Little Miss Phone Wallpapers

Way back when my fiancé got her first smartphone I created a custom background wallpaper for her. It was an original Motorola Droid and she had a pink case on it. I created “Little Miss Droid” which was inspired by the Little Miss and Mr. Men books.

When it came time to power down her Droid for the last time and move to her brand-spanking-new iPhone, she was a little sad to see Little Miss Droid leave her life. She named her iPhone “Little Miss iPhone” and I knew she would love it if I made a new wallpaper for her. I finally finished it this past weekend and I’m really happy with how it turned out. There isn’t a “Mr. iPhone” for myself yet, but that is definitely on my to-do list.

Little Miss wallpapers on the phones


Instagram Goodies: Physical Photos

Last time I posted about Instagram I shared some web viewers to explore the Instagram world on your computer. Now I’d like to share a few sites that let you take your photos out of the cloud and into the world. Many of these will give you physical prints of your photos but each one has its own unique spin.

Instaprint: This is a really cool idea. They’ve created a system for printing Instagrams at events. You set it up with a hashtag and location, then all photos matching either of those will be printed out of a small little box. It’s super simple but infinitely cool. Your photos are also saved to an online gallery so you can view all the event’s photos in one place. They rent out their boxes for events but I hope they will be selling them soon. I’d love to own one.

Printstagram: As you probably guessed by the name, Printstagram prints your Instagrams. They have a variety of products from t-shirts to a mini prints, posters to stickers and my personal favorite, tiny books. There are lots of options to bring your favorite Instagrams to the physical world.

StickyGram: This site lets you pick 9 of your favorite photos and turns them into a 3×3 grid of magnets. It’s a great way to spice up your fridge with photos you’ve taken. My fiancé made one with pictures from her and her mom’s trip to Paris. They’re really great keepsakes.

Postagram: This one is actually a smart phone app available on both Android and iOS. I’ve used it and it’s a neat, easy way to send a postcard to someone with one of your Instagram photos. You can put a custom message on it and they take care of the dirty work of printing and mailing it off. All you do is a few taps on the phone and a buck or two later, it’s done. I think they’re even giving you 5 free cards right now, so go check it out!

CanvasPop: This service will enlarge and print your photos onto canvas. They literally turn your Instagrams into pieces of art, how cool is that? I plan on trying this one out soon myself.

Disc Golf (My New Favorite Thing)

disc golf discs on a picnic table

This week I started playing disc golf. It’s amazing. I’ve fallen completely in love with it. It’s laid back and gets you out in nature with your friends. It doesn’t take forever to play like real golf and it’s certainly much cheaper. I always thought it sounded cool but for some reason I never managed to play until this week. I played three times in the first four days of my disc golf career. I can’t get enough of it.

Of course one of the first things I did was find an app and some websites to help learn the game and keep track of my stats. I’ve found Disc Golf Course Review to be absolutely indispensable. They’ve got a huge database of courses with loads of info on each and many with reviews. You can really get an idea of what to expect and where to find courses near you.

You can’t talk about disc golf without mentioning the Professional Disc Golf Association. They have a lot of great resources on their website too. You don’t have to be an official member to get access to them all either, which is very nice of them for us n00bs.

My Disc Golf Profile at Discasaurus - Mobile Disc Golf Scoring Application for iPhoneMy favorite find has to be Discasaurus. After searching around the web and reading reviews in the App Store, Discasaurus seemed like one of the best iPhone apps to keep score of your games. It has nice graphics and an easy to use interface, it syncs back to their website and best of all, it’s free. I think it’s a really cool app and community. I like being able to look back at my scores and this makes it easy while giving me a great way to actually record those scores on the course.

If you haven’t tried disc golf yet, you should. It’s not hard to get started and even if you aren’t an expert, it can be a lot of fun just to be outside for a while. If you’re a seasoned veteran I’m sure you have your own favorite resources. What are they? Did I miss your favorite? Tell me about it in the comments.

Christopher Jones throwing a disc at a disc golf tee in the woods

Instagram Goodies: Web Viewers

Today is the one year anniversary of my first Instagram photo. I thought I would share some fun Instagram goodies with you in honor of that. Instagram is a hugely popular, fun and quirky photo sharing app that you’ve probably heard of by now. Its “hipster” filters and easy sharing to just about any service imaginable, make it a go-to when you want the world to see what you’re up to. Here’s my first Instagram, taken in the little hotel Abby and I lived in while interning in Switzerland.

Many people would say the biggest fault of Instagram is its lack of a web interface. You can click-through to see the photo but there’s no website to browse your history or popular photos. All of this is done in the app. That has meant there are many Instagram viewers popping up around the web. Here are a few of my favorites:

Pinstagram: Claiming to be “the best way to view Instagram on the web,” Pinstagram combines the jQuery Masonry layout (made popular by Pinterest) with your feed from Instagram. It’s a very clean, fast and easy to use interface. You can view your feed, popular photos, nearby photos, search for a tag and even see your likes. I think it’s one of the best web viewers out there. I’m especially impressed with the speed, some of the other viewers can feel very laggy at times.

Statigram: While Statigram does have a viewer and you can search by tags, I think it’s most useful for the stats. They serve up various analytics about your Instagram account and compile it into easy to read and fun-looking infographics. You can even set up reports to be run at certain intervals and emailed to you.

Followgram: This is a very simple viewer that gives you a unique URL to share with others. You can see my Followgram vanity page to get an idea. That’s the biggest difference with this one. Otherwise it has many of the same functions as the others.

