Tag Archives: iOS

Improve Your Writing Immediately: Synonym Finder

27 Jun
Synonym Finder

Fact: if you use a book so much you repair it with duct tape, it’s a winner.

There are plenty of books on improving your writing, and here’s one that works immediately. It’s more direct than a thesaurus and is instantly applicable for deepening the breadth of your vocabulary in the moment, while you are writing. Whatever word you’re thinking of using, check it out in the ol’ Synonym Finder and you’ll likely find a better one — or at least get to thinking about other possibilities.

Since we all write with our own voices, it’s sometimes helpful to have a tool at the ready to infuse some color when called for, especially in moments of creative befuddlement. I borrowed this copy from my father before leaving for college, and reference it to this day. It’s definitely gotten use, hence the duct tape keeping the cover attached to the spine.

What do you think? Ever use a Synonym Finder? What else do you turn to for writing tools or inspiration? Let us hear from you in the comments.

Dynamic Light App Review

13 Mar
Dynamic Light App

Dynamic Light App

The iPhone app Dynamic Light by Mediachance has become one of my favorite photo manipulation tools. I create many black & white montages, and Dynamic Light’s unique filters (especially “solarize,” “edgy,” and “re-exposure”) almost always yield interesting results — either for montage fodder or even standalone images. It saves at full resolution, is very fast, and improves with each update. It adds an element of randomness to the photo editing process that I enjoy, yet its effects are actually very sophisticated, particularly for producing distressed or distorted-yet-recognizable treatments. I recommend it for anyone looking for a simple, yet very unique bag of tricks to add to their photo manipulating repertoire, for less than the price of a soda ($.99). Here are some before and after examples of my favorite filters:

Dynamic Light Edgy Filter

Edgy

Dynamic Light Re-Exposure

Re-Exposure

Dynamic Light Solarize

Solarize

Video: Dynamic Light in Action

What do you think? Ever used Dynamic Light? What are some of your go-to photo manipulation or photo editing apps? Let us hear from you in the comments.

Flickr to Instagram: It’s ON!

12 Dec

I just had my first whirl with the new Flickr mobile app. And… woah. It’s good. I mean really good.

The New Flickr App for iPhone

Flickr’s New App. Shown here with the “Mammoth” filter. Look out, Instagram

The new Flickr app for iPhone sports filters, easy browsing, a nice uploading interface… all on top of Flickr’s superb online Pinterest & Twitter integration. Overall, I must say it looks like Instagram got Flickr to step up its game. To that I say, well-played, Flickr. Well-played indeed.

Instagram in the crosshairsOperation: Target Instagram

If Instagram feels like it’s in the crosshairs, it’s with good reason. I had long been a fan of Flickr for general storage, but gravitated toward Instagram for the image discovery & immediacy of sharing. I have a feeling that’s going to change. And not just for me — I know more than a few folks who have been less than pleased with and seeking alternatives to Instagram lately thanks to spam or yanking its previews from Twitter.

This is not to say it’s perfect. It’s still not as snappy as Instagram, since applying filters and edits takes a bit longer — but you can do meaningful edits right from within the app like adding text, brightness/contrast, and basic retouching. You have to use a separate 3rd party app at present to do any of that for an Instagram upload. Conversely, features like the ability to tag people in photos, browse your favorite groups, and do batch uploads (thanks, Emily @_@) were already baked into Flickr. Having these tools now in the mobile app — along with just basic functionality like being able to zoom in — makes Flickr’s app superior to Instagram on a number of noticeably important fronts.

Given the massive leap forward of this latest edition, I’m optimistic that things will only improve further for Flickr going forward. Here’s a closer look with video of the new app from Flickr’s blog:

 
What do you think? Are you a fan of Instagram or other online photo networks? What’s your experience with Flickr been like? Let us hear from you in the comments.

If you like this, share it on Twitter (and thanks).

Apple Apologizes for Maps. Incredible.

28 Sep

Apparently, Apple isn’t completely deaf to the chorus of boos over its new Maps application. This morning, Apple CEO Tim Cook issued a formal apology letter to customers for the disappointing performance of the company’s iOS Maps app, the replacement for the highly-functional-yet-made-by-the-enemy Google Maps. PR done right, I say. See what you think:

Letter from Apple CEO Tim Cook apologizing for Apple Maps app.

