Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year for 2013 is …….

Screen shot 2013-11-20 at 6.56.12 PMWhat is the Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year (WOTY)?
The Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year is a word, or expression, that we can see has attracted a great deal of interest during the year to date. Every year, candidates for Word of the Year are debated and one is eventually chosen that is judged to reflect the ethos, mood, or preoccupations of that particular year and to have lasting potential as a word of cultural significance.
(Oxford Dictionaries.com)

And so, this year’s Word of the Year was recently announced, and the winner is …….. drum roll, please ……. “selfie.”

Yes, that’s it. The International Word of the Year.

SELFIE

What is it? Here is the Oxford definition:

selfie:
noun, informal
(also selfy; plural selfies)
a photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website

The word Selfie can be traced back to an Australian online forum wayyy back in 2002.

Do you use this word? (I haven’t)

Do you take selfies? (I have, a few times when traveling, and quickly deleted the result. Clearly selfies are not a friendly form of photography for folks-of-a-certain-age :shock:)

Screen shot 2013-09-09 at 9.35.25 PM

Amazing Cat Face: Photoshopped? or NOT?

photo-52

photo-52

I just couldn’t help myself. I had to show you these pictures. And since this blog has a “tech” theme, I stretched the title with the “photoshopped” tease…… :)

But I do think this fellow’s face looks, well, fake. The line down the middle is just so straight!!!!

He is a feral kitten (no lectures, please) and he just showed up at my back door on Saturday. I tapped the window and when he looked up I used my iPhone to take his picture.

Have you ever seen such an amazing face?

Screen shot 2013-09-09 at 9.35.25 PM

Doodle on Photos with Photo Editor-

Image-1Early last year I recommended Skitch as a great app to use for drawing on photos. I used it often and was excited about sharing it. Recently they “upgraded” it and have rendered it almost useless. I assume they will fix it again, but in the meantime, I needed another easy-to-use photo editor. And I found a great one! Yay!

So now I’m enjoying this new (to me) photo-editing app, called Photo Editor-. It is free, although you can buy extra tweeks. So far, I have bought nothing, and I’m very happy with the functionality of the app exactly the way it is (w/o extras). I can crop, enhance, eliminate red eye, and do many other common photo-things.

AND …..With this app you can also easily add text, change the color of the text, resize the text and place it anywhere on the photo.

AND…… You also have the ability to draw on a photo, changing the thickness of your line and the color, as well.

AND … for extra fun, they have “stickers”. A beginner “pack” is included with the free version. I grabbed a plain picture of the Simpsons off of the internet, and had fun adding all kinds of little extras on them. I added the speech bubble and text, Bart’s hat, Maggie’s Groucho face, Marge’s glasses, Homer’s tie and 3D glasses and Lisa’s sombrero. Imagine the fun with your own family photos. (I almost used my own family for this post, but I thought better of it. :shock: )

Image-1

Once you finish editing your photo, you are given many options of what to do with your masterpiece. You can email it, tweet it, facebook it, or save it.

I’m delighted to have a good draw-on-it photo app again.

Screen shot 2013-10-07 at 7.12.12 PMPhoto Editor- is free in the iTunes store.

Screen shot 2013-09-09 at 9.35.25 PM

Macro Photography on your iPhone: How to Lock the Focus

Photo Skitch Document-5Although the iPhone isn’t a replacement for a “real” camera, it can take excellent photos.

In addition to general photography, it can do an amazing job on close-up (macro) photos.

Just hold the iPhone about 4 inches from your subject, and you will be surprised at the detail you can capture.

However, while you are trying to get your subject into focus, you may be frustrated because every time you move a bit to recompose the shot, (even ever so slightly), the iPhone camera adjusts and refocuses. Argh!

There is a way to “lock” the focus in place and solve this problem, but the feature is a little hard to find.

Here is how to lock your macro focus on your iPhone:

Move your iPhone to within about 4 inches from your subject.

Put your finger on the screen on top of the subject of your photo.

You will see a square appear under your finger. Hold your finger in place against the screen and the square will start pulsating. Take your finger off the screen.

As you lift your finger, you will see the words “AE/AF Lock” appear at the bottom of the screen. This means that the focus is now locked and you can make your small adjustments to the photographic composition without the camera shifting out of focus, again.

Photo Skitch Document-6

The lock is ‘released’ after you take a shot, so if you are going to take more photos, you will have to put your finger on the screen each time to enable the lock.

