Monday 5 December 2016

Right click does the trick


Left click chooses, right click presents alternatives

.Following my post about Google Keep here’s a reminder of two useful Google Drive functions.

1. Text can be extracted from images in your Google Drive using right click to Open with Google Docs.
2. Upload a PDF, right click to Open with Google Docs to extract the text.

Google provides these tips to obtain the best results.
  • Resolution: Text should be at least 10 pixels in height.
  • Orientation: Documents must be right-side up. If your image is facing the wrong way, rotate it before uploading it to Google Drive.
  • Languages, fonts, and character sets: Google Drive will detect the language of the document. You'll get better results if your image includes common fonts such as Arial or Times New Roman.
  • Image quality: Sharp images with even lighting and clear contrasts work best. Blurry photos will decrease the quality of the text.
  • File size: The maximum size for images and PDF files is 2 MB.

Right click on a PDF


There are plenty of add-ons for Google Docs and Sheets. These provide extra functions. Two of my favourites in Docs are Change Case and Easy Accents seen listed here in the Add-ons menu in Google Docs. Simply choose Get add-ons to explore the wide range available.
Some Add-ons for Google Docs

Google Sheets

The Power Tools Add-on for Google Sheets adds a myriad of functions under each heading: Remove, Clear, Text, Split, Functions, Data and Convert.

Do you have favourite Add-ons in Google Docs and Sheets?

Saturday 26 November 2016

Grab the image text

Remember that photo you took of a sign, newspaper article, page from a book?

Do you need the text to insert into a document or email?

Google Keep to the rescue. Keep is a note taking tool available for tablets, phones and on desktop computers. Once you are logged in to your Google account, it will synchronise your notes across all your devices.

On a recent trip I took lots of photos of newspaper death and funeral notices for recently deceased relatives. These recent newspapers are not available on line and I wanted to add the text to my family history database. I like to look for shortcuts to do these types of things. If I don’t need to type it all word for word, but only need to make a few corrections, that’s a bonus for me.

Here’s the process to get the text to copy and paste using a photo of an information board that I took at a scenic outlook.

Open Keep on your phone, tablet or computer. Choose the image icon on the right.
Google Keep1
  • On phone and tablet the choices are Take a photo or Choose an image
  • On computers navigate to the image and add from local folder
Once your choice has been made and the image has uploaded, click/tap on the newly created Note to open it. Choose the three dots More Menu, located bottom right side, then Grab Image Text.
The image text will appear immediately below the image. Check for corrections and adjust any line breaks needed. Now the text is ready to copy and paste to your destination.
Google Keep3
Other options at the bottom of the note are for choosing the colour of the note, picking a date and time, selecting a place, sending via share options. The menu options vary depending on the device you are using.

If you have not used Google Keep yet, here’s a quick 3 min introduction video to get you started. How to use Google Keep.

Use the powerful search options within Keep to search notes by place, colour, image, text and more.

To extract text from PDF files I use Google Drive but that’s a post for another day. 😉
How do you quickly extract text from images?

This post first appeared on

Thursday 20 October 2016

Gestures and tips for touchpads

Mouse, trackpad, touchpad....whatever you use there are a range of options to assist your input and control on the screen. 

Head to Settings> Devices>Mouse and Touchpad to investigate the options for your preferred input. There you will find details of how the mouse/touchpad reacts to certain gestures. In Windows 10 choose  Additional mouse options to find the settings for both the mouse and your touchpad device.

Do you like to zoom in to the page you are viewing to enlarge the text or view the details in a photo? On the touchpad place two fingers close together and pinch out to enlarge. Want to return to the normal view, pinch back in. Find out which two and three finger gestures are enabled on your touchpad.

A single tap is equivalent to a left click mouse action. If the touchpad on your laptop does not have a right and left click button, explore the settings to determine the right click options.

Mouse and device settings

I've come across laptop users who complain the touchpad interferes with their typing. In Windows 10 the touchpad can be disabled in Device settings.

