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Drone Photography

This weekend, I was reading Twitter, minding my own business, when I ran across this tweet by Nick Bilton. It had this picture taken from a drone attached to it.

drone picture

 

I saw this picture, and I was intrigued. A longtime lover of photography, I am really interested in the perspectives you could capture with a drone that you wouldn’t normally be able to capture without a helicopter, or even without a helicopter.  As I do, I started searching for more information about using drones for photography, and discovered a few sites/posts with some great information.  First, this post on the National Geographic web site.  Later, I found skypixel.org which seems to be a very actively maintained blog with some really striking drone photography on it.  It also features this awesome getting started guide.  If you are at all interested in this stuff, this seems like the page to bookmark to get started.

I have gone ahead and ordered a practice drone.  Before I spend too much money on this, I want to be sure that it’s something I enjoy doing, and that I can actually fly one of these things.  Even the bare bone drones plus a GoPro camera will end up setting you back a thousand dollars.  Although it looks like rentals are going to be available soon, keep reading.

A couple of days later, Jason Kottke posted this Drone selfies post and the web exploded with drone photography interest.  The drone selfie video, which I have embedded below, was take at the same time as the shot above that Nick Bilton posted to Twitter.  It seems like this meme has exploded in the last few days, this led to more drone selfies, or dronies.  Personally, I am more interested in taking high quality stills from unique perspectives than the videos, but I probably will reconsider once I have gear.

Amit Gupta, who took the Drone selfie below, has added Drone Photography gear rental to his awesome photography gear site, Photojojo.  Go here to check that out and sign up for more information.  Looks like they are launching on May 15th.  There’s also a great guide to “How to take a perfect Dronie” on that page.

 

Bernal Hill selfie from Amit Gupta on Vimeo.

 

New Evernote Business Moleskine

UnknownEvernote and Moleskine have released another entry into their lineup of co-created notebooks.  Aside from the nicer cover than the previous offering, which was my only real complaint with them, this one has some particularly interesting additions.  First, there’s an area, pictured above, where you can take notes that are only for you, allowing you to share notes from meetings, while keeping some notes that aren’t meant to be shared.  Second, there’s a check box in the corner of each page, and, if it’s checked, Evernote will set a reminder when you capture that page with the Evernote app.  This has a ton of possible useful applications.  I’ve been constantly trying out new notebooks as I continue to evolve my own personal version of Bullet Journal, and I guess this one is next.

 

 

iPhone 6: Everything We Know

iphone_6_sizes_1000

 

This post on MacRumors, iPhone 6: Everything We Know is a great comprehensive wrap up of the current conjecture about the all but confirmed larger screen iPhone we expect to see in late 2014.  I don’t really have much to add, but the image above, from the article, really did grab my attention.  (The image is from MacRumors, not me.)

Skala Color, a Mac color picker

scala_color

“Skala Color is a compact and feature-rich OS X color picker that works with a huge variety of formats, covering everything you’re likely to need for web, iOS, Android, and OS X development.”

I’m a true believer in Bjango’s software, and swear by iStat Menus.  You can’t beat the price, free.

 

Cover purchase

Cover which is the lock screen I currently use on my Android phone, got purchased by Twitter today. Cover’s neat trick is letting you peak into apps from the lock screen. This follows the purchase of Aviate by Yahoo! earlier this year, which I also was actively using. I guess this makes me an anecdotally good indicator.

The main subject of posts about this purchase seems to be speculation about what Twitter might want with a lock screen utility company. I think that’s a fairly obvious, Twitter updates without unlocking your phone.

Jellyfish Again

Jellyfish Again by bump
Jellyfish Again, a photo by bump on Flickr.

Went to Chattanooga for a night over the long weekend. Took the kids to the aquarium, which has a really nice jellyfish area.

Flow for iPad

Flow for iPad by bump
Flow for iPad, a photo by bump on Flickr.

Instagram doesn’t have an official iPad client. Who knows why this is? I have used a bunch of different iPad apps, most recently Iris, which is also quite good, to use this service on my iPad. Recently Flow was released, and I really like it, I think it’s the best Instagram client for iPad.

There are a few different reasons why I like this over the other alternatives out there. First, it’s all about the pictures. As you can see from the image above, the app is designed to only be used in landscape orientation, and fits the maximum amount of pictures into the iPad viewport with a minimum of chrome. Second, the app is snappy, and the transition animations between screens are well thought out, pleasing, yet not over the top. Third, they’ve made it easy to navigate the sea of pictures, allowing you to move picture to picture while viewing in detail mode. Also of use, and well designed, are the abilities to search and bookmark specific tags, users and locations. I have a small list that I check on a regular basis, for example #vscocam, which yields a really nice set of pictures. All the expected Instagram functionality you’d expect is there, and well supported.

