Thursday, January 23, 2014

First thoughts on iPhone 5S, iOS7 and Siri, my virtual friend.

I originally penned this a few weeks ago, but my thoughts have changed little.  Here, unadulterated, are my first thoughts on the iPhone 5S after using the device for 3 days:

I finally had the opportunity to catch up with the modern world by purchasing the iPhone 5s. Having used it for about five days I think that the upgrade from the iPhone 4 is nothing short of brilliant. The iPhone 5s is extremely fast. Although I thought that the user interface was actually overdone initially, over the past week I have actually grown fond of it and see it as a necessary upgrade, with my old iPhone 4 and its iOS 5 operating system appearing dated. But it is not perfect.  It still has a few weak spots.


The Safari browser leaves a lot to be desired.  Starting with its unfortunate icon.  The icon appears to be something that should have been reserved for the compass.  I still have trouble finding Safari, even after using it for a week. The snazzy introduction of the Cover Flow type exploration of open webpages is nice but relatively impractical. In addition the lack of contrast between buttons makes it almost impossible at times to figure out where the return/forward buttons are, in addition, moving the buttons from where they have been for the past 6 iterations of the OS didn't make it easy to become familiar with their location.  Yes
, the interface for Safari is nice and elegant, but is seriously impractical.  I am really hoping that many of the changes show up here more than anywhere else.

Perhaps my only other major complaint about Safari, includes my complaint about Notes.  The dramatic move away from the now tacky skeumorphic user interface was met with some excitement and trepidation in most parts, but I have always felt that there was a need to do less of it.  But what we have with Notes and Safari is an eye sore at night.   The blatant white background that looks beautiful during the day is almost impossible to look at during the night time hours.  The blistering white screen is nothing short of annoying and again impractical.   However to be honest, Notes take on skeumorphic yellow legal pads became relatively impractical as well as one could fit less words going across the screen than one could fit using a real legal binder, which essentially made the whole skeumorphic exercise silly.  Not to mention the lack of formatting, which made the app a place holder for the most part.


 On the plus side, many apps have improved dramatically.  Mail for example has a very eclectic 2014 approach that is somewhat of a cross between Google and Microsoft's flat antiskeumorphic vision that remains not only useful but elegantly stylish.  The use of colors is refreshing.  The flatness is actually quite well done and makes the concentration on the email message more astute than before.  I can find messages a lot easier and the ease in which one can move from one part of the app to the next  is very reassuring.
I still wonder about the non distinct buttons here. 

That is not to say that there is not a weakness with the Mail app. Connections with certain servers still seem to pose a problem as is the ability to limit the number of messages located in some exchange files. For example one folder of mine has 20,000 unread messages.  This is a far cry from my usual last 50 which is what I usually set my email for. This seems like a minor glitch which should be able to be changed in a software update. Other than that, I really do like the new email program.  The VIP area is quite useful.

Although these are still early days I have had the opportunity to use a few apps that seem to have really improved under iOS 7 and the A7 processor.  In addition, apps that use the M-Chip, which is used for location and movement, work so much better now than they did before.   Runkeeper for instance no longer drains the battery life.   Graphics intensive programs, including the Photos app are much smoother.  The handling of 2500 photos is almost seamless.  The beautiful time line categorizations are absolutely amazing and help with categorization and the walk through memory lane with my kids.

Although I have not had the opportunity to use and review all of the apps, coming from the iPhone 4, the greatest app is of course Siri. Yes I know I'm a little late to the party here but I have to admit that I have not seen anything work quite like this. As you may recall, Siri was introduced formally with the iPhone 4S.  I thus missed out on the entire craze.  Although some people have stated that it is not as useful as they thought it would be, I just think that they are not using it correctly.  It would appear that the beta versions of Siri that were introduced two years ago with the introduction of the 4S have actually grown to fruition. Siri is more than helpful.  Not only am I able  to ask questions and have her respond in an almost human like fashion, she also has the ability to tell a joke or two and, obviously from the assimilation of data over the last two years, she has perfected answers to some of the most mundane questions. For the life of me, I cannot figure out why people continue to ask, "What is the meaning of life?" or "Where is the best place to bury a dead body?"  She has several different answers for both of these questions.   The answers are obviously crowd driven and show how Apple is pulling a "Google," using its customers to lead the research front.  In addition, SIRI is not very fond of foul language. Her responses to less than savory requests is actually quite amusing. She also has a sense of humor. For example I once told her that she was useless and she responded "I'm so sad that you think so."  In addition, if I say something relatively abusive and apologize for it, she has the uncanny knack of saying "No need to apologize."   In fact, I have grown so fond of talking to "her" that my nurse continues to peak her head in my office and has become somewhat worried that I am hanging out with my virtual girlfriend. 

