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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.

Are these the droids you're looking for?

Marco Arment sums up my bemusement with the Android platform, and, by extension, why my frustration that that AT&T’s network is so awful where I live:

The current must-have Android phone changes every few months, and they’re often radically different from each other, making it difficult for consumers, developers, the press, and the carriers to build loyalty toward any of them or entrench them in the market. The OS needs to be updated over the air with three involved parties, only one of whom is motivated to update it. Features are added when they can be, not when (or if) they should be, or if they can be done well. Nearly every usability detail appears to be an afterthought, as if “design” is relegated to a coat of paint at the end of the development cycle rather than a deep-rooted philosophy throughout it.

The driving theme of the iPhone, as evident in every “There’s an app for that” ad, is “use this to do stuff.” Meanwhile, as near as I can tell, the driving motif of the Droids — with all the menacing Terminator-style chrome and unblinking red eyes — is that they’ll kill you if you aren’t careful. The tech-heavy “Droid Does” slogan reminds me of the days when Sega, hoping that more advanced specs would win the video game wars, tried out “Sega does what Nintendon’t.” And that turns out to have worked great for them, right?

The Verizon signal where I live is great, and I get a work discount, too. I simply can’t justify ditching that right now for AT&T’s extraordinarily mediocre signal, no matter how much I prefer the user experience of the iPhone. While there is precious little that actually draws me to Android, it’s a less dead end option than any other option that’s not an iPhone.

Misc & Etc

What’s in the bin this week?

  • your.flowingdata — a personal data aggregator in the same vein as daytum and mycrocosm. Flowing Data is a great site, so this tool has lots of promise. Update activities via Twitter dms.
  • Summertime in Flagstaff is just great. (The Schultz fire is now fully contained and crews are working on flood/mudslide prevention.)

Downtown after dinner

  • I’m still loving the iPad. My Lightroom 3 to iPad gallery workflow has proved to work pretty well for my needs. I’m eagerly awaiting the release of PlainText and have started to daydream about an app or web utility that would facilitate writing markdown, textile, and other markup-formatted text.
  • Shouldn’t people writing fake term papers for sale just expect that they’re going to get ripped off by douchebags?

iPad

Brayden asked below about my experience so far with the iPad. Can it replace a PC for most uses? Put most simply, yup. I’m using mine for about 90 percent of the everyday time that I would normally spend on the MacBook Pro. In fact, it’s probably easier to write up the things that I’m not routinely doing on the iPad, these days:

  1. Lightroom: I do have a nice workflow for publishing photos to the iPad from Lightroom, but for now at least, that application itself still lives on the MBP. And Lightroom 3, by the way, has a host of improvements that I recommend.

And that’s about it. Now that I’ve had some time to get used to the keyboard, i can write pretty quickly with the iPad; autocorrect doesn’t always seem to catch things I think it should (like the lowercase “I” in the prior sentence), so i think about the Bluetooth keyboard once in a while, but I haven’t really needed more than the software keyboard. If i want to write a lot, of course, I can hop onto the laptop and TextMate away. (I drafted this article using simpletext.ws on iPad.)

The iPad so portable and easy that I do a lot of sitting on the patio with it. It undersells it significantly to call it a reading device, but it’s so very good for propping in my lap with a coffee or a beer and diving into instapaper or the Kindle app. It’s just a thoroughly enjoyable experience.

Shortly after the iPad launch, some reviewer noted how it just gets out of the way and just becomes the application you’re using or the web site you’re visiting. That’s really a great way to put it, and it’s largely true. With a well done app, the iPad mostly disappears.

Here’s a short list of the good apps I’m spending time with (in addition to Safari and Mail):

  1. Instapaper Pro
  2. Kindle
  3. 1password Pro
  4. Twitterific
  5. Tab Toolkit
  6. Netflix
  7. Reeder

I’m still looking for a case for the thing (the DODO Case is mighty tempting), just for a bit more protection, though I’m not eager to cover it up, either. [Other recommendations, anybody?] And I don’t love the crop of text editors I’ve tried, so far, hence using simpletext.ws for this post; the upcoming PlainText app sure looks good, though. But I have no true complaints. This is a super little device and I’m really having a great time with it. Don’t let anybody tell you it’s just a big iPod Touch.

Lightroom 3 to iPad gallery workflow

(Or, an efficient way to use Lightroom to manage photos on your iPad)

I got myself an iPad a few weeks ago. Short review: It’s a big iPhone only in the sense that an iPhone is just a phone; that is, it’s hawt and I love it. (More ZOMG iPad articles to follow, I’m sure.)

The iPad really shows off photos, so I’ve been thinking about the best way to manage the photos that I want to put on it. With the non-beta release of Lightroom 3 this week, I think I’ve found a start at a workflow in the new publishing service that it offers.

First a note about syncing photos to the iPad. Like the iPod/iPhone, you have to select a single parent directory, and optionally subdirectories, of photos that you want to sync. The iPad stores photos in a series of albums simply named after the subdirectory where they live on your hard drive. In my case, I keep the photos that I publish out of Lightroom in one of a number of subfolders of a ~/Pictures/Exported Photos directory, but I don’t necessary want to sync all of them to the iPad. And, for the iPad, I wanted a little more control over the album naming for purposes of navigation — so I didn’t want to keep the directory names I’ve previously used for simple file management.

So: I have an “iPad” directory in my exports folder, and that’s what I sync to the iPad — along with all its subdirectories. I’ve copied a handful of existing albums into that directory, which isn’t a great solution but it does work for now. Apple has apparently decided that symbolic links cannot be synced [that would be a great capability, wouldn’t it?], so I can’t simply create links to the file locations of the existing, non-Lightroom albums that I want to sync.

iPad sync directory; Lightroom 3 publish service directories are subfolders of this

But the Lightroom albums are another story. Right now, I’ve simply created a couple of Hard Drive publish services, each of which publishes to a subdirectory of that “iPad” folder I described above. For example, the current flickr one simply sets up a set of export parameters for photos that will be published to a subdir.

Lightroom 3 Hard Drive publish service setup

But the slick part comes by making a smart collection that will publish everything I post to flickr in 2010. Simply build the smart collection within the publish service:

Creating a published smart folder in Lightroom 3

And then set it to include all photos that match some key criteria: Since I use Jeffery Friedl’s flickr plugin, I can call directly on the metadata it creates at export:

Published Smart folder settings to include a subset of Flickr-published photos

I now have a smart collection within a publish service, so the photos that I export that match that criteria will automatically be added. I’ll have to occasionally republish to the service itself; and each time I do so, the iPad will gather up those photos the next time I sync.

You can use the same methodology to set up hard drive publish services for any album you like; each service will appear on the iPad as an album, and if you create a smart collection (or a series of them) as part of the service, then they’ll be updated automatically as you perform you regular photo workflow.

One final note on why I think the publish service is an ideal tool for this workflow, rather than a solution such as simply exporting to a folder: The publish service will apply future changes to the service settings to all photos under its control. So, were I to decide to apply a watermark, a border (via, for example, LR/Mogrify 2), or adjust photo quality in order to save space on the iPad, those changes made to the publish service would result in the option to re-process the current photos:

Publish service allows for the updating of all published photos when changes are made to the service

In a sense, then, the photos produced via the publish service are truly synced — future changes will be managed and will trigger re-processing, if I choose. I think that’s pretty Good Stuff.


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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