So now that all your photos are digital, how are you backing up your photos? Are they just sitting on that old dell, waiting for a hard drive failure to wipe them out? Or did you back them up to DVD or external hard drive, only leaving yourself open to loss by theft, fire, flood, kids, or whatever else life throws at you? And did you include your hundreds of in-the-moment camera phone pictures in your backup scheme, or are you a toilet incident away from losing those too? The majority of people I know don’t back up their photos well because it’s too much work. They’d have to go through those 400 pictures from Mexico, organize them, remember how to back stuff up to DVD, etc, etc. Using Google+ to back them up solves a few problems like:
Backing up photos at a reasonable quality
Providing automatic, minor photo touch ups
Highlighting interesting photos
Managing both your SLR or Point and Shoot camera photos AND your camera phone photos.
Google’s also pretty good about letting you download your stuff if you decide to leave for another service. So here’s the scoop: Google+ lets you do unlimited photo uploads at 2048 pixels, that’s about 3 Megapixels if you’re counting and that’s plenty to do regular sized photo prints. Picasa, Google’s desktop photo managing software, lets you automatically resize and upload pictures from your computer, while the Google+ app on iPhone or Android lets you automatically resize and upload pictures taken on your phone. As of this writing, backed up photos aren’t shared with anyone other than yourself, but you can modify that setting if you wish.
Start it, let it find all your pictures (this step might take a while)
Go into tools->options
Set your default upload size to “best for web sharing” 2048 px
Hit the “don’t confirm every sync” (it’s annoying)
To upload, you can either go through the bulk upload, or hit the “sync to web” slider in the top right on all the folders you want to sync.
The blue pinwheel in the top right will start spinning to let you know it’s backing stuff up.
Remember that it’s backing up any naughty pics too. (Not that you have any)
After it’s all said and done, you can login to Google+ and go to your photos area to see all your photos. At least your photos are now somewhere infinitely safer than your desktop PC. Even better, Google+ automagically touches up your photos (while still keeping a copy of the original), touching up colors, pulling together smiles from multiple group pictures to make an impossible “everyone smiling at once” photo that’s so hard to get with kids. It also automatically highlights photos, so you can upload 400 photos from your Mexican vacation guilt-free and it’ll find the good ones. One other thing it can do at a basic level is understand what’s in the photos. You can search for things like “cats” and it’ll find pictures with cats in them. As Google gets better at understanding what’s inside images, this feature will really start to get useful. In short, make Google+ do all that stuff you’ve been meaning to do with your photos, but didn’t have the time to.
Alternative route: If you demand more resolution or are scared of Google, use Flickr or burn your pics to DVD and put them in a safe, and then bury the safe and encase it in cement.
The microusb connector on my Galaxy Nexus cratered, so I had to revert to an iPhone 4 while it was away on service. I took this opportunity to compare and contrast the 2 platforms and a bit of the hardware that’s typical on either one.
Better connector. Yeah, Lightning is proprietary and that means it sucks, but the physical connector is more robust, easier to use, and better. Micro USB is a miniaturization of a 16 year old design (USB). Lightning is a clean-sheet effort and it shows.
Super easy and fast to get the iPhone 4 onto iOS6. Depending on the news outlet, iOS6 adoption was north of 30% total users a mere 1 week after release. Android hasn’t hit that level for 4.0+ despite that version being out for a YEAR. The whole updating system on Android is a mess of manufacturer delays and carrier delays. Maybe they’ll clean things up with the Nexus 4 since there’s absolutely no manufacturer or carrier customization at all.
I was able to use my side of the his and hers iPhone docking station I have at home. There are lots of peripherals and devices that are built for the iPhone. Despite the Galaxy Nexus being out for a year, peripherals still aren’t available on Google Play. The phone has contact points on the outside that would be perfect for charging and would reduce the wear and tear on the microusb port, but they’re useless without the peripherals that support them. The situation at local phone shops is no better. No car docks, no home docks, no desk docks, nothing.
Great battery life. I got through a day without any issues.
