Just for kicks, here are all the books I read and rated with Goodreads in 2012. My reviews are included if I wrote one.
What did you read in 2012? Any favourites?
Just for kicks, here are all the books I read and rated with Goodreads in 2012. My reviews are included if I wrote one.
What did you read in 2012? Any favourites?
I had a hard time waking up this morning (it was about 6am), but when I looked out the window and saw this, I perked up quick.
I picked up my phone and snapped a few pictures out my bedroom window. They weren’t capturing what I was seeing, so I ran outside (in my nightgown!) to get a better view.
What a wonderful way to start the day.
I attended my first blogging/social media conference last week. I’m finally starting to catch up with the cool kids on the interwebs!
I even lived to tweet about it.
I went to Blissdom Canada 2010 here in Toronto. Billed as “Canada’s first social media conference for women” it came with a lot of hype, and some high expectations. Tickets sold out very quickly so I was extra grateful to get my earlybird tickets. I would have been kicking myself if I had missed such an event taking place in my own city.
The conference ended on Friday so I’ve been processing it for a few days now. I’m struggling with how to put my feelings into words outside of “I had a fabulous time and learned a lot“.
It was great to be able to meet women who care about writing – and writing online – as much as I do. Matching faces to Twitter avatars is always fun – I joked that people would recognize me if I turned my head a certain way. I met and spoke to so many people I hoped to meet. I met and spoke to people I didn’t know of until we met, and now I have tons more blogs and tweets to follow.
Watching the smartphones and laptops going nonstop during the conference was a neat thing to watch. Some people are really great at live-tweeting or live-blogging an event or panel, which is really valuable for those following along at home. I tried to keep that to a minimum because I’m not great at it – I find I tweet one thought and miss the next one. I wanted to be sure I heard everything so I tried to keep my communications to a minimum during panels. It was neat to check my email and discover that my table mates had already started following my Twitter account. An extra bonus is that I’m already finding that I’m having more conversations on Twitter. I hope to keep that up. The fact that so many people are still using the #BlissdomCanada hashtag days after the conference ended says a lot about how much people got out of it.
I wish that I had spoken up more! I have a tendency to speak less and listen more when I’m around people or situations I don’t know well. This is not a bad thing but listening to a conversation without contributing more than the bare minimum doesn’t show my best side. Once I warm up a bit, I can usually jump in and out as necessary, but I may end up saying something stupid or awkward. I know everyone does this, but I’d love a few less facepalm moments in my life.
I wish that I had asked more questions at the panels! This is related to my first point. I tend to not ask the questions I want to ask until close to the end or not at all. I want to listen to everyone else and see if they ask – or answer – my questions before I have to ask them. That doesn’t always happen so I need to learn to speak up for myself, whether it’s a question or a point I’d like to make.
I wish that I had a better “elevator pitch”! People would ask me about hellomelissa.net and I would say “I’m a personal blogger”. The next question would be “how long have you been doing this?” and my answer would be “over ten years”. I’m a dinosaur by blogging standards (and to a lesser degree, by Twitter standards, seeing that I started tweeting in 2007), and sometimes it shows. I was a little embarrassed that I depended on my longevity in the medium to try and legitimize myself. (I’ve struggled with this for awhile now as the link to a post from earlier this year mentions.) I struggle with the whole “elevator pitch” thing in real life too though so this is not a new thing for me.
I don’t want to be completely negative on myself so here’s some good stuff.
I’m glad I mingled. I tried to sit with different people for each session. I came alone (and got a smiley face sticker to prove it) so it wasn’t like I had a group of friends I could hang with by default. Since I wasn’t staying in the hotel (hometown advantage! or disadvantage depending on how you look at it), I didn’t have roommates or travel mates. That left me free to sit with and talk to whomever I wanted. I spoke to lots of people – many of whom I may not have gotten to meet if I had sat with the same people all the time. When I went to the panels, I always sat at an empty or near-empty table and welcomed anyone who wanted to sit with me. That’s probably a passive form of networking, but it was networking nonetheless. If I wanted to go lone wolf and do things on my own, that didn’t hurt anyone’s feelings either.
I’m glad I dressed up for Halloween party. I was having a hard time trying to figure out a costume for the closing party. A frenzied trip to Value Village on the Wednesday before got me the stuff I needed. It wasn’t a fabulous costume, but I made an effort and that’s what really mattered. The fact that I ended up accidentally meshing with a couple of other costumes was a happy accident. Rockers unite!
I’m glad I sang karaoke at the party. I love karaoke, and I don’t get to do it often. I could have taken the easy way out and let everyone else do the singing. I’m fine once I get up there but I spend the time until they call my name super nervous and wishing I had never signed up. Once I’m done, I’m dying to go up again. I’m not the best singer by any means – I follow the “if you can’t sing it well, sing it loud” school of thought. But getting out of my sometimes shy, take a while to warm up, listening self to get up in front of people and potentially make an ass out of myself is a great way to get out of my comfort zone. That and I have a secret rockstar living inside of me.
