Travelling in Ireland VPN and RAW Photos

So far I have only needed to add megabytes to the mobile phone data once. I couldn’t get on the Airport wifi and I needed to send a message and do some other bits and pieces. Don’t forget to use a VPN product when you are on unsecured networks like at the airports. I have Hotspot Shield VPN. Good job I sent the message because my son arrived at the airport to pick me up. I’d have missed the message without my Good and Geeky tech. Then I didn’t need any data until we got home. Oh! The delight of internet with download speeds of 66mb. I would be tempted to move home to some place with fire optic internet. It is going to be hard to be back in Spain and suffer the ignominy of only 6mb download and 0.5mb of upload.

Not needed the tech so much.

Seeing as I’ve been spending time with my sons and grandchildren I have not had the time to do some of the stuff I usually do. I’ve used the iPhone more than the iPad Pro because it is always with me in my pocket. Taking pictures of my new grand daughter with the excellent camera on the iPhone 7 Plus. Shooting some video too. My recommendation is to use camera apps that force you to shoot video in landscape mode. Portrait shooting of video is very bad form. I always remember but some people don’t.

Shooting Video with the iPhone

ProCamera RAW Photos

I use the app ProCamera for most of my photo/video needs. It has extra controls even if it doesn’t have the software portrait mode that we got new with iOS 10.1. The portrait mode isn’t so much bokeh, more of a blurred background. It uses the two cameras to make the effect. I’ve now use that a few times and I’m impressed with the results so far. Great that you get prompts to help you set up the shot so it works. It tells you to move closer or if there is insufficient light for the shot to work. These software set ups for photography is the way forward. They are built to get around the limitations of the small sensor and not being able to use large lens which let light in through wide apertures. Not so much of a need to carry around a larger DSLR or a mirrorless camera these days.

Shooting in RAW

I have got my hands on a couple of apps which let me edit photos taken in the RAW format. First of all you need a camera app to shoot the RAW images . I have ProCamera, VSCO and Camera+ and there are others such as Manual or ProShot. After looking through the apps I have I think I prefer ProCamera. It gives choices for RAW in the settings and you can let it give you a jpeg version alongside the RAW version. In VSCO Cam I searched for a while and didn’t find where I could specify the image quality settings. Hydra shows the quality of the photo at the bottom of the screen and you can choose to go with 32mp. Then in the settings you may tell the app to save the unprocessed photo extra to the main settings.

If you edit RAW photos in the Photos app you should make a duplicate first. As soon as you make an edit to the original it becomes a compressed image. The app assumes you want to share the edited photo and smaller files are better for that. Seems that it is a destructive process in that you can’t go back to the RAW image afterwards.

Another good app to use to edit RAW photos is Snapseed. It’s great for editing photos and has gives full RAW support.This means I can put photos into it from my Sony NEX-6. There are 144 different camera model supported so far.

Why work with RAW

The RAW file is the information from the camera sensor and is not yet an image. This means in the editing application you have a wider range of information to work with in terms os exposure, white balance, colour, structure, tint, shadow control and temperature. you basically get a lot of leeway with adjustments to get the finished image just the way you want it.

Nest thermostats and cameras

My son’s house has a Nest Thermostat and I would be tempted to get one for my house. The court would be around €250 for the Nest and I would probably have to spend more so I had wifi in the garage for the Nest to work. I have lots of brick walls and solid concrete floors which block a lot of the wifi signal. The trouble is I live in a hot country, well hot in the summer and for the most of the year I don’t use the heating. We have solar panels for the hot water. Even in the winter if the day is sunny it will give hot water. So I am not sure if the technological advantages of the Nest would pay for itself over even the long term. If I got Nest it would be because I wanted the fancy tech gadget. For me that’s a good reason. I also wonder about the noise of the pump if the heating is switched on but not heating the water. The pump keeps on going pushing around the hot water to the radiators – I think so anyway. The question is – Do I want to lash out the cash on this. I am in the process of saving money for the next Apple Mac desktop computer.

I also looked at the cameras from nest and they look great. I wouldn’t want to spend the money on the monthly fees to record the video. It could be good enough to have the notifications when someone arrives at the door and be able to talk with them from the app. I doubt if they are HomeKit compatible but that might not matter. Perhaps I’ll work on the Raspberry Pi I have to set up a camera. It will take more work to set it up. That’s part of the fun though. I even have one of those dummy security camera units in which I will put the camera. The last project I did with the Raspberry was to make a home made Amazon Echo. It worked a treat except for it not having speakers and nor was it able to listen always for the command. That leads me to mention the Google Home device which is not available in Spain. It has been reviewed as working well but is still a work in progress. It looks nicer that the Amazon Echo anyway. I still wonder if Apple will bring something like this to the table at some point. My son and I wonder if there is much point in these home devices? When you have a phone in your pocket which you can talk to Siri or to OK Google why do you need a standalone device?

Changes to IFTTT and Applets

I have always liked setting up things like If This Then That – IFTTT to automate things and this week there has been a redesign. The recipes are now called applets and there is a huge number of services IFTTT works with. I have it so my tweets get saved to a Google spreadsheet. I have blog post automatically posted to Twitter, Facebook pages and Pinterest. If I post to Instagram with a tag for iColorama, the post gets sent to my WordPress blog. All good time saving things. There is a handy applet to keep your facebook and Twitter profiles in sync. You only have to remember it has to be change in Facebook to send the changes out. If I had an Amazon Echo I could tell Alexa to find my phone. I use an applet to pin my Instagram to a board on Pinterest. Another time saver. Some of the applets are specific to the device. They have applets for Android as well as for iOS.

Sending information to the journal

I am a keen journaller. I like to augment my memory because otherwise I will forget everything. Memory is a strange beast. Your brain or you mind will lie to you given half the chance. memories can be manipulated so you have false memories. Something told you by someone else at the same event could pollute your memory. What you didn’t see or experience could be added to your memory by other people’s stories. There have been scientific test to prove this. So if you keep a diary or journal up to date you will end up with a purer memory. I add photos and write in the Day One app. It would be great to add sound files and video too. I get around this limitation by putting video posting to the video web sites and audio web sites and then linking to them. Have a read of my book Good and Geeky Journaling.