Springingtiger's Blog


Two Months To Go
November 1, 2013, 23:26
Filed under: autism, disability, social media, Writing | Tags: , , , , ,

I only have two months to go of my challenge to post to my blog every day for a whole year. I will be glad when it is over, it’s not that I have not enjoyed it, I have, but it does put me under a lot of pressure. The two biggest challenges are finding the time and thinking of some thing about which to write.

I have set myself a deadline of midnight every day to complete my task. Sometimes I have posted slightly late, usually because I have not allowed enough time for the vagaries of the internet. It is frustrating when I think I have finished successfully, only to discover my post has been saved to draft on WordPress rather than having been published. Last night I tethered my tablet to my phone to get my blog posted, as time goes by I am picking up all sorts of tricks. I may not have time to edit as fully as I’d like, but I still need to attend to technical details. Some nights find me desperately typing well after eleven o clock at night in order to meet my deadline. Having a deadline to meet provides an invaluable discipline, meeting it provides an invaluable sense of accomplishment. I have learned to seize moments to write in-between other activities; it is futile to expect to get my days writing completed in one uninterrupted session, but it remains a dream.

Finding content can be a challenge. Sometimes the events of my day provide me with both inspiration and material. On occasion something read in the newspapers or seen on television may inspire reflection and comment. As this year has unfolded I have increasingly found myself using “flow of consciousness” techniques, it is very much like Lectio Divina (still, after many years, one of my favourite spiritual practices; easy to do, but not easy to do well.) except without the reading; I tend to find “flow of consciousness” particularly suited to those occasions when I am writing in my bath (preferable to writing in library books; you know who you are, desist!). Writing in ones bath may itself become material for a blog, possibly with references to Comrade Marat and Charlotte Corday (note to self: Check spellings of proper nouns). One thing I have learned is that there is plenty about which to write in this world, if inspiration is particularly elusive I pick any subject, perhaps from one of the books in my library, an old memory or perhaps a trivial incident, and write about it; as well as being a useful discipline in its own right, it frequently unlocks the doors for inspiration to enter.

Only two months to go, the end is in sight and I am quite excited. It will be good to no longer be under this pressure; the funny thing is that I think I’m going to miss it. I don’t have to though,  do I?



New Phone Time.

Decisions, decisions! I am due a phone upgrade in December and now some planning is necessary. I had thought of trying for a Galaxy Note 2, however as I have been promised the new Nexus 7 for my birthday, I’m inclined to go with the phone and mini tablet rather than a phablet. I strongly suspect I will get a Samsung Galaxy 4 , sadly the Galaxy 4 Zoom is not on offer. I have thoroughly enjoyed the S2, both my wife and daughters have S3s and they are very good, so I think I’ll stick with Samsung.

Over the next couple of months I shall be reviewing the apps I have on my S2 to see which I will want to continue using and which will go. It may well be that some of the photography apps I use I won’t need on the S4. I am certain I will continue to use both Snapseed and, for more intensive processing, Photo Editor.  Until I have played with the camera I won’t know what else I need but there are some, like Fastburst  Camera which I would pay for if I had two years of a contract ahead of me.

The one app above all I find essential is Google Drive and I use it every day. I draft my blog on Drive before copying and pasting it into WordPress, another app without which I cannot be. I can use Drive from any PC whether, Windows or Linux, I use both. I have the paid for version of CamScanner, it is that good! and it allows my to save my scanned documents, as PDFs straight to Drive. At present I use Polaris Office, but I will review that. I have Evernote and I love it’s functionality, however for quick notes I find myself, increasingly, using Keep, not as many functions but very convenient.

I use my iPod for music, however I do like to watch films on my phone so MX Player is a must, it seems to play anything I ask it, although that’s no stretch as I use Freemake to convert DVDs to S2 format. There are so many apps I’ll have to keep, including IMDB, Cineworld, iPlayer and You Tube, that I suppose my best bet is to start dumping the ones I have hardly used. Realistically I do not need five internet browsers, so I’ll have to decide which ones to keep, but I like trying browsers they are addictive, more so even than Linux distros.

