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Busy moms are juggling kids, jobs, activities and pets. Finding time to start – let alone maintain – a baby book is a challenge. I see a lot of moms using their app phone and Facebook to capture and share all those special moments. I like the phone part of that but Facebook? The thought of putting a child’s name, face and birthdate on Facebook is really scary. Not only does it provide all kinds of identity theft ammunition, it also gives a predator lots of information that can be used to gain your child’s confidence.
“But Facebook is so easy.”
Yes, but it’s not the only easy option. You’ll find a growing number of journaling apps include in-app photo and video capture as well as the ability to pull items from your camera roll. On the iPhone, the Day One journaling app is truly amazing. In addition to photographs and videos, the app will automatically date stamp each new entry and can include both location and weather information too. So, snap a picture, add a few words describing it and Day One takes care of the rest.
Day One has apps for your iPhone, iPad and Mac desktop and can keep your journal synched between them all using either iCloud or Dropbox. Each journal entry can easily be shared via email, Twitter and other services with one tap.
So, while capturing and documenting those special moments from birth on is easy and sharing them is both easy and safe, Day One offers an even bigger benefit – archives. Not only are you capturing and saving all this family history, Day One saves your typed entries as plain text so years from now it will still be quite readable. It provides an automatic set-and-forget backup function that stashes copies of your journal at the backup location of your choice for further protection. And, at any time, you can save some or all of your journal as PDF documents.
Using just one journal file, you can maintain entries for all your kids as well as your own thoughts. Organization is easy – just add tags to define the topic(s) of any journal entry. You can even include hashtags within the text of your entry and Day One will see them as tags. Using those tags, you can pull together all the entries for a specific child, a special event or topic and export them to PDF or external text files for use in family history projects.
Day One can easily serve as a baby book, travel journal, repository for your child’s art and school papers, personal journal and much more. And you can carry it around with you at all times on your iPhone or other iThings.
Facebook? Fa’get about it!
Byword for Mac [Mac - $9.99] just released an update which includes a premium upgrade ($4.99 in-app purchase required) giving you the ability to write and publish blogs from within the Byword app. This upgrade supports publishing to WordPress, Blogger and Tumblr as well as Evernote and Scriptogram.
Publishing is easy. All you do is write your post in Byword, then choose the File > Publish command. The first time you do this you’ll be asked to connect to your blog platform, but after that, you’ll just choose the platform, add items like tags, categories and post status (publish or draft, for example) then hit the Publish button.
Because this is a plain text/markdown editor, you’re not going to be doing much with graphics or complicated formatting, but for quick and dirty updates this could be very useful.
Yesterday Flickr introduced their site redesign along with an important announcement. All users get 1TB of photo storage and the ability to share those photos at full resolution. You can upload videos in full HD quality. The length of these videos has been upped to 3 minutes each. In addition, a new Android phone app has been released. The iPhone app was updated several weeks ago and it is impressive (review coming soon).
The Pro subscription is no longer available. Existing Pro accounts can continue to renew their subscriptions if they so desire. If a Pro account is not renewed, it will revert to a standard account. In place of the Pro account, Flickr is offering two fee-based options: Doublr which adds an additional terabyte of storage to your account and Ad-Free which removes all ads from your Flickr pages. Each of these services will cost you $49.99 a year.
For most of us, a terabyte of storage should be plenty. After all, that means more than 500,000 photos. (I’ve got just under 6,000 on Flickr at the moment.) I’ve had a pro account for so long I can’t remember what Flickr looks like with advertising, but I’m sure I could live with it to protect my images. I will continue to renew my Pro account as long as Yahoo! will let me and I will continue to recommend its use as an off-site archive for both current photos and scanned images. The social side of Flickr has always been a delight and I’m hoping to see Flickr and Tumblr working together in fun and fascinating ways very soon.
I am a long-time fan of Flickr as an affordable off-site archive and I’m very happy to see Yahoo! giving it the attention it deserves. If you haven’t visited Flickr recently, now would be a good time to get re-acquainted.
We’ve all heard the quote, “Write your past for your future.” I’ve been using my Day One journal apps to capture memories along with the current events and notes related to my world. Day One has both Mac and iOS versions of the app – all sharing the same cloud-based storage. This makes it easy for me to use my iPhone to photograph a ticket stub or brochure to go along with the related story.
All of the senses are involved in family history. The way things sound, feel, even a change in the weather helps lead you back.
~ D. G. Fulford, One Memory at a Time
My favorite inspiration is an old photo, but there are always those flash-back moments when an old song or a familiar scent brings an associated memory to mind. Having those journaling apps nearby – my iPad or iPhone is almost always within reach – makes it easy to at least jot down a couple of words before that memory fades. The rest of the story can be expanded later.
Do you have a system for capturing the stories from your past? What inspires your memories?
It’s all about shapes in the latest update from Pixelmator [Mac - $14.99], the awesome photo editor for Mac. The Smart Shapes tool lets you quickly create and adjust shapes, including converting text to a shape. Theres more than 100 other improvements and new features including Color Popovers – quicker access to color swatches. Existing users get the update for free. New users can take advantage of the $14.99 promotional price while it lasts.
Here’s a look at what you can do with shapes and Pixelmator.