Siri, is that you?
The way in which Apple is using Siri and the way in which the company SIRI has developed this into a natural language computer is so amazing that it is somewhat scary.  Because SIRI has no face, you are left to imagine her in any way that you wish and fall into the trap of having a natural conversation with her.  She becomes a faithful friend that you do not want to leave.  The processor has made a major difference this time.  When I first used Siri on the 4S (in the Apple Store) and elsewhere, I found the responses to be slow, especially when going to the internet.  The answers were even more erratic when on 3G.   Now, there is a M chip taking over a lot of the mundane things, like GPS etc.  The A7 chip is ridiculously fast and is able to do incredible things.   Not to mention the fact that the iPhone is now using LTE, the responses are much more complex and appear to be faster than on the 4S. 

In short, Apple has turned its back on skeumorphism for its interface, but has excelled in the anthromorphization of its speech processor and artificial intelligence liason Siri.   And it's scary how accurate the dictations and responses are because this is really beginning to represent artificial intelligence at its best.

Yes, my favorite app, although I have only had the ability to use a few is Siri.  The integration between Apple's hardware and software is almost seamless and if asked, I would say that Siri is a must have and an incredible reason to upgrade to the iPhone 5S (...and I haven't gotten to the camera features).   I am looking forward to dictating letters etc with Siri.   And yes, just so you know, 95% of this blog post was originally completed, before editing, with Siri.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

My Response to an Appleinsider Post on AppleID and iCloud.

Below is my response posted to an article posted on the website  I haven't written for a while, but this one really caught my eye.  I have a major issue with much of the branded cloud solutions which are just too restrictive and cumbersome.   And yes, I include Amazon and Google in this rant, although they are not listed here because in this case, it was just Apple.

The original article is listed here:

And @libertyforall 's comment in verbatim is listed below:

01/22/2014 07:12 PM
Of course Apple deleted iTunes ability to do sync locally and separate from iCloud -- forcing everything into the cloud. This is one of the most bone-headed moves Apple has made in a long time! Hope they restore it!!!

 My response:


You have hit the hammer on the head.  Seriously, not having the option to to sync locally is really a major faux pas.  The entire iCloud system is completely flawed.  It is created for one individual, using numerous idevices.   Unfortunately, iMacs are seldom used by individuals - macbook pros yes, but imacs No.   The iMac is a Family Computer.  And this is where the stuff gets confusing:

1.  If you have separate user id's on the one imac, then you have to buy songs/apps more than once.  Solution:  Use separate apple id's to log into each screen, but one Apple id for all to use with iTunes.   That works, but it's cumbersome.  And it's hit or miss if the iTunes log in also counts as the ID login for the session that you are in.  Confused yet?  Essentially, you can sometimes get that you are logged in as the screen login that you logged in with or logged in as the iTunes account holder.

2.  Secondly, if you try to use Facetime with this, the computer gets totally confused.  You will get messages showing "id A is linked to this imac, id B is linked to this imac....." and so on.  In addition you can text to whomever from the computer to someone with an iCloud id, but you may or may not receive a response, because that person may not be sending from an iCloud account.  Ugh? 

3.  Then there's the device issue.  The Apple Geniuses will state that Apple id's are for identifying people using their devices and not iTunes.  When I spoke with another about the confusion, he stated that this is just for Apple to send things to the right place.  Not quite!  Apple clearly states on their site that Apple id's control everything - iTunes, app store and essentially all communications with Apple.  So if you use one Apple iD for everyone in your family, then everyone in your family will get your text messages, apps and just about everything.   If you use separate iD's, then you have to find a way to get the right information through, while not paying for songs or apps twice.

