2011 Amgen Tour of California photos

I got some decent shots from the Stage 6 time trial and Stage 8 finale over this past weekend. Check them out on Flickr.


Backdrop – Bringing back one of my favorite pre-OSX features

One of the OS features that I missed as soon as “upgrading” to OSX back in 2001 was the ability to hide everything except the foreground app, including everything that was on your desktop. You could have the busiest desktop known to man, and it all disappeared into a blissful solid color. This was my preferred way of working in Photoshop on the Mac, and was never an issue on windows since the Photoshop application lives in it’s own “super window” that blocks everything else out.

Every once and a while, I’ll do a google search on this to see what comes up, and I have finally found something that works well for me. It’s a little shareware app called “Backdrop” that covers the entire display with a solid color (or bitmap image) of your choice. Since I’m looking for a nice solid grey color, I just launch Backdrop, select the color that I want, and I’m done. You can position Backdrop behind the frontmost app that you have open by selecting it first, then selecting the app that you’re working in via the dock, or with command+tab.

It’s not quite the “hide others” OS shortcut that I was hoping for, but it gets the job done.

Check it out.

OWLE Bubo for iPhone

My first video using the iPhone OWLE bubo:

If you are unable to see the above video, you can view its Flickr page here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/lizandcameron/4113706195/

iPhone Photoshop app

I have to admit that when I first saw the Adobe Photoshop.com app I was intrigued and did not hesitate to download it. Even if they charged a few bucks, I would have immediately downloaded it. More than $5, and I think I would have waited on a review, but at the $0 price, if you can even call it that, it’s an immediate download.

It’s a very nice app and I particularly like the side to side finger swipe that Adobe has used as an adjustment “slider”. I find the sliders in the other photography apps difficult to use, and with Adobe’s implementation, there is no little “knob” to grab on the screen. Overall the UI is well thought out and very much out of the way, something that is very important with the minimal screen real estate on a mobile phone.

It has a nice mixture of photo editing and canned effects. Most of the other photo apps that I have used are either canned effects or editing tools. Camera Bag is the epitome of canned effects, and Perfect Photo is all about the editing adjustments, but I think that the Photoshop app is the first to combine the two into a solid app. Best Camera approaches this a bit with layering canned effects, but they’re still canned and not adjustable. It will be interesting to see how this app effects the other photo apps’ sales. I still can’t believe that Adobe put it up for free.

Although it is a more advanced feature, but the one missing piece that I would like to see is color temperature adjustments. Maybe there is a technical reason for not including it, but there are times when it would be nice to adjust the temperature and green/magenta balances for those times when you’re shooting something with an odd color temperature/balance. Hue kind of gets at it, but only kind of.

It’s not the end all be all photo app on the iPhone that I thought it might be, but for the majority of images that I edit on the iPhone itself, this is my new go-to app.

Gooney Bird on Catalina Island

I took what is becoming my annual Catalina Island trip this past weekend, and was treated to a like-new DC-3 “Gooney Bird” at the end of a very hot and bumpy bus ride. I think I rapped off about 75 shots of it before the bus was leaving, and of course, I wish I had reframed a few of them, but overall I think I got some good ones. It was hard not to. The photo links to other shots in my flickr account. I will be adding more as the week progresses:


Warm Reflections in Century City

This past weekend I finally made my way to the Annenberg Space for Photography to check out the museum and it’s contents. It’s a very nice museum dedicated to photography in Century City (Los Angeles) in a beautiful business district. The surrounding grounds and building are quite striking, and it’s in the same complex as Tom Colicchio’s Craft restaurant, which I hear is very good. The exhibit was Pictures of the Year International (POYi) which featured award winning photojournalism from the past year. There were some really great shots in there, as well as a great video presentation featuring some of the exhibiting photographers in the theater area. The Microsoft table top interactive thing-a-majiggie was there too, but I never had a chance to try it out because people seemed to be parking at them both.

Without further adieu, here’s the photo that I wanted to share, the “Warm Reflections in Century City” that I shot just outside the gallery:

Warm Century City Lines

FAIL: 10.x Mac OS Finder

I don’t usually write up these OS criticisms, but allow me to point out one area where I think Windows is substantially better than the Mac OS – The Finder. Windows Explorer and it’s various incarnations in save dialogs, etc. works a great deal more effectively for me, and I hear other ex or current windows users complain about the same differences.

I like the scriptability, but otherwise I don’t like The Finder at all. The Finder feels like a dumbed down version of a “pro” app that Apple has never released. I was hoping for some improvements in Snow Leopard, but there are none that are pertinent to my daily usage of the finder. I have no real linux experience to speak of, so forgive me if the various Linux flavors have this worked out also.