Photo Skitch Document-7

Screen shot 2013-03-06 at 7.27.02 PM

Tiny Bit of Tech at the Philly Flower Show

Screen shot 2013-03-07 at 8.43.40 AM The Philadelphia Flower Show is the largest indoor flower show (longest running, too) and a glorious extravaganza that I look forward to every year. Not only does it signal the entrance of Spring, but in its own right, it fills the Convention Center with sights and smells and displays and artistic design beyond the imagination. Each year is built around a theme, and this year the theme is “Brilliant” with exhibits focusing on the landscapes, culture and beauty of Great Britain.

And yes. There was Tech. No escaping that. Tech crops up everywhere, even when it’s time to stop and smell the roses. :) (More on that, later)

But first…. let’s look around.

The entrance gates ….

DSC01150

The grand centerpiece, Big Ben …

DSC01058

Of course there were acres of displays, and fields of flowers …

DSC01071

But with all of that, I find that some of the “other” entries really astound me. For example, the miniatures. The miniatures are presented in a wall with rows of little windows, each with an incredible miniature version of a scene, complete with appropriate plants. I took photos of every miniature, and there were many beauties … cityscapes and countrysides. The details are extraordinary. Choosing one to share here was difficult, so I picked a grand prize winner: The Herbology Greenhouse at Hogwarts. (There are 25 varieties of plants in this one, and I have the list if anyone is particularly interested, just email me through the contact link.) Click on the photo to enlarge it and enjoy the detail.

DSC01086

DSC01087

Another entry which astounds me is the Pressed Plant Art.

DSC01103

Just look at these amazing pictures, all made with flowers and plants.

DSC01107

DSC01111

So where was the tech?

Apps, of course. Always apps. This sign showed up everywhere around the floor:

DSC01068

And then there is the “Tech” of Big Ben.

Every hour, on the hour, the clock face alters and becomes a video screen (on all four sides), with a potpourri of British goodness. I did not film this, but turning to YouTube, I found many people had uploaded their videos. And so I just picked one to share here.

Presenting the Techy Centerpiece of the Philadelphia Flower Show: :)

iPhone (smartphone) or Camera?

I love having a camera (disguised as a mobile phone) with me all of the time. It’s such fun to be able to ‘catch’ moments that you used to say “I wish I had my camera with me.”

Here is my dog, sitting in my lap. iPhone handy, always ready.

A moment later, I caught her in the middle of a silly tongue lap:

My backyard cutie. He won’t stay at the door for long. iPhone in my pocket.. caught him!

A crazy bug landed for a moment (what is it!? and I hope it doesn’t come back! )

Those are all examples of the unplanned pics, the ones you are happy to have a ‘camera in your pocket’ to grab.

But what about for travel?

Last time I took a trip, I used my iPhone, only. No camera. I enjoyed having one less thing to cart around. I think the pictures turned out pretty good, and I never regretted not bringing a camera:

BUT

I am now planning a new travel adventure, and I’m not sure the iPhone will suit. My first concern is memory space. With a camera you have removable memory storage so that you never run out of space. Although the iPhone holds a LOT of pictures, what if I shoot too many? I don’t want to have to worry about that.

Perhaps you have a REAL camera, and that makes all your photography extra special. I know that many of the bloggers that I visit are taking some awesome photos. For you, the camera itself is important.

But what about the point-and-shooters?

What do you do? Have you abandoned your camera in favor of your smartphone for travel? Or do you break out the camera for the trip?

Death in a Graveyard (and it’s all Sandy’s fault)

I know this is a tech blog, and I always try to stay on topic, but this storm continues to pull us all in so many directions ….

As I ventured out today, I brought my iPhone, and so (it’s a stretch :) ) all pics are iPhone-pics, and iPhone pics = blog material. Right? Right!

I decided to “escape” and go for a walk in one of my favorite spots in the Fall…. a cemetery that is hilly with many old stately trees. Colorful and gorgeous.

I expected some damage, but I wasn’t prepared for what I saw: death in the graveyard (I’ll explain at the end of this post)

Of course, Sandy didn’t leave anyplace untouched. I counted 8 glorious trees crashed to the ground. Many trees broken and torn. How sad.

And as I walked, I was TOTALLY startled to see this:

Around the downed treetop were dozens of dead crows! Look around the headstones in the picture, above. Do you see all those crows?

What?
How?
Were they nesting in the tree?
When the storm blew the tree down, couldn’t the crows just fly away?
Why did they all die when it fell?
Can anyone explain this to me?

Barbra Streisand and My Tech Fail

photo credit: JCT(Loves)Streisand* via photopin cc

I try to put out a post early each day. But I was up WAY past my bedtime last night, and no where near home, so I apologize for the lateness of this post.

Last night I was thrilled to be a member of the audience at Barbra Streisand’s Concert in Philadelphia.

It was awesome. She is awesome. When Barbra strings together those long, stunning, belting notes (like “I’ve come home at last” from Sunset Blvd) …. nothing, no one can beat it.

