Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Darkroom Premium - iPhone Camera App

I downloaded the app, Darkroom Premium for my iPhone.  It works great to get better pictures from the iPhone.

The app works just like the regular camera app that comes with the iPhone, but allows you to select four additional features: [Feature #3 is the best and really helps to get good pics in low light since it uses the iPhone accelerometers to know when the iPhone is being held fairly steady.]

Feature 1:   Delay the shutter by 3 sec, 10 sec, or 20 sec.  This is especially good for group photos when you want to be in the picture.

Feature 2:   Use the full screen of the iPhone as the shutter button.  This is good for taking pics of oneself when you cannot see the small area to touch to activate the camera to take the shot.   The granddaughters love to take their photos, and this feature makes it easy for them to do so.

Feature 3:  The shutter is delayed until the iPhone is being held reasonably steady ... three settings low, med, and high.  In the high setting, the camera has to be held VERY steady before the shutter automatically fires.

Feature 4:  Adds grid lines.  This allows  you to see when the iPhone is level in the picture.

Note:  Any combination of the four features work with each other.

I love my iPhone!

iPhone indispensable among travelers - Knockin' Video

Well, as usual it is always nice to travel with an iPhone.    With the new iPhone 3GS you can access internet, emails, apps when you have wifi in the motel or when visiting others along the road.  We had free wifi at the hotel we stayed in, but found the 3GS network even faster to use.   3GS and edge networks were useable, for most of the road trip.  Only a few spots along the trip were 'No Service'.

It is always nice to have the iphone and game apps to entertain the granddaughters, while waiting for dinner to be served at the restaurant and also handy for taking candid photo shots and video of those special moments.

I even used the 'Knockin' Video' app to share - video of the granddaughters swimming at the hotel pool and roller skating - with their Uncle, who wasn't able to join us due to illness in family.    I also sent a live video, as we were traveling on the road home.

The new GPS features on the 3GS iPhone, came in handy when we got lost in the fog one night, while returning to the hotel.

The roads along the way from Idaho to Oregon were almost all - snow free and the weather held out for us.  On the way back to Idaho, we did come across some patches  of snow on the road, and saw a car behind us spin out ... off the road.   We also saw one car upside down with emergency vehicles, ambulance and police .... along the roadside next to the Columbia gorge.   Going up the mountain outside Pendleton, Oregon, across the Blue Mountains, near Dead Man's Pass, the visibility was 500 feet for about 1.5 miles due to foggy conditions.  As we reached the top, I was able to snap this photo of the lingering clouds that we had driven through.

I love my iPhone!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Sending iPhone Size Greeting Cards

I stumbled upon a cool site created by persons from Stanford University, Microsoft, Google and various Bay Area startups.  The site http://www.ecardlets.com  features user-generated ecards for the iPhone.  Users can add and send their own designs to iPhones.

I first tried using the ecardlets featured on the site and sent several using the options to email or send as SMS.  Both worked fine.   You can also send to Facebook and other sites.  Below is an example of the card I retrieved on my iPhone.  (note: the frames as I flicked the card open)

Then I decided it would be fun to bookmark the site on my iPhone and check out the interface to the site via my iPhone.  They have done an excellent job interfacing the ability to send a card from your iPhone.  The first screen allowed me to view the 'Categories' of cards available online to send.

I selected 'Get Well' and then proceeded to select a card.

Once the card was selected, a screen that allowed me to enter the recipient's email or phone number, senders name, senders email and message.    The card could be sent on its way via email or SMS to the recipient, by clicking the sent button.

These 3 dimensional ecards take advantage of the iPhone user interface, allowing the recepient to open and close the card with their fingers.  Quite a clever application and can see that it may become a popular site for us iPhone addicts.

Information for creating your own custom card designs is available as well at http://www.ecardlets.com/personal/ 

Putting Captions on iPhone Photos

I love the application 'Skitch' that I use on my Mac.  I have found an app called 'Photo Notes' which allows me to place text or speech bubbles or just text on a photo that I take from my albums stored on the iPhone or onto a photo I take via camera. 

You can change the size of the bubble, position the bubble or text on the photo, as well as change the background color behind the text and the text fonts.  The interface for changing attributes is through small icons that can be accessed by merely tapping the selected photo.

