Friday, October 28, 2011

Friday Tips for iPhone Users – Wi-Fi and YouTube

Do you keep receiving emails from friends and family that take you to YouTube and Vimeo videos of babies trying to use a magazine as an iPad or of cats making scrambled eggs? They may make you giggle, but little do your friends and family know that they may be asking you to spend big chunks of your data plan. Here are a few tips to decrease your cost without decreasing your giggles.

Use Wi-Fi at home and wherever you can

Avoid using your data plan for web-surfing and video-streaming if you have Wi-Fi available at home or work or at a café or hotel or someone else’s house. It’s a no-brainer. You can adjust your settings to look for Wi-Fi first before using your service plan. If you don’t know how to adjust your settings to use Wi-Fi instead of your data plan, you can read this from eHow or view this video from HelpNuggets. For secured Wi-Fi networks, be sure to get the password (at your home it is the same password you use for your computer to use Wi-Fi; at work you can get it from your network administrator; at a café or hotel, ask the staff). If those don't help you, find a teenager to help or visit the Genius Bar at an Apple store.

YouTube eats data plan and battery charge

Dataplan: If you are being charged for going over your data plan limits, video-streaming could be the culprit. Try to restrict your YouTube or other live video-stream viewing to times when you have Wi-Fi access (see Wi-Fi entry above).  If Wi-Fi isn’t always available, find out whether you can download the desired video to iTunes and watch it from your device instead of video-streaming it live. That’ll save you money in the long run.

Battery: Since video-streaming via YouTube or other services drains your battery faster than internet surfing or phone and text chatting, it’s great to have one of those ‘fast-charger’ devices around. But, if you don’t have one, a regular old charger will do. And, don't forget to keep an eye on the little battery icon that shows what's left of your battery life so it doesn’t run down before you get to the end of your favorite Gilligan’s Island episode. (Read about some chargers here or here or here.)

After you view this silly kid video or this silly kid video or this silly cat video over and over and over, you can take a screenshot of the quickly draining battery icon and then dunk it using SoDunked! because you'll always have enough battery left for SoDunked!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Sometimes, you want to dunk Mother Nature

I know it is all part of the cycle of the seasons, the periodic movement of the earth, and the pull and push between the human and natural worlds, but sometimes, I just want to ask why. Why do tectonic plates shift under us and building and people fall down? Why do the rains have to be timed to race across the land at the same time as high tide--a much higher tide than usual? Today, I am thinking of Thailand and Southeast Asia, but there have been so many stories in the last few months (and forever), I could find a long list of reasons to dunk someone. Since I cannot do a thing to stop all of this and I can't really blame any one government official, engineer, or weather expert, maybe I can dunk Mother Nature.

If you want to dunk Mother Nature or anyone else, get SoDunked! and dunk someone today. It's good, clean fun.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Friday tips for iPhone users – Don’t be afraid of contact lists

If you don’t feel comfortable having your entire list of friends and family in a database that can be shared via email, calendars, Facebook, etc., I can relate. (I have been known to avoid online banking.) If you just got an iPhone, but still keep a written list of phone numbers and have to hand-type them to make a call or if you do the same with email (hand-typing them all in each time), then this is aimed at you. Picture your happy place, relax, and read on.

Contact lists are sacred and, yes, you should be cautious. Read up on best practices and security tips. But, when you feel ready, it really will be okay to take the leap. And, leap big—add the email and phone number and street addresses.

Here are the benefits:
  • Saves time—when you want to tell 30 people that you just passed the big exam, you can just select their names and the email addresses will come up.
  • Saves returned mail—how many times have you hand-keyed an address and gotten a letter wrong?
  • Helps with memory-loss—how many times have you gone to dial a number you think you know by heart and you go blank? In fact, how many phone numbers do you know by heart anymore? My parents’ and siblings’ numbers have changed so often in the last 10 years that I don’t know most of them by heart (sad but true).
  • If you fill it in one time, you never have to fill it in again. You can back it up so that if your phone falls into the Severn River, you still have your phone numbers.
  • When you want to send a package and you are at the post office at 10 minutes to closing but forgot the address, you have it right there. You know you forget to bring the little black address book, but you probably won’t forget your phone, right? (well, I am hoping….)
  • Lyle won’t think you are crazy (me: Hon, what are your top 3 reasons to use a contact list? Lyle: Huh? Why wouldn’t you use one? Are you serious? Don’t blog about this, please.)
If you need help figuring out how to use the contact list, there are plenty of "how-to" links, such as this one at eHow:

There are still a few questions yet to be answered over the next few weeks. Stay tuned to read about GPS, YouTube, and WiFi, coming soon.

And, don’t forget to get SoDunked! and tell two friends. Thanks!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Don’t drive while playing SoDunked!