Bigger screens. The iPhone screen is small by modern standards and terrible for browsing text content. The iPhone 5 screen is barely any better. The bigger screen is harder on the battery, but if I’m using it and I like using it, who cares? (Update: The Nexus 4 can take me through a work day and still have 75% battery left after moderate use, it rocks!)
Static back buttons: Android got this one right. The back button in Apple is in different places depending on the app. Androids back button works in app AND out. Popping into a new notification, reading it, and then heading back to where you were before the interruption is ridiculously easy.
No planned obsolescence. There’s no good reason why this iPhone 4 doesn’t support turn by turn navigation or Siri. It’s got the horsepower. My similar era Samsung Captivate is running CM10 and has all the new OS goodness. Unlike Apple’s OS updates, Android updates generally make older devices faster, not slower.
Multitasking. On Android, apps auto-update, downloads happen, everything works great.
Notifications. The pull down notification bar that Apple ripped off from Android just isn’t nearly as good. I will NEVER post to Facebook from my notification bar, so why the hell is it there? I also don’t care about stocks. Lockscreen notifications are also pretty weak in comparison.
General usability in Android is just better. The app store on iOS6 is an abomination, making you scroll through searched apps one at a time. Apps in Android communicate with each other and make content share-able in ways that Apple locks down.
Data portability is better. Total pain in the ass to get my contacts and info on the iPhone. Without that iTunes link, it’s really terrible and the locked down iCloud isn’t any better. Try putting an MP3 on the phone somewhere. On Android you can download it via the browser, or plug your phone in and drop it into a folder. How the heck do you do this on an iPhone without the iTunes abomination?
So there you have it, some pros and cons from someone who has used both platforms.
Before I begin, I must disclose that I’m a creaky old Windows power user and peaked in usage/hacking on the OS during win2k/XP days. Every new update since results in a loss in usability for me. I skipped Vista entirely, but once I was forced onto Windows 7, I had a few minutes of good productivity that I lost everyday searching for shit that should be easy to find, like “uninstall program”. I lost options in troubleshooting drivers and other nasty things, but the speed improvements made up for it. I’ve been playing with Windows 8 Release Preview for a month or two now so I can tell you without any uncertainty, I hate Windows 8.
It’s not so much the change, I’ve loved learning iOS and Android on phones/tablets. It’s that Microsoft has tried to create a middle ground OS that works on PCs and tablets alike. In the release preview at least, they’ve forced their “Modern UI Style” (formerly Metro) on hapless desktop users and it’s just not a good fit. My personal conspiracy theory is that they needed lots of usage data on the Metro UI, and didn’t so much need it on desktop, so they forced it to get more usage stats as desktop users struggled to adapt. Really, the New UI is just awful for desktop users.
The Start Menu and Windows 8 apps
After logging in, you’re greeted with the start menu, a . . .desktop made of tiles. There’s nothing particularly wrong with the tiles except what they represent. (mostly Windows 8 apps) To anyone used to full power desktop apps, be prepared to be disappointed with all Windows 8 apps. Why do I make such an absolute statement? Because the apps are designed for touchscreens, both their strengths and weaknesses. If you try using them with a mouse and keyboard, you get 10 seconds in before asking, “how do I…” and getting an answer of “you can’t”. In the maps app. . .how can I switch to satellite imagery? You can’t. Can I at least drag select a box area and zoom into that? LOL, no, tablets don’t do drag select! In the pictures app, how can I delete the images from my camera sd card after the computer has copied them? Any normal person would probably want to do that, but you can’t. On the mail app, I’ve got my images in a weird folder, how can I quickly get to that folder? You can’t, browse to it one folder at a time like some sort of 1990’s caveman. In the photo’s app, how can I drill into a folder instead of a library? You can’t. What can I do from the photo’s app? Well, you can email a picture if you’d like. Just like on your phone, but with a machine that’s 10x more powerful, flexible, and more precise.
