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Designed by dads, shared by moms, reviewed by Geekasms–Isabella’s Vizit Digital Photo Frame


I have not had the pleasure of reviewing a digital picture frame on Geekasms untilFathers3__reduced_ now with Isabella’s Vizit.  In the past I’ve had to shop for digital photo frames, and anyone that does can’t be blind that frames now go for their own niche in the market place, offering up their own twist on things to entice consumers to their product over others.  While some have gone with the dazzle, flash and frills on their frames, Isabella has gone with minimizing all the typical flashiness and has aimed their product right at the heart of the vastly growing world of photo sharing enthusiast.  Sporting a beautiful 10.4” touchscreen, 3G connectivity and the ability to send and receive pictures from you or your friends and family, this frame sets the bar for the new standard of digital picture frames above and beyond the rest, however it still has a few rough spots to smooth, but honestly, who doesn’t?

Features:

  • 800×600 10.4″ LED backlit LCD touchscreen display
  • USB and microSD card slot
  • GSM/GPRS quad-band connectivity
  • $279.99 (Silver or Charcoal finish with $5.99 monthly or $79.99 yearly service subscription)

Pros:

  • bright display with comfortable viewing angles
  • touch interface with carousel menu

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • requires monthly or annual plan to use cellular connectivity
  • touchscreen is not quite sensitive enough and menu is slow to respond
  • aesthetically bland

After playing around with the Vizit frame, I could sum up my review with simply asking: How would you like to have your facebook photos all available in a frame on your desk anytime you like without needing your phone or computer?  Yes this would be a poor review of the product and would undermined what it truly does, but in essence that’s a way to put it.  Vizit has combine the old fashioned desire of displaying pictures in a frame on a desk, with the oversharing of photos on sites such as facebook from practically any device.

The people at Isabella have dived into a  market with not many competitors, and used standards most are already familiar with and put them into their frame for their “wow factor” and claim to fame.  None of this is evident when you first see the product.  It has an admittedly somewhat bland frame that comes in either sliver or charcoal and sits on a beveled stand, allowing you to find just the perfect angle you wish your frame to sit at.  The frame and build is thin and lightweight but feels sturdy and not too fragile.  I had some issues with the power button, but was assured by the reps from Isabella that the issue I had was already resolved with newer models, so I won’t mention it here. (An example of how Isabella listens to consumers, earlier reviews talked about a wood finish on the stand, something that was not on the model I received for review)  .It comes with what are the standard now, a USB port and a miniSD slot, allowing you to upload the desired pictures onto the frame a number of ways.  The true magic doesn’t being until you power your frame up, register on the Vizitme.com website, and unlock the frame’s true power.

The basic concept can be laid out like this; with this frame, you have the ability to upload photos to if from virtually any device, from anywhere, anytime.  In testing, I simply snapped a few photos on my iPhone and sent them MMS to the email address that had been setup for the frame.  After a few minutes time (longer for me then others as I don’t live in a 3G area), my pictures were ready to be viewed on the frame, announced by a small notification on the frame itself.

The touchscreen itself isn’t as sensitive as say a user of an iPhone is used to.  I found myself almost pressing on the screen harder then I wanted to or was comfortable with to get the screen to respond.  I almost have a hard time deciding if its as much the screen sensitivity as it is the response time of the frame’s menu itself, but I’ll just say that the menu has some lag times in responding sometimes, and with it being a carousel menu, you may find yourself skipping over the menu selection you wanted if you are anywhere near as impatient as I am.

To unleash the frames photo sharing ability, you must register on Vizitme.com and select a service plan for your frame.  Your choices are $5.99/month with a limit of 100 photos, or $79.99/year with an annual limit of 1,450 photos. Your plan gives you an account on www.vizitme.com which connects to your frame. You get an email address for your frame, and a basic address book, allowing you to add anyone you would like to, to have the ability to send photos to your frame via email or MMS.  The site also gives you access to all the photos your have on your frame, allowing you to upload photos from your computer, or to delete photos as you see fit, giving you control of your frame’s content from anywhere you’re able to get on the internet.

