What the World Needs Now . . .

. . . is an app to give site owners a readout on their carbon footprint.

Did you read James Christie’s post Sustainable Web Design at A List Apart yesterday? Go, read it.

Everything Christie had to say speaks to my environmentalist heart. We tech lovers, we web designers, we gadget freaks – we are adding to the planet’s carbon footprint.

We can do something about it. Christie lists ways to lighten your site’s load on the environment. And that’s good. But it’s complicated for people to get a reading on their particular site – where it is now, and the measurable difference changes could make.

If there was an app that would give you a readout on a site it would be so useful. You could figure out how you’re doing and track the progress you made toward goals to reduce your site’s carbon footprint.

Somebody build this app. Please.


James Christie responded to my tweet about this post with a link. Check it out.

Memorability App Review

Screenshot via iTunes

Memorability is a free photo book app for iPad. It uses a simple drag and drop interface to allow you to create photo books. The completed photo book can be shared on Facebook, by email, or on a private Memorability social network.

There are many themes available for the photo books. Quite a few come installed with the app, others currently cost $0.99. The themes are attractive and the finished photo books are lovely and professional looking.

I met the developer of the app at BlogHer13. She told me if I used the Promo code BLOGHER I could get a theme free. Feel free to use the promo code yourself. I should have entered the promo code the moment I downloaded the app on iTunes. Later, when I selected one of the $0.99 apps to download it was too late and I had to pay for it. Learn from my mistake.

I gave the app a test run. I didn’t have any particular topic in mind like a family event that I wanted to make a photo book for, so I just randomly choose some photos from my iPad. I selected the theme I’d purchased and was ready to go. Each theme has a number of page options, so I first selected a page type, then dragged a photo into it. Some pages allow the addition of text. Some allow the addition of sound. Some have areas for more than one photo per page. All the page options are obvious and simple to use.

I made several pages. A double tap let me preview. I selected to share on Facebook and the app created an mp4 file, which it sent to Facebook. Later I decided to email the file to myself, so I selected share by email. The iPad went through the process of creating the video file all over again and sent it to me.

Unfortunately the mp4 file created by Memorability is too large for WordPress to accept, so I can’t show it to you here. Since I only had 5 or so images in the photo book, the large file size is a drawback to sharing for someone like me who was thinking of putting the video file on the web.

It’s easy to edit a photo book once after you’ve completed it. It’s easy to get to the list of all the photo books you’ve made. Really, this app is just plain easy to use.

As far as I can tell, it’s only available for iOS right now, but it’s early days for this app. I’m sure it will expand in future versions.

Memorability has a Facebook page and is @MemorabilityApp on Twitter.


2 Ways to Get a PDF onto an iPad

I wanted to save a PowerPoint presentation I had prepared as a PDF and transfer that PDF to my iPad. If I could make that happen, I could travel for a presentation without having to drag my computer along.

I emailed it to myself and opened it with my Xfinity email app. There was no way to do anything with it there except print. The problem was with Xfinity. Downloading from Gmail seems to present similar problems.

I found two ways that worked.

  1. I put it on Dropbox and could open the PDF file with my iPad from there. This was super easy, but if you don’t have a Dropbox account all is not lost.
  2. I mailed it to my Mac Mail account. There were several options for saving it from the Mac Mail app.

Mac Mail Tips

In Mac Mail I could tap and hold the icon for the PDF file and a menu opened up with several options. The options you see here are reflections of what I have installed on my iPad. You would have at least iBooks in your options. Note that the document was attached in the body of the email.

Mac Mail Options

I chose to open the file in iBooks. To find it in iBooks, I had to click the collections button so I could choose between books and PDF files.

the collections menu

Now I can give a presentation with my iPad in hand and leave the computer at home. That’s a relief.

Useful Links: Karen McGrane, Drones, Edu Apps

WYSIWTF at A List Apart is by Karen McGrane. I’ve shown her videos and linked to her speeches here several times lately. It’s because I’m convinced she is the most important thinker working on the web right now. She’s not talking about responsive design, which is important, she’s talking about content. How to make content that works. How to create CMS tools that let authors create content that works. How to get away from WYSIWYG and its formatting tools, and move into the underlying structure of content. How to make content useful. She’s an evangelist who’s out to change the web.

In case you may have blown off the previous mentions of Karen McGrane on this blog, I remind you of her keynote at Drupal Con, and the video of her talk called Adapting Ourselves to Adaptive Content.

You know drones are soon going to be everywhere when they start using them to deliver pizza. Technology replaces the pizza guy. Not much is left that isn’t changed forever by technology – especially privacy.

The Best Apps for Educators at Media Shift has 8 useful ideas.

