iPhone Tip: Emoticons (Emoji)

So you’ve got your shiny new iPhone and you’re wondering how your friends get those cool smiley faces to show up in their texts. You’ve tried the ol’ : – ) but it’s not turning into the little yellow guy. Have no fear, I’m going to let you in on the secret.

If you look through the App Store you’re bound to find a bunch of apps that claim to add an emoticon keyboard for you. Some of them are even paid apps. I have great news for you. You don’t need them. All they do is enable a hidden feature in iOS, which you can easily do all by yourself. So before you waste a buck, read on.

It is extremely easy to enable the Emoji keyboard and give yourself a ton of little emoticons to spice up your texts. Go to your phone’s Settings. Then scroll down and tap on General. From there you will navigate to Keyboard then International Keyboards. Once you’re there you can tap Add New Keyboard. You’re looking for Emoji. That’s it. You’re done.

When you load up any text field you’ll notice your keyboard will have a new globe button on it. If you tap the globe it switches to the Emoji keyboard. There are a lot of options in various categories for you to enjoy. Keep in mind only other iOS users will see these. What are you waiting for? Go give this a try!

Team Groom Discs

It’s no secret I’ve fallen in love with (some my say became obsessed with) disc golf. It was sparked around the time of my bachelor party and all of my groomsmen have also taken up the sport. I knew I wanted to make a special gift for my “team groom” and our shared affinity for disc golf provided the perfect project. I had read a little online about dying discs so I came up with a design and set out to create custom putters for the guys.

As my friends would say, “Nuttin’ but chains!”

This project seemed really simple when I was planning but there were a lot of hurdles to overcome. The design was easy. I came up with a simple vector drawing of a bow-tie (which were a staple of our wedding wardrobes) and then put the text “TEAM GROOM” and “#JONESWED” underneath. We had referred to ourselves as Team Groom and #joneswed was the official hashtag of our wedding.

The design was the easy part, getting it from the computer to the discs was where things started getting interesting. I thought cut vinyl could be applied to the discs fairly easily so I set out to it cut. First I tried using a friend’s Cricut cutter. Apparently the software “hack” that let you cut custom designs had been updated and lost support for Cricut machines after a lawsuit. I tried to no avail to find an older version that would work but I was left without my vinyl. At this point time was running out of time so I found some local sign shops and finally got my vinyl.

My original plan was going to just stick the vinyl on the discs but after doing some research into dying, it seemed I could use the vinyl to create a unique design with the dye. This technique allowed the discs to dye the area around the vinyl, then when it was later removed the original disc color would show through. I liked the idea of a smooth surface on the disc so it didn’t disrupt the flight pattern. I found some Rit dye in a color I liked and went home to start dying.

The disc prep included using acetone to remove the labels. My first attempts seemed tougher than the videos I had seen on youtube. I kept at it and then stuck vinyl on my first disc. I dunked it in the dye and it didn’t seem to be taking. I added more dye, left it in longer, but it still wasn’t really working. Turns out, I had bought the wrong type of plastic discs… I went back out and bought a new set of discs, this time in the Innova Star plastic, which upon further research, appeared to be the best type of plastic for dying.

Applying the vinyl to the blank disc

Applying the vinyl to the blank disc

Star plastic was much easier to remove the labels with acetone and lucky for me, took much better to the dye. The dye seemed to turn out more of a dark purple than the bright blue advertised on the box but they still made the custom look a success.

disc in the dye pan

Here is the disc face down in the dye. It’s important to keep the dye warm but not too hot or you can melt the plastic of the disc.

dyed disc with vinyl still on

Here is a disc after it’s been dyed with the vinyl still applied

peeling the vinyl off of the dyed disc

After the dying process and a quick rinse, you can remove the vinyl from the disc

pile of custom team groom discs

the final products

I topped off the gift bags with a custom Team Groom water bottle using the same design. Those were an easier task, which just consisted of the application of vinyl to the bottles. Overall I’m very happy with how they turned out and can’t wait to try another dye job. I think I’ve learned a lot about the process (and which discs to choose, definitely the Innova Star plastic!) and the next time should go much smoother. Have you done any custom dying? Share a link or some pro tips in the comments.


Well I’m back. It was so great to take a break from “real life” and spend some quality time with my new wife among some of Michigan’s most beautiful landscapes. We spent our time near the Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore in Empire. We took lots of little trips around the area doing various fun things like kayaking and even a little disc golf (yes, my wife rocks). There were lots of great wineries and food to be had. Here’s a quick glance at some of the highlights. It’s a little hard to get back to the everyday grind of things after such a wonderful trip but such is life.


funny picture of Christopher and Abby at the beach

sunset at Empire Beach

the happy couple posing next to lake michigan

Cherry Pie at The Cherry Hut

shadow of Abby and Christopher overlooking Lake Michigan

teeing off at the disc golf course


It’s finally here…

After what seems like an eternity of preparation, tomorrow is the day I finally say “I do” to the girl of my dreams. I just put the final touches on our wedding programs and my groomsmen gifts. The only left to do is get through the rehearsal, try to get some sleep tonight and suit up for the big day tomorrow. I’ll be taking the next week or so off from the blog to spend some quality time with my new wife checking out the sites near Traverse City. I did a pretty cool project for my groomsmen and I plan to post about it soon but until then, enjoy a glimpse of our programs.

App Review: iDisc Golf Pro

As previously mentioned, I’m a new disc golfer. I’ve played everyday that I can. On Thursday and Friday I had planned to fit in a couple of rounds but the weather had other ideas. The pouring rain and cold didn’t seem like an ideal situation to play in so I went looking for a virtual disc golf experience. Enter iDisc Golf Pro. It’s a $0.99 app that replicates playing disc golf right on your iPhone or iPad.

iDisc Golf Pro Main Menu

I started by downloading the free lite version. It allows you to play three holes and by the second hole I knew it was worth the buck to play a full 18. You can play one or two players (it’s a local, pass the phone kind of two player) and there are blue and white tees for different skill levels.

There are six course to choose from, each with a unique locale and varying difficulty. They’ve done a nice job giving you a variety of landscapes. Wooded, beaches and even snowy courses are options. All of these are available at the start and as far as I can tell, there is no unlocking of content in this game. The graphics are 3D and reminiscent of a mid to late-90s computer game. They aren’t spectacular but they get the job done.

screenshot from iDisc Golf Pro

screenshot from iDisc Golf Pro

screenshot from iDisc Golf Pro

The game throwing is pretty simple. You cycle through your three disc choices—driver, mid or putter—and then touch the disc, swipe it up and release. Depending on what angle you swipe at the disc will behave slightly different, much like releases in real-life. I wish there were a few more disc choices. It’d be really cool to unlock other drivers that have ratings like real life discs to maximize power, distance, fade, etc. This would bring the game to a whole new level and increase its realism.

screenshot from iDisc Golf Pro

In my opinion, they’ve really missed an opportunity by not integrating with Game Center. I think a game like this is perfect for it. I’d like to see my best rounds on a leaderboard with my friends and most importantly, I’d love to see some achievements. Birdies, aces, finishing under par are all things that could easily lend themselves to the achievement system.

What is here, is a great little game. It’s fun, it replicates its real-life counterpart pretty well and there is enough variety to keep you coming back. Sure it could be improved but I’m just glad it exists and it’s affordable. It’s a disc golfer’s best friend on a rainy day. I hope the developers continue to work on iDisc Golf Pro and build on the great base game they’ve already created.