Thursday, August 07, 2014

How To: Commuter Iced Coffee

  • 24 oz. cup (preferably insulated and having a lid and straw; mine is from Starbucks)
  • Coffee grinder (I use a refurbished Cuisinart bur grinder)
  • 4-cup automatic drip coffee maker (Mr Coffee works, as does my current Cuisinart)
  • Filters for coffee maker (duh)
  • Two coffee scoops (yes, two; you'll find out why)
  • Optional: coffee canister with vent to allow carbon dioxide to escape (helps keep coffee beans fresh)
  • Whole bean coffee (I use Columbian beans ordered from
  • Coffee creamer (I use Coffee-Mate Natural Bliss - sweet cream flavor)
  • Ice
  • Optional: coffee syrup (since I use a fairly neutral flavor of creamer I buy the caramel-flavored Archer Farms brand coffee syrup from Target)
Method - The Night Before:
  • Brew 4 cups of coffee using filtered water. I use 5 scoops of freshly-ground coffee per 4 cups I'm planning to brew (using scoop #1). I also prefer to only grind enough beans for one 4-cup brew; thus I grind every night.
  • When the coffee is finished brewing move the carafe directly to the refridgerator.
Method - The Next Morning:
  • Pour chilled coffee into 24 oz. cup.
  • Add creamer (and coffee syrup) to taste. I use scoop #2 to add 4 scoops' worth of coffee syrup, then I pour in the creamer until the level of liquid rises to a certain point that I've found through trial and error.
  • Stir.
  • Add ice.
  • Attach lid/straw, go, and enjoy!


Wednesday, March 20, 2013

iOS 6 on iPhone 5 - Wifi Captive Portal Login Bug

This blog post is my attempt at documenting, as best as I know how, the wifi issue I have experienced since at least iOS 6.0.1 on my iPhone 5. Specifically, the captive portal login process does not work properly. The result varies from network to network. At work there is a free, open wifi network which I am still able to connect to after tapping a button to agree to the terms of service. On the other hand, I am not able to connect to public wifi networks at places like Publix or Panera because their captive portal login page fails to load. That is, it fails to load under the typical use scenario of having both wifi and cellular data turned on. Before I go any further, though, allow me to show exactly what I'm talking about with screenshots.
First, with cellular data turned on, this is the captive portal login page that appears when connecting to the open wifi network at work:
I tap the big "Accept" button and the process of attaching to the network proceeds. At this point what should happen is that in this same pop-up window a public landing page should load, at which time the blue button at the top-right changes from "Cancel" to "Done". This does not happen, however. My iPhone attempts to load that page, during which time the blue button does change from "Cancel" to "Done" and the data network indicated in the status bar is replaces with the wifi symbol:
Ultimately, though, the public landing page fails to load, as indicated by this error:
At this point, though, tapping the blue "Done" button takes me back to the main wifi settings where I can confirm that I have successfully attached to the network (FH):
It takes a little longer to join this network than it used to, but at least it still works. I don't remember where I read it, but I recently remembered reading about someone finding a workaround for not being able to join wifi networks at all: simply turn off cellular data. So, I decided to try this at work. First, I went to Settings->General->Cellular and turned off cellular data:
Then I returned to Settings->Wi-Fi and tapped on the "FH" network. As usual, the captive portal login page slid up from the bottom of the screen:
This time, however, as soon as I tapped "Accept" the public wifi landing page loaded. Also, the blue button at the top-right changed from "Cancel" to "Done":
Upon tapping on "Done" the window slides back down to reveal the wifi settings, showing that I am attached to the "FH" network:
This workaround truly does work, but it's not necessary at work. I am still able to connect to the wifi network even though the public landing page fails to load. What is important is that the captive portal login page does load. As I stated before, though, the captive portal login page does not load for two local businesses' public wifi networks: Publix and Panera. First, let's look at the public network at Publix.
I go to Settings->Wi-Fi and tap on the "PUBLIX_CUST…" network, which causes a window to slide up from the bottom of the screen and start loading the captive portal login page (notice the network activity "spinner" in the status bar:
After what seems like an eternity I get an error message stating that the page could not load:
I tap "OK" and am left with a blank, lifeless version of that slide-up window, with no option but to then tap "Cancel":
I tap "Cancel" and the blank window slides back down out of view, revealing the wifi settings which confirm that my attempt to attach to the Publix wifi network has failed:
Next I try the workaround that I read about. Again, I go to Settings->General->Cellular and turn off cellular data:
I then return to Settings->Wi-Fi and tap on the "PUBLIX_CUST…" network to attach. Immediately, a window slides up from the bottom of the screen and the captive portal login screen successfully loads:
When I tap the green "Go!" button on the page, the blue "Cancel" button at the top-right of the window changes to "Done" . What is interesting here is that since Publix doesn't have a landing page to load after the login page, iOS is redirected back to the Apple page it was originally trying to load when it was interrupted by the captive portal login page:
At this point I tap the blue "Done" button and the window once again slides down to reveal the wifi settings, showing that I have successfully attached to the "PUBLIX_CUST…" network:

