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Living with an Eye-Fi SD Card

Eye-Fi_Pro_X2

Imagine a world where your studio has a large screen and as you shoot the photos are displayed on it, no wires, no heavy grips that drain your camera, just pure freedom of movement. Imagine being on the road and as you shoot you are able to get all these photos on you tablet or phone and upload them to a remote location or edit for immediate sending? Imagine all of this and then add automated geo-tagging and a set of your photos on your camera’s card too.

What if I told you all of this is possible today! What if I told you it’s not that expensive either? Let’s have a look at the Eye-Fi SD Cards in this case the Pro X2.

The installation is relatively easy as long as there is no firewall, Windows 7 will ask you to open the required ports. The software itself is no as intuitive as I would expect it to be but not overly complicated either. I was up and running in about 10 minutes using my laptop as my download station.

Using my laptop: The first thing you will notice is the “lag” between the time you take a photo and the download gets completed. I initially thought something was not working. It transfers both RAW and JPEG with out issues, you just need to be patient.
The Windows software, Eye-Fi Centre, feel a bit like an afterthought, it does the job of getting the photos and configuring the card. Don’t expect more. 

Eye-Fi Center Windows Application

Using my iPad: This was a little more complicated, you’ll need to set the card to “Direct Mode” for that it needs to go back into the laptop’s SD card reader and you will need to install the “receiving” software on your iPad/iPhone/iPod Touch and “pair” you card. I had to fiddle a bit to get it to work. My iPad and iPhone did not pick up the Wi-Fi signal of the card. Once it did life was easier though I had to remind my phone about the card a couple of times.
Here is a tip: In the settings on your mobile iOS device, set it to upload on Wi-Fi only! i say that because by default it uses 3G too, I got caught out, here comes the bill.

The good news is the application, at least in the case of the iOS version, gives immediate access to the photos to the “Camera Roll” and “Photo Stream”, this makes it available to most Photo app like iPhoto for iOS, PSTouch for iOS and Android, Snapseed for iOS and Android and Photogene for iOS to mention a few.

I have not tested the automated uploads to and FTP or sharing site, nor have I tested it with video but my experience has not been bad. I will be stretching it a bit on my next photowalk, let see if it’s going to work. I intend to shoot, edit and share during the walk. We will see if this really works.

The good:

  • The technology works
  • Highly configurable
  • SD cards are common in consumer cameras.
  • The optional online backup for only 7 days after the date of upload, premium service cost $49.99 per year adds a few features such as full resolution and unlimited storage for an unlimited time.

The weird:

  • I get an email each time an upload is completed.

The bad:

  • The user interface in both the iOS App and Windows App are a little clumsy
  • The card does not have a stay alive mode and disconnects easily to it’s tethered device causing the tethered device to get confused a times.
  • Slow synchronisation

The ugly

  • Once the initial configuration is made why can’t the configuration be made over Wi-Fi?
  • My Canon EOS 7D does not have an SD slot, there is good excuse to get me a Canon EOS 5D MkIII.

The card has a few other features but I personally will never use most of them nor will most people that would use these cards, one that may come in handy though is the “Endless Memory” feature that allows you to use the card as a buffer.

I’ll tell more of my experiences in a follow up post.

iPad with OS 5: The good and the really ugly

update_ios5_20111005

It’s been an interesting week or so, iOS 5 came out and it has it’s good sides and it’s bad sides.  You will remember that one of my main complaint about the iPad WiFi/3G was it’s lack of 3G support like SMS/MMS (and whatsapp) and it’s inability to share it’s 3G with my laptop. Well, the really ugly? Nothing has changed. Same goes for the App store, no globalisation.

That is where my ranting stops dead, the new operating system has great new features for both the iPad and iPhone, here is my list:

  • Notification Centre, it just works, though  it can get irritating if not set up correctly.
  • The new split keyboard is great for thumb typing whilst holding the iPad.
  • There is a noticeable speed improvement across the board, try to open a PDF or an eBook.
  • I love the new Safari Internet browser tabs, it brings the desktop to the iPad and it seems faster too.
  • The “task switching” by swiping is so easy I am already used to it.
  • Same goes for the button double tapping that gives you access to Music without unlocking and on the iPhone the camera too.

