How To Move From iCloud Photos Library to Google Photos on OS X

Photo embedded from Google Photos library.

I have been using the iCloud Photo Library for quite a few months now.

In an earlier post, despite it’s obvious strengths, I listed some things that bugged me about the service. One of those things was the amount of space used by the Apple Photos app. Even with photo optimization switched on, the iCloud Photo Library was consuming over 4GB of my 16GB iPhone.


After reading up on Google’s Photo app for a while, I much prefer Google’s approach to the client iOS app.

Why? Continue reading

Geek, Music, Recording

Trying Out Apple’s New “Music Memos”

I thought I’d try out Apple’s new iOS app for song writers, called “Music Memos”. I posted a video about it earlier in the week.

The interface and functionality is similar to Voice Memos on iOS, except Music Memos will add accompaniment automatically to your song recordings, in the form of bass and drums.

My initial test was a vocal recording, with no instruments. It was not able to detect tempo properly, nor was the generated bass line anything I could use.

I then grabbed my guitar and used a section of Chris Tomlin’s “At The Cross” to see how it performed. This yielded much better results. The strumming of a guitar seemed to give the app a little more to work with.

In the screenshot above, you’ll notice how it added the chords and detected the time signature. You can toggle drums and bass at the bottom of the screen. There is also the ability to add notes, etc. and tag your ideas for future retrieval.

A number of sharing options are available — Garageband, SoundCloud, Email, etc. I exported the song direct to SoundCloud so I could embed it in this post. You can listen to the results below.

It’s not amazing, but it may be a useful tool to add some body to rough song ideas. If you haven’t got it already, it’s a free download from the Apple App Store.


6 Ways Apple Could Make Their New Photos App and iCloud Library Awesome (for me)

  1. ios7_photos_iconReduce the app footprint. Give me the option of whether all, partial or no photos at all are cached on my iPhone. All my photos should still be available but thumbnails will stream to my phone from iCloud instead. I also use iTunes Match – I can stream all my music without having to download and carry around a percentage of my music library and no-one thought of that when developing Photos? The current all or nothing approach for Photos is forcing me to look at alternative solutions.
  2. Make it faster. The Photos app on my phone is slooooow. This is probably because the phone is trying to work with zero space left (see #1). When I click to attach a photo in iMessage, it can take an age for the photos to initially appear.
  3. Help me get rid of my duplicates! Not Apple’s fault, I know, but please include an intelligent duplicate finder and help me reduce the overall size of my photo library.
  4. Better integration with other iOS apps. Sometimes it can be tricky to pull an iCloud photo into Instagram because it doesn’t appear to be downloaded, even when I’ve clicked on it before loading Instagram. To get around this, I created a ‘scratch’ album which I’ll share images to and then pull them from there, or used copy & paste where supported.
  5. Families share photos! I know I can share selected pictures/albums within family sharing. But I want to be able to automatically give access to all my photos to anyone on my family sharing set-up.
  6. iTunes Syncing. The iTunes sync content bar thingy which tells me the ratio of content types that are on my phone displays 82GB for photos (I have a 16GB phone). On top of that, the tool-tip on that bar is accessible right the way across my screen, well off the edge of the iTunes app.


Family, Geek

Android Woes

android-brokenSo, my son (whom I still love) updated his Samsung S4 to the latest and greatest Android operating system – Nestle Kit Kat 4.2 or something like that. Anyway… now his Wifi won’t switch on anymore. He’s tried the factory reset method, the battery removal method, the task manager / ram cleaning method with no change at all. The WiFi screen will just hang there before eventually timing out.

The only method left that is being suggested is “rooting” the phone with a root kit and deleting the wifi conf file or something.  What the heck?

I need some guidance from my Android friends.

Family, Geek

He’s our son, and we still love him


He’s only 14. Fourteen!

You bring them up as best as you can, teaching them the difference between right and wrong and yet sometimes it’s just not enough. Sooner or later they start to think independently from us as parents.

When Nathan announced it to us both it took me a while to process it, if I’m being completely honest. I mean, I couldn’t even comprehend it initially.  Why? It doesn’t make any sense.  Why our son?

