Friday, May 2, 2014

Thing 9: Taking and Editing Photos

For this thing  I downloaded two new apps to my phone, LINE Camera  and Color Splurge.

Every time I tried to use Color Splurge it only worked for a few seconds, maybe one minute at most, and then I got a message like this.

So I only was able to try to color a few image, none of them ever for long enough to even save a screen shot.  The most I can say is that it would be hard to use on a tiny screen like a phone because you are trying to paint over your image exactly.  You'd really want a stylus, my finger was just not precise enough.  The examples they show on the app's page look really neat but I was  frustrated.  Also, for the few seconds I was able to use it it kept showing me adds.  Very annoying.

LINE Camera worked just as it was supposed to.  No technical problems and no adds.  There are in app purchases to get more stamps and things to decorate your photos with but there were plenty of free choices.

  I played around with different filters, some even made it look like it was snowing in the picture.  There were a lot of choices and you can use the slide bar to adjust the effect of each.

 You can draw right on the image with different sized pen lines in whatever color you'd like and put stamps all over the place.

You can add words and borders too.  It's very easy to move the text wherever you'd like to put it and change color, size and font.  If you choose the little rainbow colored square you can more finely tune the color choice.

You can also make little collages with multiple pictures either using their set templates or adjusting the dividing lines exactly how you'd like them.  In the image below you can see how I can move the dividing line between the two pictures.

There are also all sorts of functions to change the look of a person's face.  You can make their face thinner, make eyes bigger, drag your finger on their nose to totally change the shape.  You can "smoothen" out a person's wrikles.   I tried and tried to use these features but my people always just looked weird.  Not saying it doesn't work, just that I wasn't very good at it nor was I really motivated enough.  There was a nice "blemish" remover tool that I'm sure people might like.  

You can make fun little pictures like this too.

I don't think I'll be using the app a lot but I can see how it would be useful for adding pictures to a sign with added text or a nice border.  The filters could be useful as well.  Definitely fun.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Thing 8 Social Media Management Tools

I haven't posted in a long time.  I kind of got hung up on this "Thing" --  Not because I was having so much fun playing with social media management tools but because all of the obsessive sharing of everything is getting to be a little too much and I wasn't sure I needed to increase the amount of social media I do.  I just read Dave Eggers new novel The Circle  which is about how all of this sharing of everything we do is slowly eating away at our real lives and our freedom.  Great book, I highly recommend it and I can tell that it is making me stop and think more about how much I share and how freely I hit that 'accept' button when I download an app and it wants access to everything on my phone.

I'm not saying I don't like social media.  I really enjoy Facebook.  I use it to keep up with friends and family as well as following different news sites.  I also use it for communicating with various groups I'm involved in such as my kid's 4H club and my church.
 I love sharing and talking about books with Goodreads.
 I'm on LinkedIn, although I'm not very active on it.

I got an Instagram account but I haven't actually posted anything.  I just wanted to see what it was all about.  My teenage son tells me that is what all of his friends are doing and it seems to be the way librarians at HCL are sharing pictures of what's going on throughout the county.

All that being said, I'm not sure I need a Social Media Management app for my personal use.  I do see it as being very handy if I was running a company's social media or my job required me to be posting on line frequently.

For this Thing I downloaded the Buffer app.  I chose Buffer because I thought it could help me manage my multiple different groups I post to on Facebook.  For example, I sometimes post updates to our local food shelf page and sometimes to our church page.  Other times I want to post something on various neighborhood groups I belong to but not on my personal account.  I hoped Buffer could help me write one post and then send it to three different FB groups.  So far I haven't figured out how to make it do that though.  I could only get it to post to my general FB page.  If I had multiple Facebook accounts it could handle that but I don't.  It also doesn't work with Instagram.

It is pretty neat in that you can write all sorts of posts, save pictures in a queue and then schedule when you want them to be posted and to which accounts.  While you are browsing the web you can hit the share button and save any posts, links pictures etc to your Buffer and then go back to them later and generate your own posts about them.  You can also monitor the stats of your various posts.  Certainly a useful app if I was doing more posting for a business or organization.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Thing 7

This thing is about content saving and sharing and asked me to try out either Pinterest or Bitly.  Since I've used Pinterest for awhile I decided to try Bitly to see what it is all about.  I joined Bitly and tried saving a few websites.  That part was easy enough.  However, whenever I tried to share a link to Facebook I couldn't get it to work.  I repeatedly gave Bitly access to my Facebook account, seemingly ok'ing whatever it wanted to do but it was always a no go.  Obviously other people have been using it successfully for years but I decided it wasn't worth any more of my time.  I can see the value of Bitly in the way you can organize your saved pages and especially in that it keeps track of how many clicks your shared links are getting.  This could be extremely useful for if you were monitoring your library's facebook page etc. to see where your bitmarks go.  That being said, I'll talk about Pinterest a bit.