A+++, will attend again. You should come too.
After adding two more necklaces to my collection yesterday (thank you buy one, get one free sales), I decided I needed to get them out of the jewlery box I’ve used since I was 13 years old. The drawers were getting crowded and they were getting tangled up in each other.
I knew necklace holders were a thing that existed, but I’ve only ever seen them in the store when I had no interest in them. Rather than chase an object I wasn’t sure I’d find easily (they’re not something I see every day), I did some Googling and YouTubing last night to get ideas on how to make one that worked for me. I saw several different kinds and they all gave me ideas for my own.
I made the pictured necklace holder in less than an hour on Sunday afternoon. I think it took me longer to pick up the supplies. Fussier crafters may take a little longer, but it really was a quick and easy thing to do.
Here are the supplies I used:
I went to the hardware store first so I could pick up the chain and S-hooks. Then I went to Sprawl Mart (hey, it’s near my house!) and picked up a bulletin board, some pre-cut fabric and some ribbon. I ended up needing two pieces of fabric because one pre-cut piece didn’t cover my whole bulletin board and I didn’t want to make a third stop at the fabric store. Slacker crafters unite!
When I got home, I found my staple gun and brought my supplies upstairs to my bedroom. I laid the first piece of fabric out and placed the bulletin board over top. I folded the edges over and stapled them to the back of the frame. I did the same with the second piece. A better crafter would probably have sewed the two pieces together first (and maybe even ironed the fabric), but being a slacker crafter, I used the ribbon to cover the overlap of the two pieces of fabric. I stapled the ribbon to the bulletin board. When I realized that the tape holding the ribbon to the spool left a mark, I put another piece of ribbon on over top so the mark would be covered. Stapled that on.
Finally, I attached the chain using – you guessed it – the staple gun. I missed the chain link on the first go, but that turned into a happy accident. It allowed me to bend the staple around to create a hook which will allow for chain adjustment as the collection grows. I repeated the happy accident technique on the other side.
Once the chain was attached, I hung one end of the S-hooks through the chain links and hung the necklace from the other end. Using S-hooks and chain rather than just attaching the necklace to a wire or ribbon allows the necklaces to hang neatly – no sliding to the middle and no drooping.
I’m thrilled with the results I got from such a small amount of work. The holder is sitting on a bookshelf in my bedroom. You could also put it on the wall, but I like mine where it is.
An alternative to chain would be to use furniture tacks and put them on the bulletin board and hang necklaces from them. My research taught me that furniture tacks would work better than regular ones because they are longer and heavier. Another quick Googling showed me that you can get some really pretty tacks that would look great with the right fabric.
Hope this helps any fellow necklace lovers out. Spend a little extra time and it would make a great gift for someone else. (You shouldn’t slack on gifts.)
It’s been nearly seven months since my last post talking about iPhone apps I love. I still use nearly all of those apps regularly (I’m a little burnt out on Bejeweled 2 at the moment), but it’s high time I shared more of my favourites with you*.
This is my go-to notetaking app on my phone. I love that you can file the notes in folders by subject. There is also a “quick note” option for those scratchpad-style notes that you may or may not need later (there is an option to save quick notes as full notes until you choose to clear them).
There are multiple views for each folder: thumbnails, list, to do, detailed, diary, photo and calendar. It is also possible to set due dates/alarms for each of your tasks. You can also back up, sync or transfer your notes to Google Docs or Evernote.
I use this app all the time and I really only use the basic features. As you can see, I use Awesome Note to jot down little notes about things I’m thinking about on the go. (There are also folders for Sean and for recipes off-screen.) I still keep a paper notebook in my purse, but I find I use it much less than I did before I got this app. Totally worth paying for.
This mobile Delicious (the social bookmarking site owned by Yahoo!) client is one of the few (if not only) iPhone app that allows people to sign into Delicious with their associated Yahoo! ID. (If you use a Yahoo! ID with Delicious, you can only sign in with that ID and not with your Delicious ID. I learned that one the hard way.) It’s simple and does the job. View and add your bookmarks on the go, add links to Read It Later (more about that app further down). The Safari bookmarklet makes it easy to send links you’re reading in Safari to Delicious without emailling to yourself to access from your desktop. Simple but very useful.
While I still use Byline for most of my actual feed reading, I didn’t like that it couldn’t add, delete or organize feeds for me on my phone. Enter Feeds. It does all of those things, and is a nice little RSS reader to boot. It syncs with Google Reader or can be used as a standalone reader (nice if you don’t want to use Google as your main reader) Feeds has a clean interface with choice of colours (hey look! I’m using orange!) It also does offline reading, but since I like Byline so much, I haven’t used this feature much yet.
