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February 26, 2015 / carlispina

Combine Your Favorite Vines With Vine Masher

If you use Vine, you probably already know that it is a great application for creating and sharing short video clips. But until now you have had limited options for sharing or combining these videos. Vine Masher aims to offer this functionality to Vine users and fans. Using this tool, you can “mash-up” up to nine Vines and then share the result on social media or by embedding it on a website.

Vine Masher makes the process of combining Vines extremely simple. Using the built-in search feature, you can search for any keyword or hashtag that you want. Relevant Vines appear as thumbnails in a box on the left of the screen. Though they appear as static images, you can hover over the thumbnail to see the Vine play. When you find one that you like, you simply click on it and drag it into one of the nine squares to the right to create the order that you want. You can then play the Vine with or without audio to see if it meets your needs. At this point, you can also decide whether the mash-up should play on a continuous loop. Once you are happy with your combination, you can sign in with Twitter to save the mash-up with a title and brief description. Saved mash-ups can then be shared on Twitter or Facebook or via a URL. Vine Masher also provides embed code so that you can easily embed your final product on your website. Vine Masher is quick and easy to use and offers a nice How To guide that makes sure that users understand all of the available features. It is a nice tool for frequent Vine users or those who are using Vine for outreach and advertising purposes.

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February 23, 2015 / carlispina

Improve Your PACER Experience With PacerPro

This week on the LLNE Blog, I wrote about PacerPro, a new tool that makes it easier and faster to find documents on PACER and follow new cases so that you get new filings as soon as possible. Right now the service is free, so if you are frequent PACER user, you might want to check out my full thoughts over on the LLNE Blog or watch the video below to see the Advanced Search features in action.

February 19, 2015 / carlispina

Take a Last Minute Vacation With Flight Tonight

Flight Tonight LogoMost people tend to plan big trips months in advance; but if you prefer the more spontaneous approach, Hopper has an app for you. As an addition to their primary Hopper app, which helps you to find the cheapest moment to purchase airplane tickets, they now offer Flight Tonight.

Flight Tonight Screenshot 1The app, which opens with a great graphic based off the most iconic scene from North By Northwest, asks you only one question – which city do you want to depart from? Once you set your location (or allow the app to detect it), the app will load the cheapest round-trip tickets to any destination from this location on the same day. This can result in some pretty good deals (I’ve seen domestic flights for under $200 and intercontinental flights for under $600), but the app will also return expensive flights on the same day. If you see one you are interested in, you can click on the name of the city to see the available departure times and trip lengths. When you select a specific option, you are given the option to go directly to a site to book the flight. I’ve generally found these to mostly be either Orbitz or Travelocity, but sometimes other travel companies are also an option.

Flight Tonight Screenshot 2Because you are only shown flights leaving the same day and are only offered set trip lengths, Flight Tonight is definitely not an option for those who like to plan ahead or those who have an inflexible schedule. But, if you find yourself with some unexpected free time or a trip that falls through, it can be a nice option for finding cheap itineraries and, even if you can’t travel, it can be kind of fun to “window shopping” for vacations, especially in the cold winter months. You can check out this free app on iTunes.

February 16, 2015 / carlispina

Create a Video of Your Daily Live With 1 Second Everyday

1SE LogoHave you ever considered keeping a journal, but decided that you just don’t have the time? The 1 Second Everyday app (available for iOS and Android devices) makes it possible to keep a video journal even if you don’t have space in your schedule for a large time commitment. The process for achieving this is simple enough: the app simply pulls one second from a video taken on each day and combines them into a single video that summarizes each day for an entire period.

Though the app is simple, it does give users enough control to customize their video. You can opt to either record video clips from within the 1 Second Everyday app or you can allow the app to have access to the videos already stored on your device. Either way, the app will organize the available video clips onto a calendar. From there, you can go into the individual days to select which clip you would like to use (assuming you took multiple videos on a single day) and which 1 second segment of that video you would like to have included in your compilation. Compilations can be made for any period of time from 2 days to an entire year. Once you have created a compilation, it can be shared on social media or saved and at that point the underlying videos that were used to create it can be deleted without impacting your compilation. Another feature of the app is a section called “Crowds.” Here users can contribute their video snippets to group compilations on a diverse range of topics, including one that is a compilation of books that people are currently reading.

