I’m on a bus

My baby takes the morning train

Well, I’m on a long ride from Champaign to St. Louis and this Greyhound bus has WiFi so I might as well use it. I spent a few days back in the office this week for the annual Wolfram Technology Conference. Mathematica 8 was officially announced and will be released next month. I actually did put a fair amount of work into this release before I refocused my efforts on mobile products a year ago. Of course, I’m having trouble remembering what my contributions to Mathematica 8 were since I’ve been so consumed by other projects for so long. The conference went fairly well though, and I even had a few productive days of work while I was there.

Benched

I spent the first night at our old house (which hasn’t sold yet, anybody interested?) before staying the next two nights with Cara, John, and Ashlynn at my previous house. I can’t seem to ever move away!

In addition to friends and coworkers I also made it to a Second Wind Fun Run and even saw one of my cycling friends randomly on the street as I was riding my scooter from the bus station to work on Tuesday. After spending so much time alone, or with just Team Ragfield, it was really great to see everyone again.

Rear view

Robot 1-X

Six weeks ago Apple announced the iPad, a portable touch screen computer. It runs the same operating system and application software as the tremendously successful iPhone and iPod Touch devices, but it has a larger screen and faster processor. A lot of geeks panned it as just a big iPod Touch. Sure, an iPad is just a big iPod Touch in the same way a swimming pool is just a big bathtub.

The geeks didn’t get it. I got it, but that’s because I had actually used one. This device doesn’t do everything a geek would want to do with a computer, but it does everything a non-geek would want to do on a computer. And it does so in an easily understandable way, without software installation/configuration headaches, viruses, malware, etc. In other words, it’s not targeted at the geeks, it’s targeted at everyone except the geeks.

I love my new toy

Work has been ridiculously busy the last six weeks. I’ve been laboring, around the clock at times, to enhance my company’s iPhone app (WolframAlpha) to work as well as possible on an iPad. About halfway through that time we hired another employee to help with this project (and future projects). It was a little slow at first, as I had to spend some valuable time actually training the new guy. By the end he was working productively and actually made significant contributions to the project. We ended up with an app that works pretty well.

WolframAlpha on iPad

When the app was initially launched last October it was priced at a premium, $50. I only found out about this price literally minutes before the app went on sale. I was a bit upset. I figured nobody would buy it and all my hard work would have been wasted. I was wrong. It sold remarkably well (close to 10,000 copies), which completely blew away my meager expectations. It was a lot, and the company made money on the app, but the app wasn’t serving the exact purpose they wanted.

A few days ago the company announced a radical shift in the direction of the project. Instead of making money on the app directly they wanted to get more people using the service. Presumably they’re making money somewhere else. I don’t know about these things, I just write the code. Anyway, as of a few days ago the new price of the app is $2. It runs on both iPhones and iPads. Within hours of the announcement (humorously made on April 1st), the WolframAlpha iPhone app became the top selling application in the entire iTunes app store. A few hours later it became the top grossing app (total money earned) in the iTunes app store. It stayed at the top of the charts for a couple days. As of right now it’s still near the top, at #12. In other words, the response has been incredible.

On top of the tremendous success of the WolframAlpha app, I was somewhat involved in another side project. My boss, Theodore Gray, collects chemical element samples, photographs them, and writes books about them. Theo saw the potential of the iPad as the killer electronic book platform and put a huge effort into making a really amazing eBook: The Elements. The text and photos are largely the same as the printed edition of the book, but the images are not static, they are interactive, animated, and rotatable with the touch of a finger. It’s hard to describe, you really just have to see it.

Anyway, in addition to giving advice and answering technical questions, I worked to create an embedded version of the WolframAlpha app that pops up from within The Elements app.

It would be nice if that was the end of the story, but there is still much work to do, features to add, problems to fix. Hopefully the hours will be a little more sensible for the foreseeable future.

Robot 1-X is a character from Futurama. It is the new model of robot that immediately made all other robots obsolete.

Getting things done

Stuff sure takes longer than it used to. I used to be be able to get things done in a timely fashion, but frequent interruptions are making that a little more difficult. I’m still not exactly sure how Melissa finished her dissertation with Will in the house. She’s pretty hardcore.

