Crystal Writes A Blog

A Place to Read What "Crystal-Writes"

I’ve Looked at Clouds

Clouds at St Louis with Text (2)

I almost decided to find the video for Both Sides Now to place here since it goes well with the title. 🙂 Besides, I haven’t really looked at all clouds from both sides now or before. I have looked enough to share a little about them for Tech Time Tuesday, though.

A friend recently found out she has a cloud account with her cellphone, but she wasn’t sure what that meant. It’s not the first time someone has asked me what a cloud account is, so I thought that would be a good topic to cover for today. First, a definition from Wikipedia (slightly edited)…

A file hosting service, cloud storage service, online file storage provider, or cyberlocker is an Internet hosting service specifically designed to host user files. It allows users to upload files that can then be accessed over the internet from different computers, tablets, smartphones or other networked devices.

In simple terms, just like a cloud can move through the sky unfettered, the information you store in a virtual cloud is not restricted to one location. It is the very definition of portable, but it’s more like having a portable safe that you don’t have to physically carry around with you.

I have a personal cloud storage device that allows me to store documents, pictures, music, and other media for use wherever I may install the software and provide the password and other information. That means, if I don’t have enough space on my phone or tablet for all my pics and music, I can still show them off by simply accessing them through the cloud.

In addition to being able to own a personal storage device, such as the Western Digital My Cloud drive that connects to your home network, you can use the storage capabilities of companies with large storage spaces available to multiple users. One of the most well known (other than web-based email, photo sharing, and blog hosting sites) is Amazon through the Amazon music service. Whatever music you purchase from Amazon, you can play on your phone, computer, tablet (especially Kindle Fire) or any TV into which you can connect a streaming device like Amazon Fire TV, Google Chromecast, Roku, Apple TV. etc., if that device can access Amazon applications. Amazon also stores photos,videos, and documents. (Amazon links here include a short link through my affiliate account, and they are safe.)

There are many other cloud services, some of which you may already  be familiar with, and some you may not. You can search and read reviews for security and best prices, but whatever you choose, make sure the site has an “https” in front of the URL (the part that often starts with a www and ends with a dot com). The “s” in the name means the site is secure, so others cannot access what you store there without logging in. Here are a few sites I have used…

  • Dropbox — Has applications for PC and mobile phones and tablets. Often comes preinstalled on phones and offers high storage content for limited times.
  • Google Drive — Connected to a Google (Gmail) account and can be accessed by invitation for collaborative editing in edition to storage.
  • Evernote — Great site for storing your bookmarks, recipes, images, and many other things you want to remember from your Internet visits. My favorite task for Evernote is that I can highlight a portion of a page and save just the highlighted selection, the whole page, or just a screenshot of what is currently viewable. Evernote also has a phone application that works with the sharing function.
  • OneDrive — This is from Microsoft and has generous storage amounts if you are a user of Office 365.

You will notice that the links for each site I’ve given above begin with the https I mentioned earlier. Right-click on any link and copy the link onto a Notepad or other text document if you’d like to view the link before you visit it. I’ll tell you more about safe clicks next week, but for now, this Tech Time Tuesday article is long enough.


August 9, 2016 Posted by | Nonfiction, Tech Time | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Creative Images & Fun Apps

In my effort to blog daily, I’m finding myself taking more time than I plan ahead and ending up far later at night than planned, but I’m gonna stick with this. That said, here’s my Tech Time Tuesday submission.

I love to play with graphic programs and apps, especially if they make colorful and kaleidoscopic designs. The designs themselves are a bit of technology, but to stick with a true techy theme, I’ll share just a few of the apps and sites I use to create and have fun.

For starters, because of copyright laws, I suggest always using your own images as a base to create from. That means you’ll need some kind of camera, and the higher quality images you start with, the higher quality graphics you’ll end up with. If you just cannot find anything of your own to use, make sure you use something with a Creative license that does not prevent derivative images. (See the CC site link above for explanations of the various licenses.) And if the CC license requires anything (such as attribution–giving credit to the original photographer, or share-alike–repeating the same CC license in your final product), be sure to uphold such requests.

I put together this mosaic of designs from the images I created from the top left picture of a stack of colored chains. The pink, black, and white chains were actually a necklace, and I was very happy with the colorful designs I was able to make. Here’s my mosaic from the creative and fun website called Big Huge Labs

Hi Res Chain Scopes Mosaic2

Necklace Kaleidoscope Mosaic

Now for the technical part. (Note: I’ll add links to make it easier for readers to find the sites. Also, know that links to Amazon are short links with my affiliate information. If you decide to purchase from Amazon, it helps me a little if you use my links. Thanks.

First, I used an app called “Kaleidoscope Lime Pro” that I downloaded from the Google Play Store to make the circular mandala designs as well as the tiled tessellation designs. I love how one picture can create so many images, and I play with this app often when I’m waiting somewhere with my phone. There is a free version of the app, but for 99 cents, I found it worth supporting the developer to continue to make quality apps such as this. I have used it on both a Samsung Galaxy Note 3 and Note 5, and both worked perfectly. You may even find my Note 3 review when you view the app.

Next, I used a slightly newer app I’ve had since May called “Photo Studio Pro” that I got from the Amazon App Store. I also opted for the pro version on this to support the KVAD developer and to have access to all the extra options. The PIP (picture in picture) options just came out recently, and that is what made the image above where you see my original kaleidoscope mandala inside a glass with a flower at the bottom. The image above with the cupcakes is done with one of the KVAD frames.

And that’s about it for this Tech Time Tuesday. Download some apps, make some images, and upload them to a safe site like Flickr or Google+, then come back and share some links with me. If the sites and images are safe, clean, and family friendly, I will approve your comments so others can visit your images too.

August 2, 2016 Posted by | Creativity, Nonfiction, Tech Time | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


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