I've used Pinterest only sparingly over the last year or so.  Mostly because it is so visually interesting that one can easily fall down the rabbit hole and spend hours aimlessly wandering the net so I've purposely only used it sparingly.  Mainly for gathering recipes and crochet patterns.  It's really easy to save "pins" to boards that you create, or follow other boards.  I'm planning on using it more extensively in the next couple of months to gather all sorts of picture ideas because we are going to add on a small addition so I'll need to get all sorts of idea of how I want it to look.  This is where Pinterest really shines because other people will already have done all sorts of boards on "mudroom storage" or tile ideas for a back entry, etc.  Anything you might want to research.  So I can just search pinterest for their boards and then either "follow" them or repin their pictures to my boards.  Of course, I can also do my own searching on the web and create my own boards from scratch.  Then with smart phone or tablet in hand I can go to the tile shop or Home Depot and use these visual aids to help pick out supplies. 

Monday, February 10, 2014

Thing 6

For this thing I explored QuickOffice which was already on my Google phone but I had never noticed.  I'm so glad I tried it.  I use Google Drive extensively for keeping track of personal and volunteer work.  I'd tried creating content on my ipad and phone with the Drive mobile apps and just been so frustrated trying to use them that I would only do it at my desktop.  QuickOffice made creating a simple document pretty easy.  I also tried to make a presentation.  This is complex enough that I wouldn't want to create one on my phone if I had a choice but it did work and in a pinch you could do it, or at least edit one that you already had created elsewhere.  I'll show a few screenshots to illustrate using Quick Office on my phone.

So here is what I see when I start up Quickoffice. I can open a file or start a new one.  It even put my most recent file at the top to make it easy to find.

The formatting options were easy to use.  I created a list.  Next I chose the title and centered that text.

When done you hit the check mark in the corner to save it.  Overall, it was easy to use.  It's not perfect though.  It's hard to choose and highlight text sometimes.  Using a stylus was easier but could still be frustrating.  Also, after saving I went back and discovered that it had somehow added weird spacing into my list.

For a simple quick document, using Quickoffice was pretty nice.

  Next I tried to make a presentation with lots of pictures and different kinds of slides.  This was much harder and very frustrating on such a small screen as my phone.  Perhaps on a tablet it would be more worthwhile.
The basic options to make a presentation are there.

  I did manage to make several slides, My Presentation on Little Kitchen Food Shelf

If you look at the presentation you'll see that the photos I uploaded all have terrible quality and wouldn't be usable.  These started out as good quality jpegs that I uploaded to my Google Drive account and then put in the presentation.  Here is what the cute Daisy Scouts should have looked like.

 So I'm not sure what went wrong with the pictures.  It was also really frustrating trying to highlight and edit text.  If I chose text and then brought up my formatting options to change the font size, the window that came up obscured the text I was trying to edit.

What you can't see here is the text that is behind the window.  I want to enlarge it and see it as I go, but it wont let me, no matter how I tried to manipulate the screen.  In general, all the options were there to make slides, but it was just really difficult on such a small screen.  Also, every time I saved it and then went back later I got an error message saying it had saved incorrectly and needed to be restored.
Overall, I wouldn't use Quick Office to try to make a presentation, but if you were just trying to do a quick edit on something you'd created elsewhere it would be ok.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

23 Mobile Things, Thing 5

For this Thing I downloaded two apps, Remember the Milk and Sprindpad.  I also explored one I already had on my phone, Google Keep.

Remember the Milk is much more complex than the name implies.  I thought it would be a simple app to make to do lists for groceries and such and this is the kind of thing I've been doing more of on my phone. (Personally, I really like the Target App for grocery lists.  I also use the Target Cartwheel App which is like an online only coupon app just for shopping at Target.  If you're a regular Target Shopper like I am it's worth checking out )

I would say that Remember the Milk is more for organizing complex tasks and projects.  I could see it being useful for event planning or a big project.  You can make all sorts of tasks to be done, rate them by priorty, give them deadlines and reminders, connect them to a calendar, share them with others and sort them under categories like "work" or "personal" .  Here I'm adding a task of "Food Shelf Meeting"  putting it on my calendar for Friday and nesting it under "personal".  I've used drop down menus to give it those tags.