Windows 8 and 10 users will find two finger scrolling, three finger swipe down to minimise all open windows and the reverse action to display them again are useful additions.

touchpad options

Friday 14 October 2016

Lessons learned from a spamathon

A certain person who shall remain nameless, drew my attention to the offer of a free trial of a particular upmarket brand hairdryer. As my 35 year old model had recently expired, I made the mistake of signing up and then realising one had to express an interest in some other products. I scrolled my way through the multiple offers, no I did not want x, y or even z. In fact I think there were close to thirty offers I declined. At this stage I opted out of confirming any further details. Aha, it was too late, I had filled in email and mobile on the previous screen. Luckily I have gmail and within 3 days it had rejected 42 spurious offers as spam.

Then my mobile started to ring. Unrecognised numbers. More spam. After a couple of false starts I answered without speaking, yes these computer generated dialling robots simply hang up if there is no verbal response. After burrowing around in my mobile's settings I found where to block the numbers. So far there are eight numbers I've had to block. Lesson learned after all these years on the net, if the offer looks to good to be true then it probably is!.

Steps to block numbers

- Nexus 5 - These steps will be similar in many Android phones
In the phone app:
  • Locate the number in the log of calls
  • Touch and hold down until copy number appears
  • Choose settings from the phone apps menu (usually three dots, the 'hamburger')
  • Choose Call blocking, Add number and touch and hold down to paste.
Blocked numbers may still be able to leave voicemail, but generally nuisance callers desist when they receive no verbal response.

How to extend ring time on your mobile

Positive outcome: So many times I miss calls on my phone by not answering within the 15 seconds allocated by the Telstra. This constant ringing of my phone made me resolve to pursue the issue, now I have a full 30 seconds before the call switches to voicemail.
Choose your telco for instructions on how to add ring time to your mobile before it diverts to a message bank or voicemail.

This post first appeared on

Thursday 29 September 2016

Excelling file names

On a recent trip to South Australia, I acquired 319 new digital items to be filed and named. Many of these are scanned photos, images captured from newspapers, photocopied documents, and photographed family memorabilia. What a bonus for a budding family historian to have acquired so much in a short period but how will I process and organise all this information? On looking at my file naming practice I spotted many errors had crept into my system over the past three years. This time, I was determined to stay consistent by using Excel to generate file names.

Spreadsheets have a function useful for this purpose: Concatenate. This simply means that all the information entered into a series of cells will be combined together into one cell. Why use this for file naming? The column headings on the spreadsheet prompt me to enter the different types of information; names, dates, places, and events. Basically, it is a guide to answering questions about files.
  • Who is it about?
  • When did it happen or when was it generated?
  • Where did it take place?
  • What is it about?
So my spreadsheet column headings reflect the type of information I wish to record. Any cell can be left blank if the type of information in that column is not relevant to the file to be named.
In the column where I want the file name compiled, in this case, I3, I added the formula =CONCATENATE(A3,B3,C3,D3,E3,F3,G3,H3) to join together or combine the information from the cells in columns A to H. This creates my completed file name.

Next , I used the fill handle, (drag down from the bottom right-hand corner of cell I3) to copy the formula down into all the cells in column I. Now any information I add in new rows will automatically be compiled in Column I.

I’ve added an underscore in column E to separate the numbers where there are two dates, simply for ease of reading. I’ve used fill down so that I don’t need to type that underscore every time.

If spaces are required between names one could add two double quotes around a space, into the formula. So to get Horgan John rather than HorganJohn I would need to amend part of the formula (A3,B3) to (A3,“ ”,B3)

The second tab on my spreadsheet replicates the formula for photographs, not all of which are related to family history pursuits. The reminder headings may be interpreted differently as the name column may be used to describe the contents of the photo. By keeping the sheets separate I will be able to sort the data in different ways.

I’ve added a Column J which contains a link to the file on my computer. This link is inserted once the file has been renamed using this system.  Now I need to get back to sorting and naming all those files.