Will doesn’t like to sit still. If I’m trying to work on the computer while holding him I generally can’t sit at the computer for more than 30 seconds before he becomes agitated. Then this morning, out of nowhere, he actually fell asleep while I was working. It was wonderful. I got a solid hour of uninterrupted computer work done. Sure, I had to do it one handed, but whatever.

It was cute until he started screaming

Then after he woke up I was able to get him to sit in his Bumbo seat for a while. He didn’t like it so much on the ground, but up on the desk it was okay for a few minutes. He was quite adorable until he started screaming. Then, like that, it was over.

The iPhone App

App

You may recall that I was slightly busy from shortly before Will was born until early October. Well, my big project was finally released yesterday. The Wolfram|Alpha iPhone application is now available in the iTunes app store.

The app has generated quite a lot of buzz over the past 24 hours, mostly because the price is significantly greater than the vast majority of iPhone applications. While I was intimately involved in the development of the application, I am completely in the dark about the business and marketing side of the product. On the bright side, most of the reviews speak relatively highly of the app itself, even though many are quite critical of the price.

Since I work primarily on Mathematica, I’ve been fairly uninvolved with the Wolfram|Alpha project prior to this iPhone app. I’m still not an expert on innards of Wolfram|Alpha but I do understand the big picture a little better than I did before.

1.0.0

If you’ve never used Wolfram|Alpha before, go ahead and give it a try on the website. It’s kind of hard to describe what it does, simply because it’s not like any other application you’ve ever used before. Despite certain visual similarities to web search engines like Google or Yahoo, Wolfram|Alpha is not a search engine. It doesn’t find web pages that might be related to your query, it computes factual answers to your query (except when it doesn’t).

Typically this means your query must be constructed in a slightly different way (perhaps using slightly different language) than you would use for a search engine. It’s worth taking the time to experiment to see what works and what doesn’t work. Perhaps my best description of Wolfram|Alpha is that it is a combination of a calculator and an encyclopedia.

The iPhone app features optimized input and output for the interesting and useful Wolfram|Alpha computation engine.

W|A knows all sorts of interesting facts. For instance, Robert was a more popular given name than William in the U.S. for most of the 20th century (though William recently overtook Robert… a sign of things to come?).

The app provides a number of ways to share the interesting results you find. Click the “share” button in the upper-right corner, or press and hold on a result.

The app also has numerous built-in examples to help you get started.

It also contains a complete history of all your queries.

Many of the computations have parameters that can be fine tuned for more precise results.

So there you have it. The app was a lot of fun to write, even if the release schedule was a bit hectic. The next version should be even better.

Late night coding

The Silence

It’s been a little quiet around here lately at My Name is Rob. In real life things have been anything but quiet. Nearly all my time at home has been occupied by our little bundle of joy, Will (now six weeks old).

Six weeks

On top of that I’ve been busier at work than I’ve ever been before. I am in the middle of seven projects at the moment (up from the usual two or three), one of which has completely monopolized my time for a month or so. The other six haven’t gone away, they’ll still be waiting for me when I finish this one. Needless to say, things have been pretty tense lately. It’s no wonder Will has been able to post way more to his blog than I have to mine.

As I write, I am putting off packing for my weekend trip to Chicago for a software development conference. I really should get back to that.

Oh, and what’s the deal with the damn soy aphids?

Muggy and buggy night

The P6000

Last November I was very happy with my Canon 50D purchase. Melissa was a little stunned and confused when I started toying around with the idea of getting another new camera. I was taking more and more photos I wanted a little point and shoot camera I could take with me everywhere. I shopped around a lot and eventually settled on the Nikon P6000.

Has it lived up to my expectations?

Yes.

And no.

Nikon P6000

Let’s start with the pros. The P6000 is smaller and more portable than my than my DSLR, so I was able to take it with me more often than the 50D. The quality of photos is excellent. It’s not DSLR quality, but it’s better than any other point and shoot camera I’ve used.

