Guide to using a Chromecast as digital signage

I just wanted to share something I stumbled across. At school we have an old TV with a custom computer attached that is running some digital signage software. However, this software is terrible, clunky and not user-friendly at all. It creates too much work.

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Best free iOS Apps to travel with

So, you are going away on holidays and you are trying to workout if there are any apps you should get before you go to make the trip a bit easier. Well, here are a few tools and apps that will help!

best-travel-apps

Continue reading “Best free iOS Apps to travel with”

Google Motion Stills

So I came across a cool App by Google for iOS, if you have an iPhone that’s capable of taking Live Photos (6s or better) it will take these Live Photos and turn them into GIFS for you.

I went through some old photos and made some super cute pictures of Poppy. What’s best is you can export them to video and use the video as your Facebook profile picture too.

 

Continue reading “Google Motion Stills”

My 2016 Adventure

Over time we all tend to start creating some form of bucket list, this can be travel, life goals, achievements or even how we may picture out life in the future. One of my goals has always been to do Everest base camp, something about it appeals to me. The physical and mental challenge along with the rawness and unpredictability of the mountain is something that I just have to experience.

I have an aim that I want to complete it my the end of 2016, I’ve worked out it will either be March 2016 or December 2016. I have put it off for years and years, now is the time.

In my excitement over the weekend I have begun looking at trips (the easy part) and packing list recommendations (the hard part). I’ve seen that its easy to be taken away with ensuring everything is perfect and having the perfect equipment in the right quantities. I came across one simple forum post from a well seasoned veteran that read 3 merino wool shirts, a couple of pairs of pants and shorts, then a jacket”.

This was perfect, nice and concise and easy.I want this trip to be simple without the burden of carrying everything except the kitchen sink. As long as a don’t freeze to death, it’s not going to matter if I don’t have 4 Shirts, 4 Long shirts, 3 Jumpers, 5 Socks, 5 thermal socks etc. So with that in mind I’ve begun compiling my list.

I’ve seen that a lot of things can be hired in Kathmandu such as sleeping bags and jackets (around $1 a day). I don’t think this is such a bad option, as it’s unlikely I will need a -20c sleeping bag for a while or a few super thick down jackets (especially given that I normally travel to beach destinations).

So apart from the aforementioned items, I also need

  • Windproof/Rainproof over layer
  • Sandals
  • Headlamp
  • Sunglasses (x2)
  • Hat – Winter & Thermal
  • Headband
  • Water Bottles (1x Metal & 1x 1x Hydration Bladder 2-3L)
  • Balaclava
  • Trekking Poles
  • Waterproof Backpack cover
  • Gloves and Liners
  • Socks
  • Day Pack

Along with some medicine supplies:

  • Anti-Biotics
  • Anti-Inflammatory
  • Paracetamol / Cold and Flu’s
  • Sunscreen
  • Tiger Balm
  • Cotton Tips
  • Band Aids
  • Bandage
  • Tweezers
  • Sunscreen
  • Anti-Nausea
  • Water Purifying tablets
  • Baby wipes
  • Talcum Powder

This list will evolve and change overtime, but I think it’s a good solid foundation.

Now the fun part is buying it all and keeping an eye out for sales!

The next part is to get into training specifically for the trek, i’ve upped my Yoga training to more strength based poses and I’m going to begin hiking around Victoria shortly. This is in addition to my usual – Hockey, Dodgeball, Running and swimming. I’m thinking I should be suitably fit enough regardless of when I go.

I’ll keep you posted on my progress! Do you have any tips or hints?

 

 

Introduction to ChromeBooks

ChromebookChromebooks are becoming more utilised in schools, until recently I had thought them to be:

  • Underpowered
  • Limited functionality (who can do everything they need to do, within a chrome browser)
  • The next netbook (remembered those? If not, there is a reason for that)
  • Limiting a students and teachers ability to be creative.

Cheap laptops have been around for a while, there is nothing new about a sub $350 notebook running Linux, Asus built the EEEpc around 2007 in order to put laptops in developing nations. These took off around the world and formed the netbook category, however they were extremely limited in power, storage and the build quality was generally terrible not forgetting to mention the tiny 9″ screens.

Subsequently we wanted more from these and they began running Windows, either XP, 7 or 8; and did they slow down!

So here we are today, cheap notebooks running Linux again, in the shape of ChromeOS. But it’s different this time, the manufacturers seem to have learned from their mistakes. We have much larger screens (11″ – 15″), faster processors and a connectivity has developed around “Cloud Storage”, so having a 32gb drive is no longer limiting, not to mention the incredible battery life of up to 10 hours.

The ChromeOS is an operating system based off the open source Linux system, specifically Gentoo. It is ultra light weight and importantly very simple. Google have designed ChromeOS to be a simple OS to use and cause as few issues as possible. Essentially anything in your google account gets synced with the Chromebook, Google docs, Google Drive, Google calendar and Gmail amongst many other 3rd party apps.

