Amazingly Awesome Disneyland Time-lapse Video

Thanks to my GoPro I've started enjoying making time-lapse videos. I've tried to take time-lapse in Disneyland (I even managed to make one in the car on our way). But with over 30 thousand images and a year in the making, this video really sets the bar high - and provides some pretty awesome inspiration.


Modern Day Dad On Pinterest


Not one to deny myself a good old-fashioned Internet fad, I've started some Pinterest boards for Modern Day Dad. I've decided to try to keep my boards relevant to the types of things for parents, kids and dads that I've written about on this blog over the years. There will be some things that I've written about before that I still love, and new things that I've never mentioned before (like the Facebook "Like" and "Dislike" stamps in the picture).

Anyway, you can check out and follow my Modern Day Dad Pinterest boards here.

If you'd like to check out some of the more personal stuff I'm pinning too (some related to parenting but not all) I've started a personal board as well.

CES 2012: iCade iOS Video Game Controllers


I wrote yesterday over at The Gentlemen of Gaming about how underwhelmed I was towards video game stuff at CES this year. In fact, the only stand-out thing I saw was the iPod, iPhone and iPad game controllers from iON Audio. The standard iCade has been out for a year now. (You may have seen it at your local Best Buy - it's the miniature video game cabinet that turns your iPad into a little old-school arcade system.) This year they've got three more, the best of which is the iCade Mobile (shown below).

The iCade Mobile is a Bluetooth controller for an iPhone or an iPod Touch. You just put your device in the center, pair it with the controller and you can play any compatible game. Currently there are 100 games that are compatible, but there is a public SDK out there for developers to use so they are expecting more games available by launch. It felt substantial and seemed like a pretty cool thing, especially if you've got a son or daughter who are big iOS gamers. At an MSRP of $79.99 it's not cheap, but it's a lot cheaper than a PSP or a Nintendo DS, especially if your kid already has an iPod Touch.

iCade Mobile, available for $79.99 in May from iON Audio.

(Oh, and for you parents of girls like me, Toys R Us is going to have an exclusive pink version so look out for that too.)

Thank you Steve Jobs.

It's hard not to dip into hyperbole about a man who's life is so extraordinary it essentially defies hyperbole. But I really can't think of a contemporary person (whom I've never met) that has had more of an effect on my daily life than Steve Jobs. His death is a great loss and, selfishly I suppose, I hope that his legacy survives long enough for us to transition into a world void of his unrelenting drive to make things better for everyone.

I think the best way to remember him is to go back and watch his 2005 Stanford commencement address.

Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.

A Dad vs. Zombies in the Dead Island Trailer

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lZqrG1bdGtg]


I'm a sucker for zombie stuff (is that weird to say?) and I'm also a fan of video games. But as a father, the trailer for the upcoming Dead Island (releasing on September 6) kind of got to me. Even though it's kind of a cliché (even in the world of zombies), and even though it uses some tried-and-true techniques to draw the viewer in (reverse time, slow motion) it's still the best trailer I've ever seen for a video game. And I say that because it's the only trailer I thought about the next day completely unprompted.

I don't know if that's because I'm a Dad or not, but it's worth watching I think. Just don't watch it with your kids. Now I'm wondering if the game can possibly be as good as the trailer. Which is what they want I guess.

(And if you haven't figured out what's going on after two times through, you can check out a re-edit in chronological order here.)

Dead Island on XBOX 360, $59.99 at Amazon.com

Two Girls Are Best

My last post for Man of the House is about a study that said the family configuration that results in the "happiest" family was two girls. As this happens to be the configuration of my own happy family, I had some thoughts of my own.

My editor changed what I originally wrote a bit, replacing my final paragraph with another. I still like mine better, so I thought I'd include it here:

I can't say what it's like to have more than two kids and I definitely don't know what it's like to be the father of a boy, but having two girls is pretty great. Before we had our second daughter I used to say to people that we had the first child for us, and the second child for our first. And while there is some truth to that, the older they get I'm realizing that it's the dynamic between the two that makes everything in our family more fun. And I wouldn't have it any other way.

Are Two Daughters the Key to a Happy Family?  [manofthehouse.com]

The 5 Best iPhone Camera Apps (So Far)


Next to email, web browsing and text messaging, the best thing about the iPhone 4 is the camera. (I'd even put it above the iPod and voice calling functions.) It really has invigorated my "real" photography and has me thinking all the time about making something creative with photos in ways I never have before.

My latest posts on Man of the House detail what I think are the five best camera and/or photography apps on the iPhone right now. A few months ago the list would have been different, and I'm sure in a month or two it will be different again.

Camera + is the best picture taking application on the iPhone (that isn't made by Apple). It's got lots of features but doesn't get in the way of getting to taking pictures quickly. A steal at $0.99.

