Life snippets: a collector’s tale

I’ve been collecting snippets of my life for years. I guess I am a confirmed diarist at heart, although the collection process is random and not nearly as organised as it might be. I’ve had a camera since I was 11 years old – a Box Brownie as I recall – and have been collecting images from the world around me since then. I’ve kept journals and diaries – especially when I travel, and with the advent of portable audio recording tools back in the early 1980s, started grabbing bits of my life this way as well. For a long time my collections were a diaspora – scattered far and wide. Diaries got too hard to organise, and got shoved in big boxes – audio cassette tapes likewise. I won’t even start with the photos and negatives, hundreds – probably thousands of them tucked away in drawers and boxes, fading away. The movies are few and far between; I’ve relied more on still photography to capture the world out there, that is until I got a small, dedicated, very portable, and easy to use video camera earlier this year (a Creative Vado HD).

Where is all this going? Well, until the advent of digitisation, my packratty collection of memorabilia lay scattered. Now I have the opportunity and the means to convert my stuff and share it – publish it around. Some of this takes time: scanning old photos for example can take forever, but the results are well worth it, especially after the magic of Photoshop or iPhoto has been put to use getting rid of scratches and blotches. As for diaries or traveller’s tales – apart from a quick scribble in a tiny notebook to jog the memory when I got back to the keyboard, I stopped keeping a hardbacked diary when I found out about blogs. I now share photos on Flickr or Facebook, videos on Vimeo, or in the case of private materials for my family and friends only on my Mobile.Me gallery. With the advent of aggregation tools like Friend Feed, I can suck in all my tools and apps from around the web and share in the one spot. The easier the better say I. I want to be able to access the stuff as easily as I can create it. Bottom line though: always back up your digitised collections in a different place. Burn to a DVD and put in a safe or keep away from your home, or send your files into a ‘cloud.’

My absolute favourite collector’s tool right now in terms of ease of creation and sharing has to be Audioboo. I recorded this Boo earlier today. It’s about the delight of re-experiencing a moment in your life via the intimacy of another’s voice – in this case, my children’s voices recorded on Christmas Eves and birthdays over the years.


The process of recording, copying, and sharing used to be laborious – I had the collection of cassette tapes digitised by a tech friend 10 years ago. With Audioboo you just click and record on your iPhone, then click and share with the world; it’s the same spontaneous (though you can pause and resume) process that I used all those years ago with our trusty, kid-friendly cassette tape-recorder-player, but how much simpler. The original cassette tapes are tucked away in the safe, but I now have a version which I can share far and wide. It is a precious artefact that my kids and I adore. I recommend your grabbing some audio moments in your life for later; you won’t regret it.

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The e-traveller hits the road again

This time I’m heading to the US for a holiday … no conferences, no presentations, just fun. I’m very keen to have the opportunity to join in the celebrations following Barack Obama’s inauguration; I imagine the place will be bursting with bonhomie and pride. It deserves to be.

I’ll be tweeting and blogging and uploading to Flickr as I go … all the fun that’s fit to report, and I hope that’s a-plenty. I’m getting cannier as I go these days.  A card reader and a small point and shoot Nikon L16 (rechargeable AA batteries) do service in the still photography department, whilst MarsEdit is my offline blogging app of choice. The trusty, small G4 Powerbook is the computer that’s tagged along with me faithfully for 4-5 years. I really can’t leave it behind any more, and it’s size and power give me all the grunt I need.

This time I am being joined by a new toy which I’m picking up in the US. I’ve wanted an ultra-portable-put-in-your-pocket-no-fuss HD video camera, and thanks to Amazon, will have a Creative Labs Vado HD waiting for me. You can read the pros and cons in this comparative review by Chris Pirillo.  I’ll post the first experiments edited via iMovie to Vimeo. Phew … must remember to just do some touristy lollygagging along the way.

Stay tuned ….

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Yellow Inspiration


Ken Allan, a blogging mate of mine from Middle Earth aka New Zealand shot me a comment tonight on an earlier post to say how much he loved sunflowers. Right now my garden is abloom with them and I’ve brought a vase full of them into the house where they positively glow in the room. I grabbed this image today.

So just for you Ken, he is one of the lovely blooms which continue to follow Apollo as he gallops across the sky each day. They will continue giving pleasure in my small patch, and when the petals fall and the seeds mature, the cockatoos and other assorted parrots will be in for a treat.

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Day 26: Bring on the Media

Back to the daily Comment Challenge tasks and I’m hunting down some A-V apps to diversify commenting and make it more dynamic. I’ve had a few words to say over the past week or so on my commenting using Seesmic, so I won’t bang the drum again. If you haven’t read them, just type ‘Seesmic’ into the search pane and you’ll find them and samples of video comments and posts. Let me say up front that I have nothing against words; love ’em, but this is the 21st century, this is Web 2.0 people, so let’s get a little more adventurous. That’s my rallying cry as I feel the claws hanging on hard to the tried and true. I feel it every day as many, many of the much-touted web-savvy Gen-Y in my patch resist the new e-learning ways like crazy!

This morning I checked out and installed Snapvine. This is audio-blogging and commenting which can be done online or via your mobile. If you decide to give mobile blogging a go, you will need to choose your dial-in country from a drop-down list, and validate your phone number with a code. This makes blogging on the go quick and easy; for once, it’s going to be a faster experience than typing words into your keypad. Snapvine, like Seesmic logs all of the posts and comments at your own central Snapvine blog. This is a newcomer to my blog tools, and I’m trialling it for the rest of the month of this Challenge, so you might like to help me out and have a go; it’s over there in the left sidebar under ‘Sounding Stuff.’ And remember, with an audio comment no one can see your bad hair!

Facebook? Yes. It qualifies because it encourages comment through your Facebook social network.  I’ve installed the Wordbook plug-in on my other blog Groundling; this posts a notification with image into my Facebook pane so friends can drop by and comment. It’s my other blog because my Facebook network is overwhelmingly comprised of people in that niche area.

Flickr is perhaps the visual blog par excellence also with comment capability. What more can I say about this free (or pro for $) application that hasn’t already been said. I use it in various ways which boil down to storing and sorting my photos (and short videos … I have a pro account) so they are quickly accessible from anywhere on the web. This year I am taking part in the 366 Photos group (groan … why am I a sucker for these challenges?) A smallish group of us capture an image a day during this Leap Year of 366 days, and post to the group. It’s a sweet way to stay in touch with everyone, share our worlds, and to leave comments … which we do.

What do you do on a day off?


Ironically perhaps, I thought this was a pretty good question to ask of fellow commenters on the 31 Day Comment Challenge. It’s a day off for me since I’ve done all the tasks so far and we’re roughly half way through the challenge. Where did those days go to?

So when you’re not blogging, what do you do? Do you take a break from time to time … a deliberate break that is, and not one where the dreaded writer’s block stuns you.

I read, I play around with new tools and software, wander through the garden, take photographs, teach, take in a movie, listen to music, a favourite podcast or two … think about the coming months. Always though, always an idea springs out of nowhere for a post or two. These get scribbled into a notebook for later.

What about you?