Friday, January 06, 2012

Snapbucket (testing)

I have a new "toy". Or maybe I should call it a mixture of toy and useful gadget. My old cell phone died just before the holidays and I sat down with the corpse in my hands and had a long think. I have always preferred single-task devices over multi-gadgets - that is, I prefer dedicated tools that perform one particular function really well, rather than multi-tasking gadgets with bells and whistles that do several things but none of them well. I have never bought a TV-video or TV-DVD player combo, never owned a camerahone, never even considered a washer-dryer. The only extras I have ever found remotely useful in my cell phones have been the various chronometric functions (alarm, reminder, countdown, stopwatch) and occasionally the calculator.

However, at some point one has to make an exception to such a rule. I travel a lot, both locally and abroad, or maybe it would be more correct to say that when I travel, I really travel. Although I might enjoy a short city trip, I much prefer road trips of three weeks and upwards, and have plans to visit places where having a navigation system would save a lot of hassles. I had therefore decided to start saving up for a GPS navigation device. Having seen ads for smartphones with GPS navigation and maps installed, I took a closer look, and realised that maybe, for once, having a multi-function gadget wasn't so bad. After all, what is a smartphone, really, other than a miniature computer you can make phone calls from? It was certainly considerably cheaper to buy a smartphone with GPS rather than a regular cell phone and a GPS device. (I realise, of course, that a GPS device is better at navigating than a smartphone, but the GPS function on the phone is good enough for me to begin with).

 So off I went, checked what was available, read the reviews and decided what I wanted. I ended up with a Samsung Galaxy Mini smartphone, and have been getting to know it. Already I can see that I can eliminate from my handbag the book I always carry around to read, my notebook, the spirit level, shopping lists, book wishlist, and small camera, and possibly even the flashlight (although I still need to test that particular app). I have downloaded several apps, including a shopping list/pantry management app that is going to make it very easy to locate my shopping list and book list when I lose them - all I have to do is make a phone call and listen for the ring.

After downloading and testing a couple of camera apps (and discovering that the one I most covet doesn't work with the phone), I ended up installing Snapbucket. I am still learning to use it, but I think it has potential. It doesn't seem to have a sharpening function, which is a pity since the phone camera is a fixed focus device and I still haven't quite gotten the hang of how far from the subject it needs to be for good focus, but so far it hasn't crashed the phone and seems to be fairly quick and the first upload worked seamlessly.

On the left is the first uploaded image. It's out of focus but the effects look okay (bronze tint filter, large black vignette, grunge white frame).

Apparently, the more you use it, the more effects will become available, so there is an incentive to use it. For me - with my big, advanced camera and software like GIMP, Photoshop and Photomatix at my fingertips - it will never be more than a toy, but for some situations a toy camera is all you need. I plan to continue to test camera apps and will post about them when I have explored their possibilities.

Now if only the Blogger app functioned with this phone...

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