Now that Nathan is at High School, we are having to contend with other influential people in his life. And that, quite frankly, is out of our control. He is growing up fast and I’m sure this is one of the many decisions we will not agree on.

Liz and I talked about it at length with him. It’s definitely not a lifestyle choice we’re happy about, but it’s his decision at the end of the day and it was clear we could not change his mind. We don’t have to like it, but we need to respect his choice and love him unconditionally.

Daddy, I want to buy a Samsung Galaxy S4“, he said.

Just writing that is still difficult for me. I considered asking him to keep it secret, but sooner or later the news would get out. I was probably a little mean about it for a few days and I actually made him pay for the whole phone himself. I still have not come around to allowing him to sync it using my iMac. Baby steps.

I am softening though. I believe we can make this work. It’s a phase. One day he will come back to Apple. I have faith.


Apple Motion – Move The Chains Countdown Video

Building upon lessons learnt in my recent tutorial I recreated the countdown for our current series Move The Chains (because last week’s was terrible).

Instead of exporting it with a green screen background (as I did for the tutorial), I added the series graphic to the background of the project in Motion. Then I played around with a little object animation by adding a football and moving it across the screen at intervals.

The export from Motion was around 6GB. Handbrake compressed it down to 4.4mb. Magic.

Geek, Resources, Workflows

How To Create a 5 Minute Countdown Video with Apple Motion 5 (Easy)


We use countdown videos every week at STORYCHURCH to count down to the beginning of the service. Up until now I had been using some free green screen videos I found online and merging it with our series graphics each time. This has worked well, but had it’s limitations as I was restricted to the font face, size and position of the green screen video counter.

I’ve been thinking about buying Apple Motion 5 for a while and finally picked it up yesterday. With Apple Motion, we can create our very own fully customized countdowns!

It took me a few hours to find the best (and most efficient) way to do a basic countdown. If there’s a better approach, please let me know.

1) Create a Motion project.

Screen Shot 2014-09-14 at 4.44.10 PM

We are creating videos for a projector display with a 4:3 ratio (1024×768). If you are following this tutorial in Motion, you can select the preset type you need, it doesn’t affect the outcome. Adjust the project duration to 5 mins and click Open.

2) Add a Text Generator

Screen Shot 2014-09-14 at 4.44.51 PM

In the library, go to Generators, select a File Generator and drag it into the main project group.

When I began researching how to do this in Motion, I found multiple videos that recommended using a Timecode Generator with a Ramp behavior. I tried that for my first video (in fact we used it this morning at STORYCHURCH), but I wasn’t happy with it as I couldn’t figure out how to format the timecode, and also could not get it to play in reverse properly. In the end, I had to export the video from Motion and run it through iMovie to export it in reverse.

3) Load source file

Screen Shot 2014-09-14-at-4-45-26 PM

I created my source text file in Numbers (any spreadsheet application would work).

Screen Shot 2014-09-14 at 4.48.58 PM

In the spreadsheet, create the first two entries, highlight and drag the yellow triangle thingy through the 300 rows. I then copied and pasted the data into a plain text file and saved it to my desktop. Here is my copy to save you time.

Before arriving at this finished text file I tried a number of different approaches. On my first attempt, I created a file which included hundreds of a second (e.g. 5:00:00). This resulted in a file with 180,000 rows and seemed to work well up until half way through when Motion stopped reading the file. I then tried splitting the file into two and adding two File Generator objects to the project. This created some issues as well (flickering). Finally, I decided to stick to only minutes and seconds and ended up with a file of 300 rows only. Motion had no issues with this at all.

4) Format The Countdown

Screen Shot 2014-09-14 at 4.45.53 PM

Select a style for the countdown from the inspector dialog.

Screen Shot 2014-09-14 at 4.46.36 PM

Since we’re creating this countdown for green screen use, add a green background and ensure you select “solid” for the background property. The green screen color is #00FF00 (Hex), or 0,255,0 (Rgb).

5) Export The Movie!

Screen Shot 2014-09-14 at 4.47.22 PM

The movie came out around 500mb. Using Handbrake, I reduced the filesize to 1.3mb. I use Handbrake for every movie I create for ProPresenter or YouTube.

You now have a countdown movie ready for import into iMovie. I will create another tutorial on that part soon.


Right click on the following links to download.