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Aug 31,2010 - CraterDot ITW ...a MiloReport

One of my favorite spots in the RainyDayMagazine office is the CraterDot, specifically the green CraterDot. It is a great spot for both napping and playing. The great thing about it is it can make any spot a comfy spot.

As a sleeping surface, the CraterDot is great, but it is excellent for play as well. The CraterDot is the only place in the office where my claws work really well! I can knead, claw, and... [more]-CraterDot InTheWild


Aug 30,2010 - I am Milo ...

My name is Milo Suetonius Barney MacFarquharson, but everybody here just calls me Milo. I joined Team RainyDay at the end of May as a Summer intern. The folks here have been great. I have been eating and sleeping a LOT, but I have also managed to learn quite a bit of really cool stuff.

My day used to be mostly filled with running around whacking at shiny things, eating an occasional bug or two, and chasing what turned out to be my tail. I have learned there is no kitten behind the mirror, don't try to climb when you just got your nails clipped, and that it is really hard to... [more]-I am Milo


Aug 27,2010 - iPad covers: Best Of Breed

We looked at ten great iPad covers this week. Whether it was a unique feature, the quality of materials used, or some other criteria, we had an excellent reason for putting it on our Best-Of-Breed list:

Click on any of the image squares below to jump directly to the related article. The question is what are we going to do with all these cases? As with past RDM items, once we are done with the reviews, we need to move them out of the office so we can make room for new gear. We used to... [more]-Best Of Breed: Summary


Aug 26,2010 - iPad covers: Best Of Breed

Companies such as Franklin Covey and FiloFax created the personal organizer market to help people give structure to their busy lives. The paper day planners, appointment calendars, and to-do lists helped people juggle, arrange, and cram more into their day then ever before. All of these different sections were neatly packaged in a handy paperback book size folio. When Personal digital assistants (PDA) hit the scene, their functionalities were modeled after the paper day planners, appointment books, and organizers. So it was not surprising to see them sporting leather folio covers like their analog counterparts.

The iPad, with its notepad-like form factor, was a natural fit for the folio-style covers. Apple even sells a folio cover for the iPad when the iPad. The problem is it is rather bland and uninteresting, but it was the only one available when the iPad was released. Now that the iPad has been out for a while, the selection of folio covers is much richer. We spent the last few months combing through all of the different offerings and selected... [more]-Best Of Breed: folio


Aug 25,2010 - iPad covers: Best Of Breed

Since the iPad is more transportable than a laptop, it will no doubt be taken to more places. It stands to reason that providing it with some protection when on the move is a good idea. Any iPad cover will offer some sort of protection. All of them cover the back, and some of them also cover the front. As the screen is the most fragile part of the iPad, if you like to just grab your iPad and go, it would be best to get a case that protects both front and back.

Cases with front/back covers come in two basic styles: two-piece, folio. Today, we will concentrate on the two-piece covers from our Best-Of-Breed list:

We have done FirstLooks of both the OtterBox Defender and Vaja iVolution so we will not repeat them here. The OtterBox Defender is first and last stop for those in search of the ultimate in iPad protection. Other then putting an iPad wrapped in a Defender inside one of these, there is nothing on the market that offers more 360º safety. The Vaja iVolution is a two-piece case for those who want something more luxurious, less techie-looking, but still every bit as functional. Vaja is on our Best-Of-Breed list because the leather used for their products are the best available and their workmanship is second to none.

modulR may be new to many, but we expect they will be making quite a name for themselves with their entrant. The case we got was hot off the production line. The modulR case is different from every other case we have reviewed to date. This case is the core of an extensive accessory system (stand, mount, strap, swing arm, etc...). The idea is extremely cool. With the right accessory, the modulR case can transform the iPad into a... [more]-Best Of Breed: two-piece iPad covers


