Scanner Mini - scan documents into PDF for free

Scanner Mini for iPhone and iPad

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I love my Fujitsu ScanSnap that sits on my desk in my office, but more often than not I need to scan documents on the go and when I’m traveling. That’s when my iPhone and iPad comes in. Each of my mobile devices has a camera and sure you can take a picture of just about anything including documents. So why do you need a scanning App? The camera takes a picture at whatever angle you’re at and it’s often hard to get right on top of the document to get a perfect shot. Scanning Apps take that not so perfect picture and straighten the document out, get rid of the distortion and make it fit to a standard paper size. My scanning App of choice is Scanner Pro by Reedle. It’s a paid App. Recently they released this FREE version called Scanner Mini and I decided to check it out to potentially recommend it to my budget conscious friends.

Scanner Mini performs, but is bare bones

What you get with Scanner Mini is the great document recognition features that clean your scans up and make them look like “documents” instead of photos. However, once you’ve got that great looking scan sitting on your device you’re pretty much stuck there until you get back to your computer to transfer it via a USB cable or WiFi via WebDAV. That’s right. In the free version there are no sharing abilities, not even email. Now this is probably fine for the ones scanning documents for themselves. If you are a business traveler needing to scan receipts as you go and then do an expense report when you get back to your Mac or PC, this App will be great. However, if you need to email someone a PDF while you’re still on the go you’re going to need to upgrade to the Pro version.

While I want to rate this App higher, I can’t because of the limited ways of getting the scans out of it. If you’re serious about scanning from your iPhone or iPad, then you should probably just go ahead and get Scanner Pro.
iTunes

LensProToGo

LensProToGo App

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As a photographer I learned a long time ago that this is one of those hobbies or careers that there will always be something new to buy! No photographer that I know of has everything they want. However, sometimes it’s just not cost effective to actually “own” certain equipment. For example, there are lenses that I use every day and some that I would only use rarely. It’s those rarely used lenses that are usually the most expensive. So why have all that money lying around? I discovered LensProToGo.com a couple of years ago and I use them whenever there’s a lens that I want to try before I buy or use for a special occasion. I’ve had nothing but success with their shipments and returns. Before I bought my 14-24mm f/2.8 lens, I rented it first from LensProToGo.com. I wasn’t shooting many landscapes back then and didn’t want to buy it up front before heading to Antelope Canyon in AZ. I rented it before my trip, used it and returned it when I got home. Now you rent lenses, cameras and other gear via their iPhone App. The App is pretty straight forward and easy to navigate. You can search or just browse by category. Although I haven’t yet used the App to go through the full rental process I have used it often to check prices. I read that a few folks are having crashing issues during check out and I can’t confirm or deny these issues at this time. Since the App is free, you have nothing to lose by trying it. My only complaint is that there isn’t a native iPad version. I do more browsing/shopping on my iPad than I do on my iPhone. This App would be a natural on the iPad.

If you’re a photographer, you should have this App in your arsenal. Case in point, here’s a lens that I would definitely rent instead of buying! :-)

iTunes

Devil's Attorney

Devil’s Attorney

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If you’re looking for a new game to play on your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch this weekend, you should check out Devil’s Attorney. My friend Rita recently turned me onto this addictive game and I’ve been playing it ever since. The way the game works you’re an Attorney and you’re just starting out. You have a shabby apartment and office and you start taking cases. With each case there’s a prosecutor, witness(es), evidence and sometimes expert witnesses. It’s your job to use the “skills” at your disposal to knock out the prosecutor, evidence, etc. You have Cross-Examine, Interrogate, Patronize, Analysis (to use against evidence), Expert Analysis, and even things like Mesmerize and Tamper with Evidence. Each one of these Actions costs points from your starting level of 9 points per game. Each one of things you’re attacking also has points associated with it and your case has a point level assigned to it. Your objective is to use your actions to reduce the damage that can be inflicted by the other side. For example, if you use your Expert Analysis and successfully take out the Evidence the Expert will also disappear. Then the only ones left that can inflict damage are the Prosecutor and Witnesses. Keep using your available actions until you’ve used all your points for that round and hopefully you either completely eliminate the other side or significantly reduce their ability to hurt your case. As you win each case you get paid. The more money you have the more things you can do like upgrade your apartment and office. The more cases you win you also receive gifts from your client that help you get more Actions or points.  The game play requires you to THINK about your available actions and the damage that can be inflicted by the various components of the other side. It definitely takes strategy and to think ahead.