This post on GFC Learn Free explains the concatenate function. There are many excellent Excel tutorials on YouTube. Google Sheets or Open Office users will find this function can be replicated in those spreadsheet programs.

This post first appeared on

Monday 15 August 2016

Busy times bring rewards

Being thankful

Flowers from Saturday
This last week has provided me with plenty of opportunities to pause and appreciate life in all its variations. A visit to a local doctor supplied me with the means to get better from a nasty bug, good medicine and great care from the local surgery.

Its National Family History Month in Australia and on Thursday last I had the opportunity to present a session about online resources. The venue was the local Noosaville library and despite my misgivings, the attendees provided generous positive feedback. Here's the presentation and the handout.

On Saturday I participated in an ASG (Australian Sewing Guild) Suncoast Regional Day put together by three local sewing groups. Good food, genial company and learning opportunities abounded. Fabulous textile art was displayed and free motion embroidery was demonstrated by the talented Jan Hutchison. Martyn Smith presented a range of professional tips and trade secrets designed to improve our sewing skills. I presented a session on Digital skills for sewing enthusiasts which included suggestions for using Evernote for sewing enthusiasts. The accompanying handout includes a link to this shared Evernote notebook.

An unexpected communication from a sibling who has followed through a suggestion I made last year about writing up some of her childhood memories has given me great pleasure. I am in the midst of preparing for a trip to visit my siblings later this month and along with enjoying their company, I hope to snaffle many family memories and photos.

For book club this month our group has been reading The Dalai Lama’s Cat by David Michie. This is a gentle, delightful read with words of wisdom on every page. I’m sure this Thursday’s group discussion when we meet for morning tea will be enlightening. The author has kindly reproduced the prologue and first chapter free online, enjoy.

This morning I’ve visited the local library again where my sewing and book club friend Stephanie, has mounted a display of her creative work. Amongst other things, she is the author of Noosa’s Native Plants. Her photography and computer mastery skills have produced some amazing works. Not content with pictorial display she has uploaded her photographic artworks to Spoonflower where they are printed on to fabric. Taking that one more step she has then created some beautiful tea towels and bags of every shape and description. Her works display not only her prodigious talent but are designed to promote the importance and beauty of the native flora of the region. Enjoy some of her work shown below.
Tea towels by Stephanie Haslam

Bag, tea towel and book by Stephanie Haslam
Paper barked Tea Tree by Stephanie Haslam
Bag by Stephanie Haslam

Saturday 16 July 2016

Where is that place?

Map data from GPS has become an everyday tool many consult without a second’s thought, but what if the place you want to find is not listed on the maps you are using? Fortunately for all, Google maps enables the addition of places of interest and better still encourages contributions so that useful data is saved for all users.

In planning for an upcoming trip I was searching Google maps for some locations I plan to visit. These are not remote locations but small country communities in South Australia. Being a family historian it is part of my plan to visit some cemeteries where ancestors are buried but I could not locate these cemeteries on Google maps. A web search for South Australian cemeteries leads to quite a variety of sites: some local council sites, some with headstone photos, some with online data and one with exact geolocation data.

The excellent guide provided by the State Library of South Australia provides leads to a wide range of cemetery databases and indexes. A quick search on Google maps revealed that many of these cemeteries were not labelled. This was the case for both cemeteries in current use and older resting paces no longer used.

The most useful site for my purpose was Family History South Australia by Barry Leadbeater. From this database I could find the exact coordinates of the cemeteries I had in mind to visit. Now it was a simple matter of copying the map coordinates into Google maps search bar and letting Google do the work. maps2

By switching to satellite view and then zooming in, one can then see the exact location of the cemetery sought. One needs to be logged in to Google to save locations.


Zoom in to check for headstones.


Enhance Google maps for all users by adding clear labels to previously unnamed cemeteries. Save adds the place to a list found under Your Places..


Google sends an email notification when a contribution is published to maps. Anyone logged in to Google can now make suggestions to Google for edits to the places added. Places published are visible to all users without logging in.


