Walking and Writing and Google Drive

This summer I’ve been using my Fitbit to encourage myself to get walking. But my pleasure in walking has been augmented by two other things:

  1. My purse-sized iPad Mini with its Logitech cover/bluetooth keyboard which allows me to stop and write anywhere I please;
    My iPad Mini with a Logitech Cover/Bluetooth Keyboard

    My iPad Mini with a Logitech Cover/Bluetooth Keyboard

    and  - 2. Google Drive and Google Docs which allow me to ‘pin’ my documents so I can write even offline, yet add them to my laptop whenever I’m in a wifi environment.

Here’s some useful information about Google:

New Google Drive Cheat Sheet

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Skype and Learning

Man on Skype

Skype Communication

How to learn how to use our devices: if at first you don’t succeed, ask for help and try again.

My 92 year old father and I Skype almost every night. We tell each other about our days, and keep up with each other between our face-to-face visits. The other night, he wanted some help. He’s teaching himself and learning how to use his smartphone for more than just calling. He’d taken a number of pictures and wanted to email these pictures to friends and family. However, he hasn’t yet connected his email to his phone and so couldn’t send the pictures directly from his phone. He’s struggled with this before, but he doesn’t give up. He keeps trying.

Another time when he had pictures on his phone that he wanted to share, he realized he had to transfer them to his desktop computer. He asked a visitor for help, and this man, wrote out the series of steps Dad needed to take.  Dad was successful then, and, remembering that, this time had pulled out the list of instructions and worked on his task. When he called that night, Dad had already connected the phone and desktop, but was unsure of what to do and what was meant by “DCIM folder”. Now I’m a little shaky in this area, but I have learned that letting myself try, discover that’s a mistake, and try something different is a good way to learn. So I began a series of suggestions, long-distance and without seeing his desktop. We tried a variety of moves, and after some time, Dad and I succeeded in getting his photos moved from his phone to his desktop, and he was able to email and share the pictures. Success!

I really admire his persistence and his ability to keep on trying and learning. I believe I have a similar learning style when I’m trying to learn web stuff. First I set myself a task, a project, then I struggle, ask for help, and then, if I have to, I look up how-tos on the web, and just keep on trying. Occasionally I get frustrated and stop, but often I circle back to my frustrating project, and try new approaches. It’s so satisfying to triumph, as Dad and I did that evening.

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Smartphone Pics & Videos

Driveway with Painted white arrow Pointing Down

Seeing Possibilities

I went to a workshop given by Wayne MacPhail – www.w8nc.com – yesterday and I know I learned a lot because my behavior has changed. On my morning walk, I took photos with my smartphone, as usual, but I took way more, and with a different conscious ‘eye’.

Wayne is both very knowledgable in a range of fields and excellent at explaining. Plus he’s very generous in sharing the material he created for his workshop, ‘Content in Hand’. I found what he showed us about taking shots with our smartphones very, very helpful.

I liked the information he gave us about how to create videos quickly with a professional tone, but I’ll have to have lots of practice before I’ll be able to control for everything, light, framing, sound, background, etc. all at the same time. However, I now have inspiration and a sense of how to practise, so I’m ahead that way too.


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Storehouse App

I’m just back from a trip to Boston, and I used the Storehouse app for two purposes:

  1. To slake my Facebook urges, and avoid posting my absence from home during my travelling; and
  2. To create a visual and text recording of our holiday.

I have in the past used PowerPoint and Slideshare for recording holiday memories, for example http://www.slideshare.net/vinall/huron-lake-rocks, but I really enjoyed using Storehouse on my tablet.

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Morning Walks


“Summer is icomen in
Loude sing cuckoo”

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Google Docs App

A while ago I wrote about my happy discovery of Google Docs as my writing tool of choice because it allowed me to write on my iPad in coffee-shops, wifi-enabled or not. http://joanvinallcox.ca/my-current-writing-tools/ While I love the fact that I can “pin” my documents and not have to worry about wifi, I have discovered a disappointment.
Google Docs on my laptop offers a lovely menu, much like that on MSWord.
. Continue… »

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Discovering the WordPress App

After my struggle with using the tablet browser to create a WordPress post, I suddenly realized there might be an easier way of doing it. I checked for a WordPress app, and found one!


I’m trying it out now, so you can see how it works for me. Of course I haven’t downloaded the WordPress Tutorial App – I’m not frustrated enough yet. I still able to tap various icons to see what they do and find enough that let me accomplish what I want.

