Why hasn’t Flickr got a belting App?

There was some discussion recently about the success of new and emerging photo sharing sites such as Instagram and Photovine.

The counterpoint of this discussion was the effect it has on more established sharing sites like Flickr (and Photobucket?).

At first, I failed to see the point of the discussion (as I interpreted it) as Instagram and Photovine offer completely different services to sites like Flickr and Photobucket.

Ref:http://davepeck.visibli.com/share/K4VmAN written in response to http://thomashawk.com/2011/08/flickr-is-dead.html

I had to ask the question (via Twitter): What do people want from photo sites? Why is Flickr dying? What changes are needed? @alextronic replied to @dsugden @jamesclay and @davepeck – It’s an amazing site that could do with a better app!

And that made me realise the problem. Flickr really could do with an App that does ‘stuff’. Following a recent James Clay blog post [http://tech.jamesclay.net/?p=2099]I recently bought the Paper Camera App http://bit.ly/qxJuMK (to go with Instagram and all the other photo Apps). I paid 69p. and am only marginally disappointed with it. How difficult would it be for a company like Yahoo! to develop an absolutely belting App that allows the pencillification of Paper Camera along with all the different filters found on Instagram. Even if they charge more than 69p! After all their customers have an abundance of photos – perhaps they’d like to play too?

iPad stuff

A small thing that I find irritating about my iPad is the way I have to hold the device to type.  Here I am now, typing into the ‘documents to go‘ interface and I’m not comfortable.

I want to sit (I’d envisioned myself sitting) cross legged, with the pad on my knee to type. Now that would be relaxing after a day on a normal keyboard (straight beck, eyes level with the screen etc.) but I can’t. Why? Well, when I cross my legs and put the pad in a comfy position, it slides down to my tummy and I can’t easily get to the keyboard without hunching up. I can do it ok if I hold it with one hand and type with (just) the other but otherwise (faux leather cover on or no cover on at all) it slips down. So typing with two fingers, i.e. both hands, is not as comfortable. Just saying!

Perhaps someone could design an ‘iPad knee perch’? (10% commission please).

I bought an iPad Camera kit yesterday. It wasn’t a necessity, after all I can get photos onto the iPad in any one of a number of ways but I was attracted by the saving (£19$29 – as opposed to £25 at home) and the fact that the kit included a USB adapter and an SD Card reader. Although I’m happy with my purchase, I realise now that I should have done a little more research – and adjusted my expectations accordingly. The USB does not allow anything other than cameras equipped with PTP to be connected and any SD Card contents other than photos cannot be read. So it does what it says on the tin and I have used it for my convenience several times already. Fair enough.

Perhaps someone could design an’ iPad Camera Kit pouch’? (10% commission please).

All this got me thinking about how I could take photos with the iPad. There is no camera (dammit) but that shouldn’t be a barrier! I found a free App called EZ Cam Lite. I think that there is a paid-for version, but I probably won’t bother. The whole thing is a real faff and the results not really any bettter than the old 1.3 megapixel shots we used to take. The idea is that you connect both the iPad (no camera) and the iPhone (with camera) via bluetooth and as if by magic the iPad becomes a camera. Actually the idea if fine – you could have the iPhone (with camera) turned on in one room while you sit in another room with the iPad (no camera)  viewing input from iPhone’s camera. Which might be ok if you have no baby alarm for example but the shots taken are truly awful. The one good shot I took was posed and close-up. Why I would use the iPad for that, when I had the iPhone anyway will forever remain a mystery to me.

This experiment was a real example of tailoring need to fit the technology (like the guy who finds a crutch and wonders who’s leg he can break?).

Beware: when bluetooth is turned on it sucks all the life out of your batteries. I’ve been getting a day or two out of intermittent use of the iPad but since using bluetooth, battery life drops remarkably.

I’m still liking the sociability of the iPad. It’s quick and convenient to pick up and use for all sorts of things. Don’t let me put you off with my (apparent) negativity :0(

Putting iPad to work

Because my various posts about iPad use have received a modicum of interest, I thought I’d make a few other observations and recommendations. I’m sure that there are people out there who can’t decide whether they need one or not.

No one ‘needs’ one. That’s the first thing. Everything an iPad does can be done, often better and quicker with another tool. First of all it’s too big to fit in your pocket – so it’s less ‘mobile’ than a mobile phone. To prevent damage and to make it easier to use, it will need some sort of cover; I’ve already discarded a rubber ‘condom’ cover and now use a faux leather one: each adds to the bulk, if only slightly. So why not use a laptop? Even Steve Jobs says that the iPad is not a laptop replacement (although in his heart of hearts, I’ll bet he wished it was). Most modern phones knock it into a cocked hat for multi-functionality (e.g. they can take photographs and videos) and portability.

So would I give mine away? Not on your life ! There’s no way on earth would I give it up without a fight. WHY if it’s so apparently useless, why would I fight to keep it?

