DIY iPad Wedding Photobooth

Posted on Aug 21, 2011 in Hints, iPad, Opinions, Reviews

When we were planning our wedding, we saw lots of wedding photo booth ideas. You can either rent a traditional photo booth, or there are various DIY setups involving digital cameras.

I started thinking and thought it would be cool to have a setup that would allow people to see their snaps rights away, without having to go around to the camera itself. With a DSLR that supports remote control from a laptop, that is fairly easy to set up, but as it turned out, my cameras don’t support remote control over USB. So I started looking into alternatives and soon hit on the idea of using an EyeFi card and my iPad. (A few weeks after I started planning our photo booth, a story popped up on Engadget about a similar, albeit more professional, setup.)

What you’ll need

  • A digital camera with remote shutter release (I used the Panasonic GF-1 with a cheap wireless remote shutter release from eBay)
  • An EyeFi SD card in the camera (make sure it’s a newer EyeFi card with support for “direct mode”)
  • An iPad connected to the EyeFi network running the free EyeFi app
  • A tall tripod
  • A table or stand of some kind for the iPad
  • (optional) A frame, backdrop or props of some kind for guests to pose with

Camera, remote shutter, iPad and EyeFi card

With this setup, guests could take a snapshot using the remote shutter and almost instantly see it on the iPad a few seconds later. To speed up the wireless transfers, I configured the EyeFi card to wirelessly transfer the JPEGs only, whilst keeping the large RAW files on the card. This also allowed us to place the camera somewhere out of the way and still gave the guests a way to view their pictures.

The photo booth setup – the iPad is just off to the side on a table

One of the snaps from the photo booth

Other Tips

  • Turn on face recognition if your camera supports it and make sure the autofocus is correctly detecting your guests.
  • Turn off any power saving options on the camera and iPad.
  • If your setup is indoors, connect the iPad and camera to AC adapters, if possible.
  • You’ll need a fairly tall tripod or something to stand it on to get the camera up high enough. Ours was a bit low so I ended up adjusting the perspective using Adobe Lightroom.
  • Explain the setup to someone beforehand and ask them to keep an eye on things to make sure everything runs smoothly.
Our guests had a lot of fun with our DIY photobooth and I love the way the pictures turned out, highly recommended!
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Review: Dodocase for iPad 2

Posted on May 29, 2011 in iPad, Reviews

The first accessory every iPad 2 owner buys is one of Apple’s Smart Covers. But as elegant as the Smart Covers are, they do not offer much in the way of protection and my iPad already has a number of alarmingly deep scratches on the back from being in my bag with my keys and camera.

Enter the Dodocase for iPad 2 – a hand-made, book-like case with an elegant wooden frame. The DodoCase has a moleskine-like design and elegantly encloses your entire iPad like a hardback book. On the right side of the book sits a wooden frame that has special cutouts for the iPad, while the left has a trademark ownership label and customiseable colour  lining.

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Open iPad GarageBand files on your Mac – a workaround

Posted on Mar 27, 2011 in Hints, iPad, Mac

Update: That didn’t take long! Apple has just released an update for GarageBand on the Mac that officially adds support for iPad projects. It’s 181MB and seems to include add all the software instruments found in the iPad version that were missing


So ignore the workaround below, update GarageBand and you’ll be all set.


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Three things on the iPad that feel rushed

Posted on Apr 19, 2010 in iPad, Opinions, UI Design

Most people would agree that the iPad is a fantastic 1.0 device. This is of course partly due to the shared iPhone OS heritage, but the overall experience is nonetheless is extremely well-rounded and polished.

But there are a few areas that feel a bit crummy, when compared with the rest of the experience. Considering how many apps Apple had to completely overhaul for the iPad’s presentation in January, it’s no surprise to find a few rough edges, on the otherwise fantastic device.

File syncing

I understand why Apple is hesitant to add any kind of file system to the iPhone OS, but considering how much emphasis was placed on the iPad apps at launch, you would think that they would have come up with an elegant way to get documents on and off your iPad.

Unfortunately, in reality it’s a huge pain. Ted Landau took the time to document all the steps it takes to actually get a document into iWork on your iPad, none of which are particularly intuitive. Plus you then have the hassle of managing revisions and tracking multiple copies of the same file.

The iPhone app SimpleNote and Notational Velocity on the mac show how document sync can be done right. Some apps are also adding Dropbox support, which gives you an idea how file sync in general could be improved. Given the fact that Apple has already done a lot of the hard work by creating the MobileMe and iWork online services, one can only hope that we’ll see seamless, cloud-based file syncing added sooner rather than later.

