Tag archives for review

Abandoman

Myself and a friend were at the Vodafone Comedy Festival in the Iveagh Gardens over the weekend. We saw six comedians across two shows and one of them stood head shoulders above the rest. Rob Broderick, who performs as Abandoman – normally with James Hancox but he wasn’t there, totally stole the show.

Abandoman mixes the improvised hip-hop of a rap battle with the improvised comedy of Who’s Line is it Anyway to great effect. The entirety of his set was made up on the spot, buit from things as simple as what the audience members had in their pockets. I saw him at four o’clock on a rainy afternoon in a half filled tent – that’s not an easy gig by any standard – and he absolutely nailed it.

I think what I liked most about Abandoman was how easily I could go and see him again – and get a totally different show. Too often you see comedians rolling out the same routines they’ve been doing for years – it’s understandable, writing comedy takes a lot of time and effort – but Abandoman will give you a different show each time.

If you get the chance to see Abandoman live, take it. I certainly plan on keeping an eye out and whenever he’s next in Dublin I’ll go.

Harry Guinness is a professional magician based in Dublin, to hire him, or for more information, go to www.HarryTheMagician.ie.

All links to amazon in this blog are affiliate links, I have to pay webhosting somehow! However, that in no way changes my opinion of the product. If I wanted to make money off affiliate links, I wouldn't write really long review of €5.00 books.
Posted in Opinion, Personal, Review

Apps I like and Use: Instapaper

Every so often I’m going to post a quick review of some of my favourite apps – whether they are for OSX iOS or anything else. My previous review of Camera+ is here.

Instapaper

Instapaper LogoI use Instapaper more than I use almost any other app. Developed by Marco Arment, the original developer at Tumblr so that he would have great material to read on his way to work, Instapaper fills a need that you didn’t know you had: it gives you the ability to send interesting articles you find on the internet to your phone or tablet so you can read it later; even if ‘later’ has no internet connection.

By clicking on a little button in your browser, the content of whatever page you have open is stripped of ads, given basic formatting and sent to your phone or tablet. By opening the app on your device, you download the barebones article and can read it whenever you want. This even works with multi-page articles like some newspapers or magazine sites use. 90% of the time the formatting works perfectly, the other 10% of time it ranges from getting extraneous text, such as menus, at the top of the post (www.gizmodo.co.uk I’m looking at you) to being completely unreadable. However, Instapaper overcomes this by having a built in browser. The browser is also great for quickly following up on links in the articles.

Instapaper also integrates with other apps I use a lot like Twitter and Reeder, a RSS reader. The only app it does not integrate wish that I wish it did is facebook – but that is hardly Marco’s fault. In total, Instapaper integrates with almost 150 other apps!

One of my favourite features of Instapaper is the cross device syncing. If I start reading an article on my iPhone I can pick up at exactly the same spot on my iPad and vice versa. The iPad is a much more pleasant device to read on but I have it with me much less; it’s great to be able to start something on my iPhone when I’m out and then continue it once I’m at home with the iPad.

Instapaper has made me read a lot of long-form journalism. Articles that originally appear in Time or Esquire that you won’t, or can’t, read at your computer are perfect for reading over breakfast or on the bus. Instapaper has also made it really easy to find these articles with “The Feature” – a curated collection of the articles sent most to Instapaper. I have found some fantastic article through it.

Instapaper is available on the iPhone, iPad, Kindle Fire, Android and Kindle. The phone and table apps work as expected, click a button in your browser and the link is sent to your device. The kindle service works a little differently; a collection of up to ten unread articles are sent to your kindle either daily or weekly.

Instapaper is not free – it’s €2.99. It’s worth every cent. I have read more newspaper and magazine articles on Instapaper than in the paper equivalent in the last year. I’m happy to pay the price of one paper or magazine for such a fantastic tool. If you aren’t, then Instapaper isn’t for you – but you’re missing out.

