Category Archives: Technology

How to add hand-drawn elements to your site using Pixlr.com

Sometimes it’s nice to add a personal touch, for example your own handwriting, to your website or other digital media, such as photos. There’s a great instruction post on Skillcrush that guides you how to do this on Photoshop, but even if you don’t have Photoshop, it’s easy with the free web-based Pixlr.com:

1. Draw or write a message on a blank piece of paper

2. Take a photo and download it/email it to yourself

3. Go to Pixlr.com, open Pixlr Editor Advanced, go to File, and open the image. You can resize it under ‘Image’ and ‘Image size…’

4. Go to ‘Layer’ and select ‘New layer’


5. In the ‘Layers’ toolbox on the right, unlock the original layer (double-click on the lock symbol) and then select that layer by holding your mouse over it, clicking and dragging it up so that moves up in the layers toolbox. It’s now placed above the new layer

6. Use the Wand tool (third from the top in ‘Tools’) to select the white area


7. Delete the white area by hitting ‘Delete’ on your keyboard (or go to ‘Edit’ and select ‘Cut’)
8. The white area will now be checkered grey and white, which means it’s transparent. Keep doing this until all the white areas have been removed. You might need to use the ‘Eraser’ tool to get rid of any extra bits

9. Save as a .png file and voila!

You now have a hand-drawn element that you can incorporate into your website design! Check out the Skillcrush post to see examples of how they’ve done this. You can still see some dots where the white hasn’t been completely removed, so I would spend more time on fixing that up. But here’s my (almost) final .png image that I can now use:

Hello there

A cool idea is to incorporate hand-written components onto images, or use elements in your website background.

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Poem: Fast Company’s ‘The world’s 50 most innovative companies’

When I came across Fast Company’s ‘The World’s 50 Most Innovative Companies 2013‘ list, I realised that I was familiar with 22 of them, but didn’t know the others or what they do. So, I decided to create a few verses to summarise them. Here goes!

Fast Company’s ‘The World’s 50 Most Innovative Companies 2013’ – in rhyme

With Nike, apparel and tech are a match here to stay
E-retailer Amazon has long paved the way
Mobile payments are made easier with Square
Splunk and big data are a heavenly pair

Designware desires? Head straight to Fab
Uber – could it mean the end of the cab?
Fraudulent sellers – from Sproxil you’ll hide
Pinterest is popular with many a bride

Safaricom gets callers and doctors connected
Target’s smaller stores are far less rejected
Life before Google – do you remember?
With Airbnb it pays to be a member

Apple has mastered retina display
Shareable content is Coke’s social way
Pig Newton sells comedy to fans direct
Tencent‘s ‘WeChat’ helps China connect

With Samsung, Apple may have met its match
Buzzfeed informs but also helps you detach
Online fashion companies – making over fashion and beauty
SeeChange Health is ‘making people healthy’ its duty

Oxitec engineer bugs to help save human lives
Electric cars – what my great-granddaughter drives
Drink carbonation – stuff the team at SodaStream do
OpenGamma‘s analysing financial risk for you

D-Rev wants better third world healthcare
Rovio made Angry Birds – are you aware?
Cars with smart software is how Ford design
Western Governers is changing education online

Creative advertising is a speciality of Droga5
Yelp‘s user reviews are well and truly alive
BitTorrent‘s taking charge of delivering the world’s content
While software development middlemen are on the ascent

Nest‘s making energy savings real, not just in your dreams
These biotech companies want to study our bloodstreams
Oktogo‘s changing Russia’s online travel booking scene
Your smartphone probably has a Corning‘s Gorilla Glass screen

NBA‘s producing sports content – they’re on a roll
Making the toilet of the future is Landwasher‘s goal
Evernote helps users be more productive, no sweat
Coursera gets University courses on the net

Elevating digital/physical play is up to Activision
Roku‘s revolutionising how we consume television
Enalta‘s making Brazil’s farm crops abundant
These robotics companies might make humans redundant!

Mobile ads that people want? Kiip‘ll make them be seen
While fashion conglomerate, PPR‘s going green
AngelList is where startups and investors meet
Microsoft‘s ‘digital living room’ is the word on the street

QCue‘s filling empty seats with dynamic pricing
Tumblr makes social media and content enticing
With that we’ve reached fifty – that’s much innovation
Now go forth and relish in the inspiration!

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Instagram hashtag tips for Sydney, Australia photos

Some of the most popular Sydney, Australia related tags to use for your photos are:

#Australia
#Sydney
#nsw
#SurryHills, #Darlinghurst, #Glebe, etc
#SydneyOperaHouse, #SydneyHarbourBridge, etc
#aussiegram
#travel
#sydneysider
#seeAustralia
#beautiful
#amazing
#summer (or appropriate season)
#sun, #moon, #sunrise, #sunset #sky, #night, etc
#nature, #wildlife, #animal, #mountain, #waterfall, etc

Tags that are super popular and can still be applied to Sydney/Australia scenery photos include:

#love
#instagood
#instamood
#iphoneonly
#photooftheday, #picoftheday and #bestoftheday (if it’s a super good photo!)
#instagramhub
#instahub
#igers
#awesome
#smile

You can also follow these Sydney accounts and use their hashtags:

@CityofSydney – #CityofSydney
@SeeAustralia – #SeeAustralia
@Australiagram – #Australiagram
@BestofAustralia – #BestofAustralia
@Instralia – #Instralia
@iPhoneographyOz – #iOz

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What makes Vine so good, and will it last?

