Making a Light Tent: Trial by Error

I’ve been busy these past few days, one of the reasons I don’t post much on this blog. What have I been doing?

Needing Photographs

In the effort of building my own product site (click to see the post about that), I realized that I needed very specific photographs for my site, far more so than I had anticipated.

I had originally thought that I would be able to get by using photos purchased from but I didn’t realize that the photos were merely depictions of generic items.

For many of my upcoming review and profile pages, I needed specific products that had been photographed: eg, Columbian Coffee Beans or Instant Coffee Powder or whatever.

It’s okay to use some of the generic pictures available, but if you want to be specific, you just can’t use generic photographs of products: there’s no way you can be sure what is being photographed.

I’m not sure of the legality of using pictures taken from places like Amazon either. Even though I’d be using the pictures to promote Amazon products, I wouldn’t be using them in EXACTLY the way they intended.

While I could use product manufacturer’s pictures without too much of a problem, I guess that part of the problem is that I can’t photograph or portray exactly what I wanted.

So enter the Light Tent


I know it’s not exactly impressive, but I thought I needed to take a first step rather than just sit twisting in the wind! So I did.

The exact instructions are here. I followed them as best I could. But I had to make up the part about the lamps I need. I ended up using 2 x 15W white light CF bulbs in each of the smaller lamps, and a 23W white CF bulb in the top light. There’s also a lot of ambient light from the room lights.

The other part where I had to improvise was the camera: I just used what I had, my Lumix LMC-DX30 which could do small and reasonably close up shots of products. I’m not exactly sure how I will be able to take photos of beans yet. That may require some artistry on my part, esp. if I can’t get a decent close-up.

First sample photographsP1040621

When you start taking photographs, it is merely testing the waters: take a look. Any feedback would be appreciated!

This picture isn’t well cropped, but that’s because I cropped it too closely. I know that. What do you think about the sharpness? The color? The background?

I’m making it up as I go along. I do believe the next few shots will be better but the background seems troublingly gray. I’m not sure why yet. The background is why, so perhaps there’s an overcast of shadow on the back.

Having fun!

Is your site mobi ready?

We’ve been running our new banner for a couple of weeks now, and if you look you’ll see that the URL is different for our school banner than our website. Why? It’s in Chinese!

Today’s post looks at whether your site is mobile ready, and how to do it. The mobile web is beginning the growth phase and could be even bigger a phenomenon than the current web, as the number of mobile units out in the market, many of which are mobile internet ready, is huge!

The results are pretty good, too, if you take a look.


nozkidz Of course, this is fortuitous because it means I can figure out if people are actually seeing the sign in our target area and visiting our site from the URL or not. But the risk is if you are on the street, and you want to check the details before you call, and your site isn’t mobile you’ll likely discourage the visitors because of what they might see.

What do they see when they get there? Well, before they would have seen a busy site in mini-view with lots of places to click, and not suited to the mobile experience at all. But I installed one plugin called WordPress Mobile which …

WordPress Mobile Edition

A mobile/phone/PDA friendly interface for your blog with progressive enhancement for advanced mobile browsers.

This is a combination theme and browser checker that delivers a mobile view if one of the user agents matches the list of mobile browsers. With so many mobiles out there, the list of browsers is quite diverse, but the user experience is great.

Once you install the WordPress Mobile Edition, and activate it, it’s pretty smooth. You can test your site at Ready.Mobi to see if it is compatible.

mobi-ready results

The stats are meaningless without taking a screenshot of the site in mobile view, but that’s a little tricky! Any suggestions how to get a pc to view a Are you a mobi developer? Do you have a mobile site? Do you have a regular site and are you getting it ready for the mobile world?

Living Life on Cloud Nine: Nine Ways to Live ‘in’ the Cloud

My online office: I’m going increasingly cloud based as the pile of hard disks on my desk at school is more redundant. In fact, I was looking at my USB key-ring that held (only 4mb of space) and it was bigger than one of my old hard disks from about 10 years ago! The hard disk still works, too. Wonder if the keyring will work in seven years time.

Nowadays, I use…

Google Docs – for straightforward document creation and sharing. I especially like the spreadsheets options, and the fact I can share stuff easily. I use the standard version AND the hosted version with a domain or two of mine.

USB Key or Flash Drives – I use a lot of apps for the USB key, courtesy of PortableApps. There is stuff for most needs there, including Productivity, Internet, Media, and more. Most of the stuff is open source, and even after so many years, there is no sign that Microsoft has created any portable applications at all. Why would they?

EverNote – I’ve experimented a great deal with EverNote, and I really like the features for note creation, and sharing. I also managed to install the software (from inside the main App) on a keyring and use it without any problems. I think the transfer portions even for the paid version are awfully scrooge like, esp. in these days of 10mb of images (and that’s small).

WordPress – I created a couple of private blogs to host the development of my new sites (the Coffee One and another one to come soon). I find it combined with LiveWriter a great way to write notes, posts, stubs, notes, store research, upload photos I want to use, etc.. If anything, I am finding it much more useful overall than EverNote as it makes everything easily accessible.

To create a private blog, simply install one of the Member plugins that restricts access, turn off the publicity, close the registrations, and voila! One secure, private area.

Flickr – Although I don’t post ALL my photos on Flickr, I find it really easy to share the stuff I want, and to post it to my blog or wherever. It’s not free for unlimited usage. But at $24.95pa, it’s a real steal.

Skydrive – I have 25GB of space from MS courtesy of the LiveSpaces Program. I’ve tried to use it but I find the whole idea of uploading a bunch of stuff from a browser pretty clunky, esp. since I’d like to use it for serious cloud storage (not backup!). But the system isn’t fully mature as copying and pasting files or folders doesn’t really work.

So, I am now using DropBox to help with this. It pretty much works as SkyDrive should. The free space is smaller, but you can upgrade to 100GB of space.

Having your own hosting is also part and parcel of this Cloud computing era, and I run a number of sites that reflect my differing interests. No need to brag here about them all, but it definitely helps with the FTP applications, hosting on your personal domains, and much more.;

Lastly, I spend a lot of time listening to Internet Radio in different formats, esp. I like the Radio?Sure software and XMplayer, both of which work as USB apps or can be installed regularly! (In fact, if you use these a lot, simply copy them to your desktop, run them – all faves saved – and delete them when done.

And, I’ll let you into a secret: I’m beginning to like NOT having to install apps and reboot XP (yes, it still happens) each time I want to use them. I can just copy the folder, and it works! It’s a little slower than running an installed app, but it’s a huge timesaver if you’re testing software.

Now, if I could only figure out how to make money in the cloud… then I could travel the world! Anyone?