Interesting Links Roundup: October 17th

As I wander the web I find interesting things. I share:

What have you seen lately that’s interesting?

What Does (and Doesn’t) Get Restored in an iCloud iPhone Restore

Apple App Store iconLast weekend my iPhone 4 was replaced (thank you AppleCare) due to a faulty home button. I made an iCloud backup prior to heading down to the Genius Bar at the Apple Store, and the swap was a painless process. I got home and began the process of the restore from iCloud. Things got a little bumpy along the way. Here’s what I learned:

  • If you’re using two-factor authentication for GMail, Google Apps, Dropbox, LastPass, or any other services and you rely on an iPhone app such as Google Authenticator, you should disable two-factor authentication temporarily until you get Google Authenticator installed on the new phone. It was interesting when I went to log in and was prompted for the code from a nonexistant code-generation app.
  • Some apps seem to restore settings/configurations from the iPhone backup and others don’t. While Foursquare and Starbucks had no idea who I was and required me to reauthenticate, Instagram and 1Password had my profile, settings, and configurations all loaded automatically.
  • My Twitter accounts that are integrated and stored in the iOS settings were restored, but were nonfunctional. Attempts to tweet from Reeder and Instapaper resulted in failures. I went into the Settings and Twitter configuration, re-entered the credentials, and then it worked again.
  • Something is jacked with Google Calendar sync. It’s synchronized my main calendar, but no amount of reconfiguration seems to be allowing it to sync my additional calendars.
  • Despite telling Downcast to sync my podcast information via iCloud using the various settings in the iCloud options of the app, Downcast doesn’t (by default) back up the media. The result was that I had playlists indicating various podcasts and episodes were unheard, but when I attemped to play those episodes, Downcast had to stream because the files weren’t on the device. I couldn’t figure out how to force Downcast to re-download. I ended up exporting my subscriptions as OMPL, deleted them all, then re-imported which aallowed Downcast to re-download. It turns out there is a setting to force Downcast to back up media to iCloud, but it’s not in the iCloud area of the settings. Instead it’s the very last option on the Settings screen.

I share this information in hopes that I can help someone else. My iPhone 5 should be arriving in a couple days; based on my experiences with this swap/restore I think I’ll be using the iPhone 5 as a good opportunity to start fresh with a clean set of software.

Interesting Links Roundup: July 20th

As I wander the web I find interesting things. I share:

What have you seen lately that’s interesting?

Happy First Birthday, Google+

Google+ LogoOne year ago today, Google+ launched. The immediate (and overused) statement jumped out as everyone wondered if this would be a “Facebook killer.” Unsurprisingly, Facebook is as strong as ever. Google+ adoption has been a bit slower than many anticipated, but I’m finding it to be a great place to share and converse with photographers and other media professionals.

Choose Your Battles… er, Networks

Twitter. Facebook. LinkedIn. Pinterest. Instagram. Google+. Each social network has pros, cons, and an audience. Unless you spend all day doing nothing other than social media, you’re not going to be a strong power user in all of these places. Chris Brogan calls them outposts. Rosh Sillars calls them outer planets. Either way, they’re a supporting role in your online presence. Experiment with all, but focus on the ones that provide the most value.

I’m not generally finding and booking clients via Google+. That said, Google+ a network (one of several) where I can occasionally “check in” with existing clients and prospects. Perhaps I +1 their post… perhaps I comment. I’m reminding them that I’m there.

The big benefit I’ve found in Google+ is that of social interaction with photographers. Most of the social photography discussions I used to have on Flickr are now happening on Google+. I follow a lot of photographers and I love browsing through my photographers circle to check out their work. I connect (and interact) with photographers of various backgrounds… everyone from “everyday folk” who have a good eye as well as the bigger names such as +Thomas Hawk or +Nicole Young.

If you want to dive into Google+ and connect with a bunch of photographers that are actively sharing and participating, Thomas Hawk’s list of his recommended photographers is a good place to start.

Hung Out

The other big feature that I’m digging is the Google+ Hangout feature. Free video chat for up to 10 people, with the optional ability to broadcast it live and archive it on YouTube (Google calls this feature “Hangouts on Air”). Whether we’re talking about an informal chat between friends, a collaborative photo editing/review session, or a high-profile broadcast, hangouts are great.

What’s Next?

