From a recent spending spree at Heinnie Haynes, the Civilian Labs Air Manila leather sleeve for my MacBook Air may be the only item that won’t get as much use as I’d hoped. And it isn’t the sleeve’s fault at all – it just doesn’t fit where I hoped it would.
When the first MacBook Air was unveiled, Steve Jobs produced it from inside a manila envelope, highlighting how amazingly thin it was. The Air Manila sleeve is a leather sleeve designed to look like a manila envelope.
It’s a bit brighter in colour, in an orange-yellow ‘mango’ colour. It’s quite a bit thicker than an envelope, too, as it’s made from leather, with a good layer of padding to protect your expensive computer. There’s velcro to keep it closed, but the twist-string closure is there too, completing the envelope look. There’s a really nice quality feel to the whole thing. It even smells nice – it seems like they’ve added a bit of mango scent to the leather. If the bright colour is too much for you, it’s also available in black. I usually go for everything in black, and really don’t like yellow and orange, but the bright cheery colour just seemed right for this.
It feels like it will provide good protection, and it looks great. The only reason I probably won’t get much use out of it is that it doesn’t quite fit into the bag I bought at the same time. The Maxpedition Sitka Gearslinger is roomy enough for the MacBook Air, but not for the Air in the Air Manila sleeve. The sleeve adds a bit too much width.
Given the price, which makes it cheaper than most leather sleeves, and not much more expensive than many non-leather sleeves of much simpler design, it’s easy to recommend the Air Manila. As long as you have space in your bag.
More photos of the Air Manila:
My MacBook Air had to install a firmware update, which needed to reboot. I felt kind of bad about it, because it had done 111 days without needing to restart, which seems like good going for a tiny notebook computer.
Since the fault it fixes is old MacBook Airs stopping working after a large number of recharges, though, it sounded like it was worth doing. I’m not sure I’m close to 1,000 recharges yet, but it’s plugged in and out a few times most days. Now I have to start working on my uptime record again.
I’ve enjoyed making some sort of panorama things from my photos for years now. I’ve never quite liked making them with seamless stitching, as is most commonly done. I prefer them to look a bit rough, to be obvious that they are what they are – a bunch of different photos of the scene, stuck together to make something more. The term Panography seems good to me.
There’s plenty of good software for making ‘real’ panoramas, that will try to hide the joins perfectly. Most of it works to a limited extent, and usually needs the source images to be taken pretty carefully to make them join. The first ones I made were built in The GIMP, which was slow and hard work.
On the Mac, I’ve been using DoubleTake until now. It did a decent job. It often got the joins wrong, but the images can be dragged to where you want them, and you can turn off its attempts at merging the images, giving a rougher look, with the edges of each photo visible. Recently, though, DoubleTake seems to be having trouble with some of the larger panographs I’m trying to do. With around 25 images, it can take a while to move them all to the right places, and it’s much harder when the app seems to be struggling.
So I went looking for alternatives, and happened on PanoEdit. It isn’t expensive, though it looks so in the Mac App Store, sitting next to 69p apps. There’s a demo version on their site you can try out first, to make sure it does what you want before you spend money on it. What it does seem to do, though, for the things I’ve thrown at it so far, is work. It’s quite surprisingly lacking in features, with no option for telling it where an image goes if it doesn’t work it out for itself, but it seems to do a great job of working everything out for itself.
This panograph, for example, involved dragging the source images into PanoEdit from Aperture, clicking a button, and waiting a few seconds:
Everything else was handled automatically. There was one image it didn’t place, and I’d like to be able to tell it where to put that image, but the result is very good, and amazingly easy. It’s a bit more neatly stitched than I usually like, but I’m happy with it, and the result from PanoEdit could always become a new starting point for doing more in another app – overlaying some more zoomed in detail shots, perhaps.
More impressive, though, is the result of using PanoEdit with shots from Hipstamatic. I’ve tried this before and never had good results. PanoEdit, however, didn’t seem to have any trouble at all joining this lot up:
I posted the other day about working from the top of a mountain. The mountain was played by Sheeps Tor, a bit of a rocky hill; and the work was played by copying a few images from camera to MacBook. I actually did transfer all the images while we were still there, but from the less impressive location of our car.
I use an Eye-Fi card, which is an SD card like any other, but with the addition of WiFi. If it doesn’t find a WiFi network nearby that it knows about, it sets up its own, which the Mac can then connect to, letting the Eye-Fi software pull images from the camera. Once set up, it all happens automatically, as long as the camera and MacBook are sitting close to each other. I took the photos with the camera while the images were being copied from it, and they just joined the queue to transfer.
I’ll write a bit more about this soon – it’s time to update on my photo workflow, as it’s changed a lot since I last posted about it, with some nice automated stuff going on.