Friday, April 25, 2014

Thing 9 - Taking & Editing Photos

I'm not really the photographer type.  I take the occasional photo on my phone while traveling, but really that's about it, and I haven't ventured by the standard camera and photo apps that came installed on my iPhone when I got it.  The apps in the Thing 9 were all pretty new to me, and I decided to try the Photo Editor by Aviary app.

I like how simple the app is, and the wide variety of features available.  Editing photos are easy, and it was interesting to scroll through the various effects, frames, etc.  While I don't see this app necessarily increasing the number of photographs I take, I do appreciate some of the things that will enable me to do with the ones I do.  In particular, adding text or captions to images is always something I wondered about.  I think that is an ability that might come in handy when I use my phone to take snapshots of equipment at my job for purposes of training or troubleshooting.  Personally, the app should make sharing my photographs an easier and even more fun experience.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Thing 8 - Social Media Management Tools

For this thing, I decided to try out the TweetCaster app.  While I've been on Twitter for quite some time, I've only ever used the official Twitter app.  Trying a different Twitter client was something I wanted to do for awhile.

One of the big draws of TweetCaster for me is the ability to post simultaneously to Twitter and Facebook.  I'm a pretty infrequent poster, but I like the idea of killing two birds with one stone when I do want to post something.  I also like the app's ability to filter things in my timeline, so I can just posts with pics, video, links, etc.

As for the appearance of the app, I like it slightly better than the Twitter app, but I don't like the advertising banners that show on the bottom.  Someone with clumsy fingers like myself tend to hit those by accident too often.

I do use Twitter to follow a number or library-related people, organizations, and vendors, so if I decide to keep TweetCaster as my Twitter client, then obviously this app will play a big role in my professional networking and development.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Thing 7: Content Saving & Sharing

For this thing, I decided to try Bitly, since for whatever reason I have an aversion towards being a Pinterest user - I'm convinced other men aren't using it...  ;-)

I don't tend to share a lot of links on Facebook, Twitter, or whatever, but I when I do I can see the advantage of having the ability to shorten the link URL.  The whole aspect of having the links in the cloud that I can access from anywhere does appeal to me as well.  With my iCloud account, my Safari links are accessible from both my Mac at home and my iPhone.  But at work I use a PC, and I can't access my bookmarks on that computer from home, and vice versa.

The ability to track how often my links are getting clicked on is a feature I probably wouldn't pay much attention to, but I think it is interesting.  If I share a link on Twitter or Facebook, I guess I would be curious how many of my followers or friends actually click on it.

I see myself using this app for shortening URLs in things I post on social media sites.  I also see myself using it to collect temporary bookmarks of stories that I think I might share with friends, some of which will likely be library related. 

Friday, March 14, 2014

Thing 6: Creating & Editing Docs

For this thing, I decided to play around with Quickoffice.  I don't have a tablet, so I was relegated to exploring this app on my phone.  Using this app also gave me my first experience taking advantage of my GoogleDrive account.

I've not really used my iPhone to create any sizeable documents... only short notes like a shopping list or a reminder.  In my limited use of Quickoffice so far, I've been impressed with its ability to import and edit Microsoft Office documents.  The documents are easily navigated and the manipulation tools are substantial.  However, it just so difficult to add large amounts of text on small phone screen - at least it is for me.  I see it more as a nice way to access documents I might need, such as some speaking notes and slides for a presentation, but I just don't see myself creating a lot of documents inside the app.

Still, even just as a repository, I think the app does have some usefulness and I will likely keep it on my phone.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Thing 5: Notetaking

I know that the Notes application on iOS devices is pretty bare-boned in terms of features, but I actually like its simplicity, and I like how my notes are synced between my devices, including my Mac, with iCloud.  However, for the sake of this project, I decided to try a new app.  I chose Springpad, since based on the descriptions of all the apps, it sounded like it would be the one I would get the most use out of.

After downloading the app and setting up my account, I went through the Getting Started with Springpad notebook to learn more about the software.  I first experimented with the Recipes template notebook.  I searched out a chocolate cake recipe I remembered that I wanted to make someday and I saved it to the notebook.  That process was simple enough, and I like the options available for adding tagging the recipe and adding a photo.  What was a little disappointing to me is that I couldn't use a nice image of the cake from the website from where I got the recipe - at least I couldn't figure out how to do that.  That would have been nice, as it would have allowed me to add a little more color and make things more easily findable in the gallery view of recipes.  I also used the recipe notebook to create a shopping list of items to pick up at the grocery store.

I next played around with creating a simple note.  Whenever I hear a song I really like, I try to make a note of it to see if it will be available for me to download with the Freegal music service.  I appreciate the ability to add sound, photos, and reminders right into the note.  I could definitely see how that could come in handy in many situations, especially when tracking down replacement parts or something like that.

Speaking of which...  I also played around with the Home Improvement template notebook.  My wife and I are building a house and when that's complete, I'm sure there are going to be a whole lot of projects and maintenance tasks we'll need to keep on top of it.  I can see this app being useful in that regard too.

While I'm not 100% certain I can see myself as a big Springboard user, I definitely see its merits, and I suspect it will stay on my iPhone for awhile, even if I don't use it on a regular basis.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Thing 4: Keeping Up

When it comes to keeping up on news and events, I feel like I'm pretty much on top of things.  I get a lot of news already from Twitter, and I check the Associated Press' mobile app at least once or twice a day to keep up on the latest happenings.  I used to take advantage of RSS feeds on my Mac with Safari, so I'm no stranger to them.  Although I must admit when an update to that browser changed the way RSS feed detection functioned, I only briefly played around with an alternative reader (Schrook) before ultimately giving up the practice.

For this thing, I decided to play around with Zite.  I liked the idea that Zite worked a little like Pandora in that I could like or dislike news stories and the software would learn from my decisions to present me with articles catered specifically to my interests.  Upon downloading the app and creating an account, I choose from some of Zite's recommended topics, as well as searched for and selected a few topics of my own - including some library related ones.

For the most part, the articles that Zite recommended form me were interesting, and often from sources I didn't know about or rarely explored.  Some of the tagging for the stories can seem a little questionable, but I am impressed with the wide array of topics to choose from.  I like the way the app is structured.  The layout of the content is clean and different parts of the app are easily accessible.

My first thought in reading about this app was that I probably wouldn't use it - that it would unlikely change my current practices in keeping up with news, but after playing around with it for a few days, I actually think this will be an app I use on a daily basis, and likely multiple times a day.  I really cherish the customization aspect, and I seem to find new topics to favorite every time I use it.  In particular, it will affect how I discover content about libraries and librarianship.  As of now, I mostly get information on my field from e-mail newsletters, following library-related associations and companies on Twitter, and having database alerts inform me of articles published in scholarly journals.  I think Zite will find content from sites I haven't traditionally sought out, like personal blogs, and I am excited to see to what kind of new things Zite will expose me.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Thing 3: Utilities

The utility app I decided to download and play around with was RedLaser.  I had already had a QR code reader app on my iPhone, but the only time I had ever used it was the day I downloaded it.  RedLaser seems to have a few more features that will make it more likely for me to use on a regular basis.

I like that I can input my loyalty cards into the program and that doing so will help me find deals and nearby locations.  I like Apple's Passbook app for that, but Passbook still has only a limited number of companies/services, so this is really nice.  I also like the weekly ads.  It's really nice to have them all copied together in one location, rather than going from store website to store website to see them.

The QR code scanner built into the program will be helpful when necessary, but I don't seem to ever think to pull out a phone and scan a code when I see one.  We'll chalk that up to lack of curiosity maybe.  I did just scan a code on a bottle of hand lotion that is on my desk just to try out the feature.  It was kind of interesting to see what the price is at local stores.  (Sorry Target, but it looks like Walmart has you beat by 13 cents!).