On Growing Up: A MrJayMyers Week in Review

July 22, 2016By jayart, Blog, Faerie-tales, inking, stories, children's tales, comics, children's books,, review, story, technology, Writing

Hey guys!

Welcome to Friday, I hope you’ve had a good week.

My personal journey of “who I want to be when I grow up” is all over the place. As a child I wanted to be an artist—like my big brother (Well, that was after a policeman, fireman, clown, and several other things—but when I grew a little more serious at the age of 4 or 5 it was definitely an artist.). That said, I failed art in high school and never got a degree in art. In fact, my area of study, on the surface, may even appear to be on the other end of the spectrum from art. I studied Jewish history/religion and Hebrew—one of the most infinitely creative things I’ve ever done.

Oh yeah, and there was that time I was a school bus driver, worked in advertising, gave up on drawing, designed and developed Flash (yuck) websites, worked as a speaker/teacher, launched my own endeavors, worked as a youth pastor, and spent over a decade in the field of User Experience Design.

From the outside looking in I may look scatter-brained, truth be told, from the inside looking out, it has felt like it too. But story and art have always been the string I can follow clearly throughout. I have found truth through them, on a personal level, in leading my family, and in a broader more sweeping sense. With G.K. Chesterton I must agree, “The Ethics of Elfland” where he stated;

“My first and last philosophy, that which I believe in with unbroken certainty, I learnt in the nursery…The things I believed most then, the things I believe most now, are the things called fairy tales.”

There are times, I question where all this is heading, but mostly, I am trying to listen to the conversation my son and I keep having: stay diligent in the small things and keep our eyes tuned to wonder, not the next big thing.

I feel his pain as he laments, “But, sometimes, I just want to skip the small stuff!”. Some days, I wish I could just wake up incredible, knowing everything about art, and doing it exactly as I want to—without all the practice. You get it. We all do.

Here’s one of my kids dreaming big with his own handmade “jet pack”. Yep, cardboard.

This Week’s Art:

In my western fairytale webcomic, The Adventures of Tomy ‘n’ Jon, the plot thickened:

The-Adventures-of-Tomy-and-Jon_037(Sign up to get it in your inbox, every Wednesday for free, here.)

This story is almost over and then we will take a break. Get caught up, or if you want to have a limited print edition of this, I still have a few.

Fairyland is never far from my mind,

IMG_6600


Better scan to come. 

As a storyteller, I like to say that “sometimes I use words”. This week I was totally stoked to get to play around a lot with words when Scrivener, my favorite writing app, came out for the iPhone! (I don’t get any money for this, but you can tell them I said hi.) I love Scrivener, it’s the best writing/thought organizing app in my book, because:

  1. The learning curve is not huge—but there is one.
  2. The ability to cork board notes (you’ll have to see the site). I don’t know if they were the first to do this or not, but they definitely do it the best.
  3. Organization. I can write a whole story or multiple stories in one project, close it and start another.
  4. Community. If you need to know how to build a dummy book for a picture book—there’s a template that someone somewhere has created.
  5. So many more things.
  6. iPhone app! It’s clean, it works. It syncs. I’m happy with it.

I’ve already been revising some of my unpublished writings, here are two I thought you all might like. So, speaking of fairytales being a string:

String of Things

“The world we see is only one,
One of hundreds of thousands,
Strung together in the lap of the infinite.
You and I are within each world,
Within, we are whomever,
Whomever we’ve wished and feared
we would be.

Do you feel that shudder?
Giants are roaming the country side.
Roaming free. Cage free giants
Are chasing you, not the you here—there.

You, the you reading this,
You never see them.
You only ever feel the shudder.
The shudder as they pass by unseen,
Unseen in our string.

Fairytales are strings.
Strings, that once in a while connect,
Connect by the will of the Almighty.”

— Consider the Ravens*

For those who know my love of all things Bigfoot:

Brandycreek (in modern parlance)

“Brændicręk be their name—the name they knowd theirselves by.
We call ’em Bigfeet, Sasquatch, Yeti, Wild Men, HairyMan,
SkunkApe, and so—all manner unbecoming of their charms.

Shape shifters they be—by day they roam on all fours—that’s when we call them b’ars.

In this way, they’ve hidden theirselves ‘mong us. They be grace-filled creatures full of song but savage when attacked.

