Fotoclips

Ah, photography. The practice of capturing moments in a still representation of the world, then bringing them back to life with just a glance.

Photographs are awesome. We take cameras and photos for granted, as we can capture a moment of our lives at anytime and anywhere thanks to phone cameras. Really, photos are something that our lives wouldn’t be complete without. What if you never had that picture of your boss wearing a party had upside down (didn’t think that was possible, did ya!)? Or of your cat standing up?! Or of that lizard licking your friend’s nose?!

There are some things that we just can’t keep in our mind in full detail. We can’t remember moments exactly as they happened (unless, of course, you have photographic memory), so we have photos to help us. They’re captures of our world that can be stored and recalled to bring back memories that we may always treasure.

Once we take these magical photographs, we can do one of a few things with them.

One option is to leave them on our phone to be scrolled back to when showing something to someone.

Or you could upload them to facebook to share that magical moment with all 1,500 of your closest friends.

I like to do something else with my photos – something that is unfortunately hard to find these days, but it’s still a practice that we will never be able to replace:

PRINTING.

Yes, like with paper. And ink. (gasp)

Printing is this amazing practice where you get a physical copy of your photo which will exist without electricity and without the internet. It’s a magical thing that people really aren’t wont to doing anymore.

And there’s another benefit to printing your photos: You get to display them wherever you desire. With a printed photo (and maybe a little bit of tape), you can put that memory wherever you please and you’ll always be reminded.

This is often done with a picture frame. Honestly, I have nothing against the picture frame. You get your photo with a border of sorts behind a piece of glass standing up wherever you want it, or nailed to a wall. It’s a great idea, the picture frame, that will always be prominent (at least around people who actually print some of their photos). But I think that we could be a little more creative. We are the world’s artists, the world’s craftsmen – so we should build something for our photos that really makes the world – and our walls – a better place.

Ladies and gentlemen, I introduce fotoclips.

Yup. That’s it. That tiny little plastic clip.

But with simplicity comes possibility. With this clip, two photos can be joined together.

With two clips, you could conjoin three photos.

Imagine what you could do with 100 of them, hmm?

Fotoclips are the super simple way to make awesome things out o

f your photos. These turn your photos into building blocks, and the rest is up to your imagination.

One pack of Fotoclips comes with 100 of those 2D clips, and 10 orange clips. These magical clips transport your photos into a new dimension – THE THIRD ONE!

These orange clips let you make corners – meaning that your photos can turn into amazing things like boxes and rectangles!

Fotoclips take your memories and make them even more creative than they were in the first place.

Imagine the possibilities!

In the past, fotoclips have been used to make wall murals, hats, lamp shades, and even dresses. A photo dress – now that’s what I call creativity!

 

 

 

Fotoclips are also awesome because they involve no glue and don’t damage your beautiful snapshots at all. If you ever get bored of your creation, just take it all apart and build something new. It’s that simple.

One of the most popular things to do with fotoclips is to make wall murals.

That’s a mural that I made out of the first prints off of my Lomo LC-A+. Each fotoclip has a little hole drilled out in the middle where you can stick a nail, or a thumbtack, or anything else you desire – but due to the condition of the wall, I just put some painter’s tape on the back of each photo to hold it up.

Want to make your own photographical compositions? It’ll only cost you about ten buckaroos over at the Lomography shop. The possibilities are only your lunch money away!

Fotoclips at the Lomography Online Shop

Apple’s new iPods and iPhone: Simply screwed up

Today Apple had an announcement about their much awaited iPhone 5 and a few new iPods.

The iPod touch was updated to be thinner with a newer camera, new dock connector, a new chip, a taller 4 inch screen, a new camera and some colored backs. They’ve also added a small magnet for a wrist-strap, implying that it’s targeted for kids. The screen is the same screen that they’ve put into the new iPhone 5, and you’ll read about why I don’t like that later.