Given that other 10” frames are ranging in the sub $200 category, adding an additional $80 to the price tag is slightly steep considering, but if the cellular connectivity is what you’re looking for, the price is arguably worth it as it allows a new method for people to be able to close that geographic gap that more and more are facing. (Imagine being able to send new photos of the grandkids to Grandma and Grandpa without walking them through anything technical.  You could setup the frame before mailing it to them, all they would have to do is plug in the power and away they go!)

I have to say I’m impressed with the frame itself.  It was fairly simple to use and setup, and really I could see myself using this frame as a gift to someone and surprising them with new pictures and seeing how long it would take them to notice.  Although somewhat out of my price range currently, not including the monthly or annual fee I can see some great uses for this frame and would definitely suggest people look at it and take it into consideration.

Its not hard to argue that this cool gadget is Geek Dad Approved.

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Aliens are attacking!!!


A UFO with an alien on the top off the side of 90 in Wayne County, Kentucky. It’s just THERE!

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Thor Teaser Trailer!!


I have tried to stay away from Thor updates, but this was too good not to post and share!

Thor Trailer

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30 Days of ‘Fu’ – Day 2


Setting up

Okay, so here we go, day 2.  Day 1 I zipped through using the squats and crunches, but today with the pushups and pullups, I have to use my make shift sports strap, and I’m unsure of how it will hold up.  As I already have my account created, I just have to sync these two apps with my already created GymFu account, go through the introductions and instructions, and its away we go!

Training

These two apps give you the option of either having the phone be on the inside or the outside of your bicep, pointed down.  I chose inside my bicep hoping it would be easier to push start and be ready to go.  Plan was good with the pushups, not as well on the pullups, but more on that below.

Training works the same as with crunches and squats.  I had my baby girl helping me with the pushups, so my initial testing didn’t go so well, and well, I sucked on the pullups, but, I didn’t retake the tests on the first day and I chose not to today, so I go with what I got.  I’m doing all this from the aspect of a Dad, so if my baby girl distracts me, well that’s part of it!

Usage

I started with the pushups, which were no problem.  I was able to go through all the motions, had the timing down, so I wasn’t called down on “half” or too fast, and having my phone on the inside of my arm, even with my make shift band, helped me be able to cancel the 120 second break between reps and keep on going through the pushups.

Now the embarrassing part.  I borrowed my brother’s pullup bar he had when he purchased the P90X workout DVDs.  I knew I was in trouble when he bet me I couldn’t do 3 “real” pullups for $100 and I failed, but I went through with it anyway.  Setup the bar in a doorway, and went to it.  The starting point for the pullups is you hanging from the bar, so you have to push start, then lower yourself and hang until it tells you go.  I was able to do 1 and then got called on “half” afterwards.  I had to cheat a little to get through all the reps without being called “half!” on them.  Something I’m not proud of at all, truly embarrassed to be writing that, but am determined to be improved by the end of the 30 days.

Reactions

After 2 days, I’ve used GymFu’s 4 apps, and am rather impressed by them.  For a quick easy workout in my office or upstairs I could easily use these apps more then what I’m using them, but for these tests and reviews, I’m using he apps how they suggest, with resting 48 hrs between workouts.  I plan on looking into the battles and leagues after I get my reps up, hopefully this time next week, but now that we’ve gotten over the hump of getting started with the apps, it time really get into them and see what they can do.

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30 Days of ‘Fu’ – Day 1


Setting up

Okay, so here we go, day 1 of my GymFu experiment.  The setup is pretty straight forward.  When you open up any of the 4 apps Gymfu offers,  you’re welcomed to a Home screen.  If its you’re first time using the app, you have a welcome message to read, and if you don’t read it and close the app, the app shows a 1 on it similar to Facebook and your email icons, which leads me to believe that this screen will be a place to receive update messages and such from GymFu.com.  Also on this screen will be a graph showing your progress, something that won’t show until you’ve had at least 2 days worth of training on the apps.

When you go to create your account, you may either create a new account or given thephoto option to simply connect your GymFu account with your Twitter account, which is what I did.  When I did this, I was automatically set to follow @GymFu, and a few moments later, was sent a direct message from GymFu giving me my username, which was based off my twitter name, and a password, which you can easily change from the accounts settings screen.  This was a one time event.  After creating my GymFu account on the first app, when I went to setup my accounts on the other 3 apps, and they recognized I already had an account to sync with.

