Sunday, February 11, 2018

An app to keep your receipts

We all have receipts to file and many of us do a very poor job of it. Unless you have been diligently saving all your receipts, it is always a chore trying to locate a receipt that you need for a warranty claim or for filing a tax return.

Fret no more. With a simple scanner app in your smartphone, you can save each and every important receipt the moment you have it. How about that: a filing system on the go! I use an app called "ClearScanner". Apart from being able to crop the image, rotate, and change the colour temperature, etc, I can also scan multiple pages into one pdf file. Plus, I can save it directly to a pre-assigned folder in my Google Drive. Of course, I can also share it in multiple ways, such as email, Whatsapp, etc.

The following images are screenshots from my phone:
The first one is the app. The second one shows two files I have scanned (one single page and one two-page document, as indicated).

Thursday, February 8, 2018

An app for passport photo

There are many similar apps in the Google Play Store. I just happened to try out the one that is called "Passport Photo Editor", developed by Dak Bhavan (in case you are interested to give it a try).

The app allows you to pick the dimensions as required for any number of countries. The huge list provided probably covers any country you want. Using it is a breeze. All you need is to find a background that meets the background colour required of the passport photo.

The example below was a selfie that I took against a plain coloured wall, in ordinary ambient light. It took less than a minute to create the 6-photo jpeg image; at no less than my very first try.

I took it to Harvey Norman this afternoon. I transferred the image from my smartphone to the kiosk, paid 20 cents for the print, and voila! The size of the passport photo came out exactly 35mm x 45mm, and the size of the face exactly meets the requirements for an Australian passport photo.  By the way, it costs AUD$16.95 to have this done at a post office, so it is definitely worth trying out.


Thursday, January 4, 2018

Screen sizes and how it matters

Apple Computer must be running out of ideas if they think that the a 6.5" screen size is what people want, based on the rumoured iPhone XL. It certainly has not learned any lesson from the lacklustre sales of the Apple Watch.

Here is how screen size plays out its role. Basically the world of communication devices can be divided into 3 "screen sizes", which I simply call large, small, and tiny.

We use large screen sizes where we need to display a lot of information on one screen. Typically this is when we deal with spreadsheets and visual presentations, and sometimes even text documents. Many of these documents have to do with business and education. That is why we have desktop and laptops. Even if we can shrink the computers into a palm-sized gadget, we still need to have a larger screen size. So desktops and laptops are not going to be replaced by smartphone size gadgets anytime soon; or rather, the screen size that I call "large".

A small screen size like what we have on a smart phone is used where we only need to show limited information on one screen to do what we want to do (ever tried to work with a spreadsheet on a smartphone?). There is a compromise between portability and ease of viewing, and most people settle for a screen size between 5" to 5.5". Apple XL with a giant 6.5" screen will not be able to convince the world to shift to this size unless we all grow larger hands and big pockets become a fashion trend.

Finally, the tiny screen. Obviously Apple Computer has not learned that the reason Apple Watch failed to replace many of the things we do on a smartphone is because we simply need the larger real estate for the things a smartphone is designed for. A tiny screen is useful only for apps with very, very limited information to display. We cannot use it for email, and for social media. We cannot use it where we need a keyboard to enter text.

If you are buying a smartphone today, just choose the screen size you are comfortable with. Definitely a 6.5" screen size is going to be awkward and would probably only appeal to you if you are choosing between having to use reading glasses or splurging on a bigger display.

Friday, September 29, 2017

An idea for app developers

I used to get unsolicited calls on my home telephone line. These days I am also getting such calls on my mobile phone. These calls are a nuisance and should be responded to with vengeance.

Here is an idea. Calling all app developers: make an app that is able to deal with unsolicited calls in the most punitive way. What would you do with the call once your phone recognizes it as an unsolicited call?

How about.....
1. Accept, don't block, the call. Then let it listen indefinitely to an endless music stream.

2. Respond with a different answering machine message, reserved for this purpose. Prepare a message that will give the caller an earful.

3. Prepare a list of seemingly valid options to waste the caller's time. For example, "Dial 1 if you are a family member, dial 2 if you are a friend..... etc. Then if 1 is chosen, "Dial one if you are an ex-wife, dial 2 if...."

4. Any other ideas?

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Never say never

In 1982, I visited the Petrified Forest National Park. It was quite by chance, actually. I just happened to be in the region and I decided to visit the place. Last month, I traveled to the US for a holiday and I made it one of the stops in my itinerary. Will that be my last visit? It could well be, but I like to tell myself that I might come back again. Never say never!

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Living naturally

There is a lot of talk about eating natural foods. How about "living naturally"? What if we get used to the idea that dust and dirt are just a part of the natural environment. Imagine not having to clean the house. I mean, it is still alright to keep the house neat and tidy so that we can find things and we can fit our amenities into our limited space. However, dust and dirt occur naturally; keeping the house spotlessly clean is just something we impose on ourselves. I am pretty sure that in ancient times people do not mind having a bit of dust in their tent, or mud hut, or straw house. Somewhere along the line, someone invented the broom and from then onward we must have developed an obsession for keeping the house dust-free, and looking as unlived-in and as unoccupied as possible.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Notes to myself: Using Image>Calculations with Gradient mask

It is possible to create a selective positive/negative image using gradient mask. The resultant image is in B&W with parts of it in positive and part of it in negative.

  1. Open an image
  2. Create a new file in another tab: File>New. Set Preset to the name of the previous image file.
  3. In this blank image, choose and paint in the required gradient in black and white monotone.
  4. Go back to the previous image (click on the tab)
  5. Select Image>Calculations.Set Source 1 as the original image, and Source 2 as the gradient image. Set Blending mode to Difference, and Opacity to 100%. The result can be set to New Document or as required.
  6. To make the image save-able, set Image>Mode to Grayscale, and then repeat and set Image>Mode to RGB colour. The image is now save-able in the correct colour space.