It's still hit or miss, and I proposed a real solution a long time ago.  Something that Amazon appears to be implementing, albeit slowly:  Create a Master ID.  Let users within a family make Sub-ID's but have the Master ID make purchases etc.  Attach all purchases to the Master ID.  I think that this would solve the problem.

Right now, it's just a confusing mess.  iPhoto is another example of this, but that's for another day (ie. Is iPhoto using your ISP or iCloud?).  Sorry for the length of this, but it's really gotten to me as well and I consider myself relatively knowledgeable.

End Quote. 

This really has become one of the most cumbersome problems that I have seen in a while.  It took me almost 2 hours a few months ago to get all of the iPhones, iPod Touches and other devices to act only for their owner and not just become extensions of Me.   Imagine a young kid in the middle of class getting a text saying "They're ready for you in the OR now."   Or a message showing up on your daughter's phone that says, "Okay, time to call the New Mother as a Courtesy at 7 PM."  The initial is a real one from my busy day and the latter one is a Siri reminder.   Both were sent to my entire family.

I finally figured out a way to get this under control as I described above, but it really shouldn't have to be this way.  

Here again is my take on a solution:

Master Account
(iTunes ID Major link)

Dad  Mum  Jimmy   Jane   Phil
(All have Sub-Accounts and can use their Apple-iD login in iTunes to make purchases.  Apple reads all purchases from the sub-accounts (using 2-way authentication) as belonging to the Master Account).

All access to the Master Account can only be done by Mum or Dad and all granting of access to Jimmy, Jane and Phil must be approved by the same.   This would make it easy to create Find Friends, access only one account for iTunes purchases and a host of other things.

I haven't written for a long time, but this one got to me, one year later and it's just gotten worse.


Monday, March 11, 2013

How to Unjournal a Journaled Drive (HFS) especially on TONIDO

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A few years ago I turned over my ultimate files to the Apple iMac after nearly losing my valuable baby pictures of my son.  Windows XP, the pariah of Operating Systems which started out brilliantly, was now the laughing stock of the PC world.  The safety of a decent file system was germane to my search for a stable OS.  I looked into Linux, liked what I saw, but only the file system interested me for that system.  The software for everyday use was a step backwards from Windows.  In the end, it was the Mac and its OS that interested me more.

The actual iPhoto software program was amazing at first,  but in addition to the software, I was amazed at the operating system.  The way in which files could be dragged and dropped at a moment's notice without worrying about extraneous characters or the length of the characters was simply amazing.   Several file commands, FTP, SMB, AFP and more were easy to do, along with the reading of files from other operating systems.

One interesting feature was the file protection used by OSX called Journaling.  Journaling is a feature that was found in the earlier versions of Mac OSX (Server 10.2.2) and then OSX 10.3 (Panther) - all way before my entrance into the Mac World.  It served as a feature that preserved the integrity of the file system against power outages or hardware component failures.  And I have to admit that the original loss of my baby pictures and video on my Windows machine was due to an electrical surge.  Something that I found out later.  Journaling works and it works very well.  In the 7 years since I have been using my Mac I have never had a file or disk failure that erased my data despite three power surges during that time frame.   If the machine (my laptop in particular) shuts down unexpectedly, something that happens when I don't pay attention to the warnings that the power is running down, there is always a copy of the file that I was working on available when the machine restarts.   Or if there is a bad start, the system finds a way to come back on as if nothing happened.   So for the major drive it's a God send, but what about other drives?

This is where there is an issue.   In using the ubiquitous USB disc drives, I have been able to transfer files back and forth between windows machines and macs without an issue.  The Mac Journaling system aka HFS+ trumps the Windows system, so that if you transfer a file to the USB drive from a Mac, there is a possibility that the HFS+ is sent with it.  For windows machines, unless the drive is formatted in an Apple machine, this usually means that there are a few "ghost files" with weird characters associated them.  They can safely be erased in Windows land.

