Category: Technology

MacBook Pro Feature Image

The Apple Jump

First time MacBook Pro owner here.

I’ve been using my new MacBook for a couple of weeks now and I must say, as a long time Windows user, all the OS X hype about “it just works” is real — on some things.

I’ve used Macs occasionally in the office, but now that I’ve been using it 24/7, my experience  so far has been very positive. The basics included in OS X does make you more productive compared to it’s Windows counter parts.

The First 24 Hours

I love is how easy it was to share my MacBook Pro folders and gain access from my main Windows desktop workstation and network drives, but not so easy setting it up the other way around. There maybe some security issues about how easy it is, but I’m not worried about that for now.

Overall I’m loving OS X. But all of this may also be because it’s shiny and new.

Trackpad is also very smooth, force touch is cool and multi-touch is perfect! I never thought the Apple multi-touch compared to my previous laptops multi-touch would feel so different but it does. I usually do use a Wacom tablet for all my navigation, but now I’m using more of the trackpad instead and the tablet for the more detailed work.

Why Apple?

Specs-wise I got the 15-inch mid-2015 model with dedicated AMD graphics card. I know I could have gotten a cheaper laptop with same or better specs but I have three main reasons for the Apple jump.

First is build quality, the MacBook pro is undeniably well built and well thought off. I’ve had two laptops in the past 3 years, they did have decent internals, but with the plastic built body. The screen hinges were always the first ones to break. Which eventually led to breaking the connection to the lcd screen.

Second is support. At first I opted for repairs on my old laptops, but everywhere I inquired they were out of parts and everyone had no idea if they were gonna get new ones. With Apple products there’s the Apple Care Program. Expensive add-on for the extended warranty, but could save you more in the event of a problem. Though I wish I’ll never get to use it. It’s a good backup to have .

Third is durability, lets go back a decade, I’ve probably used 7 laptops in the last ten years. That’s almost like buying a new one every year, costing probably more compared to an Apple laptop! All of them broken, some did get repairs but still didn’t last long. While people I know using Macs updated once or twice in the past decade, though some Apple fanatics did get a new ones every major update. But point is they do last long at least 5 years or so and they also have a very good resale value years later.

Apple Readings

Another reason was, because of these books – Ed Catmull’s “Creativity, Inc. ” and Brent Schlender , “Becoming Steve Jobs” –Just some inspiring stories and insight on the Steve Jobs legacy and the books somehow made me want an Apple laptop.

Final Thoughts

This MacBook Pro setup paired with the Wacom Cintiq 13HD has been really great so far, but it’s not perfect. I still need my Windows machine as I have a few apps I use daily that are not OS X compatible. My solution now is controlling my workstation via TeamViewer.

I did notice a few quirks with the latest Adobe Photoshop CC and Lightroom CC updates on OS X, which I hope they will remedy soon.

Wacom Intuos Cintiq

Wacom Tablets : Bamboo to Cintiq

Before the Cintiq, I owned three other Wacom tablets. My first one was a small second generation Bamboo, worked well and perfect for three years till I accidentally dropped and broke my pen—replacement at that time would take weeks, so instead of waiting, I bought and upgraded to my second tablet a medium sized Intuos5. It had the pro features, more pressure, tilt, touch ring and lots of express keys. But I found it too big, heavy and expensive to be carrying it around in my laptop bag. So I then got my third tablet a smaller Intuos. I wasn’t doing heavy work while on the go, so missing the pro features wasn’t really a big deal.

I’ve been lusting over a Wacom Cintiq for years. Then half a year ago I finally got one. I was trying out a demo unit at the Wacom booth at Graphicon Davao 2015. It was the first time I got to try a Cintiq, although I only did a few scribbles and menu clicks to feel it’s accuracy. All the doubts of it being expensive went out the window. The decision was made, I need to get one.

Wacom’s Cintiq line are on screen pressure sensitive pen tablets. Mostly used by creative professionals. Wacom has five current generation models of the Cintiq. They have the 13HD, 22HD, and 24QHD all of which has two versions, a pen only and touch, then they have the Cintiq Companion 1 and 2 which are stand-alone Windows based pen tablets.

Cintiq 13 HD Specs

Display: 13.3 inch
Resolution: Full HD 1920×1080
Pro Pen: 2048 Levels of Pressure
Color Gamut: 75% Adobe RGB
Express Keys and Rocker Ring : 8 Customizable Buttons

Full Specs

There was a bit of learning curve when I started using the Cintiq, especially after using a pen tablet for years. Pen on-screen means your hand is blocking some of your screen view and with the Cintiq being the second monitor I still was looking up to my main monitor during the first days of use—the habit of using a normal pen tablet. So to solve this I disconnected my old monitor to remove the habit.

