Evernote for Notes syn

with my blackberry I used notes for to do lists and things, but with iPhone, Notes are not synced with Exchange or shared. This application does that. Syncs to do lists to the cloud for viewing everywhere.

Back To School: Expand Your Brain with Evernote

iPhone version of Evernote creates and syncs text notes, snapshot notes, saved photos notes, and even voice notes. You can tag, upload, sync, and search any of your notes from your iPhone the same way you would on your desktop

iMovie 7.0 idiosyncracies and publishing to Zenphoto

Wow, it is hard to figure a few things out with iMovie, but here is the best way to produce great looking DVDs and also things ready for export:

# iMovie ’08 (aka version 7.0) is a bit of a wierd program. First, it doesn’t have a File Save function. Instead, all projects are in a named directory which is /User/_your.username_/Movies/iMovie Projects/_the.name.of.your.project_. So if you want to move a project from one place to another you have to stick the project file there. I see why they did this for noob users, but it is very unmac-like. It does mean you don’t have to worry about File Save and File Save As, the program does this automatically
# Media Browser is a very strange concept. Basically, when you say Share Media Browser, you get a list of different formatsand iMovie automatically updates these renderings, but you can’t find them. Again, they are hidden in the package and you can’t find them with Spotlight or anything. In fact, you have to go to /User/_your.username_/Movies/iMovie Projects/_your.project_ and them right click and choose _Show Package Contents_ in Finder. This shows you the hidden directory called Movies within that package. You will find files called large.m4v, medium.m4v, mobile.m4v etc.
# The m4v is another name for a .mp4 format that Apple has popularized, but most tools on the internet like Flowtool or flvtool built into Zenphoto doesn’t recognize them. So to you have to copy out the say mobile.m4v and then rename it to mobile.mp4 and then copy up to any Zenphoto. Zenphoto doesn’t document it but basically any .mp4, .flv or .mov it finds in an album is displayed along with other photos and then when you click you get the built in flowplayer to show it. Kind of slick!
# Alternatively, if you just want the limited options that iMovie has, then you can choose Share/Export Movie which has the same options as Media Browser, but let’s you name the files whatever you like. The Media Browser thing does integrate with iDVD well in that you don’t have to navigate the file system to find files, it knows the magic location automatically
# The Share/Export using Quicktime gives you lots more control as it let’s you product a variety of formats. Most interesting are 1080 HD which products an H.264 movie in HD format. The other is 480 SD which produces a DVD quality movie in .MOV format. There is also an option to make .FLVs directly but I get an error 32766 when you try that which “no one”:http://discussions.apple.com/thread.jspa?threadID=1582188&tstart=4 seems to understand.
# The other strange thing about Zenphoto is that if you select the Shutterfly option, you can print, but it is not clear how to do it. What happens is that when you go to the image page, you will see an option for full size, but nothing for shutterfly. At the lower left of the page, there is a strange icon or logo but no text. You click on that and then you see the option “Add to Shutterfly cart”. How wierd is that. Now text at all.

New MacBooks July-September?

Mac Rumors: Apple Mac Rumors and News You Care About

While Montevina’s speed upgrades are also said to be modest, it has also been rumored that Apple will be revamping the physical design of their next notebooks to bring them in line with the current iMac and MacBook Air. Recently leaked photos depicting a more tapered design of the MacBook Pro are believed to be real. Apple’s next laptops are rumored to arrive sometime during Q3 2008 (July-September).

iPhone 3G Reviews

Well, “ilounge”:http://www.ilounge.com/index.php/news/comments/live-iphone-3g-vs-iphone-comparison-test-results-here/ has a good first review set:

* The White 16GB is going to be much cleaner with fewer fingerprints than the black one. I’m kinda regretting ordering the black one now that I’ve seen photos. The white one is actually quite cute.
* Some folks are saying that this is really like iPhone 1.1 because other than 3G not much has changed, so if you already have a current iPhone you can wait for the next churn. (For those of us who have lost our iPhones, we are screwed!).
* The best thing to do with an iPhone is to try to get an unlocked one. The plans are really expensive at $30/month if you are a consumer. OTOH, the $45/month enterprise one is at least, just as much of a ripoff as the Blackberry plan. So you are no worse off if you are an Exchange user 🙂
* Sound quality on Bluetooth is better, but about the same as the original iPhone on the headset. The speakerphone is a little louder (important for me).
* 3G network isn’t always faster. Naturally, it depends on AT&T’s network, which I’m sure is not too high performance. Essentially 3G is about 26% faster in NYC. Wifi is still the method of choice at 2-7x faster than 3G with an average of 4x. In Orange County (who knows where and how that network is configured), 3G about 2x faster than in NYC. So YMMV

