Phoneography

On the move

Today I am on the move... Via train, tram, bus and of course foot!

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Destination wedding — hence the fancy coat. Following the wedding at the very pretty Abbotsford Convent, I might even walk the 3.7km to the reception. These boots are made for walking, baby!

I also figured a post from my phone app befitted today’s photo challenge theme of ON THE MOVE. Just a short post while I enjoy a quick coffee at the Convent Bakery.

Selfie (with bronze-age village and purple hair)

It was only a few weeks ago I was reading about the origins of the word SELFIE, which has recently made it into the lexicons (or nearly) as an official word — meaning, of course, to take a picture of one’s self with one’s camera…

And now here we are with SELFIE as the theme for the weekly photo challenge. Fun!

At the risk of boring people with yet more snaps from last year’s trip to south-west England, I’m sharing the best selfie I’ve ever taken:

ME!!!

Selfie from the top of Hookney Tor on Dartmoor…

I like this photo because:

  • My hair is wild (and purple!)
  • I managed to capture the full circle of Grimspound (ancient bronze-age village) in the background
  • It captures perfectly my mood and the atmosphere of this awesome day on Dartmoor in Devon

I had climbed Hookney Tor on my own at this point, which is why I had to take a selfie. Having said that, taking selfies on this trip became a bit of a ‘thing’ and I have several of them in my collection from this trip…

For more on our wonderful day on Dartmoor — one of the highlights from my trip — check out this post.

One thing I didn’t know when I took this using the reverse camera on my iPhone 4S (so I could see the image I was capturing) is that the resolution of the reverse camera is less than 1 megapixel, unlike the forward camera, which is 8 megapixel… So selfies taken in this way are much poorer quality than normal photos. It’s worth remembering.

It’s also a pity I didn’t know this was the theme about 12 hours earlier, as I could have taken a selfie last night when I was all glammed-up for a beach wedding! Now that would have been fun!

After a mega all-round effort my iPhone screams ‘no more!’

I was going to write a post called ‘Ode to my iPhone’. Because I really gave my 4S phone a workout over the past month while travelling. More than a workout… It completed an endurance event. Like an ultra-marathon.

Navigator. Blogging tool. Camera. Social media interface. Hotel finder. Tourist information centre. Even occasionally a phone.

But then my iPhone died. The moment I stepped off the plane and switched it on again, it gave a whir and a click and collapsed in a heap.

Well, not really. Figuratively.

It refused to give me any 3G data. It was as though all its labours to squeeze megabits out of the dodgy UK cellular networks had finally taken its toll and it curled into the foetal position and screamed ‘No more! I’ll give you calls and WiFi, but don’t expect me to channel any more firetrucking data!’ (Sorry, this blog is G-rated.)

It took me and Telstra a while to realise the iPhone’s demise. I put it down to software confusion… one too many SIM change. (And for all I know, that might have been the cause.) But no matter how many parameter resets and reboots and diagnostics, the phone dug in its figurative heels and refused to give me data.

Option #1 – Recontract with Telstra and upgrade my phone. Did I mention I was in the last week of my two-year contract?

Option #2 – Head to the Apple Store and see if they could do anything to fix it. They couldn’t.

With just 4 days left in the warranty period, Apple replaced the phone.

***

I’ve been very happy with my iPhone 4S. Laying aside the fact of its premature death, it performed admirably under extreme duress during the past month. I’m not exaggerating when I say I used it for everything.

Camera – I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about relying on the iPhone as a camera, but the thing takes way better photos than my aging Canon Sureshot (only 5MP) so I decided to give it a whirl. It’s a bit unwieldy at times, but I can’t really complain about the photos, based on my level of competency as a photographer. It did place unanticipated strain on the iPhone battery though, so I had to monitor the battery quite ruthlessly. This was sufficiently challenging to ensure I’d probably take a dedicated camera next time.

Blogging tool – The WordPress app is pretty good, with the main limitation being the iPhone screen size and keyboard. I blogged using both the touch keyboard and my bluetooth silicone keyboard, the latter providing a little more ease of editing. Photos are inserted as html, requiring cutting & pasting of code to reposition — a challenge on the tiny touch screen. The best solution was to insert each photo as I wanted it, which required some planning. Obviously, I’m ecstatic to be back on a proper computer interface with a proper keyboard and a proper screen! However, I have definitely conquered the art of phone blogging!

