Category: Technology

2016, Technology

Holiday Real Talk: The Best 2016 Art / Tech Entrepreneur Gift Guide for Him and Her

And by “best” I mean that some of these things I liked so much that I or my husband bought / use.

art-technology-entrepreneur-gift-guide

Most of us have to work a lot and learn several skills in order to keep moving forward in our entrepreneurial careers. My holiday gift guide is aimed at people who love art, technology, have busy lives, and refuse to accept anything less than success that they build themselves. My philosophy is also in buying less items and investing in quality that lasts a long time. This is why many of these items are higher priced investment items.

1. Catalyst Case for iPhone – $69.99

catalystcase_wht_iphone_se_07b_grande

This case is still my favorite case. It’s waterproof, drop proof, and Oni-proof. While this is the only item on this list that was sent to me for free by the company (I always keep it legit with you), I’d have bought it myself if I knew about it before now. Read my full review of the Catalyst case for iPhone over here.

LINK: Catalyst iPhone (or iPad and other stuff) case

2. Travelon Anti-Theft Signature Slim Backpack- $61.99

Travelon Anti-Theft Signature Slim Backpack

I don’t own this but I’m thinking of picking it up because it looks great, is secure, and is hands free. If you know a woman who doesn’t like fiddling with gigantic and unwieldy bags and isn’t obsessed with designer brand names then this may be a good choice. I find that most bags for women seem to be made for poor little lambs who aren’t security minded at all. I can’t for the life of me imagine why anyone would buy a bag that closes with a magnet, yet many women’s bags have this. Those are so easy to pickpocket.

If you think I am being paranoid then you’ve had a more happy life than I have and I envy you. For everyone else this bag is cute enough to go almost anywhere and backpacks are always easier on the shoulder than a gigantic handbag.

LINK: Travelon / ebags

3. UDG Ultimate Backpack Black/Orange inside – €129.95

udg-ultimate-backpack-black-orange-inside

If you are looking for a more guy-oriented bag here you go. I actually got this for Xmas last year from my husband because I am an avid vinyl collector. This guy can fit my vinyl records in it if I’m going on a vinyl hunt and double as a work bag. The only caveat is that it is massive, so I don’t recommend it for NYC subways unless you actually truly need it. I truly do need it for speaking gigs where I have to set up my own tech. so BOOM.

LINK: UDG DJ / Vinyl Backpacks

4. Zella Live-In Leggings – $52.00–$69.00

Nordstrom Exclusive Zella Leggings are not see through, hooray!

I exercise and I go to work a lot. I think it’s kind of bullshit to spend an ass and an arm on leggings if they can only be used for one situation. It’s also bullshit to fall victim to cheap (or expensive) leggings that fall apart or are see through. These extremely thick and durable leggings I wear all the time to go to work under my dresses. It means that I’m super comfortable all day and I can also use these to go biking when I am not at work. They are so thick you can even wear regular underwear underneath without it showing. If you wait until Nordstrom has a sale you can get these for almost half price. If they ever discontinue these I will cry. The rest of the Zella line doesn’t seem to be cut super great for my body type but these fit like a dream.

Sorry guys, I don’t have a Men’s version for this one. Dresses are office shorts in the Summer and dresses are as comfortable as pajamas in winter with this.

LINK: Zella Live-In Leggings

5. SteelSeries Nimbus Wireless Gaming Controller for Apple TV, iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Mac – $49.95

steelseries iphone ipaditouch osx and mac gaming controller

Every busy person needs some down time. In my case I play GTA: Liberty City on my iPad Pro. This controller lets me do that easily.

LINK: SteelSeries Nimbus Wireless Gaming Controller

6. Apple Pencil for iPad Pro – $99.00

Apple Pencil for iPad Pro

Any artist who has an iPad needs this. Why? Because you can turn your iPad Pro into a WACOM CINTIQ-like tablet if you use the AstroPad Drawing Tablet App. I’ll do a review on this in January, but this could actually save someone in need of a drawing tablet with a display monitor some money. I’ve been using this as my primary drawing tablet for a month now.

