My DIY iPhone Digital Photo Frame

I like digital photo frames, especially the DIY bunch.  Why buy one when you can make one way cooler - on the cheap?

I am still working on turning my old iBook into one, but with my limited experience of Linux and it's command line interface, it's taking longer than I thought.

iPhone Frame
iPhone Frame

Previous to the GameBoy DSi announcement, I contemplated turning my SP into a digital frame as well.  But the SP is the last gameboy to play original Gameboy games and advance Gameboy games, so that guy is staying in one piece.

While I finish getting the software ready on the iBook, I thought about converting a small frame into a fancy dock for my iPhone.  I was playing a slideshow of Izzy's antics to Ciri earlier this week on my iPhone when the idea came to me.

As with the iBook, before taking anything apart, I needed to make sure the software would cooperate.  Luckily, the app store has a few choices when it comes to slideshow applications.

The frame itself is pretty straight forward, and cheap.  All I needed was:

  • iPhone (or Touch) with PhotoFrame application - there's a few choices, but PhotoFrame is free 😀
  • cardboard (after a trip to Ikea, we have tons)
  • school glue
  • an unused frame
  • paint (if you want to paint it)
  • small amount of matting (but I guess you could use construction paper, too)
  • a few screws (to screw the back part down, duh.)
  • a handy box cutter (a cutting mat would help too, or a lot of scrap cardboard)
  • and of course, a screwdriver (a drill is funner, though.)

The first step was to cut the matting to size.  Remember to measure twice and stuff.

iPhone pocket and matting
iPhone pocket and matting

The frame I used was a little deep, so I laid some slices of cardboard below the mat.  This way, the mat would get pressed against the glass instead of wiggling around.  Then, I cut more slices of card board in a sort of L shape to fit around the phone.  Next, I glued it all together, making sure that the slices were aligned.

While the glue dried, I took the frame into the garage and gave it a good coat of spray paint.  I wanted to use a black paint to bring out the image, but all I had on hand was primer gray and a hammered finished metallic paint.  I didn't feel like packing up the kid and drive to Lowe's, so I used the hammered finish stuff.  Anyway, one good coat, then another a few hours later.  It was dry by the next day and looked pretty good.

The "pocket" should be ready by the next day, too.  Although, the glue I used constricted the cardboard a bit after it dried - I should have left something inside the pocket to push against the cardboard.  Oh well.

I aligned the pocket into the frame and screwed it down with the wood screws, and viola!  iPhone Frame!  Just be careful not to drive the screws all the way through. DOH!  Yea, I thought the screws weren't long enough, but they were. >:(

The app on the iPhone will download 10 pictures to the phone (I think it's 10) and then loop between them.  You can set it so it displays photos from either the public photostream or your photostream.  There's other software on the app store that have more options, but most of them aren't free (some are just a buck, that's not too bad. 😛  ) and many don't support Flickr.

A future upgrade will be to create some sort of ejecting mechanism for it.  As it is, I have to turn the frame upside down or pull on the cord to get it out.  In the near future, I'm going to drill some holes in the back for ventilation - it gets a little warm when connected.

It's also not very convenient when the phone rings (a bluetooth headset would solve this problem.), but it still looks really cool on my shelf.


My creativity and with Adam Savage

I am at odds with my creativity on pretty much a daily basis. Growing up I would have spurts of creativity, like I said before it comes in waves. As a child, these waves of creativity would garner "oohs" and "aahs" from my parents and the rest of my family. I think this left me with a horrible complex of meeting these high expectations. I live in a constant fear that I am not that creative, or worse, not creative at ALL. I see other people devising creative solutions to problems that I feel are almost acts of genius. The more I meet more of these truly creative people, the more intense my fear becomes.

Here's the thing, though, one creative solution is not better or worse than another, only different. I've slowly come to this realization and grown more and more comfortable with whatever creative endeavors I take. I also realized that in order to genuinely be a good creative, I must possess many skills of self expression. Painting, drawing, writing, photography, and music are just a few subjects that I feel all creatives should have at least some experience with.

Above all, any creative should have an obsession. That's something I've always known and believed. I felt I had so many, that it was hard to focus my thoughts until I finally narrowed down the selection. So, with this confirmed obsession, I've gone out and searched for inspiration. I've found tons of podcasts and blogs that write about design, games, and more. But one place that stands above the rest is - nothing beats listening to the big innovators of the world talk about the calmness you get when you've created something.

The most recent talk I've seen that really stands out was given by Adam Savage from Mythbusters. Mythbusters is the only TV show that left me with an ache in my heart when I canceled our satellite service - it is the only show that I consider "must watch." I like other programs, but shows like Heroes or CSI don't really do it for me like Mythbusters does. So when I saw that Adam Savage was on, I gave it every ounce of attention I could muster after days of building Ikea furniture.

I bring up my battle with creativity and self-esteem because I felt the lesson I learned was relevant after watching the video. Listening to Adam's creative process and his obsessions are exactly what goes on in my head, only he doesn't have the fear. I previously felt unsure about my own creative process, but after listening to an established and famous creative's rant, I now feel more comfortable in the way I create or find reasons to create.

The past few weeks have gone well, so much that I actually feel good about having so many projects on my table. Before I felt like I was spreading myself between too many different thoughts. Now, I feel like all my projects are just that, projects. Fun and creative vents. I'm still learning to ration my time, but I still feel real good on how things are going.

So, watch the video and enjoy it. Adam Savage is definitely one of my favorite artists/creatives and has been for a long time. He doesn't disappoint and I don't think you have to be in the predicament I was in to appreciate the video.


Why I Like to Chop Onions

I made lasagna for dinner today, turkey and cheese, mm-mmm.  I used a recipe off of the app for iPhone.  It turned out to be the best meat lasagna I've ever eaten.

Flickr User: adulau
Flickr User: adulau

While I was chopping some onions, I came to the realization that I actually enjoy chopping onions. It's like one of those tasks that are so arduous and annoying, but in the end, very satisfying. It's like an affirmation of our superiority on this planet.  Or, think of it as a battle, a battle with bayonets, chemical warfare, death, and the devouring of your enemies. (Ok, just follow me with this.  I have a point. Promise.)

See, onions didn't always emit noxious fumes that, when collected in your eyes, incapacitate you.  I'm sure at one point onions were docile little root-balls, tasty, but docile.  (I have no real evidence of this, I'm just sayin'.)  Then through generations of evolution, they developed a very effective defense system that is present in today's onion.  Humans have yet to develop an immunity to this defensive tactic.  But we do have one thing the onion doesn't: resolve.

So there I am, chopping the seemingly defenseless onion to bits.  It's ultimate fate?  Sauteed with a pound of ground turkey. It is knife versus wussy onion skin.  Then my eyes begin to water - the fight has gone from hand-to-hand combat to chemical warfare.  If I wipe the tears, the chemical just waits for more tears and continues its attack. The easiest counter to the onions defenses is to wear those awesome onion goggles - but c'mon where is the victory in that?  Personally, I chose to just stick it out.  Cut a few times, then dab the tears with my sleeve.  Repeat until completely chopped.

There's something to be said about people that don't take short cuts, that just "suck it up" and continue forward.  I'm not saying people that use the onion goggles are lesser humans, but the victory is sweeter without them.  In short, chopping onions is proof of, not only our superiority, but our unlimited strength and ingenuity.

I now realize that I need to have some background noise going on while I cook.  Nevertheless, my point has been made and I still feel it is valid.  Now, go fight the onion horde, comrade, and hold your head high.