Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Day One App As A Mobile Blogging Tool

How does Day One (Journal / Diary) app stack up as an integrated and mobile blogging tool?

I began this post by tapping out text directly in the Day One app with the hopes that it might serve as good on-the-go blogging tool. I'm always looking for ways to blog more efficiently from a mobile platform, hence I would actually blog more! I came to the conclusion that this app doesn't meet all of my needs yet, but I do believe it has huge potential for becoming a great mobile blogging tool if only to get a draft started so I can go back later and flesh it out more like I'm doing right now. What began as a quick, down and dirty app review is now developing into a more complete post that might benefit my readers a bit more than when it started out.

While the Day One app is a little slow to launch on my iPhone 4S, I love how easily I can type text in portrait and landscape modes. Those are two usability features I look at first when reviewing a mobile app. The ability to tap text in landscape mode can make or break an app for me.

Formatting

I appreciate the need for text formatting. I like that Day One has Markdown baked right into the text editor. It even has a built-in word counter. I am in the process of trying to learn more about Markdown so I believe this app will help me out with that quest.

Images

One place where this app falls short for me is in the ability to place images. I know it's not meant to be used the way I'm wanting to use it for mobile blogging so I don't expect a whole lot when it comes to image placement within the text, but what I do expect is multiple image capability. Currently, you can only attach one image per entry. The Camera+ integration is nice, but in my opinion, you're likely to be a bit of a shutterbug if you know what Camera+ is and vice versa. I've used other apps like Momento that allow for multiple photo insertion so I'm not quite sure why the limitation on this app.

Security

A feature I'm willing to be patient for is encryption. I want it done right. If you're going to spill your guts and journal your most private thoughts into an app, then you should feel secure while doing that. I think this is an area the developers will address soon especially with all the attention lately on NSA, data mining and secure mobile usage. If you're an app developer and your app deals with the storage of private information, security should be a laser focus for you. Currently, Day One gives you the ability to lock down your information using a 4 digit PIN. The ability to lock stuff up anymore is not just a requirement or feature but a necessity — even if it's only to keep Mommy's blog entries from being replaced with "areiu45%^##ergh;ad%&_OKDHWiwkw7&*&&&^a dfg[8a[reuw8245;oi24h5" by my 3.5 year old.

App Store Links

When I review apps it helps to give the reader a direct link to where they can purchase (free or otherwise) the app in my review. I'm still on the hunt for a better way to do this! So far, it's cumbersome at best but I have hope it will improve over time. Adding code while tapping this out on my iPhone in Day One didn't work out so well, so I had to edit it directly on my blog. That may be a user issue since I can see that there is an ability to enter code using the Markdown feature but maybe I just didn't do it correctly.
Day One is a universal app for iOS so get it here for your iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad!


Day One syncs between all devices including the Mac version.


Export

One of my rules of thumb for data entry is: If you can get the data in, you must also be able to get the data out. PDF creation is another useful feature available in this app. I'm not sure how often it will come in handy for my own use case since I keep most everything digital, but I imagine it could become invaluable later if I ever decide to create some type of printed book or just want to store archives in PDF format. I don't yet know how much hard drive space this app will consume over time, so PDF export is something I'll need to investigate and report back on once I've amassed enough data to experience it first-hand. It will need to have selective export using tags and I haven't yet read the complete user guide available on the developer's support page.

The Verdict

Many times I feel like The Queen of Hearts when I'm reviewing an app. Something as simple as whether an app does not have landscape text mode can mean it's "Off with their heads!" and the app is deleted. When reviewing the use case scenario of a mobile blogging tool, Day One is good for getting a blog post started if only to go back and tweak the post later. This is all contingent on the ability of your blog platform to accept posts via email and whether or not that configuration automatically publishes the post or just queues it up for draft. Day One is a benchmark for journaling and diary apps with its ability to synchronize and port to other platforms.

I'm willing to allow Day One to keep residence on my iPhone's small hard drive while waiting for its developers to beef up security and features like adding multiple photos because it syncs up with other devices like iPad and MacBook Pro. You can pick right up where you left off no matter which device you're using and that is paramount to blogging while mobile. It's a well-designed app with a sleek interface. It feels good in the hand. Tapping out text in this app is very smooth and responsive. Day One will be sticking around for a while in my court.

I'd like to know what your favorite mobile blogging app is. Let me know in the comments!

Other Apps Mentioned In This Review

Momento is a rival for Day One, in my opinion — review to come


Camera+ is great for getting decent shots of busy toddlers


Saturday, July 20, 2013

Words With Woz

I'm playing Words With Friends...With Woz.
Try saying that ten times fast!
Try playing this game – or any other game – against a genius and see how you feel!
#nervous

Hand-Made iPhone Tip:
Whenever you fear the memory zombies will make you forget your next potential move, Skitch it.
(of course, this also applies to iPad, but I prefer playing Words With Friends on my iPhone)

1. Take a screen shot of your current screen by holding down the home button then immediately press once on the 'lock' button at the top of your iPhone. You must press the lock button immediately while holding the home button because if you hesitate too long, SIRI will beep.

2. Launch Skitch and tap the plus + sign in the upper right corner.

3. Navigate to your Camera Roll in the photos (yes, you want Skitch to have access to your photos) and select the screen shot you just snapped

4. Use Skitch to annotate your screen shot to remind you of your next move

You can use Skitch for so many occasions. I use it all the time for tech support. It's so easy to say, here, see this? Tap here and then draw and arrow or circle something. Most times when people are lost, so are their eyeballs, so it's helpful to show them exactly where to look. It's one of my very favorite apps and I've been using it for years now since it was a baby website!

Get Skitch for iPad
Get Skitch for iPhone

Get Words With Friends for iPhone

Get Words With Friends for iPad



Friday, July 19, 2013

Find The Clownfish

I recently saw a link to this article about clownfish and it made me think of Apple and Steve Jobs. Whenever I see a clownfish I think Finding Nemo, of course, but being a geek, I also visualize one of the standard-issue Apple Desktop pictures. Thinking about that then leads me to wonder just how these iconic desktop backgrounds are selected to become a part of the OS installed on all Macintosh computers. Can you imagine the hundreds, or even thousands of photos the Apple OS designers pour over? Every time there is an OS upgrade, one of the very first things I ever do is to go check out what new desktop backgrounds come pre-installed. For some reason, I'm pretty sure I'm not alone in doing this. If anyone does know how the images are selected or has photo credit information for this or any of them, I've love to know.


A long-time friend once told me a cute story about Steve Jobs while we were catching up on Facebook. She knows I'm an Apple Geek and told me she works out in Silicon Valley right off of Woz Way. (I'm envious and must go visit, of course!) Her friend's husband is the Facilities Manager at Apple. One time he was sent to Steve Job's office because he had set of Finding Nemo cast figurines from Pixar on his credenza. Apparently Steve had run into it with a cart or something which resulted in one of the figures falling behind it. Can you guess what the note said?


He needed someone to "Find Nemo."


I love that story. I can only hope that the Facilities Manager kept that note. I know I would have!


I believe Steve Jobs even resonated with the clownfish — identified with it somehow. Here is the link to the Wikipedia article on the Clownfish. If you're an Apple Geek like me, you might see the same parallels.


It's also interesting to note that Finding Nemo is one of the few DVDs that will still play on our 1999 Tangerine iMac G3! You can even still use the screen savers and play the bonus DVD content! Makes ya wonder, doesn't it?

What is your favorite Pixar character or desktop background? I'm always looking for new backgrounds for my desktop so share if you have a link to one you really like!

Who else is excited to see Finding Dory in 2015?!

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