The Quickest Way to Upload Photos to Instagram from Windows PC

Friends who are fervent Instagram (“IG”) users have urged me countless times to share more photos on Instagram. I signed up an account sometimes in April 2012, shared my first photo I took at a client’s dinner and dance party. Fast forward three years to present day, I have shared a lowly total of 80 images. Here’s the thing: it’s not that I don’t want to share more, it’s that I find the lack of direct upload (Instagram does not provide an API for such purpose) from Windows a major inconvenience for me. I manage a huge repository of images in the Windows desktop environment and I’m not fond of the tried and true method of emailing myself the image files each time I have images to upload.

After several years of on and off hiatus, I found what I consider to be a very convenient method to quickly get my images from desktop to the iPad where I have IG installed (big screen and all). Between the PC and iPad, I use an incredible free networking app called Dukto that lets Windows/Android/iOS devices effortlessly see each other for the purpose of text and file transfers (I like it so much I paid for the pro version on iOS).

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The left screenshot is my Windows 7 desktop while the right screenshot is the iPad. Once the images are prepared on the desktop for Instagram upload, it’s just a matter of dragging them to Dukto container. Within seconds the images are wirelessly transferred to the iPad.

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Because Instagram doesn’t provide an API for any third-party app to play nice with it, there is no direct sharing to IG. Next best alternative is a free and highly popular companion app called InstaSize. Within the Dukto iOS container, clicking Open in InstaSize immediately loads the image for customizing options before it opens in Instagram app for take off.

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You can do loads with InstaSize but I use the app mainly for transit to IG. Non square images are automatically “instasized” to fit in the window and I usually just choose black for border colour where appropriate. Click on the red arrow and image opens in IG where you enter your caption and hashtags — within seconds it’s published.

I am hopeful that someday soon we can do away with the intermediary steps to easily share images. Meanwhile this is my account https://instagram.com/janshim/ shimworld-instagram-instasize-4

First Sunday of 2015: Hiking Bukit Shahbandar (Again)

If there is one thing more uncertain than predicting the weather before a hike, it is coming up with a blog title that differentiates one from the other. We hiked the 9 Pondok trail on the first day of the new year and three days later we’re back hiking the same trails. Another day, another adventure through the forest and rocky terrains except with fewer company than our last hike. Also, Jong (red tee) a Miri resident who trained exclusively on these hills for his successful 2014 Mount Kinabalu climb joined us for the first time this year. Our morning began with a drizzle as we left our house in Seria that quickly escalated to a heavy rainfall by the time we reached the Seria By-pass. There was turning back or changing of mind because of bad weather — we remained positive, optimistically hopeful that the weather would clear up by the time we’re near Jerudong — it did, to everyone’s delight :)

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A group photo here at the intersection to Pondok 7. This trail is very popular for hikers that prefer a slightly less intense hike, by passing the more challenging and often slippery trails (when wet) that connect Pondok 4, 5, and 6.

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A cloudy morning makes for a dramatic photo moment. I am not too fond of dark clouds but I’m far less fond of environmental portraits with washed out sky. Lighting the subjects here is another matter with the PowerShot G11’s tiny flash just isn’t up to the task. I had to meet things halfway by exposing for the clouds to retain as much detail as possible, setup flash for slow sync and shooting RAW to pull brightness from the otherwise underexposed faces. You only need to look at our shadows to see direction and intensity of sunlight. Click on image to view larger version.

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Jong who was once upon a time the face for Muffin & Co. is incredibly fascinated by Shahbandar’s flora, in particularly the pitcher plants or ‘monkey cups’ as they’re commonly called, or even “somboi-somboi” as they’re called in local Bruneian context.

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Whether you choose to hike 7 or 9 Pondok trail, Bukit Shahbandar offers trail runners and hikers a variety of terrain to keep things interesting. I would get bored rather quickly if there was only one kind of terrain — an hour to get there from home and another hour to get home — would be quite the buzz kill.

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The short rocky trail between Pondok 6 and 7 has some amazing scenery with Pondok 7 offering a higher vantage point overlooking the rooftop of two (maybe three) huts in the distance.

