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November updates and &c.

First things first, our little boy is a bundle of joy. At fifteen weeks, he’s grinning up a storm, making lots of not-quite-talking sounds, and getting closer to rolling over every day. And now we have his very first refrigerator art:

Art on the fridge

What else to mention, note and otherwise jot?

  • Gruber sneers at the suggestion that Android phones will soon find a place on the flickr popular cameras list, and he’s right. Data point: Some photos I upload from my Droid X are identified by the application that took the photo, not by the device itself; for example, the photo linked above says it was taken with “a Vignette for Android.” I bet that iOS devices/apps don’t do that, do they? It’s hard to demonstrate any kind of presence with that sort of fractured reporting.
  • That said, I’m finding that my Droid X is a fully capable device, enabling easy photography and video, and casual easy-to-maintain connections with friends and family. This internet over-the-air thing could go places, folks. However, Motorola, I’m looking at you: The glitch where you incorrectly remove spaces after alpha characters when I use puncutation like $ or " has got to get fixed. It makes sense for commas, periods, colons and semicolons, but not most other marks.
  • Also, Steambirds is great on Android and iOS, too.
  • I got myself one of those about.me jobbers. I don’t really know what to do with it.
  • Relatedly, What do do with an old blog? That’s what I’ve been wondering, lately. This little domain has served as a web log now for nine years, and though I’ve tinkered with the flash and easy posting of tumblr and posterous (and twitter and github and so forth) I’ve never quite decided if and how to shift gears to one of them, you know, officially. Something to consider as this little corner of the twinglywebs has another birthday.
  • We ditched DirecTV back in July to go all-online for our TV needs and have been pretty happy with the switch. We miss the easy-on of live TV sometimes (news, some sports) but Netflix and Amazon on Demand have treated us pretty well. The video quality of Netflix isn’t as good on the Wii as on the Blu-Ray player, but the little white box makes up for it by beating the pants off the Sony when it comes to interface. Catch up, Sony; little image tiles and no discoverability are losers, man.
  • An evening of tinkering with AirPlay in iOS 4.2 (via the iPad and my now five-year old and perfectly working Airport Express hooked up to the Model One) really does make me want AppleTV and -enabled speakers all over the place. It’s cool, and it so lightens the comparable overhead of MacBook + Remote app. P.S., Tivoli, I would pay real money for an Airplay-enabled model.
  • The TSA urges us all not to make things inconvenient this holiday season? “TSA: You can be sure the SA doesn’t stand for self-aware.”

Happy Thanksgiving from all of me to both of you.

Great Android apps: Vignette

I’ve been using the Vignette app for photography on Android ever since Dawn recommended it to me. It allows me to tap to shoot (avoiding the balky Droid X camera button) and offers a bunch of shooting options.

It also offers dozens of filters for creative photo-making, any of which can be applied either at the time of taking a shot, or later, to any photo in the Droid’s gallery. In fact, there are so many filters that I have trouble keeping track of all of them, and developers neilandtheresa (who, by the way, have an utterly charming blog and web site – and also see their official site for Vignette) continue to add more with each update to the app.

So I cheated and made myself a handy reference for the current set of built-in effects. It’s a little unwieldy to use on the droid itself, but not too bad — and it’s a big help for thinking about post-processing of photos that I’ve already shot. It includes examples of the vignette, coloring, camera and film effects styles and more. I hope it’s helpful to you. Click through for the full-size sheet at flickr.

Vignette App for Android | Effects examples

Keep in mind that the effects can be layered on top of one another via the customizations menu, allowing the stacking of any number of treatments. This sheet doesn’t show any of those combinations.

One hint for working with Vignette: Set a favorite preset with all effects, frames and customizations to Normal/None; then you can quickly toggle from fancy-pants artistic to straight normal settings.

For the sake of completeness, here’s a list of all the effects currently in the application (note that not all simple color variations are included in the example sheet).