Useful Links: Up to Date, Responsive Radio, Syfy app

How to Keep Up To Date on Front End Technologies is a new site with suggestions for Twitter lists and websites that can help keep you up to date.

Web pages that respond to the device is now a mantra in the web dev world. How about radio broadcasts that respond to the user’s situation and location? Check out The BBC shows off “perceptive radio” that can alter scripts. Here’s a working demo, which they suggest works best in Chrome from locations inside the UK.

Defiance Image from syfy.com

In a similar vein to the BBC experiments, I am here to sing the praises of the Syfy app. I’m a fan of several shows on the Syfy channel, including the currently running Defiance and Warehouse 13. With a sync feature, the app pings you periodically with information about what’s happening on the screen – simple things like the name of a song in the background or something about the scene or actors. Here’s the really cool part. If you record the show to watch at a different time from the original air time, the app still knows where you are in the story and the information it feeds to you matches your personal viewing schedule.

Interesting new apps and tools (and a wish list)

Yahoo! Weather is the weather on Flickr. It’s beautiful as well as useful. Here’s my weather from yesterday. Lovely, right? The photo used is matched to the current weather and location.

Yahoo weather

You can also see hourly forecasts and weekly forecasts. There’s a group on Flickr called Project Weather you can join if you’d like for your photos to be considered for appropriate locations.

Churnalism.com is a tool for detecting real journalism as distinguished from, well, churnalism. It’s the work of the Sunlight Foundation. Here’s their description of what they do:

Churnalism is a tool that matches fragments of text between two documents online by comparing it to our database of press releases and Wikipedia entries. You can either install an extension to your Internet browser to run Churnalism automatically, or you can manually paste in the URL or text of an article on the main site. In order to run the comparison, we built up a cache of documents that includes all of Wikipedia and press releases from PR Newswire, PR News Web, EurekaAlert!, congressional leadership offices, the White House, a sampling of Fortune 500 companies, prominent philanthropic foundations and many more. Churnalism searches for matching fragments across all of these sources and shows you a side-by-side result right on your computer screen.

Okay, app developers. Here’s a request for you. After a frustrating day trying to find a list of writers in my local library and going through the process of ordering books from interlibrary loan, I realized it would be very nice if an app like OverDrive (or some other app not yet developed) could be used to borrow electronic copies of books via interlibrary loan. Are you the one who could make that happen?

5 Must Have iPad Apps For Web Designer Needs

Though the iPad is more known for allowing easy consumption of online content, there are a wealth of apps that make it easier to create content on the Internet. Some apps help gather ideas, some keep those ideas organized while others help with the design of the site. Below is a list of apps that can help those designing websites using an iPad.

iMockup Screen shot
iMockups screen capture from iTunes

1. iMockups – This app comes into play after the ideas have been gathered and it is time to create a mockup of the potential website. It contains templates specifically for the iPad and allows designers to quickly drag page elements into the workspace from a sidebar. Those items can then be resized.

2. Dropbox – Saving files on an iPad can prove difficult, if not impossible. The app Dropbox serves as a file-saving system. Documents and photos can be uploaded and saved, as well as easily shared with anyone else who might be working on the project. An added bonus is that many other apps work seamlessly with Dropbox, making it extremely easy to save items from multiple sources. It also works with other platforms, meaning something saved in Dropbox on an iPad can later be accessed on another device, even a traditional desktop computer.

3. Evernote – While Dropbox is a place to save documents and photos for later use, Evernote’s goal is to act like a second brain to help people remember things. This app uses notebooks to store ideas a user may find while surfing the Internet but they are too busy to do anything with at the time. There is no limit to the number of notebooks that can be created and web pages can be clipped right into a notebook. Photos and audio recordings, as well as notations, can also be added. As with Dropbox, Evernote works with a wide range of other applications, and more are being designed for it every day.

4. HTML Cheat Sheet – Experienced web designers as well beginners can use this app to help them with HTML coding. It has a quick reference guide and has the bonus of being developed and written by experts who use HTML every day. Once code has been written, it can be tested in the app to make sure it works.

5. Paper  – This is one of the easiest drawing apps that can be used for designers. It has a friendly user interface, while also maintaining a wide array of powerful and realistic tools, such as a watercolor brush and ink pen, that will appeal to any illustator. Paper makes it easy to add realistic sketches to wireframes of potential websites.

While an iPad may not be the first choice of tool for those looking to design a website, a wide array of powerful, yet easy to use, apps make it possible. They give designers the ability to start the process or make refinements even when away from their personal computer.

Author Simon Phillips of TouchLogic.co.uk specializes in mobile website design and develops apps for small business owners.