Is it just me or are more people walking around looking at their smartphones than ever? I see them driving around looking at their phones, too. (Isn’t that illegal in most places? Maybe someone ought to send them a text to let them know.)
This morning, I was on my way to work and some guy practically ran my car down (repeatedly) as he made his way down the road with an iPhone in one hand. He stopped at each light and looked down for a while and then glanced up to realize everyone had pulled many car lengths ahead of him. Then his car would sprint forward while he was still half looking at his phone. He even changed lanes that way! In between long stretches of him looking down, he would hold his iPhone up to the window for a minute as if to take a picture.
My conclusion is that he was playing SoDunked! Wouldn’t you conclude the same? Well, or maybe he was using Shazam or reading a QR code I couldn’t see. I think SoDunked! is more likely, but please, I implore even our most devoted fans, don't use SoDunked! while driving. You should even be a little careful when walking and looking at your phone.
When you get to work or while you’re safe at home and far from your stovetop, play SoDunked! and dunk someone safely. And then, tell a friend to dunk someone (safely), too. Thanks.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Friday tips for new iPhone users - Camera and video

Circled at bottom left is icon
to email your photo or video
or do other things as well.
For this week’s Friday Tips, I will share my experience with the camera and video recorder. These features generated a surprising number of conversations at parks and birthday parties over the last few months. This is just the basics, especially aimed at the overwhelmed and formerly technology-timid.
Yes, It Is a Camera, Too.

Whether you have a hand-me-down first generation iPhone or an iPhone 4, there is a camera. I use mine for what I think it's best for—to keep in touch with family and friends that I can’t see often. I can snap a photo of an amazing snowscape or my son making a goal at soccer and—from within the photo app—I can email it to my sister, mother-in-law, or friend. When Lyle is traveling for business, he can send me a picture of some sight where he’s staying and I can send him visual updates of the kids’ day or a type of ice cream I think he might like at the grocery store. 

To take a photo using the iPhone 4: 
Touch the "camera" icon, aim and touch the "button" that has the little camera silhouette on it. Now you have a picture!

To email a photo immediately using an iPhone 4:
Touch the little square at the bottom left that shows the last photo you took, touch the symbol at the lower left (touch your screen once if you don't see that icon and it will appear), choose “email photo”, start writing, press send as you would any email, and select the size of your photo--Lyle likes me to send the "large" but my cousin needs the small or it will not load onto her flip phone. Now, the photo is on its way. If you want to do your emailing later, you can get back to your photo by finding the "camera" icon and looking for "camera roll" or the "photos" icon on your 'desktop' and following the same steps as before. 

To send more than one photo at a time using an iPhone 4:
View your camera roll via the "camera" icon (or touch the "photos" icon) and touch the--let's call it the "I-want-to-do-something-with-my-photo icon--now in the top right corner, select up to 5 photos for emailing, touch “share”, and then choose "email" to send them.

Each generation of phone has a better camera with more features than the last. The iPhone 4 allows you to take a picture from either side of the phone, has a flash, and even has a zoom. However, I still think the best pictures from my 4 are taken in bright light when my hand is steady. From what I have read, the iPhone 4S camera promises to be great—it was created by Sony (which makes our most used non-phone digital camera), will have better resolution (can make a true 8x10 print from an iPhone photo), and will take less blurry pictures even in lower light or with not-perfectly-steady hands.

What about Videos?

The later iPhone models have a great video camera (I think the 3g was the first one to have it). The iPhone video camera may not yet compare to an actual stand-alone (and comparatively clunky) video camera, but it is much quicker to grab and use. 

To take a video using an iPhone 4:
When you are inside your photo app and aiming at something to take a photo, look at the lower right and see the option to slide the button to the right toward the little “video” icon. Do that and you’ll be in video mode. 

Keep track of storage space and battery usage:
If you are near a place to recharge and you have plenty of room left for file storage, you can go crazy and video record anything for as long as you want. You can tell how much space you have for video when your iPhone is plugged into iTunes (look at the colorful "capacity" bar at the bottom of the screen when you view your device). You can record a good amount of video without needing to recharge, but if you are going to need the phone or email before you get home, I would try not to let it go below one half of the battery charge. 

To email a video using an iPhone 4:
You can even email your videos just like the photos if they aren’t too big—when you try to email one, the phone will tell you if it is too big and offer the option to edit it down (roughly lop off a section). Just follow the same instructions as above. Everything is about the same as for a photo, except the phone won't allow you to email more than one video at a time.

Are There Other Photo and Video Apps?

There are several thousand photo and video apps available for iPhone and for the later iPod Touch with camera. These apps can do everything from adding sepia tone or a lacy border to your picture to stitching together photos into a panorama or a triptych to improving the quality of your image. There are also quite a few games and entertainment apps that use the camera to do fun things like distort faces or put a face on a generic body and try to hit a target to get them into the dunking tank

If you have a favorite photo or video app, please share. There are so many that I fear we will miss a few great ones, but we often use Pro HDR, Diptic, Panoramic 360, and iMovie. 

And be sure to check out our app, SoDunked! at iTunes while you’re there!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

ifixit's 4S "Teardown" - This is just cool

On ifixit, you can see what's different between the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4s--on the inside. It's just cool:

(ifixit suggests that viewers keep going back to the link in case they add more information.) 

I wanted to post this little bit on our blog today. I hope you enjoy.