To view the places added, edited or saved, use the hamburger menu in the top left hand corner. maps1

Now with places added, I am able to get directions on my phone to these cemeteries. Have you added places to Google maps? Find out more from Google maps help. Thanks are due to Barry Leadbeater and other volunteers who contributed to the database that provided me with the leads to the location of these cemeteries in the mid north regions of South Australia.

Tuesday 12 July 2016

Find of the day – Trove Tuesday

Trove turns up treasure again. How could I have previously missed this tome published on the occasion of the South Australian Centenary in 1936? Trove has links to the libraries which hold the book but also has the whole book digitised and available for searching.

This work records the history of local areas, towns and the formation of the councils and corporations in South Australia that governed them. It is extensively illustrated with mayors, former mayors and the current councillors of 1935-36. Biographies of the mayors and councillors cover birth location and year, education, memberships of organisations and  sometimes family circumstances and residence are mentioned.

Former councillors are also listed under each local government area often with the exact years each person served. The search function led me directly to three mentions of relatives who had served on local councils in the first 100 years of South Australia’s white settlement and expansion. Now I'm off to search for those other surnames in my ancestral families.

Hosking, P & Universal Publicity Company. 1936, The Official civic record of South Australia : centenary year, 1936 Universal Publicity Company, Adelaide viewed 12 July 2016

Tuesday 7 June 2016

Fun with OCR–Trove Tuesday

Hatch, match and dispatch

Time for a little light entertainment - Correction time! The Trove digitised newspaper zone provides wonderful detail about past lives and times for family historians. It also provides plenty of entertainment through the OCR (optical character recognition) rendition of those pages. The image above is the best one I’ve come across this week, no comments about the substitute of bums for births! It has now been corrected to Births.

Common OCR renditions for son of that I have seen include: sod of, sob of, eon of, soil of – all of which could be applicable at some stage of life no doubt.
Then there was the son-in-law listed as the scam-in-law.

Weddings too provide fertile ground for much mirth.
  • wedding breakfast and deception
  • the bride's trowelling dress
  • the bridegroom's bother
  • wedding hell
Death and In Memoriam notices
the borrowing widow for sorrowing widow
the sodden death in this case not referring to an intoxicated person
Miscellaneous mischievousness
on arrival at Sort Adelaide – well I guess they did get ‘sorted’ before leaving the Port.
Where else could you find advertisements for Rustless Corsets?
What have you seen while searching Trove to cause a smile?

Serious stuff – Some search hints

Funeral notices – There are times when names are not indexed from Funeral notices. This may be for several reasons but I have often found the Funeral Notices buried within an Advertisements page. Sometimes there may be no separate heading and they do not appear in the Family Notices section of some newspapers.

It is often possible to find a funeral notice by scanning the rest of the pages in the paper where the death notice was located. If the death notice was published several days or a week after the death it is worth looking for the funeral notices in the papers just a day or two after the death.

Wages – this one came from a tweet this week by David Coombe

I wondered what a "thorough servant" could be.
Here's one definition found in The cottagers of Glenburnie: a tale for the farmer's ingle-nook By Elizabeth Hamilton, chapter entitled  Receipt for making a thorough servant. Thoughts on Methodism
 "to do everything in its proper time; to keep everything to its proper use; and to put everything in its proper place"
I think my family history endeavours could benefit from the application of those principles.

Thanks to the visionaries at the NLA who developed and continue to enhance Trove. OCR is amazing technology but all users can help improve Trove. Search on, text correct and many will benefit.

Wednesday 25 May 2016

How to insert symbols and fractions in blog posts

When writing family history stories one may need to use a fraction of a year for expressing a person's age or if transcribing from a document one may find a person's height or weight expressed with fractions. A knowledge of keyboard shortcuts helps, and the oft forgotten ALT key with a number pad provides the solution.

For those accustomed to using word processing programs the Insert symbol or Insert special characters gave access to fractions and a variety of other useful symbols. Maths teachers have long used insert equation in MS Word to produce those endless worksheets and exams.

