Archive for the ‘Apple’ Category

Apple Sidecar

December 17, 2021

Apple “Sidecar” is a free utility that enables you to use an iPad as a secondary display for your Mac.

Sidecar is only compatible with relatively newer devices such as my MacBook Air (M1, 2020) and iPad mini 6. [Note: Significant capability is added to my iPad mini by pairing the tablet with a Logitech “KEYS-TO-GO” wireless keyboard (compatible with both my iPad mini and MacBook Air) and Apple Pencil (2nd generation) or Logitech Pebble M355 Wireless Mouse.]

I tested Sidecar recently and I’m pleased to report it works as advertised. I’m just starting to think about how to utilize Sidecar. Any suggestions? If so, then please comment on this post.

Must-see TV

The show notes for the following video by Apple Support lists a link to a Web page entitled “Use an iPad as a secondary display for a Mac.” The first section is called “Get ready” and includes a sub-link to another section called “Sidecar system requirements” (located near the end of the same page). Also see the next section, “Additional requirements.”

The next video by Tech Gear Talk provides lots of useful guidance for making settings, how Sidecar works, as well as some practical applications.

The last video by Terry White answers the obvious question, “Can your iPad be used as a graphics tablet for use with mac OS applications such as Adobe Photoshop?” The answer, in a word, is “Yes!”

As you might have guessed I’m wondering whether Sidecar can be used to enhance my Photopea workflow. More later after I experiment.

Copyright © 2021 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

“Tech Tips” Tuesday

November 30, 2021

In this blog post I’m going to show you how I add special characters to some of my annotated images, such as the pictograph for “male,” shown below.

Photo used with written permission from Michael Powell.

I’ll show you how to do it on my older Apple 24″ iMac desktop computer (Early 2009), then I’ll show you (in more detail) how to do the same thing on my newer Apple 13″ MacBook Air laptop computer (M1, 2020).

macOS Yosemite (Version 10.10.5)

Open “System Preferences” and select “Keyboard.” Click on the tab labeled “Keyboard” and check the box for “Show Keyboard & Character Viewers in menu bar.”

As you might expect, a new icon will appear in the menu bar, located on the right side of the screen. When you click on the icon you should see three (3) options (listed from top-to-bottom): Show Character Viewer; Show Keyboard Viewer; and Open Keyboard Preferences… Select “Character Viewer” and navigate to Pictographs. (The last option takes you back the same screen that is shown above.)

macOS Monterey (Version 12.0.1)

After I was unable to figure out how to make the same setting on my MacBook Air, I referred to the “macOS User Guide” that is a built-in feature of the computer. A screenshot of the guide is shown below.

Open “System Preferences” and select “Keyboard.” Click on the tab labeled “Input Sources” and check the box for “Show Input menu in menu bar.”

A new icon will appear in the menu bar, located on the right side of the screen. When you click on the icon you should see the three (3) options shown below. Select the first option, “Show Emoji & Symbols.”

A new window will open on-screen. Navigate to Pictographs. Some sample Pictographs are shown below, including the female and male symbols (fifth row from the top).

Practical example using Photoshop

Here’s an example of part of my workflow to annotate a photograph using Adobe Photoshop.

Open a photo file in Photoshop. Select the “Text Tool” and create a new layer called “male symbol.” Click on the image to add an insertion point, then click on the “Show…” icon in the computer menu bar and select “Show Emoji & Symbols.” Navigate to “Pictographs” and select the “male sign.” You should see a list of “Font Variations.” I always use “Arial Bold.” Double-click on the icon and it should appear on the photo. ♂ Use the “Move Tool” to, well, move the symbol wherever you like on the image.

Photopea

I stumbled across an application recently called “Photopea” that is a free alternative to Adobe Photoshop. Photopea is a Web-based clone of Photoshop — Photopea doesn’t do everything Photoshop does but it could be used to annotate photos using a workflow similar to the one I just described. Look for one or more Photopea-related blog posts in the near future.

Related Resources

Copyright © 2021 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Dragonfly socks

June 4, 2021

A good friend sent a special gift to me. I love me some dragonfly socks. Thanks, Susan!

I know you’re thinking “Gee, I wish had a pair of dragonfly socks.” But you don’t. Hah!