LINK: Apple Pencil for iPad Pro

7. Aquabee Bee Paper Super Deluxe Sketch Pad, 11-Inch by 14-Inch – $19.70

aquabee bee paper super deluxe sketch pad 11x14

Aquabee is not very well-known but they should be. They have literally the best sketchbooks I have ever tried. You’ll never want to use a shitty brown covered sketchbook from the art store again. The paper is very thick, and double sided with a rough and smooth side. It’s also able to accept wet media. For artists like me who couldn’t afford to finish art school and supplies in college and never learned what paper goes with what media – this just makes it easy because it does it all.

LINK: Aquabee Sketchbook

8. ThinkGeek Star Wars BB-8 Motion Car Charger

Star Wars BB-8 Motion Car Charger

This cute little car charger makes sounds and moves as you charge your phone. It may not be the most useful thing in the world but there’s no law that says we can’t have a sense of humor.

LINK: Star Wars BB-8 car charger

9. Otamatone from Maywa Denki – $25.99

Japanese Otamatone by Maywa Denki

Speaking of sense of humor, I am not even going to describe this thing. Just watch this video.

Oh man I need this. My husband is not in agreement.

LINK: Japanese Otamatone from Maywa Denki

And there you have it – my 2016 holiday gift guide. If you have something art or tech that you think my readers should know about, please email me via the top nav bar and let me know!

Oni's Life, Technology, Vinyl Quest

New job, new Sony RX100 IV camera, collecting vinyl, more mayhem!

I’m back!

trail-hike-lol

Well, I never exactly left. I’ve been posting here, posting daily on Facebook, and working hard on Intervention and (Re)Generation Who, but as I said in my previous post my iPhone camera was no longer doing the job. It made it hard to get good photographs of anything so it detracted from my ability to really show you things and write about them.

I just left a contract that was about to expire and took a huge promotion. My present for this new chapter in my career was a Sony RX100 IV digital camera so that I could more easily bring you better images of whats going on in my adventures. The photo in this post was just a quick snap with it over this past weekend.

I’ll post a personal update and a review of this camera as soon as I use it a bit more. So far it’s FABULOUS. It transfers images right to my iPhone via wifi so that I can put them on social media without any fuss.

What else is new? Oh yes! For anyone following me on Facebook, you already know that I am studying metal guitar and I am an avid vinyl collector. Music has always been a huge thing for me, I just never had the opportunity to do much with it until now.

Records, kids. RECORDS.

I buy a lot of records and play them on my Numark turntable and listen on Infinity speakers.

You’ll be hearing a lot about this since here because when I am not reviewing haunted houses I am on a Vinyl Quest and having other bizarre adventures these days while I seek out cool stuff that doesn’t suck. I have a srs bznzz mission statement which you may have noticed in the new graphic up top, “CEO your life so it doesn’t suck. Geek out. Make art. Rock on.”

I basically believe in being the best at what I do and using that so that I can have as much fun finding weird shit as possible. I’ll be sharing that (as well as tips on how you can do some of the cool stuff that I do) here. I’m also teaching Marketing for bloggers and indie creatives at Intervention this August in MD, so get your butt to that if you’d like to learn some game-changing advice that you can apply to anything-even your day job career. Unlike a lot of people on the internet, I give it to you straight and will not set you up with unrealistic and unachievable expectations. I believe only in results.

In the meantime, I have about 8 blog posts that I need to start writing. :)

2015, Geeky, Technology

Tech Review: Lifeproof iPhone Cases are great but there’s some disappointing issues

EDIT: The more I use this case the less I like it. I cannot recommend this case to you any longer. Read updated review here.

After I shattered the screen on my iPhone 5s for the second time it became clear that I needed to get a case for my iPhone. I travel a lot and use my iPhone to produce 95% of everything you see from me online. I am even writing this post on my iPhone.

My use case is more extreme than most. Not only am I a heavy iPhone user and a klutz, but I have a severe chronic pain condition. This feels slightly better in hot water and humidity. I tend to lock myself in the bathroom with the hot water on for hours, especially over the shitty New Jersey winter. I call this an Asshole Sauna. Why?

