Here’s a situation where I had no supporting images for the story. So, I used a current photo of a shrimp boat coming through the bridge. I then used an app [SketchMee for Mac - $7.99] to convert the photo to a monochrome (sepia) sketch. I did this for two reasons. First, the story is set back in the 1950s so the sepia image gives it a bit of a vintage feel, and second, using a monochrome color scheme reduced the contrast between the sky and the clouds – making it easier for the text to stand out. The font used in this example is Jayne Print.
We all know how well Twitter lets us keep up with friends and family, but did you know how useful Twitter is for news? Twitter lets users organize the people and organizations they follow into lists. These lists can then be used to create topic-specific news feeds. The @genBUZZ user offers several genealogy-related lists providing a sort of genealogy version of the Associated Press. The @genBUZZ lists let you follow (keep up with) specific topics that match your interests. For example, there’s a list for archives, another for old photographs and another for society news.
This is all well and good, but just how do you keep up with the topic of your choice? To do that you need to know how to follow a list.
If you know the username for a person or organization, you can easily visit their list page using this URL: https://twitter.com/[username]/lists. So, https://twitter.com/genbuzz/lists will display the page you see above. Scroll through the lists and when you see one you find interesting, click on the list title to display its page.
From here you can see samples of the tweets being feed by this list as well as the Twitter users who make up the list. If this is a list you want to follow, just click on the Subscribe button and it’s added to your Twitter feed. You don’t have to follow a Twitter account to follow one or more of its lists.
While you can “read” the list in your favorite web-based twitter app, there’s a growing number of mobile device apps which will turn that 140 character tweet into a delightful reading experience. Probably the best of these is Flipboard [iOS & Android - free]. It supports Twitter lists as well as searches. Once you have followed a list in your Twitter account, it appears in Flipboard under Accounts > Twitter > Lists You Follow. All you have to do is tap the list name to add it as a Flipboard content section.
If you aren’t already familiar with Flipboard, it’s an amazing app for your iOS or Android tablet that will turn all kinds of news feeds into a beautiful magazine-style reading experience. You will find a huge selection of fascinating news sources ready and waiting for you to choose from or you can create your own custom news service by connecting to your Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIN, Google+ and many other social networks to follow their latest updates.
A recent Flipboard app update gives every Flipboard user the ability to create and share their own magazine on Flipboard. It lets you collect content from across the Web and organize it within your magazine’s news stream. This is not a magazine that’s “published” one issue at a time. Instead, this is a streaming magazine that is constantly being updated with the content you select. Here’s how you can build your own magazine in Flipboard using your iPad.
The bookmarklet mentioned in the video, as well as a Chrome extension, can be found on the Flipboard support page for magazines. Now here’s the video showing Android users how to create magazines.
But that’s not all! Flipboard just released a web-based magazine editor that gives you even more control over your magazines. It lets you edit the magazine’s profile, change the cover page, rearrange the order of articles collected in the magazine by dragging and dropping them, and even delete articles you don’t like. You’ll find the editor at http://editor.flipboard.com and once you’ve logged in using your Flipboard account, you’ll be ready to work. This video gives you a tour of the editor and how you can use it.
My magazine focuses on my favorite topic – DIGITAL Storytelling. I’ve found several other genealogy topics which you’ll find in the gallery display below. The easiest way to find these magazines is to use the search bar on your Flipboard home screen and search for the title or topic that interests you. As you already know, the genealogy community is creating a massive amount of online content. Flipboard magazines give us the opportunity to build focused magazines covering all kinds of genealogy topics like archives, apps, photo restoration, preservation, research . . . Not only would it make it easier for readers to get information on a specific topic, it would give the content creators additional, well-deserved attention.
This could get real interesting real soon!
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.
I often write about using your own family ephemera to create custom graphics for your family history projects. The other day I was cruising the newsletter templates in Pages and stumbled onto this one.
Isn’t it stunning? With the addition of one or two vintage fonts, this could be the perfect template for any number of family history projects. Take a closer look at the graphic elements used in the design – a sheet from an old lined stationery pad, some old stamps, a torn and crumpled scrap of paper and a manila tag. Chances are good you have similar things in your family archives. Why not put them to use?
There are a couple of scanning and editing tricks you can use to create your own library of ephemera graphics. Using your family ephemera as design elements in your family history adds a personal touch to your projects that more than compensates for the effort involved in creating them. Not only do you save money by doing it yourself, you’re in control of the legal rights to your work and can use it wherever you want. Here’s how I do it . . .
I keep sheets of colored card stock handy when I’m scanning. They serve several uses. I learned early on that the white background found on the lid of most flat-top scanners isn’t always your friend. When you scan newspaper clippings or letters written on both sides of thin papers, you’ll often have the print on the back side bleed through on your scanned copy. Placing a light or medium gray sheet of card stock over your scanned piece will prevent the bleeding. When scanning items for design elements, use a color that contrasts with the item you’re scanning. In my example, I’m scanning the back of an old post card that has aged to a nice sepia color. I’ve chosen a blue background because there’s no blue elements on the card.
