Still not using your iPhone for ‘serious’ photography?

Earlier this year I managed to catch the CreativeLive iPhoneography Workshop with Jack Hollingsworth — well worth my time. I learned a lot and saw how others use the iPhone as a creative photography tool.

Today I found this cool video by Jack Hollingsworth talking about how his photography life was changed by the iPhone. Take a moment and check it out for yourself — especially if you’re still thinking that this little device isn’t a ‘real’ camera 😉

 

 

Review: Griffin Beacon Universal Remote Control (iOS version)

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The Griffin Beacon universal remote control is an interesting device. It’s a little bit larger than an Apple TV2 (or a hockey puck if that’s closer to your frame of reference) but it’s got an odd, Zen-like IR ‘stone’ on the top that’s where the control signals come from. Not your everyday IR blaster.

On Paper
Using Bluetooth to talk to your mobile device (iOS or Android) it uses the smarts of your device to manage your home entertainment systems. All well and good, but wait, there’s more! It’s not just the Beacon alone doing the work…

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Well, actually a very cool app called dijit does the heavy lifting. The dijit – Beacon pair is quite powerful, with dijit not only bringing listings and management to your mobile device, it also brings social to your TV viewing with content discovery and social sharing. The duo:

  • Transforms iPhones and other iOS devices into an easy-to-use, never-lost remote for home entertainment systems
  • Converts Bluetooth signals from iOS device into infrared signals required to control AV components
  • Beacon connects compatible iOS device via Bluetooth with Dijit’s free Universal Remote App
  • iOS device’s MultiTouch screen display becomes the remote with Dijit’s Intuitive Program Guide, allowing users to change channels, volume, input, program DVR and much more
  • Dijit App uses a constantly updated device code library to make setting up controls for TV, set-top box, sound system, media player and more, simple and intuitive
  • For components not yet included in Dijit’s library, the App also includes an integrated learning feature
  • Beacon’s low-profile design blends unobtrusively with any coffee table decor
  • Powered by 4 AA batteries, eliminating messy wires and power cables

In Practice
Getting the Beacon setup and running is a pretty simple job of installing the included 4 AA batteries, paring the Beacon with the Bluetooth on your mobile device, and installing and running the dijit control software.

Then it’s a simple matter of letting the dijit software know which components you want to control, and binding those components to activities.

For example, to watch TV, I need to turn on my receiver, my set top box, and my TV. I had to configure those devices in dijit, then bind them to an activity (Watch TV). You also can configure the layout of your ‘custom’ mobile remote control in your mobile device — reducing the number of buttons to just the critical ones needed for any specific activity.

A similar process is used to define other activity and device combinations. Pretty simple once you get the hang of it, and I like the ability to customize the layout of the remote control buttons.

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I had the iOS unit to review, and it easily hooked up to my first-gen iPad as well as my iPhone 4s. On the iPad, I really appreciated the extra screen space to display TV programming information and social media content.

Since the Beacon runs on AA batteries, it’s portable, which means you can move to various rooms if you have more than one entertainment centre.

The unfortunate downside is that the Beacon doesn’t have an AC adapter, which means that every so often, about as often as a handheld remote, you’ll be replacing 4 AA batteries when the Beacon fails to respond. Which may or may not be a big thing for you.

Watching TV
In the end, this is a pretty cool unit. I must admit, it took a bit of retraining for me to start looking at my iPhone or iPad for TV programming information, rather than using the device as a remote to control the set-top box’s menu system. But once I got over that niggle, using the Beacon and dijit software is actually quite natural.

So if you’re looking for an inexpensive master / universal remote control unit for your home entertainment system, you may just want to check out the Griffin Beacon and dijit combination.
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New smart Wi-Fi Router review part two — Linksys EA3500

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This week we’re going to look at the second router in my three-part series on the latest offering from Cisco / Linksys, and for this post we’re going to step it up a notch with the Linksys EA3500, targeted at folks with slightly more sophisticated network needs.

