Thursday, March 31, 2011

New toy

After having an iPad for a couple of weeks, here's my take on it.

My boss bought a stack of the new ones for the office when they came out on March 11th, and he kept one of the new ones and gave me his old one, the original iPad. I wouldn't exactly consider it "old," though, of course, since it's less than a year old. It's the top of the line model--64 GB, WIFI and 3G. And I LOVE it.

I have some kind of problem with the WIFI at my house, but I've never really cared enough to get Time Warner out to figure it out. Bob can get WIFI upstairs for his PC, but for whatever reason, I can't get it on my Mac. But it's not a big deal, I just plug in, and it's fine. But of course, I wouldn't be able to do that with an iPad. So I was thrilled to get the 3G iPad. I can sit upstairs now and play Scrabble with the guys at work, shop at Amazon, read and answer email, read a book, all the things I can do on the computer, but I don't have to be tied to any particular place.

It's pretty much the same stuff I can do on the iPhone (I got the new iPhone 4 recently, too), but a lot more comfortable with the larger screen. And what a screen! It's big, beautiful, and sharp. Photos look wonderful on it. The on-screen keyboard takes some getting used to, but I'm getting pretty fast on it. With the touchscreen, you can also take notes by writing; I got a stylus and I've been using that some, it's easier than using a finger.

I haven't tried using a wireless keyboard yet, but I have one at work, so at some point I plan on figuring that out. With an external keyboard, there's almost nothing that I can't do on the iPad that I can do on the computer. Well, Photoshop, I guess. But pretty much anything text-based. I've spent hours on the iTunes stores looking at software, trying out free versions, and figuring out what I need.

My favorites right now are:

For work:

  • Penultimate ($1.99) - for taking handwritten notes or making drawings with stylus or finger
  • Todo ($4.99) - syncs with iCal task lists
  • Pages ($9.99) - (Apple official app) for viewing and editing Word docs
  • Notebooks ($8.99) - for taking and organizing text-based notes using the keyboard
  • Photosync ($1.99) - wirelessly transfers photos from desktop to iPad and vice versa
  • Dragon Dictation (Free) - converts spoken word recordings into text
  • Printer Pro ($6.99 - try Printer Pro Lite (Free) first to be sure it will work for you) - wirelessly print documents from the iPad
  • Dropbox (Free) - Invaluable. A cloud storage service that you can access from anywhere, with any device
  • Readdle Docs ($4.99) - connects to Dropbox, iDisk, Google Docs and FTP accounts; allows you to read PDFs and MS Office files
  • Terra (Free) - a tabbed browser that I prefer to Safari
  • Sugar Sync (Free) - Creates a folder on your desktop computer that instantly syncs anything in that folder over wifi. And I mean instantly. It's crazy! You can watch it happen.

For news and weather:

  • The Daily ($.99/week) - I subscribed to this for $.99/week, mostly because I love the daily crossword and Sudoku
  • AccuWeather (Free) - Just the weather. Simple. What's the temperature, is it raining or not? That's mostly what I want/need to know. I also have The Weather Channel app, and use them both.

For entertainment:

  • Kindle (Free) - a really great reading experience, I unexpectedly like it more than the Kindle itself
  • Netflix (App is free, but requires a Netflix account to watch) - so much fun to watch streaming movies!
  • Zinio - magazines are a lot of fun to read on the iPad


  • Scrabble ($9.99) - I have a couple of constantly ongoing games with people at work
  • Sudoku2 Pro HD ($2.99) - I've just recently started playing Sudoku, and love this app
  • Angry Birds Rio ($2.99, free version available also) - yes, it's everywhere, but for good reason


  • Min to Go (Free) - A timer that shows the "minutes to go" as an icon badge
  • Remote (Free) - Control iTunes remotely, i.e., I can be playing something--music or a video--on my desktop computer and conrol it using Remove on the iPad (or iPhone)
  • Fluid Monkey (Free) - Love this! It reminds me of . . . I'm not sure what. I used to have a little notebook that had a squishy liquid cover, I guess it's like that. Very soothing, anyway.

previous | next

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Kansas Troubles

A couple of weeks ago we went down to the Lake of the Ozarks for the weekend. Bob has a friend who has a place down there, and he goes down there quite often, but I'd never been. But this time, when Bob invited me along, I went. He always tells me that I can do the same things down there that I do here--mess around on the computer, read, knit, eat--which is true. I didn't even take the computer, though. I took the Kindle, my iPhone, a couple of skeins of Noro Silk Garden, and I put together a traveling sewing/quilting kit.

