Back From the Road!


My day job sent me down into the Rio Grande Valley for a week. My crew toured McAllen, Pharr, Harlingen, Kingsville, and Corpus Christi. I’d love to say I had an awesome time, but the closet things that I had to a computer were my iPod and Android phone. (My lesson was to get a f-in’ laptop. An iPad won’t cut it.) The other major issue I had a side from the piss-poor lighting in the room I stayed, was the fact that there was nothing to do. So I spent a lot of quality-time reading, walking, and getting in a drink.

US Highway 281 in McAllen, Tx at 3 am on a Sunday morning. Good luck finding breakfast!
McAllen, Tx at 3 am on a Sunday morning. Good luck finding breakfast!
Took this from the second floor of a shopping center in Pharr, Tx.
Another view from shopping center.
Another view from the same shopping center.

While in McAllen, I was able to do some exploration of 281, finding another Valero. In Corpus, I did some sight-seeing of the neighborhood my motel was located in. I got to see the outside of the city’s many refineries. Hugo Chavez’s state-owned oil company has a huge presence there. I also got to explore the ghetto I was located next to. It reminded me of the south-side of San Antonio. I tried to see the water, but instead of walking towards downtown Corpus, I thought it’d be shorter to walk along the side of the refineries to the bay or backwater. After running into a couple of gates, now I know better.

A field outside a ghetto neighborhood in Corpus Christi, Texas
A field outside a ghetto neighborhood in Corpus Christi, Texas.

A stop sign in Corpus Christi, Texas

My New Toy

A cheap stylus I bought from Dollar Tree.
A cheap stylus I bought from Dollar Tree.

At one of the dollar stores I was at, I stumbled a cross a pen-stylus combo, made by some generic company that no one’s ever heard of. It’s basically a writing pen with a stylus on the other end, which is covered by a rubber tip that looks like an eraser. It was only a $1 USD, so I thought I’d give it a try with my iPod Touch. (It also works with my Android phone.) Now it’s my new toy! I can also now make some use of two apps on my iPod, Adobe Ideas, and Doodle Buddy. Since my fingers are way too big to see what I’m doing, I haven’t been able to do much with either app. The stylus tip is still a bit big, but I have a heck of a lot more control over what I’m doing.


Adobe Ideas

Screen shots of Adobe Ideas app from my iPod Touch.
Screen shots of Adobe Ideas app from my iPod Touch.

Adobe Ideas is basically a sketching and painting app. It’s vector based and well designed. Adobe packs in all sorts of features including different brushes, 50 levels of undos, smooth zooming with two fingers, layers, opacity, a color picker, etc. Adobe Ideas also has the option of automatically syncing your images with your space on Adobe’s Creative Cloud. You can purchase 20 GB through the app for $1.99 USD, or use the free 2 GB of space you get free with free Creative Cloud account. Adobe Ideas can be downloaded for free from the iTunes/App Store for your iPod Touch, iPhone, and iPad.

My Idea image on Adobe's Creative Cloud website.
My Idea image on Adobe’s Creative Cloud website. I can download a copy by clicking the “Actions” button.

If you have had any experience with vector software such as Illustrator, Inkscape, etc, it’ll become obvious that you’re drawing and painting with vectors. The pencil tool will give you some corners. When using the brush tool, you’ll see how the stroke expands and stretches.  I guess this is a good thing, especially with the way it’s implemented. Vectors use a lot less space than pixels.

View my Adobe Ideas image in Illustrator CS 6
Viewing my Adobe Ideas image in Illustrator CS 6. Right-hand side is an outline view showing off the number of paths created.

To get your doodles off your iOS device, you have one of three options. You can email a copy to yourself as a PDF document. You can save a copy as a JPEG to your photo album. Or if you synced your image to Adobe’s cloud, you can download it to your computer as an IDEA file, which is a vector format editable in Adobe Illustrator CS6. The downside to that is that you’ll deal with a tone of objects on your art board. It’s actually reminiscent of Creature House Expression, but without the skeletal strokes.


Doodle Buddy

Doodle Buddy in action
Left-side: Doodle Buddy in action. Right-side: Doodle Buddy’s selection of tools and color options.

This has the feel of a less serious drawing app. But Doodle Buddy does have some pretty serious tools. The only things missing are layers and zooming. Unlike Adobe Ideas, this is a pixel-based app. For me that means blending with a smudge tool.

Doodle Buddy also has a stamp tool, letting you place cute little icons all over your canvas. Another neat feature is the app’s ability to swap out background on the fly. You can amazingly draw with friends, who are running Doodle Buddy. You can also draw straights lines, use stencils, and add text.

Doodle Buddy is currently available for free for all iOS devices at Apple’s App/iTunes Store.

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