And if’n y’ver try to capture one on film they’ll shift ‘fore your eyes and all you’ll ever be get’n is a blurry image.

True story.”

Consider the Ravens*


If you are wondering and working toward what you’re gonna be “when you grow up”, be encouraged that the “small” things are really only small from a very limited perspective. The alternative, of skipping them, is a mess, trust me—I’ve tried.

Being “in process” is a lot like being in a story, that’s a good thing, and a lot more interesting than having everything “figured out”. No matter how “far” we get, there will always be more to learn, to understand, to see. Even if it’s a challenge, appreciate where you’ve come from and where you are today.

“I had always felt life first as a story: and if there is a story there is a story-teller”

—G.K. Chesterton

Have a great weekend everyone, keep creating,

Jay

P.S. Please share this with anyone else you think may be interested in these kind of updates. Thanks!

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Check out my free western fairytale webcomic if you missed it this week: The Adventures of Tomy and Jon.
image

FOOTNOTE:
*Unreleased compilation of stories, poems, thoughts, and haikus by me.

iPhone Camera trick

June 12, 2012By jayapplications, technology

This weekend I stumbled upon a very useful camera feature when I was trying to zoom into a scene: left swipe right.

When you are in the Camera app, with one finger, wipe the camera screen to the right. What happens, as seen below, is that the camera roll is revealed.


This is extremely useful for a quick look at your last photo.

What is even nicer? Once you have slid into the camera roll, right swipe left. The Camera app is back.

The annoying part? If I button press into the camera roll there is no swiping that gets you back to the Camera app.

Try it out I bet you’ll like it.

Mac OS X Lion: Launchpad

August 1, 2011By jayapplications, review, technology

I have updated my Mac to OS X Lion and overall I am very satisfied. There are a few nuances that are nuisances. Take Launchpad. Great idea, bad implementation.

Launchpad (LP) finds all available apps in the Applications, downloads, system folder, and a few other places it seems (though I could be wrong about that). It should grab all the apps I have available that isn’t the bad part. The bad part is that I can not, easily, decide what goes in and what is taken out. There should be someway to manage the apps that are in LP. Kind of a built in iTunes app organizer—but better.

One odd thing is that uninstallers and various other “apps” are added to LP. It is indiscriminate in what is added. Weird. I don’t like that. Especially when taken together with the fact that it is difficult to remove apps.

I understand adding everything from the applications folder. I even understand the uninstallers what I don’t understand is the aliases. I had a folder with Adobe app aliases I kept the containing folder on my Dock. Launchpad added them. I had each Adobe app showing up in LP twice. Odd.

Another oddity is that if you delete an app from LP it deletes it from your computer—this only applies to app store apps. I would prefer to be able to delete any app from LP without deleting it from my system. I would prefer that (x)ing out an app simply removes it from LP. It is just clunky in its present state it is very unApple.

However, I do like the idea behind LP. I prefer it to the Applications folder. I could see never entering the Applications folder again if I could just manage LP better.

Two tools that I have found that are worth looking into are:

Clearing Launchpad

And Launchpad-Control

Both are use at your own risk. But, I first used Clearing Launchpad and then found Launchpad-Control. I will probably use both.
 
UPDATED:

I can’t stand Launchpad. It resets itself after restart or something. I am not sure what the default reset is (because I don’t restart very often)—all I know is that I get everything working and apps set up the way I want them and then, reset. So, until LP is customizable via an Apple-created interface I am done with it. I was becoming the perfect compliment to Quicksilver.
 

Chill, I Got Fever.

July 2, 2011By jayapplications, miscelany, review, technology

Recently, I wrote about making the switch from Google Reader to Fever. In that post I explained that I would write a more comprehensive review later. Here is it.

Fever is a webapp. To use Fever, on my desktop, outside of a “browser” I use ChillPill. So, I hope not to confuse the two in this review. Primarily, I will be writing about the webapp.

Fever is mostly intuitive. It isn’t as straight forward as Google Reader (GR)—with GRs non-metaphoric category names. (Fever, uses names like Kindling, Hot, and Sparks which can be daunting for a new user. But, don’t worry they are easily explained.) But, a new user, to Fever, can get up and running in about 10(ish) minutes and have a good idea of what to do. The nice thing about Fever is that there isn’t a bunch of controls just the necessary ones. GR had so many controls that a new user can easily get lost. (I rarely used the web interface simply because I couldn’t stand to look at it.) In my opinion GR is cluttered. Fever isn’t. Fever is much more minimalist and allows the user to do one primary thing—read.