I’m impressed with Cook’s candor and the fact that this letter even exists at all. As the letter itself notes, world-class products are the company’s focus – not recommending the competition (!!!). I’m not an Apple fanboy, but given the company’s monolithic, top-down communication style, secrecy of product development, and oft-stated focus on being the best, this is truly remarkable, even becoming a trending topic on Twitter.

Maybe the company has learned its lessons from the iPhone 4 antennagate debacle and China manufacturing coverage? As the BBC’s Rory Cellan-Jones noted earlier this year, “Perhaps a subtle shift in Apple’s PR strategy under its new leader is already under way.” Now it seems there’s more evidence of this being the case.

Let’s hope they’re as swift to actually improve the Maps app. Given this sensible PR move and the other obvious improvements of the iPhone5 and iOS6, I’m optimistic.

What do you think? Was Apple right to recommend the competition and come clean? Or is it too little too late? Have you used the new Maps app successfully, or has it left you directionally baffled? Let us hear from you in the comments.
Image

Chandelier Time

26 Nov

20111126-093559.jpg

So I like chandeliers. Saw this one in a funky downtown shop and had to get the shot. Taken with my iPhone using Hipstamatic, with the  John S. lens and Rock BW-11 film, the latter of which is available through November 2011 only as part of the Nashville Hipstapak. This chandelier graces the ceiling at Gladiola Girls in Boone, NC. I lived there for 5 years and used to work for the Chamber of Commerce. Great town.

This post is also the first time I’ve used the iOS WordPress app to publish. I’m here on the PC doing some post-editing now, but I gotta say, it’s pretty cool to upload something in the moment from your phone and have it already there in your posts. The app really does make it easy to capture a photo, peck out a couple of thoughts, then get it up on your blog. I’m adding more deets, related articles and tags post-publish, since the app only adds the “social media” tag. But if you’re not rocking the free WordPress app on your iPhone or iPad, I do recommend you give it a try.

Are you a Hipstamatic photographer? What’s been your experience with the WordPress app? Is there a go-to subject like chandeliers you find yourself taking pictures of repeatedly? Let us hear from you in the comments!

PhotoForge2: My First App Review

8 Nov

I’ve used plenty of iPhone apps, reviewing none. PhotoForge2 changes this. For anyone familiar with Photoshop, here’s your app. It’s as good as Photoshop for photo manipulation, and as a graphic designer of 15 years, I would know. It’s nearly all here: layers, masks, blending modes, undo, curves, HSL, freaking Unsharp Mask!?!? Yep, that, too.

Photoforge2 Screen Shot

Screen capture of PhotoForge 2 (credit: GhostBird): Layers, and masks, and tools... oh my!

If you’re a Photoshop user, you already know how to use PhotoForge2. It accomplishes in minutes with your thumb and iDevice what would otherwise require $1000+ in computer & software investment, certainly well enough for things like Instagram, and possibly even commercial work. It’s fast, stable, intuitive, and a steal at anything less than a full-on editing setup. As of this writing it’s on sale for 60% off and will set you back a whopping $1.99. That’s less than a beer.

Do note that PhotoForge2 is more for adjustments rather than painting or illustrating, (emphasis is on filters vs.  pen or brush drawing, for example), but so many of the built-in goods like vignette and frame effects should more than satisfy for basic edits, and set you up nicely for some pro-level results, even from a point-and-shoot camera.

You should also be aware that PhotoForge2 does not offer tools like clone or magic wand (hint-hint… next version maybe?), but you will still be able to execute your vision with what’s available fairly easily. I’ll often do workarounds that get me by, or use it in combination with other apps. The omission of some things like a free rotate or straightening seem glaringly odd, but these are very minor quibbles with an app of this one’s obvious prowess. (UPDATE, MARCH 2012: And, now it has this tool. Proof that Ghostbird Software is awesome)

I gave it 5 stars, but edited some out!

My PhotoForge work on app review. Click for full size.

Other apps specialize in color isolation and light effects, which is fine if that’s all you’ll ever want, but PhotoForge2 is The Mother Lode. Wired magazine says you’ll get $2 worth of entertainment out of it in the first ten minutes. I say two minutes. And they aren’t paying me to say that.

Funny, I remember with the iPad’s debut, all the sudden talk of tablets taking over for PCs. I thought, sure, but not for serious things like image editing. Um… yeah.

If you find this useful, share it on Twitter — thanks!

What’s your favorite photo editing app and why? Do you already use PhotoForge2? What’s your experience been, and what features would you like to see in the next version? Let us hear from you in the comments!

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