Pique interest with Pinterest

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It feels a little late in the day to be writing about Pinterest – such is the world of the internet – but while it currently holds the record for ‘fastest growing online network’ ever (currently between 50-70 million users depending on who you listen to) I still talk to lots of people who are not sure what it’s all about.

Wikipedia defines Pinterest as “a pinboard-style photo-sharing website that allows users to create and manage theme-based image collections such as events, interests, and hobbies.

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The definition of “Photo-sharing” diminishes its functionality to a degree – while the ‘visualisation’ of the ‘pin’ using ‘images’ is key to the Pinterest experience, you can share much more than just the picture.

At the moment I use it in the way that I used to use Delicious; simply a collection of bookmarked ‘favourite things’. They may be images, but usually images that are part of a webpage, TED talk, App, etc. So, on my ‘Books’ board you’ll find images of recommended reading, but those images will take you to the relevant Amazon page to purchase or sample. The TED board ‘pins’ will take you to the actual TED talk.

Pinning your favourites is as simple as a cut and paste of the web address, or navigating to an image on your had-drive to upload. You’ll also find that more and more sites are (as this one does) displaying handy buttons that allow you to ‘pin’ webpages with a single click. Your ‘boards’ and ‘pins’ can be shared, followed, liked, re-shared, etc – but you can also make boards collaborative amongst groups. (While I’ve yet to use it in this way it was one of the features that ‘piqued’ my interest in the site.)

Launched in 2010, the requisite iPhone app in 2011 (and other platforms since) provided additional mobile access – by December of that year Pinterest was in Time magazine’s list of top 50 websites of the year and one of the top 10 social networks with 11 million total visits per week.

For me, Hubspot’s ‘How to use Pinterest for Business’ helped cement  my understanding of Pinterest’s value and potential and while I haven’t yet had an opportunity to use it more thoroughly I thought it was about time I drew your attention to my Pinterest account (you can also access it via a button on the left hand column of my home page).

I’ve seen great examples of Pinterest used for mood boards, photo-blogs and exhibitions; and because collections are visualised, visitors are drawn in exactly as they might be to a pinboard on your wall.

So I recommend you give it a go! Please check out my Pinterest boards and if you’ve got any ideas, suggestions for new boards or boards that I should visit, let me know. Most of all, create some of your own and let me know how you get on!

Joby iPhone GorillaPod

Just in case you haven’t found anything useful to do with your iPhone and you’re looking to give it a new lease of life then you might find this little gizmo interesting. [UPDATE] Please read this review by all means but it has been superseded by a review of the latest Joby products! While this review covers how I use the tripods the newer review looks at the improved functionality of Joby Gorilla Grip Tight and Gorilla Video.

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I’ve no idea how long this has been around (so this post may be very old hat!) but I do know that over the past few weeks several iPhone wielding friends have been suitably impressed that I thought it was worth sharing further afield…

The Joby GorillaPod is well known in photography circles and has been produced in various sizes to cope with the most sturdy of cameras for many years. I came close to getting one for my SLR many times… however, they can be pricey. However, this one I couldn’t resist. Firstly, it was less than a tenner (£10) on Amazon. Secondly, I use the iPhone ‘a lot’ in workshops and general day-to-day photography, film/animation so I knew I was going to get a lot of mileage out of it.

The things is, apart from all the creative stuff, the time-lapse and having somewhere safe to prop my phone for outdoor camera stuff, I’m using the GorillaPod as a stand for when I’m Skyping/Facetime, watching the iPlayer or listening to Podcasts… and the thing that I was most paranoid about… leaving the phone lying around in the kitchen while cooking or washing up! ‘Now’ it’s wrapped around a cupboard door handle out of harms way!

I even tried wrapping it around the handlebars of my bike this week – it was pretty secure but given the wind I didn’t trust the frame to hold (see below) – otherwise it’d be a great way of capturing time-lapse or video on the bike.

Te GorillaPod legs are very light-weight yet incredibly sturdy and I have no fear of losing or damaging my phone while wrapping it around the branch of a tree! The stand also comes with the necessary (screw fitting) attachment that would allow you to use the tripod with a (Phone sized/weighted) digital camera. The frame that fits around the phone is detachable from the legs so you can very quickly set up for shots with out having to walk around with a tripod in your pocket! It feels less substantial than the legs but appears to be made of very flexible plastic, fits very snug and I’ve no reason to doubt its durability as yet.