Notice that I’ve selected to scan an area just a bit larger than my post card. Yes, the card isn’t straight, but it’s faster to fix it in my photo editor than to fuss with it on the scanner. I’m using Photoshop Elements in these examples and scanning this item directly into the app. Once the scanning is complete, I’ll be ready to start editing.
Here you can see that I have straightened the postcard and used the Magic Wand selection tool (arrow points to it in the toolbar) to select the blue background. Often colored stock isn’t one flat color and you either have to adjust the Magic Wand tool’s tolerance setting or select multiple times to get all the background selected. Once it’s all selected, choose the Edit > Cut command (Ctrl/X or Cmd/X keystrokes) to remove the background. You now have a transparent background.
My next step is to crop the image down as close to the postcard’s actual edges as possible. Most of these old pieces no longer have straight edges so you’ll probably have some of the transparent background in your final piece. In my case, however, I have another problem to fix. There’s a shadow line that runs across the top of my card because it wasn’t sitting totally flush on the scanner bed. By zooming in close, I can again use the Magic Wand to select and cut it out too.
Once you’ve removed all the unnecessary background, save your graphic file. I will save it in Photoshop format for any later editing I might wish to perform and in .png format for use in projects. Unlike .jpg, the .png format supports transparency so you can often just dump the graphic into your project and keep on going. In more complex designs, like collages, you may have to go back to the Photoshop file and select/copy/paste just the image into your creation.
I now have a beautifully-aged blank post card back that can be used for journaling, titles or as part of a collage in any number of projects – from documents to scrapbooks to slide shows to movies.
Try it yourself. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
Recently one of my older relatives was involved in an automobile accident. Although he wasn’t seriously injured, at his age even the small things take a long time to heal. Our biggest concern is with his sight. Bottom line is we don’t know yet if his sight problems can be fully resolved and, as you might imagine, he’s in a very depressed state right now. One thing that has helped get his mind off his problems is getting him to talk about old times. That’s when the light bulb came on. The family historian in me jumped on this opportunity to provide him with some pleasant diversions while capturing a bit of family history in the process.
Using advice from Susan Kitchens’ RootsTech presentation, I purchased an Edutige EIM-001 microphone [$27.43] for my iPhone. Susan’s Family Oral History Using Digital Tools is a fabulous resource for anyone interested in capturing audio stories. I also found a great little stand [$9.95] that also serves as storage for my earbuds. The stand makes it easy to watch the activity on my recorder app while I’m interviewing. Speaking of apps, I’ve tried several and found the Recorder Plus + II Pro [iOS - $2.99] easiest to use with the features I want. There’s a free version of Recorder Plus + II, but the paid version includes the ability to easily move my recording files to Dropbox and other apps that support “Open In”. This makes it a whole lot easier to move the recordings from my iPhone to cloud storage so I can access the files from my desktop or other devices when I’m ready to start building storytelling projects using my recordings.
With equipment in hand, my next challenge is to organize my notes. All of us have inherited the storytelling gene to one degree or another, but we all have a tendency to wander away from the main topic. Yes, often those wanderings are just as interesting as the starting topic. The challenge will be to get all of the main story while collecting a lot of side stories too.
I’m using my Evernote Moleskin notebook for both my questions and to jot down ideas generated during the conversation. Later I can use the iPhone to capture those notes and add them to my Evernote notebook for future reference.
I’m on the transport schedule to take him to his physical therapy a couple of times this week. We’ll stop off for coffee and a bit of conversation afterwards and see if it can’t spark a bit of storytelling in the process. Stay tuned.
The public side of the Posterous blog platform is no longer. According to the guys at Posthaven, they had to close down new account signups for a while last week to focus on getting Posterous users safely migrated to Posthaven. Over at the Posterous site, there’s a notice that existing users can continue to log in until May 31st – but only to request a site backup.
So, with the Posterous migration madness behind them, the Posthaven developers can concentrate on building the platform. Here’s what’s happening according to their roadmap:
Here’s what’s in there now:
- Post by web, with photos, music, video and documents
- Private sites with passwords
- Pages and links
- Autopost to Facebook and Twitter
Here’s what’s coming soonest:
- Post by email
- Image gallery upload and editing
- CSS customization
- Autopost to Google+, App.net, LinkedIn, and other services
- Blog following with email notifications
- Multiple contributors
Don’t see anything about themes here? Not to worry – they’re saving that for last. The CSS customization feature should give us some flexibility with fonts, colors and such, but themes won’t come until everything else is in place. I kinda like the plain vanilla wrapper – but a few custom fonts could do wonders . . .
Lots of talk about libraries in the digital world in this week’s DIGITAL Storytelling. You’ll also find some great tutorials to help your storytelling efforts.
If you are a subscriber, you already have it in your inbox. Subscribe now and have your copy delivered every Sunday morning! DIGITAL Storytelling is full of ideas, resources and how-to guides that will help you tell your family story.