The Nano was revised to be a bit bigger, with surprisingly unappealing icons and a stupid design that makes it look like a zune. Seriously, their designs are near-identical (but Microsoft won’t sue because Microsoft isn’t that malevolent). The new Nano introduces nothing interesting and nothing new except for a dock connector which requires a big expensive adaptor to be used with older 30-pin accessories. Worst of all, they called it the “Lightning” connector.

The most awaited product on their list was the iPhone 5, which really, I’m disappointed about. It features 4G LTE connectivity (about time), an “updated” dock connector, a tall, 4″ screen, no NFC, and an overall not-so-great design.

First of all, the screen. It’s the same width as the current iPhone, but they made it a bit taller. I don’t think that it’s the right way to go, as the proportions of it are simply weird. The ratio is very awkward in general.

 

 

Flip the thing around and you’ll think you’re staring at a prototype. On the top and bottom edges of the back of the iPhone, you’ll be greeted with glass. The rest of the back is a piece of aluminum. It looks unrefined and unfinished.

 

 

 

Then, there’s “EarPods.” Apple basically revamped their old headphones and renamed them with a name that I will never come to accept. EarPods? Seriously?

Overall, the announcement was not just underwhelming, it was disappointing. They revamped the insides a little bit, but I think that they went very, very wrong with their design.

 

How Secure is Your Password?

I was doing internet-type things and stuff when I stumbled across this clean, simple, and useful website:

http://howsecureismypassword.net

It’s simple. You type in your password and it estimates how long it would take a standard desktop PC to guess your password based on the length, words, characters, and numbers that you’ve entered.

Even better, it tells you what you should fix. It will say if it’s too short, or if you need more characters, or if it shouldn’t be based off of a word. It tells you how secure your password is then tells you how to make it even more secure.

It also has a database of the most common passwords that it compares to. So if your password is under that category, you might want to seriously reconsider your online security situation.

These are all nice, but there’s one part that I absolutely love: The background. If you put in a super awesome, secure password, it will turn green. It does this by checking the password against the database, and if it’s good, it returns it to javascript which then changes the background color. The background color change is a nice, even fade thanks to CSS3 transitions, and they even bothered to add in entries for webkit, mozilla, and opera. Oh how I love CSS transitions.

And their font is nice.

http://howsecureismypassword.net

 

Samsung owes Apple a LOT of Money

If you think that Apple is too pricey for charging $1000 for a bottom line laptop, get a load of this.

After a long, heated dispute on patent infringements that took a staggering 21 hours in court, Apple’s bill for Samsung comes out to $1.049 BILLION dollars.

To put that in perspective, the US treasury’s cash balance is around 75 billion. Samsung owes Apple around 1.4% of the worth of the US treasury.

But what for? I could go through the entire list, but it basically comes down to Apple’s design patents from device exteriors to the packaging of a plethora of Samsung’s products.

For the 21.5 hour period, the jury was deciding on some “inconsistencies” on two of the products: The LTE-enabled Galaxy Tab 10.1 and the Samsung Intercept. It was decided that Samsung would owe around $200,000 for the Tab, even though nobody formally noted any patent infringements.

About the Samsung Intercept, Samsung made some stupid error that isn’t really important enough to mention and they owe an extra $2,000,000 for that.

So finally, the long tale comes to an end, with an unfortunately typical ending: Money —–> Apple.

Brand over Writers? The Magnate Story

All over the world, blogs are started, maintained, and written to. They are read, whether it be by 1 viewer or 1,000,000,000. Some eventually turn into magazines. Other times, it is a magazine + blog combo. Some just stay blogs. Others might collate their blog posts into a book.

These blogs, sites, and magazines are written by people of all kinds of ages for people of all kinds of ages. There’s fashion blogs written by experts, food blogs written by stay-at-home moms, and there’s plenty of blogs written by tech-savvy teens about tech.

Lets take an example: Magnate Magazine.

Magnate was a magazine that followed Corby magazine, all manned by Sean Spooner.

At the beginning of Magnate’s journey, Sean asked a bunch of people that he knew to start writing and give it some content. A bunch of people from many different age groups said yes, most of them fairly young.

I was one of them, along with a couple more of my friends, Jack Benson and Miramar Jackson.

