Digital Storytelling – Givit

Previewing a video in my online Givit profile.

If you’re a fan of Instagram and have an iPhone, you’ll love Givit[iOS - free]. This delightful app gives you the ability to capture, edit, upload and share videos taken with your iPhone. It’s quick and it’s easy. The actual video can be captured either in the Givit app or using the iPhone’s camera app. Editing is just a matter of selecting highlighted portions of your clips, stitching them together and adding a couple of special effects like slow motion or instant replay. You can include background music if you want. Once that’s done, you upload it to your profile at Givit and share it with others if you want. You can make connections with other Givit users from within the online site and you can share your videos via Facebook and YouTube – either from your iPhone or the site. Each user gets 5GB of space free and you can purchase more if you wish.

Sharing from your online profile.

Givit gives us an easy way to capture and share those little moments of our lives that are so special. How can you not love it?

Kindle Tip: Install the Desktop Reader

Install the freeĀ Kindle desktop app on your computer. Not only does it put all your reference books – with notes and highlights – right on the desktop while you’re working, it’s easier to add lengthy notes in the desktop app when you have a real keyboard to work on. In the example shown here, I have clicked on the Notes & Highlights icon at the left side of the reader which opened the sidebar to display all of the annotations in this book. Clicking on any one of them takes me right to that point in the book. The other sidebar icons allow me to search the book and display the table of contents.

Command buttons at the top of the window give me access to the tools found on all Kindle readers. I can even shop for books from the app. And, the desktop is great for those graphical books that aren’t at their best on a small, monochrome screen. With the desktop app, I can resize the reading window to best fit the content being displayed. You can see an example of that – and the sidebar table of contents – below.

There are limitations, however. You cannot access your personal documents or magazines on the app – probably newspapers too, but I don’t subscribe to any so I can’t say.

Although I don’t see the desktop app as a serious reading solution, it can be a very handy tool in your digital research toolbox. If you’re a Kindle user, you definitely need this.


The Family Yearbook

This is homecoming weekend for my high school. I didn’t make it to last night’s game (we won!) but I did pull out my yearbooks and spent some time looking back and remembering the people, places and events that were such a big part of my life years ago. It dawned on me that a yearbook would be a great way to document our current family history. From newlyweds and new babies to golden anniversaries and even memorials for those who have passed on, a yearbook could easily become a family tradition that builds a history for future generations. The more I think about it, the more I like this idea. Bear with me . . . I’m thinking “out loud” here.

It’s been a pretty active year in my family, so this would be a good year to kick one off. The first one will be the toughest because I’ll have to do most of it myself. If the “premier” edition is a big enough hit, it should make it easier to get family members to pass on news and pictures to be included in the next one. Even with help, a yearbook will require a lot of time and energy to create.

I’m looking at some kind of photo book format – preferably one like Blurb or Lulu with an available storefront. Although I may give away some finished books – especially the first year – I want to make it easy for others to get a copy and, hopefully, build an archive so previous issues will be available to extended family or new members. I’ve made some progress getting family members to use Flickr for photo storage and sharing, and both these platforms support pulling photos from Flickr. That could make it easier to get others to share photos for future yearbooks.

So, what do I want to put into my yearbook? Here’s some of my initial thoughts. If you’ve got any ideas, I’d be delighted to see them.

  • One of my first thoughts was that the “centerfold” should be a photographic family tree. The focus would be on living family members – so everyone could see how they fit into our “blended” families of today. It sounds like a good idea, but the actual construction could be quite a challenge. And, we’d have to go back a generation or two to make many of the cousin connections. Will all this fit onto one two-page spread?
  • Instead of the classes in my high school annual, I’m considering a section of family groups. Ideally, each group would include an annual group photo along with plenty of snapshots from vacations, Little League and soccer teams, new homes and any other things that family considers interesting.
  • A spotlight section gives focus to special accomplishments like awards, honors and other recognition. Our family is blessed with some amazing talent so there’s always a blue ribbon from a county fair or art show to acknowledge.
  • Of course there’s always those special family events – weddings, new babies, graduations and anniversaries – to celebrate.
  • And, there will be memorials to those who passed away during the year.
  • Our family’s full of great cooks so we could include a recipe or two each year. The question is . . . should this be part of the family sections or a section of its own?
  • What about a legacy section to bring in some earlier family history with each yearbook? I could recruit members to submit articles on a family history topic of their choice. From documenting the origin of a family heirloom to a biographical sketch of an ancestor to photos from some family event, these articles could not only expose family members to their history, but also inspire the authors to get involved in a little family research.
This would be a major project each year requiring a lot of effort. We all know what it’s like trying to get people to commit to a project, let alone live up to their commitments. Even so, the result could be well worth the effort and frustration. I’ll keep you updated as I work through these ideas and build my initial yearbook.



Tech Notes – 12 October 2012

Charlotte Street

Kindle Tip: MacWorld has a great tip to insure that you can keep books synched across devices. It’s all in how you load the book. Instead of “side-loading” a book file using the USB cable or iTunes (for Kindle apps on your iThings), use the free Send to Kindle app to send it to each device you might use for reading and check the box to keep a copy in your Kindle library. Now, if you’re stuck waiting in the dentist office, you can pull out your iPhone and start reading right where you left off on your Kindle reader.

The talented folks at Photoshop Elements Techniques have put together a 2013 calendar template along with a guide on how to use it. If you are an avid PSE user, this magazine is always full of great ideas and the subscribers section of the supporting website has video tutorials and more. Although it’s a bit pricey, it’s a great value.

Blurb has introduced an enhanced ebook designed for the iPad. This format supports both audio and video and can be built using their online ebook editor. The resulting publication can be sold through Blurb or at Apple’s iBookstore.

Springpad board example.

If you’re running the Android version of the Dolphin browser, you can take advantage of the Evernote add-on to clip the text from any website you’re viewing. There’s also a Skitch add-on that lets you annotate the displayed web page and send it to Evernote. You’ll find these add-ons by swiping left to display the add-on toolbar then tapping the gear icon. Unfortunately, add-ons are not available for the iOS apps at this time.

Springpad has introduced several new features and one, the Board, provides a visual look at the contents of your notebooks giving it the look of a bulletin board. Oh, and you can make notebooks public so that people can follow them and keep up with your latest additions. This delicious example caught my eye. It’s been a while since I spent any time with Springpad. Maybe it’s time to go take another look.

Sigil ebook editor [Win, Mac & Linux - open source] has released version 5.9 beta with a newly-designed interface and lots of new features. If you are fed up with the errors found in machine-converted ebooks and want to control the layout process of your book yourself, this is just the app. You can work in the WYSIWYG view or get down into the HTML weeds. In this version you can now paste the contents of a Word document into Sigil’s Book View and it will pull in the heading styles and character formatting such as bold and italics too. This is a beta version so it will have its hiccups, but the app’s improvements are worth the effort.

That’s it for this edition of Tech Notes. Enjoy your weekend!