Navigator – I went to special lengths to obtain a local SIM in order to have 3G data on the phone while travelling, one of the main drivers being the ability to use GPS and maps while out and about. While this worked wonderfully well where 3G coverage was to be had, network coverage down in England’s South West is patchy to say the least. Still, the GPS ‘blue dot’ continued to function, even when the maps themselves couldn’t be downloaded. Once again, however, using the phone to navigate demanded much of the battery. If using in the car, a car-charger will be required for next time!

Social media and other stuff – For social media, the iPhone is tried and true, with my only complaint being the inability to edit documents created within Facebook. A minor concern, really. After I figured out the best methods of sharing blog posts, all seemed to go fine. The Booking.com app is fabulous, by the way. And Safari definitely got a workout too. I used Safari a lot to figure out bus/train routes — and then used the ‘screen shot’ function to store a photo of the information. That ‘screen shot’ function is an AMAZING tool for travellers! Plus I used the various Australian banking apps for the first time — all went very smoothly with my funds. On the whole, everything was great.

***

So I have proved it’s possible to be an obsessive blogger and social media user while travelling with little more than an iPhone.

About the only thing I didn’t use it for was an e-reader. For that I took my kindle.

And I confess I’m saddened by my phone’s demise and subsequent replacement. We’d been through a lot, my iPhone and I. And now I have to build up a bond with a different device. OK, so it’s another 4S, but it has a different soul, you know?

It’s not the same device that tramped all around South West England, over hill and down dale, photographing stone circles and sheep.

Do you have a relationship with your smart phone? Have you ever blogged on it? Would you be willing to try?

Meet my silicone bluetooth keyboard

I went shopping today, and I bought…

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… a Bluetooth silicone keyboard. A RED Bluetooth silicone keyboard.

The plan I’m considering, you see, is to go travelling without my netbook computer (I know, radical!!) and use my smartphone for blogging and booking accommodation etc.

Which is what I’m doing now.

Yep, I’m blogging on my smartphone, using a red plastic keyboard that can be rolled up…

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It can also be folded. What do you think?

It’s not perfect — for one thing, the keyboard is very sensitive and I’m typing multi-letters a lot. But it is better than the touch screen.

The trick is going to be navigating this WordPress App properly… is it going to let me preview the post? [yes!]

If this all works, I’m considering getting a small tablet, so I have a better screen interface. All I’ve been waiting for is an excuse.

The reason for this radical course of action is because I want to travel really light, but would like to keep up with my blog. Last time I travelled, I posted most days. It’s a good record of my experiences.

***

OK, I’ve resorted to the computer now, because one of the challenging things about the WordPress app for smart phones is positioning images. I haven’t figured this (or image sizes) out properly. More practice required before I’m convinced… (It also seems to have a bug when dealing with categories.) But I’m not giving up yet!

What radical actions have you considered for travelling?

A writer’s weapon — from above

A while back I shared my obsession with spiral-bound notebooks. Today it’s all about their partners in crime — PENS.

Look at them! Aren’t they pretty?

pens (white)

None of these are expensive (in pen terms), but they are a step above the average disposable ballpoint. I have this many because, like most writers, I reach for pens in all sorts of places — handbag, computer bag, coffee table, study… And once you start writing with a nice ballpoint, there’s simply no going back.

I also have so many because I’ve developed the habit of buying myself a new pen to cheer myself up or celebrate. Well, there are worse vices!

I’ve been giving my various pens a workout of late (did I mention the 32 scrawled pages of notes trying to figure out what was going to happen next?). And for this reason, PENS are my inspiration of the week.

pens (black)

This image also serves as my entry in the WordPress weekly photo challengeFrom Above. I thought the photo might have turned out better (at least it did in my mind), but oh well.

Bring on the pens!

Are you looking for a change from disposable ballpoint pens? Perraz is a very inexpensive brand — three of mine are Perraz. Others are Parker and Shaeffer. Does anyone else treat themselves to small presents from time to time?

 

Study in Green (with lyrebirds)

After spending today in the Dandenong Ranges near Melbourne, where all around is green, green, green, I’ve been inspired to participate in the current weekly photo challenge: Colour.

