The Best Tough Camera Gets Better

What can survive 50 feet underwater, 220 pounds of crushing pressure, 7 foot drops, and 14° F? Not just any camera, that’s what Olympus Stylus Tough TG-4. The previous camera in the Tough series was among the best of the waterproof, rugged, point-and-shoot category of cameras. The new TG-4 ups the game with a bunch of improvements, including RAW shooting, WiFi and GPS built-in, Compass, 10 frame burst mode, and more. With the WiFi you can quickly transfer your photos directly to your smartphone. This would be a great addition to your toolbox for taking some great before and after shots without worrying about messing up your camera. All this for under $400.

Check out the Phoblographer’s Preview Article for more details.

From Idea to App in One Week

I recently had an idea for an app. Something to help keep score while playing basketball. Great, not really a big deal, should be able to do this in a day or so. So, it took about a week once all was said and done, after which it sat in the Apple App Store queue for longer than it took to actually create.

The first thing I did was put together some rough designs in Photoshop. Initially I was thinking it would just be an iPad app, but after talking to some other people I decided to add the iPhone version too. This bit set me back a few more days, thanks to those gaul-dern Adaptive Layouts.

Setting up the basic mechanics of the app was pretty straight forward, plus buttons add points, minus buttons take away points. Two teams, the classic red vs. blue. Each with their own score controls. I really wanted to make the scoring process quick and easy, with big buttons you can easily see and press while actually playing basketball. I imagine the player keeping score would run over to the sidelines to quickly add points or check the score.

From there I realized I wanted to add a game countdown timer to help fill out the app feature set. Just a timer wouldn’t be very useful during a game, but a timer with beeps for the last ten seconds and a final game over buzzer would make everything better. So, that’s what I did.

Once I had all the code in place I could add the iPhone version. I had yet to use the Adaptive Layouts in xcode for iOS 8. I really wish I could use CSS. Adaptive Layouts sound great on paper, but in practice, they don’t really seem to be made for graphically unique and complex interfaces. Also, Interface Builder sometimes seems to randomly adjust things that I thought were already set. It’s a very frustrating experience using one single storyboard for both iPhone (in all it’s crazy sizes) and iPad (so much easier).

Thinking I was going to use the same design for both iPad (my original design) and all iPhone sizes turned out to be a mistake. It ended up being easier and a better UI/UX once I decided to do a separate, streamlined design for iPhones. This meant choosing a compact width device Size Class and disabling pretty much everything and recreating them with different graphics for the compact width devices. It was frustrating but I think made for a much better app in the end.

All in all, I learned a lot about Adaptive Layouts and Size Classes. Things that will definitely help with future projects. I feel like I made a pretty good app given it’s limited use case and the time put into it.

The Most Advanced Water Hose Ever

The RoboReel Water Hose is the absolute coolest water hose I’ve ever seen. It’s apparently so great and in such demand the company can’t currently keep up with demand, even at the hefty price of $700.

So, what makes this water hose so great? It’s not just a water hose, it’s more of a “hosebot” [patent pending]. The core of this waterproof sphere houses a micro computer for  managing everything the unit does. A smart reel system ensures the hose never whips back too fast and stops if interrupted to protect it from damage. Not only does the brain of this unit help with reeling in the hose, it helps reeling it out. This helpful little guy has a smart, forward assist that detects your movement and rolls out the hose as you pull.

The top of the unit spins a complete 360 degrees and the hose itself extends either 100 or 150 feet depending on the model you choose. The brain can be operated from either the top of the green core, or from the remote built into the nozzle. You can even setup a remote timer feature to auto-shutoff or schedule on/off for up to a month in advance. The entire system is powered with removable 12 volt batteries, similar to many cordless power tools.

[Insert obligatory robot overlord joke here]

Big Update to my Game Buzzer iPhone App

I’ve been working hard on adding new features to my connected game buzzer app for iPhone. It’s been on the app store for a little over a year now and I really haven’t done much with it. Once I started the update process, it quickly became much more of a complete overhaul.

There were so many things I wanted to do that just adding them felt like just as much work as redesigning completely, so, that’s what I did. It may have taken me a bit longer than I wanted it to, but I think it’s totally worth it now that it’s finished.

Now that the updated app’s submitted to Apple, I need to turn my attention toward marketing efforts and that means the website for the app. Making an app is not simply making an app.

Once it’s all done, the new app site will be here.