Application of the Week

Silent Sunday Explained – Vignette for Android

Yesterday, I posted this photo:

1287405504495This was one of the first photographs I took with the Vignette camera app for my Android phone.  It’s 2 of my kids having breakfast in the villa we rented in Lanzarote during the October half term.  Vignette was the first Android app I purchased.  I’ve spoken about it before here on the blog.  Since then it’s been updated several times, each time the changes have been subtle and have added to the app.  It’s not become bloated (unlike the Google+ app which got very bloated very quickly and is in danger of being removed).

My only problem with the app, and it’s really  very minor, is that if you have it set to apply random filters and frames, there’s no bullet-proof way to determine what effects were applied to a picture.  So I’ve no idea how to re-create the above shot (other than that it’s a panoramic frame).

The Vignette post on my blog has been hit quite a few times, and here are answers to a couple of the questions that have reached it (i.e. the ones I know or have worked out the answers to):

Where do my original photos go?

Vignette has an option in the settings to save the original version of the photograph you took before filters and frames were applied.  Having this switched on doesn’t appear to affect the speed the app works at.  I don’t have the original of the photo above, I was still playing with the settings.  However, here’s a compare and contrast:

Anyway.  As long as you’ve got this option switched on, you’ll find the originals in this folder:


You can tell they’re the ones saved by Vignette, they’ll have -orig at the end of the filename.

Is there a desktop equivalent to Vignette?

There’s a couple of things that come close.  A plugin for Google Chrome called Lomo+, filters and suchlike for Photoshop and GIMP, but the easiest thing to do is this:

Hook your phone up to the computer with the USB cable, copy the pictures you want to transform into a folder on the phone’s SD card, disconnect from the PC.  You can load photos that are already on the SD card into Vignette and apply whatever effects you like.

I’ve tried a couple of other camera apps on my phone but Molome didn’t do what I needed to and the other one whose name escapes was too large and I’d run out of room on my old G2.  When I upgrade in February, I’ll have a phone I can get a few more of these onto!

Application of the Week

#ApplicationoftheWeek – XAMPP

Sometimes you need to get a web coding job done.  Maybe you’re on a laptop with no WiFi or network access.  Maybe you’re on a Windows machine and don’t want the hassle of installing Apache, MySQL and PHP separately.  Whatever the situation, you need a web server, database server and server-side scripting language now.  That’s where XAMPP comes in.

Downloaded from those lovely people at, XAMPP is an easy-to-install, easy-to-use package that will give you a local web server with very little fuss.  You can even unzip the entire thing onto a pen drive and run it as a portable app (although it’s a shade slow, especially if you then run Portable Komodo Edit alongside it!).

When you run the exe for the control panel, you get this friendly little dialog box and a new, shiny, icon in your notification area:

The Svc tick boxes down the left hand side are for getting Windows to run the whole thing automatically.  This isn’t necessary for the casual use I put XAMPP to.  When you need a web server, you click “Start” for Apache.  When you need a database, click “Start” for MySQL.  Not a clue what Mercury is, in this context, and FileZilla is there for FTP transfer of files – never needed it on the local machine.  Also, I’ve always seen the “Directory mismatch” warning and it’s never affected what I’m working on.

It is nothing short of a gem of an application.  It has saved my development bacon a few times when I’ve needed a server at short notice.  Running it doesn’t slow your machine down noticably.

More complex options are available, of course.  You could have a Linux server sat on your network for these occasions, or a virtual machine of some sort on your own computer.  But the Linux box relies on a network connection and the VM can eat into your system resources.  XAMPP goes in and does the job it needs to do.

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Application of the Week

#ApplicationoftheWeek – returns next week

Damn, but that was a busy weekend.  Unfortunately, far too busy to write up an application of the week for today.

App of the week will return next week, with a run-down on something.  If you’ve any suggestions, add them in the comments!

I now return you to your regularly scheduled surfing.