Copyright © 2021 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

“Fujifilm X Acquire” updated

February 26, 2021

Fujifilm X Acquire” tethered shooting software for Apple Mac was updated on 17 February 2021 from Ver. 1.18.0 to Ver. 1.19.0.

What’s new?

The release notes say Ver. 1.19.0 includes a “1. Fix of minor bugs.”

The “splash screen” that featured cryptic characters from an Asian alphabet is gone. Otherwise, I see no difference between Ver. 1.18.0 and Ver. 1.19.0. Most notably, a fix for the “Linked Software” problem is not included in the latest X Acquire update.

Catch-22

The “About FUJIFILM X Acquire” window directs the user to allow access to “Photos” and “Files and Folders” from Apple “System Preferences” → “Security & Privacy” → “Privacy” [tab].

The same directive is reinforced on the Fujifilm X Acquire “Preferences” page.

First, a word of caution: In my strong opinion, Apple “Photos” is the wrong application to pair with Fujifilm X Acquire — if you do, then “You’re entering a world of pain.” (Source Credit: “The Big Lebowski.”) I think Apple “Preview” is a better solution for this task.

Second, there is a “bug” in “Big Sur” — the latest version of the Apple macOS — that doesn’t allow users (including system administrators) to add items to the list of applications that can access “Files and Folders,” as shown by the grayed-out +/- symbols in the following Screenshot (an Apple utility).

The same screen shows several Adobe applications can access “Files and Folders,” including “Adobe Lightroom Classic,” “Adobe Photoshop 2021,” and Adobe “Creative Cloud.” I must have granted permission (during installation) for these Adobe applications to access “Files and Folders” because it’s clear I can’t do so manually.

I strongly recommend Fujifilm should update X Acquire to do likewise, otherwise we’re stuck with a “Catch-22” dilemma in which X Acquire doesn’t set the necessary permission(s) to operate properly and Big Sur doesn’t let the user grant permission for apps to access “Files and Folders.” Both Fujifilm and Apple should fix these problems STAT!

Related Resource:Return to tethered shooting” – a blog post by Walter Sanford.

Copyright © 2021 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Anker PowerCore+ 26800 PD 45W

October 12, 2020

In my experience, digital camera batteries are the weak link during extended macro photo shoots — it seems like they never last long enough and always go dead at the worst possible time! So I started searching for portable power solutions that would solve the problem.

I stumbled across an FAQ page on the Fujifilm Global Web site that provides information regarding two mobile batteries recommended by Fujifilm. Warning: Be patient — the FAQ page takes a LONG TIME to load!

Both batteries are made by Anker; the more powerful model is no longer available. As far as I can tell, the PowerCore+ 26800 PD 30W version of the battery featured on the FAQ page was replaced by a new model (Anker PowerCore+ 26800 PD 45W). Editor’s Note: One or more upcoming blog posts will be related to using the Anker battery as a power source for select Canon- and Fujifilm digital cameras.

The same battery can be used to power the Laowa LED Ring Light that is featured in my last blog post. When I was doing my homework before deciding to buy the ring light, the first thing I noticed is it doesn’t feature an On/Off switch. I thought, “No problem, the Anker battery has one.” See that big button on top of the battery, shown below? Naturally I assumed it’s an On/Off switch. Wrong! The fact is, I have NO IDEA what that button does other than indicate whether the battery is fully-charged. This battery is essentially a fire hose of power that’s always on when a device is plugged into one of its USB ports. Needless to say, that’s less than ideal for use with the LED ring light.

Product image courtesy AnkerDirect.

Similar to GoPro’s dizzying array of nearly identical action cameras, Anker sells so many types of batteries (including variants of the same model) that it can cause decision paralysis! For what it’s worth, I bought the PowerCore+ 26800 PD 45W that includes an AC charger.

Product image courtesy AnkerDirect.

If you have purchased a product from Apple, then you know the unboxing experience is one of life’s simple pleasures — the attention to detail is astounding! And so it is/was with the packaging for the Anker battery I bought. Regrettably the joy ends abruptly when you attempt to read the documentation provided with the product — it’s practically unintelligible! Seriously, I have learned more about the battery by watching independently-produced YouTube videos than by reading the User Manual.

Product image courtesy AnkerDirect.