Because New Jersey winter.

I take my phone with me during that time so I needed a waterproof case. The Lifeproof case fit the bill. I also liked that the Lifeproof is thinner than the Otterbox I used to own. I had an Otterbox for my iPhone 4 and found that it no longer fit into many small bags and compartments made for phones. I also didn’t like the “sticky” rubber exterior it had and it was not waterproof.

lifeproof case iphone 5

So how is the Lifeproof case? Pretty good, actually. The Lifeproof case does what is says it does. It protects your phone. However for my particular use case I found some significant negatives.

Pros:

Full Protection from Damage: It absolutely does protects your phone from impact and moisture. I’ve abused my phone badly (dropping it, subjecting it to intense humidity) and had no damage to it.

Full Functionality of Fingerprint Unlock: It supports using your fingerprint to unlock your phone. That was unexpected and a great feature.

Form Factor: It’s thin and still fits into all of my purses and related phone compartments.

Easy to use: It was pretty easy to put the case on my phone. You wouldn’t want to take it off and on all the time but it was a damn sight better than some of the shit that I’ve used back in the day for Palm and Pocket PC.

Unfortunately the Lifeproof falls short in 2 key areas that are making me discontinue using it. It prevents me from using my camera and my headphones to their full functionality.

Cons:

Obstructing the camera: No matter how meticulous I am when cleaning and installing the case I detect a decrease in photo quality. As a travel blogger this is a big negative. The iPhone is already not the world’s best camera. That hit to its quality is enough to get me to not want to use it. It reminds me of my old iPhone camera without the case when I had slightly water damaged my lens.

I can honestly say to you that the reason my posts have been lighter here is because I can’t bring myself to post more marginally foggy/blurry photos. I’m buying a separate point and shoot camera with Wifi/Bluetooth image transfer to iPhone to get around this permanently.

The headphone jack is THE god damn WORST: This is my major gripe with it. This impacts the main functionality of the phone – to make and receive calls. You can say goodbye to using your headphones to talk to anyone on your phone if you get a Lifeproof. The headphone jack has to be unscrewed and you have to screw in a very easy-to-lose cable every time you want to connect your headphones.

This wouldn’t be a big deal if the damn thing connected properly. Every time I screwed it in and began a call there was an 80% chance that the person on the other end of the phone would be unable to hear me but I would be able to hear them. It didn’t matter how tightly it was screwed in. That was super embarrassing when I was speaking to a CEO or a corporate sponsor on business.

I was able to listen to music for a time with no issue aside from the slightly annoying extra bit of work connecting the cables. I insist on listening to music when I drive. Every time I got into my car I’d have to find this cable in my purse, screw it in, and then connect my audio cable before I could drive away listening to some kick ass metal. This is fine but the cable quickly became damaged and crackly like some dollar store headphones I got in the 90s.

It’s a pain in the ass to attach this cable if you are just going into a store and coming back outside so your impulse is to leave the cable attached to your case and put the phone in your bag for easy reconnection later. Unfortunately I found it doesn’t take much to damage the cable. This was very disappointing considering the case itself is absolutely amazing.

Conclusion:

I love my Lifeproof iPhone case. It’s truly an amazing case but there are some deal-breaker (to me) negatives involving the camera and the headphone connector cable. I could probably throw the phone into a volcano of farting T-Rex and it would still survive thanks to this amazing case. It’s slim and it fits almost everywhere your current iPhone will without issue. If protection from damage is your main goal and you don’t care about using the camera or headphones jack much this is the case for you.

I hope they come up with a better solution than this for the camera and the headphones. I’ll be abandoning my Lifeproof as soon as I find a better alternative. The fact that my headphone cable is damaged may make me abandon it sooner. I can’t live without music in my car and I’m not interested in buying a replacement cable since it never allowed me to fully use the headphones to begin with. Some small adjustments would make this the ultimate iPhone case and the only case anyone would ever need for anything. Even farting T-Rex.