Many of us just need the simple one quarter, one half and three quarters.
1. Access the list of codes from Useful Shortcuts or from Keynote support.
2. Save for ready reference in Evernote or Google Drive, tag as codes, symbols, fractions.
3. Ready to insert? Switch on NUM LOCK, hold down the ALT key and type the code you need.
If your keyboard does not have a numeric keypad you can still access the numbers by finding the FN key with NUM Lock in the same colour on your keyboard. Remember to turn if off after you have used the code you want.

So for ¼ I have NUM LOCK turned on, held down the ALT key and typed 0188, ½ is 0189 and ¾ is 0190. Fractions may be highlighted as with any other text to alter size or bold.

This works in both Blogger and Wordpress blogs. I find this a much easier method to insert fractions rather than having to use HTML coding. If you are typing your blog post on an iPad the easiest way to get fractions is to add them as text short cuts. Tony Mortlock has a post Fractions on the iPad with instructions on how to add them as shortcuts. Do you have another simple method of adding fractions to your blog posts?

This post first appeared on

Thursday 12 May 2016

Hippo sized hints


Hazel hones our histories.
Hazel’s hints help.

What works as a title? I settled on Hippo Sized Hints for this post.
I’m practising what I’ve learnt today. Three word titles  - preferably with some contrast or a conflict of ideas. This was just one example of the hints and tips received by an enthusiastic audience at Cooroy Library this afternoon.

Hazel Edwards, an Australian author of over 200 books presented an entertaining and informative session on Writing a Non Boring Family HistoryAnecdotes, book promotion, writing hints and techniques were interspersed with practical exercises each limited to 2-3 minutes. These were designed to ensure that family historians should concentrate on avoiding “chronological boredom.”

In small groups of three we took the role of an ancestor and were interviewed by the others to relate that ancestor’s story in the first person. This provided an excellent focus for revealing gaps in known information. Other exercises had us concentrate on including all five senses in describing a place or room of significance.

Whilst I will probably never aspire to actually publish a family history, I came away with some excellent ideas for improving my blog posts. By the way, I can’t ever imagine a hippo providing me with hints but the hippo is a very famous character in “There’s a hippopotamus on our roof eating cake
Writing a Non Boring Family History is available as an ebook from Hazel’s online store.

Tuesday 3 May 2016

Keeping up with Trove newspapers

In order to keep abreast of newly digitised newspapers on Trove, I use a feed reader to deliver the latest titles. One can select from a variety of RSS feeds to keep up to date. Two popular feed readers that can be used on both computers and mobile devices are Feedly and Inoreader.

Videos on how to use feed readers

Add your choice from these feeds to your favourite reader to keep up to date.
If you click on these links on a mobile device you will need to choose to open in a feed reader or news app. 

Individual states

Feeds are also available for individual states if you are particularly interested in a local area. Recent new additions to South Australian newspapers that have come to my notice through Feedly since the upgrade to Trove 7 in February include:

Frearson's Monthly Illustrated Adelaide News (SA : 1880 - 1884) added on 2016-04-22
An issue of this paper has been added for the very first time. Digitised issues are currently available for the following dates. More issues will be available soon. From 1880-10-01 to 1880-12-31

Harp and Southern Cross (Adelaide, SA : 1873 - 1875) added on 2016-04-21
An issue of this paper has been added for the very first time. Digitised issues are currently available for the following dates. More issues will be available soon.From 1873-12-05 to 1873-12-26

The Irish Harp and Farmers' Herald (Adelaide, SA : 1869 - 1873) added on 2016-04-20
An issue of this paper has been added for the very first time. Digitised issues are currently available for the following dates. More issues will be available soon.From 1871-01-07 to 1871-12-30

The Illustrated Adelaide News (SA : 1875 - 1880) added on 2016-04-20
An issue of this paper has been added for the very first time. Digitised issues are currently available for the following dates. More issues will be available soon.From 1877-01-01 to 1877-12-31