There are free alternatives to it that I have checked out and they simply don’t stack up to Instapaper. The alternatives often bill themselves as having more features however, all the extra features are useless if the basic ones are poorly implemented. In particular, cross device syncing is a big test – and Instapaper is the only one that passed properly.

Harry Guinness is a professional magician based in Dublin, to hire him, or for more information, go to www.HarryTheMagician.ie.

All links to amazon in this blog are affiliate links, I have to pay webhosting somehow! However, that in no way changes my opinion of the product. If I wanted to make money off affiliate links, I wouldn't write really long review of €5.00 books.
Posted in iPad, iPhone, Mac, Review

Live Tweeting the Irish Museum of Modern Art

Myself and Eva visited the Irish Museum of Modern Art today. Unfortunately the main building was closed but the grounds were open (and lovely) and one exhibition was on (bonkers). I live tweeted my snide remarks much to Eva’s annoyance and I’ve collected them below.

Harry Guinness is a professional magician based in Dublin, to hire him, or for more information, go to www.HarryTheMagician.ie.

All links to amazon in this blog are affiliate links, I have to pay webhosting somehow! However, that in no way changes my opinion of the product. If I wanted to make money off affiliate links, I wouldn't write really long review of €5.00 books.
Posted in Opinion, Personal

Apps I like and use: Camera+

Every so often I’m going to post a quick review of some of my favourite apps – whether they are Mac, iOS or any other kind of app.

Camera+

Camera+ LogoCamera+ is the best camera app for the iPhone. It has all the features you’d expect from an iPhone camera app: the ability to set separate metering and focus points, a timer, burst mode and lockable white balance. There is also stability mode – handy for low light shooting – where the shutter only triggers if you hold the phone perfectly steady. The hardware volume up button can also be used as a physical shutter release.

However, it’s not the camera functions where Camera+ really shines but its editing and sharing features. Like a lot of photography apps, Camera+ includes a variety of filters to change the look of your photos; unlike a lot of other apps, such as Instagram,  Camera+ allows you to control the opacity of the filter. While Instagram photos often look over-filtered, with careful use of the opacity slider that is not an issue with Camera+. Also, the Scene Modes section allows for some basic adjustments based on what or where you were shooting.

The real star of all Camera+’s filters is the Clarity filter. Through some technological voodoo this filter massively improves pretty much any photo you apply it to – while the look might be slightly surreal at times, it’s something I’ve grown to like, and even to aim for (see my eyePhone review and some of my iPhone photos for proof!)

Sharing of photos is done through Camera+’s own servers: you select the photo you want to share, select how you want to share it (email, message or social media) and the picture is uploaded to www.campl.us with it’s own unique URL. Camera+ has replaced MMS for me. It’s far quicker, easier and cheaper to upload a photo to Camera+ and message someone the link than to rely on the expensive, slow and patchy MMS service that’s available in Ireland.

Camera+ is normally €1.59 in the iPhone app store but regularly drops to €0.79. I’d happily have paid twice that price though; I use it almost everyday. If you want to mainly share to facebook and Twitter then Instagram is a slightly more efficient app; but for sharing with a single person, editing and having the best iPhone camera app around then you can’t beat Camera+.

Harry Guinness is a professional magician based in Dublin, to hire him, or for more information, go to www.HarryTheMagician.ie.

All links to amazon in this blog are affiliate links, I have to pay webhosting somehow! However, that in no way changes my opinion of the product. If I wanted to make money off affiliate links, I wouldn't write really long review of €5.00 books.
Posted in iPhone, Photography, Review

EyePhone by Al Smith – Review

As I mentioned about last week, my ability to take interesting photos with my iPhone was really influenced by eyePhone by Al Smith. I said I’d do a review of it, so here it is!

eyePhone: Making stronger photographs with your camera phone by Al Smith, and released by Craft & Vision, describes Al’s theories for taking pictures with his iPhone. A professional photographer, Al never gave his phone’s camera a seconds consideration until caught with an eight-year old who wanted his photo taken on a swing and not even a point-and-shoot. His son pointed out that he could just use his phone and so reluctantly Al took it out, lined up a difficult shot that, with a DSLR, would have taken considerable thought and embarrassed that he – a professional photographer – was using a gimmicky phone camera, started to take the pictures. Instead of the noisy mess he was expecting, Al managed to capture a picture that he liked – and at that point he fell in love with his phone’s camera.

