Category Archives: Tech Tuesday

Tech things on Tuesdays (review, product releases, rediscovered gear and more)

Tech Tuesday: 7 Photo-Editing Apps You Need on Your iPhone

20130910-161052.jpgI’m kind of obsessed with my iPhone. I actually referred to it as “my baby” a couple of weeks ago. Yeah. That obsessed.

My iPhone can do all kinds of things from banking to blogging and email to social media. I can play games on it and I can read on it. Seriously, it’s productivity/entertainment goldmine.

But one of my favorite features of my iPhone is its incredible camera. The last point-and-shoot I previously owned (four years ago!) can’t even compare. It’s still not as great as my DSLR, but it’s perfect for taking a quick shot to share on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

But even if it is just a quick photo, I still want something I can take pride in. That’s why I edit nearly every photo I post before I hit “share.” And once you download these apps, I think you will too.

  1. A Beautiful Mess. It’s perfect for adding text, borders and cute doodles to your photos! Available for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. FREE.
  2. Blur It. For those moments when you want to share a photo, but not all the information you may have captured with it. Available for iPhone, iPod Touch and iPadFREE.
  3. Bokeh Camera FX. Quickly add a touch of bokeh (original or heart-shaped) to any photo. Available for iPhone, iPod Touch and iPadFREE.
  4. Bubble Frame. Give your photos a scrapbook feel with cute, patterned backgrounds and colorful text. Available for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. $0.99
  5. Camera+. Crop, tone and blur your photos to give them a pro-quality look. Available for iPhone 5 and iPad. $0.99
  6. Frametastic. Compile related photos in a clean frame with a variety of color and sizing options. Available for iPhone and iPad. FREE.
  7. Whitagram. Add white space to your photos, allowing the entire photo to post to Instagram. Available for iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad. FREE.

Is there a photo-editing app that you love? Share in the comments below!

Advertisements

Tech Tuesday: Facebook likes vs. web page views

As a media professional (and a blogger), I rely on social media to drive traffic back to the content I write.

facebook screenshot

You may know already that I use many forms of social media, but today we’re going to focus on Facebook. (And, because I generally don’t like to talk about the goings-on of my job, we’ll be focusing on my blog rather than what I do at work. If you’re reading this as a journalist, keep in mind that using social media for general blogging is a bit different than it is for news outlets. Poynter is my favorite site for information about using social media with reporting.)

Facebook: a learning process

fbiconWe’re looking at Facebook today because it’s been on my mind a lot lately. I keep wondering how I can use Facebook to gain readers on my blog. My biggest struggle with Facebook is turning likes into page views. No matter how much my Facebook following grows, my blog stats tell me that, at most, I’m only getting about two or three clicks from Facebook per day. I’ve been doing some research to try to fix that.

Unfortunately, most of the data I’ve found applies to businesses rather than media companies.

Figuring out how to use social media to bring in more blog views is definitely a learning process for me, and I don’t think I’m alone. Just look at all the how-to’s, infographics and other teaching tools populating sites like Pinterest, Twitter and Google+. These tools certainly aren’t hard to find, but they all say the same thing: post this item at this time for the most likes/shares/comments. I have yet to find an article that explains how to turn those likes/shares/comments into page views for my blog.

Maybe that’s because no one really knows.

I think we’re all still trying to figure out Facebook (and social media in general).

But I do have a theory about how to grab readers’ attention through Facebook.

pagesiconI think it has more to do with content than anything else. It’s a lot like publishing a newspaper or magazine. What attracts people to pick up one publication over another (beyond easily-recognizable publication titles)? Photos. Headlines. Content.

Yes, many Facebook users enjoy looking at a nice photo, and photos will probably attract a good deal of likes and shares, but the I believe textual content of your Facebook post is what’s most important. Tell your readers why they should click through to your website. Otherwise, they may just like the photo and move on.

Links

Here are a few articles I’ve read about improving Facebook stats (though, like I mentioned, most are to get more likes/shares/comments rather than clicks):

(As I find more, you can see them on my Let’s Do Business pin board.)

Lets Discuss

Bloggers, what do you do to make your Facebook friends/fans want to visit your website? Readers, what makes you want to click through the links you see on Facebook?

Tech Tuesday: Roku 2 XS

This review is for the Roku 2 XS. Roku offers other device options, which are available with different features. Visit shop.roku.com to find the device that best suits your needs.

Roku Screen 1

Until Christmas, I had never heard of a Roku. That was when I got a tour of my dad’s Roku (which kind of confused me–I got that he was excited about his sort-of-new toy, but he was really going in depth to be just showing it off). Later that weekend, when I opened the box to my very own Roku 2 XS, I totally got why he showed me all those features.

Now, thanks to my dad and stepmom, I no longer have to use this…

Computer 1

And this…

Comp Cord 1

And this…

VGA 4

To stream video on this:

Roku Screen 3

(Seriously, though, don’t all those cords look beastly? And don’t get me started on how long my computer takes to boot up.)

Roku Device 3Roku stays put. No more plugging and unpluging the VGA cord from my computer and TV. No more sound cord to deal with. Just a little black box. Simple.

Roku comes standard with a video cord, but Josh and I plugged it into the TV using an HDMI cable instead. With the standard video cord, we had problems buffering some shows on Netflix, and the HDMI cable solved that.

Roku also comes with a little remote. I like it (I find it comfortable and easy to use), but not everyone is a fan. When you download the Roku app (available in iTunes or Google Play), you can program a remote to sync with your device, allowing you to use your smartphone or tablet as a remote for your Roku (though I imagine the phone is much less awkward than the tablet remote).

Roku Remote 3There’s even a USB port on the side, where you can plug in and watch digital copies of movies you own, listen to music or view your photos.

My initial excitement over my new Roku came from a want to easily stream Netflix, but Roku can do so much more. If you prefer Amazon, you can stream Amazon Instant Video movies and shows to your TV too. Or you can stream from Hulu Plus. Or Crackle, Vudu, Vevo, HBO GO, Epix… the list goes on.

Roku App 1Some websites have jumped on board too. You can watch cooking videos from allrecipes.com—convenient if you have a TV located close to your kitchen. And some fitness subscription sites like Gaiam and YogaVibes give users unlimited access to workout videos via Roku.

Though Roku is built for streaming video, it can bring other forms of entertainment to your TV as well. In fact, one of my favorite ways to use my Roku is for streaming music from Pandora—perfect for when I’m cleaning up around the apartment or chilling with friends (kidding—no one shares my taste in music).

Roku also acts as a sort of gaming device. Much like Wii, Roku allows the player to interact with the screen by using the remote, which also acts as a mouse at times. However, I haven’t had much experience playing games on my Roku (I spent maybe five minutes testing out the Angry Birds game that came  preloaded on it). Honestly, my fascination comes from streaming shows and movies.

Roku Device 1So far, I’m completely loving my Roku. Since adding the HDMI cable, I’ve had no complaints. (Josh’s only complaint has been that the TV repeatedly switches to the video setting for Roku whenever he turns on the TV, which is frustrating when he wants to play his Playstation instead. But I’m pretty sure that’s an issue with my TV, not Roku.)

Now the only problem is I only have one! (Gosh, I’d love to have a Roku in the bedroom too. One day.)

I was not reimbursed or rewarded in any way for this review. These thoughts and comments are my own and have no reflection on Roku, its employees or its affiliates.