Read it Later allows you to save any website for well, reading it later. It is available as a Firefox extension as well as an iPhone app. There is also a web version and unofficial (user-created) apps for Android, Blackberry and webOS, so you’re not out of luck if you don’t have an iPhone/iPad.
This is one of those apps that you don’t realize how useful it will be to you until you start to use it. I use it most when I’m reading something and find a link that I want to read, but don’t really have the time to look at carefully. Instead of emailling the link to myself for later, I can click on the Read it Later icon in my browser (or from the bookmarklet in mobile Safari, or from Echofon, my Twitter client of choice). Then, when I do have a moment, I can fire up my Read it Later list and catch up on my reading. Another great place to use this is when I am reading my Twitter stream and want to read the posted links. I want to read the links, but also want to catch up on the other 2034 tweets in my stream. Send that link to Read it Later and they’re there when I’m done. Read it Later syncs across all your devices once you have an account and if I make sure all the articles are downloaded before I go offline, I can catch up with my reading on the subway.
Then, once I’ve read the link for myself, I have the option of sharing it with Delicious, Twitter, Facebook, Digg and a whack of other places. I find I use my Read it Later list as a pre-bookmarking list. I may read the article once and decide I’m done and mark it read and never look at it again. Or I may decide I want to keep it and bookmark it to Delicious. Your usage may vary depending on what sites you use. The sharing options only come with the Pro version, and while this is one of the more expensive apps I’ve bought, the price is totally worth it.
This app pulls birthday information from your contacts and Facebook friends and puts them into an attractive interface. You can also add occasions for the people in your lives who aren’t in your Contacts or on Facebook (like my two year-old daughter). You can also pull holiday information from 44 countries and six religions – super-useful if you’re like me and never remember exactly what day certain holidays fall on.
The interface is clean and easy-t0-read and you can choose from several backgrounds. Push notifications are available (and customizable) and you can contact the birthday person directly from the app. Great for those “oh crap! it’s so-and-so’s birthday! I need to call/Facebook/text them. Where is their @#$% number again?” The whole app is very customizable. You don’t have to have all of your Facebook friends’ birthday information loaded into this app. (I use it for my nearest and dearest only). The help/troubleshooting and tutorial sections are very well done.
Momento is a diary/journal app that you can input “moments” into – brief thoughts you want to record. It also imports your “social moments” – your Twitter feed, Flickr pictures, Facebook updates and last.fm songs. While you may not think you need yet another place to track those moments, I’ve been really enjoying the calendar-style interface, which shows me just how social I’ve been. I’ve been using this app as a mini-diary for the things I don’t want to (or shouldn’t) share with the world. You can tag places, people, events or create custom tags. Photos can also be added to your moments. Finally the moment itself can be rated from 1-5 stars. I find I’m not using a lot of these features yet, but I’ve only been playing with this app for a couple of weeks. I’ve heard that beta testing is happening for the next version and I’m excited to see what’s coming in that release. Moments can be backed up into an XML plist file, which is readable by a text editor. You lose the pictures, but if you saved those in your Camera Roll, you should be okay.
Streaks is a motivational calendar that allows you to track how many times you’ve completed a goal by marking a big red X on a calendar. You can track multiple goals (each gets their own calendar) and there is a push notification option to see what your longest streak currently is. Right now, I’m using this app to track how often I’m blogging but you could use it for tracking exercise, diet or the days since your last smoke. This type of calendar can be very motivating so it’s nice to be able to create one on the go.
The reason I picked up this app was because I wanted to do batch uploads to Flickr – the official app only allows one picture to go at a time. I like that I can control each picture’s set and tags individually. You can also set the pictures to be blogged or Twittered once the photo is uploaded. Simple, easy-to-use, and it works. A great app for all iPhone users who post to Flickr.
I won’t go into big detail about this incredibly popular game. You fling birds towards pigs with the intent to squash them. It is very addicting and is totally worth the hype. I started with the Lite version and had to buy the full one so I could play more levels. Absolutely worth the 99 cents.
I like urbandictionary.com. It keeps me aware of how the kids talking these days. Slango is a portable version of the site that allows you to search for specific terms. I find it helpful when there’s a term in a book or online I don’t understand. It’s also useful if I just heard some kid say something that sounds filthy and I want to confirm it for myself.
That and the random word lookup often makes me giggle.
To all the other iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad users out there: what are your favourite apps? Tell me about them in the comments. I still have money on the iTunes cards I got for my birthday and now that you can use a gift card to pay for apps in Canada, it’s easier not to run up your credit card on iTunes.
*Disclaimer, no one paid me to review these apps, or gave me free apps to try out. These are genuine reviews of apps I use regularly that I paid for myself.