Triggertrap Mobile Review: Part 1

I’ve been meaning to write a review up on Triggertrap for quite a while now but a number of things have been getting the way of letting me do it. Part of the reason is the task was quite daunting – Triggertrap is not a simple app or a tool with just one or a few use cases. Rather this combo of app and hardware is so versatile, I feel you could write a book on the many ways and techniques for using it. I’m not exactly up to writing a book on the subject just yet, so I decided that rather than delay any longer, I would break up the review into small, focused bits.

In this first part, I just want to cover one feature of the iOS app – Facial Recognition! But first, let me explain exactly what Triggertrap Mobile is.

In a nutshell, Triggertrap is a cable release for your camera. A very, very fancy cable release with a plethora of applications and use cases. There are two components: (a) an iOS application, which on it’s own is an awesome standalone, must-have app even if you only shoot with your iPhone and nothing else, and (b) a dongle that connects your iPhone to your DSLR camera (there are actually two parts to this – the dongle itself and a standard camera cable). Once connected, you can then use your iPhone to trigger your camera shutter, just like a regular cable release. You can also use it to trigger the shutter based on a huge number of functions, such as audio cues (a clap, whistle, bang, etc), time-lapse, motion detection, facial recognition, vibration, and many, many more. You can use all these functions with your dslr or standalone just using your iPhone camera.

Triggertrap Mobile iOS app
Triggertrap Mobile iOS app screenshot showing a partial list of features, including facial recognition

So – facial recognition. I own a number of iOS camera apps, but none of them offer a facial recognition feature. Triggertrap’s facial recognition feature is flawless; it tracks faces with uncanny precision. The facial recognition module features a slider that lets you set the number of faces to trigger on (1-5). Perfect for setting up a shot where your phone is mounted on a tripod and you want to get yourself and possibly others in the photo.

For more information on Triggertrap Mobile, visit their website and also be sure to download and try the free version of the app!

The only downsides I’ve seen with the Triggertrap system so far:

  • the dongle fits into the headphone jack of the iPhone, but it won’t fit with some iPhone cases, including my favorite, the Vapor Pro from Element Case. In the case of the Element Cases, you need to use a special tool to remove the case. This is a major pain when you’re on the road or on location – I usually don’t carry the tool with me, so if I have the case on the phone at a shoot location I’m stuck with not being able to use the TriggerTrap dongle (this actually happened to me). TriggerTrap could resolve this by improving on the connector pin design so that it’s slimmer and follows the profile of most headphone connector pins better.
  • you need to mount your iPhone onto your tripod along with your camera. This might seem obvious or a minor point, but I think the folks at TriggerTrap could have made a wireless version of there dongle. I would have much preferred this. Then, I could put the phone anywhere, and not necessarily have to mount it on my camera. This might not make sense for things like facial recognition, where you want the phone and camera to have as close a perspective as possible, but for other triggers like sound, vibration, etc. there is a good use case for it. I would like to see them offer a wireless dongle setup, even if it cost more – it might be a nice second option for some.

UPDATE: Triggertrap has a new , slimmer dongle design which solves my above comment.

recording multiple activities in the same day with Garmin Edge

My last couple of rides, I started out taking one of my kids with me for a short distance on the road – basically as far as the respective kid was able to ride.  When I ride with the kid, I take my hybrid Bianchi, and afterward I head out on my own ride.  Afterward, when I download the ride data from the Garmin Edge to the computer, both activities appear as laps in the same activity.  I had wrongly assumed that powering off the Garmin until my second ride would reset it to record a new activity.  Deleting the first lap didn’t help, either, because it takes out the initial piece of my second ride that overlaps with the first ride.  After a bit of googling, I realized I should have just read the owner’s manual.  To record a second activity in the same day, you need to hold down the Lap/Reset button for about three seconds.  Oh well, at least I know that moving forward.

another chase

So on today’s ride, in exactly the same spot as last time, I came up behind another rider. This time it was an elderly gentleman, maybe 50 or sixty years old. I wasn’t as cocky as last time, but still I thought I would try to pass him. As I came up behind him suddenly both my calves cramped up and it felt like they were convulsing. Hadn’t had any issues up to that point. I thought, I wasn’t going to let this stop me, I had already my my mind to pursue the chase. I took the left side of the lane, the car coming up behind us was still far back enough. “on your left” I called out to him and gave him a friendly wave as I passed him. The cramps got worse, but I thought to myself, I’m not going to give it up now and slow down right after I passed him and look like a total moron, jerk, or whatever… so I tried my best to keep the pace and not to look back, either. The car passed and I kept going at full tilt for a good ten minutes, or so it seemed. I ventured a glance back…and there he was, right on my rear wheel! Man, was I keeping him back, annoying the hell out of him by passing him and then going to slow? I picked it up another notch, my calves crying out beneath me in silent agony. I waited what felt like another ten minutes before glancing back again, only to find he was gone. Sheesh…chronicles of a lone rider. I need to try a group ride sometime and see if I can just keep from getting dropped in the first five miles.

The Chase

It was a ride like any other ride, a typical ride on the same twenty mile loop I had been doing all month. I was pretty proud of myself, after a three month hiatus of zero rides, which followed a near twenty-year hiatus of sporadic riding on and off. In college my bike was my car, my legs – I went everywhere on two wheels, even grocery shopping and racing through winter blizzards. There was even a police chase once…but I digress. I had always attributed my ability to spar for hours without getting winded to the great cardio I had from cycling, and inversely my lack of cardio in later years to my lack of cycling.

