Thursday, February 2, 2012

Technology and It's Discontents: Sewing, Blogging and Life with a StupidPhone

I am not a technology person by nature. I'm not an early adopter. I like to repair things, rather than upgrading or replacing them. My phone is not "smart" in any way. In fact, it's rather stupid. I like the natural order of things in which I'm the smart one in the relationship. 

My phone has a low IQ

Now, don't get me wrong, I don't hate technology. I love Kermit (my little green ipod), my noise cancellation earbuds, and my sewing machine, which is computerized. I love blogging and the blogosphere (that's all of you). But I simply am not into technology or the latest internet wonder. I don't tweet and I have no idea what's trending at the moment. 

Then, a few weeks ago, I had a conversation with a friend who is a photographer about using social media to expand her business. And I resolved to pull myself together, too, and polish things up a bit in my digital life - hardware, software, the works. (Update: My blog is for fun only. I have ZERO interest in actually profiting from it.)

Upgrading my technology.

Since that conversation, the flash in my camera has died (it's not worth fixing and I've been planning to get a better camera, anyway), Picnik has sent me an email saying they are closing and I will have to transfer or risk losing my photos, and I've joined Tumblr and Pinterest, but have no clue what to do with either. In fact, I'm not sure what Tumblr is for or how to navigate it, and it irritates me that I can't seem to figure out if it's possible to re-order the pins on a Pinterest board. I think I have two Flickr accounts because remembering log-ins is an issue.

I've been trying to be better at visiting and updating/reviewing my projects at PatternReview, BurdaStyle and Ravelry.  I had always basically ignored BurdaStyle and now the creative director there is leaving because of "structural changes" to come. I'm not sure what that means for users.

Oh, and don't even get me started on a banner for my blog. I've been wanting to do something nice for the top of my blog for aeons. I just have no idea what or how to do it.

I'm not an early adopter.

So, you see, I'm not really doing all that well on this resolution. Sigh. And I'm feeling rather weighed down by it all and not sure how any of it can or can't help my digital life. Or whether some of these things aren't just time drains that keep me from doing things in my actual life - like sewing and baking. Anyway, please feel fee to weigh in on any of the following, whether you blog or not:
  • Photo editors and tools - which do you use/prefer/loathe with burning itch?
  • PatternReview, BurdaStyle and Ravelry (for knitters) - love em? hate em? use them for different purposes? 
  • Tumblr - please illuminate me. Why is it I thought this was something I needed? Do I need it? 
  • Pinterest - I kinda like this idea since I'm forever forgetting where I saw that something cool. Do you pin? Let me know where to find you. And if you know how to reorder a board. 
  • What hardware, software or digital tools do you find most helpful for your sewing/blogging/crafting digital life? 


Faye Lewis said...

I know EXACTLY HOW YOU FEEL! But I have finally had to cross over just a little bit. I hate things I have to sweat to figure out, but alas my students finally insisted (begged) me to upgrade my cell phone. They even told me which phone to buy and have assisted me in learning how to use (its a huge curve too). Checking and using voice mail - I already knew, and I did start texting back in September. Just recently downloaded notepad. So maybe in a few more months I'll be able to use the phone to it's full capacity. I'm taking one step at a time.

I heart Pinterest, and probably pin a little too much, but it is a great way to keep up with images or a legal way to steal the images of others. If I can find your email address I'll send you an invite unless you've already received one.

Not sure about Tumbler, but of course I already signed up for that too.

Tanit-Isis said...

Ok, here's my thoughts---are you trying to make money with your blog? Is it a part of your business? Or is it just for fun. If it's business-y (or you'd like it to be) then it's worth establishing a presence on every site you can come up with. If it's just for fun---it's just for fun! Integrate if you want, ignore if you don't. Sure, you might not get quite as many readers---but frankly most sewing blog readers come from other sewing blogs, and the best way to "get yourself out there" is just leave plenty of nice, friendly comments.

I have very little input about making a blog look pretty, though, especially since mine is wordpress and I have no idea how the templates compare. I just hunted around until I found a template with the options I like, took some photos of fabric I liked, messed around a bit until I had a header and a background, and called it good...

poppykettle said...

Awww.... you're such a cutie! This techno stuff certainly CAN be so confusing.