All three of us volunteered and wrote a few posts for Magnate, all of which got attention and were great content.

It is now quite a while later. Magnate has grown a bit, and they’re getting ready to print their first hard copy issue, when both Jack and Miramar get this email:

Dear Jack,

First of all, I would like to thank you for contributing to Magnate Magazine. Your pieces have helped build and develop the website to the point that it is at today and it couldn’t have been done without your support and hard work.

As we near the launch date of November 10th, 2012 we are looking to strengthen our online and print teams. Because of this, we are required to seek new authors who meet our target audience and due to your age, this does not factor into our ideal target age and we are saddened to say we are having to let you go.

Thanks again for your support and contributions, Jack. We are very grateful and wish you the best of luck for the future.

Warm Regards on behalf of the Magnate team,
Jonny Rowntree
Head of Online

They’re not at the ideal “target age”.

Not to mention, I was kicked off the team without them even telling me. Thanks.

Anyways, why is “brand” associated with “age”? Why do they need to be connected?

Well, here’s what magnate did.

  1. Start off with a website and get anyone we can to write for free
  2. Collect ad revenue and don’t give it out
  3. Create a print magazine
  4. Kick off everyone that was young and helped out in the beginning to make the brand seem older

Basically, they’ve used us. They used us to get them going, then screwed us off because they have more important things to deal with.

I know that this isn’t the only time that something like this has happened. It happens all of the time – people give young, passionate writers a place to write, then once they’re big enough, they forget about the young and passionate writers and move on to being a brand.

So this is what I say:

People with companies, please don’t just forget about your writers who sacrificed their time and effort for you.

People with computers, try to stay away from sites or magazines that you know doesn’t care about writers.

I’ll let you all know of more sites like this, but for now, stay away from magnate – don’t let them win. #boycottmagnate

(PSST: Click here to tweet that you disapprove of Magnate’s “brand development strategies”. )

The Sphero

When I arrived at my first CES, one of the first things that I saw and experienced in depth was the Sphero. They had a medium sized booth, with a little track and some ramps. There were all of these tiny little white balls rolling around on it, and I must say – it looked pretty cool. A chat and a demo later, I saw what it was. It was a little ball that rolled around and was controlled by your iPhone or iPad. That was about it. The people at the booth told me that they would be evolving it and making it into an API for any developer to use, and that the product would be sold eventually for under $100. The prototypes at the stand were functional, but barely. A small drop and they would fall apart. Upon pressing the “boost” button, they would go crazy and lose their bearings. Not to mention that those were all they had with them, so when one broke down beyond repair they were simply down one. It looked promising. The concept was cool, it seemed flexible, it could definitely be something cool. After all, it was just a ball – which left plenty of room for the imagination of customers and developers.

It’s one year later. I’m back at CES. Upon walking into the convention center, I can see a giant rotating sphere that seems to be a giant model of the sphero. Upon arriving under said banner, I saw something big – much bigger than the year before. The booth was much larger, there were tons of spheros everywhere, and there were video presentations on TV monitors and banners and everything. Much, much, MUCH bigger than last year. It looked like they had really grown. Here they had these balls that were made out of a very solid plastic, had inductive chargers, sphero logos embedded on each one, and none of them were out of control. Heck, they were rolling them down concrete stairs! I checked over and they had really gotten somewhere.

The Concept

As I said before, this thing is a ball. It now has open APIs that any iOS or Android developer can use to integrate the sphero with their apps. The range of applications has grown, and there are apps available that can make the sphero a fake golf ball or even take advantage of the sphero’s accelerometer and gyroscope to use it as a game controller. The range of applications is constantly growing, so buying a sphero isn’t just buying a ball – it’s like buying a phone, who’s functionality will keep growing with more applications and updates.