Twitter’s recently launched new app, Vine is the latest in ‘brevity sharing’. While Twitter’s micro-blogging service is restricted to 140 characters, Vine’s video platform is limited to six seconds of looping video. The video can be recorded in one hit or in several bursts to create stop-motion and animation short stories.

I prefer text. I’ve already made this confession on a previous post, ‘Why written content is not dead (but video is awesome)’. In it I stated that video is indeed awesome – there are fantastic films, ads and other breeds of moving pictures that educate, entertain, enlighten, inform and move us in ways that a page of words cannot, but I love a good page of cleverly compiled words. Sometimes, it’s patience that gets the best of me. Even a short (say, 3 minute) introductory video about a product or idea takes time to watch, whereas I can choose how long I scan a page of text for. There’s also the aspect of convenience and usability with video taking longer to load than a static page of copy.

So why do I really like Vine? Five main reasons:
1) It’s simple to use
2) It creates video, but at 6 seconds, an easily digestible amount of video
3) It’s shareable
4) It demands creativity
5) It has a huge amount of marketing potential

For those who haven’t seen what Vine does yet, here’s my first Vine creation:

Why Vine is so good

  • There is no editing or filter option – it’s raw and demands the talents of a storyteller, not just someone who can make things look pretty.
  • The interface is intuitive and simple to use.
  • The ‘Explore’ function is solid. Users can quickly search for other Vines under ‘Editor’s Picks’, ‘Popular Now’ and a selection of twelve hashtag categories including #cute, #pets, #travel, #remake, #food, #howto and #sports
  • Vine videos are immediately shareable on Vine, Twitter and Facebook as well as being easy to embed into blog posts. They can also be shared solely on Vine, Twitter or Facebook, or all at once.
  • Six seconds is ideal for short attention spans.
  • The potential for marketing and advertising is huge. Industries like travel, food & beverage, bars & restaurants, real estate, dating, beauty, film and theatre are naturally suited. Freelancers such as artists, photographers, musicians, music teachers, make-up artists, hairdressers and chefs will be able to get amazing messages across, too. With the constantly and increasingly rapidly changing landscape of advertising media, here is a tool that brands can use to share short, snappy messages with their consumers, for free. (For now).

But, will it last? What are the challenges?

Yes, Vine will last, but I don’t believe that it’ll be mainstream. It’ll be used effectively by certain industries and by creative minds, but there will be challenges.

  • It’s still very buggy. This needs to be sorted quickly to better secure an engaged set of users.
  • Lack of quality and creativity are threats to its usage – Vine will need to weed out all the crap and highlight the awesome videos.
  • The censoring of inappropriate content is a challenge. Porn has already posed as a problem to Vine, as it has with sexually explicit images on Instagram and text on Twitter.
  • Are hashtags enough? The ‘Explore’ categories are useful, but are they tailored enough to create a unique, relevant experience for the user? Not in my opinion.

Despite its challenges, I’m looking forward to seeing what’s produced with Vine…..the highlights of a destination, the before and after shots of a make-up artist in action, the freshly baked bread from a bakery, the ambience of a Surry Hills bar at 10pm on a Friday night….I want to see it all.

What are your thoughts on Vine’s potential? 

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Instagram hashtag tips for food photos

One of my girlfriends is a complete foodie and she recently got into Instagram. I sent her some tips on how to tag her food photos to help increase her follower base, so I thought I’d share them here, too.

Some of the most popular food-related tags to use for your photos are:

#food
#foodporn
#yum
#yummy
#sharefood
#breakfast
#brunch
#dinner
#lunch
#dessert
#recipe

Tags that are super popular and can still be applied to food include:

#love
#instagood
#iphoneonly
#photooftheday, #picoftheday and #bestoftheday (if it’s a super good photo!)
#beautiful
#awesome
#amazing
#smile
#summer
#winter

You can also tag specific ingredients or the type of food, for example:

#bacon
#eggs
#chocolate
#pasta
#icecream
#pie
#sandwich
#salad

Lastly, follow your favourite chefs and some popular foodie accounts and learn from the experts:

@food
@foodrepublic
@thebestfood
@foodzie
@jamieoliver
@marte_marie_forsberg
@piarieu

Now, I don’t believe in Instagramming everything you eat, but some dishes are too good not to share!

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My Ultimate Best Websites List

This is a collection of pretty much all my favourite websites. The ones I get my news from. The ones I retweet from. The ones I get stories/recipes/advice/knowledge that I share with friends. I hope you enjoy the selection!

