Thursday, May 26, 2011

Go beyond...for getting the best shots of your kids

I don't often re-post other people's links, but this is such a short article with great advice for getting more compelling photos of your kids that I couldn't resist posting it here.

I've tried all of these techniques in the past so it was nice to see them all written up in one place.  If you give them a try, you'll instantly notice your photography of your children jump to a more interesting and creative level.

Grab your camera (and your kids) and give it a shot!  Enjoy!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Fotopedia: Explore our world with fantastic photos and iPad apps

I got an iPad 2 recently and it's an absolutely fantastic device.  I'll write another post about that in the near future to give a mini-review of my impressions of the iPad and the iOS platform....but for now.....

The subject of this post has to do with one of the many photographic discoveries that I've made recently while using the iPad and some of its great photo apps.  The quality of the iPad's screen and the touch interface lend themselves well to working with photography websites, viewing photos, etc.

I'm writing this review because the Fotopedia apps that I mention below are the absolute epitome of what a well designed, highly functional, content-packed iPad app should be.  And three out of the four of them are free!

I like to explore the world visually (which I guess is obvious, since I like photography so much).  If you gave me the choice between one book about the world and all its countries and people that has mostly text and some small photos, or, a better/larger book with nice large color photos and a significantly higher price, I will gladly spend the extra money on the more visually interesting book.  Pictures help me connect with a place much more than words do.  It's as simple as that...

So, with that in mind, I stumbled across a link somewhere to  If you have not yet seen or used this website, I would highly encourage that you spend some time checking it out.  It's a very unique way to explore our world using photography.  It's a combination of great photography, Wikipedia, and user-driven content.  It's a unique combination and definitely worth a look.

In addition to the Fotopedia website, they've created four fantastic iPad apps filled with content and tons of beautiful photographs from around the world.  In addition to continually updating these apps, Fotopedia has put bookmarking and travel planning functionality into the apps.  Great for planning future adventures!

The Fotopedia apps include:
  1. Fotopedia National Parks ($2.99) with a promotional video on YouTube located at this link.  This app is filled with a wealth of information and photos about the US National Parks....all in one app.  When I say this app has nice photos......I mean gorgeous!
  2. Fotopedia Heritage (free) with a promotional video at that link.  This app takes you on a journey to all of the World Heritage sites and the description reads:  "All of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites.  25,000 Pictures. 4,000 Points of Interest.  Thousands of photographers.  Hundreds of curators".  Another beautifully presented package...

  3. Fotopedia Memory of Colors (free) with a promotional video at that link.  The description of this app says:  "Memory of Colors is a message of peace, tolerance and respect, for the people threatened by globalization. A 12-year project to assemble a rainbow of 1,300 photos 40 unique cultures in 18 countries (from Algeria to Yemen) and across 4 continents.  It is a pause in time and space to preserve the beauty of these disappearing cultures, before it is too late. Look into these eyes and see … the reflection of your own humanity".  It's a great way to learn about and see the different cultures around the world.

  4. Fotopedia Paris (free) and the description of the app reads:  "A Paris vacation without leaving your home.  Dreaming of Paris? Now you can discover and explore the City of Light, as it’s never been seen. Packed with visual surprises and more than 4,000 spectacular photos, Fotopedia Paris makes it easy to find your way through the beauty of Paris and quickly find whatever interests you: art, architecture, cafes, castles, fashion, history, romantic sights, shopping or street life… everything is at your fingertips.  As you browse through the city, simply pick your favorite photos and places and Fotopedia Paris creates an interactive map to help you discover familiar places and “hidden gems”.  This app is gorgeous and fun, just like… Paris". 
I hope you take some time to try the Fotopedia website and apps, and send feedback to the Fotopedia team to encourage them to build more apps of this type.  With encouragement from its user base, hopefully Fotopedia will continue to produce apps that can take us on breathtaking photographic journeys around the world.  Enjoy!

    Friday, May 6, 2011

    Is sugar toxic? Check out these two articles...

    When it comes to health, I believe in the old adage of "everything in moderation".  Eating, drinking, alcohol, exercise, sleep, etc.

    This approach seems to have done me fairly well throughout the years because I'm in pretty good shape for 44 years old, but I need a little more aggressive exercise so I've recently added biking back to my exercise routine since the weather warmed up and my back injuries from past years are healed.  I also recently got tennis rackets for my wife and I, and the kids already like tennis, so that will be another family activity to burn some calories and tone up.

    Back to my point.....

