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Wireless photography with an iPad and ShutterSnitch - Continued
ShutterSnitch FAQ: Eye-Fi configuration tips

Q: How should a new Eye-Fi card be configured?

eye_fi_pro_x2.jpg
The process is fairly simple. On your Mac or Windows computer, install the Eye-Fi software, make sure Eye-Fi Helper is running and your Eye-Fi card is mounted. Then, launch Eye-Fi Center if it hasn't already autolaunched (it and Eye-Fi Helper work in tandem during the configuration process). You'll be required to create an Eye-Fi account if you haven't done so already, plus other initial setup stuff.

This will include getting your new Eye-Fi set up with a wireless network that has access through to the Internet, as you can't make key changes to the out-of-the-box configuration unless the Eye-Fi card can get online.

Once you've completed the new card setup steps, tackle the following in Eye-Fi Center:
  • Turn Eye-Fi features on or off. If you're preparing the card for a ShutterSnitch workflow then you can disable RAW and video transfers, geotagging and most everything else for that matter. Note that the first-time pairing process with ShutterSnitch won't succeed unless online sharing and Relayed Transfer are disabled. The screenshots ahead show a configuration that works with ShutterSnitch, both for the first-time pairing and subsequently as well.

  • Add the wireless network or networks you expect the Eye-Fi card to connect to. Remember, don't remove from the list of configured networks the one that gives the card access to the Internet, at least not until you're completely done with the card's overall setup. Numerous settings changes require that the card be able to talk directly to the Eye-Fi server, so this is critical. Once you're happy with the card's configuration, however, you can remove this particular network if you like.
Considerations
  • Keep the number of configured wireless networks to a minimum (a configured wireless network is one whose connection parameters you enter and store in an Eye-Fi card using Eye-Fi Center). Otherwise, you only increase the likelihood that Eye-Fi will connect to a network that your iPad and ShutterSnitch aren't on, including mid-shoot after the card has been idle for several minutes.

    (FYI, an Eye-Fi card will attempt to connect to configured ad hoc networks first (Pro card only), then configured router-based networks, then networks that are wide open (if you've allowed this type of connection in Eye-Fi Center).)

  • When you're adding a portable (or any) router to a card's list of configured networks, and that router isn't connected to the Internet, the configuration process will fail unless you go through a configuration backdoor that Eye-Fi Center provides. This same process is useful for adding ad hoc networks to a Pro card too, or wireless routers that are turned off or at another location.

    To enter the backdoor, locate the wireless networks popup menu in the Network section of Eye-Fi Center. From the popup choose [Other network] - don't choose the wireless network from the list, even if it's in the list. Enter the router's SSID in the network name field, then the security particulars and - this is important - check the [Network is out of range] checkbox. Finish by clicking the [Add network to card] button.

  • While you can add wireless networks to a card without access to the Internet, various other adjustments you might make in Eye-Fi Center require that the computer and/or Eye-Fi card be online at that moment.

  • In the Transfer Mode section, under the Selective Transfer tab, choose Automatic to ensure that your Eye-Fi card sends everything that you shoot to ShutterSnitch. Conversely, if you want only certain files to be sent and not everything, choose Selective Transfer instead. Then, use the camera's Protect feature to choose the ones that will go to ShutterSnitch.

  • If you have more than one Eye-Fi card, give each a unique name within Eye-Fi Center so that you know which one is which during a later step that takes place within ShutterSnitch.

  • Plan on the Eye-Fi Center software (v3.1.9) to be quirky. While it gets the job done, the Mac version at least needs more polishing. We've not tried the Windows release, which like Eye-Fi Center for the Mac is built on Adobe Air.

    For example, after adding a new Eye-Fi X2 card to an account, the screen that sometimes appears next is not the right one (ie it looks quite different than the screenshots below). Sometimes the software won't correctly detect the computer is or isn't online, sometimes it present bogus messages that the card requires a firmware update to unlock certain features when it doesn't and sometimes it doesn't detect the card is mounted at all. Quitting and relaunching Eye-Fi Center gets around these problems.