So, heartily recommended by me… but what about you?! Have you used a Joby or anything similar? What’s your gizmo of choice for doing the same job? Let me know below…

Take Your Time

My last post illustrated how you can use an iPhone or iPad to make simple animations.

iMotionHD is the App that I’ve used for these kinds of projects and workshops. It’s amazingly intuitive, powerful frame editing and great options for sharing your completed movie.

This morning my little boy needed to make a card for his young cousin – to make the exercise a little more interesting for them both I used the ‘time-lapse’ feature in iMotionHD to capture the process of making the card.

The iMotionHD time-lapse option takes a picture a regular intervals (e.g. 1 frame every sec, 1 frame every 3 seconds, etc) and then plays them back as a continuous movie. This can make a long or less interesting process instantly accessible. So my niece will get to witness 90mins of (not too interesting) craft in a very manageable 43 seconds – and my son enjoyed watching the movie too.

Of course, this is not just for kids. This is the same idea regularly used in nature programmes to show the passing of time/seasons, etc. But if your work consists of laborious processes then this might be a way of sharing that experience with your customers or audience.

So, here it is, have a watch. Let me know what you think. Better still, give it a go yourself and let me know how you get on!

iPad – therefore iLearn

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Over the past 18 months I have had many opportunities to use the iPad as a learning tool and information on Playful Communications: learning and training services can be found here.

As a combination of camera, audio recorder, note-pad and presentation tool I initially thought it would be useful to me but more and more I’ve been finding apps that have supplied me with ideas for great learning projects both at home, in classrooms, colleges. I have been able to use the iPad2 to great effect as part of the Living Communities project based at Perth Museum and Art Gallery and with so many tablets out in the professional world there is huge scope now for corporate training.

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Mobile devices are offering amazing creative opportunities. With the advent of the 69p ‘app’ accessibility to software is unprecedented.

While these apps are not considered industry standard in the way that Adobe Creative Suite might be, they are offering genuine, valuable insights into industry processes. In fact, the immediacy of touch screen technology coupled with intuitive software can be a superior experience to the desktop and mouse, identifying a new way of working for the near future.

There are of course already professionals in the field whose tool kit consists of a ‘well app-ed’ mobile device. Journalists, bloggers, vloggers, social media amplifiers – the early adopters of these tool-kits have been the winners in recent years.

Many of the learning opportunities that Playful Communications offer are designed around the iPad. As an Apple user of 20 years the iPad was a natural purchase.

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We also find iOS apps to be very stable. As participants often download the apps we have taught them to use, we want to be confident that the applications we advocate are safe and fit for use.

So while iOS is our platform of choice Playful Communications are also open to, and experienced in, using other devices on alternative platforms (Windows, Android, etc). 

In most cases the applications we use have a counterpart or similarly available application that will do the same job. If you use other products and would like workshops or training in those areas then please contact us to discuss.

Don’t wait for Billy to say “Yes!”

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Came across this video being shared on Twitter earlier tonight… at which point it had about 58,000+ views and now an hour or so later it’s over 60,000!

Billy Joel holding court at a Q & A in Nashville and a student named Michael Pollack there has the guts to ask if he can play with Billy Joel… what can you say..?! So Billy Joel gets him up on stage, turns out the fella plays piano and as you’ll see he’s pretty confident… …you should probably just watch now:

There is no question that this was an event where you really should have been there. However, how great is it that, about a week after this happened, it’s all there for everyone to see?

That video is going to get a lot of hits… What a calling card for the fella! Won’t do Billy Joel any harm either!

It’s great that Pollack didn’t hold back, he really made it happen and now at least 60,000 people have seen and heard him play! How powerful a simple YouTube clip can be.

However, the other person who didn’t hold back was on the other side of the camera.
Who knows when you’re going to get a moment like that… but one thing is certain, the fella didn’t wait for Billy to say yes! He got the whole story, he already had the pixels rolling…

With a smart phone in your hand you not only have the camera, but the editing suite AND the means to share across the world! And this can work for you at your event, for your project, whatever it is you do that people need to know about…

So don’t hold back! Be ready, be prepared, or prime someone else to be there for you. Whatever you do, don’t miss out! And Don’t wait for Billy to say yes before you press the button!