So anyway, here I was, riding this scenic route for the sixth time this month, and I was near the tail end of the ride. It had been a good ride, or so I thought. Never mind that I hadn’t slept until 2:30 AM, or had gotten up early, all that was forgotten and in the past in the exhilaration of the road racing by beneath my tires.

I came to a four way stop, which I managed not to stop at, and another rider turned left and continued ahead in front of me. It was the same section of road, the exact same climb in which I had passed an elderly lady cyclist on a couple of rides ago. The gap between us narrowed rapidly, as I came up behind him at full speed on the incline. He had a tiny basket at the back of the seat of his road bike, with a couple of bottles in it, one was a neon yellow color and the other was water. A car was also coming up quick behind us. What, a basket? Haha, this was going to be easy.

Should I pass him before the car got to us, or wait on his wheel until it passed? I decided to wait on his wheel and I pumped my legs harder as the slope steepened. He was going to go the way of the old lady, eating my dust right after the car passed us. Or so I presumed.

The gap never closed. As I came up intent to ride in his wake to benefit from him breaking the wind for me, he happened to glance back. Casually, he leaned forward and slid his arms from his handlebars onto his aero bars. Hah! Aero bars…a triathlon bike, I mused. This was going to be so easy.

Then, he didn’t just pull away. It was as though the previous ride was juxtaposed, only this time I was the old lady. The gap just widened and widened. As he easily pulled away, I maddeningly pumped furiously trying to close the gap. It was a futile effort. I gave it everything. My legs screamed, my heart pounded, my head was ready to explode. He never even glanced back again.

Here I was so proud of myself thinking I was riding again. Getting in shape. I recalled my first and last ride several years ago with my friend, Omar Mullick. The brother who rode with actual “real” cyclists, trying to keep up with them to the point that his kidneys bled. We went on a spin starting and ending in College Park, he took it easy and for the most part held back so I could keep up with him, until we hit on particularly huge hill and he let loose briefly. At the time I told myself, it was the bike – I was on my ancient chromoly frame hybrid Bianchi while he was riding the same bike the Postal team raced on. I told myself, if we were both on road bikes, I could keep up with Omar. yes, I could match his pace no problem. I fantasized one day we would do another ride, and this time he would be the one keeping pace with me.

Today though, the hard reality hit me. Now I was on the carbon fiber machine. There were no excuses between me and the pavement. Only blatant failure to keep pace for even a short moment – to get dropped before the pursuit could even materialize. And sadly, I realized, even though this was probably my most earnest effort in my recent adult life, it wasn’t even my best time on this particular course. I will still enjoy every ride to come just as much…but maybe now my head will be a little closer to the pavement.

A quick review of the Lytro light field camera

I’ve had the Lytro camera for a couple of days now, it arrived while I was away at GDC. Having pre-ordered the thing last year when the pre-order was first announced, I was pretty eager to play with it. After a couple of days of shooting with it, though, I am severely underwhelmed. If you’re looking for a more optimistic and perhaps ‘professional’ review of Lytro, you can check out Engadget’s review. While they did mention some of the shortcomings, Engadget seemed pretty caught up in the technology of the thing.

Continue reading “A quick review of the Lytro light field camera”

A new level of Bokeh in film/video…nice application of the Canon 5D MkII

When I first started watching this video, my immediate thought on seeing the head shots of the little girl were,

‘what lens is that?!? It looks like the 50mm 1.2 L series on my 5D, only this is video I’m watching!’ (I might be wrong about the lens, but yeah, that is seriously what went through my head)

Hannah & Leonard
Hannah & Leonard

Sure enough, on the right margin of the web page, it says ‘production tools: Canon 5D MkII, Adobe After Effects’

This has got to change the playing field in the flim industry.

A Fighter’s Heart

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I’m over half-way done reading A Fighter’s Heart: One Man’s Journey Through the World of Fighting by Sam Sheridan, a Harvard grad who decided to try his hand at MMA. I thought I would try to google up the video of his fight in Thailand that was shot by National Geographic, and came across an interview of him on The Daily Show. It was hilarious…

Also found this interview of him, but no luck on the National Geographic Show (A Fighting Chance).

Still no sign of the martial arts video (or any MAX related video, for that matter) from the guys at the Yahoo! Developers Network. No wonder they wanted me to go kick the Google! guys in the head…I guess they realize they can’t compete with them. 😛

Update: Found no way to (nicely) link to my review of the book on LinkedIn, so posting it here:

I found this book insightful and revealing. It also made me realize that I need to be careful when selecting a jujitsu club to train at as injuries seem quite common and depending on the severity and/or type, can hamper an individual for the rest of his life. Sam Sheridan gives a revealing look behind the scenes of boxing, muay thai, brazillian jujitsu and other martial arts, especially from the perspective of what goes on ‘behind the scenes’ in the competitive arena. He illuminates things fans of sports and martial arts don’t always appreciate, like the unfair way boxing matches are arranged, the brutal nature of muay thai and the fact that those who participate in the sport mostly do so from a economically desperate situation.