This promises to be an interesting time, however it may prove to be pointless as I’m sure to find new apps to try as quickly as I get rid of the old ones. People complain that Google Play has fewer apps than Apple’s App Store, I say, “Thank God, that’s enough already!” Roll on December!



Blogging From My Phone
January 27, 2013, 04:34
Filed under: social media | Tags: , , , ,

As you may be aware I have set out to blog every day of this year, and so far things are going well. Personally I prefer to write my blogs on my laptop or on a PC. Sometimes my work schedule interferes with my plans, for example one of our managers tonight has happily logged himself into all the available PCs, so no one else can use them. On occasion, at home my internet drops out and so I cannot post from my PC. It is at times like this I turn to my phone.

In essence my procedure for blogging from my phone is the same as from my PC; I first draft the blog on Google Drive and then copy and paste it to WordPress. The WordPress app on Android lacks some of the functionality of the full program, but it is very easy to use.

Typing on my Android phone is very quick and easy because I use Swype; it is too quick and easy because Swype sometimes decides to substitute its own choice of word for the one I typed. This is not a problem as long as I notice it, but when typing quickly mistakes are easily overlooked. Before I copy my text to WordPress I read it over and correct it.

When I have my text pasted into WordPress I then put in any links I want, this in much easier on a PC than on my phone, but out can be done. On the PC it is also easier to add tags, on the phone I have to you’re each one, even the ones I use often. Finally  before posting my blog, I read it over again and make my last tweaks and corrections.

Once my blog is published I read it over again and usually discover some of my corrections haven’t happened. Fortunately it is easy to edit a post on WordPress. Finally I can sit back and relax until my friends start pointing out my spelling mistakes on Facebook. A last edit and then finally, I can sit back and relax until my friends start pointing out my spelling mistakes on Facebook (this last step may be repeated several times!)



Change & Telephones

I don’t like change,and that applies to telephones as much as anything else. I have been using a N95 since it was at the cutting edge of communications technology and I still like it. My phone is set up exactly as I like it, and it works for me… unfortunately it works less often than it used and it’s falling apart.

I now have a new Galaxy S2 and I don’t like it. It’s not the phone’s fault it has a touch screen to shich I am not yet used. Nor is it the phone’s fault I have to set it up to suit me, and sort out my contacts — not that I phone people!

I disliked this phone until I discovered the Android Market. My N95 didn’t really have apps, modern phones have them like a rash. In the process of setting up my Galaxy, I found it neccessary to visit the  Market where I found this rather neat WordPress application, I am beginning to think (if I ever master typing on a touch screen) I may actually enjoy this phone!



Little Blogs – QuickPress on WordPress
April 17, 2011, 09:04
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , ,

I love QuickPress! It sits on my WordPress dashboard for when I have something to say, but don’t have the time, energy or inclination to write a full blog. It bridges a gap between Twittering and blogging. It’s one of those little details that makes me so glad I use WordPress. If Twitter is for micro-blogging QuickPress is for midi-blogging.



My Social Media Suite

Recently my wife Neelam Bakshi and I were invited to the Unitarian Church in Glasgow where much of Neelam’s address was about Social Networking which I feel sat well beside the hymns of Universalists like K. Patton and JA. Storey. To follow up on Neelam’s address I have produced this guide to the applications I use to make social networking an easy and enjoyable experience.

I think most people are aware of Social Media or Social Networking and are aware of micro blogging services like Twitter, Networking sites like Facebook and Blogging services like WordPress and Blogger. Not every one knows how to make the best of them. I am not a computer buff but I have found that using a combination of free tools makes my social networking easier and more efficient. I am not using the internet for profit and so that is not the focus of this piece but if that is your interest you will find yourself using these tools.

Any Social Media suite will be based on the primary services and then on the additional tools one uses to enhance their functionality. The core of my social networking suite is Twitter (http://twitter.com/) – which I use to automatically feed into my Facebook – and Google which contains a number of applications that enhance social networking.