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Descending from Pondok 8 the hike to the last hut, is met with a steep, rocky climb all the way to Pondok 9. Alternatively, there’s a by-pass side trail for anyone who wishes to give this a miss.

see MapMyHike for trail map and workout stats of this hike.

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If this part of the climb looks vaguely familiar to you that’s because it is — scroll up to see my blog header image and that’s a wider perspective. Quite deceptive to think that’s the top of where Pondok 9 might be when in fact it’s only the start of the climb. Like the Pondok 5 lookout photographing people and exposing them correctly here is also quite challenging considering the camera is aimed directly at the bright sky the natural tendency of camera’s automatic metering is to underexpose rendering shadow areas (of trees) and faces dark. Once again, the G11’s DSLR controls saved the day! Click on image to view larger version.

Hiking Bukit Shahbandar on First Day of 2015

I couldn’t think of anything better to ring in the new year than a group hiking activity with like minded enthusiasts. So a few days ago I sent out casual invites to friends on Whatsapp, followed by a quick Facebook post on the eve. At the same time I was worried about bad weather ruining the plan (we’ve had good sunny weather in between). Came Dec 31st, my family and I had Thai cuisine for lunch, wife and I squeezed in a 4.75 km hike in Sungai Liang (Jewel had weekly track training while Jamie was at the cinema watching Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb with a friend) before we all got ready for for dinner at Kaizen Sushi (deviating from our regular haunt, Excapade Sushi)

Excited about the hike, I slept early only to be woken up by looping sounds of relentless rain. Half dazed, I went back to sleep with great hopes that rain would stop by dawn — it never did. In fact it had rained non-stop since midnight and I was pretty sure the trails would be soaked, muddy and expectedly slippery by now. I was close to calling the whole thing off but Eric was going ahead with the hike with his staff from various Mr Baker’s Bakeshop outlets I wasn’t going to miss this opportunity especially when rain had finally stopped. Woke everybody up, grabbed breakfast and made a beeline to Bukit Shahbandar despite the persistent gray weather.

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14 of us in total comprising mostly staff from Mr Baker’s Bakeshop led by owner Eric Pui, including Joe and my family of 4. Both Jamie and Jewel are wearing their new Skechers Go Run Ultra. I’m happy to report that in spite of the muddy and slippery trails, the Ultra’s outsole lugs have been proven effective in handling the unforgiving trail conditions.

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As soon as I took the first picture (above) battery indicator went from full charge to blinking red. (second battery after Singapore holiday). Mistake of not packing a spare and I wasn’t sure how long the remaining charge would hold but surprised I was still able to shoot many more, with flash!

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The break away intersection to Pondok 7 is one of my favourite photo spots although not the easiest to set up, more so when the surface is wet and slippery. The Canon G11 is set up on the Lollipod with 10 second timer activated shutter to fire 3 shots.

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The scenic lookout between Pondok 4 and 5 is another popular photo spot. Flat ground makes it a lot easier to set up camera. Behind us is part of the extended landscape that stretches the Shahbandar trail by another 3km. A leisure hike that includes the extended trail would take up to 4 hours to complete.

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I’ve crossed this bridge located between Pondok 5 and Pondok 6 countless times but this is the first time I took this shot from a higher vantage point — 13 people on the bridge makes the picture more interesting than usual.

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Here’s a photo on the slope before Pondok 7 where the group stood randomly. Every photo op was an opportunity to rest for those who are exhausted from the steep hills.

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Another picturesque landscape tucked away in a corner of the rocky trail before Pondok 9.

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Slowly but surely every one of Eric’s staff made it to the final pit stop, the observation tower. From here on back to the starting point, it’s downhill and flat all the way. Well done first timers!

Aerial view of Shahbandar Hills | see MapMyHike for map details and workout stats.

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My workout stats for this hike and the longest time I’ve done for a 9 hills hike. The upside of staying in the forest longer is higher calories burned. I’m sure it’s not a linear computation and MapMyHike algorithm takes into account movements tracked by GPS and time it took to work out the burn rate.

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So I finished and tracked a year and four months of my workouts recently adding badminton to the stats and ended 2014 with some hard working numbers to reflect on. 2015: Burn more calories! :)