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The cases get harder as you advance. You’ll really have to think about your available actions and the points necessary to win your case.

This game is Universal and works on iPhone, iPad and iPod touch.

UP by Jawbone

Jawbone Up Helps You Get Healthy!

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Every now and then a new product comes along that really changes things. in 2001 it was the iPod, in 2007 it was the iPhone. While the Jawbone UP isn’t as revolutionary as either of those two devices, it is an amazing tool to help promote health and wellness. The UP measures your sleep patterns, steps taken, calories ingested, and much, much more. The best part about the UP is that it does all of this through an extremely well designed, well executed App for the iPhone. After all, this is The Best App Site; If there wasn’t an extremely useful App involved, we wouldn’t be talking about it here! One of my goals for this year is to be healthier. Not necessarily to lose weight (although that would be nice too) but to be healthier. When I decided to make health a goal for the new year I knew that it would take something like the UP to keep me on track and get me to my goal. After doing some research into the different health devices on the market I decided to go with the UP because it has the best overall ratings from both the people that own them as well as the popular review sites. If your goal is to be healthy and you want a quality product to help you get there, the UP is for you!

 

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Tons of Features in One App

The first time you attach your UP band to your iPhone and launch the App you’re going to be met with a number of questions that have to be filled out before you can make use of the App or the band. Make sure that you input true information in here. Don’t lie about your weight or age. The App uses this information to figure out your goals so the information needs to be accurate. After you have finished this initial setup the App gives you your goals for sleep and steps. For me my goal is 10,000 steps a day and 8 hours of sleep. These are the optimal numbers for what I should get to be healthy.

The home screen of the Up App provides a lot of information, but does it in a way that is uncluttered and organized. The first thing you will see (in purple) is your sleep percentage. This is a bar that increases as you get closer to your goal. Inside of the bar it shows your percentage as well as the actual time you slept. Tapping on this bar gives more in depth information but we’ll get into that later. Next to the sleep bar is the daily steps goal. This bar shows how many steps you’ve taken, and the percentage of your goal achieved so far that day.  To the right of the goal bars there is a bar that shows your meals for the day. Again tapping on the bar will show you more in depth information.  Below the bars is more pertinent information. The day that you’re currently viewing, your mood for the day, and helpful tips. Below that is the UP feed. This shows your activities, as well as the activities of the people on your “teams” more on that later.

 

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Tapping on the plus sign on the right side of the App shows options for the band. At the top you see your goals. From here you can adjust the sleep and step goals by simply tapping on the corresponding icon. Below that is the Sync Now button. This is the button that you would use to manually sync your band (although this is rarely used because the App syncs the band automatically when attached). Below the Sync Now is my favorite feature of this band/App. Because the UP band monitors your sleep pattern it can provide a “Smart Sleep Alarm”. You set the time that you want to wake up in the morning (for me it’s 7am). Up to 40 minutes prior to when you set the alarm the band looks for you to be in a light sleep phase and wakes you up. Because you’re closest to being awake when you’re in a light sleep phase you will feel more refreshed by letting the band wake you up. I was skeptical of this feature but after trying it out for a couple of weeks I couldn’t imagine waking up any other way.  The next feature below the Smart Sleep Alarm is the Idle Alert. This is a particularly useful feature for me because I work at my desk for hours on end and forget to get up and move around. The Idle Alert allows you to set an alarm (small vibration from the band) to go off if a predetermined amount of time passes without adequate movement from you. This reminds me to get up and walk around at least once an hour which is recommended by doctors to promote health. Stopwatch is the next function down. This is exactly what you think it is; It measures an activity. Below that is the power nap function. According to Jawbone, UP uses your recent sleep data to calculate the optimal nap length and wakes you with a gentle band vibration. The last two options allow you to log both sleep and workouts that you may have performed when you didn’t have your UP band on.

 

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On the opposite side are functions relating the App and your account. The Home button does exactly what you would think; It takes you to the original home screen. Tapping on your name shows your profile and your latest stats. This is where you change your profile photo and make other adjustments to your account. Lifeline shows your activity from the time you got your UP to this point. Trends is more specific and a more in depth look than Lifeline. Trends goes into depth on the trends of your steps and sleep pattern. This is a great way to see any patterns developing over a period of time.

