Tag Archives: iphone

06 Jan

Will this app solve the Jewellery Quarter parking woes?

JQ Parker screengrabIt’s no secret that parking in the Jewellery Quarter can be troublesome.

18 months ago the council introduced a new parking permit system giving residents and local businesses access to more spaces.

However, this really doesn’t encourage visitors to the area, who will inevitably spend a frustrating Saturday afternoon trying to locate a space.

Now the US iPhone and Android app Parker has landed in the UK  – and is trialing it’s service in the JQ.

Using data from sensors in the road, the app can report on whether the parking bay is in use – allowing drivers to zone in on roads with spaces.

Sounds simple doesn’t it?

There are plans to roll this out into areas of Birmingham city centre if it is successful.

22 Dec

Flickr, Instagram and Pinterest


 Caroline Beavon is a freelance information and infographics designer – get in touch for more details

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In this post I discuss how I personally use image services Flickr, Instagram and Pinterest. 

You can see my Flickr images here, you can follow me on Instagram here and see my pins on Pinterest here

Designers? How do you use these sites to promote your work? (I’m working on a future blog post about this)

[toc]

There has been a lot of movement between Flickr and Instagram recently. (did you move?) This has been due to:

  • instagramInstagram changing (then changing back) their T’s and C’s to suggest that users photographs could be sold to advertisers.
  • Flickr giving their iPhone app a long-overdue facelift, making it both more social and easier to use.

So people have been threatening to close their Instagram accounts, and move to Flickr – and I have seen a flurry of new contacts as people make use of the “find friends on Twitter/Facebook” facility.

However, I have no intention of quitting Instagram – because they both serve different purposes

Instagram

Instagram photo of Loco Lounds in Kings Heath, Birmingham For me, Instagram is a (thankfully) watered down version of the-heydey of Facebook pictures – when, most Saturday mornings I would wake up with a notification “Karen has tagged 25 photos of you”.

I use it to snap things that I see and I like – nice street art, a cosy coffee shop or even a favourite chocolate bar. This site is not for mass photo-dumping.

I like the Instagram app: it’s easy to use and it’s possible to make a picture look pretty darn good with filters etc.

Using IFTTT, I bounce all my Instagram pictures onto a Tumblr page (for no other reason than I like Tumblr and like IFTTT and I like to see automation happen!)

I also use Instagram (on a photo by photo basis) to tag venues (via Foursquare) and to share pictures on Facebook or Twitter.

Flickr

flickr exampleFlickr is a very different beast for me.

  • I do not add images to Flickr from my phone
  • I use it to show off my design work – so it has evolved into a portfolio site
  • In the past I used it to host gig photos taken with the terrible-phone-brilliant-camera Sony Ericsson Satio
  • I have also used it when I am employed (by companies like Podnosh) to cover conferences as a digital reporter. Cue lots of shots of conferences, whiteboards and post it notes.

However, I am wondering if I could be doing more with my Flickr account? Question is:

  • how do people browse Flickr? If I suddenly added non-portfolio pictures to my site, could it affect business if people are looking for work?
  • Do I set up a portfolio site on Flickr – potentially losing bookmarked link traffic and current contacts?

Pinterest

Pinterest example

I thought I’d give Pinterest a mention, as the third image service I use.

This is more about sharing content I find online, rather than sharing my own images (although I do share my design work here  – so sue me!)

I use this to save images I find interesting, and they are grouped into boards, such as Infographics, Interiors and Cute.

I deal with subjects here (such as Interiors) that would not fit into the subject of this blog, for example.

However, I am losing interest in Pinterest, rarely using it to browse and my posting is becoming more and more infrequent.