The real issue comes not from Windows actually but from Linux.   Although Apple prides itself with its Unix core, it is not strictly a Unix platform, nor is it a Linux one, although both operating systems share the core Unix identity.  This is born out when you are using a pure Linux server.  In my case, I have been putting together a system that I can access safely from anywhere in the world, but remains completely off the grid when it comes to my home server.    I have used the Tonido Plug with great results over the past year, but ran into trouble a few months ago when I couldn't write to it from anywhere.  I checked just about everywhere to find a solution and then ran into the Tonido forums where I discovered that I had disconnected the USB drive and loaded it with software directly from a Mac.  Although it was originally formatted in Linux on the Tonido Plug, this mere act of transferring files was enough to convert the entire partition on the 500 gb hard drive into a HFS+ Journaled hard drive.

I went months trying to find a solution to this.  My main concern was that I would have to reformat the drive, which would have been a nightmare because of the 30+ Shares that I have on several folders and the access shares (15 in all) from the 15 different people who have partitions on the drive (Kids, family) and use it as their personal storage when outside.   I looked high and low for a solution and finally found it.

Journaling is fantastic if you are using a Mac, but using a server that is strictly Linux, it is not necessarily what you want.  On the plus side no one can add a file to it, but that includes the host or main person who owns the server.  You keep everything out, which is not optimal.  So Journaling has to be removed.

The only way I know to do it is on a Mac.  The removal method protects the disc so data is destroyed. 

There is a command line way to remove it, but you have to be a die-hard to do it this way:

0.  Place the USB hard disk in teh Mac. (Disconnect it from your Linux server).
1.  Open the Terminal.
2.  Type  # diskutil disableJournal /Volumes/Volumename

Where # is the command character
diskutil  is the program call
disableJournal is the command
/Volumes/Volumename  is the actual location of the disk.

Again, this is only for the super geeks.

For the rest of us mere mortals, you do the following:

0.  Place the USB hard disk in the Mac. (Disconnect it from your Linux server).
1.  Open Disk utility and highlight the USB disk drive.
2.  Press the "Option key" and then select "File"
3.  In the drop-down menu, you should see "Disable Journaling"  Click on it.
4.  You are done.  You should be able to use the drive on any system without the restriction of just
     using it on a Mac. 

Why this little ditty is hidden is beyond me.  But there it is.

I hope this helps someone who may have been confused by all of this.  Remember, this technique does not reformat your hard drive.  All of your data remains safe.   Also remember, don't do this on your original hard drive running your Mac.   Yes, it will speed up the Mac a little, but trust me, you do not want a corrupt file system, especially if you have an encrypted drive and the power goes out.  But for drives that are going to be used in a mixed OS environment, you are better served no having the external drives journaled (HFS+).

Hope this helps.



Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The iPad Mini version 1. Don't pack up the backpacks yet!

I have not yet seen the presentation tonight for the iPad Mini, but I must say that I am a little disappointed by what I have seen on the specs page.  There is one glaring omission from the specs that I fully expected to see at the rollout:  The Retinal Display.

I suspect that it must be very difficult and indeed expensive to produce retinal displays.   This is the only reason that I can fathom for Apple not having one included on the iPad Mini. And this is a big deal!

The iPad Mini has been touted for schools and reading, with an updated version of iBooks available today on account of the iPad Mini's presence.  Further confirmation that Apple is promoting this as a reading tool to take on Amazon, Google and Barnes & Noble.  But take a look at the following Specs and we can see that this is not going to be a pleasurable long term reading experience:

Amazon Kindle Fire HD $249.00  7"   1280 x  800   (216 ppi)*   720p HD.