TiltShift Generator
Since I've written this piece, other apps have incorporated "tilt shift" functionality (namely Instagram), but this one is still one of my favorites. Blurring the focus on elements of an image can make your iPhone's camera look like you've got a thousand dollar lens on it.

Plastic Bullet Camera
The best app for making your iPhone's camera look like a crappy camera is Plastic Bullet. Like the the crappy plastic cameras it's very random, and often very awesome. And i's made by people who make insanely expensive professional video cameras, and it shows.

ToonPaint turns your photo into an illustration. Even though I wrote about this app on Modern Day Dad already I had to include it in the top five. It's still lots of fun to use.

I look at Instagram every day, and it's getting to the point where if I take a cool picture, I'm more likely to post it to Instagram than Facebook. I couldn't have imagined that would be true six months ago. It's got a great community, fun filters to put on your photos and lots of inspiring images to look at. And if you're on Instagram too look me up. I'm "thechrisford" in Instagram.

CES 2011 - All the Great Stuff for Men


CES was way over a month ago, but I just wanted to point your way to my final posts on the subject that are up now on the man/father super blog Man of the House. Here's the breakdown of everything I saw that was great for men and fathers:

CES 2011: Best New Gear of the Year - Most Useful - The Road Torq from Eton saves your bacon when you've got a flat tire

CES 2011: Best New Gear of the Year - Coolest Toy - The AR Drone iPod-controlled remote control helicopter.

CES 2011: Best New Gear of the Year - Best Television - The Samsung 8000 Series LED Television

CES 2011: Best New Gear of the Year - Most Innovative - The Razer Switchblade

CES 2011: Best of CES for Guys - And these are the "honorable mentions" of the things I saw at CES that were great, specifically for guys.

Recreating Joy Division Through Playmobil

via www.youtube.com

I knew there was a reason I "Liked" Joy Division on Facebook. Apparently someone took the audio and (visual cues) from a live television performance of one of my favorite bands, Joy Division, and recreated it with stop motion animation using Playmobil toys.

But which toys? Although there isn't a "Joy Division on BBC 2" Playmobil set, the person who made the video cobbled it together from multiple sets. Here's what I could find...

I'm not sure about the figures he used, but he definitely used the guitars from this decidedly heavy metal "Guitar Player" (Playmobil 4512) and the drum sets from both the new and old versions of "Circus Band" (Playmobil 3723 and 4231). He also used the television cameras (and microphone I'm assuming) from this discontinued set "Studio Crew" (Playmobil 3531).

If there was ever any doubt in the awesomeness of Playmobil, then this should settle it I think.

(Yeah, I said "awesomeness".) 

Great iPhone Apps for Kids: Cookie Doodle


Cookie Doodle for the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch is a great app for kids for three big reasons:

  1. It's fairly easy for children 3(-ish) years and older to understand and use without constant help from Mom or Dad.
  2. Instead of a game that rewards with a score or unlocked levels, it encourages simple creativity. The reward is the cool thing you make.
  3. It's $0.99.

Cookie Doodle is an app that lets your kids go through all the steps of making a "virtual" cookie, from rolling out the dough, baking it, decorating it and eating it. Kids can pick from huge lists of types of dough, frosting, and other decorations. The app is also updated constantly for holidays, so right now for instance the app is configured for Valentine's Day cookies. But even if your child can't read yet, the interface is still simple enough to figure out how to use.

My daughters, especially my youngest (4 years old), love this app. Lots of apps for kids take a few minutes of their attention before they get bored, but when they're using Cookie Doodle they probably spend more time on it than any other app. There are so many choices and steps until the cookie is finished, that once they finally complete what they are working on they've already thought of another creation to make.

Trust me. Put it on your iPhone and hand it to them when you get to the restaurant, and before you know it you'll make it to when the food arrives with no drama. That is, unless they're fighting over who's turn it is to make the cookie.

Cookie Doodle by Shoe The Goose is available for $0.99 from the iTunes App Store.

iPhone App of the Week: Momento for iPhone


Let's assume that you're a person in 2011 with a smart phone and a Facebook account (or Twitter, or a blog etc.). You may not know it yet, but you're creating a diary. Walking around, taking pictures of your kids, updating your status, "checking in" to the park or restaurants - all of these things create a digital time-trail of where you've been and what you did. Momento for the iPhone is an ingenious little app that takes all of that stuff and aggregates it into a diary - automatically.

I've never kept a diary, and although a few years ago I tried tweeting all the stuff I did each day (I was inspired by the Twitter account of John Quincy Adams). It lasted all of a day or two. But I do create Facebook status updates fairly regularly, as well as post pictures, check in to Foursquare and blog. Momento takes all of those things and then puts them into a calendar so I can see what I was up to.