Using Twitter
My first recommendation is read “The Twitter Book” by Tim O’Reilly
@timoreilly & Sarah Milstein @SarahM – both of whom maintain a friendly and helpful presence on Twitter. A useful source of tools to use with Twitter is the article: 99 Essential Twitter Tools And Applications (http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2009/03/17/99-essential-twitter-tools-and-applications/). None of the applications listed below will be of much use if you do not first create a Twitter (http://twitter.com/ ) account

Twitter Clients: TweetDeck & Yoono
These are programs that allow you more control over Twitter. On my Windows machine I use TweetDeck (
http://tweetdeck.com) and on Linux I am using Yoono (https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/1833). TweetDeck installs to to your desktop and so uses system resources if you don’t close and restart it every day. Yoono is a Firefox (my favourite web browser although brief acquaintance with Chrome is encouraging) add on and sits next to the main window as a hide-able sidebar. These clients allow you to manage several accounts and to link your Twitter accounts to certain social network sites like Facebook. Both of these allow you to easily shorten a URL (web address) to keep within the 140 character limit.

TwitterBar
TwitterBar (https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/4664)is a Firefox add-on that allows you to post to Twitter from the browser address bar. This is very useful if you want to share a link to a web-page with a comment about it. Twitterbar will automatically shorten URLs.

SocialOomph
SocialOomph (http://www.socialoomph.com/)is an application that allows you to schedule your twitter updates for whatever time best suites you even if you will be fast asleep when they are published. this allows you to spread out your tweets or take advantage of time zones. It also allows you to vet your followers. I am about to go onto the paid for version because of the range of additional features.

Your Twitter Karma
Your Twitter Karma (http://dossy.org/twitter/karma/) is a useful tool for comparing your followers with those whom you are following.

Search Engines
The key to producing a blog that people want to read lies in interesting content and the quickest way to research content is to use a search engine and look on the internet. Google is most people’s first choice of search engine but there are some useful social media specific search tools. Twitter itself has a search facility and a people search. One Riot (http://www.oneriot.com/) is a social media search tool that comes packaged with Yoono and TwitterBar. Tip Top (http://feeltiptop.com/) is a useful tool for searching Twitter by subject. I personally like Kosmix (http://www.kosmix.com/)which searches for a topic across a number of social media .

Social Networking Sites
There are too many social networking sites to go into here but they tend to be separated into two main categories 1.Specialist interest including business networking sites like Ecadamy (http://www.ecadamy.com/) and LinkedIn (http://www.linkedin.com) and 2.Socialising of which the best known are Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/) and MySpace (http://www.myspace.com/). These sites are subscription based – many with free subscriptions – and several as well as networking facilities also host blogs.

You Tube
At this point I should mention You Tube (http://www.youtube.com/) which combines networking with hosting filmclips which provides many people with content for their social networking pages.

Blogging
Blogging is the practice of regularly sharing one’s thoughts and opinions via the internet. Most blogs are on individual websites but there are also agreat number of blogging services which will host blogs and websites constructed around blogs. Among the dedicated blog hosts are WordPress (http://wordpress.com/) my blog is at http://springingtiger.wordpress.com Google (http://www.google.com) and Xanga (http://www.xanga.com/) which hosts a number of specialist blog sites that also include social networking facilities. I am a member of one Xanga site Autisable.com (http://www.autisable.com)which allows me to share information and network with people who share an interest in autism.

GOOGLE
A major cornerstone of my social networking suite is Google. I don’t use Blogger but the social media sites I have joined post updates to my Googlemail which I can monitor from any internet connecion even my mobile phone. Much of the content of my posts is delivered to me by RSS feed to my Google Reader. The content of my Blogs is typed up initially – like this – in Google docs. Because I have an iGoogle home page I can see my most recent emails, RSS feeds and Facebook updates on the same page along with up to date weather, my calendar and various other things.

I have just installed linux on this laptop and set up my whole social media suite from the links in this article – which I had largely completed on Google docs – in about 30 minutes.

I have missed out services provided by Microsoft and Yahoo merely because I don’t personally use them but that is no reason not to investigate them as you put together a social media suite that works for you.




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