Al goes on to describe the limitations of the iPhone’s camera: fixed focal length and aperture; limited ISO range and shutter speed; only shoots in JPEGs with a tiny sensor; and it’s as “ergonomic as a slippery brick”. For anyone who doesn’t really know cameras, the English translation is that the iPhone, compared to a DSLR, is severely limited. However, Al suggests embracing these limitations as you would a theme or a project title. This is the first key point I took away from the book: that the trick to capturing great pictures with your camera phone is to run with it. You know that everything in your photos will always be in focus and that shooting at night is going to be about as successful as shooting underwater – but once you know that, you can deal with it. If everything is going to be in-focus, don’t try for perfect macro shots; if shooting at night isn’t an option, there’s always that other time of day – day time.

The second major point I took away was to develop a different style for your phone photos. No matter how hard you try, Al points out, your iPhone will never be able to take the kind of pictures your DSLR with a nice lens, a tripod and total control over the minutia of the shot will. However, where the iPhone comes out ahead of a DSLR is it’s portability, omnipresence and it’s ability to take and edit and share your pictures. Post-processing DSLR images is a time consuming task that requires expensive software and a good computer; post-processing iPhone images requires as little as five seconds and a 79 cent app. This point really resonated with me, when I shoot with my E500 I tend to shoot very realistic photos and convert a lot of them to black and white, it’s just what appeals to me. With my iPhone I’ve gone the opposite direction and have started shooting surreal, high contrast, high saturation images. If you check out some of my best DSLR photos (here and here) and compare them to some of my best iPhone photos (here) then the difference in style is obvious. It’s also obvious in the photos at the bottom of this post.

Al highlights a few apps that, for feck-all money, give your iPhone a complete photographic workflow. Despite the scorn that gets heaped down on Instagram, Al highlights it’s ability to quickly and easily share photos as the secret to its success. He recommends not using Instagram’s built-in filters, as they’re so recognisable, but using ones from other apps and then sharing the images through it. He also suggest replacing your go-to camera app with Camera+ (something I’d done ages ago!) as it gives you more control. Snapseed is also recommended for image editing – it has filters that go far beyond anything Instagram offers and gives you the ability to control there implementation. Al lists a few other apps but really recommends that you go out and find the ones that work for you.

For $5 eyePhone is a great buy. It’s short, at only 46 PDF pages, but the information and pictures in it make it more than worth the low price. Anyone with even a passing interest in making their camera phone photos look that much better should pick it up. I always have my phone with me and after reading eyePhone I feel I can now really get the best out of it. For comparison, below are some camera phone photos I took before reading eyePhone and after reading it. While I am still happy with the ones from before eyePhone, they are far more similar to my DSLR style and suffer in comparison to pictures taken by it. There’s also a few Instagram cliches. After eyePhone, the pictures have their own style that would be far harder and take a lot of time in Photoshop to replicate. Also, the reason they are all square is that they were all shared through Instagram.

Before eyePhone

Barge

Fishing Boat being destroyed

After eyePhone

Eva Surreal

Surreal Sunset

Surreal Ceiling

B&W River

Flat Tyre

Harry Guinness is a professional magician based in Dublin, to hire him, or for more information, go to www.HarryTheMagician.ie.

All links to amazon in this blog are affiliate links, I have to pay webhosting somehow! However, that in no way changes my opinion of the product. If I wanted to make money off affiliate links, I wouldn't write really long review of €5.00 books.
Posted in Photography, Review