Once you give it your information, it will go back and grab as much as each service will provide, in many cases going back and getting months or years worth of stuff. It's really fun to go back and see what you were complaining thinking about a few months ago, or what your kids were up to, or what you thought was important at the time. You can also enter diary entries ("new moments") directly into Momento for those moments you want to keep but don't necessarily want to share with the rest of the world.

Though it will import from nine different services plus RSS/Atom feeds, there are a few other services I'd like to see. I'd love it to aggregate content from my Instagram feed for instance - or go back in time and find my TextAmerica Moblog images. (Is it even possible for anyone get those back?) It's also not optimized for iPad, which is unfortunate because I think it would be really cool optimized for an iPad - especially for viewing photos. An even better feature would be the ability to purchase a printed diary of what you did for an entire year (or other specific time frame). A skeuomorphic "virtual" diary transformed back into a real paper diary would be awesome.

I love this app, not only for what it does but for the possibiilities of what it could deliver in the future. Momento is made by d3i Ltd. and is available for $2.99 in the iOS App Store.

Share the Photos From Your Kid's Camera Instantly


This is such a simple idea, I'm disappointed in myself that I didn't think of it first. I've written about the awesome Eye-Fi memory cards before - the cards that connect to any WiFi hotspot and automatically send the pictures you've taken to wherever you want - Flickr, your home computer - wherever. It's a cool idea (especially for backup) but I never bought one because I like to edit and process my photos before I share them with the world.

So this year Santa brought my oldest daughter (six years old) a camera for Christmas. Not one of those crappy Fisher Price cameras (of which we've had two and one never even worked) but a real point-and-shoot camera from Canon (in pink, of course). I also got her a regular 8GB memory card to go with it. (The bigger card is mostly for the videos, of which she takes a LOT. I blame iCarly.)

Then a couple of days ago I was reading the latest newsletter from Photojojo, which was about how putting an Eye-Fi card into your kid's camera and connecting it to their own Flickr stream

will let them instantly share their images with the world (or your family at the very least). Apparently blogger Jason Kottke is doing this with his three year old son and wrote it up in a blog post that Photojojo found. 

It's a great idea for a few reasons. Being able to instantly share the images, my daughter will be able to get feedback from her family about what she's doing, which I hope will further encourage her to create new images. Selfishly, I'm excited about it because now I won't have to deal with going through, editing and uploading the pictures she takes. People can drop in on her Flickr feed whenever they want to see the things that she is seeing without any involvement from me. Plus, it will all be backed up. Awesome.

A 4GB Eye-Fi card only costs $39.99 on Amazon.com and the 8GB card costs $79.99. The pro version costs $119.99, but it's still 8GB and is really only for people with cameras that primarily shoot RAW (as opposed to JPEG) files.

$40 and I don't have to go through all my kid's photos on a regular basis? That sounds cheap to me.


Related Posts (written by Chris Ford):

CES 2011: A Mobile WiFi Hotspot in Every Camera with Eye Fi [Babble.com]

iPhone App of the Week: ToonPAINT for iPhone


ToonPAINT is the most fun I've had with a photography iPhone app in a long time. It seems like every photo app I download (which, admittedly is a lot) just takes a picture you've taken with your iPhone and turns it into something that looks like you took it with a crappy camera from the 1970s. It was fun for a while, but honestly I'm bored with it. These apps made more sense when the iPhone camera wasn't that great, but now that the camera has been vastly improved in the iPhone 4, there isn't a need anymore to make your photos look even more hip worse.

ToonPAINT on the other hand takes your image and creates

a monochrome line drawing of it, which you can then color-in. The initial image can be adjusted for the edges, black level and gray level, and sometimes you'll just want to stop there. But if you want to color your photo, you can choose colors from a standard color-picker, the colors you've already chosen, or colors from the original image. The whole thing is really well thought out and very easy to use.

Check out some of the pictures I made above - a few are from images that weren't that great as photos, but suddenly become interesting in ToonPAINT. My kids in particular got a big kick out of using the app. They have used a similar app from Lego that turns a picture into a sort of "Lego" image, but the instant cartoon you get with ToonPAINT looks much cooler.

ToonPAINT is $1.99 (a steal!) in the iOS App Store.

Using a DSLR in Disneyland (or Disney World)


A trip to a Disney theme park with the family is one of those occasions when you know you're going to take a lot of photos. If you don't have a camera that can switch out lenses, then just bring your compact point and shoot and count yourself lucky that there's one less thing you'll have to lug around. But if you want to bring your "big" camera with more than one lens, then there are a couple of things to keep in mind when you're considering which lens (or lenses) to bring.