There are things I find utterly useless such as the

  • Message Centre (aka Messages) it’s not SMS friendly so what is the use?
  • iTunes & Videos, until the music store goes global or there is a South African music store, all you can get is podcasts.
  • iBooks, similarly to iTunes there is not South African store, however there is access to various classics from the Guttenberg Library.

Not quiet related to iOS 5 but worth the mention is a few apps that appeared at the same time as iOS 5 (or I just noticed them):

  • Facebook, to my surprise Facebook is now optimised for the iPad.
  • Adobe PDF Reader though it does not read protected content.
  • Kalahari.com eReader, synchronises your eBooks bought on www.kalahari.com and let’s you read them. It’s a rudimentary reader and it does crash but generally it works. For South Africans this is good news.
  • Tomtom, the GPS app that never let me down so far, and thanks for the traffic updates and now also opyimised for the iPad!

Apps that work on the iPhone and wish would work on the iPad but do not or are simply not optimised:

  • Whatsapp, the cross platform instant messenger, I call it BBM for all. (Does not work)
  • Google +, Facebook did it why not Google? (Not optimised)
  • Windows Live Messenger, come on Microsoft you did it for the iPhone now optimised it for the iPad.

I also now added a use to my iPad I never thought I would, thanks to the TuneIn Radio app, I listen to radio, mostly European.

All in all it is a better operating system, you will notice that I make no mention of iCloud, this is because I feel our bandwidth is not suitable as yet so I did not enable the backup part of it nor have I tried to use it to it’s full potential, in a future post maybe?

[Edited on 2011/10/22 – Tomtom]

The inevitable 20 uses of the iPad, the software I use.

In my last post I chatted about the uses I found for my iPad, some expected some not, however there is conditions attached, you need the software to be able to carry out these activities. Some of the required software comes preinstalled on the iPad and are part of iOS the rest will have to be downloaded and sometimes paid for.

This is my list  of software for “The inevitable 20 uses of the iPad…

  1. Show my photography portfolio to potential client and works to clients.
    Photos is the native application on the iPad and is far sufficient for my purpose.
  2. Email
    Again, Mail is the native application on the iPad and is far sufficient for my purpose.
  3. Alarm clock
    That’s a little tougher, I use Living Earth for this purpose.
  4. Recording and taking notes in meeting.
    I use Audiotorium for long meetings and Evernotes for quick ones both sync to the cloud (Audiotorium uses Dropbox).
  5. Reading ebooks.
    Bluefire Reader because it reads epub and PDF including those with DRM and it has a night mode.
  6. Browsing the Internet for information.
    Well Firefox is not available for the I pad so we are stuck with Safari.
  7. Watching ASP.NET MVC video tutorials.
    Wait ain’t the tutorial using the Microsoft codec? They are but VLC does the trick, it will decode just about anything you through at it. Unfortunately, it has been removed from the app store.
  8. Watching photography video tutorials.
    App store, these tutorials are all found in the app store from various photographers.
  9. Reading my RSS feeds.
    Reeder does a good job of syncing my Google Reader account and caching it locally.
  10. Listening to music.
    The iPod application, obviously.
  11. Getting the weather forecast.
    Both Living Earth and AccuWeather do a good job of keeping me informed, I just hope that these will be enhanced with iOS 5 so I do not need to open them to get the weather.
  12. Keeping a to do list.
    I use Evernotes, I have tried others but iOS 5 is coming with Reminders, let us see… 
  13. Keeping notes.
    Quick notes are best done with Evernotes and it syncs with my laptop and iPhone.
     
  14. SKYPING friends and colleges into audio conferences.
    SKYPE, the only issue is that SKYPE is built for the iPhone, but it works fine on the iPad.
  15. Facebook.
    I tried a few apps and eventually settled on a paid app called MyPad+ after testing MyPad
  16. Mind mapping.
    MindNode because it’s compatible and it works.
  17. Keeping track of my car’s fuel consumption.
    Numbers, the Apple’s spread sheet and it works with Microsoft Office too.
  18. Billing clients.
    MiniBooks is an iPhone interface for Freshbooks, I have not found an iPad one yet. 
  19. Navigation via GPS
    TomTom South Africa, so far the better of the lot even if it’s still is an iPhone app and has not grown to iPad.
  20. Writing blog entries.
    BlogPress or http://blogpressapp.com/ is really nice and interfaces well with WordPress, now bring a full HTML editor and I will be really over the moon.