The Pictorial Australian (Adelaide, SA : 1885 - 1895) added on 2016-04-20
An issue of this paper has been added for the very first time. Digitised issues are currently available for the following dates. More issues will be available soon.From 1891-01-01 to 1891-12-31

Eyre's Peninsula Tribune (Cowell, SA : 1910 - 1950) added on 2016-03-07
An issue of this paper has been added for the very first time. Digitised issues are currently available for the following dates. More issues will be available soon.From 1911-03-10 to 1912-12-20

The Areas' Express (Booyoolee, SA : 1877 - 1948) added on 2016-02-26
An issue of this paper has been added for the very first time. Digitised issues are currently available for the following dates. More issues will be available soon.From 1919-01-10 to 1920-12-31

Thanks to the Trove team at the NLA for providing this valuable service.

Here's a snippet from The Irish Harp and Farmer's Herald of 1871 for #TroveTuesday, enjoy!

This post first appeared on

Sunday 1 May 2016

Apps in April A-Z challenge summary

Here’s a summary of the posts written along with the apps I covered in the A-Z challenge. Hopefully, you may find a useful app from these quick overviews. Thanks to all those who visited and commented along the way.

Here’s my Pinterest board on the A-Z of apps in April.

Follow Carmel's board Apps A-Z on Pinterest.

If you don’t use Pinterest here’s the list alphabetically.
To view a select few of the other many bloggers who participated, here's a magazine of 300+ articles from family historians and genealogists.
View my Flipboard Magazine.

This post first appeared on

Saturday 30 April 2016

Oh! Sew Online

All stitched up

There are endless sites for pursuing hobbies online. If sewing is your hobby here are a few tips that may help you refine your searches, and save and organise those found sites.

This presentation was prepared for the 30th April 2016 meeting of the Australian Sewing Guild local neighbourhood group the Guilded Lilies of Tewantin/Noosa. Meetings are held on the last Saturday of the month from 9 am - 3 pm. We share our sewing skills and knowledge and enjoy sewing in the company of friends. 

To my sewing colleagues: to view the slide show again, click/tap on the right facing arrow. To view full screen, click/tap on the 4 arrow expand symbol or on a mobile device just double tap. Enjoy!

Zero in on the good things

Z is for Zinio and zzzss

A-Z Challenge – Apps in April

This is the last post in the A to Z challenge for 2016 where over 1300 bloggers have posted each day in April. Zero in on these posts for some excellent reading.

Today I have the last two apps in my Apps in April series, both from the same company.

Zinio for Libraries

This is the app to get if your library loans emagazines through Zinio.

1.. Locate Zinio on your library’s website.
2. Sign up with your library membership details through the library site.
3. Browse and choose magazines of interest. Each library will have a different collection.
4. Download the Zinio for Libraries app for iOS or Android and sign in with the password you created on your library site.
5. Refresh the library and the magazines you chose are ready to be downloaded to your device. Enjoy!


This is the app to get if you wish to pay a subscription for a magazine which is not available through your library’s site. For example my library does not have Inside History but it is available for subscription through Zinio.

Sign up to Zinio with your own details, not those of your library membership to browse thousands of magazines available through paid subscription. Some magazines offer a free download as a trial before you need to pay. Over 5000 magazines available. App for iOS and Android.

Now it’s time for me to get some zzz..sss after a tiring month of keeping up the daily posts. I do hope you’ve found at least one, new to you app.

This post first appeared on

Friday 29 April 2016

Yes for your interests

Y is for YouTube

A-Z Challenge – Apps in April


Yes we all know YouTube but do we get the best from it on our mobile devices? Were you aware there are four separate mobile apps relating to YouTube?
Use a free Google account to log in to YouTube. With an account you can subscribe to channels and get notifications of new videos matching your interests. If you are a video creator, upload to your own channel to share with others.

The basic YouTube app
  • Search within the app for an interest
  • Choose a video
  • View the videos by the creator by tapping their user name if you like what they offer subscribe.
  • Subscribe to your favourite channels Notifications of their latest uploads will appear under the folder icon.
  • Build a playlist
  • Add to Watch later
  • Share via Google+.. Twitter, Facebook, email, message or copy link. Depending on your device and the apps you have installed there may be a much wider variety of options available.