On/Off Switch

After an exhaustive Google search, I discovered a (relatively) short USB extension cable that features an on/off switch. The product is sold in a two-pack of cables.

Product image courtesy RIITOP Store (on Amazon).

In my opinion, it’s important to choose a USB extension cable that can be used for both data and power in order to maximize the usefulness of the cable.

Product image courtesy RIITOP Store (on Amazon).

A USB power cable is provided with the Laowa LED Ring Light. I connect the Laowa cable to the LED ring light, then connect the other end to one of the RIITOP cables with an On/Off switch. Finally, plug the RIITOP cable into the Anker battery.

What are the take-aways?

In my strong opinion, the Laowa LED Ring Light would be greatly improved by adding two inexpensive features: an On/Off switch; and a dimmer switch. C’mon Laowa — my suggestions are a no-brainer!

And if Venus Optics (Laowa) were feeling ambitious, they should engineer a solution that would enable the LED ring light to be powered directly from the hot shoe of a digital camera. Hot shoe pin-outs vary by brand of camera, but the middle pin is always used for power so one connector should work with all types of cameras. Do it!

And while I’m talking about no-brainers, c’mon Anker — is there a compelling reason your mobile batteries don’t feature an On/Off switch?

Related Resources

This blog post is one in a series of posts related to continuous AC power and long-lasting battery power for select Canon, Fujifilm, and Panasonic digital cameras.

Copyright © 2020 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Walking tour of CAHH parks

November 26, 2018

Hollin Hills is a development in Fairfax County, Virginia, about 10 miles outside of Washington, D.C. It has about 450 houses. It was designed by Charles Goodman and developed by Robert Davenport.” Source Credit: “Hollin Hills” website (no longer online).

The Civic Association of Hollin Hills (CAHH) owns and maintains seven small parks in the community: the Wildlife Sanctuary; Sutton Potter Park; Brickelmaier Park; Charles Goodman Park; Paul Spring Park; “Mac” McCalley Park; and Voigt Memorial Park.

All of the parks are located along streams except Sutton Potter Park and McCalley Park. The Wildlife Refuge/Sanctuary extends from Woodlawn Trail to the dogleg in the road at Boswell Avenue and Delafield Place. Two parks straddle creeks that are tributaries of Paul Spring, a stream that runs along Paul Spring Road: Brickelmaier Park runs from Popkins Lane to Paul Spring Road; Goodman Park runs from Marthas Road to Paul Spring Road. Paul Spring Park runs along Paul Spring from the intersection of Rebecca Drive and Paul Spring Road to the intersection of Rippon Road and Paul Spring Road, directly across the street from McCalley Park and Voigt Park. The upstream end of Paul Spring Park is near White Oaks Park, a mid-size park maintained by Fairfax County Park Authority.

Sutton Potter Park was featured in an article that appeared in Washingtonian Magazine, “Best of 2004: Sledding Hills.” I shot two photos from a viewpoint about halfway up the long hill: one looking downhill; another looking uphill. Trust me, neither photo provides a sense of the true steepness of the hillslope — a sled ride downhill could be either extremely exhilarating or very terrifying! The park entrance is located at the 7400 block of Range Road; another entrance is located behind the townhouses along Windbreak Drive.

The Wildlife Sanctuary is (or was) a good place to look for Mocha Emerald dragonflies (Somatochlora linearis). Peak activity was observed during July. A segment of Paul Spring, a stream located in Paul Spring Park, is (or was) good for Needham’s Skimmer dragonflies (Libellula needhami); the entire length of the stream is good for damselflies, including Ebony Jewelwing (Calopteryx maculata) and Variable Dancer (Argia fumipennis)/Violet Dancer (Argia fumipennis violacea).

The Backstory

During Fall 2010, I used my Apple iPhone 3G and an app called “EveryTrail” to create an interactive map showing the location of the entrances to the CAHH parks. At some point, I noticed the hyperlink to the interactive map stopped working.

As it turns out, ownership of “EveryTrail” transferred to “TripAdvisor” in 2011; EveryTrail was acquired by “AllTrails” in 2016.

All of the interactive trail maps that I created eight years ago survived two ownership transfers, much to my surprise! Some of the interactivity of the original maps was lost in translation, but hey, all is not lost. “Walking Tour of CAHH Parks” is the current iteration of the interactive map, available from AllTrails. See also “Walking Tour of Huntley Meadows Park (Ver. 2).”