The full version which can be purchased on Apple iTunes store, can save the Photo Note, send it by email or put it straight on to Facebook all from within "Photo Notes - Make Your Photo".

Using the free version, you can use the press 'sleep' and 'home' buttons simultaneously to take a screenshot of your finished photo with text to your iPhone camera album.  From there you can email it to a friend.

It might not have all the features that I love in Skitch, but it is a cute way to send a quick  photo with caption to a friend or grandchild.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Doplr - File Sharing Made Easy

Today I downloaded an app called 'Doplr' designed by TinyCrumb and Culturezoo.  The application runs as an menubar icon application that resides in the upper right hand menubar of your Mac.

The application allows users to drag and drop files to this icon, where the items are stored in a  1 GB online storage space available to each user for free.  Once these items are uploaded, a URL is provided that can be shared with anyone.   It is easy to use, fast, and seems to work seamlessly.

It provides a means to easily share items with others.   It also has easy integration with Twitter.

Suggest checking out this new app available at http://droplr.com/hello

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

How to Automatically Add Lyrics to iTunes for iPhone & iPod Viewing

The iPhone and some of the iPods are capable of displaying lyrics to songs playing. First you must have the lyrics stored in iTunes library.
You can google the lyrics for a song in your browser and then select that song in iTunes music library. Pressing cmd I (for getting info on the song) will bring up various tabs about that song, one of which is ‘Lyrics’. You can copy the lyrics from the webpage and then paste into the lyrics tab for the song.

Another method, is to try the shareware application ‘Get Lyrical’(http://shullian.com/get_lyrical.php), but consider donating if you intend to use this software. Once you have downloaded the application to your hard drive, You can select a track or tracks, turn on ‘Active Tagging’ to get lyrics for songs as you play them. If a songs lyrics are found and added, the small circle will turn green.

You can also browse and edit the lyrics right from a text editor within Get Lyrical.

Some types of files such as WAV and QuickTime files don't support lyrics, though you can convert to WAV and QuickTime files into a format that would allow you to add lyrics such as AAC or MP3.

Once you have the lyrics for the songs, then sync to your iPod or iPhone. On iPods, start playing the song to which you added lyrics. Press the Center button repeatedly. The number of times depends on if you have artwork or not. Here is the order of the things that are displayed when you press the Center button:

Play status > Scrubber > Album Art > Lyrics/Description > Rating

If you don't have Album Art or Lyrics, then you'll just see the Rating
Play status > Scrubber > Rating

To view the lyrics on an iPhone, just click on the album for the song.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Cooking Class at Hotel California - Baja - Todos Santos

I spent the Thanksgiving holiday in Mexico with some of my family members.  We had a great time snorkeling with sea pups, surfing on Cerritos Beach near Todos Santos on the Baja penisula, and taking in a great cooking class at the Hotel California with Chef Dany.

Before the cooking class we were treated to a great visit to Punta Lobos, the sweeping Pacific beach where the local fishermen of Todos Santos launch their boats each morning and bring in the daily catch each afternoon.  We were able to see the various catch of the day as well as marvel at the young juvenile pelicans that waited for their daily handouts.  It is amazing to see the boats come in from their day at sea, plowing up on the beach at full throttle.

We were also given a tour of  a local organic farm in the small town of El Pescadero, where many of the herbs and greens we used for our cooking class were grown.   The guide also provided a nice history of this area of Mexico and the Baja penisula. 

Before the cooking class we also helped the bartender make a jamaica margarita which had a mild syrup of jamaica juice (somewhat like cranberry), and another syrup of jalepeno.  The combination was mild and not too spicy, but with just a kick and difference to make it a wonderful starter.

The cooking class took place in the restaurant's kitchen with hands on preparation by the four members of our group.  Each member was given a recipe and special instruction by the Chef or kitchen staff in preparing his or her recipe.  The meal consisted of 5 courses:  an ahi tuna appetizer, organic green salad with special crostini, shrimp on rosemary skewers, flank steak marinated in sauce and served with a special salsa made with a molcajete (a mortar and pestle lava stone tool), and a banana pineapple flambe over ice cream.    The ingredients in each of the dishes added a touch of spice giving them a Mexican flair.    The chef joined us for a marvelous meal.  We learned so much about the cooking and experienced a little part of the culture as well.  It was a great experience and highly recommend taking a class when visiting Todos Santos.