It’s a different experience than working on a post in a browser, especially on my laptop, but it’s interesting exploring it.

Wish me luck in publishing this!

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Learning in a Tsunami of Information

Great Wave off Kanagawa


For writers who want to write and publish their own work, it is not enough to simply make it accessible online, writers now are involved in their own publicity, and that is done increasingly through knowledge of how to use social and/or connective media. The urgency for greater digital knowledge for communicators is clearly evident in the leaked NYT memo – http://www.mediapost.com/publications/article/225939/internal-memo-shows-nyt-under-siege.html - For writers who get employed as journalists or in public relations, knowledge of how to use social apps is an increasingly required skill. TV and radio announcers now routinely use material found on the web, and politics and elections are shaped by Twitter and other web apps that contribute to “going viral”. Nobody who aspires to be a writer or have a position that requires writing should be without at least a basic hands-on knowledge of the interactive ecosphere of the internet.

As the social and connective aspect of the web is both relatively new and constantly evolving, the way to learn about it demands constant research, especially of routinely updated and emerging apps. Just the reference to apps implies that what needs to be researched would be primarily based on mobile use of phones and tablets. (Mobile devices are about to become the dominant mode of access to the internet.)

Writers need to discover people and curating services to follow. We need to regularly check RSS feeds, social blogs such as WordPress.com and Tumblr, podcasts, curations such as ScoopIt, personalized collections such as Zite, and digital or paper newspapers, magazines and TV. Learning where and how to keep abreast of emerging changes would allow writers to be constantly engaging in professional development.

With a working knowledge of a variety of social sites and apps and practise in keeping current in the areas they specialize in, writers can be confident they can survive this tsunami of information.

*Started on a tablet, in a browser, but finished on a laptop

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Wearable Devices


Spring in the park, with a bench

It’s a beautiful summer-like day and I’m using my wearable device, my Fitbit, as a tool to encourage myself to walk more, and to eat more healthily. The other day I was in Eatons Centre when the little lights on my Fitbit bracelet went nuts, flashing and running back and forth. Made me feel proud, because it meant that I had taken 10,000 steps, something I’ve only rarely accomplished in the past because walking to walk to get healthy was too abstract for me. Walking to get my bracelet to flash and dance its lights get me walking. What can I say? Silly but effective for me.

Fitbit on wrist

As I record what I eat and drink, I begin to actually take in what my behavior means and feels like. Did you know that if you (I) don’t drink enough water, you (I) can get headachy and cranky? Seems like there’s a definite correlation which is becoming really clear to me as I record my water intake.

As for eating, I’ve intellectually understood the concept of calories but I’ve never really taken in what a chocolate bar means, and how many calories it dumps into my system. By searching for the calories in everything I eat, I find I’m beginning to remember that oatmeal is 190 calories, and I notice how good it feels in my stomach. What I’m saying is that the Fitbit is helping me learn more about myself and how I actually feel. The chocolate bar makes my stomach feel a little nauseous, despite the pleasure it gives my tastebuds.

As our technological environment advances in leaps and bounds, it leads to both positive and potentially negative results, as can be seen in the following interview of Tom Emrich at Mesh 2014 by Wayne MacPhail.

Tom Emrich at MESH from Wayne MacPhail on Vimeo.

A Note: This was done entirely on my tablet and keyboard, but it wasn’t smooth. I couldn’t get embed or links to work, as the paste feature went wonky. Advice appreciated. Further – This post, and another previous, didn’t actually get published from my tablet. I had to go into a draft on my laptop to actually post it. Again, any suggestions welcome.

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My Current Writing Tools

Hand and pencil

From http://pixabay.com/en/sign-black-icon-pen-pencil-symbol-33988/

Currently I’m writing in Google Docs, mostly in coffee shops because my office feels like work not freedom. I chose Google Docs because I can access my writing on any of my devices, and I’ve lately added a new tool/toy that makes writing in coffee shops or anywhere else easy. I’ve added a Logitech keyboard cover to my iPad Mini, and I always have them in my purse. Whenever / wherever the impulse strikes me, I can write.

Because I’m writing in Google Docs, I can “pin” my writing to my tablet, and access and work on it with or without wifi. I’ve even gone through the process, when on wifi, of copying from my Google Docs and adding a post to my blog. Although I still find some things easier to accopmlish on my laptop, I’m using my tablet more and more.

This post, including finding and adding the image, was done entirely in a coffee shop on my tablet.

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