Head in the iCloud

iCloud landing page

In all my excitement to get with the iCloud experience I have shifted my contacts into iCloud and have it all syncing between my MacBook Air and my iPhone. Previously I synced my MacBook and my iPhone with Google Contacts through the Exchange integration and it worked most of the time (I often found contacts disappearing out of my contacts lists).

It occurred to me that I may have been a little hasty making the switch because my Google Contacts are no longer updating as I add new contacts. On the other hand, iCloud seems to work pretty well although I am a little unsure how to make sure that all contacts I add to Address Book sync with iCloud and don’t just stay local.

Does it make a difference where my contacts are, ultimately, as long as they sync between my devices or is this iCloud thing just a bit of a fad?

TrueHDR: an awesome iOS photo app to consider

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I’ve been using TrueHDR on my iPhone, on and off, for a little while now. The app takes HDR photos by taking 3 separate photos and combining them into some really spectacular looking images.

I was playing around with the app the other day and noticed that, like Instagram and Camera+ (two photo apps I use all the time) it now has a couple cool filters.

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Add these filters to the HDR photos you may be taking and you get some pretty awesome results for such a simple setup. I noticed this piece of foil on a road the other day and snapped this shot with TrueHDR. I applied one of the filters and really like the result.

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The challenge, though, is remembering that whatever you are taking a photo of can’t be moving! I have some great shots of a tree and the sun behind it this morning but the tree was moving enough in the wind to result in a spectacularly blurred photo.

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The app is $1,99 in the US iTunes app store and worth the price.

3 different video chat services, 3 interesting approaches

I was just watching the recent Facebook video calling announcement and the ad for video calling is at the end of the announcement video. It struck me as a little like the Apple ads so I found ads from Facebook, Apple and Google for their video calling services. Aren’t the different tones interesting?

Facebook video calling:

Apple FaceTime:

Google Hangouts:

Which ones tug at your heartstrings?

Better migration from iPhoto to Picasa using Phoshare

I just came across an app called Phoshare which should enable you to fully migrate from iPhoto to Picasa and other file-based photo management tools. The big challenge migrating from the current version of iPhoto, iPhoto ’11, is that the iPhoto library is no longer represented in Picasa in the same way. Album structures are not preserved in Picasa and you have to navigate a complex folder date-based folder structure in Picasa to figure out which album is which. That makes it a lot more difficult to migrate from iPhoto to Picasa and manage your photos. It looks like Phoshare may be a pretty good answer to that problem:

Phoshare allows you to export and synchronize your iPhoto library to a folder tree. It preserves both the original and modified image, your event and album organization, and applies your iPhoto titles, descriptions, keywords, face tags, face rectangles, places, and ratings to the IPTC/EXIF metadata of your images. You can export a full copy of your library, or just build a tree of linked images that require very little additional disk space. You can re-run phoshare at any time to synchronize any changes made in iPhoto to your export tree quickly. phoshare works well with file-system based photo management tools like Picasa, Adobe Bridge, or Windows Live Photo Gallery.

iPhoto is pretty slow on my old MacBook and while it might be perfectly awesome on a newer MacBook Pro, it is a real pain to use. The big advantage to using it is that it syncs with my iPhone perfectly (as you would expect) but iTunes does give you the option to sync specific folders with your iPhone so that might be an answer. iPhoto also integrates better with Facebook and Flickr than Picasa. Picasa has certain benefits over iPhoto like far better face recognition and is somewhat more lightweight than iPhoto.

My ideal is still to switch to Lightroom for all my photo needs but I don’t have the cash right now to cover the cost of that app so I am working with what I have. I imagine Phoshare would come in handy when I make my move to Lightroom, though.

Dan Warne published a really helpful blog post explaining how to export your iPhoto library for upload to services like Dropbox or S3 here. The same steps could be used to simply export a slightly smaller version of your main iPhoto library if you don’t need the full resolution.