Screen shot 2011-10-09 at 7.54.06 PM

Like every modern OS, it has an App Store, in the way of Google Chrome Browser extensions. There are over 1 billion extensions in the store ranging from safe browsing to video editing, it’s these extensions which bring the real power and innovation to Chromebooks. The store leverages on a new technology called HTML5, this brings in greater integration between the user and web browser and also some new features such as offline website storage (so that apps can run without the internet) and the ability to stream video without Adobe flash (check out http://YouTube.com/html5 ).

Being based on the Unix OS, there are no known viruses, making them even safer for children and adults especially when paired with web filters and ad-blockers. You also don’t have the added expense of those costly anti-virus programs. Should you want to wipe the Chromebook, you can perform power wash which takes only a few moments and put it back to a factory state.

To login to the Chromebook, users just need to use their Google account (this is the same as your gmail login), parents can set up kids with their own accounts and be able to manage these through supervised accounts http://goo.gl/oFyk1c .

So when would you buy a Chromebook, and when would you buy a PC/Mac? Well, like anything it depends on what you do and need it for. The Chromebook is perfect for kids, grandparents and adults who just want a computer in order to access the Internet safely and are confident in using the Google suite of apps (Docs, Drive, Calendar, Gmail).

If you have large photo libraries, require the Microsoft office programs or rely on specific PC/Mac apps then this is probably not the machine for you.

Chromebooks can be a fantastic way to get students and teachers comfortably and safely using technology in the classroom, especially when it is paired with apps such as Hapara , where teachers can monitor students and ensure they remain on task. Chromebooks offer extremely quick bootup times and have lower maintenance overheads and fewer chances of issues arising, allowing your students to use technology when they need.

Whilst the Chromebook may not suit every school and you may be skeptical, I would definitely try one out and experience it.

You can read more about Chromebooks here https://www.google.com.au/chrome/devices/

 

Do you use Chromebooks at your School, workplace or even at home?

iPhoneography

 The rise in iPhoneography has brought many new aspects to the world of photography that were never possible in the past such as processing images instantly, along with distributing images to millions of people in the press of a button.

Here are some tips for taking better pictures on your iPhone.

  • Always have your phone with you, for many people this goes without saying.
  • Using the volume button to take the picture, many people don’t realise that you can use the volume up button as the shutter release. This allows you to have two hands on the phone for better stability. You can also use the volume button on your headphones, great for selfies!
  • Avoid the digital zoom, this will drop the resolution of the image and increase the chances of a blurry picture. It’s better to crop in the post-processing.
  • Avoid shooting in direct sunlight as this can wash out pictures and affect the exposure, unless that’s what you’re chasing of course.
  • Tapping on the object that you are photographing will readjust the focus and exposure of the phone, you can often manipulate the exposure by tapping on different objects in the picture.
  • Regularly backup your photos to your computer, there are many options for this from local backups to cloud backups (I’ll do a post on this soon)
  • Last but not least, try something different! Your phone is probably the smallest most portable camera you have, this allows you to try new things.

 

Top 10 Tips for buying your first Digital SLR

I am often asked by friends about which DSLR they should get; the one with higher megapixels or the ones with all the features. So I have decided to put together a top 10 list of tips for when you buy your first Digital SLR.

 

Research

Have a look at the type of photography that you have been doing so far and think about what it is that you want to achieve. Check out the forums on Flickr and see what type of lenses people use for those shots.

Forget the body (for the moment)

Invest in the right lens from the start, lenses you will typically own far longer than you will the body. You will outgrow your first DSLR body as you begin to want more features or simply technology advances. Lenses however are often timeless  for example the Nikon 80-200m f/2.8 – there have only been a handful of revisions since its release in the 80’s.

Find a body that is comfortable to hold

Forget features for the moment, try out as many bodies as you can, for comfort size and just whether it feels right to you. There is no point having the most expensive body in the world if it is uncomfortable to hold.

Canon V Nikon V The Rest

To me this is a religious debate to which there will never be an answer. Each brand has its own merits in selection of lenses and accessories available. Quality tends to be similar amongst the brands.

Megapixels

Nowadays there isn’t a real issue of megapixels, with most entry-level cameras being around 10mp or higher. Just remember the lens & sensor will determine most of the quality. Higher resolution on entry-level camera’s can actually increase noise within the images due to the size of pixels on the sensor.

LCD screen

Make sure the camera you choose has a nice bright LCD screen, it will make reviewing your pictures a lot easier when you’re on location.

Other features

It’s not uncommon for cameras to have features like GPS, video, self cleaning sensors, on-camera image stabiliser. Have a look at these features and think whether they are going to be used, for example if you are a studio photographer you probably won’t need the GPS.

Accessories

This becomes an addiction, so make sure you budget some extra money for cases, cleaning cloths, tripods, polarising & UV filters, spare batteries and memory cards – maybe even a camera connection kit for your tablet.

Storage

Let’s face it you will be taking endless amounts of photos, so why not set yourself up to ensure that you don’t go through the heartache of losing them. Ensure you have a suitable backup solution, whether it is to your network, external hard drive or one of the many cloud backup solutions available. I will do a post on this soon.

Set yourself up an account on Flickr

Flickr is fantastic for sharing your pictures and getting feedback from others about the wonderful pictures you have taken. One thing that is very cool about Flickr is the ability to search for images based upon the camera & lens that it was taken with, this will let you see where your new camera can take you!