Wedding Album Review on an iPad

I had created a wedding album, and the parents of the bride had purchased their copy. The parents of the groom had some changes they wanted to make. There were a few pages, like the one above that they wanted as is, there were a couple of pages that they didn’t want, and several pages that they were hoping to swap a few images. They did live close by, so I headed over to their house with just my iPad. Yup, just my iPad. I wanted to be able to sit side by side with them and draw right on the pages of the electronic book. Best case would be to be able to drag the images around, but that wasn’t going to happen. I would settle to being able to pen in new numbers and draw arrows for moving images around. To accomplish this, I used two apps.

The first was Penultimate. I used this app with a digital pen to draw on.

I created a notebook for this project with the amazing title of Album Notes. I then, page by page inserted a page spread from my album (exported previously) into the notebook. I now had images that I could draw on.

I also used the Zenfolio app. I used it to move copies of all the wedding images I had online to my iPad. One thing that doing this did was keep the image numbers in sync with what the mother of the groom saw on the website, and meant that I didn’t need a wifi signal. One wish I had was that images that she had picked as favorites could have been synced to the app. She had selected and favorited the images she likely wanted to put in the album on the zenfolio website. If those could have been synced it would have made the process easier as well.

This was the process we went through. First I went through and marked with a big red X all the pages that we were going to get rid of, and ‘want’ on the pages we were keeping without changes. When we found a page that had images that we wanted to swap, we would put an X over the image, and come back to it later.

After this we had a count of the total pages we would have, and a count of the number of images we needed. Then, we would go over to the Zenfolio app, pick some appropriate pictures, come back to Penultimate, and pen them in. As pages were finished, I would mark them as done, so we could identify what pages we needed to work on still.

One of the things that worked well was having a special wacom bamboo pen to write the numbers with. Much better than writing with your finger. One thing that was frustrating was that you can’t swipe back and forth on Penultimate. I needed to go back to the TOC, and then pick the page I wanted. You can press the page number in the lower right, but that just goes in one direction, and I constantly needed to go back. Penultimate also doesn’t like to be sideways like this. I would sometimes get my images upside down, and have to turn and twist the iPad until the image was the right way.

It was also slow. I was doing this on the 1st generation iPad, and it quickly pushed my decision to buying a newer version. When I tried this with an iPad 3, it was like night and day. It went from frustratingly slow to just as responsive as you would expect.

I suppose that I could use a tool that exports my album as a PDF, then use a PDF tool that can annotate a PDF. My pages were exported as individual JPEG’s, so that wasn’t a great options when I was short on time, but might be something I try on a different occasion.


Upgrade to bgStretcher2

The bgStretcher2 script is now at version 2.2. This script allows you to view images full screen using only javascript and no flash. One side effect of showing an image that fills the screen in both height and width without changing the aspect ratio is that you are likely to clip part of the image. If someone comes to your site with a widescreen display and your images are square, then you will not see the bottom of you image. It can’t be helped.

There is a solution, but it involves a compromise. To make sure that you always see the entire image, you need to find whether width or height will fill the screen without clipping the images. Then you will have spaces on the sides or top depending on the aspect ratio of your image. This seems to be what most people are looking for, so I now default the script to do this. This can be changed by setting fitImageToBrowser:false in the config options to reset the script back to the original behavior.

I hate pair programming

Hand in Hand 

First, to clarify, I don’t hate the two lovely girls in this picture, but they can be quite the pair. Second, my mother told me never to say hate, so maybe that was not a good title. How about “I detest pair programming.”

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to be stuck in a cave for a couple of months and then crawl out bleary eyed and pronounce that I have created the perfect piece of code. I love collaboration. I go to others for help, input, guidance,¬†or to reciprocate for someone else.

What I¬†don’t like, is sitting¬†in a cube with two people where one person types and the¬†other looks over their shoulder all day.¬†Maybe I haven’t had the right person to do this with. Maybe¬†that is why the pair of kids in the picture works. They have their issues, but they get along well, and have similar goals most of the time.

When I am paired with someone, and they have the keyboard, I just feel like one of two things occurs. I am sitting there bored wondering why they just don’t let me type, or they are whipping through some material I have never worked with, and I am lost when I don’t get to “drive”. When I have the keyboard, I just find it annoying to have someone asking if the code could be done differently every 5 minutes. I don’t mind getting feedback, and code reviews are great. I have no problem working on a task, checking for ideas, implementing my approach, then getting feedback, and maybe refactoring. I just don’t like it in real time.

I don’t see the benefit. Luckily it only looks like we are doing this while several of us are new. It won’t last forever. Have you ever had to work for an extended time period in a pair? Did it work?

Setting up Linux Software Raid

This entry is part 3 of 3 in the series Building a NAS

Dual Drives for Raid 1This is part of our series on building a NAS. In this article we will get the box set up with a static IP address, and get your drives set up for RAID 1.

We are assuming that at this point you have Ubuntu installed. We are gong to install software raid in a moment. The first thing I want to do is make sure we have a static ip address. Usually Ubuntu will start up with a dynamic ip address. This can make it more difficult to transfer files to this box, so lets make it static.
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Installing Zenphoto on 1and1


I had all kinds of trouble getting Zenphoto to install on 1and1. None of which I believe are the fault of the Zenphoto project. I am blaming the difficulties on how you need to configure php on 1and1.