    The one area where my diet falters is sugar.  Now more than ever, sugar in its various dubious forms (e.g., high fructose corn syrup) is so pervasive in our foods (especially processed foods) that it's almost impossible to get away from it.  Make no mistake about the fact that this huge increase in sugar over the past 10-15 years can be tied directly to an increase in diabetes.  My line of work at my current employer puts me in the know about me.  The facts are pretty clear.

    I'm making an effort to cut back on my sugar intake whenever I can, and I'm helping my family do the same.  It's not easy.  You really have to think about what you're putting in your mouth.  I'm not going totally right-wing and trying to eliminate all sugar from my diet.....that's not reasonable.  All I'm trying to do is cut back where it's easy and common-sensical to do it.

    The thing that really motivated me to cut back on sugar are these two articles.  The first one is an article that also contains a long video about the problems caused by excessive sugar in your diet and the science related to it.  The second is a good article from the New York Times.
    1. - Eliminate This ONE Ingredient and Watch Your Health Soar
    2. New York Times - Is Sugar Toxic?
    Once you read these two articles I guarantee that you'll give sugar a second thought.  Again, I'm not saying to go right-wing on this like Dr. Mercola sometimes suggests that people do.  I'm simply suggesting that you think about it and maybe make some adjustments in  your diet that will do you some good in the long run.

    Wednesday, May 4, 2011

    iPhone - The ultimate lifestyle convergence device

    Now there's a mouthful of a title for a blog post!  But I really believe it's true.  The iPhone is the ultimate convergence device for improving your lifestyle, your efficiency, your work....just about everything!  It's part phone, part computer, part personal assistant, part organizer, etc.

    Let me say up front that much of what I'm writing here probably also applies to the Android platform and its related smartphones and apps, but the iPhone is what I have experience with so I'm writing about that specifically here.

    I got my iPhone a few weeks ago.  My wife had one for almost a year before that so I had ancillary experience in using hers and saw the huge potential of the device.  The problem is that I was too cheap to buy one for myself!  Let's face it....these things are expensive.  Not so much the phone itself, but the monthly data plans and cell service!  Add it all up over the course of a year and it's a whopper of an extra expense to take on.

    So.....the expense kept me fretting about getting one for quite a while until I just couldn't take it anymore.  There are so many times when I've been out and about doing something and it occurred to me that having an iPhone would not only come in handy, but it would also enhance the enjoyment of my life.  I finally broke down and got one.  Not once since then have I thought about the expense of owning and using it.  It's that great.  Once you have it, the expense of it fades into the distance and you forget about it.

    Maybe a statement like "enhance the enjoyment of my life" sounds extreme, but to people who own and use.......and I mean really iPhone, you know what I mean.  Not only do I use it for the common every day things like sending/receiving email, calling people, calendars, etc, but the world of the App Store has let me load up the phone with about 25 apps that have organized and improved my life, let me enjoy my hobbies more, let me get around easier, and many other things....including some gaming as well!

    Most of the apps were free.  The most I paid for any one app was $10 for a specialized photography app that I purchased to make planning my photography outings easier.  But all together I probably didn't spend more than $30 on apps for my iPhone.

    Now the iPhone never leaves my side.  I find myself reaching for it when I would have ordinarily gotten up to go to the computer in another room to do something.  News, Facebook, sports, weather, email, Flickr, Twitter, internet, casual photography, reading my RSS feeds, managing my To-Do lists, listening to music, checking prices while I'm out shopping, checking what the latest bird is in our back yard feeder, mapping my bike rides with the GPS, etc.  I do it all on the iPhone.

    I read a great quote the other day in an article about smartphones.  The author of the article was trying to pin down a generic definition of what a smartphone is.  He said, “A smartphone is a device whose uses go well beyond calls and messaging. In fact, I would define it as a phone you use at least half the time for something other than calling and messaging”. 

    I completely agree with that statement.  In fact, I almost never use my iPhone as.......a phone.  

    Yes, the screen is relatively small when comparing it to a computer, but I don't sit there staring at it for hours at a time like I do with a computer screen.  It's a bit here and a bit there throughout the day, and that's what I mean when I say "convergence device".  You find yourself using it for so many different things at so many times during the day that it becomes a part of the way you function.

    If you're debating whether or not to get an iPhone, don't waste your time.  Just get it.  Don't wait on the iPhone 5 because you never know when it's going to come out and you'll miss enjoying the iPhone every day until then.  Just go get the iPhone 4 and start enjoying it today.

    As part of this blog going forward, I've created an iPhone category on the left side and will be posting about the iPhone, great apps that I find, and other topics in the future.  In fact, I like the iPhone so much that I also purchased an iPad 2 and will be blogging about that as well.  I hope you find the articles interesting...