You can also add items with a user friendly calendar type feature.  Here I'm adding an appointment to Give Blood.

I can add notes to a task too.

Once you've added tasks to your app, you can view them in your inbox.

You can mark them completed when you're done.  When I tried to do more complex things like sync it to my Google calendar or share items with others it prompted my to try out the "pro" version of the app which I assume costs money.  If I was going to use this to organize complex tasks it would be much easier to do the bulk of it on a desktop and just read tasks and get reminders on my phone.  For simple to do lists this seems too cumbersome.

Next I tried Springpad.  This reminds me of Pinterest.  You can save items to "Notebooks" with categories like Books, Movies, Recipes, Music, articles to read later, etc.  You can follow other peoples Notebooks and I discovered that of course there are alot of companies pushing content on Springpad.  It's easy to save things I find on the web to Springpad.  You can install a free Springpad Clipper on your browser.  When I downloaded the app onto my Nexus phone it automatically installed the clipper in my share choices.

 So instead of Boards on Pinterest, you create Notebooks on Springpad.  The items you save to your notebooks are called "springs"

 It's easy to find items.  You can search books by titles or there is a built in barcode scanner.  Here I'm adding a book.

I can rate it with stars, mark it read, give it all sorts of tags like mystery, P.I., whatever I want.  I can make it public or keep it private.
I do like this app for keeping track of books.  I already use Goodreads though and I'm not about switch over.  The recipe notebooks seem like a pretty good use too.  You can do the same thing with Pinterest but I seem to often have trouble pinning items and end up getting error messages.  This seemed pretty straightforward.  One downfall with the app is that the mobile version doesn't let you create a shopping list directly from an ingredient list like the desktop version does.  

Springpad also has task management aspects to it like Remember the Milk. 

 You can add project notebooks, set privacy levels and, my favorite part, choose colors to organize different projects.
Then you can start creating your project.

I created a notebook called  Work Project and added the task "send out invitations". I can add comments, tags, photos, links, whatever I want.  Set deadlines and reminders and share it with others.  
These can get pretty complex and it seemed like it would be easy to collaborate with others.  Springpad never prompted me to upgrade to a different version.

For simpler tasks like notes and reminders you can also just easily add tasks to do with notes and due dates, even set up reminders.


Overall, I liked Springpad better than Remember the Milk, especially for its ease of use as a mobile app.  It's still more complex than I often need for simple note taking.  

I explored the app Keep from Google that I already had on my phone.  It's was easy to use.  I could talk into my phone to make a note or list and it not only typed out the list but also kept the recording so I could listen later.  This is especially helpful when it has misunderstood me and I want to listen to what I really said. 

 Again, it was easy to color code my notes and add reminders.  For simple notes, this is the app I'll use.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

23 Mobile Things, Thing 4

I'm not in love with Flipboard.  It's kind of cool and playing around with it certainly can use up a lot of time. It's one more way of getting my news but I didn't like the search feature.  When trying to find news feeds that might interest me, too many "magazines" from people with 3 followers etc. come up right away,  instead of putting the most popular at the top.  I tend to use Facebook as a way to get a lot of news by following pages like the New York Times etc.  Also I've heard that RSS feeds are going by the wayside.  Just today I read about a new app from Facebook called Paper that is trying to overtake Flipboard.   Perhaps as I use it more I'll find it more useful, but I'm afraid so many distracting news stories will simply mean more time spent staring at my phone.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Thing 3

I downloaded Google goggles and the red laser barcode scanner.  The idea thar red laser would give you prices of an item at nearby stores sort of works but its limited to only some stores.  It seemed to bring up Target sometimes and Walmart a lot.  It didn't find any local grocery stores at all.  It did bring up online prices too.  What was really cool was scanning a book barcode.  It connected not only stores but to local library catalogs too.

Google goggles was a bit more fun and I think I'll keep that app.  It could also look up books. I scanned some art prints in my house and it identified them.  It would be great to use it to translate a sign or menu just by taking a picture.