Slideshows on the Mac

Slideshows on the Mac are confusing because iPhoto, iDVD and iMovie can all make them, so what should use when. Here’s a guide:

h3. iPhoto ’08 for quick and dirty on the screen slideshows

First this is confusingly actually iPhoto ’08 , version 7.0 (why couldn’t they just bump the version to match the date?). This is the best tool to do a quick and dirty slide show on your computer screen. It literally takes four clicks to get a great looking video. It isn’t the right tool to push it onto a DVD or make it into a movie you can watch on your iPhone or on another computer, but use it first because it is fast. Here are the steps:

# Load your photos. While iPhoto will do direct importing, I personally like to keep the files separate from iPhoto because I archive all my photos onto a Time Capsule and use many tools on it. So you can either import by connecting your camera and iPhoto will appear and allow an import. Or import with your camera tool (amazingly Canon EOS Utility actually works on Canons, Fujis and Nikons). Then delete the photos you don’t want
# Import your photos into iPhoto. Start iPhoto and choose File/Import. iPhoto ’08 is smart. It actually puts each day of shooting into a separate _Event_. So please make sure that your camera date is correct. Its a nice way to break things up.
# Select all your photos. Hold th eoption key down and click on all the events and then click on the Slideshow button at the bottom, this creates a slide show automatically. Select Ken Burns at the bottom.
# Now click on the music icon and iTunes appears. The only trickly part is that you can only select playlists or a single song which repeats over and over, so you click on a playlist *and don’t click on the songs below* otherwise, you’ll only get the first song you have highlighted below. That is the tricky part.

You are done. Now just hit the play button and you can watch the slideshow with glorious sound and the Ken Burns zoom in/out effect.

h3. iPhoto export to iDVD for a DVD

This is a little tricky, because if you just choose File/Export when you select a Slideshow in iPhoto, you only get a 4:3 low resolution 640×480 version of your photos that look pretty blurry. So instead, to make a nice DVD, you have a terrible choice, either lower resolution movie made by iPhoto or no Ken Burns effect if you make the slideshow directly in iDVD but you do get all the photos in full resolution copied to the DVD.

Net, net, I’m probably a fan of getting everything out there, so recommend you loose Ken Burns but you get a widescreen DVD and if you put that DVD into a computer, whoever you give the DVD to can get the full resolution JPG shots. Here is how:

# In iPhoto, take the select all the Events and then choose File/New Album from Selected. This creates an albun in iPhoto. Delete and change the order so you have the slide show in the right order and close iPhoto.
# Start iDVD and pick a theme (Vintage Vinyl is pretty cool!) and click on Media and the Pictures you will see the iPhoto albums and drag the album of choice onto the the screen on the left. This inserts the slide show. Now click on the button at the center that is a dashed box with an arrow into it. This is the _Drop Zone_ button, pick your favorite photos from within the album and drag them there. These will now appear automatically in your menus.
# Add audio soundtrack by click on the Music and then drag a playlist onto the screen and this adds the music.
# Add the title, by click on the title placeholder and typing the name of your slideshow and I also like to change the name of the button created to “Play…” instead of the album name. Now double click on the Play… and you should see the Slideshow come up. Drag a playlist from iTunes onto the MP3 button at the bottom and change Slide Duration to 3 seconds and click on Return.
# Now click on Play and make sure it looks and sounds right and choose Exit on the controller. You are now ready to burn your DVD.
# Burn it onto your hard drive which is way easier by choosing File/Save as TS_VIDEO folder and then when you want to burn a DVD, you can use Disk Utility to do that.

h3. iMovie for high resolution Movies sized on HD or for iPhone

Now the most work that you have to do is to create a standalone H.264 .MOV files that you can use on your HD screen at higher resolution that a DVD (DVDs are 720×480 while most computer screens are much more and can display 1920×1080 easily). You have to use a fancier tool like iMovie to generate these. So here are the steps