The Ball

The Sphero itself doesn’t take up much space. It’s white, hard plastic that has no spaces or anywhere that the plastic snaps together or comes apart. In fact, it doesn’t have a charging port. If one were to look inside of a sphero (which would be very difficult considering that they would need to saw or melt open the outer shell), he would find an array of devices. There’s some motors as well as a main motherboard which contains a compass, accelerometer, gyroscope, bluetooth card, and a bunch of other robotic computing stuff. They would also find the multicolor LED that lights up the ball in any color you want. The sphero contains a standard lithium-ion rechargeable battery, which is charged through an inductive charger. For those of you who don’t know what an inductive charger is, it’s basically a charger that charges a battery through a material without having any physical contacts. These are sometimes found in electric toothbrush chargers, emergency flashlight chargers, and more recently on electronic devices such as the Palm Pre or the duracell powermat. To charge the sphero, just set it in its dock with the heavier part of the sphero on the bottom. Like magic, the sphero will start charging. Cool! To wake the ball up, just shake it. Yup. No switches here, just shake it as if it were a two week old container of orange juice and it will light up and be ready to play. Set it down on the ground, open up your iOS or android device, and start rolling. The sphero connects to your device through bluetooth. A user will notice a tail-like figure on the top of it. This shows the orientation of the sphero relative to the control mechanism in the application. If one picks up the sphero and spins it, she would notice that the mechanism inside would constantly adjust to maintain the set orientation. That’s part of the robotics at work. Overall, the sphero is one intelligent, intuitive ball.

The Interface

Sphero provides a few apps to demonstrate the basic functionalities of the sphero. The main app, Sphero Drive, simply allows the user to drive the sphero around. Here you won’t find any steering wheels or throttle nonsense – just a circle with a little sphero-shaped control in it. This eliminates the confusion that often comes when you’re driving a device towards you. With a steering wheel, it ends up becoming reversed, but with this interface, it’s not a problem. Put two fingers on the screen and rotate them, and you’ll see a blue dot on the sphero. Point it right towards yourself, then pushing the sphero in the app forward will cause the sphero to roll forward. Pushing it right will make it roll right. It’s as simple as that.

Apps

At the moment, Sphero has been releasing many different apps. One of them is the standard “Sphero Drive” application that I was mentioning up there. Others like Chromo use the sphero as a controller, and one app allows the user to play golf with it. At the moment, there are many different applications being developed and there’s always new ones available. Conclusion The Sphero is available from both Sphero’s website and now many brookstone stores for $130. I will say, that it is not a cheap toy – but think of it as a console, where there’s always new games out that you can buy. If you’re a developer, you can use Sphero’s open API to integrate it into your applications for free. Check out the sphero website for available apps, purchasing the Sphero, and using their free API. http://gosphero.com

P.S. Thank you Sphero for sending me the finished product!

SelfControl: Goodbye Procrastination

Selfcontrollogo

Okay, so you have a ton of stuff to do. Emails to respond to, presentations to finish, proposals to complete. Calls to make, appointments to schedule, packages to deliver, documents to sign. 

But that one tab… it’s flashing. It beckons you. 

“Bob sent you a message!”

Bob. He sent you a message. 

All of the sudden, your entire agenda turns to nothing as you get sucked in to this pointless conversation with Bob. 

But wait – you have a new notification. Someone commented on your cat photo. You need to respond. If you don’t, then your opinion wouldn’t be expressed to the world! Oh, that post, it must be liked. Oh, there’s Bob again – Gotta reply to that. Oh, new comment on that cat photo. What?! They don’t think cats are better than dogs? I need to google why cats are better than dogs. Oh, there’s that flashing tab again! It’s Bob. Oh, I have a new chat. I have to respond to it. Oh hey, there’s my old high school friend! I should say hi. Oh, that post is cool, I should like it. Oh, I need to respond to bob. Oh, someone liked my status. Oh, I have to respond to my chats. 

Three hours have passed. You’ve gotten absolutely nothing done. 

This, my readers, is a daily phenomenon that affects almost 100% of active Facebook users. The term for it is “unconscious procrastination, meaning that you procrastinate and you don’t even realize it until you actually take a look at the clock. And thanks to many sites like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and more, unconscious procrastination is a problem that affects the productivity of the entire world. 

