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Newsletter
Sunday
Feb262012

Johnny Cash - When I Take My Vacation in Heaven

When searching for 'My Vacation' on iTunes one day I spotted in the search results a song from Johnny Cash. As it would have been his 80th birthday today I thought I'd share this rather nice song with you.

There are those who are taking vacations to the mountains the lakes and the sea
Where they rest from their cares and their troubles
What a wonderful time that must be

But it seems not my lot to be like them I must toil through the heat and the cold
Seekin' out the lost sheep on the mountains bringing wanderers back to the fold
But when I take my vacation in heaven what a wonderful time that will be

Hearing concerts by the heavenly chorus and the face of my Saviour I'll see
Sitting down on the banks of the river neath the shade of the evergreen tree

There I'll rest from my burdens forever won't you take your vacation with me
(Sitting down on the banks of the river under the shade of the evergreen tree)
There I'll rest from my burdens forever won't you take your vacation with me

YouTube has a link to the whole song.

I hope it isn't in bad taste to ponder a cover version 'When I take My Vacation (app) to heaven'!

Tuesday
Nov292011

Dictating your diary with Siri

My Vacation has always given you the option to type or record your holiday diaries.

Siri, a new feature on the iPhone 4S does a good job at translating what you say into words. It's integrated into the keyboard display so available within all apps including My Vacation.

In a way it is half-way house between the current two methods for entering your journals. The input will be verbal and the output is written.

From my own experiments with my English accent it wasn't perfect on the first try, but it will be interesting to see how Siri stands up to regular use.

Tuesday
Oct182011

Tuatara - new My Vacation update released

The latest update to My Vacation is out, in all varieties (HD & Lite too).

iOS 5 compatible

The way you pick images should be fixed now. Sorry if this caused your any inconvenience - this was caused by a change by Apple late into the iOS 5 beta testing period.

Ability to optimise images

You can reduce your existing photo sizes and convert their format in order to save space. This will be of interest to you if you are running out of space on your device or on iCloud.

When My Vacation launched on the iPhone we decided to store your photos in PNG (.png) format which compresses images in a lossless fashion. However, for typical vacation photos there is little noticeable difference to store photos in JPEG (.jpg) and the space taken up is almost half that of PNG images. The Photos app on the iPhone and iPad also uses JPEG format, and we're choosing the highest quality JPEG conversion.

Photos are now stored in JPEG format, but the photos you have already taken before this change will be in PNG format. With the launch of iCloud, it is important to reduce the storage space apps take up, if possible. Therefore there are now options to reduce the sizes of your photos, and convert to JPEG format.

To apply these conversions:

  1. Go to the Vacation list page, and click on 'Manage' at the bottom right corner of the page.
  2. The bottom section 'Reduce image sizes' will be there if any of the conversions can be carried out e.g. 'Convert PNG files to JPG'
  3. Each conversion explains what action will happen.

Added Tumblr support

You can now output your trip, or individual photos and videos to Tumblr. More information on this to follow later, but in the meantime can be found as an additional blog option alongside Wordpress and Blogger.

Browser display redesigned

The Browser display (allowing you to view your trip on a laptop/desktop connected to same Wifi network as your iPad/iPhone) now has a cover page and a separate page for each day, along with a couple of other cosmetic improvements.

Let us know on our support forum if you find any problems with the update.

Friday
Oct142011

My new camera, my phone.

Yesterday I got my hands on an iPhone 4S, like millions of other around the world. Each time I get a new camera I try to take it for a spin the picturesque city I'm fortunate enough to live in - Cambridge.

It was a pleasant autumnal day, and the results spurred me on to walk all day around most of the city and University area.

For those who haven't followed the iPhone 4S launch too closely, the camera has been updated from 5 to 8 megapixels, but the optics have also been improved. The backside is illuminated with a CMOS sensor which improves images in low-light conditions. The lens is 5-element based which apparently helped with the colour accuracy. The aperture is f/2.4 and images are 30% sharper. Compared to my 3GS it's astounding, as you'll see below.

First off I show a few shots before moving on to a little more analysis (click to see full size version).

Definition

First off let's see a comparison between the 4S and 3GS. There is a marked improvement in the 4S.

iPhone 4S
iPhone 3GS

It is also worth pointing out that despite a lack of optical zoom it is still worth zooming in rather than cropping later on. I noticed this when iOS 4 was released.

Macro

Using the obligatory flower shot you can also appreciate the improvement in macro shots.

iPhone 4S
iPhone 3GS

HDR

I took all of the photos in HDR mode which creates 2 shots for each photo, each with a different exposure setting, letting more or less light. You can see the effect here.

Compare this to the 3GS and it makes you realise how close the 4S comes to a dedicated camera.

Low light conditions

You need to take more care keeping the phone steady and manually picking a focus zone, but low light shots are still impressive. The first 2 shots here show some good examples.

Here is an example of how much variation you can see on a shot at dusk with auto exposure then the second one with manually selected exposure after clicking on the grass. Much brighter but you can see visible graininess.

Lastly, an example of how image blur can easily occur, although I think I could have been steadier for this shot!

Focus and depth of field

The camera can focus on obvious objects e.g. the leaves hanging from the tree, but it was harder to clearly focus on a particular railing in the below example.

Shutter speed

I did not experiment too much in this regard but in good light the camera snapped a fairly well defined bus speeding past.

Videos

Videos are now shot at 1080p and initially I was disappointed by the frame rate when played back on my laptop, although on the phone it was smooth. You can see the differences here between the iPhone 4S and iPhone 3GS.

Summary

The iPhone camera has evolved to the point of being a realistic option for your holiday snaps. The low light performance will encourage more evening use when you don't want to carry around additional cameras, and you can take a photo in less than 4 seconds from double clicking the Home button.

Combined with My Vacation app you'll have a truly integrated way to journal your trip.

The best camera is the one you have with you.