YouTube Capture

CaptureYTAvailable for iOS only
Start recording instantly
* Stitch together an unlimited number of clips as you build your story
* Trim and rearrange clips right from your phone
* Add a soundtrack from music collection or YouTube’s audio library
* Touch up videos with colour correction and stabilization
* Upload to YouTube and share on Google+, Facebook, and Twitter - all in one step
Help for YouTube Capture


YouTube Creator Studio

YT creator
iOS and Android
A YouTube dashboard for those with their own channel.

Manage your channel, view analytics by numbers, viewers, audience.

Filter and respond to comments. Manage playlists.


YouTube Kids

if you have little ones using your mobile device this is the app for them. Divided into 4 simple categories Shows, Music, Learning and Explore the app features big buttons and easy scrolling.
Parental controls are included so timing and content may be modified. Search can also be disabled.
Available for iOS and Android. No app is perfect but this provides some control over children’s screen viewing.

next up Z - Zero in on the good things

This post first appeared on

Thursday 28 April 2016

Extra, extras

X is for XE currency converter and some eXtras

A-Z Challenge – Apps in April

XE currency converter

Essential for travellers this currency rate converter stores the last known rates so is useful even when internet access is not available.

Put your home currency at the top and then add the currencies of the countries you will be travelling through below. Provides quick and easy conversions.
Available for iOS and Android.



Is your device memory getting full? Try some of these tips.

Delete apps not used in the last year. If you have previously purchased them, they will be kept in the store on your account and can always be restored again if needed. Remember to transfer any documents or files from these apps to your computer before you delete.

Move photos off your device. Use a Wi-Fi transfer app such as Simple Transfer Pro for iOS or Wi-Fi File Transfer for Android to drag and drop from your device to your computer.

Do you have apps that are space hoggers? Some of the Twitter clients and Google+ can store outdated data no longer needed. Simply delete the app then re-install to free up some space.

Next up Y - Yes for your interests

Wednesday 27 April 2016

Words of wonder

W is for Word Swag and WolframAlpha

A-Z Challenge – Apps in April

Word Swag

An early favourite that has been on my iPad since its launch. Word Swag is a typography and graphic design tool. Choose from own pictures or the thousands of free background pictures from Pixabay. There are textures and a wide range of text designs and filters. Each text design has at least 5 alternate options to provide a wide range of choices. “Turns words into designer text”

Recent additions include gold foil text and expansion to 48 designer styles.

Word Swag is available for both iOS and Android and is the last image and text app listed in the A-Z challenge.

2016-04-25 15.51.57
2016-04-25 16.01.04
2016-04-25 16.09.22


If you have not heard of WolframAlpha visit the website to view the power of this computational knowledge engine. Wolfram Alpha presents answers not links to websites. Dates and times, words and linguistics, engineering, places and geography, advanced mathematical computations, musical notation, food and nutrition are just a few of the areas to explore.

Want to know an age at death? Enter birthdate to death date e.g 15 April 1909 to 29 September 2003. Want to know a code, a comparison of sizes or places or populations, this app will entertain and inform you accurately drawing from the knowledge stored in thousands of databases.

This app and all the more specialised apps from WolframAlpha are listed on the products page.

Next up X – eXtra, extras!

Tuesday 26 April 2016

Vocal variations

V is for Voice in a variety of apps

A-Z Challenge – Apps in April


Speech recognition

Devices and apps with built-in speech recognition software enable transcription of voice to text. This is often an underused function available in a wide range of apps. Speech recognition software works best when words are enunciated clearly. If at first one’s voice is not recognised, slow down speech and practise using speech recognition in a quiet environment.

On iOS anytime the keyboard is activated look for the microphone symbol, located next to the Space bar. Tap the microphone to begin speaking and watch your words transformed into text.
On Android the microphone symbol is located at the top of the keyboard. This is a boon for those who have difficulty using keyboards accurately or need to quickly take a note on a phone.