Well, the apps do show things on the Start menu. So you can see things like the weather, and new incoming email. Better than “You’ve got Mail!”, but now competing with my smartphone, which is hard to beat on the notifications side. And really, if I was using email on Windows, I’d be using GMail or Microsoft Outlook. Not Outlook.com, and absolutely not this stripped down tablet-pablum email app that’s built in. So what other apps are available in the Windows 8 marketplace?
Some of the websites you know and love. Wait, that sounds weird, right? Websites as apps? Well, it’s true. You too can get weird, stripped down versions of websites instead of the full meal deal. Google’s trying to do this too with apps for Chrome and I’ve got the same thoughts for that plan. Weird and unnecessary.
I can’t really complain about all of the apps. The AllRecipes one was done pretty nicely and is great if you want pictures of random strangers’ food on your Start menu. If you want the full power experience in all its ad-supported glory, you again have to go to the website.
The rest of the apps I saw did not offer nearly the glimpse of usefulness that the AllRecipes one did. Wikipedia looked like it offered the opportunity to have random articles show up, wooohoo. Couldn’t really see much use to the others. It’s a real shame that nothing useful like Skype or even INTERNET FUCKING EXPLORER showed up as tiles. Google made Chrome a Windows 8 app, but I think Microsoft knew better. They knew that desktop users could never transition to the tile and Metro interface because:
The Desktop is Where it’s at
Crazy idea for you: Take all your useful Windows programs, and make desktop shortcuts or pin them to the taskbar. Now, NEVER touch the new Start menu unless it’s to rocket you straight to the desktop. Welcome to usability paradise, where things operate the way they should, and you don’t have to settle for half baked goods! Try not to ever tweak system settings or do power user-y kinds of things, and you’ll be safe. The desktop does cool things, like not break basic use cases that Windows users have gotten used to like. . .managing Windows! The Windows 8 apps don’t tile/resize/do anything they’re supposed to. On the Chrome Windows 8 app, you can’t drag and drop images onto your WP blog post. On the desktop version you can. On the app version, you don’t get a minize/resize/close trio of boxes in the top left, you get a small bar at the top that you can use to drag and throw away the window down to close. Does that sound like a terrible compromise for tablet users? On the desktop version, you can have multiple windows. On the tile version, just multiple tabs. If you don’t get the picture yet; desktop rocks, tiles and Windows 8 apps don’t.
It’s a crying shame, because any of the space you make up from not having a taskbar at the bottom, is lost because of that stupid bar at the top that lets you drag the window to the garbage. You can’t do anything else. The next piece that breaks is the taskbar. You now have your desktop, with the normal programs that run in it and use the Win7 taskbar at the bottom to manage, and you also have a left taskbar for Win8 apps. It groups all your normal apps into a “desktop” app, and all the shitty tile apps into their own apps drawers. Kind of like Android 3/4.
I think the worst part about all of this is that it’s forced. If I could just get a faster version of Windows with a prettier UI, I’d dish out the cash for it. If that same version came with some backend supporting code to make Windows work great on tablets, go nuts. But this version insists upon itself. Want that “share” thing to be useful? Configure and use the Windows 8 Apps. Get a call on Skype while you’re in a Windows app? Bahahaha. Even worse, if ANY of my family members gets this and asks for help, I’m going to have to start from scratch with them. In the end, Windows 8 is just awful on the desktop. Microsoft better hope that Windows on tablets takes off, because otherwise, it looks like they’re fucked.
You want to hear my idea of real productivity on Windows? Take Windows XP, make the taskbar double height. Too big you say, takes up too much screen real estate? Take a look at your default Win7/Win8 taskbar and stop your complaining. Now JAM your most used apps into the quick launch bar (which you’ll have to turn on) and limit the horizontal on your quick launch so you don’t soak up a bunch of running app room. If you do it right, you should be able to fit the apps that make up 97%+ of your typical week, have a regular taskbar that only shows apps that are launched and doesn’t mix launched vs not launched, and not have to deal with start menus at all. Sadly, where it’d be useful to skip all the insanity on Windows 8, there are no more quick launch toolbars. Oh well, back to icons all over the fucking desktop like in Windows 3.1
Agree with me? Think I’m a total idiot and want to give me the gears? Comments are down below, fire away.
