Preserving Childhood Memories Through Timeline Creation Apps

Tiki Toki Timeline
Snapshot of a timeline created on Tiki-Toki. Image: Maryann Goldman

It all started when my youngest son, Johnny, came home from school one day with an assignment to create a timeline of his life. He had a piece of paper with a basic ruler style timeline on it, and he was supposed to add his birth date, his first day of kindergarten, and his first day of 4th grade plus seven other life events that stood out to him. What a cool assignment! I was inspired to see what types of free timeline tools existed on the web and if Johnny would enjoy completing his assignment using one of them.

I stumbled upon an article that provided a list of eight free pieces of timeline software geared towards teachers and education. It was like striking gold! I decided to give the first one in the list, Tiki-Toki, a try. I registered for the site and created one entry for Johnny’s birth. After just a few minutes, I understood how to use the software and felt that Johnny would be able to use it to complete his assignment. The method for creating a new “story” was easy to follow.  I knew that Johnny would want to include photos in his timeline, so before I set him loose on the software, I worked with him to determine which life events he wanted to document and what photos he wanted to use. I then stored the photos in a folder on his computer’s hard drive and uploaded them to my SmugMug website. Tike-Toki allows you to upload photos or point to an image online.

Create Story mode on Tiki-Toki. Image: Maryann Goldman
Create Story mode on Tiki-Toki. Image: Maryann Goldman

Once the pictures were ready, Johnny was able to type in the basic info and upload the desired picture. He was nothing short of delighted to see his life’s story come alive in pictures. It was also a great mommy and son bonding moment as we relived the most special memories and events of his life.

We did check with Johnny’s teacher to make sure she was okay with him handing in an online generated timeline, and she was, so after he added about 20 events over three nights, we printed out a copy for him to take to school. I also sent the teacher a link so that she could view the timeline online.

So, what were the pros of using Tiki-Toki? Well, it was easy to enter the title, intro, and media for each “story.” The timeline was also really easy to navigate online. I loved how you could choose a background picture for the timeline and how Tiki-Toki used it seamlessly as the timeline scrolled.

Tike-Toki timeline print format. Image: Maryann Goldman
Tike-Toki timeline print format. Image: Maryann Goldman

However, there were a few cons too. I wish the date would have updated automatically based on the exif data of the attached photo if available. It was annoying to have to change the date for each entry. Also, when I printed the timeline, it didn’t look as nice as the online version. It was more of a list instead of a timeline, and sometimes the formatting of the text and pictures separated them across pages.

I tried out some of the other timeline software mentioned in the article including Capzles, TimeToast, Time Glider, and Dipity. Capzles didn’t have enough of a timeline feel to it to suit me. However, it was just as easy to use as Tiki-Toki, and it used the photo exif data to set the date. It also boasts the ability to store more types of media than most of the other timeline software tools (e.g., Powerpoint). TimeToast was also easy to use and had a realistic timeline feel plus a list format for viewing. I had technical troubles trying to use the Time Glider website and wasn’t able to evaluate it.

Dipity Timeline. Image: Maryann Goldman
Dipity Timeline. Image: Maryann Goldman

Dipity was the last piece of timeline software that I gave a go, and I really liked it. It organized the events well, was easy to use, and included both a timeline, flipbook, and list view.

Dipity Flipbook. Image: Maryann Goldman
Dipity Flipbook. Image: Maryann Goldman

Although I found that I had plenty of pictures documenting Johnny’s life and had even blogged about some big events, I was missing some details that I wish I had. For example, I can’t easily tell you the day of his first word. I’m not sure when he sat in the high chair for the first time. I can’t remember the names of some of his preschool teachers or which year he was in what cutesy named class. One picture may be worth a thousand words, but it’s still a good idea to write down some of the background behind your pictures. Using software to create a timeline might be just what you need to preserve both the picture and the story that goes with it. If I had it to do all over, I’d have started a timeline the day Johnny was born and kept adding major life events to it as he grew older. Going forward, I hope that Johnny, with some help from me, will keep adding to his timeline.

For me, it’s a toss up between Tiki-Toki and Dipity. Both are solid timeline creation apps.  Since Johnny has so much time invested entering events in Tiki-Toki, we’ll probably continue to use it.

Share Pictures With Donate a Photo, Help Worthy Causes

#donateaphoto
Image: Donate A Photo

Sharing photos online has become the norm for most of us, and now when you share those photos you can also help a worthy cause with the Donate A Photo app.