 


 Caroline Beavon is a freelance information and infographics designer – get in touch for more details

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16 Feb

My adventures with Evernote Hello

In this post I explain how I got on with Evernote Hello  – not for you? Try these other posts on Evernote

Or have a free months trial of Evernote Premium here

 

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Recently Evernote launched a series of new apps  –

  • Evernote Clearly (a plugin for viewing the text from web pages  – great for cluttered sites)
  • Evernote Food (for those fetishists who like taking snaps of meals)
  • Evernote Peek (for learning) and …
  • Evernote Hello (for collecting information to help you remember people you meet)

As a well-documented Evernote bore, I had to give them all a go.

I have no real use for Peek, have used Evernote Clearly and Food once or twice – but I was keen to give Evernote Hello a go.

It’s a great idea. I am useless at remembering names (great a faces, which means I know exactly WHO’s name I’ve forgotten) and am always looking for new tools to beat this affliction.

How it works

Evernote Hello encourages you to formally gather information about a person when you first meet them via an iPhone app.

In a traditional setting, you’d receive someones business card during the conversation, which ends up in your pocket with all the other business cards to gather dust and become a notepad for other more pressing bits of information (train times, phone numbers etc).

This app allows you to gather the Twitter name, email address and telephone number of the person AND, most importantly, a photograph – which will then sit within the app, and within your Evernote account. It also logs where you met them, and allows you to link this contact to notes within Evernote.

So far so good.

But …

(and this is the entire crux of the app) … I must admit to being far too polite to ask to take someone’s photograph, on first meeting. It just is not in my nature to do that. Asking for their Twitter name, or email address is one thing – a photograph? …  a step too far.

Is this just a British thing? Are other nationalities more easy going about this?

It is interesting to see this issue raised on the Evernote forum (post here)

Starting to Use It

There have been multiple opportunities for me to use to use this app  – the recent News:Rewired journalism conference the major one.

However, I am no point felt it was the right time, during a conversation, to whip out my phone and take a strangers picture (and it would have been even more creepy to take a picture of them on the sly)

This week I began teaching  a new class (MA Social Media) at Birmingham City University as a visiting tutor. I will be working with them for several weeks so it was a great chance to test this app out. As a small group of tech-friendly people – I hoped they would be open to me gathering their information at the start of the class so I could begin to learn names, as well as pick up twitter and email account details.

The phone gives you several ways to add information, You can pass them your phone (often easier than trying to spell complex twitter names and risk mistakes), you can do it yourself or link the contact with one already in your address book.

As I passed my phone around the (small) class, the general concern that I was going to put the images online (probably thanks to  culture of endless tagging on Facebook).  This was not the case – it was simply for my records.

Interestingly, we realized that if an email address is added by the contact, they receive a message from Evernote Hello, with MY details – very useful for automatically exchanging contacts.

Thoughts

This app is  – in theory – a great idea. However, whipping my iPhone out asking to take someones picture is just not going to happen.

Instead, I am going to start using it to gather contacts in the normal way. So, at the end of a conversation, when I would normally ask for the persons email or Twitter details – I will let them manually add into Evernote Hello. There is a photograph button clearly visible, and I am hoping people will be intrigued by the app and volunteer to take  picture themselves.

And that is just polite enough for me.

17 Nov

Become Master of your Email Inbox

Is your email inbox bursting at the seams? Overrun with nonsense,? Drowning in newsletters?
Here are a few easy tips to get your wayward email inbox whipped into shape.
The idea here is to reduce the number of emails in your inbox, so the important ones aren’t forgotten about.
Before you clear out your inbox (we’ll do that later), LOOK at the emails in there – they should fall into one of four categories:

EASY TO DEAL WITH EMAILS 

Deal with them … right now. Sounds silly, but the rush you’ll get by just getting it down will be worth it
Alternatively, if you’d prefer and have the facility – convert the email to a task

UNWANTED EMAILS:

  • Unsubscribe from them. There should be an unsubscribe option at the bottom. It seems like a hassle now, but think – how many of these emails do you delete every week? Trust me – it’s worth it.
  • If you are receiving unwanted emails from individuals simply ask to stop receiving them. A polite email explaining why (i.e. your job role has changed, your interests have changed, or you get the information from other sources etc.) should do the job. This also applies to chain email that at some point applied to you, but don’t now.
  • You could also set up a filter to delete unwanted mailouts before they even enter your inbox BUT be warned: in the future you may want to resubscribe to this service, so you will need to remove the filter if so. Also, the more specific you cna be with your filter, the less chance of other emails being caught.