Flow is free to download, and does not currently contain any advertising, so I am not sure what their long term plan to make this app into a real business might be. I guess I always wonder about this whenever I download a new app these days. I’d just much rather pay for the app than wonder what could happen in the future. In this case, given that Instagram is still figuring out how to make money too, I think I would be a hypocrite to not use this free app when I am already using this free service. The app is not perfect. The lack of portrait support, while not a deal killer, seems like an oddity in an otherwise well thought out application. I’ve also had to fiddle with it to get the pictures to refresh at times, but I do think, in lieu of an official Instagram client for iPad, that this is a really nice replacement.

Five Things I liked in 2013

In no particular order, here are five products/sites/services that I really enjoyed having/using this year. I could have written about more, but I’m lazy.

Feedbin

Feedbin

I am an RSS apex consumer, subscribing to about 500 sites’ RSS feeds. I was in a complete panic earlier this year when Google Reader was going away. NetNewsWire and Reeder, synced with Google Reader, were mainstays of my way of staying informed. I used them every day, and rarely declared RSS bankruptcy. Feedbin saved my ass in 2013.

With Google Reader going away, there were a few choices out there, but most of them were free services. That’s not what I wanted to use though. I wanted something that I could pay an honest fee for, that probably wouldn’t be co-opted by other business motives, and I evaluated the options out there and picked Feedbin.

This service hasn’t disappointed me one bit. It’s been consistently improved throughout the year, and client support for it is fantastic. Best of all, their web app, through one of those updates, supports many of the keyboard commands from the legacy RSS reader I used for so long. I read my feeds on every device I carry using this service, using Reeder on iOS, Press on Android, and the Feedbin Web interface on desktop. (Press is awesome, and probably the best RSS Reader app on any platform in my opinion.)

Cool Hunting T-Tech by Tumi Backpack

I own a lot of gear bags because I carry a lot of gear on a daily basis, and I am always looking for the perfect system for carrying things. At work, we support a lot of devices, and I need to have a few with me wherever I am to make sure that I can cover the support from where I happen to be.

I should probably do a post about what’s in my bag when I head out to CES next week. On top of that, I usually carry a camera system of some kind, and then a myriad of chargers etc. Suffice it say, this bag is really really nice, well made, and can hold a lot of stuff. There are a lot of great bags out there, but this has been my mainstay since the day I got it in the first half of 2013. Since it’s made by Tumi, I know that I can count on it. I have had some Tumi luggage for as long as fifteen years under a lot of travel, and it’s held up remarkably well. If you need to carry a lot of stuff, and like the backpack form factor, I highly recommend this bag.

Unfortunately, it seems to be sold out at this point. I’ll be watching Cool Hunting for future product releases, they have great taste and attention to detail.

Apple TV

Not new to this year, but this small device has really become the center of our living room in 2013. It already had a strong lineup of content, and AirPlay from our various iOS devices (my wife and I both have iPhones and iPads) has become a stock way we listen to music. Having a device at the center of our living room that is synced with our ever growing library of content in iTunes helps a lot. Integration with Flickr means that there’s a scrolling slideshow of my most recent Flickr posts happening while we’re listening to music.

Flickr on Apple TV

I think, however, that there was a major shift that occurred in our home over the summer. This shift was caused by two things. June 19th, 2013, HBO Go came to Apple TV. We have DirecTV, and this meant it was like someone had bought us the boxed set of every single HBO show. The second event was Orange is the New Black coming to Netflix in July. Long time fans of Weeds, we loved this show produced by the same team, and we binge watched until they were all gone. Can’t wait until there are more, but we’re currently binging through Breaking Bad. We’re not going to be canceling our DirecTV service any time soon, but more and more, we’re watching stuff via this device. When we’re not watching, this device is what’s powering other living room entertainment.

Evernote Smart Notebooks

As evidenced by my post a couple of days ago, Evernote Smart Notebooks, in the linked configuration, have been a staple of my productivity regimen in 2013. They come with a three month extension to your Evernote Pro service. At the rate I use them, this means I won’t be paying discretely for Evernote any time soon. It’s that simple. I don’t really use the stickers, but I do take a picture of every page. Just works. I was already hooked on Evernote long before these appeared.

The Wirecutter

It’s rare that I trust a site’s advice completely, but The Wirecutter has earned that trust. Their exhaustive work in specific product categories has led to well informed purchases time and again throughout 2013. They are relentless in keeping their site and reviews up to date. I read through their deals very carefully. Some notable example purchases are our WiFi Router, the pens I use, and the cards in my cameras. I highly recommend that you check at The Wirecutter before any consumer electronic or personal technology related purchase. Here’s their guide on how to use their site.