Speech recognition is available in browsers like Safari and Chrome, calendars, email and note apps. Some apps covered in this A-Z series that have speech recognition are: Adobe Slate, Chrome, Google Docs, Gmail, Google maps, Google Keep and Notegraphy. Depending on your device and the latest software update of your system and your apps, look for the microphone and test to see if your favourite app can use speech recognition.

Voice recording

Voice recording is a quick way to capture thoughts, music, sounds and interviews. Apps with voice recording incorporate a playback mode. Some apps covered in this A-Z series that incorporate voice recording software are: Adobe Voice, Book Creator, Evernote, Explain Everything, and Hangouts.

A dedicated voice recorder app is useful and both the App store and Google play have a wide range of choices. On my iPad I currently have AudioNote and on my Android phone, SmartVoice. Now that Evernote incorporates voice recordings I am more likely to use that for spoken memos and one of the voice recording apps for longer interviews for family history purposes.

Text to spoken word

Many mobile devices incorporate the option for having text on screen read aloud.

On Android head to Settings> Accessibility>TalkBack and switch to On. Follow the onscreen instructions. If you wish to change the speed of the text read, go to Settings> Language and input> Text-to-speech output.
On iOS go to Settings> General> Accessibility to switch on VoiceOver.

Have you been making the most of the voice capabilities of your mobile device?

Next up W - Words of wonder

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Monday 25 April 2016

Update and upgrade

U is for Update and upgrade

A-Z Challenge – Apps in April


Time to rest from loading apps and check that all are up to date. Visit the App Store or Google Play to keep your apps up to date in order to benefit from ongoing improvements. Some developers update their apps regularly to take advantage of new software or to rid their apps of bugs. One is well advised to keep up to date to get the best performance from apps.

If you find an app regularly crashes, it may be that it has not been updated to match the latest software. Sometimes deleting an unresponsive app then re-installing it will fix the problem.

It is equally important to upgrade software on your devices. Upgrades enhance performance and will only be installed if your device is able to support the latest version of its operating system. The version currently installed on your device can be viewed in the Settings app.
  • On iOS devices Settings> General> Software Update.
  • On Android Settings> About> System updates.


Mobile devices have a short shelf life with new hardware released regularly by manufacturers, usually in the northern summer. Eventually, your device becomes obsolete and apps no longer function. At the 3 to 4 year mark I would expect to have to upgrade my devices to newer models. One expects that newer devices will have improved processors, more storage space and better overall performance. A needs assessment, price considerations and wide reading of reviews will assist in sensible decision making.

Next up V – Vocal variations

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Sunday 24 April 2016

Tune in and type

T is for TuneInRadio, TED talks and TypeDrawing

A-Z Challenge: Apps in April


Listen to your favourite radio stations from around the world. The free app provides streaming radio from over 100 000 stations. Choose by genre and/or locality.
I live in area where radio reception can be poor for nationwide stations. With this app I can keep up to date with the latest news or have background music playing wherever I am. I do not choose to use subscription services for music.

Pair your device with a Bluetooth speaker to get the best use from this app.
Available for iOS and Android

TED talks

Be inspired by remarkable minds from a wide range of fields; education, medicine, technology, business, music and many other fields of endeavour. Listen to their unique ideas presented in less than twenty-minute video presentations.

Build a playlist of your favourites to watch later or choose from the courageous, funny, informative, or beautiful for inspiration. These talks from some of the world’s great thinkers and achievers provide positive  experiences for all.
Free for iOS and Android.


Import a picture, type some text then use your finger to draw the text onto the picture.
Choose from a wide range of fonts, colours and effects and vary spacing, outline and shadow effects. Set the photo to transparent or remove altogether to be left only with text drawing. Easy typography art or use to create watermarks on your pictures.
Available for iOS and Android

coffee cup
Made in TypeDrawing background picture removed
telephone dial
Made in TypeDrawing photo by crgalvin
Next up U - Update and upgrade

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