If you haven’t read my previous post on the EA2700, take a moment and do that now. It’ll give you a good framework to build upon, because that’s what Linksys has done with this router series and the EA3500 in particular; taken everything that’s great about the EA2700 and made it better while adding a few new features, at a slightly different price point, of course. Continue reading “New smart Wi-Fi Router review part two — Linksys EA3500”

New smart Wi-Fi Router review – Linksys EA2700

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Since the last time I looked at home Routers, home networking has gotten more complex. These days, folks are hooking up almost everything to their home network, either wired or wirelessly: game consoles, audio systems, tablets, handheld gaming devices… the list goes on. And older routers have occasionally been cranky when mixing brands and types — causing more network headaches.

That being said, home networking just got much easier with the recent introduction of the new smart Wi-Fi router lineup from Linksys.

Over the next few posts, I’ll be looking at three members of this linup — starting with the powerful Linksys EA2700.

Continue reading “New smart Wi-Fi Router review – Linksys EA2700”

Adobe Creative Suite 6 Kicks!

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If you’re doing anything at all creative with your computer, you’re likely aware of the excellent suite of creative tools from Adobe (coincidentally called the Adobe Creative Suite).

Well earlier today, Adobe announced a huge upgrade to the suite, Adobe Creative Suite 6 — CS6 — which contains a lot of new features to all products within the suite and is also designed to drive Adobe users to their new subscription-based (and also announced today) Creative Cloud service

Aimed at the serious creative hobbiest or professional, Adobe Creative Suite has long contained many of the industry-standard creative tools including Photoshop and Illustrator.

Creative_Suite_6_Design_Standard_mnemonic_RGB_300px.jpgAnd if you’ve been using an older version of Adobe Creative Suite, here’s some of the new feature you’ll find in CS6.

  • Content-Aware image retouching tools
    Retouch images with stunning results in Photoshop Extended. Use the Remix tool to move a selection with auto-recompose and blend. Content-Aware Patch lets you control patch samples.
  • Fluid grid layout for mobile devices
    Design and develop confidently for mobile devices with advanced tools in Dreamweaver CS6, including CSS3-based layouts that scale responsively to virtually all screen sizes and form factors.
  • Global Performance Cache
    Create more in less time with unprecedented 64-bit Performance. This revolution “under the hood” makes After Effects CS6 fast and responsive by taking full advantage of the power in your computer’s hardware.
  • Extraordinary image editing
    Use the Mixer Brush and Bristle Tips in Photoshop CS6 Extended to explore lifelike, naturally textured painting. Add dimension to your imagery with 3D extrusions using Adobe Repoussé technology, and make precise image selections with Truer Edge technology.
  • Interactive documents and presentations
    Create memorable documents and presentations with interactivity, motion, sound, and video in InDesign CS6. Enhance layouts with rich media using motion presets and support for FLV and MP3 audio file import to engage your audiences.

As with previous CS releases, Adobe has bundled tools into various configurations and pricing. According to Adobe’s news release, CS6 and Creative Cloud will be available within 30 days — we’ll update this post when we have precise details on their arrival and pricing at Future Shop.

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I’m Moving to Empire Avenue!

This likely won’t come as a shock to many of you; I’ve been invited to go work on Empire Avenue.

Of course, I said yes.

Starting Thursday, September 1st, my role will be, as with any startup, kinda fuzzy to begin with. Officially I’ll be the Director of Social and Community Management. In reality, I’ll be blogging, working with the various communities, and helping the team get things done. Whatever those things may be. Clean up after the Squirrel, you know.

What I’m leaving behind
For the last five years, I’ve been a Web Content Specialist and Web Business Analyst with the Alberta Motor Association.

It’s be a great time with a marvelous people and a great employer who’s allowed me to make mistakes, grow, and test the corporate waters with innovative social media experiments (hello @AMARoadReports)!

If you’d like to check out the position I’m leaving, here’s the link to the official posting. And I’d be happy to discuss the role, or the organization should you have any questions — email me (bradblog@gmail.com).

The Future
Well, as I said, it’s going to be kinda fuzzy. Empire Avenue is a startup, and as such, there are lots of cool things that we’re doing, and that can be done! And in my work with community, I’m going to be working with and asking a lot of questions of *you*.

So, what can we do, together, on ‘the Avenue’, hmmm? Let’s find out!