Personally I don't feel the need for a Tumblr, but I absolutely ADORE Pinterest. For all the reasons you pointed out and more.

I find the two most useful button on pinterest is the 'Add' button - you can create a new board, upload a pin you've saved as a picture and one other thing I can't recall. Work has pinterest blocked (they're such grumps) so I can't check right now.

If you'd like to 'rearrange' your boards, you can move pictures from one board to another by clicking on that picture, then clicking 'repin' which will ask you what board you'd like to put in on. But otherwise, the board is organised chronologically - with the most recently pinned pins are at the top.

I watch a gazillion other sewing blogette's because they always have beautiful inspiration for sewing.

I love pattern review because I like seeing how a pattern looks on a REAL person, rather than a model. Sometimes the reviews are helpful too! Burdastyle I have mixed feelings on, there are some seriously talented people on there, but there's also a lot of - dare I say it - crap, too. And no way to filter.

I'm totally not the person to ask about editing photos. I don't have a clue, nor the tools to do editing stuff with. What you see on my blog is what you get in real life.


katherine h said...

Ditto what Tanit-Isis said.

T. Sedai said...

I too have a "stupid phone" - at the moment I don't see a need to pay extra for all the fancy stuff I don't think I will need. Although I actually use the computer quite extensively at my work/school position, so I can't say I am a total luddite. Anyway...

Photo editors - I use iPhoto (yeah, I am a Mac user...) for basic stuff like cropping and such. If I need to do anything fancy I use GIMP. It is free, but madly infuriating to learn. My sister is working on a degree in photography, so she uses Photoshop, but I have never been able to afford it, so I have never learned that software. I have thought about getting Aperture, but that is Mac only software, and at the moment I would rather spend the money on sewing things instead. Also, I like to use Skitch for things like adding text and arrows. It isn't very powerful, but it is VERY easy to use, so I think it is worth trying out.

Online sewing sites - I like PatternReview because I find it helpful to read reviews before starting a new pattern and sometimes I see patterns made up that look much better than the envelope design. I typically post a review to PR regardless of how my project turns out. I find that the people on BurdaStyle tend to be a bit more harsh (snotty?) with their criticisms and (in general) it seems they are much more interested in the photography/styling than the actual construction of the sewing. I only post projects made with Burda patterns there, and only if they turn out really well and if I get a good picture. There isn't really any good way to search, so I will look through projects once in a while, but I don't really use it as much as PR. I actually spend way more time on the German and Russian websites because they have actual news about Burda pattern releases. I too am curious as to what these upcoming changes will be to the BurdaStyle website...

Tumblr - I have no idea... What is it for? I mean, you already have a blog...

Pinterest - I like the idea, but I am not on it. I tend to save inspiration photos to my hard drive. Maybe not the best because I lose the sources, but it has worked ok for me so far...

In general the things I use most are my computer (for cataloging patterns and fabric, and storing inspiration pictures), my digital camera (Canon Rebel), my scanner, iPhoto, and my sewing machine (which is computerized). While I suppose I could always find uses for more technology in my sewing workflow, and I would consider using Pinterest, right now I am pretty satisfied with my system for organization, storage, and blogging, so I don't really see a need for adding any further complications.

Basically, if this is what you do for fun, keep it fun! If something isn't fun or feels like too much work, don't bother with it because, honestly, wouldn't we all rather spend our time sewing?

Catherine Daze said...

I use Picasa and GIMP for photo editing. I like Pinterest but still have a bulging scrapbook of pages torn out of fashion magazines. Never figured out what I wanted to use Tumblr for so only posted one picture!

I like Pattern Review a great deal (although I wish they'd update the site to make it easier on the eye). BurdaStyle scares me.

Actually my all time favourite piece of software for sewing-related stuff is my RSS reader which keeps me up to date on all the blogs I read. I'm using Reeder on iPhone, which uses Google Reader as the back end, and if I'm on a pc I just use Google Reader in my browser.

evereadysmile said...

I use for photo editing and Flickr for online photo storage, although I'd recommend Photobucket to folks as well.

I like Pinterest. I don't worry about rearranging things. I think of of it more as digital cork board that stores both images and the site I'd like to remember. I have one I store recipes on, one I store design and sewing ideas on, one I store pictures of hot guys on, etc. It is really only useful when used correctly. I suggest using the "pin button" browser add-on. It means you not only have the picture store but the URL as well. When people upload pictures and don't add in a source URL or pin the picture from a Google image search rather than the original site, the entire system breaks down. So I have a board filled with lovely pictures of food and it's nice to look at but it's only useful to me if each image links back to the page with the recipe on it.