Aug 24,2010 - iPad covers: Best Of Breed

The frame of the iPad is milled from a solid piece of aluminum. As a result, it is about as tough as they come. Thus, adding a back cover to protect the electronic innards of the iPad is really not necessary. However, most of us like to keep our things nice and new-looking, so a cover to shield the back of the iPad from the inevitable nicks and scratches is something of interest to many. Here are three back-only covers from our Best-Of-Breed list which will keep the iPad as blemish-free as the day it was made:

The OtterBox Commuter offers more protection than any other back-only cover on the market. Like the OtterBox Defender we looked at in July, the Commuter's protection is made up of multiple layers. The hard plastic shell will deflect sharp objects while the thick rubber layer will... [more]-Best Of Breed: one-piece iPad covers


Aug 23,2010 - iPad covers: Best Of Breed

In July, we mentioned that we were going to take a side-by-side look at a select list of iPad covers. We pushed out our editorial schedule on them because we got two (monCarbone, M-Edge) great last minute suggestions from readers. That worked out just fine as the modulR folks were running late because of some production issues.

All the covers and cases have now arrived. Here is the final list:

  • OtterBox - Defender, Commuter
  • Vaja - iVolution
  • Piel Frama - Leather folio w/ magnetic closure
  • monCarbone - Carbon Fiber HoverCoat
  • XGear - Carbon Fiber Shadow, Carbon Fiber Folio
  • modulR iPad case/mount system
  • M-Edge - Method Folio
  • Sena - Leather folio w/ snap closure

These covers were selected because we felt they were the "Best of Breed" in one way or another. Some were picked for their quality of workmanship or appearance. Others were choosen for their... [more]-Best Of Breed: iPad covers


Aug 20,2010 - Kodak Pulse Setup

The Pulse, Kodak's latest digital photo frame, came onto the market in April. We took a FirstLook at the Pulse earlier in the week. The Pulse is the first digital photo frame which has everything we want in one package: high resolution display, touchscreen controls, card reader, WiFi connectivity, FREE email address. Many digital photo frames have the first four features covered well. In our opinion, the ability to receive images via email is a "must-have" feature for a digital photo frame. We certainly would not buy a another one without that capability. With an e-mail-enabled device, anyone can share pictures using cell phones, computers, WiFi-enabled cameras, etc...directly to the Pulse frame. Kodak further enhances the sharing experience by allowing the frame to be connected to anyone's Facebook and Kodak Gallery photo albums. The frame will automatically refresh when new images are added to the albums. How easy is that?

The frame may be used right out of the box if all one wants is to insert a memory card and display some photos. However, the power of the Pulse is the ability to connect to the Internet and be managed remotely. Thus, a WiFi Internet connection is needed to get the most out of this frame. Connecting the Kodak Pulse to our office's WiFi network was pretty quick. The on-screen wizard walked us through the steps in clear plain language. However, you will need to... [more]-Kodak Pulse Setup


Aug 19,2010 - View from 40,000 feet

When we fly, we always try to get a window seat. We have never been to the Grand Canyon, but when we flew out to L.A. this past January, we had a window seat. The view from the plane was pretty spectacular. Since it was Winter, snow was everywhere. It made for some interesting shots.

Looking down from 40,000 feet, it was cool to see the erosion and ridges sharply defined by the snow. We remembered Orographic lift from high school Earth Science and expected to see snow cover on the western side of the ridge. However, we saw snow on the eastern side, which confused us a little... [more]-View from 40,000 feet


Aug 18,2010 - Kodak Pulse FirstLook

Digital photo frames have been around for a while. The idea was great, but unfortunately most executions have been lacking. The frames were either too expensive, have weak colors, or the process of updating photos was cumbersome. However, Kodak may have finally put all of the pieces together and created a digital photo frame that will be the standard by which others will be judged.

