How about a Photo Booth?
As previously mentioned, next week I’ll be in Vegas doing something that I haven’t done before; running a photobooth. Don’t think carnival-style photo booth. Think more a creative way to take portrait photos where they are shared on the internet as quickly as possible. The camera will be stationary and there will be silly props. Photos will be shared online instead of being printed. Like I said, something completely new for me.
Using my Nikon D5100, a tripod, my Macbook Air, the Sofortbild app and some magic, it has come together nicely. The Sofortbild app is used to take the pictures, which are then saved. Once the photos are saved, our friend Photoshop comes in to run a few actions on the photos to shape them and place them into a custom framed before being saved. Saved where? I’m glad you asked.
Using a combination of DrobBox and ifttt.com (aka “The Nerd Machine”), those image will be automatically uploaded to Flickr and posted to the White Roof Photo Facebook page so that the attendees can download them, tag themselves in them or do whatever they want.
Poolside Vegas. DIY Photobooth. Should be fun! Hope to see you there!
Warning: Nerd Stuff!
We can say I have had a month. A month, in this case, being the 30 days prior to this one, not a month like you see on your calendar. I know, it’s like the new math, but try to keep up.
I was tasked with replacing the ancient Windows Server 2003 (circa 2007) and Windows XP Filemaker Server (!) (circa 2006) earlier in the year. A single replacement sourced to replace 2 machines, easy peasy. Costs were told, ideas about buying new or refurbishes shot, budget was approved, and I went to work!
[A Team Theme here]
A series of calls to my friendly, neighborhood Dell server specialist to build a reasonably priced machine that could serve as both Active Directory (re: nerd stuff) and Filemaker (re: nerd database stuff) server. Done, done and done as the kids say. Now, in my server closet, quietly hums a very nice server with 16 cores of processing power, 16GB of RAM with a pair of 500GB drives (RAID 1, re: more nerd stuff). Fast and quiet, I’m happy. (Read on…)
Review: Mailbox App
I gave it the old college try. For the last 3 weeks I have been using Mailbox on my iPhone. It’s a fantastic app, but it’s not for me.
The Mailbox App team have had a very interesting ride. I remember seeing their initial video about the app months before it was actually released and I thought it looked revolutionary and awesome. Then it was released in a way to garner as much hype as possible while allowing them to properly manage the roll-out. Since this is email, I thought that bit was pretty awesome, especially since email has moved into the category of “always has to work”.
So I signed up and waited. Luckily, I joined early and only had to wait a little more than a week for my reservation to kick in. The app itself is very nice. The interface makes sense and the controls, once you actually figure it out, also makes sense. I had a minor issue with my reservation, however. Nothing that they weren’t able to correct via their Twitter account and support email.
So far, so good. I’m beyond impressed at this point.
After playing with Mailbox (and archiving my inbox), I put my phone down and do what I always do. Opened mailplane to work on email.
Mailbox only works with Gmail, and for it to work, it actually gets into your Gmail inbox and takes over for you, adding labels and archiving messages. It’s the way it worked and on the phone, it’s pretty awesome.
But my phone isn’t my primary email device. My phone is where I triage email. Sure, I reply to some messages via mobile, but those are the quick hit replies to answer an easy question. Anything with any substance, I want a keyboard. Same goes for creating new messages. I almost never send an email from my phone. It’s not part of my work flow.
I also don’t practice inbox zero in the strictest sense. Instead of going for zero messages, I shoot for zero unread messages. When I hit that, I color myself done and about once a quarter I’ll archive my inbox to produce true inbox zero.
Finally, if I had to pick on Mailbox for anything, it’s the lack of search. While I seldom do this mobile, I do need this feature.
I’m not saying this is a bad app. I’m saying it’s a bad app for me. It’s a fantastic app and I’m sure it will continue to be even more fantasticer since Dropbox bought them. In fact, as long as you don’t mind a 3rd party having unfettered access to your Gmail account, use your phone as your primary email device (or don’t mind the changes it makes to your inbox) and are ok not having search (for now I would almost bet), I would very much recommend Mailbox.
Cord Cutting: Where to start
As more and more of you start your journey to ditching your cable company, more and more of you still have questions and don’t really know where to start. Luckily, you know a guy that has already done all of it. Me!
I’ve started a page here chock full of notes to get your started on your cord cutting. It’s so much easier now that it used to be that almost anyone can do it without trouble. Even if you aren’t looking to drop cable, there is some information on some of the latest bits of gear that you can add to your entertainment system for added features.
So, if this is you, check it out on the cord cutting notes page.
The Mac Mini as a Server
Disclaimer: The following is concerning networking Apple computers together, using an Apple computer as a server. Windows isn’t mentioned because, for this purpose, it’s not applicable.
Friend of the show, CJ, posed the question above on Twitter earlier. Having a few minutes, we went back and forth on adding a Mac Mini server to a home network. He is looking at replacing an existing Mac Pro and is concerned with file storage. Besides the Mac Mini, he is also considering a Synology DiskStation, which is another great option.
The Synology is interesting in that it is, essentially, a linux server with a custom UI. Within the admin section of the device you can configure it to act as a firewall, mail/web server (complete with WordPress), iTunes media server, DHCP server and even a personal cloud server. All rolled into one device. And, at just a skoosh over $300, a pretty good deal. The biggest con of this is redundancy. The drives are fixed and can’t be swapped without opening the case. You can mirror to another Synology device on the same network (via rsync if you speak nerd) or backup to an external USB drive. The experience that I have had with the Synology has been very positive. It’s reliable and quiet and file transfers are pretty quick.
If your budget has more room, the Mac MINI with an external drive would be a better solution. With the Mac Mini, you get a full O/S computer that can be used as a regular desktop machine. Adding a Drobo or multiple Thunderbolt drives would allow you to extend storage to more than you will probably need over the life of the device. If you are looking to do some cord cutting, that’s another advantage of going with the Mini. Add the Plex Server and app to this machine connected to your home entertainment center via HDMI cable and you have a powerful device that will not only serve your files, but you media as well.
You could go full server on your Mini too, which would get you additional on-board storage and other server only options (user account controls, for example), but if all you need is file serving and you are planning on using external storage anyway, I’d vote against the Server version of the Mini. I’d go with the $599 version, add as much RAM as possible and put the rest toward external storage like a Drobo or a few daisy chained Thunderbolt drives (any of these would be awesome).
If you are looking to have access via Windows machines, the Synology device or a networked Drobo would be a better choice, unless you are looking for a full blow media server/HTPC type device.