I've started sewing again, after probably a couple of decades away from it. I've always enjoyed sewing, but it's a messy hobby, and once the sewing machine is put away, it's hard for me to get it back out, with all the attendant fabric, thread, cutting board, etc.

But awhile ago, when I was out at my folks' house, my mother asked me if I could hem up a pair of jeans for her, and of course, I said yes. So I got out the machine and set it up, and I enjoyed having it out so much that I've kept it out. I sewed gifts for almost all of the women that I gave Christmas gifts to this year--reusable shopping bags in their own little zippered pouches.

I've also made a bunch of cotton "produce bags"--I haven't used them for that, though. I've used them as lunch bags, knitting bags, Christmas gift bags, the uses are many. The pattern says they're produce bags, so that's what I'm calling them. (I asked for permission to make the bags for sale, and paid a licensing fee.)

Oh, so anyway, back to the quilting. I had picked up a quilting magazine recently that had a project for making a pincushion out of fabric selvages, the tightly woven edge of the fabric that is usually printed with details like the name of the fabric line, the designer and/or the mill, and registration marks and dots of color that I assume are used by the printer.

I absolutely loved that idea, so I started going through my boxes of fabric and cutting off selvages. I quickly amassed enough to make a few pincushions, then I decided to make a small quilt with some of them. I didn't like the quilts I had seen that were made completely of selvages, they were way too busy, but I did like the look of them when used as blocks. In my reading about selvages, I had discovered that the Moda fabric company was selling "scrap bags," which were fabric strips left over from cutting their pre-cut fabric squares. I ordered a bag, and I thought that the fabric line that I got (all of the "scraps" in one bag will be the same line) went well with the selvages. It was called "Summer's End by Kansas Troubles Quilters," which I thought was very appropriate!

So I cut the selvages off of the scrap strips, and sewed up 12 squares. I love the sewing part; I don't like the cutting part nearly as much. It's tedious, and it's hard on my back, and it's hard to get motivated to do it. But I thought, hey, I'll take my stuff with me on the weekend, and lay it out when I have less distractions.

So I packed up a plastic box with my rotary cutter, shears, pins and needles, and bought a small rotary cutting mat and plastic ruler. I put my selvage squares in a plastic bag, and brought along the strips from the scrap bag. When we got down to the Lake, Bob went out fishing on Saturday, and I laid out the quilt top. Once I had arranged everything to my liking, I cut out the strips and squares so that it was ready to sew.

I didn't actually sit down and sew it together until the next weekend, and it wasn't until yesterday that I built the quilt "sandwich" (quilt top, batting and backing) and started quilting it. I don't really know what I'm doing, and it's FAR from perfect, but I figure it's better just to do something that to spend forever studying and worrying about it. Anything takes practice, it's not going to perfect the first time, but I enjoy doing it, and really, that's the whole point.

It's a small quilt, probably about 2 x 3 feet, and I'm planning to hang it on the wall in the bedroom. I'm already planning another one that I think would look great on the wall of my office. It's just a matter of doing it. In the winter it's very hard for me to want to do anything when I get home from work, but I think I'll be more energetic and motivated once it starts staying light longer. I'd better be--I need to do something with all the fabric I've bought!

previous | next

Saturday, March 12, 2011


I've been having fun using Pinterest. I started "pinning" things a couple of weeks ago after seeing it on someone else's blog. It's basically just a repository for saving images of things, like a virtual bulletin board or shoebox. In the past, I've tried to save photos that I find of things that I love, or things that are inspirational, but when I do that, I never remember to look for them, and if I do, I can never find them. By using Pinterest, when I run across something beautiful that I want to remember, I just "pin" it.

You can even create a board that other people can modify, although I haven't explored that. People can also comment on your images, follow them like on Twitter, or "repin" something to their own board. You can have multiple boards--as many as you want, I think--and can rename them and rearrange them to suit yourself.

One thing I've found to be very interesting is that when you look at a board in its entirety, sort of like spreading a bunch of photos out on a tabletop, it clarifies, or crystalizes, what makes them similar. I'm explaining that badly, I know, but what I mean is, it shows with great clarity what the things I love have in common. For instance, in my Places and Spaces board, all of the images seem to be of small spaces, lots of little nooks and alcoves, mostly crowded/cluttered with eclectic things. Lots of plants and light, lots of white and neutral colors and when there is color, it tends to be turquoise.

I've been "pinning" recipes to try (that I probably never will), things to make (that I probably never will), places to go (that I probably never will), but you never know!

previous | next