We have many different digital frames around the office. The ones we update the most often are the Ceiva units. The Ceiva photo frames are convenient to update because they have their own email address and can receive images via Email from anyone/anywhere (even if that someone was just in the office upstairs). When we posted the FirstUse report of the Ceiva frames, some readers commented that while the email feature is awesome, the frames required a Ceiva subscription to work and when if the subscription is allow to lapse, the frame would be useless. This is certainly a valid point. Ceiva's current buisness model may change when a strong competitor enters the market with a similar product which... [more]-Kodak Pulse FirstLook


Aug 17,2010 - AA iPhone app

Being able to print boarding passes at home or at the office has made the airline check-in process a lot more convenient and less stressful for travelers. By shifting the printing and paper cost to the consumer, it also enables airlines to reduce costs. It has been one of the few "win-win" situations with airline travel.

Recently, AA introduced an improvement which we had a chance to try out on our trip back to Boston. It is an option available to tech-savvy travelers and may make the boarding process even better. How? By eliminating the printing of boarding passes altogether. For those with an iPhone or an iPod Touch, AA has released a free app which enables a passenger to... [more]-AA iPhone App


Aug 16,2010 - Summer interns

We used to have a summer intern named Sarah back in the days when we were living large. However, like all good things, it had to end. She got accepted at RISD and off to school she went. Last week a few of us were in L.A. for a party. Coincidentally, Sarah is working at the Anthropologie store in town as their "Visual Intern." We thought we would drop by to see what our girl has been doing all Summer.

The general direction and overall visual themes of Anthropologie stores are determined by the Home Office, but each individual store is responsible for the execution of the vision. Sarah's work is guided, but they let her do much of it herself. Her pieces were all over the store. They ranged from really large ones to tiny little signs.

A big piece such as a wall-spanning mozaic (constructed completely by hand) can take several days to cut, link together, and hang. Smaller installations such as a tree may have fewer pieces, but are no less... [more]-Summer Interns


Aug 10,2010 - Wikipedia Discover

Next to Google Search, Wikipedia is probably one of the more useful resources available on the Internet. This online encyclopedia has over 3,000,000 entries, is maintained and edited completely by volunteers, and is used by millions of people everyday. Best of all, it is completely free...free of charge, free of advertising, free of the "noise" which plagues so many other sources of information. It is difficult to imagine how it could be made better.

Well, an iPad app call Discover has just kicked Wikipedia's usefulness up a few notches. The app is free and is available on iTunes. It is a viewer which takes the information on Wikipedia and... [more]-Wikipedia Discover


Aug 9,2010 - MFA:Avedon Fashion

For six decades, Richard Avedon (1923-2004) brought fashion to life in the pages of Vogue and Harper's Bazaar. His photos may have started out as advertisement for Dior, Chanel, or Versace, but they ended up as art. The images created by Avedon were fresh, energetic, and forever transformed fashion photography.

Avedon Fashion 1944-2000 debuted in 2009 at the International Center of Photography (ICP) in New York, then Detroit and West Palm Beach. The MFA, in partnership with the ICP and The Richard Avedon Foundation, has now brought this traveling exhibition to Boston. This major retrospective focuses on Avedon's work in and contributions to fashion photography. Images are grouped by decades and presented to show his... [more]-MFA: Avedon Fashion


Aug 6,2010 - Ceiva InTheWild

In May, we did a FirstLook and FirstUse of a few digital photo frames from Ceiva. We have both the CeivaShare and CeivaPro models. The CeivaShare frame is in our office in Boston and the CeivaPro was sent to one of the editors' parents in New York. After using them for a month, we felt we were ready to file the InTheWild report. After three months, we are happy to report that the initial enthusiasm with the Ceiva frames has not diminish in any way. In fact, one of the guests at FirstGrill 2010 told us she purchased one for her dad after seeing ours.