Internet Tech, Business and Entrepreneurship
Fast Company – http://www.fastcompany.com/
Inc. – http://www.inc.com/
The Next Web – http://thenextweb.com/
Mashable – http://mashable.com/
Cnet – http://news.cnet.com/
Smartbrief – http://www.smartbrief.com/index.jsp
ReadWriteWeb – http://www.readwriteweb.com/
TechCrunch – http://techcrunch.com/
Digital Trends – http://www.digitaltrends.com/
Gizmodo – http://www.gizmodo.com.au/
Harvard Business Review – http://hbr.org/
Forbes – http://www.forbes.com/
Entrepreneur – http://www.entrepreneur.com/
Wired – http://www.wired.com/
Strategy+Business (Booz & Company) – http://www.strategy-business.com/

Teach Yourself Tech & Design
Codeacademy – http://www.codecademy.com/
Lynda.com – http://www.lynda.com/

News & Business
The Economist – http://www.economist.com/
The Guardian – http://www.guardian.co.uk/
BBC – http://www.bbc.co.uk/
AlJazeera – http://www.aljazeera.com/
The New Yorker – http://www.newyorker.com/
Time – http://www.time.com/time/magazine/
The Wall Street Journal – http://asia.wsj.com/home-page
Bloomberg Businessweek – http://www.businessweek.com/
BRW – http://www.brw.com.au/
Forrester – http://blogs.forrester.com/
New York Times – http://www.nytimes.com/

Marketing & Advertising
B&T – http://www.bandt.com.au/home
Mumbrella – http://mumbrella.com.au/
Marketing Profs – http://www.mpdailyfix.com/
Business Insider – http://www.businessinsider.com/advertising
Campaign Brief – http://www.campaignbrief.com/
Experian – http://www.experian.com.au/blogs/marketing-forward/
Marketo – http://blog.marketo.com/
Salesforce – http://blogs.salesforce.com/
Radian6 – http://www.radian6.com/blog/
IAB. Australia – http://www.iabaustralia.com.au/

Home, Lifestyle & Culture
More Intelligent Life – http://moreintelligentlife.com/
The Gloss – http://thegloss.com/
Daily Life – http://www.dailylife.com.au/
Huffington Post – http://www.huffingtonpost.com/
Apartment Therapy – http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/

Ideas & Creativity / Business Inspiration
Springwise – http://www.springwise.com/
Trendwatching.com – http://trendwatching.com/
Idealog – http://www.idealog.co.nz/
TED – http://blog.ted.com/

Fun
The Oatmeal – http://theoatmeal.com/
The Onion – http://www.theonion.com/

Information Learning & Sharing
Slideshare – http://www.slideshare.net/
Quora – http://quora.com/

Computational
Wolfram Alpha – http://www.wolframalpha.com/

Productivity, Lifestyle, Career & Personal Development
Lifehack – http://www.lifehack.org/
The Daily Muse – http://www.thedailymuse.com/
Chris Guillebeau’s Blog –  http://chrisguillebeau.com/
Marc and Angel Hack Life http://www.marcandangel.com/
Leaving Work Behind – http://www.leavingworkbehind.com/
Seth Godin’s Blog – http://sethgodin.typepad.com/

Music
Hype Machine – http://hypem.com/
Tastekid – http://www.tastekid.com/
Grooveshark – http://grooveshark.com/
Soundcloud – http://soundcloud.com/
22Tracks – http://22tracks.com/#ams/doritos/15425
Musicovery – http://musicovery.com/
Noisetrade – http://noisetrade.com/

Food
Punchfork – http://punchfork.com/
The Patterned Plate – http://thepatternedplate.wordpress.com/
Rasberri Cupcakes – http://www.raspberricupcakes.com/
In Pursuit of More – http://inpursuitofmore.com/
Turntable Kitchen – http://www.turntablekitchen.com/
Stonesoup – http://thestonesoup.com/blog/
Nigella – http://www.nigella.com/
Maggie Beer – http://www.maggiebeer.com.au/recipes

Sydney
Broadsheet – http://www.broadsheet.com.au/sydney/
Daily Addict – http://www.dailyaddict.com.au/?location=sydney
Sydney TimeOut – http://www.au.timeout.com/sydney/

Photography & Editing
Pixlr – http://pixlr.com/ and http://pixlr.com/express/
Photo – http://photojojo.com/
Stuck in Customs – http://www.stuckincustoms.com/

I’ll add more as they come up.

What are your best go-to sites?

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Snapguide: How to Make Paprika, Truffle Oil and Parmesan Popcorn

Have you heard of Snapguide? It’s a very cool site and app that allows users to create guides about anything they love. Topics include Arts & Crafts, Automotive, Beauty, Food, Music, Photography and Technology. I made my first guide over the weekend: How to Make Paprika, Truffle Oil and Parmesan Popcorn.

The app is free and allows you to upload photos and/or videos as your instructions. Check it out, there are some great guides on there from people all over the world, and if you are looking for a particular guide, the search functionality is very good.

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