COMPLETE EFFECTS LIST as of Aug 21 2010
1. Normal - Generic film effect
2. Vignette
3. Portra
4. Velvia
5. Ilford
TOY
6. Toy Camera
7. Toy Camera BW
8. Leaky
9. Cross-Process
VINTAGE
10. Faded
11. SX-70
12. Summer - hazy grns and browns
13. Colourised - flat pastels
14. Oversaturated - bright washed out reds & yellows
15. Yearbook - faded B&W
16. Sepia
17. Platinotype - bright smooth tones & deep shadows
18. Retro Red - faded color variation
19. Retro Yellow
20. Retro Green
21. Retry Cyan
22. Retro Blue
23. Retro Magenta
COLOUR HIGHLIGHT
24. London - contrasty b&w and red
25. Paris - contrasty B&W and blue-green
26. New York - contrasty black & white and yellow
COLOUR SWAP
27. Red/blue
28. Red/green
29. Blue/green
30. Rotate Hue
TINTED MONOCHROME
31. Sepia - same
32. Platinotype - same
33. Bleach bypass
34. Night vision- grainy and green
35. Duotone red, yellow, green, cyan, blue, magenta
LENS EFFECTS
36. Dreamy - soft-focus
37. Tilt-shift - portrait and landscape modes
38. Tobacco filter - deep orange tint for dramatic skies
39. Grad tobacco - portrait and landscape
40. Grad ND - portrait and landscape
41. Red, yellow, green, cyan, blue and magenta simple filters
CINEMATIC
42. Action movie - vivid reds w/blue-green tint
43. Technicolor - red and cyan 1930s look
44. Scary movie - tri-tone blue and magenta
MISC
45. Posterise
46. Blackboard
47. Infrared
48. Rainbow
49. Negative
50. Invert
FRAMES
51. Bordered
52. Rounded
53. Oval
FRAMES - INSTANT
54. Instant classic
	variants: Wide, mini & square
FRAMES - GRUNGY
55. Instant transfer 1
	variants: 2 (smaller border) and 3 (yellow/magenta border)
56. Filed carrier
FRAMES - FILM
57. 35mm
58. 35mm full bleed
59. 6x6
60. 6x6 full bleed

Sync Lightroom Galleries to Android - Automatically!

Now that I have a photogenic, tiny gurgling creature in the house, I’m shooting a lot of photos, both on the Droid X and the Pentax. Most of these photos end up, one way or another, in Lightroom for cataloguing, and as I’ve described earlier, I have a nice workflow for updating these rapidly-growing galleries on my iPad.

But how about the Droid X? It has a nice screen, and I want to foist photos of my beautiful boy on anyone I happen across — so I started to wonder if, continuing to use Lightroom as my core platform, I could keep a small gallery of photos on the Android phone with as little manual work as possible.

Here’s the executive summary: I again use a smart published collection in Lightroom to create the gallery; then I use a LaunchAgent in OS X to monitor the mount point of the Droid X on the filesystem; and a tiny shell script syncs the published gallery to the Droid whenever I plug it into the MacBook Pro. Read on for altogether too many details.

First, a couple of things to note about how the Droid X generates image galleries [ note that this may apply to all Android devices; I have no idea, and your mileage may vary ]:

  • Android automatically displays galleries based on image type — so you don’t need to update a database or anything to build your galleries on the phone. You just need folder(s) full of images.
  • When you run the Gallery app, it will display galleries with the name of the parent folder containing the images. This means you can make a folder tree on the Droid’s SD card and neatly package multiple gallery folders within it, without cluttering up your root directory.

Prepare the SD card

When I attach my Droid X via USB to the MacBook Pro, it automatically mounts it as a volume titled NO NAME, so I used the Finder to change the label to DROIDX. This, happily, seems not to have affected any of the phone’s operations; the Droid must not depend on the name of the SD card for any of its internal work.