This Oatmeal colored Chilean hat from Country Gentleman is based off an originally Chilean hat that farmers would use when tending their fields. The hat’s brim towards the front keeps the sun out of your eyes while threshing your Quinoa. The curved back brim allows you to look up and make sure there are no nearby eagles that could take your lambs.
Chilean hats are typically made from a cotton/linen blend, but can sometimes be made of straw, wool, or polyester. Stitching is usually of the drop loop type, except on the brim, where a walking stitch is used. The sweat band must be made of durable alpaca wool due to anti-bacterial properties and moisture wicking abilities. These combine to offer a great hat that you can wear in the 30 degree heat, slaving over your precious Quinoa.
Quinoa is best served after boiling in water for 15 minutes. Some like to add chicken broth instead of water or adding in chocolate or serving a la mode. Experiment with Quinoa and its versatility!
Thanks to our lovely model, Sarah, and her suggestions for innovating Quinoa.
It’s really hard to find info on these original 7″ GSM Galaxy Tabs from Rogers. It’s even harder trying to do advanced things like rooting/unlocking/changing bootloaders, flashing, etc. If you’ve had your eye on that alpha build of ICS, you’re headed for a ton of pain in getting information for it, so I thought I’d put up how I got it done. If you’re a super nerd, it’s totally worth it. If you’re a regular joe, it’s too much pain for the gain for now, and I’d wait. There’s got to be easier ways, but I thought I’d document my madness anyways. I’m assuming you’ve used Samsung’s Kies to upgrade your Galaxy Tab to Gingerbread and that you have no problem totally ruining your warranty and potentially bricking your device. Again, probably easier ways out there to do this, but it worked for me. If/once there’s an easier way to get Clockworkmod recovery on the Galaxy Tab, I’d imagine these steps could be chopped in half. This guide will likely work with Galaxy Tabs from Bell, Virgin Mobile, etc. I’ve structured my howto below as a high level guide and have omitted some details. If you can’t get past a step, Google it.
Download: Superoneclick 2.3.3, Samsung phone driver pack, Overcome GB Stock Safe v5, Overcome 7 Series v4.1 Wipe ROM, Overcome Kernel v4.0.0, heimdall suite 1.3.1, Odin 1.7, and the newest rom, kernel, and Google apps pack from HumberOS. Some files available from XDA forum, others from TeamOvercome, others you have to find.
Download SuperOneClick, set your tab to USB debugging mode, and click some buttons to get root. This might not be necessary, but it’s easy enough.
In order to get Clockworkmod recovery setup, I had to go through a bit of a convoluted process using team Overcome’s process. Start out by getting their stock ROM installed using Odin. You’ll need gt-p1000_mr.pit from the zip, as well as the modem that corresponds to your device. For more details on steps 2 to 5, see “the guide“
Once you’re booted into the stock rom, you’re going to copy their new 4.1 ROM to the file root of your device using USB mass storage mode.
Then you’ll start in download mode, and flash the 4.1 kernel. I had to use Heimdall, because the kernel wasn’t available as a tar file and I was too stupid to figure out how to use Odin to flash just a kernel. I was even too stupid to use Heimdall’s frontend to flash just a kernel and copied the zImage to Heimdalls directory and used the command line to move the kernel to the device. Use “heimdall flash –kernel zImage”
On reboot, your device will be taken over by a devil harpy who will format your device to ext4 and do some other stuff that probably doesn’t matter.
Next up, you install the 4.1 ROM from ClockworkMod recovery, then reboot. Whip through the OS setup part, it doesn’t matter.
Add the 3 Humber files to your root over USB.
Reboot into recovery, clear data, clear cache, clear dalvik cache, then install the ROM, Kernel, and finally gApps.
Reboot, enjoy ICS.