I can then go back to Settings->General->Cellular, turn cellular data on again, and still remain attached to the wifi network:
I have tried this workaround at Panera and had success there, as well, but have not taken any screenshots of the process there. As soon as I can get screenshots there I will update this post.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Opinion: Thoughts on iPhone Nomenclature

In the beginning there was the iPhone. And it was "insanely great". Then, a year later, there was the iPhone 3G. The "3G" stood for "third generation," referring not to iPhone itself as it was only the second generation of Apple's handset, but to the latest data network being used by the iPhone's cellular carrier, AT&T. The next iPhone, the third generation from Apple, was dubbed the "3GS", with the "S" standing for "speed", an indication from Apple that this generation of iPhone was equipped with, among other improvements, a faster processor than its predecessor, the iPhone 3G. What, then, was Apple to call its fourth-generation iPhone? It was faster, yet, than the 3GS, using Apple's new custom-designed A4 processor. Would they call it the "3GSS" for "Super Speed"?

No, Apple decided, as is its nature, to simplify its nomenclature for the iPhone by basing the name on the fact that it was the fourth-generation of iPhone. Thus, it was called the iPhone 4. Here, then, is a list of the four generations of iPhone along with their respective names:

  1. iPhone
  2. iPhone 3G
  3. iPhone 3GS
  4. iPhone 4
By naming the fourth-generation of iPhone the iPhone 4 Apple confirmed that the 3GS, despite having the same name as its predecessor, with the addition of one letter, was in fact the third generation of iPhone and not a revision of the second generation, a generation 2.5, if you will.

There have been a variety of rumors about the as-yet-unreleased next iPhone, some claiming only small revisions compared to current iPhone 4 and some claiming more significant changes. Rumors claiming the next iPhone will only have minor hardware revisions tend to refer to it as the "iPhone 4S", borrowing from the nomenclature used when the 3GS was released after the 3G. Rumors claiming more significant changes, however, tend to refer to the "iPhone 5", continuing Apple's current philosophy of including the generation in the name. Then there have been a few rumors claiming both an iPhone 4S and an iPhone 5 will be announced side-by-side, the 4S truly being a minor revision to the current iPhone 4 hardware and the 5 being a more significant revision of both internal and external hardware specs and design.

Here's my opinion. If there is an iPhone 4S it will only happen if the last rumor described above is true and Apple announces both a 4S and a 5. If, however, Apple only announces one new iPhone I do not believe they will revert and call it the iPhone 4S. To me, this just doesn't make sense after switching to the current nomenclature with the iPhone 4. I think, rather, that if there is only one new iPhone announced it will be called the iPhone 5, regardless of how minor an update it is over the iPhone 4. Again, though, this is just my opinion based on my own analysis of the iPhone's history. As with all unannounced products from Apple, speculation is just that, speculation, until an actual public announcement is made.