Like DSLRs, it can shoot in RAW format, which I have used with this camera exclusively. This allows for better control when making adjustments (things like exposure, brightness, etc) on the computer after the fact.

It has built-in GPS. This was a big feature for me. It automatically embeds latitude/longitude when a photo is captured so I can later find the exact location where the photo was taken. This is the first mainstream consumer camera to have this feature, though it won’t be the last. This is such a wonderful feature it will only take a few years until cameras have it.

It has a built-in time lapse mode. Again, this is another feature so fantastic all cameras will come with it in the future. In fact, how is this not standard already?

Nikon P6000

Now on to the cons. It’s big. Well, it’s all relative I suppose. The primary reason I got this camera was I thought it would be small and I could take it with me everywhere. It’s somewhat small, but not small enough to take everywhere. It easily fits in a jacket pocket, but not as well in pants/shorts pocket. It also has enough weight to it that it pulls on the pocket noticeably. For most people this wouldn’t be a problem, but I was riding my bike with it every day and it just wasn’t ideal.

Next, GPS. Wait, didn’t I list that under the pros section? Yes. For you see, this is a wonderful feature, but the GPS in this particular camera doesn’t work as well as it should. Even with a perfectly clear, unobstructed view of the sky it takes a very long time to acquire a fix on the GPS satellites — at least a minute or so. That means even in perfect conditions for GPS you can’t just take the camera out, turn it on, snap a photo, and have GPS data embedded. The only way to get the GPS data is to take the camera out and turn it on well ahead of time, wait, wait, snap a photo, leave the camera on (because you don’t want to have to wait around again next time). I got it working sometimes, but it was a hassle. Next, when conditions were not ideal (i.e. obstructed view of sky, like in a forest) the GPS didn’t work at all. I tried several times in the forest and could not get signal no matter how long I waited. Grrrrrr.

The camera has a built-in ethernet jack. It works… so why is this a con? Because it’s a completely useless feature. Practically speaking it can only be used when your computer is nearby (in which case you could just as easily plug it into the computer). If it had wireless, rather than wired, networking perhaps someone might actually use it.

Finally, the battery life is quite poor (by my standards). This is probably mostly due to the GPS. When I was using this camera every day I had to charge it every other day, even with light use (only a couple photos per day).

These things said, it’s still a good camera… but I no longer use it. I have since purchased a smaller, lighter, (waterproof even) point and shoot camera which does not have GPS or take quite as good photos as the P6000… but I truly can take it with me everywhere.

This camera just wasn’t right for me. It could be right for other people though. If you want a high quality point and shoot camera, and you’re not concerned with ultimate mobility, and you accept the fact that the GPS is a nice bonus for the camera rather than a true selling point, I would have no problem recommending this camera. Anyone want to buy mine?

Anyway, here’s a few of my favorites from this camera:

Commute

Moon over Memorial Stadium

Red arrows mark the trail

Greenhouse

The lonliest cart

Puddle

Rob & Melissa say goodbye to Iris

The iPhone

The original iPhone was announced at Macworld Expo in January 2007 while Melissa & I were living in Nicaragua. It was amazing, a phone that ran the same beautiful, wonderful operating system as my desktop and laptop computers. The crowd at the Macworld keynote was disappointed the device wouldn’t be available until June. No matter, I wouldn’t return to the U.S. until August.

I ordered my iPhone in July and had it shipped to my parents’ house so it would be waiting for me upon our return. Around the same time I also ordered a new (non-i) phone for Melissa. We arrived at my parents’ house on a Sunday evening. The iPhone was there, in all it’s glory, but I couldn’t actually use it yet. Apparently, because of the way I set up our account with AT&T, I needed to activate Melissa’s phone first. This required talking to AT&T customer service, which wasn’t open on a Sunday evening.

The disappointment only lasted a few short hours, which was nothing compared to the months of waiting I already endured. I got everything straightened out with AT&T first thing Monday morning and my iPhone was up and running. I loved it.

Cracked screen

Two months later, while I was locking up my bike at work, I dropped my padded carrying case about two feet onto the concrete. The phone slid out face down. I was concerned the concrete might scratch the glass. Even worse, the glass cracked. It was still usable, just less beautiful… but not enough to warrant $199 to replace the screen.