Technically speaking, I was able to get up and running in about 5-10 minutes. All I needed was my database credentials (which, was easy to find in my host’s control panel), a FTP program (I use Transmit), the Fever files, oh, and most importantly a hosted domain (ie. my own website). I use 1and1.com.

  1. If you already have a website (Which, if you are interested in Fever I would imagine that you do.) and a FTP program then you will need to go to the FeedaFever.com site and download the package.
  2. Once you have it downloaded, then you will need to upload it to your website.
  3. When it is uploaded you will need to follow the easy setup instructions to create your account. You can find these instructions under the Download/Add a License section.

    Download, unzip and upload to your server. Change the permissions of the /fever/ directory to 777 and visit /fever/boot.php in your browser to run the Suite.

  4. (While that may not sound easy. It is. I didn’t have to change the permissions because they uploaded as 777, but you will want to check them just in case. In Transmit you just command-i the folder, an info window pops-up, and you change the permissions there.)

  5. When this is finished, import your current RSS feed OPML file and then you are ready to go. (You will have to export this from GR.)

I really haven’t, directly, used the web app—much. I say “directly” because the ChillPill app that I use appears just to be a Fluid app.

 

My first impressions?
As soon as I understood the Hot vs. Kindling features better, my attachment to Fever has grown. “Hot” feeds are supplementary feeds that I won’t read everyday, but that I am interested in because of the information they might supply. So, in my “Sparks” category (this is where I store my supplementary feeds which are used to determine the temperature of the topics of the day.) I have Engadget, MacRumors, TechCrunch, and TightWind. Because of the articles they are posting in my “Hot” section today, July 1st, I have: MacStories, Open letter to BlackBerry Bosses, and information on Nortel Patents—as well as some other titles.

I don’t read Hot. I scan it. It allows me to see the hot news without having to sort through a bunch of posts. Kindling, on the other hand, are the posts that I am interested in following each day. Ones that I want to read everything (or nearly everything) they are writing on a daily basis. I have art, writing, and some tech feeds stored in Kindling.

Fever is refreshing. I have almost 200 feeds and I am able to focus on just those feeds I really want to keep up with. To me Fever is a near-perfect blogger’s friend. “Near-perfect” because it allows the user to quickly scan the primary topics of concern in their news circles. If I want to see what the main topics of the day for Apple, place the Apple feeds in Sparks and check out the hot, hotter, and hottest items for the day. I would love to see it add some features to allow the user to post snippets better, but that is me nitpicking.

 

Pros:

  • It’s mine. I control it.
  • Setup is easy.
  • Hot is an excellent way to filter “important” matters of the day.
  • I have a webapp as well as a desktop app.
  • If you have an iPhone (or other smartphone) the webapp formats nicely.
  • It has some interaction with Instapaper, delicious, and twitter.

 

Cons:

  • The ChillPill app takes up too much memory (it’s just a webkit browser—as near as I can tell.)
  • Could take advantage of the desktop experience a bit more.
  • Sometimes Fever can’t figure out the rss feed of a particular site (even a blogspot one I am not sure what’s the deal.)
  • Needs better integration with Instapaper. I would prefer to have Instapaper pop-in rather than being redirected to a different page.
  • On refresh the list I am viewing refreshes. Not usually a problem, but when I am half-way (or more) down a list and I am refreshed to the top that is very frustrating.

 

On the whole?
Fever is an excellent offering. I would love to see it come with a better desktop app. I would love to see it better integrate with other tools in a more revolutionary “webtop*” experience harnessing the power of the native UI and the power of the web. But, in the end I am happy with it. Yes, there are some gripes, I am picky. But, I am pleased with the product and have yet to have buyer’s remorse. I suggest you check it out, if you want to control your own.

 

* By which I mean: A better hybrid web/desktop UI. Something more iTunesish in nature without all of the clutter of iTunes.

 

 

Instagram’s Drawback

June 30, 2011By jayapplications, art, miscelany, technology

What do I do with Instagram (IG) post-iPhone?
 

