Over the past couple of years I've been doing a lot more portrait photography and even getting my work in print. I've also been teaching some lighting and workflow workshops here and there. Now whenever I do a shoot I try to remember to document the setup because inevitably if the shot is popular someone will ask "how did you light that?" Sylights is a website and an iOS App that allows you to create lighting diagrams using common symbols. You can drag in the symbols you need to document your setup from the built-in library of symbols. Once the symbol is on the layout you can move it, rotate it and resize it. You can also lock these attributes so that you aren't accidentally changing them once you have them where you want. The App makes good use of multi-touch gestures.
It's great, but I want more
The Sylights App performs as advertised and it's definitely hard to beat the price (FREE). However, now that I've used it I want some more features and perhaps it's time for a "plus" version that is paid. In the Paid version I'd like to have the ability to not only save my diagrams to the device, but also to the cloud so that I can create, edit or view diagrams either on my device or the website. I'd also like to be able to add my own custom vector symbols. These apps usually lack a tri-flector symbol and I use one all the time. While this is great to have on the iPhone, I'd use it even more if it were a native iPad app. Lastly I'd like to be able to incorporate a picture of the setup. Why not allow you to use your iOS device's camera to snap a photo of the actual setup? Sylights as is performs as advertised, but this free version only makes me want more features that I'd be willing to pay for in a paid version.
Update: I was informed by the developer that you actually can attach up to 5 photos to your diagram, both via the website or in the App. Thanks! Off to go play with that feature now.
You can get Sylights for FREE here from the
Yesterday Apple showcased iOS 5, Mac OS X 10.7 Lion and the New iCloud Service. While IOS 5 won't officially be available until this Fall, Apple has already turned on the "Purchased" button in the App Store, iTunes Store and iBooks Store of your iOS devices! This means that you can easily download songs, books and Apps on your devices that were purchased on your other devices. But wait, it get's better! If you go to your iTunes Store Settings in the Settings App you can even turn on Automatic downloading for Apps, Music and/or iBooks so that any new purchases you make on any of your devices is automatically downloaded to any of your iOS Devices. I tested this by downloading a couple of Free iPad apps on my MacBook Pro. They immediately started downloading on my iPad too. Sweet!
You can watch the Apple/Steve Jobs WWDC 2011 Keynote here.
My friends over at Kelby Media Group have released their long awaited KelbyTraining.com App for iOS. KelbyTraining.com is an online training site for all things Photoshop and Digital Photography. The site has some of the best trainers in the world on the topics of all things Adobe. It's a paid site with the "all you can eat" or learn approach. You either pay by the month or annually. Once you're signed up you can watch as many classes by as many instructors as you want 24/7. New classes are added regularly.
What's in an App?
Although KelbyTraining.com is web based, the videos were all be delivered in Adobe Flash. This of course meant that it was difficult if not impossible to watch the classes on iOS devices. This lead to the development of the KelbyTraining.com App for iOS. This FREE App (yes you still need a subscription to KelbyTraining.com) allows you to log in with your online ID and enjoy all the same classes right on your iPad, iPhone or iPod touch. The video quality supports full 720p HD as long as your internet connection will handle it and will dynamically adjust video quality for slower connections so that you don't miss a beat.
Once you're logged in it's really easy to find the classes you want to watch. You can either search by instructor, subject or just view the new courses. Pick the class you want to watch and just start watching it.
The App is a Great Start, and I definitely look forward to using it on the iPad while on the elliptical machine. The one place I'd use it even more is on the plane for my long haul flights. This is where my feature request comes in. Like many of these Apps that allow live streaming, the KelbyTraining.com App doesn't currently allow for offline viewing. It would be great to be able to download a few classes before going offline and still being able to watch them on the go. This would also help even during those times where WiFi isn't available and 3G is too slow. Otherwise, the App has all that I require and I look forward to using it more.
You can learn more about KelbyTraining.com here.
You can get the KelbyTraining.com App for Free here from the
As much as I love using my iPad and iPhone 4 the one thing that usually sends me back to my MacBook Pro is having to type long messages with the onscreen keyboard. Sure I have a bluetooth keyboard for those times when I travel with just the iPad and iPhone, but there are many times where the external keyboard isn't handy day to day and on the go. This means that I want to minimize the amount of onscreen typing that I have to do as much as possible. This is where TextExpander comes in. The concept of TextExpander is simple. You set up lists of your own abbreviations like "tw" = "Terry White". The expansions can be complete sentences like "omw" = "I'm on my way and will see you soon." or "iam" = "I'm in a meeting right now. I'll get back to you as soon as I can." I've used similar utilities in the past for things like responding to SMS messages. What has me leaning towards totally switching to TextExpander is two things: The first is that it's integrated directly into several iOS Apps including my preferred Google Voice client GV Mobile+. This is great because unlike my other App, I don't have to first go to the TextExpander App before using my snippets. I can just fire up a supported app and key in my abbr. and it expands to the full text right in the app I'm using. The second reason is that lists you create on one device can be sent wirelessly to another device. I created a couple of short lists on my iPhone and sent them to TextExpander running on my iPad. If you're really into you can get the Mac version too.
Works great, but I want more
This productivity tool is awesome! However, there are a few more things I want. First off I want it integrated into MORE 3rd party Apps. The list is impressive, but I'd like to see several more apps included like Gowalla, Foursquare, TextNow, etc. This is not the developer's fault as each 3rd party App has to integrate TextExpander support themselves, but I'd like to see this app become as popular as Dropbox among other 3rd party Apps. If you need to insert text into a non-supported App you can just fire up TextExpander and copy the text from there. However, this requires at least two taps once you're inside TextExpander. I would like to see a one tap "copy to the clipboard" option. TextExpander does allow you to fire up a new Mail message or SMS message directly from within the App as it would be unlikely for Apple to add direct support. Otherwise, this is a great boost to my personal productivity and any time I can save a few keystrokes on the go is very welcomed.
Bonus Tip: One of the uses for this is to setup multiple email signatures and you can just copy the one you want as needed or you can start the email from TextExpander with the appropriate signature already in the body.
You can get TextExpander for $4.99 here from the
Every now and then at the end of my presentations we give away prizes. While we have a variety of ways of picking people at random, sometimes there's a need to pick a random number from say a range of ticket numbers. I've got a great App on my Mac called TicketDrum that shows the prizes and all, it's also nice to have the option on my iPhone or iPad. This is where Random Master comes in. This simple App allows you to enter a starting and ending number and then allows you to pick a random number within that range. It animates the picking of the number for a few seconds to add a little drama or suspense to the process. You can also pick a random letter or symbol. The randomness doesn't stop there. The app also allows you to create custom lists of names and randomize those as well. This universal App works on all iOS devices including iPhone, iPad and iPod touch.
While Random Master performs as advertised, the one feature that I'd like to see is the ability to import a tab/comma delimited list of names instead of having to add them manually on the device. This would be great for quickly adding a registration list to your random draw. Otherwise, it's great app for the price.
You can get Random Master for $0.99 here from the