pictures to any site.
One last thing: an alternate or parallel scenario is for the iPhone or some other cameraphone to have a decent enough camera so that I don’t have to use a separate camera. However, given the technical restrictions on sensors and such, I don’t see any cameraphones in at least the next 2 or 3 years being as good as my LX3 or similar creative P&S with regards to low-light capability, fine detail, or depth of field, nor would they be as good as a DSLR. However, an iPhone with at least a 5 or 6 MP camera, autofocus, macro mode, and modest optical zoom would be a great moblogging device. I almost went with one of Sony Ericsson’s Cybershot models before I decided on the iPhone 3G because they are more like cameras with phones shoehorned into them. I really like SE’s cameraphones, and as I mentioned in a previous post, the Satio is a phone I’m keeping an eye on. But I’m so invested now in the iPhone and its apps (and iTunes) that it would take a pretty spectacular phone to pry me away from the iPhone family.
Sorry I’ve been so scarce for a while. I’ve been experiencing a summer slump of sorts, not really feeling in the mood to read much online, like my feeds in Google Reader, or keeping up with my buddies on Jaiku or FriendFeed. And before the summer slump, I was always on Jaiku and FriendFeed, essentially microblogging in a true sense. Frankly, I get way more interaction on Jaiku and FF about the RSS items, articles, and photos I post there than I do here. The almost instant feedback on Jaiku was fun and satisfying.
However, it seems now I am not in the mood to spend a whole lot of time on my social network sites, either. Part of that could be attributed to my wonderful Kindle that The Hubby got me for my birthday. I have enjoyed getting back into a reading mood with it! My relatively voracious reading of late reminds me of how much of a bookworm I used to be when I was younger, before Teh Internetz killed my attention span. **smirk** I also have been writing in my journal a lot more, partially because it’s a nice, inconspicuous way to kill time at work. And so I’ve been writing in my journal, even outlining things I’d like to blog about, but then never get around to actually writing the blog posts. Hence, not a lot of writing on the blog. I’ve been trying to supplement the lack of writing with pictures cross-posted from my Flickr stream, but that’s not really enough, is it, Dear Readers? So, I’m going to consciously make an effort to keep up with my RSS feeds again and post more, even if it’s just shorter, blurb-y posts that are more appropriate for Jaiku. All I ask in return is for a bit more commenting here so I can enjoy more interaction here as well. Deal? Okay.
Before I wrap this up, let me address the “…and a test” part of my blog title above. I am composing this post in the WordPress app for iPhone/iPod touch. I just downloaded it from the AppStore for free, and this is the first test.
Quick first impressions:
- UI is pretty good. When you set up your blog account, you can choose how many recent posts the app should display. I didn’t try it, but I assume this means you can edit currently published articles.
- It has an embedded browser so that you can preview your work. This worked pretty well when I previewed an older article.
- It has full access to your categories. It was pretty easy to scroll through the list (I have a lot of categories) with my finger, with the kinetic scrolling typical of OS X’s touch interface.
- It’s annoying that you cannot rotate the screen to landscape mode. Therefore, you can’t use the more comfortable landscape version of the on-screen keyboard. I don’t have as big of a problem with the iPod’s virtual keyboard as others do, but I still would’ve appreciated the “breathing room” accorded by the landscape keyboard.
I’ll see how well it works when you want to include pictures, or if there are any issues if you’re composing a post and you don’t have wireless access (you shouldn’t). But for now I’m going to wrap this up and upload the post. Later, Kids!
Editor’s Note: I swear I didn’t read Dave Winer’s post about what he thinks the new iPods should be like before I first posted this, but it seems we agree. I forgot to mention that one of the rumors was that the new iPods would support digital radio. Since I bought an iPod and other media players so that I didn’t have to listen to lame radio, digital or otherwise, I could care less whether or not they had radio built-in. I never used the radio feature on any of my non-iPod players. I know some people like to have the option, but not me.
Sorry for the lack of blogging. No good excuses here, so I won’t try to give any.
This post is coming to you from my N95, my new Think Outside Stowaway Universal Bluetooth keyboard, and m.wordpress.com. I’ve been loving my N95 a lot, and hopefully sometime soon I will do a write up for how I use it, what accessories I have or need to buy yet, what apps I use, etc.
I’ve been enjoying doing more photography, as evidenced by the heavier emphasis on photo posts on the blog, from both film scans and the N95′s awesome camera. Hopefully soon I’ll get back into posting about techie stuff as well.
As many of you know, tomorrow Apple is having a special event, likely to announce new iPods. I’m looking forward to seeing what the next generation of iPods will look like. It’s likely that they’ll be running OS X like the iPhone does. And many are hoping (as am I) that the new iPods will be a lot like an iPhone without the phone functionality. However, I kind of doubt that if the next-gen iPod has WiFi (which it should), that you’ll be able to surf on the iPod as you can with an iPhone. I think that if there’s WiFi, it’ll be limited to syncing and/or possibly buying tracks directly from iTunes without a computer. I would like to be wrong with that prediction, but I think that they’ll leave the surfing capabilities as something specific to the iPhone, so that they differentiate it from the next-gen iPod. Otherwise, I can see the new iPods eating into sales of the iPhone.
As I’ve been saying on Jaiku and Pownce, I would absolutely buy a new iPod without hesitation if I could download podcasts directly to the device over WiFi. I do that currently with my N95, but its built-in music player lacks bookmarking, so it isn’t “perfect” yet. I liked the way the iPod/iTunes combo worked so well for podcast downloading/syncing/listening. But being able to download episodes without having to sync with a PC would be very cool. If they don’t want to give us that functionality, then I would like wireless syncing with a PC over WiFi. That would be the next-best thing.
Anyway, I am quite interested to see what else is announced tomorrow at Apple’s event. Other rumors floating about: iTunes Store for the iPhone, so you can buy tracks directly. Also, new “fat” iPod nanos, which if true, I hope they look better than the mock-ups floating around the internets. Perhaps Beatles music on iTunes. I don’t really care; flame me if you wish. **smirk** Perhaps a Yellow Submarine iPod, as Merlin Mann jokingly predicted a few months ago… Probably no news about MacBooks; I think it’s going to mainly be about iPods/iTunes.
What, if anything, are you hoping Apple announces tomorrow?
I had a bad headache all afternoon, so a while after I got home from work, I took a nap to try to get rid of it. An hour or hour.5 later, I woke up groggy and still had a bad headache. GRRRR! And now, because I had that mid-evening nap, I can’t sleep, even though I’m tired. So I’m blogging about it from my MDA. The backlit keyboard is awesome for blogging in the dark. *smirk*
Yes, I blogged from my MDA yesterday, but now I am blogging from a web interface specifically formatted for mobile devices. Point your browser at m.wordpress.com to log in and post, check stats, and generally maintain your blog. Not full-featured, but good enough for mobile access. Very cool…