The second preparation step is to create a master gallery directory on the SD card. This is just for housekeeping purposes; everything in the galleries will be in a subdirectory of that top-level directory. Again, I simply did this with the finder: navigate to the DROIDX drive when the phone is connected, and create a new top-level directory, Galleries.

Your SD card and Droid should now be ready to go.

Set up the Gallery/Galleries

Just like last time, I’m using smart publish collections, based on keywords, to populate the galleries that will be synced. I decided to prefix all the keywords for this usage with dx — so, dx-gallery is my main tag, and I’ve edited it in LR to not be included in export. It’s a housekeeping tag only.

I’ve tagged a bunch of images with the dx-gallery tag.

Then it’s off to build the publish service. Here’s what it looks like in the publishing manager:

And add to that service a Published Smart Set that looks like this:

You can assign multiple keywords to the Smart Set, or create as many smart sets as you want galleries, and use unique keywords to assign photos to each. Each smart set within the published collection will appear in your directory tree as a subdirectory of the top-level folder for the set — and that makes the syncing to the Droid easy.

Automate syncing via LaunchAgent

Everything I know about LaunchAgent I learned from this tutorial. This is basically a concise repeating of that description, edited for our purposes. (I’ve previously described using this process to perform system backups)

First, if it’s not already there, mkdir ~/Library/LaunchAgents. This is the folder that OS X will watch for scripts triggered by system events such as mounting an external drive, which is exactly what plugging in the Droid does.

In that directory, make a new plist file (I called mine droid-sync-watch.plist) and give paste this into it:

<?xml version=1.0 encoding=UTF-8?> <!DOCTYPE plist PUBLIC “-//Apple Computer//DTD PLIST 1.0//EN” \ “http://www.apple.com/DTDs/PropertyList-1.0.dtd”> <dict> <key>Label</key> <string>droid-sync</string> <key>LowPriorityIO</key> <true/> <key>Program</key> <string>/Users/alan/Library/Scripts/droid-sync</string> <key>ProgramArguments</key> <array> <string>droid-sync</string> </array> <key>WatchPaths</key> <array> <string>/Volumes</string> </array> </dict> </plist>

In short, this plist file tells the OS to run the identified script (~Library/Scripts/droid-sync) when the specified WatchPath changes.

The sync script itself lives in ~Library/Scrips and consists of a check against the desired volume (here’s where naming the Droid SD card comes in) and an rsync of the designated published collection to the previously-generated target directory on the SD card.

#!/bin/bash # delay a short time to make sure the path is available echo -n "[*]-- new /Volumes... sleeping" | logger sleep 20 if [ ! -e "/Volumes/DROIDX" ]; then       echo -n "[*]-- DROIDX NOT connected - Exiting" | logger       exit 0    else       echo -n "[*]-- DROIDX Connected - Performing gallery sync" | logger fi # rsync with delete option rsync --delete -r ~/Pictures/Exported\ Photos/Droid/ /Volumes/DROIDX/Galleries echo -n "[*]-- DROIDX gallery sync complete" | logger

Finally, tell the LaunchAgent controller to watch your scripts by doing the following at a terminal:

  • launchctl load ~/Library/LaunchAgents
  • launchctl list | grep sync

You should see your droid-sync script appear in the list produced by the second command, above.

Now you’re ready!

Plug in and go

That really should do it. When you connect the Droid X, you can watch the messages in the sync script appear in your console log, and everything should work — after syncing, disconnect the device again and fire up the gallery application; in the “Folders” section of the gallery you should see an item for each gallery you create in Lightroom. You’re done!

As with the iPad workflow, the great part of this is that once it’s set up, it’s pretty automatic. If you edit, add, or remove photos, as long as you republish the collection, those changes will all be pushed over to the Droid. Thanks to a little nerdery and Lightroom, we’ve built a bit of functionality that the Droid software doesn’t directly offer — and it’s still done with LR as the core of the photo library.


About, the short version

I’m a sociologist-errant. This site is powered by Textpattern, Pair Networks and the sociological imagination. For more about me and this site, see the long version.

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