Years ago, an engineering firm I worked for increased the size of their office by half again the existing square footage. Most of that additional space would go to file storage. At the time I had just gotten my first scanner and was just beginning to learn the joys of digitizing photos and documents. Surprisingly, the scanner’s software even included an OCR function and it worked quite well. I was just beginning my fight with carpal tunnel syndrome and this OCR thing was a real blessing to me. The engineering firm was using computers for documents and drawings, and while they did appreciate the ability to grab an existing digital document and edit it rather than start each one from scratch, they hadn’t realized the potential of digital storage. In fact, we were often making multiple copies of paper documents and filing them in different places just so it would be easier to find them later. HUH?
One day I was given an old paper proposal – a rather large one – to be typed so they could edit it for a new project they wanted to bid. I drove home, scanned it , OCR’d it and drove back to the office in half the time it would have taken to type. They were delighted I had it ready so quickly, but this scanning thing was just a flash in the pan to them. I even prepared a cost analysis comparing the cost of storing their paper files (office space, cabinets, paper, etc.) vs. digital ones (disk storage, software, scanners, etc.). Even back then the digital solution was significantly less expensive – and that didn’t include the amount of labor spent filing, managing and finding paper documents. I was told it would be too disruptive.
It was time to start looking for a new job.
This week I bought my second external hard drive. My existing 1TB WD My Book is almost full now that I have more time for scanning and other digital projects. I got a 3TB WD My Book for less than $140. The Windows version is about the same price. These new drives take advantage of the USB 3.0 protocol which is significantly faster. If you have an older computer that only has USB 2.0 connections, you can still use these drives, but you won’t get the speed advantage. Once you upgrade your computer, the drives will perform at their top speed.
So now I have two drives – each the size of a good James Michener novel – sitting on my desk. A quick search can bring any document or photo to the screen in a matter of seconds. In addition to family ephemera, I’ve been working to take our household records paperless (or as close as possible) too. I should be in pretty good storage shape until I get ready to tackle my husband’s collection of slides. He’ll be buying that drive!
I still need to do some reorganization and remodeling to update my entire file system. Santa brought be a copy of Apple’s Aperture app for Christmas which I haven’t really put to good use yet because my photo collection needs some serious spring cleaning. Now’s a good the time to do that too. At least there won’t be any heavy lifting involved in this remodeling job.
I wonder if those engineers ever saw the digital light . . .
There is a “brute-force” botnet attack on-going against self-hosted WordPress sites. They are using programs they have installed on other compromised blogs (that’s the botnet) which logs in to your blog’s “admin” account over and over again thousands of times using a different password each time, hoping to find one that works. If they succeed, then they will install a backdoor so they can use your blog to attack other sites. Security firms are speculating that the WordPress attacks are being used to build a bigger botnet “force” which can later be used for a more massive attack on someone – or some thing – else.
My site has been very slow and even inaccessible several times in the last week which probably has to do with this attack. Although I can’t stop them from attacking my blogs, I can take steps to prevent them from taking them over. You can do the same.
First, I don’t use the default “admin” name for my blog’s administrator account. That way an attacker needs to figure out my account name as well as my password. If you are using the default, then create another user account with a name that does NOT identify it as an administrator (something like BobJones, maybe), set the Role for this account to Administrator and make sure this account has a very strong password (a minimum of 8 characters combining upper- and lower-case alphabetic characters with numbers and special characters). Now, log out and log in again with the new account. In the Users section, edit the old admin user and change its Role to Subscriber. While you’re at it, update the password to something hard to crack. That way, if someone should hack into the admin account, all they can do is look at its profile.
Regardless of what your blog’s administrator account is named, you should always have a strong password assigned to it. Even accounts with lesser roles should have strong passwords and everyone’s passwords should be changed regularly. WordPress.com has some very good recommendations for effective passwords.
Don’t allow your blog to become a botnet used to attack others. Take steps now to protect your blog and the content you’ve created.
Flipboard, the amazing reading app for iOS and Android devices, has kicked things up a notch with its new magazines feature. If you’re a Flipboard fan, look for an update to your Flipboard app. Once installed, you’ll have access to an already impressive number of user-generated magazines along with the existing social and news offerings. I’ve loved Flipboard since the first day I set eyes on the app and they continue to amaze me with all the new ways to collect interesting news, photos and articles.
With the new magazines feature, users can collect and curate content on their own which Flipboard will display in its trademark magazine format. It only takes a moment to set up a magazine, then you can collect content from across your Flipboard subscriptions – Flickr, Twitter, Facebook, etc. – to add to it. You can make your magazine public and share it with others.
After you’ve updated your iOS app (Android updates are coming soon), you’ll notice plus signs all over the content you see displayed on Flipboard. Tap one and a panel similar to the one you see here appears, allowing you to add this item to your magazine (DIGITAL Storytelling in this example) or create a new magazine. As you can see, you can add a caption and even post a link to your Facebook profile.
Here you see the current cover for my magazine. Notice it also includes some interesting analytics about this publication along with the most recent topics. I’m just getting started, but I can see lots of potential for the genealogy community. This could get really interesting!
If you’d like to subscribe to DIGITAL Storytelling, just search for it in Flipboard’s search function. It should show up in the results. There are a number of digital storytelling items in the search results, but only mine has the “A creative resource for family historians” tagline.