Walking around the park, you're going to face all sorts of photo moments. Sometimes you're going to want to try to get a wide shot of Sleeping Beauty's castle, and sometimes you're going to want a close-up portrait of your kid on the carousel. So a good, versatile zoom lens is the lens that you'll be using the most at the park. I use a Canon 24-70mm, and with the 1.6x crop factor (due to the sensor size on my camera) I get an effective focal length of 38-112mm which covers a great range of shots. You might be tempted to rent something big and crazy like a  70-200mm lens, which might be fun but is kind of overkill. At Disneyland, and Disney World I'm assuming, there aren't that many moments where you are going to want to take a really long shot. And you'll likely find that 70mm isn't nearly wide enough in many situations (I have enough problems at 24mm).

Fast Glass
"Fast Glass" is just a nerdy thing photography people say to describe a lens that has a wide aperture. A wide aperture lets in more light, and more light means the shutter speed can remain "fast" even in low light situations. At Disneyland, this is essential, especially if you're taking pictures of your kids. You're going to take plenty of pictures outside during the day, but you're also going to take plenty of pictures inside (restaurant, rides etc.) not to mention at night. Having a lens that will allow you to avoid using the pop up flash - or bringing an external flash - is awesome. I always bring my favorite Canon 50mm f/1.4 lens, and when we're watching the parade at night or I want to take pictures of my girls in "It's A Small World," the 50mm always delivers.

Other Disney DSLR Things To Consider
Don't bother trying to bring a tripod unless you really want to lug that thing around all day. You can try a beanbag or something like that, but honestly there aren't many places you're going to want to use one. I don't even bother with my Joby Gorillapod - it's just too annoying. If you're concerned about getting pictures of the whole family (including you) avail yourself of the many Disney Photo Pass photographers. They know how to handle your camera - just be smarter than I was and make sure auto focus is turned on.

Get a good camera strap that is comfortable and ditch that strap that came with your camera. Those straps are uncomfortable and all they do is advertise to thieves that you're walking around with an expensive camera. I've used affordable, normal straps from Op/Tech and like them, and now I'm using a shoulder strap from Black Rapid that I really, really love.

Use the smallest camera bag possible, but still bring a bag. I use an older version of this bag from Tamrac. It fits my camera body with my zoom lens attached, and there's enough room at the bottom for my 50mm. I also bought a water bottle attachment for the side, and I ditched the water bottle and use the attachment to hold my drink, my kid's water or whatever else I need to throw in there in a pinch.

Oh, and make sure you bring twice the memory cards you'll think you'll need (on the trip, not necessarily to the park) and a backup battery. Trust me. The real work comes when you get home and have to go through all the pictures you've taken.


RELATED POSTS (from Chris Ford):

Tips for Surviving a Weekend at Disney (with the Kids) [Man of the House.com]

No One Needs Permission to Be Awesome [43 Folders]

"No one wants to die, even people who want to go to Heaven don't want to die to get there. And yet, death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be. Because death is very likely the single best invention of life." - Steve Jobs

via www.43folders.com

As people (especially "pundits" on TV) are talking about Steve Jobs' leave of absence from Apple and how it might affect the company, stock price and the phone you keep in your pocket, Merlin Mann keeps it all in perspective.

It's not about whether or not we're going to die (we all are), it's about living our lives knowing that we are.

Check out the 15 minute Stanford Commencement Address from Steve Jobs (at the beginning of the post) and then read what Merlin has to say.

And ignore everyone else.

Tips For Surviving a Weekend At Disney With Kids


This past December we went to Disneyland for a weekend trip. The holidays are a fun time to go visit "the happiest place on earth", and since we live within driving distance (and our kids are only getting older every day) we figured it was time. It was our third trip, and we're starting to figure out what works and what doesn't work - especially when you bring your kids. If you're interested, check out my latest post on Man of the House - my five tips for surviving a weekend at Disneyland with the kids.

Tips For Surviving a Weekend at Disney (With Kids) [ManOfTheHouse.com]

CES 2011: Star Wars Is Coming to Blu-ray! (and other boring announcements).


This year was my eighth CES, and I have to tell you, I'm getting jaded. Even 30 live Stormtroopers and Darth Vader marching onto a stage wasn't even all that exciting. (Except the executive from Panasonic kept calling him "Lord Vader" which I thought was pretty funny.) The show was jam-packed with people this year (unlike the few previous years) and jam-packed full of stuff (very much like previous years) none of which I cared very much about.

But for my current hometown of Las Vegas, CES 2011 was great. Over 1.6 million square feet of convention space and over 150,000 attendees is definitely a step in the right direction. The economy sucks, but judging by the show maybe things are on an upswing. Maybe.

And no matter what people say (including me), there were some cool things at CES this year. There just wasn't any real innovation. I suppose it's because of the economy companies are dialing down development on the cutting edge and focusing on stuff that works and will sell. It makes sense, but it also makes for kind of a boring CES.

But there were some cool things, and I blogged the hell out of it. Check out all of my posts at Babble.com right here (list of posts below as well). I'm also going to write two articles about it at ManOfTheHouse.com, and when those go up I'll include those too.