“NEED LATER” EMAILS

These re messages you don’t need to see now, but will need later.
The answer here is to FILTER. If you use a free-mail service, like GMail or Hotmail, or Outlook, make use of the filtering / archiving process which skips the inbox and moves the emails directly into a folder.
Examples:
  • newsletters from fashion stores / vouchers etc. can be hidden away until your next shopping trip
  • work documents that I will need for a future task but don’t need reviewing now
  • job alerts – I file these away, and set myself a calendar reminder to check that folder every couple of days so I don’t miss anything important

PESKY EMAILS (aka All the rest …) 

 

These emails will annoy the hell out of you, and make you feel bad about yourself until you can deal with them. Often these depend on other people/situations. My solution is to remove it from your inbox but set up a reminder to deal with it, when you know you’ll be able to.
In order to do this – think – what’s stopping you from answering it immediately?
  • You need to consider your response  / it’s not urgent and you’re busy right now – Sometimes you’re just not in the mood, right? Sometimes it’s just not a priority.  Sometimes that difficult email needs an extra cup of coffee / lunchbreak or an entire day before you feel up to dealing with it. First, be honest – are you just procrastinating, or does this really need some thought? If so, allocate yourself a time of the day/week to deal with emails like this. End of the day perhaps? Start of the day – before things get to hectic? Set yourself a timed reminder, or a morning todo list, archive the email and forget about it until then.
  • Are you waiting for a specific date? – either archive and set yourself an calendar reminder, or  – if it’s an email that needs sending – does your email system have a DELAY email function? (you could also give ifttt.com a go – this allows you to schedule emails to a specific person through your Google Calendar – very geeky and very clever). There are other email schedulers available  – these seem to allow a small number of free emails (eg 10 a month) but for larger amounts you will need to pay.
  • Are you waiting for an email from someone else? – if so, archive the email currently in your inbox – the email from them will remind you to deal with this
  • Do you need to have a phone call/conversation/meeting with someone else first?  – do you know when this will be? If so, you could either set yourself a calendar reminder for the date you will find out the information, or a reminder for the deadline when it has to be dealt with.

A few more things you can do …

  • Turn off social network notifications – if you are on Twitter / Facebook all day anyway (or have an app on your smartphone) do you really need an email alert as well?  If you’re like me you are signed up to a lot of accounts, so the notifications are endless!!  Also think – what’s the point of getting a Facebook alert if you’re at work and can’t do anything about it? Turn them off, save yourself the frustration!
  • Preview setting on mobile email readers – I miss important emails because I review them on my mobile, but can’t deal with them. Now I use the “PREVIEW 5 lines” function (IPhone) so I can get an idea of what the email is about, without having to open it (which marks it as read). It will then remain in your inbox unread, until you get to office/home etc.
  • Similarly, review your the “mark as read” setting on your desktop email – change this from “mark as read as soon as open” to something that means you have really processed with it. It means emails will stay as unread until dealt with.
  • Reduce the time you spend receiving emails. This takes self-control and is definitely not suited to every role. Decide how often you will check your email (2/3 times a day) and set an autoresponder (out of office reply) explaining this fact. Also spell out WHEN you will be replying to the email, if one is required. This will cut down on email “ping pong” – when an email turns into an entire conversation as senders will be a LOT more concise and it won’t turn into a conversation.
  • Mailing Lists – consider changing the settings of these. Do you really need to receive ever update of an email list – or would a daily / weekly email be enough?

