Thursday, January 17, 2013

Sending fax using a smartphone

I cannot forget the incredulous look on the man's face when I told him it would cost him AUD$10 to fax a one-page document overseas. He was holding a AUD$2 coin on his hand. He was absolutely, genuinely stunned. It costs him AUD$10 to fax the first page, and AUD$2 for each subsequent pages.

Many people do not know how easy it is to send a fax using the smartphone. There are numerous apps that cater to this. On the smartphone, it typically costs US$1 per page to fax to any of the designated countries worldwide.

My favourite app is CamScanner. It allows you to take a snapshot of your document and automatically turns it into a .pdf file. You can choose to do anything with the file (e.g. email, fax, sms).You just need to top up your account with whatever amount needed as and when you want to fax something. The app itself is free. Another easy-to-use app is FaxDocument. There are many more than I care to explore.

Alternatively, how about simply taking a snapshot and emailing the .jpeg image to your destination? Better still, use Whatsapp to send the attachment for free.

So the next time you have a need to send a document urgently to someone, just remember what your smartphone can do for you.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Do you data snack?

Not too long ago I came across the word "data snacking". What an appropriate term, I told myself. The ubiquity of smartphones has led to the emergence of a new social behavior, which I am sure you can easily identify with by now. Lots of people are always on their smartphone or tablets, fully immersed in their own little world. They may be sitting together at the dinner table or waiting in a queue. They just cannot seem to distance themselves from the little gadget that has mesmerized the entire planet.

The word data snacking doesn't seem to be in great use at the moment, but I think it soon will be. The Netlingo dictionary defines it as "to consume small snippets of information in a hurry when time permits". This seems like a good definition.

A snack means a light meal. I am always reminded that snacking on food is bad. Snacking makes you put on weight. In the same vein, data snacking fills your head with information. But is it good and useful information? Watch out for information addiction! If snacking on food is an unhealthy preoccupation, perhaps we should also be concerned if we are data snacking too frequently. I leave you to ponder.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Losing a job is losing all you've studied for

What does it feel like to lose one's job? Here is a story I came across recently. The full article is at:

Alecia Warthen's story.........

"The latest figures show December was another month of steady, moderate job growth. But for many people still struggling with long-term unemployment, the situation hasn't actually changed much at all.

For Alecia Warthen, the last eight months have been painfully stagnant.

She was the first person in her family to finish college, after growing up in one of the roughest sections of Brooklyn. She had earned an accounting degree and worked as a bookkeeper for most of the last decade.

Then she lost her job with the City of New York last April, and she's now telling local grocery stores she'll do anything for a job — mop floors, stock shelves, bag groceries.

One morning she stopped by a Foodtown grocery store in the Bronx. She put in an application a few weeks before, but hadn't heard back. The man she spoke with immediately shook his head at her inquiry.

"They just closed one of my other Foodtown stores, and we're absorbing their help right now. So I have nothing open," he said.

"This is sad. This is so sad." Warthen said as she made her way back through the doors. "I'm going back home. Enough."

Warthen says she's applied for more than 100 jobs since her layoff and has had only four interviews so far. She's tried making clothes and curtains to sell — until her sewing machine broke. She even peddled homemade body lotions and home-cooked meals. But nothing's helped."

The future looks dim for people who are long term unemployed......

"Bonny Williams helps run New York Staffing Services, a job-placement center in Manhattan. He's found that the longer someone remains unemployed, the more that person will be perceived as someone without the right skills.

"It does look undesirable ... from an employer perspective," Williams says. "They'd rather spend the time with someone who's just coming off an assignment because they're looking as though they're job-ready, versus someone who may have been a bit stale being out of work for some time."

Williams says even though he is placing more workers these days, the people first in line to get the new jobs are the ones who've been out of work the shortest time.

That means prospects continue to look dim for people like Warthen. She has already started to pull money out of both her life insurance policy and retirement account. To save on electricity now, her house goes pitch black every night before 11 p.m."

Monday, January 7, 2013

Mona Lisa portrait, anyone?

I couldn't resist trying my hand at making my own Mona Lisa image. I used this image that I shot using my Panasonic LX7. The light source illuminates the face in about the same way as the Mona Lisa.

For post editing, I used Pixlr Express (a free app that is installed in my Chrome browser) to adjust the colour, as well as add the canvas overlay for texture. I decided not to flip the portrait horizontally as it looks nicer this way.

For comparison, here is the original Mona Lisa.