The inevitable 20 uses of the iPad…

I know it’s a strange title but a true one…

I am not going to bore you with how incredible the iPad 1 is, even if it is, or how I wander how I lived without it, even if there is some truth to it. I am though going to list the uses I found for it in the last week in no specific order and let you decide for yourself.

1. Show my photography portfolio to potential client and works to clients.
2. Email, a place for my all email accounts in 1 portable place.
3. Alarm clock, yep it wakes me up too, too bad it does not make coffee.
4. Recording and taking notes in meeting.
5. Reading ebooks.
6. Browsing the Internet for information.
7. Watching ASP.NET MVC video tutorials.
8. Watching photography video tutorials.
9. Reading my RSS feeds.
10. Listening to music.
11. Getting the weather forecast.
12. Keeping a to do list.
13. Keeping notes.
14. SKYPING friends and colleges into audio conferences.
15. Facebook.
16. Mind mapping.
17. Keeping track of my car’s fuel consumption.
18. Billing clients.
19. Navigation via GPS
20. Write this blog entry.

And that was this week, imagine next week…

In case you wandered it also has some irritations but let me live that for a future post.

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad.

Location:Swartgoud St,Johannesburg South,South Africa

Products worth mentioning for small start-up businesses

I do not rave about products often but there are a few well worth looking into, if you are in need of a synchronised world across devices (PC, Pads, Laptops and phones) and on the move or just starting a new venture.

  1. Google Apps, a cloud based business solution, premium paid service is available.
    As a start-up it allows you to have 10 Gmail boxes (7GB+), Google Calendars, Google Site, Google Docs, Google Contacts for free on your own domain.
    It has some limitations in it’s free form but it will do fine for a few years.
    Works with any device with a browser, has apps or functionality for Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, iPhone, iPad, Android, BlackBerry
  2. DropBox, a free hard drive in the cloud, premium paid service is available.
    The basic version is 2GB of space and by inviting friends that do not have Dropbox yet, you get and extra 250mb per accepted request.
    It’s a great way to save those critical documents and Dropbox is compatible this a multitude of devices and software packages, the big thing is it synchronize the files on it’s own, I don’t have to think about it.  
    Works with any device with a browser, has apps or functionality for Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, iPhone, iPad, Android, BlackBerry
  3. Evernote, free notes in the cloud, premium paid service is available.
    Not as heavy as DropBox and with a totally different purpose, the basic (free) version gives you 60MB.
    I found it a great replacement to Microsoft’s OneNote, the later being limited to Windows (in most forms). I found the Notebook approach of OneNote very friendly and wished it was available across all my devices with synchronisation. It took me a while to find a worthy replacement but EverNote is it. No more looking for where I put that note. (I sound like a sales rep now)
    Works with any device with a browser, has apps or functionality for Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, iPhone, iPad, Android, BlackBerry.
  4. Flickr, free photograph repository and sharing in the cloud, premium paid service is available.
    Still the best photo sharing site around, and it’s free unless you want to go pro and have unlimited space.
    Most of my publishable work is on Flickr not all is my best but I use it as my repository. I can mark photos private or limited access and it has full copyrights support.
    Works with any device with a browser, has apps or functionality for Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, iPhone, iPad, Android, BlackBerry.
  5. Skype, free phone and messaging.
    I know that they have had a few serious issues lately but let us stay honest, they are still the best.
    Works with most devices (well at least all devices I own), Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, iPhone, iPad,…

There is another cloud based service I’d like to add, FreshBooks as with the others premium paid service is available.
It’s an online invoicing, Time Tracking and Billing system.
FreshBooks also integrates directly with Google Apps which make life easier.
I am new to it but so far it’s been great. 3 clients for free. And it has mobile apps too, I run it off my iPhone.

This last one is not so much for business then for information, Google Reader is an RSS aggregator in the cloud with many sync apps for a variety of platforms. 
Create your own newspaper, I did and did I mention it was free and accessible via any browsers?

All in all, these a are bunch of useful cloud based applications to make life a little simpler, no more worry about loosing that all important data.

Now I am looking for a viable online backup solution that will work with South African bandwidth.