“Reboot into ClockworkMod Recovery”: Depending where you’re at, you might have this as an option when you turn off your device. Otherwise, Volume Up+power until you see the Galaxy Tab logo, then let go.
Go into download mode: from device off: volume down and power until you see the android digging with a shovel.
Most features work: Bluetooth (tested with audio and the Logitech keyboard for android 3.0+), front facing camera for Skype, gsm data, chrome for android, flash, etc. Still, there’s no camera still shot, chrome crashes for me when I go into settings, and a few other apps were a bit buggy. All in all, pretty good and very close to a real released version.
One of the major holes with the whole “use a tablet instead of a computer” philosophy is that software keyboards SUCK compared to old fashioned, hardware keyboards. It’s just really tough to beat that tactile feel of a key, plus all those years or decades of keyboard practice you’ve built up.To make up for the loss, many manufacturers are building Bluetooth keyboards for Android tablets and iPads. Some come as part of a case or sleeve, while others leave your tablet alone. The Logitech Tablet Keyboard is a bit of both, offering a Bluetooth keyboard and a keyboard case that doubles as a tablet stand. At $70, I thought I’d give it a whirl.
Setup itself was as easy as I imagined it would be. I had to pull two well labelled tabs to engage the batteries, flip the on switch, search for bluetooth devices on my Galaxy Tab 10.1, select the keyboard, and punch in a numerical value on the keyboard. That sounds like a lot, but I can assure you it took less than a minute. Turning the keyboard off then on again results in the tablet quickly re-pairing with the keyboard automatically as expected.
I LOVE typing with this keyboard. It’s thin, but the keys are well spaced out and I found it a breeze to hit some really good typing speeds. I always thought of tablets and phones as slow input devices, but this keyboard has shown me the way. I have a Dell mini10 netbook next to me, and that keyboard SUCKS compared to this one. Where the Dell’s keys are cramped and flush mounted, these keys stick out and have some space between them. Striking depth on the actual keys is reduced compared to a regular keyboard, but I don’t really miss it.
Actual use of a tablet keyboard like this should be limited for most people. A tablet is afterall, a device of convenience designed for maximum portability. Lugging around even a sleek keyboard like this one is not really what they’re intended for. But for the times when you need to crack out a lengthy email, or a blog post like this one, it’s unbeatable. The real reason I bought this tablet was to see if it was possible to get rid of the Dell Netbook. The netbook provided some great portability, and when it came to content creation, it still beat the pants off the tablet. With this keyboard, that’s no more. With a few other peripherals like the USB host and SD card adapter, this tablet should handily take the place of a laptop or desktop for most home users.
1. The keyboard comes powered by AAA batteries, and I see that as a blessing and a curse. A blessing, because in 3-4 years when a built-in battery would be starting to die, this keyboard can still be running strong on fresh, off-the-shelf AAA batteries. A curse, because I can’t imagine AAA’s would last longer than a well integrated rechargable lithium battery pack.
2. The keyboard does not lock into the keyboard case, it just kind of hangs out in there. It trades convenience for a really sure lock on the keyboard.
3. The keyboard comes with some extra functions like media starting, home, browser, etc. Like the extra function keys on my regular keyboard, they will never ever be used. The keys are only ever hit by accident, and I’m almost always pissed off when I do. My keyboard at work in particular, has a sleep button placed right over the arrow keys. A great example of why I hate them. In any case, the function keys on this keyboard are mostly kept out of the way by use of an Fn button, but there’s still the home and back buttons that camp out right next to the space keys. Time will tell whether these are useless or despised.
I think that’s about it. I haven’t had a chance to play with a lot of tablet keyboards, but if they’re all like this, wow. I used the Logitech Tablet Keyboard to type out this post, and it worked like a hot damn. I think that netbook’s days are numbered.
Yeah yeah, SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization, and I already said “Optimize” in the title. . .you got me. But read on and you’ll understand why I chose such a seemingly poor title.
Just to start out: this blog does not really kick ass. I started this blog on February 8th of 2011 as an experiment and to share where I hadn’t found the right information online. I’ve used some out of the box thinking on blog traction, and I’ve seen enough sample results to help you with some strategies and tactics on getting content that sticks better.
