Friday, July 9, 2010

My New Blog - The Slurpee Chronicles

Hey kids, I have decided to focus my blog posts on movie reviews and other movie-related stuff. I have also decided to use Wordpress for my new blog. One day, I will transfer this blog's postings to my new site, but in the meantime, here's a link to the new place: The Slurpee Chronicles.

Valley Val

Thursday, February 18, 2010

iPhone Tips - Taking Screen Captures

I really like this feature because it works with any app, website, picture, etc. you happen to be viewing on your iPhone at the time.

Before we start: The Home button is the round button on the bottom of your iPhone. The Sleep/Wake switch is found on the top right edge of your phone. It is the same switch you press to turn your phone on and off.

To do a screen capture on your iPhone:
  1. View the screen you want to capture.
  2. Press the Home button and the Sleep/Wake switch simultaneously (this takes some dexterity). The screen flashes white briefly.
  3. Go to your Camera Roll to view the picture. From there, you can:
  • Email the photo
  • Send via MMS (text message)
  • Assign to a Contact
  • Use as your wallpaper

One way I use this feature is to take captures of iPhone apps to use in blog postings or presentations at work. Also, if I don’t already have a picture of one of my friends, I use this feature to take a capture of their profile picture on Facebook and then add it to their Contact info on my phone. Then when they call me, their picture displays on my phone's screen. One cool thing is that once you add the picture to the Contact, you can then delete the pic from your Camera Roll to free up storage space.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

iPhone App - Siri Assistant

Here is another search app for the iPhone 3GS. Siri Assistant uses voice recognition and interpretation to help you find local businesses, set reminders, and even check the weather.

After downloading the fee App, you set up an account by entering your name and e-mail address. Then you have the option to tap your request using pre-determined categories, type out your request, or speak your request into your phone’s microphone. Siri focuses on the key words in your search to find businesses that match your request. I searched using all three methods and they all worked very well. I was very impressed by the accuracy of the voice recognition feature.

Siri is integrated with other web information services. So if, for example, you search for a movie, Siri allows you to play trailers, see reviews, map it, and purchase tickets. If you search for a particular type of restaurant in a certain zip code, Siri provides restaurant details, map, reviews, and phone number.

Cost: Free

Saturday, February 13, 2010

8 Ways to Use Twitter Lists

When Twitter lists first came about, I had a hard time thinking of a good reason to use them. Then I realized they were a great and efficient way to track "experts" in a particular topic. For example, I created a list that includes people or companies who offer lots of interesting and helpful information about social media-related topics. I created another list that includes those who mainly discuss tools/applications/gadgets.

Then, instead of sorting through the wide variety of messages in my Twitter timeline, I can just look at one of my lists and the tweets are focused around similar topics. Lists allow me to filter out all the stuff I have no interest in seeing right now.

The blog posting linked below includes some great ideas on how you can use Twitter lists, such as creating customer lists or promoting events. Remember, when you create a list you can make it private so others can't see it. That would come in handy if you wanted to create a customer list or something you don't want to share with all of Twitterville.

Friday, February 12, 2010

iPhone App - AroundMe

AroundMe: This iPhone app allows you to quickly find businesses that are near to your current location. Comes in handy if you need to find a gas station or if you want to quickly find nearby restaurants, banks/ATMs, hotels, and many other categories.
  1. Open the app and when the list displays, tap the category you want to view.
  2. A list of businesses within that category displays, starting with the one that is closest to your current location.
  3. Tap an entry to view its location on a map, in relation to where you are currently located.

From there, you can:

  • Tap to see the route to the place, including turn-by-turn directions.
  • Tap the phone icon to see the business’s phone numbers. Tap a number to call it.
  • Tap the mail icon to send the name, address, and map location to someone via e-mail.
  • Tap the plus sign to add the details to your Contacts or to your Favorites list.
  • Tap a button to post the info to your Twitter or Facebook account.
Version 3.5.1 of this app includes an Augmented Reality feature. After selecting a category, such as Coffee, turn your phone sideways and see what happens.

Cost: Free

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


I occasionally participate in a weekly Learning chat event via Twitter called LRNCHAT. Each time I send a message that I want to include in its chat stream, I add the #lrnchat hashtag to my message. Occasionally, I forget to add the hashtag and my message is not included in the chat stream.

I recently learned to be more efficient by using

All you have to do is sign in using your Twitter credentials, type the hashtag in the window at top of the screen, and click Go. The stream from the chat event displays. When you type a message within this window, the hashtag is automatically attached for you; you don’t have to remember to add it each time. Among other things, you can also control how often the window refreshes, allowing you time to read current messages before viewing the next batch.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

iPhone App: Shazam

This app is truly a must-have for any music lover. It’s definitely one of my favorite apps. If you hear a song you like on the radio, in a commercial, in a restaurant - anywhere the music is loud enough for your iPhone microphone to pick it up - just point your iPhone mic towards the music and press Tag Now. Shazam “listens” to a few seconds of the song, then tries to identify the song for you.

If Shazam finds the song, it brings up a screen with the name of the song, the artist, the name of the album it's on, the artist's music label, the date and your location when you tagged the item. From there you can perform a number of functions such as:

  • Play a sample of the song.
  • Go to iTunes where you can buy and download the song.
  • Post info about the song you just tagged to your Twitter and/or Facebook pages.
  • Send a Postcard (e-card) to your friends via e-mail to share info about the tagged song so they can listen to it on iTunes and buy it.
  • Read a biography of the artist.
  • View a discography of the artist's work.
  • View the video for the song on YouTube, if one exists. (This doesn't always work- sometimes some random video comes up, or a video that's not the “official” one.)
Cost: Free. For $4.99, you can get Shazam Encore or Shazam Red, which offer even more features.