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Teams is a particularly useful feature in my opinion because it allows you to make getting healthy a social event. UP will search for your friends on Facebook and from your contacts list that are also using UP. You can then add them to your “team” allowing them to see your activity. They can see your steps, sleep, food entered and more. You may be less likely to eat that second double cheeseburger if you think that all of your friends will see it.  The last three buttons Notifications, Settings, and Help, do exactly what you would think they do.

 

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Steps Counted

The primary draw of the UP is the pedometer. The UP band counts your steps and adds them to the App inputting the information into the bar graph showing your trends. In this graph you can see what time of day you’re walking the most. This will help you identify when you need to be more active.

 

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Sleep Data

To me this is the most interesting part of the UP system. I’ve always been interested in my sleep patterns and what happens when I close my eyes at night. Through the use of accelerometers and actigraphy the UP measures your sleep states and tracks your sleep patterns. Above you see the graph that is the product of the data collected. The dark blue areas represent deep sleep, the light blue areas represent light sleep, and the orange areas represent an awake state. There is also some handy data numbers below the graph telling you how much light sleep, deep sleep, and awake time you had in hours/minutes. Also shown is how long it took for you to fall asleep, as well how long you were in bed, and how many times you woke up. This data can be used for many things from determining how certain foods, drinks, or activities effect your sleep. It’s also used for the smart alarm feature.

 

The Bottom Line

Jawbone recommends syncing the App twice a day or more to keep the data fresh on the App thus providing you with the most accurate information. I sync mine first thing in the morning (so I can see my sleep info), mid day, and at night before bed. The more the better. If you’re interested in living a healthier lifestyle, and you want help doing it the Jawbone UP is a great device to help you! All of the features of the App, the simplicity of the band’s design, and the benefits that this combo can instil on your life, you can’t afford to not have this band and App.

 

You can get the Jawbone UP band for $117 here.

You can get the Jawbone UP App for the iPhone from the iTunes store for free here: iTunes

 

 

Easy Release - Model Release App

Easy Release – Model Release App 3.0 is Here with iCloud Syncing

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I have a lot of apps, but as you would expect there are some that I use more than others. In those cases it’s an extra special treat to see a major or long awaited update happen. Yesterday Easy Release got a major update. While there aren’t a ton of new features to point to, the ones that are there are major. Let me start by saying that Easy Release has become my App of choice for doing “model releases”. It’s not the only App I use for photography contracts and documents, but it is the one I use for model releases. I have always liked the final output of the PDF release. I use it for every photo shoot I do. I started using Easy Release first on my iPhone. Once the iPad was introduced and the app was updated to be a Universal App I started using it on my iPad. Now of course I had all the releases I had done on my iPhone still on my iPhone and I had the new ones on my iPad. Then I got an iPad mini in addition to my iPad. Now what? I simply avoided doing releases on the iPad mini because I didn’t want to have a 3rd device that had releases that the other two didn’t have.

Easy Release 3 Now Syncs To iCloud

When you install this update and launch it for the 1st time you will asked if you want to use iCloud or not to sync. If you say yes (don’t panic), your existing releases will disappear from view. I was a little freaked at first, but they were being sycn’d up to iCloud and then back down. Once I turned this on on my iPhone the same thing happened and releases from my iPhone were also showing up on my iPad and vice versa. Now I can use Easy Release on ANY of my iOS devices and know that I’ll have access to those releases on the other devices if needed. This is GREAT!

Not only do your existing releases get sync’d but also your models, locations, settings, custom templates and branding go to all your devices as well.

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More PDF options

Another enhancement is a Grid view from which you can now see and send multiple PDFs in one email. This is cool especially if you did multiple shoots on the same day and need to send those releases to the same people.

The Bottom Line

This is a much needed and welcomed update. I can find very little wrong this App. However, I would like to see additional options for syncing. For example, I’ve got more space on Dropbox than I do iCloud. I’d also like an option to not only email the PDFs out, but to have those PDF auto sync to Dropbox for storage. Otherwise this App rocks and if you’re a photographer photographing people or buildings you should be getting releases! This is my favorite choice for those releases and having my own text and branding in those releases is great!

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Yes it can be awkward signing with your finger so get a stylus!

If you’re going to be a doing a lot of these, you might want to make an investment in a touch screen stylus to make it easier for your clients to sign. I got one of these and I LOVE IT! Makes it so much easier to sign! If you want an even better one, go with this one from Wacom or this one which is also a pen.

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