This column was published Dec. 7, 2010, in The Oklahoman. Find it at NewsOK.com.
Everywhere I go, people are enjoying the hundreds, if not thousands, of mobile photo applications, whether they’re using them to take pictures or edit them, or both.
If you have an iPhone, Android-compatible phone, iPad or iPod Touch, there’s probably an app for you to join the craze just in time to create your own Christmas card.
Here are some I like, and I’ll share more in the coming weeks.
Crop for Free (free, Thinking Drone): This app does exactly what it says: It will crop your photo, and you can rotate it to get the image you want out of the one you took.
Photogene: ($1.99, Omer Shoor): I love this one. Sharpen, straighten, crop, blur, add borders, add conversation bubbles with text and more with this all-inclusive app.
Adobe Photoshop Express (free, Adobe Systems): Called PS Express for short, this app is a mobile photo-editing version from the people who have the gold standard photo-editing program, Photoshop. You can make basic edits, add a few additional techniques and share online.
Color Splash: (99 cents, Pocket Pixels): A friend has posted neat photos using this program. It turns your photo into black and white, and then you can choose to add splashes of color back to it. I think I might need the tutorials to figure it out, but they are available, and the effects that I have seen are worth the time.
And when you’re through editing your photos, try uploading them via apps such as Flickr (free, Yahoo), DailyBoothApp (free, DailyBooth) or Instagram (free, Burbn) and sharing them with friends or strangers.
Stay tuned for more to come in this column. While you’re waiting, check out Hipstamatic for taking pictures and SwankoLab for editing them (both $1.99 from Synthetic Infatuation) on your own. These popular apps are among those that let you create some unusual effects.
If you have a favorite photo app, please e-mail the name of it to me at email@example.com, and I’ll check it out. Find more online at blog.newsok.com/get-appy.
~ Lillie-Beth Brinkman, Assistant Features Editor
From the archives
EDITOR’S NOTE: This Get App-y column, the first one, was originally published in The Oklahoman on Feb. 8, 2010. However, I’m still enjoying this game. Read new Get App-y columns on most Tuesdays in print and online at NewsOK.com/life.
Game can be played on iPod with app
By Lillie-Beth Brinkman, Assistant Features Editor
So many apps, so little time. How can you sort through the thousands of apps in the iTunes store for the ones that will make your life easier, more fun, or both?
I’m here to help. Each week, I’ll feature an app or two that I’m enjoying on my iPod Touch.
App of the week: Words With Friends (Newtoy Inc., $2.99 for the ad-free version but free if you can stand the annoying ads. Works with iPhone and iPod touch with a wi-fi connection).
I should call this entry “addiction of the week.” Since I downloaded it last week (February 2010), I’ve been checking my iPod regularly to see which opponent has made a move on “Words With Friends” so I can take my turn at this Scrabble-like game. One day I was more excited than I should have been that I had the tiles to form the word “enzyme” for 123 points. Hopefully, moments such as that will not always be my day’s highlight.
Play this game back and forth like the famous crossword-style board game. Scrabble players, you know the drill: Take turns playing lettered tiles to form words. New words must be formed from existing words. Earn points for the quality of letters played, and double or triple your score for playing tiles on certain squares.
The beauty of this game is you play it on your own timetable with anyone who has an iPod touch or iPhone. You play your tiles and wait for friends (or strangers) to play theirs, a setup that makes it perfect for busy moms and dads who just have pockets of downtime here and there — in the carpool line, at the doctor’s office.
Play one game or many at the same time. Choose your opponent or find a random one. Chat inside each game if you want to get more personal.
For extra help, download a dictionary app such as dictionary.com (free) so you can know instantly what a strange word such as “qi” means when your friend plays it on a triple word square for 33 points.
If you have an app you’d like me to try out, or if you wish you had one that did a particular task, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
There’s no shortage of zombie-related apps available on the iTunes store — at least 180 or so, and many of them want to eat your brains. My favorites are Zombie Farm and Plants vs. Zombies, as I talked about in my Get App-y column today.
To fully enjoy zombies live, you had to have been in New York City today to witness a march of them on the Brooklyn Bridge and in Madison Gardens. These zombies paraded in order to promote Sunday night’s premier of AMC’s new television series, “The Walking Dead.”
But if you weren’t there, and you can’t wait to see the show on Sunday, then check out some of these mobile apps on your iPhone or iPod Touch:
I understand the appeal of this top-rated game with strong graphics, good writing and interesting strategy. Each zombie and each plant have a great story, like this one: “Despite Grave Buster’s fearsome appearance, he wants everyone to know that he loves kittens and spends his off hours volunteering at a local zombie rehabilitation center.” Zombies approach, and you pick the plants that you’re going to need to plant in your garden to defend your home. You have to pick the right combination of plants that shoot zombies, provide sunlight and more to win each level. The more you play, the more types of zombies attack and the more plants you can use to blow them up, shoot them, freeze them or squash them.