Well, thankfully, there is indeed a solution: SelfControl. 

SelfControl is very simple: Add the sites you don’t want to it’s blacklist, set a timer, hit start, and goodbye procrastination. Any of the sites that you added will no longer work for that amount of time! So no matter how much you might want to get to Facebook to see if Bob responded, you can’t – so I guess that gives you the opportunity to get something done!

One of the beautiful things about SelfControl is that once you set the timer, you can’t stop it. Even if you restart your mac, uninstall the application, whatever, you won’t be able to visit your blocked sites until the timer is up. 

Okay, now for the technical part (those who aren’t interested, skip to the next paragraph). On your Mac there is a file called the hosts file. Basically, it contains a local DNS registry, which usually only consists of localhost being 127.0.0.1. What SelfControl does is adds an entries to the hosts file that direct whatever sites you blacklisted to 0.0.0.0. This means that if you try to visit a site that you blacklisted, you will be redirected to the server at the address 0.0.0.0 – which doesn’t exist. Now for the spoiler: if you really want to get your Facebook and other social networks back before the timer is out, you can use the Terminal to edit /etc/hosts and delete the SelfControl entry.

So say goodbye to Bob, your friends, and your admirers alike; you have work to do. 

SelfControl Website

Direct Download

My Take on iPhone vs. Android

People ask me about phones all the time. They wonder what they should get for their budget. 

Whenever someone is looking for a smartphone, they always have the exact same question:

iPhone or Android?

Yes, it is the most debated question in smartphone history, similar to the Mac vs. PC battle. And like the Mac vs. PC battle, neither will ever reign superior to the other on all fronts. 

After a lot of thinking, I came to one definite conclusion: Macs or PCs will never be “better” than the other. PCs have more games and more flexibility. Macs have always been trusted for multimedia and are made very carefully. PCs can be upgraded for years and years. Macs have tightly integrated components. 

Neither the Mac or the PC will ever be superior. Macs are right for some people, PCs are right for others. Macs tend to be more refined and user-friendly, but PCs are flexible and can be modified to be lightning fast and always stay up-to-date. 

I’ve also concluded that it’s the exact same with the iPhone and Android phones. 

Android phones are like beta tests. 

They feature the latest and greatest of technology. In an android phone, you’ll find 3D cameras and screens, NFC chips, 4G LTE, new software technologies, and tons of other fancy technology. However, this technology never comes quite perfected; there’s always some little glitch somewhere, and you end up with more of a learning curve to master and take advantage of all of these newfangled capabilities. 

iPhones are like refined, tested, and perfected production products

When Apple decides to integrate a new technology into their iPhone, they really integrate the technology into their iPhone. In an iPhone, all of the technology is closely integrated and embedded into the operating system. This often means more stability, more user-friendly, and easier-to-integrate APIs for developers. 

In conclusion,

iPhones are better for some people and Androids are better for others. Some prefer android because they want to have the latest and greatest and be able to be part of the future. iPhones are for people that want a solid, integrated, working phone that is easy to use and doesn’t take much effort or comprehension of technology to use the more advanced features. Either way, there is no winner. 

How-to: Change iOS Signal Bars to Number

This little hack allows you to view your signal as a dB rating instead of bars. It will show as a negative number, and the closer you are to 0 the better the signal you have. This is handy because it offers you more insight into your service beyond a 1-5 bar scale. 

1. Open the Phone application from your home screen. 

IMG 0391

2. Go to the dialer and enter *3001#12345#* followed by Call.

IMG 0392

3. An application called Field Test will open. You will notice that your signal bars have now changed to a number. Press and hold the power button until you see the “Slide to Power Off”, then press and hold the home button until you are back home.

IMG 0393 

That’s it! To change between the bars and the number, go to the home screen or the lock screen and tap the signal indicator. 

IMG 0394

Enjoy!

Sales of the Samsung Galaxy Nexus are Illegal.

Seriously people, I’m not kidding.

The phone that I just recently purchased (and love) is now illegal to be sold in the United States.

The culprit? Apple, as expected.