Well first of all it’s not meant to be a mobile phone or a laptop. Maybe not anything that has gone before? It’s NOT a tablet PC, it’s NOT a Netbook, it’s NOT an iPod Touch even (although it does lack that same feature that would make the iPod Touch a must have mobile tool – a camera). What it is – is a perfect device for just doing ‘stuff’ on. As I’ve said before, I can quite easily make notes, write essays, and type emails on it. I can access most parts of the Internet (just not those parts that need ‘Flash’) and I can use many of the Apps that are essential parts of the ‘i’ family. And the experience is excellent. The way sites represent themselves on the iPad (and the way some Apps are designed specially for the iPad) is pleasurable and easy on the eye.

My favourite App this week is that from IMDB (http://www.imdb.com), the movie site. It’s a far better experience than the normal site and much easier to find information. And, because the iPad is able to just lie around the living room and because it has a long battery life – it’s also convenient to settle those little arguments you often have (b.t.w. that WAS Juliette Lewis I saw in the Ad for The Switch).

Another, put to the test today by Sis-inLaw, and only available for the iPad is called SoundPaper. This is a powerful notepad special developed for the iPad. Not only can you make notes but you can record the speaker (teacher, keynote, etc.) at the same time. Then, when you want to access your notes and can’t remember exactly what the speaker was talking about, click on the note you’ve made and the audio track will jump to 7 seconds before you made you note and allow you to re-listen to the talk. If you like you can email the notes (plus audio) to ‘whoever’, save as a .pdf or share with a Mac or Laptop. 1 hour of audio = 20meg. How cool is that for $4.99? App Store.

iPhone CPD – Apps

I drove over to Burnley on Wednesday to attend a MoLeNET training event that was designed to show us what an iPhone could do in the teaching and learning environment. I sort of feel OK with the iPhone now and what it can do – despite much earlier reservations [see below], but I don’t think that you can ever know everything – which the day proved.

Elaine Coates and Mick Mullane were the presenters and they started with a very simple overview of how the various bits worked – that sounds simple but even regular iPhone users miss some of the functions – as might be seen on this address I shared with Mick (for the day’s blog). We moved on to the inbuilt features such a clock, alarm, calendar etc but then Mick took over to introduce his favourite features; maps and compass. We spend quite some time investigating those features and at lunchtime we set off in search of a near-by GeoCache. Because of the biting cold (is it really May?) I didn’t stay outside for the ‘find’ but I did make a find of my own – 2p -!!

The most interesting bit for me was discussion of our favourite Apps and how we might use them. With so many people in the room, it was hard to keep up with them all – but ones I remember and/or download there and then were (top four are all FREE):

  • Mental Note http://appshopper.com/productivity/mental-note-lite Which looks like the indigenous Notes facility, but allows images to be added, drawing to be added, audio to be recorded as part of the note (be careful when emailed, this comes as an extra attachment)
  • Layar http://site.layar.com/company/blog/layar-is-back-on-iphone/ Which is a great way of seeing what’s around you when you’re out and about. A stab at AR. With local points of interest, near-by Tweeters and maps – it could be a fun way of meeting new friends, finding new places or simply being a geek.
  • GeoCaching http://www.geocaching.com/iphone/ The ‘lite’ version of which we used at lunchtime. This (and Layar) is something I could see being used with students on location and awareness projects. I may even have a go at a bit of GeoCaching now.
  • ZBar http://zbar.sourceforge.net/ Our discussion had moved on to QR codes and many said that the iPhone really wasn’t the best for reading them – but ZBar has been great for me works every time (fingers crossed)

Of course, there are other Apps I regularly use and the best of these are:

  • SpeakIt http://appshopper.com/utilities/say-it (£1.19) is a great way of vocalising text on the iPhone. Cut and Paste (or type) text into the window and it will read it back to you in one of several voices. Resulting file can be emailed!
  • TuneIn Radio http://www.tunein-radio.com/index.html (£1.19) Radio  The iPhone doesn’t have a built-in radio and chasing a channel via Safari isn’t the best or mist convenient way to listen. When you get fed up of your MP3s – TuneIn.
  • Tube Exits http://www.tubeexits.co.uk/ (59p) If you’re travelling in London, Tube Exits is a must. It helps you to plan a route from A > B > C etc. but then tells you where to stand to get on a tube train to more easily find the exit at your destination. Just knowing which side the door opens is a great boon to me.
  • Quick News http://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/quick-news-uk-free/id316696944?mt=8 (Free) is a great way of keeping up to date with snippets of news. You can choose from a huge variety of sources such as the BBC; digg; The Guardian; The Mirror; The Times and Metro (many more) – so you are not tied to just one opinion.

Plus – many, many more …

We also had a great overview of the Accessibility features on the iPhone from Luke, an Apple employee. This was much more in-depth than the presentation I saw in December and thoroughly engaging. Thank you Luke. Mick was kind enough to mention the work i had done on this too. See previous Eduvel post for links: https://eduvel.wordpress.com/2010/01/04/iphone-3gs-accessibility/

The most enjoyable bit of the day, as always, was meeting old friends and colleagues such as Mick and Elaine, John Whalley (another MoLeNET Mentor), Geoff Foot, Jo Crumblehome, Ronan O’Bierne – as well as those I’ve just met this year: Jason from the Sheffield Academy and Adam from the Ashton under Lyme Academy. Thanks to everyone for making this such a great day.

Some of the following (previous) postings about the iPhone (include Podcasts):