# Start iMovie and choose File/Project Properties and make sure Aspect Ratio is set to Widescreen, Transitions are set to Add Automatically and Initial Photo Placement is set ot Ken Burns and select OK.
# click on the Photo icon at the center right of the screen and you will see your iPhoto albums. Select all the photos and drag them to the top center of the screen.
# Click on the music icon at the center right and you will see iTunes playlists and drag these to the toop center of the screen. You are looking to hit the background and not the individual photos and should see the background lightup when you get it right.
# If you are feeling ambitious, select the T icon at the center right and then drag a title to the beginning of the slide show. Click on the Title and type in the name. Now you are ready to render.
# If you want to get it to an iPhone choose Share/Export Movie and you can select Mobile to get it to an iPhone or any other device you have.
# If you want something that is really high definition and bigger than choose Share/Export using Quicktime and select Options. You can change the Size to 1920×1080 HD to get something that is amazing quality and very big too. Also look at the box on the right of the dialog and make sure it says it says H.264 which is the highest level compression and best quality. Choose OK and Save.

And voila, from a set of photos, you now have something that works on screen, you have a DVD and you have an Quicktime movie which is small to upload and send to an iPhone. As well as a huge HD sized slideshow for the day when you get a Blu Ray player 🙂

MacBook Air SuperDrive jammed and will not eject so shake it!

Hat tip to “TUAW”:http://www.tuaw.com/2008/06/24/mod-use-your-macbook-air-superdrive-on-any-machine/ apparently, “Tnkgrl”:http://tnkgrl.wordpress.com/2008/06/24/macbook-air-superdrive-for-all/ has figured out how to open up a Superdrive, replace a part and thus make it universally compatible with all computers. Great geekout. OTOH, why go to all the trouble :-)? The “photos”:http://www.flickr.com/photos/tnkgrl/sets/72157605790040071/ are really useful so you can disassemble it. The short version is the black bottom comes out if you slip a credit card in the seam. Then you can look the LEDs and see if the drive is lighting up. (Mine was). In the end, I shook it enough that it seemed to unjam the drive. So give that a try before returning.

Some other tricks are noted below that are software related

The short story is that although some folks think it is incompatible with other computers because it needs more current (1 amp is needed to burn, although much less to read). There isn’t specail firmware either. You can take apart the SuperDrive and mount it into a PC and it works fine. What happened is Apple hacked into the IDE-to-USB bridge and make special firmware. The slime!

“Apple Discussions”:http://discussions.apple.com/thread.jspa?threadID=1550094&tstart=0 has other frustrated people with the same problem. Apple – Support – Discussions – Disc stuck into superdrive AND won’t …

I have just bought a MBA. I managed to install windows ans other software through the superdrive. Now I’ve just put a DVD into it to watch a movie and it got stuck into the superdrive. I browsed on the forum, tried to reboot while holding the trackpad button but the disc is still stuck… at rebooting the superdrives “becomes alive” but it looks like it has no force to eject it (and I have tried rebooting both with and without the power cable connected to MBA)

There is a rumor that holding the mouse button down while it reboots will work. Also that holding down the “C” key when booting might help.

Now here is what I think it happening, it is trying to eject (you can hear the drive spinning and it trying to hiccup). Apple – Support – Discussions – Disc stuck into superdrive AND won’t …

Does it sound Like it’s trying to eject? These new SDs are so thin that it is common for them to get out of alignment. The DVD rubs against the top of the case and stops ejecting. It happens often on the MacBooks and maybe this is the case with the USB drive.

With the aluminum MacBook Pros Apple ships a spatula to adjust the case. It’s under warranty so you should take it back in any case.

As an aside one strange thing is the drive doesn’t appear at all in the “System Profiler”:http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=262108 and they also suggest resetting your “PRAM”:http://docs.info.apple.com/article.html?artnum=2238 or “PMU”:http://docs.info.apple.com/article.html?artnum=303319. Most folks are just replacing the SuperDrives though on MacBook Pros as this example shows.