What problems did I have. It appears that there were tables that were not created correctly. The way I figured this out was that I was trying to save a ¬†guest user and password to¬†and album. The name wouldn’t stick. When I went in and look under the MySql admin¬†tool (phpMyAdmin), there was no user field in the albums table. Something was wrong right from setup.

So here are the steps that I came up with to get zenphoto installed properly. I can’t say that all of the steps I took were necessary, and some might even be suspect, but in total it works.

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Zen Photo Press

I am not sure how I missed this. There is a plugin for WordPress called ZenPhotoPress. I even had ideas of trying to do this myself. Anyway, what this does, is allow you to get your photo’s from Zen Photo into your wordpress blog. It is built into the visual editor (tiny mce).

I have been working on a gallery with Zen Photo with my Cyberward theme. Still trying to decide what I want to do with it, but I think that I will move to migrate my family photos over to Zen Photo instead of Gallery.

Zen Photo just seems better in my opinion. Gallery (actually Gallery2) seems slow and burdened. Too many things activated and going on by default.¬† Zen Photo has fewer plugins, but that’s ok by me. It seems much easier to hack on too. I guess now I just need to time to do this.

First Version of CwExif is out

I now have a first version of CwExif that can be downloaded. This is a new WordPress plugin that will show exif data for an image uploaded to the wordpress library in the title tag. There is a button on the media admin screen that will take the exif data and put it into the title tag. On hover, the data will be displayed.

This is just the first version. There is much more that I want to do with this plugin, but you have to start somewhere.

Get it here.

Access WordPress Blogs with an iPhone/touch


I got an iPhone recently, and I have to say that I love the thing. I have used more minutes of data plan than I have minutes of talk time. I like checking email/flickr/facebook/rss feeds when I have a minute without using a computer, or without needing a wi-fi connection. I will document some of the other plug-ins that I am using later, but right now I want to talk about WordPress and iPhone/iTouch devices.

I was amazed that I could read my blog on the iPhone. I had to zoom in a bit, but it wasn’t too bad. I was happy. Then I started to wonder about creating a theme that is more suited to the iPhone screen. Then I did what all good programmers do before they start cooding. They Google. Sure enough, I found WPTouch.

If you have an iPhone/iTouch, come back and take a look. You won’t believe it until you see it.

This plugin for wordpress intercepts when an iPhone is accessing your blog, and replaces it with a theme that looks like an iPhone application. Amazing. Using a little javascript, it even has menus, ¬†and the comments work just fine. It does make your site a little generic. It has the ability in the admin screen to adjust the colors, but I haven’t played with it yet. I would like to modify the header, but I’ll leave that for another day.

I installed version 1.7.5 from the plugin repository on wordpress .

So, what if you want to make a post? There’s a plugin for that too. I have installed an application on the iPone called WordPress for iPhone. This app provides a simple interface to allow posting to your blog. There are lots of features available, but some things are left wanting. It would be nice to be able to add pictures from your wordpress gallery, but it looks like you can only add pictures from the iphone. Both your synched photo’s, and your camera. You can save drafts locally, but not edit ones from your site. The editor isn’t the “visual” editor from your site, it is the html editor, so links and images are in tags. I think it will be nice to have though.

So why didn’t I write this post from the iPhone? You type even this many words on that little virtual keyboard and tell me how long it would take you 😉

Lameda Plugin

Here is another plugin, Lameda, that uses the exif data that comes from the images as uploaded into WordPress. Lets take a picture:

Tulip in the Rain

Here is the exif data when you put this tag in your post: [lameda_exif id=556]


The thing with this, is you still have to go into the post html and find out what the wordpress id of the image is. Still a bit of a pain. I like that it is pulling this from wordpress. Looks like wordpress stores this in the post_metadata table in an entry about the image. Not all data is saved, just some of the more basic ones like those shown. We just need a more automated, and visually appealing way to show it.

Exzo WordPress Plugin

Exzo is the Exif and Zoom Image plugin for wordpress. I thought I would try it out. It is supposed to display some exif info around your pictures. Not sure it will work for me. I already post my photos on flickr, and just link to them here, but it seems like an interresting idea. One issue is that there is no way to pop in the image using the library tool. You need to goto the library and find out the image name, then in the HTML tab of the blog editor, you can add a statement like this:

[exzo url="" title=""]dsc_0021[/exzo]

That will get you this image on my site:


Most of the styling and which exif data that shows up is all customizeable. But I have a couple of issues. First, there seems to be an issue in the plugin where is doesn’t reference the zoom.css file. I had to modify exzo.php to point to it correctly. Second, the included lightbox effect isn’t so hot. The biggest issue is that the image pops up full size. Other versions I have seen try to scale the image for the viewport.

It does look like you could opt to just show the exif data though, like this :


Exzo plugin example

What would be really neat is if instead of the formatting of the picture, and the need to use this tag, is if via javascript, it could just attach itself to the image and display on a hover, or a click or something. Hmmm… that would be interesting…