Apple filed a boatload of patent infringement lawsuits against samsung, and where there’s money there’s power. Apple won the lawsuit against Samsung with flying colors, and now the sales of the flagship android device are banned in the United States.

I’m one of those people who thinks that Apple is using its patents too harshly against the competition. It’s like a towel company saying to another towel company “HEY! We have white towels! You’re not allowed to! We’re the only ones who can sell white towels!!”

This isn’t the first time this has happened. Apple has fought (and mostly won) many different lawsuits with Samsung, HTC, Motorola, and every other company who dares set food in the world of creating a smartphone that could possibly compete with the iPhone. Apple went against HTC for the user interface. Motorola initiated the lawsuits against Apple saying that they infringed some their, then Apple said that Motorola infringed THEIR patents, then Motorola said that Apple infringed MORE patents, and the story goes on. In fact, nobody really knows what the patents were about in te first place.

The list goes on. In fact, there’s an entire wikipedia article full of them!

I don’t like the way Apple does things. That’s for sure. Profitable or not, it’s just not fair.

Iranian? Good Luck Getting your Apple Product

Well, isn’t this surprising.

An 19 year-old student and her uncle were at an Apple Store shopping for an iPad and iPhone at a mall in Georgia. They were talking in Farsi, and when an Apple employee overheard she said “I just can’t sell this to you. Our countries have bad relations.”

Leave it to Apple to discriminate not only against other platforms, companies with similar home screens, or any other firm that dares to threaten their authority, but also against people from different parts of the world.

Apparently, this isn’t the first time that this has happened at an Apple store. Another customer, Zack Jafarzadeh, went with his friend to a different Apple Store and received similar treatment. “We never talked about him going back to Iran or anything like that. He was just speaking full-fledged Farsi and the representative came back and denied our sale,” said Jafarzadeh to WSBTV. “I would say if you’re trying to buy an iPhone, don’t tell them anything about Iran. That would be your best bet.”

It gets better. An Apple Store manager told a news team from WBSTV about their policy, which said the exportation, sale, or supply of Apple products from U.S. to Iran is not allowed without prior authorization by the federal government. The manager explained Apple Stores have to “rely on customers to be honest.”

And here’s the best part. An Apple Store employee apologized and recommended that they buy their products online. Hah!

So when a US citizen and her uncle come into an Apple store speaking Farsi, they aren’t allowed to buy anything and are basically instructed to purchase the products as long as no Apple employees need to look at them.

This is how Apple rolls, everybody. I could be annoyed at the employees, or the manager, or the Store, but really, Apple is to blame. The same thing can happen anywhere in the US, as long as Apple decides that selling an iPad to a US citizen that speaks Farsi is breaching a US law stating that it is illegal to enter Iran with “laptops or satellite cellphones” without U.S. consent.

Android, anyone?

MightyText: Desktop SMS through your Phone

Over the years, there have been many different solutions to texting through your computer.

A couple of carriers would allow you to text over their web interface, but it was usually very unreliable and, well, bad.

Google Voice allowed you to get a phone number that could be used through your computer, phone, or any other internet connected device – but this required you to get a completely different phone number.

iMessage allows you to text from your computer if you have an iOS Device, but this only works for Macs and iOS.

Well, there’s finally a solid solution for us android users: MightyText.

It’s really simple. Install the free app on your android device, install a browser plugin, and you’re good to go.

The entire system works through the cloud. When a text is received on your phone, it pushes the information to the MightyText servers, which then push it back down to your computer. This means that the system will work even if you aren’t anywhere near your phone, as long as your phone and your computer are both connected to the internet.

The computer interface is web-based, and the browser plugin allows notifications to pop up when you receive a new text. The interface isn’t half bad, and if you decide to sync your contacts with Google, then you can get all of the names in the text interface as opposed to all of the phone numbers.

As I said, it’s completely free, and all that you need is an android phone running 2.2+ and an internet connected computer.

Get it on Google Play

Install Browser Plugin (Firefox, Chrome, Safari, and IE (but hopefully not))