Celebrate a special symbol of the USA with Madison Rising’s version of our national anthem.
This article was originally published on April 20, 2011.
When it comes to digital scrapbooking, I would be the square peg that just doesn’t fit into that round hole. I prefer Keynote to Photoshop as a scrapbooking platform and I’m usually designing for the rectangular screen rather than the square papers. Yes, it’s a challenge, but it’s just as much fun and I love the results.
One of the biggest challenges is playing with papers on my slides. Generally, I don’t use a background paper because it adds exponentially to the file size of the books I’m building. It also makes it more difficult to include large expanses of smallish text and maintain readability. I still love the layouts that involve stacking layers of different papers with photos, frames and other embellishments. The problem is that when you pull a “sheet” of paper onto your page, then try to resize it, Keynote wants to maintain its aspect ratio. That means if you want to turn that square-shaped paper into a rectangle, Keynote says it ain’t gonna happen.
Here’s where Shapes become your new best friend.
Using Keynote, you can place any number of shaped elements on your slide – squares, circles, rectangles, stars, arrows and more. Once you place a shape on the slide, you can resize it, color it, change its border and add a fill from a file. BINGO!
I start in Finder using the Cover Flow view. Most kits include an image showing you its contents. I find these images handy to identify coordinating papers for my current slide. From there, I scroll through the files – still in Cover Flow – to find the ones I will use. In this example, I’ll be using onelittlebird_storyteller_pp09.jpg.
Now, I go back to Keynote and place a shape on the slide. What you see here is a blue rounded square. Color, border and size will be adjusted later. In the Information Panel, you can see that this shape is filled with an Image Fill. The square thumbnail shows which image is currently in use. From here you can click the Choose button and find the paper file you want to use for your fill or you can drag the file from Finder and drop it on the thumbnail in the Information Panel.
Okay, I know this is looking very strange. This digital paper is a high resolution image and you’re seeing it at its max. Choose the selector just below Image Fill in the Information Panel and change it to Scale to Fill. As you see below, that makes a big difference.
From here you can pull any of the handles to resize the shape, even stretch it from a square to a rectangle. The fill will scale to meet your changes. Use the Stroke section of the Information Panel to change or get rid of the border. The Shadow and Reflection sections offer some interesting effects too. Here’s the final result.
Lots of excitement here in Florida as we get ready to host the Republican National Convention. It looks like delegates may want to bring their foul weather gear with them because Hurricane Isaac may pass by on his way up the Gulf. Now would be a good time for everyone in the Gulf Coast area to review their hurricane plan, check the pantry and make sure all those family treasures are safely stored, archived and backed up.
Speaking of politics, you’ll find some fascinating ways to look at the current state of political discourse around the country. First up is Amazon’s Election Heat map based on their political book sales.
Then there’s the Twitter Political Index which measures Twitter users’ interaction with and reaction to the presidential candidates and issues during the campaign.
Amazon’s in the news with the announcement that they will be holding a press conference on September 6th in Santa Monica, California. Many expect them to announce the newest Kindle Fire, but there could also be an Amazon phone in the works. Others have noticed the low inventory levels of Kindle e-Ink devices lately and wonder if there’s a new Touch in our future too.
Shortly after Amazon’s announcements, Apple will be doing some of their own. It looks like September 12th is the date we hear about iPhone 5 and possibly even a smaller iPad. If there is such a thing, I’m wondering if it won’t be marketed as the new iPod Touch rather than a smaller iPad . . .
I.R.I.S., the company known for its scanning and OCR (optical character recognition) tools, has released a digital pen that will give the Livescribe pen a bit of competition. The IRISnotes 2 doesn’t require special paper. Instead it uses a receiver device that’s placed on the paper while you write. Prices start at $90.
Logitech has released a washable keyboard for Windows users. It’s a wired keyboard that can be put under the faucet to wash. And, it’s quite affordable at $40. Expect to see it on shelves in a couple of weeks.
Looking for something fun? Try making your own map envelope. At the Map Envelope site, you enter a location and a message then Map Envelope will generate an envelope template that you print, cut out and build yourself. This could be an interesting way to mail an event invitation . . .
This week at Moultrie Creek Books, you’ll find a funny memoir – Jumping in Mud Puddles – along with a growing collection of family histories, research guides and storytelling how-to. Stop by anytime for a look.
Miriam’s having a problem finding a chat service to support Scanfest. It seems all the existing web-based platforms have either started charging for their services or they’ve been scooped up to become a component in Facebook or Google + or whatever. Does that mean we’re out of affordable options? I don’t think so.
One very easy solution is WordPress.com. There’s a delicious theme called P2 that will turn a WordPress blog into a simple collaboration platform.
The P2 theme was originally designed by the folks at Automattic, the people who created WordPress, to be used as an in-house collaborative tool. As you can see, it falls somewhere between Twitter and Facebook for handling conversations. I love the way new comments are highlighted. One of my pet peeves with Facebook is that while it does a great job notifying you that there are new responses in a conversation thread, you often still have to wade through a lot of older responses to find them. P2 makes it much easier. And then there’s the tag system for quickly moving between conversations.
A P2 site could make a great permanent home for online events like Scanfest. It could also be set up as a private social center for families or genealogy societies. Best of all, it could be a great collaboration site for teams working on publication projects like a society newsletter, a group blog or a quarterly journal. In P2, publication schedules could be posted, possible topics discussed and even used to post articles for peer review.
While P2 can be used on both WordPress.com sites and self-hosted WordPress sites, for an event like Scanfest, using WordPress.com may be the best bet. A growing number of people are already WordPress.com users and can use their existing login to participate. And, if families, societies and project teams take advantage of P2′s capabilities for their own purposes, that single WordPress.com account world provide access to any number of sites or projects.
To create a WordPress.com blog, visit the Sign Up page and complete the simple form. If all you want is to create a WordPress.com user account, you’ll find a link for that on the Sign Up page too. Instructions for setting up P2 to create a collaboration site can be found at TheNextWeb.
While my life-long fascination for paper notebooks, journals and day planners has abated somewhat, I am becoming addicted to their digital equivalents. I keep Notebooks and Penultimate busy on my iPad, but its the journaling apps that are really getting my attention. I love MacJournal for long-form writing and have it on both my Mac and my iPad. I’m finding, however, that another app is quickly becoming my go-to app for documenting the things happening in my world – as they happen. That app is Day One.
What makes Day One so special? It’s quick, it’s easy, it’s with me all the time and it’s affordable. There’s a Day One app for the Mac desktop and a universal iOS app. Both cost $4.99 so for less than $10 I have the app on my desk, my iPad and my iPhone. I can take pictures right from the app or pull them in from my library. With one tap I can document the weather at the time I created an entry and another tap will set my location. Day One supports dictation – handy when I’m creating a note on my iPhone. And, all of these notes from all of my devices are collected and synchronized in my choice of cloud platforms – iCloud or Dropbox.
This app gives me the ability to capture moments using the iPhone’s camera and a quick note yet also provides for longer, more thoughtful journaling on the desktop or iPad. It’s a delight to use and is right there whenever I want it.
Day One can import from and export to MacJournal and Momento formats and provides password protection for your journals. The backup function can be set up in Preferences to automatically perform backups on a schedule you specify and to a location you choose. At this time journals are not encrypted, but the developers have noted that they are currently working on that feature.
The combination of simplicity, availability and affordability make it easy to document both our daily activities and our thoughts with apps like Day One. As a result, we can leave behind a rich history that our descendants will treasure.