You can’t set default column widths? If I have a finder window open in column view, which is my preferred view state for the Finder, the columns are always way too narrow for the length of the file names. There seems to be no solution to this other than to resize the columns every time a new Finder window is opened. They have the perfect choices built right in, if you command-click on the resize widget, you get three perfectly good choices of how to resize the columns, but you can’t make them persist. The moment I switch to another folder, all is lost! I am sure I have lost several days worth of cumulative time since OSX was released in 2001 just resizing columns so that I can see what I’m looking at. How can this still be unaddressed?

No CUT? I cannot “cut” a file from one place and paste it into another, only copy and paste or use the mouse to drag it from one place to another. This seems like something basic that should have been sorted out decades ago.

You can still only resize a window from that one corner? Anyone that has used a Mac know that there is only the one corner that you can resize a window from. So if that corner is at the bottom of the screen, and you want to make the window taller, you have to drag the window up, then go back to that corner to resize the window. Once again, should have been sorted out decades ago. This sort of window behavior is just ridiculous.

End key is not contextual? I am editing this post, and I want to move the cursor to the end of the line of text that I am typing, so I hit the end key. Nope, it does not move the cursor at all, but rather scrolls to the end of the web page. The end key is dumb. I think I’m just going to pop it off the keyboard. It seems to have this scrolling behavior everywhere, even in a text document opened in Apple’s own Text Edit application.

I should mention also that I’m a Mac guy… a disappointed Mac guy. I wish I could go back to OS 9, but with 10.4 stability. Yah I said 10.4, because that’s been my favorite release of OS X that I have had the least amount of trouble with. I’m just so disappointed that none of these things were addressed in Snow Leopard, OS 10.6, which was supposed to be the release that addressed the little things. Maybe I’ll switch to Windows 7.

Redfin iPhone App

If you live in one of the metro areas covered by Redfin and are looking for a house, you have to check out their site (www.redfin.com). It’s very easy to use, and you can even use one of their agents to purchase the home and save yourself a bundle.

As much as I like their site, it is a bit difficult to navigate quickly on a mobile phone such as the iPhone. It works the same whether you’re on your desktop or an iPhone, but their newly released app makes it even easier.

I downloaded the app right before heading out for some house hunting, and it couldn’t be easier to find homes for sale nearby. It’s got a straight-forward and reasonably attractive UI, and I was able to quickly and easily look up all the important details for the homes that we looked at on the fly. Did I mention that it’s a free app???

Here’s a couple of screenshots:

First, the main screen. This is what I see right after I clicked on the “Nearby Homes for Sale”, which uses the GPS to see where you are and find homes close by. You can input the particulars of what you are looking for to narrow the search (bedrooms, bathrooms, house/condo/townhome), as well as search somewhere other than your current location.

Redfin iPhone App

This is the map view. The numbers in a circle indicate the number of homes/condos for sale in that are. Just touch the number to zoom in and see what is for sale and where.

Redfin iPhone App Map

View Trends on My Flickr Account

Just thought I would throw up my flickr views graph with a couple of added labels to explain the huge spikes. The first dot on the graph displays my normal daily views. Even though it looks like it’s starting at zero, that dot represents a lot of views!

Daily Flickr Views Graph

No Bluetooth in iPhone 3GS

I struggled with the title of this posting, because I wanted to best summarize my iPhone problem. I’m not sure the current title does the job, but here’s the issue:

I recently purchased a new iPhone 3GS, and after playing with it for a while, I wanted to pair it to my Garmin Nüvi 760 which I use as a speakerphone in my car, and my bluetooth headset. I dove into the settings, easily found the bluetooth settings, and slid the switch to the “On” position. It immediately snapped back to the “Off” position! Repeated attempts produced the same result, and I was left thinking that there was a hardware issue with my iPhone. I did not want to send it back. I was already hooked!


I searched for a while online and didn’t find a direct answer, but some other iPhone owners had similar problems with previous versions of the iPhone, but I wasn’t sure it would work with mine until I tried it out. The solution was simply to do a “Restore” in iTunes, which would reinstall the OS on the iPhone. As a new owner, I wasn’t too happy to be doing this, and wasn’t sure if I would retain all of my apps and settings that were already on the iPhone. I could have spent more time reading up on all of this, but I wanted to dive in and give the solution a try. If I had to reinstall everything, so be it.

First, I made sure to let the iPhone completely sync with iTunes. Then I simply clicked the “Restore” button in iTunes (you have to select the iPhone in the left-hand menu first), and after waiting a while for the 285MB download to complete, the process completed. Once my iPhone booted back up, I was pleasantly surprised to see that all of my settings were retained, and bluetooth worked as easily as I had expected it to in the first place.

I wish that I didn’t have to go through this to get bluetooth working, and I hope that Apple gets it sorted out so that others do not have to go through this, but for those that have a new iPhone and/or your bluetooth will not activate, give this a try.