And, stay tuned for more Friday Tips tomorrow.

Thanks for playing SoDunked! and, please, tell a friend!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Friday tips for new iPhone users - Ear dialing, auto-correct, and more

There have been so many new iPhones purchased by friends and colleagues recently that people are asking even me how things work (don't laugh, Lyle). And, of course, thousands of people are soon to be proud new owners of the iPhone 4 ½ …I mean 4S. This all got me thinking that I ought to write down a few beginner tips and tricks for new iPhone/iPod Touch users, especially those who have never owned a smartphone before. I am not denying the self-interest (we are selling an an app for goodness sake), but I feel a special connection to all of the "I still had my 2004 flip phone until I picked up this iPhone this morning" people. That was me not so long ago.
I will write a little bit each week for the next few weeks, hopefully answering all of the questions people have asked.
So, here goes my first installment of Friday Tips for New iPhone Users:
Big fingers, little letters
Type patiently, you get used to it, train the spell check to know the names and vocabulary you use most frequently and it will help you with all of the little typos that big fingers make.
Auto-correction—own it or it’ll own you
When your fingers type “trysa” when you meant “trays” and you don’t notice that the phone changed it to “tryst,” that’s when the smartphone has outsmarted you. Keep an eye on the screen as you type and when the little “suggestion” word(s) appear with an “x” just press the x to NOT change what you typed. Often the suggestion will be the right word that you simply haven’t finished typing—that’s when it is actually a good thing. You just press the space key and the full word appears, saving you a few characters of typing. Over a year of use, my phone knows that I often hit the w key instead of the space key and it autocorrects that. It knows my children’s names and the acronyms I use most for work even though they look like nonsense words. I still get an embarrassing slipup now and then (not as bad as these), but it has improved over time. I do think you can turn it off under “settings” if you need to.
Ear Dialing

Beware of using your ear to hold the phone on your shoulder—it may press “hold” or hang up for you. It’s another reason to use a headset or earbug or Bluetooth.
A Word about iTunes

Almost everyone I know thinks that iTunes is frustratingly limiting and feels a little trapped by having to use it. That said, there are some things I like—you can play your music or videos right there wherever you are in addition to on your iPhone/iPod, you can group your music into playlists, and, if you select the settings initially, you can let iTunes figure out what podcasts and videos you have already heard and whether to keep them on your phone or not. Another perk for me is that I can use an older iPod with different settings than my iPhone, yet use the same library of content so that the iPod gets all the stuff the kids might want to use and the iPhone gets only my stuff—even if I downloaded games and videos for them while on my iPhone. The best thing to do if this is all alien to you is a) spend some time exploring and experimenting with it to get comfortable, b) find a teenager to show you what to do.
      The Genius Bar

The Genius Bar is your own, free, personal helpdesk at any Apple retail store. Use it. They are great. You have to go see them in person, but it can be well worth it. They have brought tears of joy to both my Dad and Lyle's eyes with their ability to resolve bad iPhone dilemmas (i.e., I dropped my phone into my wet kayak...).

Use SoDunked! to dunk your boss or just your teenager who spilled hot chocolate on the front seat of your car. It's fun!

Tune in here next week for the next installment which will include “Yes, it is a camera, too.”
Thanks to all who tried the app this week (and all weeks). Please keep telling your friends about SoDunked!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

What's happening

It has been a busy summer and early fall here in the SoDunked! household. During the summer there were two months of no school and we had lots of visitors. We continued to work hard at our day jobs and, as fall began, the kids finally started school and things are now settling down. In the midst of all that, I admit it was very hard for me to focus on the app and further the goals we have as far as marketing and advertising, evaluating next steps or enhancements, considering a free version, or anything else.
Lyle did manage to do a lot of tweeting and posting to Facebook all summer long. His efforts still yield the most sales on a regular basis. I wish we could say it was in the thousands per week, but at least we have sales.
I (Ione here) have been making flyers and business cards to spread around town, especially on college campuses and at pediatrician’s offices. I also have been “thinking” about making a big magnetic sign for our car door to advertise the app wherever we go. I’ll let you know if I manage to make that happen and whether it was worth it. The flyers and business cards may have produced some sales, but we didn’t see any noticeable uptick during the weeks when I distributed them. I think it takes a real persistence—posting at least weekly and knocking on doors at local businesses in multiple towns—to make this pay off. Next time I put in some substantial time on it, I will report in here about how it all goes.
We have been corresponding with our developer all summer about some things we need to do, but it seems that even a good and reliable developer gets too busy to service less active clients as promptly as when we were at the height of our development process. That’s the breaks of using freelancers. They have to make a living too and they, as well as we, are slave to the ebb and flow of their workloads.
We also have been doing the mundane tasks that all businesses have to do—renewing licenses and domains, paying annual fees, upgrading internet and email services, figuring out how to pay corporate  taxes, and many other details.
It doesn’t sound very sexy, but it’s the stuff businesses are made of—the mundane, the distractions, the brainstorming, and the hard work.
We also keep on dunking each other and anyone who deserves it. You should, too. Dunk a new friend with SoDunked! today!