In April 2008 the iPhone (and iPod Touch) developer program was announced and I signed up right away. As a software developer I am exited by the prospect of running my own code on my phone/PDA (much as I did with three previous Palm OS devices, and three Windows Mobile devices). At first Apple highly recommended not using your primary phone for development purposes, so I bought a refurbished iPod Touch.

The iPhone 3G was unveiled in June 2008 to much fanfare. I didn’t really care that much as AT&T still does not offer 3G data service in Champaign-Urbana. I was excited about the built-in GPS and larger storage capacity, but not enough to upgrade. Fortunately, my employer acquired on which I have been able to use. Score. In the meantime I set up my old iPhone for Melissa.

Finally, earlier this month the iPhone 3GS was announced. More storage, better camera, video recording, built-in digital compass. My AT&T contract was nearly up so I qualified for upgrade pricing. It didn’t take much convincing for me to order one. It was Fig’s Father’s Day present for me. It arrived last night and I’ve been using it all day today.

All in the family

from left to right: my original iPhone (now used by Melissa), my iPod Touch (used for development), my employer’s iPhone 3G (soon to be returned), my new iPhone 3GS

The Keynote

As I write, Melissa & I are at Chicago O’Hare airport waiting on our (delayed) flight to San Francisco. I am attending Apple‘s Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) this week. Melissa is along for the ride.

Since I started working full time as the primary Mac OS X developer of Mathematica at Wolfram Research in 2001 I have attended this conference every year except 2006. That year the conference was scheduled (Apple has been really bad lately at waiting until the last minute to schedule this huge conference) during the week Melissa & I were moving to Nicaragua, so I missed out. The conference is exciting every year, but none was more exciting for me than 2005 when I (along with my boss Theo Gray) participated on stage during Steve Jobs’ keynote address.

Note: some of this information was confidential at the time, but is now mostly publicly known. I can’t imagine any of the details I mention below would still be considered sensitive information.

On Wednesday night the week before WWDC I got a call at 9:30 pm from Theo. I was almost ready to go to bed. He asked if I would be able (and willing… but more able :) ) to fly to California at 6 am the following morning. I suppose I could, but why? Theo went on to tell me that Apple had a super secret project and they wanted our help, but he wouldn’t tell me what the project was.

I have since learned that he actually knew what the project was at the time of that call, but he couldn’t tell me. Stephen Wolfram, the founder and president of Wolfram Research wouldn’t sign off on the idea until he knew what was going on. Steve Jobs told Stephen Wolfram & Theo what the project was and they agreed to take part… but they couldn’t tell anyone else.

I spent the next two hours packing (including the Dahon, my folding bike at the time) before going to bed. Early the next morning I arrived at the Champaign airport. Apple purchased my one-way ticket to San Jose (by way of Chicago). An Apple limo picked me up at the San Jose airport and drove me straight to Apple’s campus in neighboring Cupertino. Luggage still in hand I entered 3 Infinite Loop (I think). A few minutes later I was in a meeting with Ron Okamoto, Vice President of Worldwide Developer Relations.

Ron told me what the secret was, that Apple was building a Mac which used an Intel x86 processor. They had ported all of Mac OS X to this new architecture (Darwin, the open source core of Mac OS X, already ran on x86). They intended to demonstrate this new x86 version of Mac OS X on Monday’s WWDC keynote. They wanted do demo a 3rd party application running on the x86 Mac. They chose Mathematica to be that 3rd party application. He asked me if I thought it would be possible to get Mathematica up and running on Mac OS X Intel by Monday.

Uhhhh.

That’s a potentially huge task. Our code is fairly portable (at the time Mathematica ran on several Unix platforms in addition to Mac and Windows), but supporting new platforms usually takes a fair amount of time. Ron told me Apple was prepared to provide significant resources to make this happen, including a small team of Apple developers and immediate access to any other relevant Apple developers. I was cautiously optimistic.