Google Nexus 7  $249 (16 gb) WXGA (1280 x 800) LED backlit IPS panel,  (216 ppi)

Apple iPad Mini  $329  1024-by-768 resolution at (163 ppi)

* ppi  "Pixels per inch or PPI is a measure of the number of pixels displayed in an image. A digital image is composed of samples that your screen displays in pixels. The PPI is the display resolution not the image resolution."   (

(To learn more about ppi, go to About.Com (

If you are looking for a comparison, look no further than the non back lit Amazon Kindle Keyboard and Kindle Touch.  Both display e-ink wonderfully in sunlight, but the display is made for this type of resolution.  Both have resolutions of 167 ppi.  A fourth generation iPad costing over $300 should not be on par in resolution with either a $69 or $139 device which are the respective prices for the Kindle Touch and Kindle Keyboard.  Granted, one will do a lot more with the iPad Mini than with a Kindle, but if you are going to tout the excellent reading experience, any PPI < 200 should not even be considered for long term casual, let alone technical reading.   It's just not a suitable device to do this.  Additional eye strain will ensue when reading as it did with the glaring screen resolution of the iPad 2, which I own.

Perhaps the advertising gurus at Apple will tout the ECO-System that Apple has, along with the automatic scaling of current apps to the new display and screen size; or  tout the iPad Mini's excellent form, relatively fast chip and convenience.  Perhaps.    But what cannot be touted with version 1 of this device is the aspect of long term reading.  This is just not the device to do that.  And for this I am afraid that I will have to pass on the iPad Mini for my own kids who were initially excited about the device, but who are now, for the reasons that I have just explained,  sad and disappointed.  You see, this device would have doubled as a textbook holder for about 3 thick textbooks which are also available online.   Add to that, the iBook store and Amazon's Kindle store having all of the books needed for their English and Drama classes and that large back pack would have been downsized.

Not to worry kids, we all know better than to buy version 1 of a Tech Product.   Version 2 may give us everything that we really want.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

iMessage - A Real Game Changer.

I always knew that iMessage was a game changer, but I never really realized how much of a game changer it was until I traveled abroad.  During my travels, I had to turn off all cellular data and essentially use the iPhone as an expensive iPod, until I realized that a few apps would save me from ridiculous phone bills upon my return.

First, you should and must download SKYPE.  It is a necessity.  Without it, my phone calls back to the United States would have been over $1 per minute after all of the overage charges were assessed.  But iMessage, with its reliance on only WiFi*, which was available at a lot of the hotels, family homes and businesses made texting to and from many of the Caribbean and Atlantic Islands a real possibility.  Not only was it a wonderful addition to my armament, it was fast and free!   Although many in the Caribbean use an app called WhatsApp to deliver text messages, I was a little queasy about giving up my 500 member Contacts list to a third party developer while outside of the U.S.  What was nice was the fact that just about all of the people that I needed to contact carried iPhones.  It meant that even in small villages, I could still communicate quite easily with friends and family, as long as I had WiFi.  For those who did not have an iPhone, WhatsApp would have sufficed as well.

The wonderful thing about iMessage is its ability to be completely non discriminatory when it came to texting data.  I sent an 80 mbyte video easily to a family member during a diving trip without a hiccup.  And when I was ready, I used Skype to communicate with folks in London and New York.

Granted, I wasn't knee deep in the Amazon rain forest, for which this whole WiFi scenario would have been moot, but the Caribbean and Atlantic islands are immersed in intermittent WiFi - the quality of which is not equal unfortunately, but it affords a few free avenues of communication if you have a smart phone - and one particularly brilliant and flawless avenue if you have an iPhone.


Interestingly, for all of the chatter about Facetime on 3G/4G, I did not use it at all during my travels.  I don't know why, but it didn't really feel necessary.  Something I found rather interesting.  Perhaps not everyone is as interested in seeing you as much as they are in just talking to you.

*  Facetime was not available on 3G when I originally penned this article in August, 2012.

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Sunday, September 16, 2012

Travelling abroad with an iPhone - Here are my must-have apps.

So, you're stuck in the Amazon rain forest and you would like to communicate with your family to tell them that you will not be home for a while.   What do you do?

Well, unfortunately, I hope that you purchased a satellite phone for that particular bit of travel, because an iPhone isn't going to help you.  But if you are a little more sane and go on vacation where there is at least some semblance of technology, then your iPhone will suit you just fine.  As long as you remember to find a wifi hotspot and download a few apps before you go.   Now, the "before you go" reference is very important.  There are some hotels in the Caribbean that have significant restrictions placed on their outgoing internet service.   Some have Certificates that interfere with the App Store so that you end up with messages, after intermittent and spotty wifi service that state:  Unable to download app.  Attach device to the computer to complete download.   