Instagrid: Instagrid is along the same lines as Followgram, giving you a unique URL to share (here’s mine) but the user interface is a little cleaner and more responsive. It doesn’t have any extras like tag searching or popular photos. This is just a feed of your personal photos.

Webstagram: If you’re looking for something a little more complete, Webstagram might be for you. This one has your feed, search and popular feed but adds an extra layer on top. You can click-through photos to get a page that lets you post comments and share to various services. It’s a good concept but I think it’s poorly implemented and the user interface leaves a lot to be desired.

There are other web viewers out there but these are a decent sample. After a while they all start to look the same with similar feature sets. Try out a few and see which one is right for you. They’re all free and easy to sign up for with you Instagram account so don’t be afraid to try them all. Did I miss your favorite? Be sure to tell me about it in the comments.

Pebble E-Paper Watch

A while back the Pebble made a splash in the tech world. I was impressed by it and its capabilities. I set the link aside to further investigate later. Every once in a while I’d see it tweeted about or mentioned on a tech site and then earlier this week I finally sat down and watched all the video and read through all the descriptions. I then decided I had to have one.

A little background… Not long ago my first generation iPod nano was replaced (via recall) with a current generation nano. I thought it was really cool and immediately got a watchband case for it. I wore it around a few days and while it looked cool it wasn’t practical. I had to keep turning on the screen to see the time and why would I use it for music when I’m already carrying around my iPhone? I stopped wearing it. I wondered why it couldn’t communicate with my iPhone, why caller ID and emails couldn’t be transmitted to my wrist. The technology is all there, it’s just not implemented. Enter the Pebble.

This isn’t the first watch to link to your phone with bluetooth but it’s the most well thought out one I’ve seen. It looks nice, it has loads of customization and it works with both iOS and Android. Out of the box it will have many useful features like music controls and caller ID. There’s going to be an online store for additional apps to download to your watch via your phone. They’re making it easy for developers to access their SDK and by including both iOS and Android devices, I think lots of developers will hop on board.

The Pebble seems like the watch I’ve been waiting for. A few days ago I made the decision to pledge support on Pebble’s Kickstarter page. I was about to plop down the cash for my “pre-order” (They ship in September by the way) but realized if I got 5 friends together we could each save a bit of money and have our choice of colors. I started campaigning among my circle of friends and had just about everyone ready to go. Yesterday I found out they are all sold out. EVERY level of support is gone. I’m really upset with myself for not acting sooner. I’m still really looking forward to the Pebble and I hope it’s extremely successful. I’m not looking forward to paying full retail (estimated to be $150+) because I missed out on the Kickstarter project. I guess” you snooze you lose” really holds true here.

Anniversary of my Great Swiss Adventure

At this time a year ago I was packed and on my way to the adventure of a lifetime. I was taking my first overseas trip to join my fiance and start a three-month long internship at ICON Worldwide. I can’t believe it’s already been a year. It also happened to be Mother’s Day and my family came over to Kalamazoo to send me off (and thankfully drive me to a shuttle bus in Indiana headed for O’Hare).

I remember being slightly sick and extremely busy the couple of weeks beforehand. I was trying to finish up projects and pack and prepare frantically before my May 8 deadline. But it was here now and all that stood in the way of Switzerland was two planes and a train.

I finally finished the longest leg of the trip to Amsterdam and by that point had lost all sense of what time it was or even what day it was. From Schiphol I took a comparatively tiny flight over to Zurich (apparently I missed that check-in) and then nervously hopped a train to St. Gallen. I say nervously because I was so tired and very worried I was going to get on the wrong train.

The whole experience in Switzerland was surreal. I sometimes think it was all an elaborate dream, especially when I look back at pictures of the beautiful mountains and surroundings. I’m going to make another post that goes into details about some of my experiences in Europe and at the internship but for now, enjoy these scenes of Switzerland.

World’s Longest Invoice

I’ve been a frequent freelancer since high school (so about a decade, I’m starting to feel old). For many designers and developers this is their only form of work. It’s a stressful endeavor and there are lots of pitfalls to be had. One of the worst is not getting paid. For some reason or another you’ll come across a client who doesn’t want to pay for the services you’ve provided. Perhaps they aren’t completely satisfied with your work or they don’t think it’s worth what you billed them. I’ve had clients who just disappear or change management midway through a project. It’s always good practice to get a contract before starting work (unfortunately many of us learn this the hard way) but even with a contract it’s hard to make an unwilling client pay.

Enter The World’s Longest Client List. Basically it’s a call to all freelancers who have ever been burned on a job. They encourage you to add up everything you’ve ever been cheated out of by non-paying clients and add it to their list. While it’s not going to get you those lost wages, the movement is getting a fair bit of media. It’s drawing attention to a serious problem and hopefully that will help going forward.

Freelancing is a tough gig with no real stability or job security. If you’re a client, do the right thing and pay your bills. You wouldn’t stiff your plumber, why would you do that to your designer? If you’re a designer, do all that you can to protect yourself. Get a simple contract signed by both parties BEFORE work starts. I like to have them pay a deposit (usually 30–50% is good) upfront. That way even if they disappear or never pay the final invoice, I’m not entirely screwed. You can also try refusing to hand over the final files or project until they’ve paid in full. If you have the contract you’ll be able to take them to court if necessary. Sometimes just the threat of getting a lawyer involved will be enough to make them pay up.

Good luck to all of you freelancers out there and if you have been screwed, be sure to add your lost wages to The World’s Longest Client List.