Tech Tips

The “EveryTrail” app was used to record a GPX file that traces the route I walked.

Photos were shot at selected waypoints. All photos featured in both interactive trail maps were taken using the built-in camera of my Apple iPhone 3G; the photos were geotagged automatically by the iPhone’s GPS receiver.

Answer key, Raiders of the Lost Park

March 16, 2016

In Raiders of the Lost Park, a.k.a., “The Wall” — the last post in my photoblog — readers were challenged to guess the location in Huntley Meadows Park where the following photograph was taken.

Building ruins as viewed from an unknown location at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA.

11 March 2016 | Huntley Meadows Park | Building ruins

After shooting the preceding photograph, I used the Apple “Compass” app (free) for iPhone to determine my exact location. Tech Tip: Capture an image of the iPhone screen by pressing the “Home” and “Power” buttons simultaneously.

Next, open Google Maps in a Web browser; click on the button labeled “Earth” (lower-left corner of window). Enter the following text string (refer to the “Compass” app screen capture, shown above) in the field labeled “Search Google Maps”: 38 46 3 N 77 7 1 W. Press the “return” key; the following satellite image/map should appear.

Pretty cool, huh? Well, now you know my exact location when I photographed the “The Wall.” Notice the “Compass” app also shows I was facing south-southwest when the photo was taken. In other words, I was standing where the red pin appears on the map, facing toward the bottom, a little left of center (relative to the map).

Hiking Directions: From the parking lot at the head-end of the Hike-Bike Trail, walk uphill along S. Kings Hwy. Stop at at the BEGINNING of the guard rail. Look to the right (about 1:30 to 2 o’clock) and you can see the building ruins. Walk a straight line path between the beginning of the guard rail and the ruins; there are fewer thorny vines along this route than I encountered/suffered by following the directions given to me!

Tech Tip: Some of my fellow WordPress bloggers may be wondering, “How did you embed an interactive Google Map in this post?” WordPress “Support” is your friend: Support / Google Maps / Embedding a Google Map.

Copyright © 2016 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Answer key, Where’s Waldo?

January 24, 2016

In Where’s Waldo? — the last post in my photoblog — readers were challenged to guess the location in Huntley Meadows Park where the following photograph was taken.

The "Mystery Pool" spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA.

14 JAN 2016 | Huntley Meadows Park | “Mystery Pool”

After shooting the preceding photograph, I used the Apple “Compass” app (free) for iPhone to determine my exact location. Tech Tip: Capture an image of the iPhone screen by pressing the “Home” and “Power” buttons simultaneously.

Next, open Google Maps in a Web browser; click on the button labeled “Earth” (lower-left corner of window). Enter the following text string (refer to the “Compass” app screen capture, shown above) in the field labeled “Search Google Maps”: 38 45 8 N 77 6 44 W. Press the “return” key; the following satellite image/map should appear.

Pretty cool, huh? Well, now you know my exact location when I photographed the “Mystery Pool.” Notice the “Compass” app also shows I was facing south-southwest when the photo was taken. In other words, I was standing where the red pin appears on the map, facing toward the bottom, a little left of center (relative to the map).

Tech Tip: Some of my fellow WordPress bloggers may be wondering, “How did you embed an interactive Google Map in this post?” WordPress “Support” is your friend: Support / Google Maps / Embedding a Google Map.

Copyright © 2016 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Eastern American Toads: mating season

April 14, 2013

The following YouTube video features several examples of the mating call of a male Eastern American Toad (Anaxyrus americanus) spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. The video clips were recorded on a very windy day. Apple iMovie was used to edit the video: image stabilization was applied to all of the raw video clips; the audio waveforms were adjusted to decrease the wind noise and amplify the mating calls.

A mating pair of Eastern American Toads was spotted a few feet away from the male toad shown in the preceding video.

American Toads (mating pair) American Toads (mating pair)

Copyright © 2013 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Fairfax County Fire & Rescue boat

March 14, 2013

The Fairfax County Fire & Rescue boat located at Pohick Bay Regional Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA.

Fairfax County Fire & Rescue boat Fairfax County Fire & Rescue boat

Copyright © 2013 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.


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