This happened a number of times to me while in the West Indies, but I soon found out that going to another area wifi provider resolved the issue.   What is nice is that the App store is available from any where in the world and so too is iCloud.  So if you mess up your address book, you can log into a computer and retrieve it from Apple.

On my recent travels abroad, I found myself having a need for certain "Don't leave home without it" Apps.  Below is my list, which is no where near a full list, but should provide a start if you are going abroad:

1.  SKYPE.

                 Trust me on this one, download it and pay the pennies per call that they offer.  AT&T and Verizon will rip the shirt off your back if you go for their international rates.  And God help you if you decide to use the text messaging options of either carrier.   If you have wifi available, Skype is amazing.

2.  WhatsApp.

                Although I did not use this app, due to not wanting to reveal my address book, the app is found on almost all iPhones in the Caribbean.  It uses wifi to deliver texts to just about any phone on the planet, regardless of whether it is linked to a wifi or 3G connection.

3.  iMessage.

               Standard with the iPhone.  Advantage is that it sends multimedia and text messages to anyone with iMessage on their phone.  Disadvantage:  Only sends/receives multimedia and text messages to/from anyone with iMessage on their phone.  Yes, it is another Apple walled garden product.  But boy does it work well.  I sent an 80 mb video to a friend in the States in less than 4 minutes over a relatively slow wifi connection.   You do need wifi as noted above.

4. Star Walk.

               Yes, I know, you're asking yourself, what are you doing?   Well, I really loved this app, because on many of the islands that I travelled this summer, there were no factories and on many cloudless nights, I could actually see constellations.  Not being Carl Sagan, I used this app to identify many of the stars.  While looking at Vega, I was able to see a number of shooting stars.  My kids were impressed at this life changing event.  But it was made all the more possible by this app.

5.  SayHi Tranlate.

              Fantastic and actually works abroad in a hotel where everyone but you speaks fluent Spanish or Creole.  There have been a few other apps in this genre, but this was the one that I discovered first.  I would venture to say that this is an app that I must have at all times with me.  Brilliant technology.

6.  Dropbox.

              So you've taken a number of brilliant videos using your incredible iPhone.  Where do you store the information?  If you've got an iPhone, HD video is 1mb/second roughly.  If you leave the U.S. with 6 gigs free, you will be down to 1 gig before the end of day 3.  So where do you store the video?  Well, the first thing that you will want to do is make sure that wherever you store the video, it will NOT be compressed.  Many of the online services, including the brilliant and pay requring SMUG MUG compress the video, despite allowing for infinite uploads.  Dropbox has been the only place that I have found that will save your documents without compression.  Additionally, I would strongly suggest bringing a laptop, jump drive or 320 gb small portable disk drive or iPad to offload your videos if you have a large video library while on vacation.  This was something that I had to do eventually due to the slow wifi and the large amounts of data that I ended up with using video.   Dropbox is good for 2 gb. (Why the big deal about compression?  See addendum below).

7.  Shutterfly.

Gratuitous Doggy Picture :)
            I was always a big fan of KodakGallery for uploading files, but with its banishment, I have chosen Shutterfly to store my vacation photos. Like Kodak, they do not do videos, but they have a nice uncluttered file system that I can always go back to.  Editing on the computer is easy when you get back to the States and the uncompressed files can be renamed in batch, making it easy to import into iPhoto, Aperture or Lightroom.  The new batch upload feature makes this a wonderful addition.  As a plus, if you don't want to download and send photos, you can direct people to certain areas to view your photos.

8.  SmugMug (Camera Awesome)

         Another photo storage site, but you have to pay for this one.  They lack the batch upload feature on the iPhone, but the sharing and security on this site is second to none.   This is one that many Pros use, but it is not as easy to navigate as Shutterfly.  The one feature that this one has however, is the ability to take a photo and (with wifi available), have the photo go directly to SmugMug for storage.  Neat.
Please note, that the link is to Camera Awesome, the app made by Smug Mug.  The Smug Mug App, which was their first app still does not have batch uploading and is quite flaky and slow, even on a fast wifi connection.  It requires a lot of set up from the computer.