    For a ShutterSnitch workflow this isn't a big deal, because you'll hardly ever use Eye-Fi Center beyond the initial configuration and the occasional adding or removing of wireless networks. When you do, though, don't be surprised if you have to coax and prod the software to make your changes.
An Eye-Fi Pro X2 8B configuration is shown in the following screenshots. The interface is mostly the same with both non-Pro cards and classic cards, except that some options can't be enabled/disabled because the card doesn't support them, like RAW upload with an Connect X2 card, for example. The first two screenshots show a router-based network (LGM ZALIP) and then an ad hoc network (LGM Kickstart) being added using the backdoor method described earlier. Personalize the settings as necessary.


EyeFiCenter
Router
Ad Hoc
Hotspots
Upload
Share
RAW
Video
Notifications
Geotagging
Transfer mode
Relay
Endless Memory
Q: Should I keep Eye-Fi Helper running all the time on my computer?

When ShutterSnitch is your intended destination for Eye-Fi transfers, no. Here's why.

eyefi_helper.jpg
For a time, we struggled with getting an Eye-Fi X2 Pro 8GB to resume sending to ShutterSnitch after the card had been idle for a few minutes. It was eventually figured out that the problem occurred only when a MacBook Pro 17 inch running Eye-Fi Helper was on the same network, and quitting and relaunching the Eye-Fi Helper application - the recommended cure - didn't help. With Eye-Fi Helper off altogether, though, the problem went away, and has stayed away for several weeks now.

This took place on a Mac. Whether this will foul you up on Windows too, that we don't know. On either platform, however, when your Eye-Fi card's primary purpose is to send pictures to ShutterSnitch, there's no particular reason to leave Eye-Fi Helper running all the time.

On a Mac, you can quit Eye-Fi Helper by choosing [Quit] from the Eye-Fi icon's menu in the menu bar. But before you do, make sure it won't automatically launch again when you restart. Do that by removing the checkmark, if there is one, next to [Auto-start Eye-Fi Helper] in the same menu. When it's time to make Eye-Fi settings changes in the future, launch Eye-Fi Helper and then Eye-Fi Center manually. You'll locate both applications in the Eye-Fi folder inside the Applications folder. Drag Eye-Fi Helper to the Dock for quicker access.

eyefi_folder.jpg
Eye Spy: The Eye-Fi folder inside the Applications folder on a Mac

In Windows, you can quit Eye-Fi Helper by choosing [Exit] from the Eye-Fi icon's menu in the system tray. Before you do, make sure it won't automatically launch again when you reboot. Do that by removing the checkmark, if there is one, next to [Auto-start Eye-Fi Helper] in the same menu. When it's time to make Eye-Fi settings changes in the future, launch Eye-Fi Helper and then Eye-Fi Center manually. You'll locate both applications in the Eye-Fi folder inside the Program Files folder. Pin Eye-Fi Helper to the Start menu for quicker access.

eyefiwin.jpg
Eye Spy: The Eye-Fi folder inside the Program Files folder in Windows

Q: Do I have to do anything in ShutterSnitch to make sure that Eye-Fi pictures arrive there?

Yes. First, make sure your iPad is online. Then, from the Collections screen in ShutterSnitch, select [Set up Eye-Fi access] and sign in to your Eye-Fi account. You'll be presented with a list of cards registered to that account. Select the one you want to associate with ShutterSnitch. Press Done.

ShutterSnitchEyeFiSetup
Set up
Choose card
Complete
From then on, that Eye-Fi card will stay associated with ShutterSnitch. This will remain true until you change the association. Examples of changing the association would be:
  • Choosing a different Eye-Fi card in ShutterSnitch. As of ShutterSnitch v1.1.8, the app can receive pictures only from one Eye-Fi card at a time.

  • From within Eye-Fi Center, switching the card's upload destination away from ShutterSnitch and to your computer instead.
Q: Why does it sometimes take longer for an Eye-Fi card to begin sending pictures?

When the card is connecting to the iPad and ShutterSnitch for the first time in a session, or after being idle for several minutes, it can take longer for the just-shot picture to start sending. In each case, the card has to negotiate the wireless network connection and FTP server login before it begins to transmit a photo, and these steps can take a few seconds. Subsequent pictures will get underway noticeably faster.

