thoughts on learning while fiddling

search closed

new search bar – closed

I spent all yesterday afternoon and yesterday evening fiddling with adding a search bar to my website. I was pretty tired, but I still wanted to try and change it up. I’ve gone through many phases. In the beginning, all I wanted was to have a relatively static site that I could control all aspects of. That’s why I went with Joomla. Then I discovered WordPress and decided that I would go with that as a CMS because it was so aesthetically pleasing and easy to use.

new search bar - open

new search bar – open

I hopped on the Tumblr bandwagon, but never fully embraced it because it was not feature-rich enough for me. If my website was to be my face on the web, I wanted it to be something I was proud of and could control. WordPress hit all those spots for me. I had a basic knowledge of HTML and CSS, but not PHP. Still, I went for it and jumped. I’ve been self-taught all my life and that’s how I like discover the world around me. I find that as a hands-on learner, doing things and jumping right in helps me understand the fundamentals and gets me hooked. After a few tries I usually show massive improvement.

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Meike MK-550DL Manual part two

LCD screen and back of the grip

LCD screen and back of the grip

My post from a while back on the Meike MK-550DL Battery Grip is one of the most popular pages on my site. I still stand behind the purchase and the grip has saved me a whole lot of time and also a lot of money. I don’t need to purchase any extras in order to take time-lapses or to do long-exposure photography with exposures longer than 30 seconds. I’ve personally recommended the battery grip to a couple of my friends, although they have yet to jump in and make the purchase. It was hard to find a Meike MK-550DL Manual that made sense.

It’s been over a year since I created and published the first post, so I’ve had a really long time to learn the ins and outs of the grip. I love it and use it exclusively. I keep the grip on my camera when I store it in my bag and I’d say that 99.98% of the time, I have the battery grip attached with two batteries in. The battery life is incredible and I always have two extras in my bag that I can easily swap out.

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google is the king of everything sending money

Money to Friends

This happened.

I have to say I was NOT expecting this, but here it is, staring right at me. Apparently Google is rolling out sending money to friends and family right through the gmail interface. I don’t know too many people using Google Wallet right now, but it sounds very promising. Having it conveniently located in gmail makes it all-the-more wonderful. I’m looking forward to seeing what comes next. This does, however, confirm my suspicions: google is taking over the world. And I’m okay with it.

me.415vince.com

It’s been a while since I’ve dabbled in anything site related. I didn’t make any changes to the blog, but I did experiment a little bit with Bootstrap and yes it is pretty fricking amazing. I’m self-learned in terms of CSS and HTML, so it was really fun to mess around with it and see what works and what doesn’t. I didn’t know what to make either, so I decided to go with a little “About Me” page that will serve as a web-based resume. For an early experiment, I think it turned out quite nice.

I’ve decided, after having a whole lot of fun doing this, that I want to learn something for the backend and not just the front-end visual aspect of things. So I’m embarking on another adventure. First I’m going to sit down and go to Codeacademy, brush up on HTML/CSS and then attempt a few other classes and go from there. Wish me luck. Oh right, here’s the finished product.

me.415vince - Vincent Tang

 

Connect with Facebook

A few years ago, I gave up Facebook. I mean Facebook doesn’t suck or anything; in fact, it was working out just fine. People were playing games, exchanging pleasantries, liking things, posting pictures, and generally keeping connected with one another. Facebook became a verb and by all accounts, when something like that becomes a verb in everyday usage, it has become commonplace and an integrated part of our lives. Facebook did wonders and I would often find myself in the company of people who used Facebook on their phones incessantly. Mobile apps are godsends. They simplify things like finding a place to eat on the go and keep us updated on the latest news. However, I personally found Facebook too overbearing, invasive, and a general nuisance. For those reasons, I haven’t touched it in a while and I enjoy the time I have because of it. Instead of being presented with lots of irrelevant information, I repurposed that time into other endeavors that carried more weight for me: reading, writing, exploring, and picture-taking. I feel no need to push out statuses that explain my actions and Twitter is a far better place to find out about news and events or share short blurbs.

That’s just a few of my justifications for pulling out of the Facebook world. The rest of the social world I don’t mind so much, but I’ve left Facebook to the dogs. Over the past few weeks, I’ve been presented with a bit of a dilemma. Mind you, it’s nothing new, but it has happened far too many times recently. I’ve sincerely wanted to test out some apps or comment on articles on a blog, but the only option was to connect with Facebook. I guess that it makes sense for sites to use Facebook Connect, but must everything come back to Facebook? I can hardly comment on anything anymore because I need to sign in. What if I don’t want to sign in? Well then I guess I’m all out of luck. If I don’t want to sign in, I pretty much can’t comment or use their service, as much as I really want to. That bothers me.

I prefer using comment systems like the default WordPress comment module or even Disqus. I recently made an account there so I could comment on Disqus-enabled sites. I don’t mind that because it doesn’t force me to connect with Facebook. Even connecting with Twitter or Google is fine, but something about connecting with Facebook just turns me away. I know I’m not the only one who feels that way either. Others feel strongly about it as well; being forced to connect with Facebook in order to comment sucks big time.

The app I wanted to try was Sosh. It looks really promising, but they require a Facebook connect. At least they offer an explanation and I can understand why they need that, but until they can find a way to make signing up possible without Facebook, I probably won’t be trying it out.Sosh

Google Keep

I’ve just been discovering all sorts of cool stuff from Google. Google Keep is my latest find. I think it’s been around since the beginning of the year. I discovered it through the apps section of the Chrome store and decided to check it out. My first thought was to compare it to Evernote, but that’s not entirely fair. They seem to be two fairly different services. Google Keep is the more minimalistic note-taking app. They both have mobile apps, but I can’t get into that for now with my dumbphone. Both of them offer pretty much the same services: synced audio notes, memos, checklists, and images. Let’s just talk about Google Keep for now.

Google Keep is a great task management tool, especially now with the relatively new addition of location and time-based reminders for your notes. That makes it easy for checklist creation. The interface is clean; something I’ve come to expect from Google. I access Google Keep from the new app launcher on both my Windows PC and Macbook Pro. I’ve found that this is the easiest way to keep all my notes synced. If I keep the window open, I have a way to connect the two to each other.

My Keep

I keep this on my desktop.

It might end up being my virtual post-it replacement. I never could do with those desktop stickies and I’m not ever going to give up physical post-its completely, but if I can, I’ll use Google Keep to sync notes. If the computer is on: Google Keep. If it’s something I need to jot down real fast and my computer’s real estate is taken up: out comes the bright green post-its.

I happen to enjoy simple. Google Keep is sleek and minimalistic. The web app is fast and loads notes in the style of Pinterest and Pocket in grid view. If you’re done with a note, you can archive it. The universal search feature is kick-ass, although there’s no tagging and you can’t really compile notes or organize them. There aren’t any categories either: just notes. All in all, a great app for simple note-taking. I’m going to keep using it in conjunction with Evernote.