• Zombie Farm (free, The PlayForge). Like We Rule and Farmville, you plant crops, earn money and build your farm. The twist is you can also plant different types of zombies and go invading. If you don’t harvest in time, your crops, including the zombies, wither. Although it’s free, you’re going to be tempted to spend real money to buy more brains to be able to do more things, but it’s fun at the free level, too.
• ZombieSmash ($1.99, Gamedoctors): I haven’t tried this one, but creators describe it as “an undead-themed castle defense game for the iPhone and iPod Touch that casts players as Joey, a lone survivor pit against a herd of writhing, unrelenting zombies. To defeat the undead masses, players must use their fingers to flick and smash them until they’re un-undead.” It’s graphics include cartoon blood and gore and “ragdoll physics” and it looks like it has enough to keep you entertained for awhile.
• Vuvuzela vs. Zombies (free, Undergames, also known as Undercoders): You use the South African vuvuzela instrument, complete with the noise that became famous during last summer’s World Cup, to fight the zombies that attack as they march across a soccer field. The vuvzela noise blows off their head with a little cartoon-y blood. Vuvuzelas. Zombies. There’s not much more to say about this cute game that doesn’t take itself too seriously.
• Zombie Duck Hunt (free, W3 Innovations): The ducks (and geese, bats and quail) are the zombies, and you use rifles to shoot them. The idea behind it is more fun than the execution, although there’s enough help built into the app to figure it out if you want to take the time. Plus, you can download it now with a “Halloween edition.”
• Zombie Shock (full app for $1.99, lite version for free, Blue Wind): It looks like this one has the gore that the others are missing. The app tells its story in graphic novel format, and it’s an action-adventure format with zombie chases, weapons and more. I downloaded it but didn’t try it out — it’s a little too serious for me, and I’ve been stuck on Plants vs. Zombies and Zombie Farm.
• Cat-Nabbin’ Zombies (free, IronBright software): The zombies are after your cats in this game, but my finger kept hitting the ads instead of the gun, which got annoying very quickly. But it’s free.
• Zombie Uprising (free, Zimusoft) . This game feels like a developer’s first effort. It’s simple, but the pace is good. See how many days you can survive against the zombie attack before you’re infected. Not bad, but wait to see what this developer comes up with next.
• Angry Zombies ($1.99 with a free lite version, Si-Yeon Kim) In this game, the zombies are killing the humans, which makes me like zombies even less.
There are so many zombie apps in the iTunes store that there’s one bound to appeal to you. But if you really live in a world where these creatures are real, there’s an audio book that you can download for $17.95: “The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection From the Living Dead,” by Max Brooks, apparently the son of funnyman Mel Brooks.
And with that, I will bury the zombies for good and hope they don’t come back to haunt me this Halloween.
If you have any favorite zombie or Halloween apps, leave a comment below. Check this blog throughout the week for more of the scary and fun.
~ Lillie-Beth (email@example.com)
This Get App-y column originally was published on Tuesday, Oct. 5, 2010, in The Oklahoman
Get App-y: Enjoy and explore music with apps nominated for Billboard’s mobile awards
By Lillie-Beth Brinkman
Since 1894, Billboard has been delivering music news in the form of popular music charts such as the Top 100 and artist features. It’s fitting that more than 100 years later, the publication (and website) has turned its attention to mobile music applications.
Today, Billboard will announce its first music app awards at its Mobile Entertainment Live!: The Music App Summit in San Francisco. Eighteen innovative apps across most all platforms are nominated in best categories for artist, music streaming, touring, music creation, music engagement and branded music apps.
Whether you’re into singing, playing instruments, categorizing your music or listening to songs, there are thousands of music apps out there to explore. Among the Billboard nominees are music apps for specific bands (Linkin Park, T-Pain, Phish and a guitar tutorial app featuring blues guitar-ist Jimmy Vaughan) or for the music scene and festivals in specific cities.
Two of Billboard’s nominees I have mentioned in Get App-y before:LaDiDa ($2.99, Khush), developed by a former Oklahoman, Prerna Gupta, and her husband, Parag Chordia, is up for best music creation app. It continues to get attention for its ability to take anyone’s singing and make it sound better.SoundHound Infinity ($4.99, Melodis Corp.), nominated for best music engagement app, which “listens” to songs you hear and tells you what they are and who sings them. A nominee that has potential for fun is Mix Me In2 Taylor Swift ($1.99, Fried Green Apps). It is nominated for best music engagement app. If you like the country singer, you’ll enjoy this app. I can see the idea being successful with different artists. Select one of Swift’s songs (the app comes with two), and you can choose how you want to hear it — the original way or with styles such as acoustic, rock, urban, coffee house or piano mixes. Add or subtract instruments to make your own mix, or record your voice and sing along with Swift.
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.
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 email@example.com 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.)