But there are two things I wish they added made different on the 13HD. One is more buttons, I’m a heavy shortcuts user and I have a full-sized keyboard and I can’t make it sit right beside the tablet, it’s always at an awkward angle causing some wrist strain after long periods of use. More buttons on the tablet would free up that problem—though the Wacom ExpressKey Remote maybe the solution.

Second is a sturdier connector, it’s using something similar to an older iPhone. The screen flickers a bit if the wire is moved. That is the only part of it that feels weak and could break easily.

Reality for the cool factor yes, it’s pretty badass and direct on-screen tablets are pretty awesome. Will it make your work better? In terms of workflow… yes because it feels more natural. But in terms of — will you get amazing results compared to using a normal pen tablet? No, it’s not a magic potion to make instant amazing work.

So is it necessary? No, it’s not. Whether you’re on a Cintiq, Intuos Pro ( 4, 5 ) or Intuos ( Bamboo), work output is still dependent on your skill level.

But if you can afford a Cintiq, then get one. It’s a great investment for the serious creative. But if you’re on a budget, go for the medium sized Intuos Pro and for the hobbyist and Wacom virgins go for the small Intuos line to start or if you’re going for a medium sized Intuos I suggest get the small Intuos Pro. It’s at almost same price point, so I’d go for the small pro for the 2048 pressure and tilt functions vs buying just for tablet size.

All of my older Wacom tablets are still working great and I still use them all the time on my other machines. Even the older Bamboo which I gave away is serving it’s new master well, he ordered a replacement pen and everything is running as it should even after all these years.

Setalight

Plan Your Lighting in a Virtual Photo Studio

On this week’s app find! set.a.light 3D Studio a virtual photo studio program from Elixxier. Plan your lighting before you shoot, think of it as Sims for photographers. Anyone familiar with 3D or playing games will find the program easy to use.You can move and adjust everything around, choose your room type, add a backdrop and every type of light is available plus their modifiers and a few helpers eg. a reflector. You also get a few models with different poses to choose from and there are also some props available for you to play with. Checkout their video for an overview of the program. It’s in German but you’ll get the idea.

I’ve been playing around with it for a few days. Below are some of my renders with basic lighting setup.

Had fun with the program just had a few problems, Some menu options were still in German, I couldn’t find an undo button and when exporting the lighting setup it kept crashing on my machine. But overall it’s a great find. And might help with planning your shots.

You can get set.a.light.3D Studio here for € 139 ($178) or try it for 15 days.

Source

Sync Feature Image

Dropbox Alternative to Sync Files Locally ~ Updated March 2016

UPDATE MARCH 2016

BitTorrent sync, now only branded as Sync has been updated since I posted this blog entry and I thought I’d give an update and share a few more thoughts. After three years this is one app is still my go to solution for syncing files locally within my network of devices.

One major update they did was, it now syncs across multiple devices and platforms, Windows, OS X, Android, iOS and even sync NAS setups from Synology, Drobo and Western Digital.  Another new feature is the secure link sharing, you can add expiration on shared folders and you can folder access prompts owner for approval. Sync is still free  but now they also offer a Sync Pro version.

Sync Pro includes, more folder options like assigning folder ownership to other users, change access permissions anytime, save space as Pro version has the ability to sync file placeholders and only download files when needed.

For more info visit their website : BitTorrent Sync

For me the free version is enough for my needs and is an essential part of my daily computing needs.


 

ORIGINAL POST

In my line of work I constantly switch from my desktop to laptop, move tons of photos between machines and use Dropbox to sync files with clients. But sometimes I just need to sync between my PC’s and not want it uploaded to the cloud.

What I usually do is transfer files to an external hard drive or create a network folder and copy files from there but it’s a hassle to setup.

In comes BitTorrent Sync, no it’s not a torrent download client its a tiny piece of software that syncs folders directly from one machine to another locally, no servers no cloud. It uses torrent technology to securely sync your files. No size limits on the files you can sync. Unlike Dropbox which you need to put files on one special folder, BitTorrent Sync can work on any folder directly and sync them. Best of all it’s freeware.

It isn’t perfect yet, there’s no mobile support as of now and both machines need to be active for files to sync. It’s not Dropbox so you can’t access your files on the fly if your on a random computer. But even with it’s cons it’s a fantastic piece of software that saves a lot of time.

Sync unlimited files between your own devices, or share a folder with friends and family to automatically sync anything.

File transfers are encrypted. Your information is never stored on a server in the cloud and your data is protected by private keys.

BitTorrent Sync is specifically designed to handle large files, so feel free to sync original, high quality, uncompressed files.