(Now 30,000 feet over Iowa)

We travelled across De Anza Blvd (luggage still in hand) to a different Apple building where I was ushered into a conference room with a single desktop computer sitting on the conference table. It was in the same metal case as Apple’s high end desktop computers at the time, the PowerMac G5. I think the case even said “G5” on the side. From the outside you couldn’t tell the difference between this machine and a G5 unless you carefully peeked through the holes on the front and noticed it didn’t have the huge heat sink the G5’s had.

I was greeted by the team of Apple engineers (Matt, Eric, & Ronnie) who would be providing technical assistance in the porting process. This place was not only hidden from the public, but it was hidden from the rest of Apple. Very few people at Apple were even aware this project existed. The four of us got busy.

I sat down at the Macintel and immediately began working. The experience wasn’t just familiar it was identical to any other Mac I had used. I was blown away by how seamless Apple had made the transition. The whole OS was there it all its glory, including every bundled application (even Xcode). I could just work exactly like I do on any other Mac.

But wait, sometimes I use BBEdit to edit text. I guess I won’t be able to do that since it (or any other 3rd party application) hasn’t been ported yet. “Why don’t you just go ahead and try it?” Matt said to me as he tried to hold back a smile. It hit me immediately. “You’re kidding, right?” I downloaded BBEdit, double clicked the icon, and it ran. I ran just like it does on any other Mac. Apple had incorporated (with technology licensed from another company) a PowerPC translation layer into the OS. This meant that nearly all existing Mac applications would run on the new Intel machine, with a slight performance penalty. This was amazing news, as it meant the new machines could be adopted immediately by users rather than waiting until all their applications were ported. Very exciting.

Back to work. We started with MathLink. This is a low level library used by both the Mathematica user interface (FrontEnd) and the computation engine (Kernel). With one set of flags MathLink builds for Mac OS X PowerPC and with different flags it builds for x86 Linux (or Windows, etc.). It only took a few minutes of experimentation with the Makefile and headers to find the right set of flags to treat the OS as Mac OS X and the architecture as x86. The elapsed time from entering the conference room to having a built, fully functional MathLink library was probably around 20-25 minutes. As we progressed our excitement grew.

Xcode target architecture

Next was the Mathematica FrontEnd. I normally spend all my time working on the FrontEnd, so this part didn’t worry me much. The FrontEnd is built with Xcode, which had a new “architectures” setting checkbox. We checked the checkbox for the Intel architecture (actually, we didn’t because Intel was the default target architecture when building on Intel… but we did verify the checkbox was properly set). Within 4-5 minutes the FrontEnd built with only a couple of minor build errors which were easily fixable. After 10 minutes working on the FE we had it built and running. It wasn’t running flawlessly, but it was a very good start. I had only been at the secret Intel machine for around a half hour. This was getting really exciting.

The next step was the one which caused me the most concern, the Mathematica Kernel. The reason for my concern was that I don’t often work with the Kernel. I knew how to build it (the build system is somewhat complicated) and I knew roughly how the code was organized, but there are all sorts of minor details which could really slow down the process. It relies on many external libraries (open source and commercial) and custom build tools. Fortunately, the Kernel, like MathLink, already ran on Mac OS X PowerPC and Intel Linux & Windows. It took a while longer to figure out some of the proper build flags, and some of the build errors weren’t entirely obvious.

This is where Matt, Eric, & Ronnie really came through. They had each spent a lot of time porting open source applications to Mac OS X Intel to learn what types of issues developers might run into along the way. Each time we encountered some sort of problem in an open source library one of them would go off on their own for a few minutes to resolve the problem while the rest of us kept hammering away. Every few minutes we would get further and further along in the build process with new issues popping up all the time. It was like an assembly line. In parallel.

After about 90 minutes (2 hours from when I entered the room) we had the Kernel running, the FrontEnd running, and the two processes were able to talk to each other through MathLink. Again, it wasn’t perfect, but nearly everything just worked.

News spread up the ranks. Within minutes we had high level executives stopping by to see the first 3rd party commercial application running on Mac OS X Intel. By early evening Theo (who took a later flight) arrived frantically asking what he can do to help. He was a bit shocked, and very pleasantly surprised, that it was mostly done.