I'm going go ahead and tell you to delete your Tumblr. I have one that I use all the time, but it's simply a blogging platform, like Blogger or Wordpress, but intended more for 'micro-blogging' images and short thoughts and "re-blogging" other user's posts. For instance mine is several million pretty images, moving gifs and notes from Doctor Who, movies I like, and Matt Damon shirtless. I like to go browse the stream of images from the folks I "follow" on Tumblr and repost the ones that strike my fancy. It's just a lot of mindless pretty and essentially wasted time. But it is a time investment and I've never seen it as something useful for promoting a business or a site. It's a hobby, but only if your hobby is media images or gay porn or arty photography or teen angst. There isn't much else on there.

Kimbersew said...

I think maybe I'm waiting for them to perfect the magic wand. There is always a gap for me between what I want and what I have the ability and patience to create. Tech devices often keep me from even trying to leap it. What you're doing looks great from here!

Clio said...


Just to clarify before I respond to all your awesome and thoughtful comments: my blog - like my sewing - is for fun and I have ZERO interest in making money from it. I just want to streamline and polish things up. I like to use technology to make things easier and more fun - for me and all of you.

Thanks! And keep em coming!

Debi said...

I'm with you! I have a lower than average intelligence phone which I can never manage to use anyways. My camera keeps putting awful red lines through all my photos. I have yet to join pininterest or tumblr though I do have a bulletin board by my sewing area. I also have a resolution to become active on pattern review (never reviewed a pattern yet), BurdaStyle (done a few projects) and to get back onto We Sew Retro. I use Picnik and am gutted that they are closing because it means I will have to learn a new programme and I felt so advanced using Picnik! hehehehehe. So I am with you. I did, however, manage to figure out how to put linked pictures on the side of my blog (YAY!) but David did my banner :) So, I am reading everyone's comments with interest as well!!

The Slapdash Sewist said...

I have a dumb phone, too. A prepaid dumb phone. I pay $15 bucks a month. No way am I "upgrading" to a $100/month smartphone.

I always do a Pattern Review. The database of images is invaluable. For most patterns I am interested in, there is at least one photo of a real person wearing the garment. That is huge. So I pay it forward by always adding my review with photo to the DB. The actual review part is sort of superfluous to me; I'd rather have a stub of a review and a photo on a real person than lots of words and no photo. There has been talk in the past of explicitly allowing that sort of thing--just adding a photo to the DB--but it hasn't gotten very far. I have noticed lately that some bloggers have stopped doing PRs, which is frustrating when I know someone has made a particular garment. PR is the easiest way to find it.

I go on BurdaStyle about once a quarter, get frustrated with the execrable lack of searchability and the twee hipsters and remember why I never go there. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Mac user, like T. Sedai, and use the same combo of iPhoto (cropping and color/light), GIMP (creating composites), and Skitch (adding text and arrows). Gimp is a pain in the patoot but it's free.

I have never even been to Tumblr, but spend a little too much time on Pinterest. It's a nice way to save ideas that is easier and more enjoyable to look through than saving them to a hard drive.

PS Christian Sarono is a spambot (mouse over "his" name and a suspicious link comes up). I'd delete the comment.

Sheila said...

To edit my photos, I use powerpoint & photobucket, as well as for my photo storage... I can't stand the photo editing that came with my laptop.

Patternreview is my fave when comparing to Burdastyle. I also like Ravelry too.

I am clueless as to what Tumblr is...

Pinterest - Yes, I pin and can be found under Sheilazthreadz

Gail said...

I adore Ravelry - you can tell that it's built by a coder who's married to a knitter! It's clever and also an amazing community.

Tumblr - my blog is on there but mainly because my techie husband can make it do what I want. I don't go in much for the reblogging etc.

Pinterest is genius/a massive time suck. Great for keeping ideas together and finding inspiration.

I would have recommended Picnik as a great photo editor but sadly it was bought by Google and they are closing it down :-(

House of Pinheiro said...

this is a very informative post for me. Im not very techs savvy and would love to improve my site.