It’s all thanks to the folks at Johnson & Johnson who are donating $1 to a worthy cause for every photo you share using the app. Which cause? Well, that’s up to you with a selection of ways that you can help people when you share your pictures.

One of the possible recipients is Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, and the app will tell you that when you choose them for your donation, that you’re helping to give a baby in the NICU a blanket. You can also choose Save the Children, the Family Equality Council, or any one of the worthy causes they’ve partnered with through the program.

You don’t pay a single thing to download the app as it’s entirely free. Just download the app for iOS or Android, then when you take your pictures, share them through the app. It will even post to your Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram account so you can share your pictures, and the app, with your friends and followers.

Next time you share a photo, you could be doing more help than you know. #DonateAPhoto

How To Frame Your Fandom

how to frame your fandom bigAt this year’s Geek Girl Con I was on a panel called “Home, Geek Home” where we discussed ways to incorporate geekiness into your home. We talked a lot about decor and how easy it is to take every day decorating ideas and add a geeky touch. I like to use pinterest to collect ideas and then apply them to my geeky collectibles. To display all of the geeky artwork I collect, I created a small art gallery in my bathroom. It’s curated to my tastes and is a nice surprise when guests come over.

One wall in my mini-gallery is devoted to nothing but Wolverine art, which is pretty specific, and not always something you might want all over your house. By displaying the art in a hanging gallery format, it makes the pieces that much more special. You can definitely spend the money to get your artwork custom framed but it’s a cinch to do yourself. Here’s how to collect and frame your geeky art collection.

wolverine by thom zahler
all photos by justJENN

1. Art

If you collect something specific, like I do, a commissioned piece is great way to go. Artists at comic cons are usually open to commissions during the con, and you can request specific poses or details. I knew someone who asked every artist to draw pictures of Batman with a sandwich. If you can’t travel to a con, check out the artist’s website. If you don’t see a shop of prints you can also email them and ask about commissions.

While at Geek Girl Con I commissioned this fantastic Wolverine from Thom Zahler. His turn around was quick and he was willing to do pieces in a variety of price ranges. When you get the commission, most likely it will be just the art, so it’s your job to make it hangable.

Do your research and buy from an artist whose work you respect and who you can trust. Make sure you understand their pricing, payment, as well as terms of their time table. Some artists are fast and have a quick turn around time, while others are known to take your money and never deliver. Sadly, that’s pretty common.

sizing your art2. Frame

Choosing the right size of frame is crucial to hanging artwork. You want the piece to shine and a small frame that crowds the image won’t do the art any justice. Give it some breathing room and go a little bit bigger than the size of the piece. This happened to be drawn on a 9″ x 12″ Bristol. While that’s standard sketch size it’s not standard for frames, which means the paper would have to be cut or the image will just float in a large frame.

digital mattes3. Mattes

Here’s how you fix that offsize problem, my suggestion is to always go with a matte. You’d be surprised at how much a matte can help your print; it grounds the image and makes it look even more elegant. Think of the mood you are trying to set with mattes. White or cream provides a nice background, while black mattes are a great alternative for making stark images pop.

Frame stores now sell “digital print mattes” which have larger openings. These work great for sketches on odd-sized Bristol and they cost the same as regular pre-cut mattes.

Wolverine art gallery4. Hanging

Hanging frames in a straight line is fine, but when you have a hodge-podge of artwork from a bunch of different artists, it’s nice to create an art wall. I like to place the frames in a seemingly random order, in reality, it takes me a really long time to figure out how to “randomly” place the frames. I like to lay it out first, trying to keep the flow of the colors and feel of each print in mind as I place them next to each other.

Collecting artwork and creating a gallery of a character you love is a great way to grow your fandom. Over time, you can curate a beautiful collection too, and in the process you’ll be supporting amazing indie-artists!

Featured Wolverine artwork by: Thom Zahler, Jason Ho, J Salvador, Mike Maihack, Rogan JoshCliff Chiang, justJENN designs

Scientists When They Were Little Girls

LaurieK
This post (from October 11; I’m so behind on my NetVibes reader!) over at Double X Science made me so very happy today. They have collected a series of images of scientists when they were little girls, all looking very much like everyday little girls. I think the one that put the biggest smile on my face is the picture shown here, with the simple caption: “Laurie Kauffman, PhD, Assistant Professor of Biology, Oklahoma City University.”