Also on the screen, you have selections of the Home screen, Training, Battle Mode (where you can challenge other people) and Leagues (haven’t really looked into this yet, will later on)

When you go into the training, before you can start using the app as its intended, you have to go through 4 sections: All about you exercise, All about ‘Fu’, Practice and first test.  I’m actually impressed with this as it tells you the proper way to do the exercise your ‘Fu’ is for (squats, pushups, pull-ups, and crunches.), along with giving visuals as to how you should position your phone, either with your hands or using a sports band (for pushups and pullups).  After you’ve be given the walkthrough, you test your ability to understand what the app has told you with a practice run, if you pass the practice run, you get to go to your first test, where it asks you to do as many reps as you can, as to gauge where your first real day of training should start..

Day 1 I zipped through using the squats and crunches, but today with the pushups and pullups, I have to use my make shift sports strap, and I’m unsure of how it will hold up.  As I already have my account created, I just have to sync these two apps with my already created GymFu account, go through the introductions and instructions, and its away we go!

Training

To be fair to testing these apps for 30 days, I felt like doing everything they suggest.  One suggestion you’re given while going through the welcome screens is that you should rest 48 between training sessions, so I’ve split my time between the four apps.  Day 1 will be crunches and squats, Day 2 will be pushups and pullups, Day 3 will be resting, and I will follow that pattern for the 30 days.

I was honestly unsure of how the apps would work, but after using them I’m fairly impressed.  I started with the crunches, which has you hold your phone to your chest, pointed down, with both hands.  The program requires you to raise your shoulders to a 30 degree angle.  If you do not raise up high enough, its only counted as “half” and if you go through your reps too quickly, then you’re called to slow down.  Its not that bad and after once or twice you get the motion and speed down fairly easily.  The program splits your training into 5 sets of varying numbers of sets.  After each set, you’re given a 2 minute break, which you can choose to bypass or you can sit there and wait.  Which, with the small numbers I got started with, I zipped right through the resting periods, except for the last set, which has you do a set number of reps, but then you do as many as you can.

Usage

I started with crunches, and once I got accustomed to using the app, it was smooth going.  I actually messed up somewhat on the test and the beginning, trying to slide the bar notifying I was done, rather then sit still until the app registered me as complete.  Basically the way it works is you push ‘Start” on your phone, get settled into and stay in the start position, once the phone registers this and registers you as remaining still, it will begin to count, once you have completed your reps and stay still for a few seconds, the app registers you as complete.  My first rep, I got called on for “Half!” but after that it was smooth sailing.  And it wasn’t bad having to hold my phone against my chest either.

Squats gave me a little more trouble at the beginning.  The app suggests that you can either put your phone in your front pants pocket or using a sports strap.  Unfortunately I do not have a strap yet, but I tried to make one, with a small amount of success.  After being called on for “half” for most of my reps in

the first step, because it wasn’t registering my thighs being in the proper position, I switched from the strap to my phone in my pocket, which surprisingly worked very very well!  The best part about this for me is that it works so well in your pocket, you could easily do the squat exercises at work or somewhere other then home if you wanted.

Reactions

Well, after the first day, I’m impressed with how the apps works, the motion detection and direction were much better then I was expecting.  Although the number of reps were not as high as I was expecting or liked, part of that probably stems from me learning the apps functions as I went and being too stubborn to retake the tests.  Overall, first day impressions are A’s all around.  For an exercise app on your phone, you couldn’t ask for me.  I realize this is somewhat a quick zip through, but as I continue to use the apps, I will elaborate and cover more aspects, but as I just started, I simply wanted to cover the bare basics.

Stats

Weight: 242lbs

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What makes a hero?


Okay, up front I’ll say this isn’t a serious, in depth post about the the type of people we consider to be heroes or what we should strive for as individuals or anything like that.  Yes, that could be a discussion that could go forever, including the resent happenings with Lebron James, because in some circles people see him as a “hero.”  No this is entirely on what the imagery of a superhero and what people perceive and recognize as a hero, from a graphic design point of view.