Displaying photos using digital photo frames are better than using a traditional frame in many ways. In the image above, the room was brightly lit. The print hanging on the wall is difficult to see, but the... [more]-Ceiva InTheWild


Aug 5,2010 - Train Show in Roslindale

Our office has been in Roslindale for quite awhile, yet we are constantly discovering new and amazing things about this little village. Long time Rozzie residents all know about the Bay State Model Railroad Museum. The museum is tucked away on the second floor of a building on South Street. You won't see any signs on the outside of the building advertising their presence. Neither will you be able to just walk in off the street and get a tour. The club is run by a dedicated group of like-minded scale model enthusiasts in the pursuit of their hobby. Twice a year, they open their museum to the general public. This past Spring, we happened upon the show by accident and was totally blown away by what we saw.

The Bay State Model Railroad Museum was established in 1968 in Roslindale, MA as an O and HO Scale oriented model railroad club. In late 1977 they were evicted from their space. The determined members found new quarters in another section of Roslindale. To avoid having to move again, they bought the building. These accidental landlords have been there building models, laying down tracks, and expanding their world ever since.

After 30 years, the richness of the scenes was almost overwhelming. We could have spent the entire day there shooting photos of this miniature world. With the short time we spent squeezing our way amongst the crowd and the tracks, it was impossible to appreciate all of the... [more]- Train Show


Aug 4,2010 - iPad connection kit

We have been using the iPad since the day it was available. It has been no secret that we think it is a game changer. However, it does not mean we think the iPad is perfect. There are things we wish Apple had done differently, made better, or included. One of the things we wish Apple had included is a standard USB port or an SD card reader. When in the field, were hoping we would be able to use the iPad as a digital lightbox. The iPad's size, weight, and long battery life would have made it a perfect tool for quickly checking the quality of an image without having to lug around a laptop. However, there are no built-in mechanism for attaching a camera to or insert a CF card into the iPad. The only way to "talk" to the iPad is via the optional Camera Connection Kit accessory.

Since the kit is optional, the least Apple could have done was make the Camera Connection Kit more widely stocked at launch time. After waiting months for the kit to become available, we were finally told that we needed to order it through the online store. When we did order it, the wait was another six weeks. How difficult could it be to... [more]- iPad connection kit: FirstLook


Aug 3,2010 - iPhone prototyping software

Ask any house builder and they will tell you, don't put the drywall up before you do the plumbing and electrical. The advice holds true for software as well. Unless you have worked out the basic structure of your app, don't waste time with precise button placement, color selection, or the creation of a more realistic prototype. The pencil and paper method is the fastest way to test out a lot of user-interface ideas, narrow in on a direction, and work out the flow of an app. It is only when the ideas have been fully fleshed out on paper should one consider taking them to the next level.

There was a time when the only techniques used for making prototypes were screen grabs and "cut & paste" with a drawing program. Now there are many different software tools to help create native-looking software mock-ups. Some of them will even allow button presses, bring up new screens, and simulate other actions. We have selected a few of these prototyping tools to examine in detail. These tools fall into three general categories: visuals only, simulators, code generators. One workflow would be to use Photoshop to create a realistic looking screen, download it to the... [more]- iPhone prototyping software


Aug 2,2010 - Portable prototyping studio

Last week we posted an article on iPhone user interface prototyping. Our conclusion was that an analog approach was the quickest way to approach the initial task of designing the UI. We had assembled a few tools specifically designed for such an effort and were eager to give things a try. Fortunately for us, the weather had turned a comfortable 76º in Boston over the weekend. We thought it would be great opportunity head out to a cafe and put some of our UI thoughts to paper. We started looking around the office for a suitable carrying case for all the stuff (stencils, pads, etc...). However, none of our art portfolios, laptop bags, or iPad cases were right for the job. They were either too small, too bulky, or too big. It then struck us that an item which we had just received for this month's head-to-head iPad case review would make a perfect carrier for all of the prototyping gear.

The leather case is from M-Edge, a maker of things fashionable and protective for eReaders. Unlike many iPad covers and cases, this one was designed for carrying an iPad along with some other... [more]- Portable prototyping studio


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