1 Second Everyday can also send you reminders so that you never forget to record a snippet. Overall, the app makes it easy to create video compilations that reflect your daily routine or a special trip. Though I am not a frequent videographer, I think 1 Second Everyday could actually make me create more videos with my phone. It is a fun app and a great option for those who love to create videos.

February 12, 2015 / carlispina

Explore the Sailor’s Dream

Sailor's Dream LogoApps have offered artists and storytellers new ways to tell their stories and many are taking full advantage of this. I recently wrote about True Legends and in this post I will look at another app that is using the capabilities of iOS devices to tell a story in a new way. This app is The Sailor’s Dream, which is currently available for iOS devices.

The app’s creators describe it as “a peaceful narrative experience,” which I found to be accurate though I do think that peaceful is underselling it slightly. At various points the environments of the app and the details that you are able to piece together are also sad and even, at times, slightly foreboding. There is no particular order nor a strong plot through the app; instead you simply wander through the seascape that has been created for you, finding different islands and exploring them. The artwork and sound effects reminded me of Myst in some ways, but Sailor’s Dream does not rely on having users advance through puzzles in the same way that Myst did. Rather you are left to navigate your way through the buildings, ruins and environments that you find, unlocking music, short snippets of story, and new rooms to explore. Throughout it all, you are left with the choice of how you explore the world and which path you take, making this an interactive story. Overall, I think this is a very unique experience and one that is well worth checking out. The video below will give you a sense of the app’s design.

February 9, 2015 / carlispina

Make a Form With Typeform

Typeform LogoThere are a lot of tools available to make it easier to create online forms and surveys, but given how frequently this comes up, new tools and options are always helpful. Typeform is a nice alternative to other form and survey tools I have tried. It allows users to create forms that are more visual and engaging than many of the other available tools and offers a nice drag-and-drop interface for users. As an added bonus, the company has a real focus on ensuring that the resulting forms are usable on all types of devices, which is not always the case with other tools.

One of the things that I feel sets Typeform apart from other options is the fact that it offers an easy way to create lots of types of content. It has a wide range of default options included in the “Core” (free) plan, including a “Legal” option that is designed for online click through agreements and similar legal agreements, file upload tools that can be used to have materials submitted to you via your form (for Pro plan members), and fun rating scale options that allow users to include typical shapes (stars or thumbs up) or more unusual ones (users can even rate your services as four dogs or nine skulls if you would like). You can also include images in your questions if you want respondents pick between various pictures, for example, when rating which design they like best. Forms can also include Welcome and Thank You screens, each of which can include up to 2.0 MB of images or videos, as well as including the more standard text. Though I haven’t tried it myself because it is part of the Pro plan, Typeform also includes Stripe integration so that users can accept payment via their forms.

Once you have set up your content, you can also customize the look and feel of your form extensively, including color, font, and background images, and configure messages that users receive. Completed forms can be distributed via URL or within your website as an embed. Responses can be analyzed from within the Typeform platform to see a dashboard about how people are accessing your form, get your results (including in a downloadable form), or to create reports. If you opt to upgrade to the Pro plan for a single form or on an ongoing basis, you can add in logic jumps within your questions, hidden fields, and the premium features I mentioned above. Typeform is a nice and easy-to-use form creation option. I would definitely recommend giving it a try if you are looking for a new way to create and distribute forms. You can see Typeform in action in the video below:

February 5, 2015 / carlispina

Explore an Alien Planet In Space Age

Space Age LogoThis week on the YALSA Blog, I take a look at Space Age, a mobile game that gives players the opportunity to explore an alien landscape while solving puzzles. This game brings 8-bit aesthetics to a very modern game that will keep you intrigued and sometimes even frustrated for hours, but I know that it also kept me engaged and made me want to keep coming back to the game. You can see my full review over on the YALSA Blog.

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