Safari caching

If you open multiple tabs in safari on your Mac, switching between them is instantaneous. In mobile safari, you can never be sure whether the tab will open immediately, or whether it will need to be reloaded over your wifi or 3G connection. On the wifi-only iPad, where users can’t be sure they’ll always have access to an internet connection, webpage persistance is particularly an issue. The fact that Offline Pages (iTunes link) is currently one of the top free iPad apps in the App Store would seem to underline this point.

Mobile Safari’s limiting caching abilities are most likely due to the limited amount of RAM in the iPad, which has just 256MB, however as Rentzsch has pointed out, it should be possible to offload pages to the solid state drive as a workaround, although it’s not a trivial problem.

Calendar event creation

Making event creation in calendars difficult seems to be one of Apple’s favorite UI slip-ups. The calendar app on the iPad is gorgeously designed and it makes browsing through calendar entries a visual pleasure.

But the interface for adding entries seems to have been cut & paste directly from the iPhone version and doesn’t make any use of the additional screen real estate the iPad offers. You get the impression the designers spent all their time working on the rest of the UI and simply stuck the editing controls in there at the last minute.

Consistency between the two platforms is of course a good thing, provided it doesn’t slow the user down unnecessarily. I would argue that you could better use the iPad’s screen real estate to make a much more efficient and intuitive event creation UI.

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iPad Fatigue

Posted on Apr 11, 2010 in iPad, Opinions

One of the ways you can measure the impact a device has, is by how frequently it’s used. A netbook, for example, might look like great device on paper, but a lot of early adopters seem to have switched back to using a full-sized notebook, whilst their netbooks collect dust.

The problem is feature overlap: if a netbook can do some, but not all of the same things a notebook can do – why not just take the notebook? You’ll need a bag to carry either, so there’s only a slight difference in size and weight to consider. Smartphones on the other hand can do some of the same things a notebook can do, but have a clear size and weight advantage, as well as a telephony features that a notebook doesn’t offer.

The iPad might suffer from the same problem as netbooks. It offers a lot of features offered by both other device categories, but it also presents these features in a new, multi-touch interface. But is the new interface and compact form factor enough to convince users to ditch their smartphones and notebooks for certain tasks?

Browsing some of the initial comments about the iPad, most users are initially very enthusiastic, as you would expect with most highly anticipated new CE devices. However, some users are already reporting that the initial excitement has worn off:

Jeff Jarvis tweets:

“After having slept with her (Ms. iPad), I am having morning-after regrets. Sweet and cute but shallow and vapid.”

Update: Turns out Jeff is actually returning his iPad:

[…] “(I) simply don’t see a good use for the machine and don’t want to spend $500 on something I’m not going to use.”

Funemployed entrepreneur Nat Friedman posts on Facebook:

“24 hours later, I must admit I’m not sure what I’m supposed to be using this thing for. The charm is wearing off.”

On a more anecdotal note, I recently had a few friends over for a party and they were playing with an iPad borrowed from work. Most of them were fascinated by the device and wanted one, but couldn’t really see much use for it apart as a “toy”.

Unlike the iPhone, which you always carry with you anyway, the iPad is something you need to actively seek out and use. With many people purchasing iPads without a clear idea what they’ll be using it for, it’ll be interesting to see whether Apple’s latest can win a permanent place in user’s day-to-day lives, or whether it will be yet another gadget collecting dust somewhere. My guess is that it’ll be the type of gadget you use regularly – just not as often as your phone or notebook.

What are your thoughts? Are you starting to get bored of your iPad – or has it already become indispensable?

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Grassroots UI Innovation

Posted on Apr 6, 2010 in Featured, iPad, iPhone, UI Design

When Apple introduced the iPhone and later the iPhone SDK, they established a series of UI metaphors, interaction models and conventions, that have served as a template for nearly all third party apps. Gestures such as swipe to delete, or UI elements such as springy lists are simply expected.

Apple has done such a great job of establishing best practices for nearly all types of UI interactions that it’s not often you see news kinds of UI interaction introduced by third party developers.

But when Atebits introduced Tweetie 2, it also introduced so-called “spring reloading”. Basically if you pull down past the end of a list, causing it to spring back, you can refresh the current list of tweets.

Many reviewers noted the ingenuity of this design, as it effectively turned a habit of many users (namely playing with the springy lists) into a useful feature. This design has since been adopted by several other applications and seems as though it may become a de facto UI convention on the iPhone OS.

Here is the original Tweetie 2 design:

Foursquare is basically a straight up copy:

This is Gowalla’s take on it – the logo appears to let you know you’ve pulled down far enough:

And the Wikipedia app Articles uses the design to lock or unlock your screen orientation:

It’ll be interesting to see if this convention is adopted by more applications going forward – or if Apple will even perhaps add it to their own apps. But at any rate, it’s nice to see good UI innovations from a third party developer being adopted by others. I can’t wait to see what Atebits and others come up with for the iPad.

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