Saturday, January 29, 2011

How to Cheat with ToonPAINT

After seeing quite a few ToonPAINT pictures posted to Instagram, recently, I knew I had to add it to my vast collection of photography apps on my iPhone. I was a little disappointed to find out that ToonPAINT does not retain the color from your original photo, but instead produces a black-and-white cartoonized picture which you must then manually fill in with color if you so choose. The controls for doing this are actually pretty good: you can select four custom colors for your pallet, adjust brush size, zoom in for detail work, and undo as far back as you'd like. But this process can be painstaking unless your original photo is very limited in the number of different colors it contains. The first ToonPAINT I colored by hand was the famous clownfish wallpaper included with Mac OS X, cropped to iPhone screen dimensions:

While the original contained various shades of greens, blues, and oranges, I could boil it down to two basic colors for the purposes of coloring the ToonPAINT version. When it comes to the kinds of photos most of us take of our every-day lives, however, this approach doesn't work as well. But what if you could somehow blend the cartoony look that ToonPAINT produces with the actual colors from the original photo? I already had a photo in mind to try this with: one I had taken of Connor in Sabbath School. I turned to my three folders of photo apps on my iPhone to see if I could find a solution. My first thought was to try using one of the HDR (High Dynamic Range) apps: Pro HDR or True HDR. Both apps gave me the same error message, though: the two photos I wanted to merge had different dimensions. At that point I figured it simply wouldn't be possible to do what I wanted to do without having to figure out how to resize one of the images to match the other, and that sounded like too much mental gymnastics. Then I remembered seeing layering options in the Iris Photo Suite app. I started with the original photo and set that as my base layer:

Then I imported the black-and-white ToonPAINT version:

When I told Iris to blend this layer with the base layer it was smart enough to realize that the two images had different dimensions and then ask me which image's dimensions to use for the blended image. Brilliant! After playing around with different types of blending and different levels of opacity for the ToonPAINT layer, I settled on the combination I liked best. Here's the finished product:

I don't remember which blending method I settled on, but I set the opacity at around 40% for the ToonPAINT layer. And voilá! You get the colors and subtle shading of the real world and the cartoon-drawing look of ToonPAINT.

Friday, December 03, 2010

More HDR Comparison

1. iOS 4.2.1 Camera app on iPhone 4:

2. Pro HDR - Manual:

3. TrueHDR - Manual:

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

HDR Comparisons

I just bought TrueHDR on sale for $0.99 to see if it was better, worse, or at least as good as Pro HDR and the iPhone 4 camera's native HDR setting. Here are the results, without commentary, so you can decide for yourself. The scene I shot was probably not the easiest for any HDR software to work with, having pretty extreme contrast between the light and dark areas, but I think this helped to bring out the differences between the apps and also between their own auto and manual modes.

1. TrueHDR - Auto

2. TrueHDR - Semi-Auto

3. TrueHDR - Manual

4. Pro HDR - Auto

5. Pro HDR - Manual

6. iOS 4.2.1 Camera app on an iPhone 4

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Thursday, September 16, 2010

iOS 4.1 vs Pro HDR

When Steve Jobs announced that iOS 4.1 would add HDR capabilities to the iPhone 4's native camera app I was very intrigued. Not long before that announcement I had purchased the Pro HDR app and was very pleased at the results. As soon as I was able to install the 4.1 upgrade on my iPhone 4 I began playing with the native HDR feature and have actually found that I prefer its results over those of Pro HDR a good share of the time. Case in point:

This is how the photo looks with no processing.

This is how it looks with iOS 4.1's built-in HDR processing.

This photo was taken with Pro HDR in "manual" mode, where I selected the bright and dark areas for the app to use in setting the different exposures to use.

I've done several other comparison shots and found that, in general, the native HDR does a better job of making the exposure consistent across the entire photo, especially when it comes to areas that would otherwise be overexposed. Pro HDR tends to do better at bringing out shadow detail by increasing the exposure in those areas, the trade-off being that highlights tend to stay on the overexposed side. One of the advantages of Pro HDR is that before saving the image you can preview it and make adjustments such as brightness, contrast and saturation, among others. My only complaint with the native HDR is that shadows tend to stay underexposed. Overall, though, I find that I usually prefer the results I get with it over those from the Pro HDR. The native HDR produces a more consistent, natural-looking exposure across the whole photo, at least to my untrained eyes.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone