Highlight an App: PhotoApps

By Jess Faulk

While the number of apps I use on a regular basis decreases dramatically based on the length of time I own my smartphone, I still have some favorites that I manage to find reasons to use.  Most often these apps are a way to capture the moment, or make a photograph unique.  While I most often use them for fun, I have found uses for many of them professionally as well.

Here are three of my favorites:

Microsoft PhotoSynth (Windows Phone or iOS)

provincetown

This photo-stitching app is great for capturing a moment in time or showing off a unique space.  I’ve used it to photograph vistas, our wedding venue, and even the international pillow fight day.  While posting it via twitter or facebook certainly works, the best way to view the outcome of this app is actually in the app itself, or on the web after uploading it to the photosynth site (check out this image of Inauguration 2013 by EricJay).  It feels like you were actually there.  I received quite a few retweets posting my photosynth of the NEACUHO conference final banquet on twitter – it captures so well the scale of an big event.

Pocketbooth (iOS, Android, Nokia, Windows Phone)

Alison & JessG

This has become the #1 app for capturing a moment for my fiancé and I.  During one of our very first vacations together (to the Santa Cruz beach boardwalk) we toiled for over 45 minutes with one broken photobooth after another, and waiting for the repair guy before I remembered I had a photo app on my phone.  Now we capture the moment whenever we are visiting somewhere new.  Our best use so far: pass the app around the table at a wedding and end up with a collection of our friends’ funny poses!  This would be an awesome way to capture the personality  your staff or members of a student organization. Revive the retro style of photo fun!

Popsicolor (iOS)

Just another fun filter to use on your photos.  This is certainly very different from your average instagram filters, and would make some fabulous wall art.  It would also make for a fun and colorful staff bulletin board!

Kiddo

Highlight an App: PhotoApps

Life in the Clouds

By Valerie Heruska

Cumulus, Stratus, Cirrus, Nimbus. Clouds.

When it comes to technology terms, cloud computing is one of those things that I wish was around since the beginning of time because it is just such a useful tool that has helped me in both professional work and personal fun.

Evernote and Dropbox have been my two biggest loves.

Evernote

For those of you who don’t know and have always been curious about Evernote, here’s a quick snapshot of what it is:

Evernote is a suite of software and services designed for notetaking and archiving. A “note” can be a piece of formatted text, a full webpage or webpage excerpt, a photograph, a voice memo, or a handwritten “ink” note. Notes can also have file attachments. Notes can be sorted into folders, then tagged, annotated, edited, given comments, searched and exported as part of a notebook. Evernote supports a number of operating system platforms (including OS XiOSChrome OSAndroidMicrosoft WindowsWindows Phone, and WebOS) and also offers online synchronisation and backup services. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evernote)

Evernote is simple to use and I know many people who use it for research papers or just about anything they need. Evernote can be used to hold recipes, ideas, notes, research, etc. And there’s a cute elephant involved.

Dropbox

Dropbox is a file hosting service operated by Dropbox, Inc., that offers cloud storagefile synchronization, and client software. Dropbox allows users to create a special folder on each of their computers, which Dropbox then synchronises so that it appears to be the same folder (with the same contents) regardless of which computer is used to view it. Files placed in this folder also are accessible through a website and mobile phone applications. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dropbox_(service)

I love Dropbox because it’s simple and user-friendly. I like to use Dropbox with my Senior RA, because it’s so easy to share files (RA Evaluations) so we can both do them and it will automatically update any changes (in the similar way to Google Docs Drive). I used to “share” my music and pictures with friends. The downside is that there is only so much storage on their server, unless you connect with a billion people, then you should be fine.

Apple iCloud

Like a delightful nimbus cloud, the Apple iCloud is great for anyone who is an Apple hoarder (me). I only have to download my music on one device and bam, it’s on all of them. Pictures can be transferred via the cloud, as well as all my apps. I love you Apple iCloud!

 

So there ya have it… life in the clouds is pretty spectacular and hopefully it will make life a little easier for you!

Life in the Clouds

Blog Prompt Monday: Getting Into A Technology-Focused Career

By Kathryn Magura

Happy Monday everyone! Today’s blog prompt is one that resonates with me, because it allows me to share my accidental journey into the world of technology.

How do you get into the technology field without a background in technology?

Well, the honest answer to this question is quite simply: you get out there and do it! Not quite as helpful as you hoped? Well, let me share my story with you then. I went to college knowing I would receive a degree in some sort of Liberal Arts area. I was drawn to Psychology, so I pursued that as my major. Early on in college, I remember meeting with an academic advisor to determine if I wanted to go for a Bachelor of Arts or Sciences. The gist was: a Bachelor of Arts required a second language, and a Bachelor of Science required computer classes and more science classes.

For me, there was no real decision to make. I had taken German in high school, and figured I would take a couple of years of it at the college level and fulfill my Bachelor of Arts requirements. Why on earth would I put myself through the rigors of a Bachelor of Science degree when I refused to take computer classes. That’s right, I refused to take computer classes.

Don’t get me wrong, I loved my computer. I had been surfing the internet before it was really in style. My family had also had a computer for my brother and I to write our high school papers on way before many other families could afford one. That said, the actual technology behind computers scared me. I’m not sure when I came to this conclusion, but it seemed like I had always known I was never good with technology.

In retrospect, it seems really sad that I never trusted my abilities when it came to technology. Even when I had always had a natural ability to learn and use a variety of technologies. I was always the one to program our family VCR growing up, and had even helped my father (the engineer, it should be noted) reprogram his air conditioner when it wasn’t working right. Yet for some reason, I always felt dumb when in came to computers.

My senior year of college, I had the opportunity to work in the Housing office. While the work focused heavily on customer service, it also required me to use the University information system and Microsoft excel a lot. I was fearful of looking dumb for not knowing how to use the technology, but I jumped right in with an eagerness to learn. As I started to learn the ropes, I was surprised to see what a natural I was with the technology. Not only did I pick up the systems with ease, I was able to train others! Where the heck did this ability come from?

Flash forward a few years to about a week ago. One of our resident directors needed some help pulling data together for a meeting. I had some time available in my calendar, so I invited him over for a lesson on the greatness of excel. As I was pulling the data together from the University data warehousing system, I could see his jaw sort of frozen as I swiftly shifted from one screen to the next (side note, dual monitors are a true godsend) to capture all the data needed. I then switched over to excel where we put the data into pivot tables, charts and graphs.

As I was training, I could hear the excitement in my voice. Who knew I could get so excited by a pivot table?? I even took time to send out this tweet:

After we had pulled all the data needed together for the meeting, the RD looked at me (a little glazed over. Whoops.) and asked if I had always been this good with technology. I simply stated that no, I had not been, and had actually been afraid of it for the longest time. It took pushing myself past my comfort zone by just getting in there and using it for me to actually learn that I was indeed quite skilled with technology.

My point in sharing this story is to encourage others to take the technology leap. Get out there and test the waters! Don’t feel comfortable with the Microsoft Office suite? Get out there and take a training course! Most are either free or inexpensive. There may also be people out there willing to share their knowledge with you, if you are willing to seek them out. Trust me, if I can get over my own fear of using technology you can too!

So what’s your technology story? What advice do you have for others who want to get into the field of technology?

Blog Prompt Monday: Getting Into A Technology-Focused Career

Is Social Media “Technology”?

by Kristen Abell

Perhaps you’ve seen the question on the interwebs about whether social media is truly technology. It doesn’t seem to require much in the way of technical knowledge to operate, after all. And truly, isn’t it just one more way of communicating with others? Shouldn’t it fall under “communication” rather than “technology”? Here’s my answer: it’s both.

tech•nol•o•gy  noun

1. a: the practical application of knowledge especially in a particular area

b: a capability given by the practical application of knowledge

2. a manner of accomplishing a task especially using technical processes, methods, or knowledge

3. the specialized aspects of a particular field of endeavor

from www.merriam-webster.com

See, here’s the thing – of course we use social media primarily to communicate. We engage in relationships with others and meet new people and let the world know what’s going on with us – all through a few updates here and there. We have conversations with people we know and people we don’t. We can inform people about our institutions or organizations or corporations with little snippets or lengthier blog posts. These are all functions of communication.

But, similar to the telephone, social media is a tool – without it we would still communicate, but it facilitates communication across longer distances and with more people. And this tool comes about because of technology. In other words, social media is “a manner of accomplishing a task especially using technical processes, methods, or knowledge” (okay, not necessarily knowledge, although my mom might disagree on that part – she insists Facebook is too complicated).

So yes, social media is absolutely communication – it’s all about communication. But without technology, social media wouldn’t exist, so it’s a function of both. Get my drift?

What do you think – is social media about communication, technology, or both?

Is Social Media “Technology”?

Blog Prompt: Making life easier, expense sharing

by Jess Faulk

tricountWhen you first buy your smartphone or tablet device you can’t get enough of the coolest, latest apps.  Page and pages of apps fill your device, despite knowing somewhere in the back of your mind that you will forget what half of them do.

At this point you really need start to distinguishing the apps that are fun to use on ‘a rainy day’ vs. those ‘make your life easier.’  I want to share one with you that my partner and I use on almost a daily basis: Tricount.

When my partner and I first started dating, we immediately discussed the strategies for coordinating our shared expenses.  There is the “you get me this time and I will get you next time” method.  There is also the “let’s save up all of our receipts and figure out later” method.  Neither seemed particularly appealing, as both required some mental energy keeping it all straight in our heads.  My proposed solution was a Google doc where we would enter amounts each of us spent.  I set it up so that each column created a total at the top of the spreadsheet, and automatically split the total in two.  A good first-try tech solution, but we thought we could do better. Google docs aren’t the friendliest on our phones, and it didn’t allow a lot of flexibility if one of us bought something particularly expensive.  After an extensive search – we found a solution we love, Tricount.

Tricount is still in beta, so there are some kinks to be worked out, but even in it’s growing stage, it serves us quite well.  Tricount is designed as a group expense organizing tool.  The type of application that you would use if you went on a road trip with 4 other people and needed to track who owes who as you go.  This would be particularly helpful when not everyone has the right amount of money (or type of currency if traveling abroad), and need to rely on each other until you can find an ATM or vendor who takes credit cards.

tri count 2Our use of Tricount is relatively simple.  We buy dinner at Panera Bread and a minute later one of us pulls out our smartphone (iPhone or Android) to enter the expense.  As soon as the expense is in, the receipt gets thrown away.  No more tallying up or mental tracking.  Each month with the click of a button we balance the account and one of us sends the other a funds transfer. We then start tracking anew for the next month.  So far we’ve used it for 4 months for day-to-day expenses, and just recently started using it for tracking wedding expenses.  The program can be used on your computer through the web, on facebook, or via your phone.

Drawbacks: As I said before, this is a public beta, so they are not yet 100% awesome.  Some mini hurdles that have stuck out for me are: 1. It’s European date format (takes a while to get used to), 2. It needs a streamlined system for syncing that allows for both editing online and editing with your phone (it can be done, but only through emailing links to the accounts via the people involved).

Overall, I do have to say that Tricount has made my life easier.  Whether you are sharing expenses with a partner, taking a trip with friends, or trying to remember all of the items you need to be reimbursed by your office, I hope that it makes your life easier too.

Blog Prompt: Making life easier, expense sharing

Linkage Love: Finding Recipes Online

By Kathryn Magura

I’ve never considered myself to be much of a cook, but I like to try. I am one of those people who needs to follow a recipe, so I frequently find myself combing the internet for good recipes on the web. For today’s linkage love, I thought I’d share some of my favorite websites to check for good quality recipes.

  1. The Pioneer Woman: I don’t remember how I stumbled upon the Pioneer woman, but I’m sure glad I did. I enjoy her free thought blogging style as she walks us through her recipes, and the pictures of her food are simply stunning! I’ve never seen such wonderful pictures of food. I have a feeling that Ree Drummond (the actual Pioneer Woman) would be fun to hang out with as well.
  2. Epicurious: If I have some random ingredients in my refrigerator, but no true inspiration for what to make, I’ll plug the ingredients into Epicurious and see what recipes come back. I’ve found a few good recipes this way, and when I’m feeling adventurous about food, this is where I’ll go to satisfy my craving.
  3. Skinnytaste: In my quest to try and eat healthier, I found Skinnytaste.com. I’ve tried a few recipes from this site, and I’ve found them to be very tasty. The fact that they are also healthy is simply a bonus.
  4. Chocolate-Covered Katie: While this one may seem dessert focused, I actually found it while looking for some healthy breakfast options on Pinterest. While Katie seems to be a big dessert fan, she seems to find ways to make them as healthy as possible. Katie provides a lot of healthy substitutions that allow those of us with a big sweet tooth to indulge themselves without too much guilt.
  5. Pinterest: One of the things I love about Pinterest is how easy it is to find great recipes there. I find a lot of fantastic recipes to try just by perusing my feed from the recipes my friends post. I’ve also found success typing keywords into the search to find recipes as well.

So what are your favorite websites for recipes? I’m especially fond of good slow cooker recipes, so feel free to make recommendations in the comments!

Linkage Love: Finding Recipes Online

Blogger’s Choice : Tech Fails

By Jennifer Keegin

Sitting on my couch last night, getting ready to watch the Golden Globes – I thought I had everything figured out. I was going to watch the awards and then stealthily start watching Downton Abbey at 9pm right in the middle (and at the same time) by using my iPad and the Time Warner Cable app. Thought I was brilliant. I can live tweet two shows at once! Not so much.

Right before Downton came on, I revved up the TWC app and found that they only let you watch the HD channels. No PBS. FAIL. Thought I’d double check my PBS app to make sure you couldn’t actually watch the channel live. FAIL. Nope. No live PBS.

So today, I thought I’d look for any other examples of Tech Fail just to amuse you. Here’s what I found:

  • First off there’s a book and website called When Technology Fails. For when the end of the world comes.
  • This one appealed to me as a College Union & Activities professional:
  • This one makes me say “Really?!?!”
  • Misunderstanding Tech:

and of course, we’ve all had those days when we wish we could kill our computer:

Any recent fails you want to confess?

Blogger’s Choice : Tech Fails