2014, General, Reviews, Technology, Tutorials & Tips

WACOM Creative Stylus for iPad review from an artist’s perspective (works on iPad mini, iPad 3, or greater)

I only have an iPad 2, so thanks to my friend Amber for letting me borrow her iPad 3 for this. WACOM was kind enough to send me this to review. So – let’s check it out!

The WACOM Creative Stylus is a pressure-sensitive stylus that can be used to make art on your iPad mini, iPad 3, or greater. It works with many drawing apps for the iPad such as Sketchbook Pro and the Bamboo Paper. You can see the full list of apps that support the stylus at WACOM’s site. I tested the WACOM Creative Stylus on Sketchbook Pro and the Bamboo Paper because that’s what I personally have.

The stylus comes in a sturdy plastic case that can hold up to 5 nibs, the stylus, and one battery. 2 nibs are included so there is room for more in the case. Here is the size of the stylus when compared with a pen:

The packaging feels fancy – it is as if you are opening an Apple product. The stylus itself feels like a high quality stylus when you are using it. It has the usual 2 buttons on the side of the stylus. The behavior of these buttons depends on the app that you are using and how you configure it. These are most often used to trigger an eraser or to undo in the case of the iPad.

Pair the stylus by: Enabling Bluetooth on your iPad > launching your app of choice > turning on the pen in the app’s menu. Again, this location varies per app, so there are videos to show you how to do each one.. Honestly it was extremely easy to figure out without even looking at how to do it. I actually confused myself because I got it working so fast. Since I have always been an early adopter of technology I am used to the old days where pairing something via bluetooth was a repetitive circle of pain. In this case it was as easy as turning on a switch.

Reviewing the stylus itself it tough because how it works largely depends on which app you are working with. The iPad’s hardware was never designed by Apple for artists. Yes, Apple has a reputation for being the company that makes things for artists. In recent years they really just aren’t. I bought an iPad 1 and 2 hoping that Apple would delve further into the creative capabilities of this device. The reason I don’t own a 3 is because Apple doesn’t appear to be interested in doing this.

All iPad pressure-sensitive styli work through a software workaround to achieve this without any support from Apple’s native hardware. You are never going to get a CINTIQ-level experience on an iPad because of the iPad.

The WACOM Creative Stylus nib is a squishy rubber thing. It also helps simulate using a real pen because it “gives” a little bit when you press.

M

Here is a 30 second pen sketch I did of an eyeball in Sketchbook Pro on iPad. The pen worked well, I just find the iPad to be cumbersome to work on. I’m used to working on an iMac with an Intuous 4, hence the overly loose way this looks.

Pros:
– Comes in a nice package with a sturdy plastic case that can hold up to 5 nibs. It feels almost like an Apple product with how nicely it is packaged.
– Comes with 2 extra nibs.
– Easy to set up.
– Pressure sensitivity is the best you are going to get on an iPad.
– Stylus feels nice when using it and the buttons are very responsive.

Cons:
– You will have to replace the battery in the pen from time to time and take the battery out between usages, but the case accommodates this well.
– Some people may or may not like the rubber tip.

Conclusion:

At a price point of $99.95 WACOM’s Creative Stylus does a great job at overcoming the iPad’s hardware limitations and delivering a great product. My issues all have to do with the iPad and not the WACOM’s Creative Stylus. I have always found the iPad to be hard to use and imprecise when drawing regardless of if I am using my finger or a stylus. WACOM’s Creative Stylus is the absolute best iPad Stylus I have tried. It does exactly what it says it does, is packaged nicely in a case that is useful, and it is easy to set up each time such that even my cranky self didn’t feel any sort of frustration. I was able to get it working without even reading the manual.

Should you get it?

If you are an artist and want to draw on your iPad at all and if you want to use these apps the WACOM Creative Stylus is a great choice. It’s a highly rated product everywhere for good reason. If I owned an iPad 3 I would devote some time into getting the technique down. I feel that this would work very well for thumbnailing my comics in meetings and being able to quickly import that into Photoshop for production.