Today, the International Day of the Girl Child, seems like the perfect day to show you what girls who will grow up to be scientists can look like. Our completely unscientific collection suggests that there might be a slight correlation between making goofy faces and growing up to be a scientist.

This Geek Mom is now the newest Clickin' Mom – Plus! Giveaway!

Photo: Kristen Rutherford

Holy Cats! The anniversary of my very first Geek Mom post is afoot! On January 31st of last year, I wrote about my love affair with my daughter and my camera. So it seems fitting as I approach my GM birthday (cake all around!), that I talk about my latest photography obsession: A community called “Clickin’ Moms.”

I had never heard of this website, despite the fact that they’ve been around for four years now. It wasn’t until I was at a playdate with a friend of mine who also has a Nikon D90 that the subject came up. This is my “photography friend.” We love to talk endlessly about our struggles and achievements with getting the perfect shot. We talk about the lenses we are trying out, speedlights, working with moving targets, and basically any tips or tricks we’ve discovered. Both of us are self-taught, so it’s very rewarding to triumph over an obstacle – and equally as frustrating when you can’t figure out what you are doing wrong! (In the interest of full disclosure, I did take a class in 2010, but found that I learned more about photoshop than about taking the actual shot. Tragically, I don’t use Photoshop. I use Aperture. Sad Panda!)

So anyway, I am at her house, and we’re talking about making the big jump to manual, and how nervewracking it is. And how once you’re in manual – you can’t just hand off your camera to someone else at a party or something and say “Hey! Take a picture of me!” And she says to me, “Well, even if I was in full auto, I couldn’t just hand my camera off because I do this crazy back focus thing now.”

This is me: “??!!?”

She says, “Oh yeah! I found this amazing website called Clickin’ Moms! I signed up for the trial period of a week and really committed myself to getting the most out of it, and found all these amazing tips and tricks. You should take a look at it.”

So off I go!

Turns out that back in March of 2008, a professional photographer named Kendra Okolita established Clickin Moms as a safe place for women to share their photos and passion for photography. It used to be made up of about 100 women – but in the last four years it’s grown to nearly 9000 members – and thankfully, it hasn’t lost the warmth and camaraderie of a small community.

This community is described on the site as “artists, hobbyists and professional photographers,” which basically means that there are people from all walks of life and all levels of experience on there. The first thing I noticed when I started poking around the forums was that they lacked the snobbery and elitism found on so many other enthusiast websites. You know what I mean? It’s extremely warm and friendly there. What a nice feeling to know that you aren’t going to get made fun of, or looked down upon because you don’t know the technical term for something. Otherwise, how are you supposed to learn? For instance, when I first started taking pictures, I didn’t know what bokeh was. I knew I wanted my pictures to have the subject in sharp focus and the background to be blurry. ButI had no idea how to achieve that effect. How lovely it would have been to have a resource where I could ask, “How the heck do I do that?” and not worry about being looked down upon, or flat out ignored for being a rube. This is the advantage to having all levels of experience in one place. Layman’s terms! You’ve heard the phrase, “There are no stupid questions,” right? It rings true here. Your question may help someone else who is wondering the same thing. I saw people asking things like “Hey, how do I get my subject’s skin to look all velvety?” and people took the time to answer them in detail, guiding them through camera settings and after effects.
BOKEHHHHH Photo: Kristen Rutherford

Within the first week of having access to the forums, I learned how to back focus, found someone sharing a great work flow for Aperture, and a step by step guide to making that scary switch to manual.

And DUDES, I haven’t even scratched the surface of the forums! I’ve been working my way through ONE sticky post called “CM New Member Guide – UPDATED.” – It’s a comprehensive guide to Clickin’ Moms meant to help new members feel less overwhelmed. (Meanwhile, I feel overwhelmed just trying to tell you about how awesome this website is.) Within this post, written by a CM Pro Mentor, it’s suggested you check out the following tutorials:

Learning to shoot Manual
Skinny Wednesday: The Basics of Skin Color Correction
Metering Tutorial
Let’s talk focus
Using curves to get that “creamy” skintone….
Lesson/Challenge on getting proper exposure
Natural light during the day
Sharpening Images
Tutorial: Making grass and colorful clothes POP!!!
Catchlight lesson
Relationship Between ISO, Aperture & Shutter Speed
Masking Basics Tutorial

DON’T YOU WANT TO DO/LEARN ALL OF THESE THINGS? I DO! Even if I forget my address and home phone number because I have all of these awesome new facts to stuff in my brain, it will be worth it. (And besides, I can always ask Siri to tell me my address and phone number.)