The background is this: I was commissioned to design a superhero wildcat for Bath County Middle School, using my previous wildcat design I created for their yearbook as the template, to be used as a promotional piece for the coming year’s theme, of being a hero.  So, after working and tweaking the look, the pose and everything, I went with the design shown.  Trying to keep the feel of a teenage, I kept the “attitude” look I had used previously, went for what I would consider a teenagers superhero pose,blogcat one that communicates more attitude, with arms across the chest, rather then the fists on the hips ala Superman.  I took the idea of the current Superboy, Kon-El of wearing just jeans and a t-shirt; which was what I already had the wildcat in, as his “superhero costume” with the goal still wanting to be translated as this character is a teenager.  Finally I added a cape, something that I would consider a universal icon if you’re wanting to project a character as a superhero.  You can basically take anyone, anything, slap a cape on it, and it becomes a superhero, right?  RIGHT?!

Well apparently I’m dead wrong!  One of the people involved with making the final decisions decided that the cape was a terrible idea, and went with the imagery of a shield instead, not even giving me the opportunity to redesign the wildcat again, but this time holding a shield.  Apparently my concept of wearing a cape insulted this woman to such an extent she decided she wasn’t going to use anything I was going to do, and came up with her own design, just using a bland shield.

Now, I realize, everyone should follow the moniker “the customer is always right” but come on!  Someone thinking a shield communicates a superhero more then a cape?!  Really?!  Who else besides Captain America is a mainstream superhero that carries around a shield?  Why, when you have Superman, Batman, Thor, etc that wear capes, that are well known superhero icons, would you consider a shield a better communicator of a superhero over that of a cape?  A shield doesn’t say “progress” to me, which is what the whole HERO theme is to be a symbol of, but rather says protect, or shielded off.  I personally don’t see it communicating what the school is wanting.

Regardless, the decision is anyone’s but mine, and I realize I’ve used this space online as a soapbox to voice my frustration, but considering it’s the week of the San Diego Comic Con (which I WILL attend one of these days!) and I’ve used this space to show designs before, I felt it was reasonable to post about this as well. 

And as a bonus, what was to be my first submission for the full design is below.

finalblog

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Camera+ 1.2 released. New exclusive features!


Just last week, I posted a review on what I now consider the best iPhone camera app available right now in Camera+ from tap tap tap.  Well consider me surprised when Lisa Bettany, the professional photographer that is the mastermind being Camera+ tweeted

Woo! Camera+ 1.2 now available with exclusive Touch Exposure feature & detailed metadata 🙂

Not only was the best camera app being updated with a few minor bug fixes, but was adding brand new features including touch exposure to help you increase the quality and your ability to capture those rare moments in life.  Here is the release that was posted on taptaptap.com

Camera+ 1.2 is fresh off the presses and it’s got some very cool things in it! Get it now in the App Store.

Here’s the big list:

  • [Camera+ exclusive] Touch Exposure: set exposure separately from focus for the ultimate control of your shots (touch with a second finger to control exposure)
  • [Camera+ exclusive] Touch Focus: better than tap to focus because you can continuously drag the focus box around until your shots are in perfect focus
  • [Camera+ exclusive] Photo Flashlight: use the iPhone 4 LED flash as a continuous fill light to improve photo quality, especially for portrait and macro shots
  • speed of photo taking is now lightning fast
  • the high quality zoom control now works on iOS 4
  • stabilizer improvements
  • detailed metadata is now uploaded to photos shared on Flickr
  • fixed a bug where the camera shutter button would stop functioning
  • fixed a bug where photos wouldn’t display in the Lightbox on an iPad when in 2× magnification mode #weird
  • various minor bug fixes and enhancements

The new feature boasts the ability to allowing you to select a certain object in the photo your taking and adjust your focus accordingly.  Although currently unable to test this new feature as I’m waiting for the delivery of my new iPhone 4. (NOTE: The new touch exposure feature only works on the iPhone 3GS and iPhone 4 running iOS4) the video included at the link above shows great promise and has me excited about playing around and testing the new features range and ability.

Another reason you might find to go over to tap tap tap’s website is a funny little note about how a feature that they were wanting to implement into their app, a feature that I feel would throw this app above and beyond everything on the current market and would truly open the door as the iPhone being considered a true and tested camera on the go, was denied and caused the app to originally be denied acceptance into the App Store.  They also share a link where you can protest to Apple on their reasoning for this rejection.

Camera+ is one of the best values you can find in the App Store right now, so if you haven’t given yourself the privilege yet, these newest enhancements should be more then enough for you to embrace this excellent app

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