NOW ITS TIME TO BE RUTHLESS

Go through your emails and decide – are they:
  • dealt with – then delete
  • contain important information – archive or remove info (ie contact details) and delete
  • pending – process as above … archive and setting dated/timed calender reminders
Also – depending on your workflow, I would say bulk archiving emails before a certain date is a good move. Think about it, they’ve probably been resolved now anyway.

NEED MORE ROOM?

All of this archiving can put a strain on your email account size – even giant accounts like Gmail have a limit, and corporate accounts are very limiting when it comes to how much you can archive Consider an archiving / filing service like Evernote / Springpad (useful list here).
These are cloud based and will store your files, emails etc. so you can retrieve them from in different ways (i.e. computer, smart phone, tablet etc.).
I use Evernote, and as it comes with an email address, I now forward a lot of emails to this automatically, and also manually when they arrive. (using Gmail filters) but there are others available (both free and paid for) – find the one that suits you the best!
16 Oct

Adventures in … Social Media Desktop Clients

Image representing HootSuite as depicted in Cr...
Image via CrunchBase

As part of my job I manage several social media accounts. This includes Twitter and Facebook (profiles, fan pages, and groups).

From a perfect social media desktop client I need to:

  • monitor all of these accounts simultaneously
  • receive notifications when someone comments or messages – with the option to pick and choose which notifications I receive, and how
  • be able to schedule tweets and status updates
  • I must be able to pick the image that goes with the update, if I include a link

I know Facebook tagging from a 3rd party app is pie in the sky right now but if Social Media Santa is listening, then come on – it would be good.

This is in no way an exhaustive list a- and I would love to hear your suggestions for what I should try next …

I have, until now, been using HOOTSUITE. It does all of the above, (apart from Facebook tagging). It’s an unbelievably powerful site – you can monitor a bunch of accounts (including Facebook) , you can schedule tweets, easily pick the image to go with a Facebook post – it’s wonderful. However, recently Hootsuite has been failing to send a lot of messages. There has been come discussion of this on the Hootsuite forum but as yet, no solutions. So the hunt starts for a replacement for Hootsuite.

Image representing TweetDeck as depicted in Cr...

Image via CrunchBase

TWEETDECK

I have been using Tweetdeck for my personal Twitter accounts (x2) for a while now. The pro’s are that it is very easy to use, it’s slick and smooth and syncs with your iPhone. It also never fails, unlike Hootsuite, to pick user names when you start typing them in (Hootsuite is a little hit and miss).

However, it only supports ONE Facebook account, which is fine for just me, but not so helpful for multiple account management.

DESTROYTWITTER

Here logic goes out of the window. After all my bitching and moaning about the perfect uber-social media manager, one that can handle multiple accounts, I have actually fallen head over heels in lov with DestroyTwitter. It’s totally inappropriate for corporate use (one Twitter account only and no Facebook) but it’s so handsome and slick and gorgeous that I’ve actually switched from Tweetdeck, now using it as my main personal Twitter account. The workaround for my second, less busy account, is to set up a name search – so if I am messaged, I will see the update in that column. DestroyTwitter has destroyed Tweetdeck for me, and I thought that was perfect.

So after my brief flirtation, and switching to DestroyTwitter, the search continues for the perfect corporate Social Media management tool …

SEESMIC 2

Image representing Seesmic as depicted in Crun...

Image via CrunchBase

The first thing that strikes you about Seesmic 2 is that it looks beautiful. It’s kinda interesting (with spinning menus) and generally is a pleasure to use. Unfortunately it falls down on 2 major points for me:

  • you can’t schedule tweets
  • you can’t control which notifications you receive – the only options are “on or off” and “sound or no sound”. I really don’t need a notification when my All stream gets updated – I really don’t. However, but turning it off you are then potentially missing @ mentions and DM’s.

Sorry Seesmic, you just don’t cut it. With those 2 issues, it’s not even worth pursuing.