If you are a hobbyist and decide that you want to take it to the next level, there are guides to going pro. There are tons of business tips and workshops, as well as support from professional photographers. In 2010 Clickin Moms established CMPro – a place for professional, more advanced photographers to discuss their craft in a warm and friendly environment. I love this definition from the website: “the mark of professionalism is defined not by a business license but by the mastery of the craft.” 

Seriously, you guys, there is so much that this community does/can do for an aspiring photographer, or people that just want to take better pictures, that there’s no way I can talk about all of it.  Here’s a link to a succinct guide to what all of CM has to offer.

The Clickin’ Moms blog is free, and if you are into photography at all, I highly suggest you put it on your RSS, because it’s quite inspirational and features fantastic interviews with professional photographers, as well as interesting photo challenges. If you want to dive in, read the forums, and participate, you must pay to join the community. I recommend you take the plunge.  The price of a lifetime membership is ONE THIRD of the price I paid for a class that I got maybe 2 things out of – but you can pay for a week, 6 months, or a year.

Here’s some good news! I contacted some of the amazing women that run Clickin’ Moms, and they agreed to do a giveaway! So, go right now to Clickin Moms, and put in the code GEEKMOMTRIAL and you will get a 7 day trial period. You can learn so much in 7 days.

BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE!

Someone’s going to win a 6 month membership at Clickin Moms! I know! WUT!??!

This is the deal: to win the 6 months, you have to be a new member. So if you’ve joined recently, or you’ve always been meaning to join – now is a great time to do it! (and yes, if you do the free trial, you are eligible as a “new member.”)  Once you’ve joined, or have used the free trial coupon —  go like the Clickin Moms Facebook page, and then let me know that you did it in the comments here at Geek Mom. We’ll choose someone from our comments in a random drawing as our winner!

I’m so excited about this, and I can’t wait to see you guys over there. Have fun, get inspired, and happy clicking!

 

I Am A Camera

Kristen & Vivienne -- Photo by Linda Berneburg

Anyone familiar with me knows that I have a camera on my person at all times. If you see me walking down the street, I have a camera. I’m here, therefore I shoot.

Wait. My first post for GeekMom and I’ve told a lie. The truth is that I’m usually carrying anywhere from 3 to 4 cameras most of the time. My daughter, Vivienne is coming up on 17 months and she’s already more photographed than Princess Di. No joke – we’re talking necessary-2-terabyte-external-hard-drive kind of photographed.

The thousands of pictures are the result of a perfect storm. It starts with the fact that I’m, of course, very much in love with my little girl and find her utterly FASCINATING. It’s also because I keep my DSLR on “burst” mode, a little trick I learned in photography class for “not missing a moment.” Some of it is because I’ve been a writer over at G4 TV for years, a very tech-oriented network, so I’m very interested in and attracted to the latest cameras with their shiny bells and whistles.  And of course, there’s a dash of something I like to call: WHAT THE HECK IS MY PROBLEM I THINK I AM ADDICTED TO CAMERAS PLEASE SEND HELP.

So, going back to our imaginary scenario where you “see me walking down the street,” you can rest assured that in my diaper bag, I am carrying my Canon s95 point and shoot (which just replaced my Canon SD940 as of this Christmas) and my Flip Mino HD.  And of course, in one of my pockets somewhere will be my ubiquitous iPhone, which doubles as a still and video camera in a pinch. And depending on how hectic my morning was, I will be lugging my Nikon D90 around too.

Maybe it sounds excessive, but for realzz and true, each one serves a unique purpose.  The DSLR takes gorgeous photos, so why a point and shoot too?  Because a) sometimes I don’t want to lug the Nikon around and b) sometimes you can grab moments with a point and shoot that you just can’t get with a DSLR.

As for the point and shoot vs. the Flip: Yes, my point and shoot takes video – very nice quality video as a matter of fact, so why carry the Flip? Because it’s a pain in the butt to email video I’ve taken with the P&S. But the Flip has software that makes it super easy to blast email the grandparents! As for the iPhone?  Well, now you’re talking instant gratification. Baby does something cute, Grandparents know in a matter of MOMENTS. Especially the ones hip enough to receive SSM.

And I haven’t even scratched the surface of the myriad of camera apps available in the App Store that transform the iPhone into all manner of toy cameras. But that’s a post for another time.  Right now, I’d like to know what you’re shooting with out there, and what you love or hate about your cameras.  I truly would.