We had a lovely time strolling through the verdant Australian bush — past towering straight eucalyptus trees, vast sprays of tree ferns, flocks of squawking sulphur-crested cockatoos, crimson rosellas, galahs, tiny blue wrens. It was a gorgeous sunny autumn day and our route took us in and out of dappled shade, so we could both enjoy the sunshine and gain relief from it as well.

We even saw two Australian native lyrebirds scratching at the edge of the walking track. The male, with its magnificent tail, posed in full view then strutted into the bush at his leisure, tail dragging behind. Then we were treated to the wonderful lyrebird’s song. Lyrebirds are renowned for mimicking all sorts of sounds, including camera clicking, and we got the works. Had I been faster thinking I would have recorded it… I don’t think it’s very common to see lyrebirds in the wild, so we felt extremely privileged.

If you’re interested, here’s a You Tube clip to demonstrate:

It was so good to get away from the city for a day and fully appreciate nature, as well as embrace fresh air and exercise. We walked for over two hours — not an excessively long time, but more than we would have otherwise. (Let’s face it, I spend half my days writing in cafes at the moment!)

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I should admit there were, ahem, two cafes today. Grant’s Picnic Ground at Kallista has the most amazing vanilla slices (right), so before our walk we fuelled up with one of these and a coffee for morning tea. And then after the walk we headed to Olinda for lunch.

But for the most part, it was all about the luscious green of the bush, as highlighted in my photo gallery — the first one I’ve attempted. These WordPress challenges are proving excellent at teaching me a thing or two about the features of WordPress!

 

Phoneography Challenge: My Neighbourhood (or ‘My Writing Cafes’)

For this week’s Phoneography Challenge, ‘My Neighbourhood’, I’ve decided to share with you the cafes in which I most commonly write. So I’ve spent all week taking photos — plus included one or two I’d previously taken (on my phone of course!).

My criteria for cafes to write in are: good coffee, nice ambiance and space. I don’t want to feel as though I’m hogging a table, so if it’s a busier cafe, I’ll choose a quieter time. Usually, I’ll order at least two coffees or have a meal, just to say “thanks for having me”.

OK, now for the photos!

First, this is my Green Bag — my mobile office, really. It contains: my netbook computer, writing journal, highlighters, post-it tabs, pens… All I need for a productive writing session! Since I walk to all the cafes, my bag needs to be comfy to wear — it’s an Australian brand called Crumpler and the style is ‘The Considerable Embarrassment’.

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My Green Bag goes with me just about everywhere at the moment…

Below is Cafe #1, where I most often meet a couple of my writing buddies… It has great coffee — plus, as an added bonus, it’s licensed for the times we do those all-day sessions! Wine o’clock is generally sometime after 2pm. It makes me feel as though I’m “renting” the table. And sometimes it helps the words flow too.

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A cafe with great coffee AND wine — what more could you want?

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My trusty Samsung netbook at wine o’clock.

This is Cafe #2, unassuming and casual, where I meet my sister after her Pilates class (having got there early for some word slinging). My goto lunch  here is a “chicken baguette”, which is so much more than it sounds!

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This cafe is low key and relatively quiet — you can just see the tip of an Australian flag…

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Lovely red bench to sprawl out on — me and my Green Bag.

And finally this is Cafe #3, which has the best coffee in the street — with latte art to boot!

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Legendary latte (or flat white, in my case) art at this cafe.

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Enjoying that coffee!

So there you have it. Now you have the full picture. When I talk about “writing in cafes” it’s invariably from one of these three. The staff at all three are coming to know me rather well.

Now I’d love to hear about your favourite cafe. If you write in cafes, what are your criteria?

NOTE: All photos taken by me on my iPhone 4S. I started this post off using the iPhone App, but for a post with this many photos it was too hard, so I edited and finished on the laptop.

Weekly photo challenge: lost in the details

Since it’s phoneography month here at WordPress, I’m about to give mobile blogging a go…

I’ve driven nearly 2 hours to the small Victorian town of Castlemaine for a gig by English folk singer Seth Lakeman. And from the sound check, which I’m currently listening to, it’s going to be great!

The photo below is my attempted response to the ‘Lost in the details’ weekly photo challenge via my smart phone – hey, all challenges in one! It shows part of the Castlemaine town centre and is very typical of a Victorian gold mining town.

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My apologies to those who receive this by email – I accidentally published rather prematurely! Not sure I like mobile blogging after all…