I have no idea what’s in store for Google+ in the future… I suspect we’ll continue to see tight integration with other Google services1 and enhancements of existing features. Frankly I’m surprised that we’re one year in and have yet to see an open API that third parties can use to integrate with the service. The upside is that we’re relatively spam-free over on Google+, the downside is that I can’t integrate Google+ easily with other services and there aren’t any third-party Google+ clients.

Here’s to another year of Google+ improvements and adoption.

Feel free to circle me on Google+.


  1. One of my favorite integrations is that when one receives a Google+ notification via Gmail, you can comment, +1, and interact with the item (and the people who’ve previously interacted) directly from the Gmail message window. 

EyePhone: Making Stronger Photographs with your Camera Phone – New Ebook Review

EyePhone: Making Stronger Photographs with your Camera PhoneAs a photographer and an iPhone fan, I love mobile photography. I was excited to read EyePhone: Making Stronger Photographs with Your Camera Phone, the latest photography ebook from Craft & Vision. Author Al Smith dives into the world of mobile phone photography, offering a great resource for beginning and intermedia mobile photographers. It’s a good read (with one minor nag that I note below) and I recommend it for anyone with a camera phone. Here’s my review of the book (along with some limited-time discount codes at the bottom of the article).

Introduction and Philosophy

The introductory section of the book offers up Smith’s overall views on mobile photography; he begins by recalling the situation in which he realized the value in the ability to create images with his phone. As it’s been said that the best camera is the one that you have with you, mobile phone photography can take advantage of the “always ready” scenario. From the beginning of the book, the emphasis is on photography over the gear itself, and the author attempts to present the material in a brand-agnostic fashion although his experience using an iPhone for his work is shown in many of his app and hardware discussions.

A quick look at the hardware limitations of even the best camera phone provides a background for a viewpoint that simplicity breeds creativity and that the relatively low quality (when compared with modern DSLR or compact cameras) forces a photographer to focus more on the artistic, rather than technical, side of photography. Smith notes:

…a tool is only as good as the hands it’s placed in and the hands are only as good as the brain’s ability to guide them.

The remainder of the book follows a three-step paradigm that also applies to mobile photography.

Shoot, Edit, Share

As the book moves into a discussion of shooting, it offers a huge plug for the Camera+ iPhone app, devoting an entire page to the merits of this offering. While I agree that it’s a good app, it’s not the only option. Smith calls out the ability to separate focus from exposure, a feature that also exists in Camera Awesome (and probably some other apps as well). There’s a good discussion of the merits (and drawbacks) of the flash available on current camera phones; using the flash in the “regular” way often leads to poor results, but Smith suggests a few modifications and alternative uses for the flash that can help diffuse the light and make it a useful photography tool.

I do question some of the battery-saving advice in the shooting discussion. Smith advocates the use of airplane mode which will disable the wifi, cellular signal, bluetooth, and other battery-eating features of the phone. I’d offer that if you don’t need any of those other features, you probably don’t need to use a camera phone and might be better served by a point and shoot. The advice about how to “quit” iPhone apps given on page 22 is simply wrong – the description reflects a misunderstanding of how multitasking works on iOS.

The portion of the book devoted to editing is decent, and provides a mostly app-agnostic look at photo manipulation on the go. Instead of going into detail about specific apps, the discussion focuses at a higher level on what sort of qualities one should look for in an application, such as the ability to work in multiple steps (and undo), the ability to preserve original files, and more. I enjoyed his take on things and he does recommend a few specific apps at the end of the section.

EyePhone - better camera phone photography ebook - Craft & Vision

One of the big advantages of a connected device is the ability to easily share, and the book wraps up by looking at this component of mobile photography. The author is a big Instagram fan, not so much for the photo filters but more for the same reasons that I’m an Instagram fan: it’s a great social network for those who enjoy nice imagery. Some words are said about deciding how much to share (hint: quality over quantity) as well as avoiding sharing too much.

Conclusion

Overall I found EyePhone to be a good read. For someone who’s looking to make better images and exercise their creative muscles, a variety of techniques and ideas are offered that will help a mobile photographer create, edit, and share photos that go beyond the basics and might lead to more rewarding photography experiences.

The Craft & Vision ebooks are a great deal at the regular price of $5. Buy EyePhone using this link.