Also, an Eye-Fi card won't begin to transmit until the camera has finished writing the most recent picture or batch of pictures to the card. If you're shooting extended bursts, and/or lots of RAW+JPEG pairs, you will notice a delay before transmitting commences.

Q: I have an Eye-Fi Pro card and want to set up an ad hoc connection between it and my iPad. How do I do that?

With difficulty.

While both an Eye-Fi Pro card and the iPad can connect to ad hoc networks, neither can create one. Because of this, you'll need another device to create the ad hoc network. There's no shortage of possible candidates, including a Mac or Windows computer with Wi-Fi capability or certain mobile phones, including those running Google's Android 2.1 operating system (see here and here; Android v2.2 appears to natively offer true router functionality rather than ad hoc) as well as jailbroken iPhones (requires both MyWi and a willingness to enter the murky world of jailbreaking).

Though Canon transmitters and the WT-4/WT-4A can create ad hoc networks, they're meant for wireless devices that can be given an IP address manually, and an Eye-Fi card is not such a device. (Strictly speaking there is a workaround for this, but it's a pain and we've not tested it thoroughly enough to talk about it.)

Getting the ad hoc network created is half the battle. Next, if the network-creating device is going to leave the network once the iPad and/or Eye-Fi card have joined, and its DHCP server assigned IPs to connected devices, you'll need those devices to forget the IPs they've been given.

For example, MyWi 4.x on an iPhone will give each connecting device a 192.168.x.x address. But if you subsequently turn MyWi off, which you almost certainly must to preserve the phone's battery life and the app isn't needed anyway to maintain the ad hoc network, the Eye-Fi Pro card will soon not be able to find the iPad.

The solution is, after turning off MyWi, to make a small change to the iPad's Wi-Fi settings. To do that, enter the Settings app, choose [Wi-Fi], press the blue circle and arrow icon to the right of the connected ad hoc network, then press [Renew Lease]. After a long pause you'll see the IP address change to 169.254.x.x. The Eye-Fi Pro card will have given itself an IP beginning with 169.254 also, and so now it can find the iPad and ShutterSnitch.

Eye-Fi's Ziv Gillat warns that an Eye-Fi card's probing process can take a very long time and even fail when attempting to do ad hoc this way. But, in reasonably extensive testing here, an Eye-Fi Pro X2 8GB card was able to track down the iPad and ShutterSnitch every time. So, while the configuration process is painful, and I'm sure some of you are wisely thinking that Eye-Fi ad hoc won't be worth the effort, once it's up and running it does seem to work fine. Note that Eye-Fi only officially supports ad hoc networking to a computer, so if you choose to give this a try, with ShutterSnitch as the destination and/or a non-computer creating the ad hoc network, Eye-Fi tech support is unlikely to be able to help you sort through problems.

If a Mac creates the ad hoc network then it, along with the iPad and Eye-Fi card, will give themselves 169.254.x.x addresses from the outset, so the renew lease step won't be necessary. You can subsequently disconnect the Mac from the ad hoc network it started without then needing to change anything in the iPad's Wi-Fi settings. The same is probably true if a Windows computer creates the ad hoc network, but we've not tested this. (FYI, both operating systems refer to this as creating a computer-to-computer network.)

Keep in mind that the ad hoc network linking the iPad and Eye-Fi Pro card will continue to exist until all the connected devices are gone from the network at the same time. Otherwise, even if the only remaining connected devices are an iPad and Eye-Fi Pro card, one or the other of these can keep the network alive perpetually. Conversely, the ad hoc network will evaporate if you restart your iPad while the Eye-Fi card's wireless radio happens to be off. To bring the ad hoc network back you'll again need to fire up a device capable of creating an ad hoc network. In other words, you'll be back to square one.

There's a taste of why we don't recommend an ad hoc wireless connection between an Eye-Fi Pro card and an iPad+ShutterSnitch. While it's running it's a-ok. But getting it running and keeping it running can be too much work.

Q: What do I do if I want my Eye-Fi card to connect through a public hotspot, one that my iPad is also connected to, and send pictures to ShutterSnitch that way?


While it potentially can work, instructions for doing so are beyond the scope of this article.

Canon transmitter configuration tips are on the next page.
Next Page: FAQ: Canon WFT transmitter tips
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