Using Raw, DxO and Photomatix together

Well, as I’ve been using various programs, it is pretty clear that you have to be pretty careful about using the different programs. Some things you want to do earlier and some later. For instance, you probably want to sharpen last as this really changes the bits. “Larry Gerbrandt”:http://photos.larrygerbrandt.com/2007/07/24/hello-world/ has some recommendations on workflow that are in short:

# Shoot in RAW and JPG. This produces NEF for Nikon or CR2 for Canon. It usually contains one stop more information. I actually typically shoot both since many times I just need a photo quick and don’t have time to process it. Technically speaking, with JPEG you have 8-bits of information per color (24 bits total), while with RAW in most cameras you ahve 12-bits or with later cameras even 14-bits of information. That’s way more.
# Use DxO first on the raw image. This correct distortion and vignetting, so it should be the same across a group of images. Don’t use this program for sharpening and so forth. It produces TIFF and DNR files which are Adobe device-independent raw files.
# Photomatix. This takes multiple bracketed images (usually these should be at least +2 and -2EV, but correctly done, should be bracketed so the brightest shot is all the way to the right, really overexposed and the darkest shot is all the way to the left in the histogram all taken aperture priority to ensure the same focus). This produces .EXR files which are the raw high dynamic range and also .TIF files. You have to do it in this order because for some reason TIF files Photomatix produces, doesn’t have enough information for DxO to match the lense with it
# Noise Ninja. This is the last thing you use, it should be done in Photoshop because Noise Ninja standalone only read uncompressed TIF and TIFs are big enough.


_MG_1173_4_5_tonemappedOK, finally flopped Nextgen Gallery for ZenPhoto even though I can’t get the widget to work. But, let’s try integration. First, you should see a “Photos”:http://tongfamily.com/zenphoto button now at the top. You do need a password to see anything though 🙂

But to get it to actually integrate into the blog is the trick. First there is actually putting an image from ZenPhoto into WordPress. This isn’t quite photoblogging, but is somewhat useful. You can either hack around looking for the address or use Zenphotopress to do this as you can see above. The nice thing about Zenphotopress is that it shows you thumbnails of what you want to see.

_MG_1173As an aside the first image is an HDR image that is a combination of three exposures using Photomatix. And then you have the photo as it was originally.

Fotki vs. Zenphoto vs. Nextgen Gallery

I’ve been trying to figure out for quite a while what the best photo gallery is. Started with Picasa and some of the other ones, but they don’t allow original photos to be uploaded and have size limits. Last year, found “fotki.com”:http://fotki.com which is $30 per year and allows unlimited storage and also has password protection for each album as well as storage of the original photos and also 9 cent per photo printing. The main issue is that it makes you create each directory on the web interface and then you upload with either picturesync or by ftp to “ftp.fotki.com”:http://ftp.fotki.com.

So, it works, but it is a pain. Now that I’m trying “bluehost.com”:http://bluehost.com which has a 1.5TB limit, integrating all this with wordpress would be great. Here is what I tried:

# PHP Gallery. I actually used this program a long time ago with the original MovableType site, but stopped because I only had 500MB of storage and ran out. Also the interface was super clumsy. Tried it on bluehost and it is better, but it has all sorts of issues with uploads. You are supposed to be able to just FTP an entire directory structure up and it automatically thumbnails, but that never worked.
# Nextgen Gallery. This is a cool minimalist program with really great viewers that ties directly into WordPress. It also allows you to FTP up a directory set, but the main problem is lack of password protection. This is a real problem for privacy reasons. So I’d use if it weren’t kids and things.
# “Zenphoto”:http://zenphoto.org. Trying this one now. It has password protection. From bluehost, it can directly used as simplescript, so installation and updating are automatic. It also seems to allow you to FTP up just about anything and it creates the albums for you which is wonderful, wonderful. That’s what I really want, copy up a photo directory set (I’ve got 30GB of photos now) and then have it make it look pretty in the web interface. Net step is to try the WordPress plugin to see how that integrates. You literally just FTP your whole directory into /zenphoto/albums and you are set. Wow!

There are a collection of “plugins”:http://www.zenphoto.org/2008/01/wordpress-plugins/ which include a widget to let you most of which don’t seem to work. The only really useful one I’ve found is “Zenphotopress”:http://simbul.bzaar.net/zenphotopress/ which lets you add photos easily to blog entries. The other ones like Zenpress and the various widgets don’t seem to work with the latest WordPress 2.5 and ZenPress 1.5