SENDIBLE

Image representing Sendible as depicted in Cru...
Image via CrunchBase

Now we move into more corporate realms. I am currently testing out the FREE level of account  where I can have up to 4 channels. As I monitor 2 different companies accounts, I have decided to split them using Tweetdeck for one, and Sendible for the other (if Sendible comes good and saves my mind I may consider paying for a larger account and switching them all to it).

I could fully understand why the Twitter devotees would hate Sendible. It’s a corporate, marketing, scheduling machine – it’s all about the message and NOT about the conversation. Whilst you do have the option to read the feed of your Twitter account, it’s not the first thing you come across.

However, it does put all replies and messages into ONE in box so you don’t have to flit around the various accounts to find out what people are saying which is wonderful (See note below) – unfortunately there is no way of knowing, if you are off doing something else, that anyone has messaged as there is no option for a desktop or audio notification. Frustratingly there is an RSS option, but this does not cover the INBOX, only the messages you send out. Work on this, and Sendible may be perfect.

NOTE: The inbox feature is flawed. Messages I was sent last night are in the inbox, but ones that have come in the past 30 minutes are not. I’ve even tried a good ole F5 kick up the butt, but nothing. Sendible – you were looking so good – but you have failed.

So, what do I try next?

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

02 Apr

iPhone Apps: search

After jumping into the iPhone apps world with both feet, I thought I’d run through my favourites. Watch our for more posts in this series.

SEARCH/RESEARCH

Google (free) (Itunes link)

Image representing Google as depicted in Crunc...
Image via CrunchBase

I am a big fan of the Google app. Not only can you search by typing, but there is an incredibly clever and effective Voice Search tool, which has never let me down. Tell it what you want to find, and it will do it (useful if you are browsing on the move and can’t quite get those words typed in as you walk).

There is also an APPS button, giving you weblinks to all the useful Google gizmos and gadgets, Mail, Calendar, Docs, Talk, Tasks, Reader, News, Notebook, Photos, Translate, Maps, YouTube and Earth.

It would be helpful if there were also links to the iPhone apps, but you can’t have everything!

9/10

Google Earth (free) (Itunes link)

Anyone who has used Google Earth on their PC or Mac will know that it is a very intuitive and useful tool. By using your location, it can pretty much find any business you want and display the results on a map. Perfect for those last minute errands! From this you can access the website, call them or head straight there.

However, the one down side is that Google Earth does not double as a SatNav. I’ve found my business, now I need to go there – I have to type the address into my SatNav (either on my phone or my old school NavMan). If Google Earth could team up with a SatNav company, then it would be full marks from me.

7/10

Wikipedia (free) (Itunes link)

Image representing Wikipedia as depicted in Cr...

Image via CrunchBase

The Wikipedia App is actually a much better interface than the Wikipedia website. The search is faster, and the pages open already minimized into section headers so you don’t have to endless scroll down through information you don’t need.

There is also the option to view the page on the full Wikipedia site, although I am not sure why you would want to!

10/10

IMDB (free) (Itunes link)

Ok, so this is a specific search tool for MOVIES, but how many times have you been out and about and needed to settle an argument about who starred in which film with so-and-so and Kevin Bacon?

Like Wikipedia, this app is so much better than the full webpage. It opens on a screen showing a search bar and several options

  • MOVIES
  • TV
  • PEOPLE

And shortcuts to

  • MOVIEmeter
  • STARmeter
  • New on DVD and BluRay
  • History

Plus ABOUT and SETTINGS

The search bar is obviously incredibly useful, and I don’t find the MOVIES, PEOPLE or TV buttons useful as they link to US listings and celebrity trivia.

The search, however, is fast, easy to navigate and an actor quickly brings up a list of his best known movies, mini biog and a link to his full filmography, whilst “movies” pages show star rating, a few photos, release date, genre, plot summary and top billed cast and crew as well as trivia and links to explore more.

Great for settling those annoying arguments with your friends!

7/10

All content (c) Caroline Beavon 2020