Early on in the blog, I used a bit of social media to drive traffic to the blog, but since have relied mostly on using topics and content that appeals to people out there searching on Google and the like. Part of my very loose MO on this site is to save people time with content that doesn’t exist elsewhere on the web, and spamming my social media groups to read it didn’t seem to make much sense to me. It may make more sense for you depending on your goals. That all said, one of the cool things with building good content that people need and can find via search engines is that you get a cumulative effect on your work. Content that is interesting in a year will still get traffic and you don’t need a constant churn of wicked blog posts to keep traffic up. So long as you don’t write on topics that become outdated a week after you post them, you can build up some serious traffic to your site and keep lumping more and more traffic on top. If you keep a good amount of content coming out, you’ll see that growth in traffic even if you have absolutely no consistent readers or return visitors. That’s not to say that you don’t need them, but a constant churn of new people seeing your site will help in adding to a good community anyways.
The Spring and Summer were a bit flat, and that’s mostly due to a lack of writing on my part and writing the wrong things. Opinion pieces and topics that were too bleeding edge for general consumption just aren’t good topics to write on. I also expect this post to get almost no traffic, because it’s not solving any pain out there for anyone. There’s a double edged sword there: my blog now almost exclusively does single-serving problems, and as such, relies almost entirely on Google for traffic. No one comes back, because I answered their question or gave them enough info about a topic to get them going. Because of the experimental nature of this blog, and the fact that I’m way too lazy to build a community, I’m ok with that.
What Kicked Ass?
Writing stuff that people want and actively look for.
Doing a bit of keyword research on Google’s Keyword tool before writing a post to see if it was even something that had any demand. (and what kind of things people were interested in with regards to that topic)
Use those keywords on your post.
Using Microformats in posts. See that huge kick mid-way through December? That’s due to Microformats ninjitsu. Schema.org has a bajillion different microformats.
As much as it makes me want to barf: “Community engagement”. You want links to your site? Engage with the communities that care. Some people have had success with Twitter, others with Facebook, others (like myself) directly engaging with other bloggers via commenting. I haven’t done too much of this.
Adding alt text to images. Although I get more traffic from regular Google, I get a ton of impressions and a decent amount of visits from Google Images because I properly tag most images. Easy to do with WordPress or any other decent CMS.
Adding a YouTube Video. I didn’t do a proper before and after, but my AVX740 review that includes a very short YouTube video gets much more traffic than any other post I’ve done.
What didn’t kick ass?
Linking from a Youtube video back to my site. 1,027 Youtube views and only 11 came back to my site? That sucks. If you just want to push a brand, those impressions are still great.
Writing position or opinion pieces. With no community, no one gives a shit.
I feel like most bloggers aren’t experimenting enough in monetizing their blogs. If you get a decent amount of traffic, there’s nothing wrong with getting a bit of coin back for your hard work. I experimented with several platforms on this site to see which had the most promise, although you should expect that your best method of monetization may differ from mine.
Google Adsense. Seems like blog welfare: just enough to get you by, not enough to make it really worthwhile. Unless you write for weird keywords that run in the $10+ category or get bajillions of visitors each month, it’ll be hard to turn a living with these.
Amazon Affiliate: This seemed to have the best promise for reviews type websites because you get a cut of any sales you drive for Amazon. I made a token amount of money from Amazon.
YouTube Partners: was not accepted 😦
Direct relationships with manufacturers and other end users: still the best match of relevancy and value, but don’t sell your sweat and labor for pennies on the dollar. Set up a minimum spend and stick to it. I wouldn’t accept a banner ad for anything less than $1000, because it’s just too big of a pain in the butt to do for anything less. You should have a minimum too. Track clicks out to these guys with Google Analytics Events (using Google Analyticator on WordPress) so you know whether you’re really bringing value for your advertisers. If you are, charge them appropriately.
There you have it. Now SEO your blogs and make some money!