If you own a smart phone, chances are pretty good you’ve downloaded the Pandora Internet music service app onto it. And whether you enjoy the music from your mobile device or on your desktop, you’re in good company with the more than 60 million people who now use the service. I started enjoying it pre-iPod/mp3 music players to find new music I liked and to be able to listen to all kinds of music at once, instead of just what was on the radio.
Founded by Tim Westergren in 2000, the popular service tailors Internet radio stations that you create based on your musical likes and dislikes. It compares those with the 600,000 songs it has analyzed as part of its “Music Genome Project” and generates songs for your station, some familiar and some that are probably new to you.
Now Pandora is offering “genre stations” of songs based on musical genre. You can launch a station by choosing “alternative” or “Christian” or “hip hop” and then narrowing down your interests even more. As you like or dislike songs on these stations, you can keep personalizing the station and let it play in the background while you work.
To get started, go to http://www.pandora.com type in a song or an artist, hit play and your station is off and running, playing familiar artists or ones that Pandora predicts you’ll like based on your choices. If you like a song, tag it with a “thumbs up,” and it will adjust the station accordingly. The same goes for “thumbs down.”
I realize that if you have an iPhone or an Android, or even a desktop computer on which you listen to music, you probably know all this, but it doesn’t hurt to recap. And now that selecting genre is an option, you’re halfway to a robust radio station.
And once you’ve signed up for Pandora, while you’re on the site, you might even learn something else about music, such as what a “g-funk synth line” is in the site’s glossary.
~ Lillie-Beth Brinkman (email@example.com)
You may have read in The Oklahoman today my “Get App-y” column on open source software. If you haven’t, I’ve included it in a separate post, but here is more information about “open source”:
1) Open source software can be better than the original, especially if you’re willng to dig to find out how to use it. Often those who are contributing are enthusiasts who are working on the product because they love it and believe in it. OpenOffice.org was developed specifically to rival Microsoft’s hold on office documents.
2) Open source software is not always free; sometimes developers request donations to help pay for it.
3) A handy link for other open source programs, along with descriptions: <a href=”http://links.episd.org/open-source”>http://links.episd.org/open-source</a>. Also, here’s another: http://sourceforge.net.
4) Look for tips and forums online to help you figure out how to use the software you choose to download.
5) If you have an open source app that you like, please comment below so we can all test it out.
Here is my Get App-y column that ran in The Oklahoman Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2010:
I’ve loved using Adobe Photoshop and InDesign at work but was frustrated at the high cost of getting these top design and photo editing applications on my home computer. In today’s economy, paying several hundred dollars for software that I use for fun does not make sense. So in my search for cheaper alternatives, I stumbled across some for free, in the form of “open source” software.
At first to me the term sounded scary technical, but then I realized it isn’t scary if you just want to use the applications. Open source means that the code used to write the software is open to any developer who wants to use it. That developer can use the code to tweak the program and add to it.
These programs generally are not as easy to use as their costlier counterparts, but they get the job done if you’re willing to work a little harder to learn how.
Here are a few that I am happy to have on my computer:
OpenOffice.org: Mike Ledbetter with Technology Unlimited in Oklahoma City tipped me off to open source with this desktop application, which includes software for word documents, spreadsheets and more as an alternative to Microsoft Office, which costs around $200. While I prefer the paid version, OpenOffice is easy to use and opens documents created in other programs.
Ledbetter said he recommends OpenOffice and other open source applications only when cost becomes an issue because they require more technical skill.
Gimp, for photo editing, found at www.gimp.org: The Oklahoman’s director of photography, Doug Hoke, told me about Gimp as a substitute for Photoshop, which costs about $700. Photoshop is still the industry standard, and Gimp isn’t organized as clearly as Photoshop is, but the software application has the advanced photo editing features that professionals use. I can usually find the tools I need when I work with Gimp.
Scribus, for layout and desktop publishing, found at www.scribus.net: I found this one through The Oklahoman’s Glen Seeber, and while I haven’t played around with it as much, I’ll use it as an alternative to Adobe InDesign, which is packaged with software that can cost more than $1,000.
Before you download anything, make sure you get it from a trusted source and scan it with antivirus software, said Ledbetter, who often refers to http://sourceforge.net to find open source software.
What open source software do you like? E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org or go online to blog.newsok.com/get-appy. Twitter@lillie_beth.
Have you seen these? They’ve been around awhile (since last year, I believe) but they’re fun and winning some advertising awards this year. Moma Propaganda, a Sao Paulo, Brazil, firm, created a series that includes this Facebook ad with a retro look for a client’s “Everything Goes Fast” seminar. So in the spirit of a new season of “Mad Men” on AMC, enjoy the ads, and don’t miss the video about “Facebook, the Electric Friendship Generator,” at the end (unrelated to the Moma ad):
In the same vein, check out this youtube video on Facebook manners:
~ Lillie-Beth (email@example.com)
This Get App-y column originally ran Tuesday, Aug. 10, 2010, in The Oklahoman:
By Lillie-Beth Brinkman
You may have seen Iron Man and Batman fighting it out on the streets of downtown Oklahoma City lately in an online video (on youtube here). The creation of NewsOK videographer Kyle Roberts, this stop-motion animated video has made national tech rounds and is sponsored by the Toy & Action Figure Museum in Pauls Valley.