Friday we worked to fix bugs and showed off the software to an ever growing number of people. Since Mathematica already ran on Intel processors on other platforms, most of our cross platform code was byte order agnostic. There were a few cases where Mac specific code was assuming big endian byte order, particularly related to Quartz (bitmap drawing) and OpenGL. There were also some issues with Quickdraw PICT drawing.

Friday evening some of the Mac rumors sites (original CNET article appears to have been removed) reported that Apple would be announcing the switch to Intel processors at Monday’s keynote. Rumors like this had been published for years, so it wasn’t that out of the ordinary, but this report was different. It contained many specific (correct) details rather than just wild speculation (like every previous report like this). It was clear someone in the know had blabbed. The conference room was silent for a few moments. Oh well. Until Monday, it’s still just a rumor.

Saturday morning we drove up to San Francisco to prepare for the WWDC keynote. We had a rehearsal where I met and shook hands with Steve Jobs. I had heard horror stories about his temper, but he was in a great mood when I met him… sitting perfectly relaxed, legs crossed, smile from ear to ear. I could tell he was excited.

Theo practiced his speech, asking Jobs for feedback along the way. The funny thing was that Steve was so happy he kept telling Theo “say whatever you want” or “talk for as long as you want.” Meanwhile I set up the demo machine (and backup demo machine) with our freshly built Mathematica for Mac OS X Intel.

Monday morning before the keynote Theo & I hung out in the VIP lounge. Woz (Steve Wozniak, the other co-founder of Apple) was there, Sergey Brin (co-founder of Google and former Wolfram Research intern) was there, along with many other influential people in technology.

Once the keynote started we sat in the front row on the far right side. Midway through the keynote Jobs called us up to the stage. Theo described our experience porting Mathematica to Mac OS X Intel over the previous few days. I drove the demo machine as he talked. It was a big hit. Theo captivated the audience. At one point Theo mentioned my name, which immediately caused 4,000 people to turn their heads to stare at me. It was a little awkward (which is quite evident in the video). Had I known that was going to happen I think I could have played it a little more cool. Anyway the demo was a success. Mission accomplished.

Note that a few minutes of the demo were edited out of this video for some reason.

That wasn’t all for that WWDC. On Tuesday I gave a 10 minute presentation during Bud’s science session about Mathematica on Mac OS X, detailing how we utilize various OS features. This went more smoothly for me as I had actually been preparing for it for a few weeks. Later that week I spoke about Mathematica for a minute or two in Ernie’s 64-bit session. I went from participating in zero sessions my first four WWDC’s to three sessions in 2005, back to zero sessions every year since. Perhaps that was my 15 minutes of geek fame (actually, the total time I spent on stage was almost exactly 15 minutes).

Last year I attended a reunion for the non-profit organization where I worked in college, ASP. A guy who I hadn’t seen in 8 years came up to me and asked me if I was in a Steve Jobs keynote a few years ago. “I thought that was you…”

Anyway, tomorrow’s 2009 WWDC keynote won’t be as exciting for me, though I’m sure it will still be exciting. I won’t be participating in the keynote. At least, if I am they haven’t told me yet. Always with the secrecy.

The New Blog

I started a new blog about software development. The audience for this new content has very little overlap with the few readers of my personal blog, so I’ve decided to spare you all and not write about it here. Also, it will spare me the ridicule of Melissa, Cara, & Aimee. I will still update this blog.

Thew new blog is titled “/dev/ragfield” (if you don’t get the joke, you probably wouldn’t be interested in reading it). It is located at http://dev.ragfield.com.

The WiFi Camera Remote

I recently picked up a cheap RF remote for my new Canon 50D.

Camera remote

Unfortunately, it arrived a little bit too late for the two family portraits I was enlisted to take over Thanksgiving. Additionally, the 50D doesn’t have an infrared remote sensor like my old 300D, so I couldn’t use my old infrared remote. My options were limited. I really didn’t want to have to set a 10 second timer then run into the picture, wait, pop, run back, repeat. Instead, I took advantage of the wireless networking capabilities of the attached WFT-E3 (wireless file transmitter) unit and I used my iPhone as a WiFi remote. It wasn’t ideal, but it definitely did the trick in a pinch.

