Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Technology Lesson: Instagram

Instagram is a photography-based app. It lets users edit and share photos via Apple- and Google-support devices (iPod, iPhone, Android, etc). The service was purchased earlier this month by Facebook, to a raucous Internet outcry.

Instagram has two notable features: first, it allows users to post photos and share via the app--users can shoot and share within the Instagram network, and simultaneously post to Facebook, Tumblr, Flickr, and Twitter (and check in via FourSquare). Second, the service comes with eleven filters to enhance the image. Some are inspired by analogue photography.

Here is an example of the filters, as lifted from Wikipedia (and provided by Jessica Zollman):

A recent update also adjusts the brightness of the image.

I'll let The Washington Post's The Style Blog explain the cultural appeal and dismay with the app, and its recent acquisition:
iPhone photographers love Instagram because it has the ability to dress up any average-looking photo to make it seem artfully composed and interesting. And that’s exactly why “real” photographers hate it: It replicates an effect that, for them, requires vintage equipment, expense and hours of practice. Though there’s no word on how Instagram will change, it’s safe to assume that the already swiftly-growing app will become even more popular. Depending on your perspective, that means a newsfeed full of better-looking images, or faux-retro fakery.
 Yup, that pretty much sums up everything you ever needed to know about Instagram (and my faux-hipsterism).

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Technology Lesson: Signing Up for Tumblr (UPDATED)

There has been a lot of anxiety over the registration process. I'm not sure why, but it seems to go terribly wrong for many of you. I think this is a shame. Since the first lesson I wrote was in 2010, and the design has changed, I thought I'd try walking through the process again.

I promise signing up to Tumblr is quick and easy. I did this while on the phone with my niece, late at night, and with a heavy head cold. It is my deepest wish that you can breeze through the process too!

Start at tumblr.com.
Click SIGN UP.

Follow the prompts in front of you. (After you click SIGN UP the box will change, with three sections to fill in.) Provide your e-mail, and username and password.

Provide your age, and agree to the terms and conditions. (Read them! Always read the terms and conditions!)

Fill in the captcha. That's what it's called when you have to type in the words to prove that you are not a spambot. I suppose if you are a spambot, you are now more like a sadbot. You'll notice that when you've proven your humanity that the blue box says DONE!

That should be it. Here's the Dashboard for the account I just made:

 Questions? Good luck!

Previously:Technology Lesson: How to Sign Up for Tumblr
All Tumblr lessons

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Technology Lesson: A Brief Review On Mail Folders (Mac, Mail, Gmail)

An uncluttered inbox is a happy inbox.

Organizing your mail is a good way to keep your inbox uncluttered. Depending on your server, your mail can be sorted into folders and or tagged, making it easier to locate messages. (I use Gmail filters to pre-sort my mail so it is filed away when I'm done reading!)

Most services use folders. Mac Mail calls folders "mailboxes."

I think Mail is kind of a pain, and am not totally comfortable showing you around. (Not responsibly.) Here is an about.com explanation, and here is a video provided by apple. This post is almost exactly how it might turn op on Lessons for Old People so if you have questions about creating mailboxes in the Mail application, please visit it!

Ipod and Ipads have folders, not mailboxes. You can archive your mail into these folders (clicking "archive" will send the message to ALL MAIL) by moving the message into the folder desired. If you rely on these devices, click here to learn more about using the folders.

Gmail introduced labels before it "added" folders. The idea was to revolutionize the system; I think most users preferred their old habits.

Gmail has some options available to you. You can use filters to label or archive a message into a folder based on its sender or subject line. (Or a number of other factors, such as the sent-to line, attachments, and body content.) You can also drag the message to the list of labels in the left column next to your messages to apply a label.

You can also apply the label from the inbox (by clicking the checkbox next to the messages and then choosing the label from the list above your messages) or while reading the message (the label is still above the message).

Creating a label is very easy. From Google's instructions:
Here's how to create a label that you can add to any of your messages:
  1. On the left side of the page, click More at the bottom of your labels list. (If you don't see "More," grab the gray dividing line with your cursor and drag it down to show more labels.)
  2. Click Create new label.
  3. Type the name of your new label and click Create.
You can also create a new label for a message in your Inbox by selecting the box next to the message, clicking the Label button above your message list, and then clicking Create new.
Google still thinks of its systems as without folders. In 2009 Gmail began to allow users to "treat" labels like folders (which has allowed me to talk about folders as if they exist). The "move to" option (which looks like a folder in Gmail) will archive and label at the same time, which was, before this addition, somewhat difficult for users.

If you move a message on your iPod or iPad to a folder, and use Gmail, the message will be labeled and archived in Gmail. (Just as if you clicked "move to.")

Adding folders in other clients may be more difficult. Check the help and settings of your service before proceeding.

Additional Resources:
Mac Mail basics, Apple.com
Where Mac OS X Mail Stores Mail, About.com
Mail Folder Tips, Mac Tricks and Tips
Using labels, Google support
New ways to label with "Move to" and auto-complete, Official Gmail blog
iPhone and iPod Touch: How to Use / Add Email Folders,Tech-Recipes

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Vocabulary Lesson: SMH

Today's lesson is a quick one! It may not even warrant a lesson of its own, but because I find that I repeatedly have to look this Internet-based acronym up, am taking the unnecessary plunge.

Let's get to it! SMH means "shaking my head." The Young People like to add it to their messages, Tweets, and status updates as a means to show disapproval.
For example: "Ugh, I can't believe the final Hunger Games novel is split into two movies! smh"

or: "Ugh, I can't believe this girl doesn't know her homonyms! #smdh"

It's possible the Young People didn't roll their eyes at that news, but I did. "SMH" can be used for seemingly trivial misfortunes or serious political issues. The acronym is generally used in all lowercase letters.

I hope I saved you 30 seconds!

Additional Resources:
smh, Urban Dictionary