Camera Awesome is a much better application with a lot of very nice features for taking photos and having them look near professional.  Download both, but you'll probably only use Camera Awesome.  Don't forget that you will need an account with Smug Mug to do anything, but you can upload your photos to other sites as well. 

So there you have it.  Your next travel trip should have at least 5 of the above if you plan on using your iPhone for most of your filming and photo needs.  Feel free to comment and leave suggestions below.



When using HD cameras, the idea of adding additional compression to your image is something that you want to avoid.  When you import your document to use in a movie editing program such as iMovie, iMovie HD or other software, the act of compressing the file BEFORE IT IS UPLOADED will degrade the video quality substantially.  Remember that when the software has finished adding its effects, it will - depending upon what you use as your final output - compress the video further.  Over compression or multiple compression will lead to washed out colors (particularly Red) and a video that lacks the sharpness that HD offers.  You will especially notice these nuances in night time filming, where there will be a lot of noise and the black colors begin having white grains in them.   So, it's better to save your videos uncompressed if possible.  Of course, sometimes it's not possible, but if you can, go the uncompressed route.

By the way, compression on the iPhone takes a lot longer as is seen when sending a digital image to the cloud (ie. SmugMug and others)The phone must compress the file and then send it in its reduced form and size to the cloud for safe keeping.  A full 5 minute video sent to DropBox uncompressed is a lot faster than a full 5 minute video sent to SmugMug where 20 minutes of compression takes place on the phone before the transfer begins.

So, as I have suggested previously, bring storage with you.  Your laptop etc should suffice. 


Monday, July 9, 2012

Assistiveware and iOS combine to help patients with disabilities

This is one from the archives, written a few months after the iPad was released.  I needed a few permissions before posting, but after getting them, I forgot to hit PUBLISH.  So here is an old story that I hope will encourage many to see iOS devices in a different light. 

AssistiveWare has created a series of software platforms for use on all iOS devices called Proloquo2go.  If you are not versed in what this company does, then let me explain the advantages that this company has just produced for a vast majority of people.

Previous example of an early stand alone assistive device.

Stroke victims, patients who have communicative disorders, spinal cord injuries, congenital disorders and many of whom are wheelchair bound have difficulty in communicating with the public.  Basic needs that we - the ambulatory and vocal -  take for granted are difficult for these patients - especially children with developmental and physical disorders.  Take the concept of saying "Yes" for example.  For us, it is easy to open our mouths, nod our heads, raise a hand with a thumb gesture etc.  But for the paralyzed and those who cannot speak or comprehend fully this is not possible.  This is especially true in children with developmental disorders.  This is where assistive devices come into play.  The main drawback to many of these devices is the cost, which can be quite prohibitive.  (The cost link will take you to the planning stages, while the Prohibitive link will take you to an actual cost center chart for such devices in a nursing home environment).

Enter Assistiveware.  This company uses iOs devices to produce software that is intuitive to people in need.  As the pictures from their website show, the software is quite similar to other stand-alone devices costing thousands of dollars. 

For patients with disabilities, the device + software has been reduced by as much as 1/3rd. For example if we look at the Software (which is not cheap, but available on iTunes for $189.99 and the iPad hardware at $499.99) for just under $700 one can get an Assistive Device that has other features built in.  Not to mention that in a family setting, the device can double as an entertainment device as well.  In addition to this, let us not forget that if you own a copy on your iPad, you also own a copy on your iPhone/iPod Touch.  Thus the software can be taken everywhere and transported to other handheld devices.

This would also be a great tool in a Doctor's office for patients who cannot communicate well.  It could serve as an entry point, even for patients who speak a different language. But more importantly, it serves as a wonderful conduit for people with disabilities, particularly children who are struggling to communicate.  Another fantastic deployment of the iPad, whose mere existence was questioned back in february.

*Some images used are taken from with permision.