 

 

 

I can’t close my account from the webapp. (At least there is no easily recognizable way.) I can’t upload more images via my desktop. So, now I have this account that is floating—floating and unusable.

I understand building a solid app around the best smartphone. What I don’t understand is making it the only way to fully experience the app. I know that IG has an API, but that API doesn’t allow other apps to upload (not yet). So, for now and the foreseeable future—I have an IG account that I cannot do anything with. That is a drawback.

Got the Fever

June 17, 2011By jayapplications, miscelany, technology

I haven’t been neglectful in my disdain for Google’s privacy policies. I have slowly been working to rid myself of their googleness. One more step was hosting my own Reader where I can sync between devices.

To that end I have purchased Fever. I wrote about Fever last year. I have been using it for a while now and really like it. I haven’t figured out everything about it, but it is a great tool. I actually like it better than Google reader.

I use Chill Pill on my Mac and I am able to use the browser to view it as well. I don’t have any issues with Fever. I do have some small issues with Chill Pill. Primarily, I wish it was better integrated with Instapaper. When I get better acquainted with Fever I will write up thorough review. So far, I am sold on it being a great purchase.

The Saurus

April 15, 2011By jayapplications, technology, Writing

Today, while updating my noggin—with information from my RSS feeds, I ran across Visual Thesaurus. It looks like an awesome tool for writers.

Visual Thesaurus is an interactive — almost organic — dictionary and thesaurus for your Mac. Enter a word and you’ll be presented with branch nodes displaying synonyms or antonyms for that word. The lines between the words are color-coded to indicate parts of speech. Depending on how you are using the word, click on its proper definition and then delve down through the semantic relationship of the word by clicking on its node. The whole process is a really fun way to find the right words you are looking for. You almost feel like an explorer traipsing through a thesaurus thanks to the interactivity of the app.

via TUAW

I prefer the subscription model for price/features, but I prefer the desktop app for it’s independence from an internet connection. I would much rather see this as an iOS app—that would be the best of both worlds.

The Postcard

April 12, 2011By jayapplications, art, miscelany, technology

They’re usually ugly, mostly impersonal, and are going to go the way of the dodo—one day. But, not today. Enter Postagram. While I am, mostly, a privacy freak, this app is really pushing some buttons with me. I love it. No, I haven’t used it. But, I love the concept and love the price. I might actually consider using my Instagram app much more. Check on this article by MG Siegler.

“A printed photo is the most ubiquitously liked gift in the world,” Brezina says. “The mobile phone being the new camera starts to make this a lot easier,” he continues.

So true.

A Tale of Two Apps

April 3, 2011By jayapplications, grammar, technology, Writing

As a writer and an iPhone user I am usually keeping an eye open for the best writer app. Add to this my interaction design side and what comes out? A quick review of two apps: Essay and TextWriter.

TextWriter
I will begin with my review of TextWriter (TW) written within TW.

this is my newest text. my first impression is that it lacks sentence cap recognition.

also, there are arrows showing up and down that don’t do anything and shouldnt be shown or should be greyed out.

it doesnt auto correct either.

note: the up down arrows navigate paragraphs. not clear at all.

I am not satisfied with the interface at all. It is clunky and appears to be quickly thrown together. I “purchased” this app when it was on sale for free. Had it not been for that I would have wanted my money back.

Essay

I am testing out essay. It is an awesome app sentence caps abound. Autocorrect works on all most contractions.

It has a nice toolbar that is easy to press and navigate.

It has dropbox support.

There are some bugs. The sentence caps don’t always function the way they should and as I said before the contractions are mostly enabled.

Also, at issue is the linking ability. The link field has a prewritten http://. However, when selected it doesn’t empty nor was I able to delete it. Then I pasted a link that already had http in it and I had two. This needs to be fixed.

One more note: trying to copy. Trying to copy was furstrating. I tried to select all—which was easily accomplished, but the copy/cut popup window never showed. (Side note: my misspelling of frustrating never showed a dotted redline and exposing the misspelled word.

Overall, though, I liked look and feel of this app much, much, more than TextWriter. But, it does have some very annoying bugs.

Bugs aside just looking at how I feel in both apps I prefer Essay’s interface and functions over TextWriter’s it feels more Mac/iOS like and it much more visually palatable.