What can I say? Chills.

So how do I tie this to tech?

The tech message on the tickets was very clear with “No Cameras / Video / Recorders” printed across the front. Almost any concert you go to these days includes such a message.

I overheard many nervous conversations outside of the Wells Fargo Center where people were wondering, “What about my cell phone? Does it count? It takes pictures and video…..”

I brought mine with me. If there was a photo to be had, I wanted to be ready to capture the memory. I figured the worst case scenario would mean that I would have to take the phone back to the car.

But no such trouble. Tickets were scanned and no one asked or cared about cell phones.

(There is another subject that could be explored, about whether or not photos/videos should be allowed at concerts, and how on earth they can be stopped as our gadgets improve…. but that is a subject for another day.)

So, settled into my seat, I thought I’d try to sneak a picture or two. If there is safety in numbers, I was golden. Everywhere I looked, people were holding up their phones.

However, I wasn’t too hopeful. I have tried to take photos at concerts, before, and when you couple the low light with the distance involved, the results are dismal.

I wasn’t alone with that revelation. As the show went on, the cell phones gradually disappeared, (except for those who were calling friends and family and leaving the line open so that they could “hear” from home. :) )

I have seen a fair amount of YouTube videos that people have taken at concerts. I’ve seen good, pretty good, and horrible. Mine were at the horrible level, but I guess it all depends on your seat and the lighting.

So I’ll keep my blurry photos as a memory for me, but they are pitiful and not anything I can share with pride.

But each blur holds a wonderful memory. They’re gorgeous to me.

I’ll forever look at each and say, (I’m sorry, I can’t resist) “Hello, Gorgeous”

PhotoToaster: An Awesome Tool to Edit Your Photos

PhotoToaster is EASY and AWESOME. Those two words (combined) mean everything. What good is “easy” if the results are yuchy? And what good is “awesome” if it’s too time-consuming or difficult to do? But “easy” AND “awesome”? Together? Now we’re cooking.

There are quite a few very good photo-editing apps available and PhotoToaster is among the best of them. There are 60 one-click effects. I ran a photo of some flamingos through a number of the effects, so that you could see them, here.

This is the original photo and I marked the lower left hand corner with arrows. These arrows point to the dial that you turn to get strips of thumbnail effects, lined up across the bottom. The first is “as shot”, and that is what I have selected, here.

As you twist the dial in the app, new effect strips appear across the bottom. These strips can be swiped left for even more effects. As you work, just tap any thumbnail on the bottom and the full size photo (with the effect applied) is enlarged for you to see.

In addition to all these single tap effects, there are many other opportunities to tweak. You can crop, rotate, straighten and use lighting brushes and more.

From within the app, you are also given the opportunity to look back at recent edits, to access your photo library, to access the camera, and to paste the photo to the clipboard. You are also offered a link to a video tutorial, and a “tips” button that teaches you about the controls.

But the real glory, in my opinion, is the ability to transform your photo into something quite special with just ONE tap. Ah, easy AND awesome! (and quick, too).

OH, and did I mention….. Fun!

PhotoToaster is designed for the iPhone and the iPad for a single price of $1.99.

Photo Stream Try Out: The Good and the Not-So-Good

Bethesda Terrace Arcade was created in the 1860s as a part of Central Park’s main formal architectural feature.

I’ve only recently turned on the Photo Stream between my devices. I didn’t really see the need, since I was often syncing with a cable to my computer, and I’d move around my photos, then.

But I’m trying to cut the cord, and as both the iPhone and the iPad are now updatable without a computer connection, I’m attempting to change my old syncing habits.

And so yesterday I spent the day in New York. It was such a comfortable day (a wonderful relief within this blazing hot summer) and the perfect day for a city stroll.

While we walked, I took photos with my iPhone. But this time was different from other times. Before I left home, I enabled the Photo Stream on both my iPhone and on my iPad. (You can turn it on by going to Settings > Photos > Photo Stream OR Settings > iCloud > Photo Stream)

With Photo Stream set to “on”, I knew that all of the photos I took with my iPhone would magically appear on my iPad as soon as both devices were in a wireless environment.

The Falconer, Central Park

So, when I got home (a wireless environment) I eagerly went to my iPad to see if the photos were there.

They WERE!!! I was so delighted! (for about 10 minutes) It took about that long to realize that not ALL of the photos had transferred. Random ones simply didn’t copy to the iPad.

I tried a few possible fixes, with no luck. This a puzzle, and I’m determined to find out why. You’ll have to stay tuned to this blog for the answer.

In the meantime, I’m still generally happy with the experience.

There are a few other things to know about using Photo Stream, and I’ll be writing a post about that, before the end of the week.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 653 other followers