This would have been much easier by connecting to an existing 802.11 network, but I could not rely on a network being present. So I instead chose to use an ad hoc direct wireless network connection between the camera and the phone. Additionally, since the iPhone doesn’t support creating an ad hoc network, I needed to setup the network on the camera first then connect to that network with the phone.

It wasn’t completely obvious how to get this setup working, so I will explain here in case anyone else out there on the internet ever finds themselves in a situation where something like this might come in handy. The required gadgets are:

  • Apple iPhone (or any mobile device with WiFi and a decent web browser)
  • Canon 50D or 40D (or probably 5D) camera
  • Canon WFT-E3 wireless file transfer unit (or probably the comparable 5D-compatible unit)

WFT Configuration

The first step is to configure the WFT to create an 802.11G Ad Hoc wireless network.

Under the WFT settings > Set up > LAN settings choose Set 2 (assuming Set 1 is your home network) and choose the Change button.

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Under the WFT settings > Set up > LAN settings > Set 2 menu set the LAN type to Wireless.

Under the WFT settings > Set up > LAN settings > Set 2 > TCP/IP menu set:

  • IP address set to Manual setting
  • DNS server to Manual setting
  • DNS address to 0.0.0.0
  • IP address to 192.168.1.2
  • Subnet mask to 255.255.255.0
  • Gateway to 0.0.0.0
  • I just left Security tuned off for simplicity, but feel free to use WEP if you want

 

Under the WFT settings > Set up > LAN settings > Set 2 > Wireless LAN > SSID menu enter the name of the wireless network you are going to create. I called mine ragfield-50D.

  

Under the WFT settings > Set up > LAN settings > Set 2 > Wireless LAN > Advanced settings menu set:

  • Conn. method to Ad hoc 11g
  • Channel to Auto
  • Encryption to None

    

Now it is time to activate the WFT’s HTTP server. Under the WFT settings menu set Communication mode to HTTP.

In order to access the HTTP server we need to set up an account with a user name and password. Under the WFT settings > Set up > HTTP settings > HTTP account > User 1 set the Login name and Password to your desired login name and password.

     

At this point the green LAN indicator light on the back of the WFT should be blinking and we can now connect the iPhone (or other device) to the camera. Go ahead and take one last look at WFT settings > Set up > Confirm settings and scroll through the four screens to verify the settings are correct.

   

iPhone Configuration

The iPhone configuration is much simpler than the camera/WFT configuration, and the user interface is much better so this goes quickly. In the Settings application choose the Wi-Fi list item. A list of available wireless networks will be displayed and, if the WFT is configured correctly and running, the WFT’s network name will appear in this list. Choose this network (in my case ragfield-50D).

After the iPhone switches to your WFT’s ad hoc wireless network click the blue circle button to the right of your network’s name to open the TCP/IP settings. Configure the network by setting:

  • IP Address type to Static
  • IP Address to 192.168.1.3
  • Subnet Mask to 255.255.255.0
  • Router leave blank
  • DNS leave blank
  • Search Domains leave blank
  • HTTP Proxy to Off

Now the iPhone is correctly configured to connect to the camera/WFT. One interesting thing to note is that even though the iPhone is using WiFi to connect to the camera the WiFi icon does not appear in the status bar. A 3G or E(dge) icon will appear instead. This is fine.

Press the home button to exit the Settings application and tap on the Safari icon to launch the web browser. Type 192.186.1.2 in the address bar and press Go. Safari should prompt you for the user name and password you entered into the WFT settings > Set up &gt HTTP settings > HTTP account > User 1 menu. Enter these values and press Log In.

The WFT’s default web page will appear. Press the Capture button next to the image of the camera on the web page.

The button to do a remote capture is the little blue circle on the image of the wired remote control on the web page. Zoom in for a target large enough to hit with your finger while you’re looking at the camera.

 

It helps if the hand holding the iPhone is hidden behind another person. Thanks for covering for me Melissa!

The Raguet family

The Bassetts