Roberts also has been noticed nationally for being one of the first to shoot a music video entirely on the newly released iPhone 4. It’s Dr. Pants’ “Sarsaparilla Girl,” shot at Pops in Arcadia.
For “Iron Man vs. Batman,” Roberts shot more than 1,200 photos before putting it together in a motion picture. Each arm and leg had to be placed one “ka-pow” punch at a time before he used desktop software to add the Oklahoma City backdrop and other effects.
He’s also created “how to” videos to accompany many of his projects, so you can see exactly how he got the effects each time.
Roberts said he always has had an interest in action figures, and stop-motion animation is an extension of that.
“I’m a nerd, and I love to make nerdy things cool,” he said.
Roberts uses heavyduty desktop video editing software for most of his projects. He’s also found that anyone with an iPhone can create basic stop-motion animation with some mobile applications. Two of his picks are:
› StopMotion Recorder (99 cents, Graf): This easy-to-use app gives you “ghost” images, known as an “onion skin,” that let you see where you placed your figure in the last shot so you can see where you should move the figure for the next one. A “clap feature” lets you clap to take a picture so you can avoid bumping the camera.
› iMotion (99 cents, Febo): This lets you use up to 1,000 frames, more than the 99 “captures” that StopMotion allows. It has an “onion skin” feature among others.
(Neither app has been updated yet to take full advantage of the iPhone 4’s high-definition photos.)
Find Roberts’ videos on at www.ra-pictures.com , the website for Reckless Abandonment Pictures, the company Roberts runs.
E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org you have an app you’d like me to try or one that you wish you had for a particular task. Follow me on twitter @lillie_beth.)
By most accounts, Harry Potter would have turned 30 on July 31, so I’m a few days off in wishing him a happy birthday (and belated birthday greetings to the one who conjured up this famous wizard, author J.K. Rowling, who was born on the same day as Harry, but 25 years earlier.)
But what better way for Get App-y to celebrate this milestone than by talking about an app in his honor?
An 11-year-old fan of the series alerted me to Harry Potter Spells, available on Apple’s app store for the iPhone and iPod Touch for $2.99 from Warner Bros. Entertainment, and what fun it is!
Sign in with your name and get invited to attend Hogwarts School of Wizardry. Then, your wand picks you, and the Sorting Hat sorts you into the correct wizarding house. You can have the hat try again if you don’t like the selection. After rejecting the dreaded “House of Slytherin,” I am ultimately sent to Hufflepuff – The Sorting Hat keeps muttering something about me being “just and loyal, true.”
After that’s through, you’re off to master the spells, by your voice or by drawing on the screen. Eventually you can duel with friends, once you’ve learned which spell does what. For now, though, I’ll take the enthusiasm of my 11-year-old fan as word enough that this app has enough fun in it to justify the price tag, especially if you’re a Harry Potter fan. There’s a lot of depth to it, and it’s very well done.
Happy birthday, Harry Potter! I’m glad to know you through all seven of Rowling’s novels.
~ Lillie-Beth (email@example.com)
Did you hear that NewsOK has its own news app now? We launched it earlier this summer on Apple’s iTunes store, although the rollout was quiet. But now, as NewsOK’s Digital Managing Editor Alan Herzberger wrote recently on his blog, The Digital Desk, you can tell everyone about it. Find his take on the app here: http://bit.ly/boZ2Go. You can then buy the app and get all its cool features on the iTunes store. I just bought it Monday night, and like always, I’ll be exploring the app at the same time you are.
For 99 cents, you get access to The Oklahoman’s and NewsOK’s news, blogs and more, all in one place. Whether you’re into Oklahoma news, arts and entertainment, sports business or the opinion page, you’ll find it on this extensive app. So download it today, or …
… win it from the Get App-y blog! The most exciting part about this Get App-y post is that I have at least two codes to give away that will get you the NewsOK app for free. If you win, you’ll get to read all of our content on this app free. Zip. Nada. But even 99 cents is a small price to pay to stay informed about Oklahoma.
Here’s what to do to win:
Send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org about what apps you are loving right now, for any smart phone — Google’s Android, Apple’s iPhone, the Blackberry — and tell me why. Your e-mail is your entry, but please leave a comment so others can join the discussion.
I’ll pick a random winner, and I’ll contact you by e-mail with a code to download the app. I’ll also post the names and ideas of the winners on the Get App-y blog. I might even consider your ideas for one of my future Get App-y columns, which run on Tuesday. Check out the app featured in today’s column, Knocking Live Video, at NewsOK.com/life.
Comments will close at noon on Wednesday for this giveaway, and I’ll pick a winner soon after that.
However, keep checking back here. There’s more to come as we get an apps discussion started.
~ Lillie-Beth (email@example.com)