Archive for the ‘Apps’ Category

Sharing your 3D design work has always been a bit ,well, awkward. You pour your heart and soul into a model and all people see is a flat representation of it. There are various web GL viewers available, but those always require downloading plug-ins which, let's face it, is not something you want to spend your time doing. For a short while now, Sketchfab model embeds have been natively supported within Wordpress blogs. So, ta-daa; here's a test piece - an apple blossom bangle model that hasn't made it to the production, but demonstrates the functionality well. All fellow 3D tinkerers can join through this link.

What make nature beautiful are its little flaws: a wrinkled petal or crooked tree trunk. That’s why fashion models, with their perfectly symmetrical faces and a fully checked list of culturally agreed  beauty requirements, seem like plastic clothes hangers. Adding glimpses of personality would take attention away from clothing, I guess.

With little effort, my trusted Nikon SLR delivers perfectly lit, sharp and color balanced photos. Sometimes, almost too perfect. I found myself missing the grittiness of old photos. So, I went a little Snapseed crazy. Snapseed, just like Instagram or Hipstamatic, is an app that allows you to grittify images with just few clicks. Adding blur or vignettes transforms those perfectly composed images to something much more fun and interesting.

What is Snapseed?
Snapseed, originally an amateur cousin for the pro photo manipulation software from Nik Software, was purchased by Google in 2012. It used to be available as a Mac app, but if you want to use it now with your desktop system, you’ll have to go through Chrome browser, powered by the Native Client technology. It is currently available for iOS and Android mobile platforms for free and has more options compared to the original. However, this makes workflow a bit cumbersome because non-mobile photos have to be imported to your device. 

Some years ago, photographers went to great lenghts recreating a tilt shift look that you were only able to get with vintage large format cameras, special lenses or with a camera which is manipulated so that a life-sized location or subject looks like a miniature-scale model. Previously I have also used multiple Photoshop steps to achieve the same effect, but the picture above was done with Snapseeds’s tilt-shift filter. Colors were also saturated to make the town (Jerome, AZ) look more like a toy


Above, see the before and after images of a trailer and a cable car, I photographed in California. I have only ran these through Snapseed, no Photoshop used.


Snapseed does an especially good job adding vintage details; light leaks, paper wear and tear and film grain. I am fascinated with the old tableaus in the natural history museums. These displays of taxidermy animals can only be considered entertaining with a thick coating of irony. However, I make sure to photograph them when I see one. They’ll be most likely gone soon. Running these photos through Snapseed gives the photos depth and mystery.


I liked this old photo of my son already before the Snapseed treatment, but somehow a vignette, blur and B&W transformation brought his face alive.



We were together since the very dawn of internet. We shared projects and raised website babies together. Some of them have already left the nest, but there were always supposed to be new ideas and seedlings to keep us busy. My web hosting company, NS, and I were in a solid marriage, which wasn’t always the most exciting or most romantic of the relationships, but seemed to work and serve its purpose.

Then came the day when convenience just wasn’t enough any longer. I started sneaking around and recommending other hosting companies to my clients. “Under no circumstances should you choose NS for your hosting needs”, I even said. NS had cheated me also. The initially free mobile email was now a paid add-on. Even the old-fashioned POP and IMAP emails brought lot of frustration. Seriously, is syncing between devices so hard? It’s not like we were trying to figure out how to squeeze toothpaste properly.

Truth to be told, the relationship had already turned stale, perhaps even moldy, a long time ago. Though it was increasingly difficult to have a real conversation and talk to an actual person, the tech support calls became more frequent. Oh yes -and I’m not proud to tell you this - there once was the dramatic slamming-the-phone-down-incident. Or maybe in this case it was the grant gesture of pressing the red button of my cell phone. It wasn't my lack of effort. I wanted to keep the communication lines open. NS didn't even bother to update the PHP version to 5.4.

There were other trust issues, of course. I wasn’t given access to key controls of the back end code. The little hidden php.ini file proved to be the last straw for the already dissatisfied me. Php.ini is like a checking account or r-rated movie; for responsible adults or experienced coders only. It controls the php memory, which is necessary for Wordpress plug-ins, the very wonderful essence of the WP web sites. NS didn’t let me touch it. True lack of respect! It seemed that NS and I were finally through.

I had already scouted my new shiny armored knight, BH! BH and I were going to ride to the sunset and bright future together. I was initially seduced by the promises for the smooth transfer. I was just supposed to just relax and float from one cloud server-home to the next. I should have known better, with NS things always get messy. Name servers pointed to blank pages, pictures vanished from my blog and I was awfully grumpy for a few days. Truth to be told, also BH and the its migration team should be partly blamed for the mess. It was necessary to have a little fling with the nifty Velvet Blues -plug-in, which repaired some broken links.

After all, I must say: the grass really is greener on the other side.  Life is now full of simple pleasures. Can't stop staring at how the email accounts sync in real time through all my devices. DH gave me a full access to the php.ini. I look forward to never dealing with my ex again.




Ready and folded ride.

Ready and folded ride.

The fans of MTV’s  ingenious Pimp My Ride show can now liberate their inner rap master and pimp their own folded paper rides. With Foldify app for iPad, one can pimp also boxes and other figurines. However, as my boys and I fended off some flu infused haze, we opted for cars and buses.

You don’t need a garage filled with dude-types for these hot rods. You can paint with app’s brushes or use stamps that come with it. Every action you take in Foldify, is previewed in real-time 3D, without any delays or extra steps. Then you can print your figure using AirPrint or send as a PDF by e-mail. It is quite wonderful for the kids to use scissors and glue and hold the final 3D version in their hands. The app definitely develops spatial thinking and subsequent crafting helps with fine motor skills.

Quite honestly, after a while, I was tempted to bring the PDF to Photoshop and get those hubcaps spinning with real chrome. The stamps are limited and brushes a little clumsy. For now, I have resisted the temptation.