New Apps

#FridayFive: 5 tools to make your Instagram (FB, Twitter) pictures look better

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How many of you use Instagram? And how many of you use any filters to make them look great? Or you might have a bunch of photos you’d like to post to Facebook but want to brush them up a little before doing so. Well, today I have a list of some great apps you could use to brush up on the photos and make them look amazing. I use most of these every time I post a picture to my Instagram and I use one particular app both on my phone and computer to edit holiday photos. Most of the take just a click.

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1. VSCO Cam. This is my all-time favorite. This app is packed with great filters you won’t find on the free apps and most of the peeps you follow on Instagram prefer this particular app. It comes with a few filters as a preset and you can then add some “packs” for more filters – some of them are free and some you have to pay a bit but they also do promotions every now and then releasing new packs for free.

And if you’re using Lightroom on your computer you can download their free developer pack with amazing Lightroom presets that will all the work for you with really good color combinations.

The app is available for both iOs and Android.

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2. Whitegram. Although Instagram now allows you to upload your pictures in full (rather than crop them) some people prefer to use an app to show a picture in its entirety. Sometimes I like to share pictures I posted on Snapchat and they’re just too big for Instagram even with the recent update, so I can use Whitegram to share a full picture in a smaller format with the borders on each side. It’s free for iOS and Android.

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3. Over is a fun little application if you want to add some text or symbols to your photos on the go. There are plenty of free things to choose from but you can also purchase extra packs (like with VSCO). You can see my little example above and it could be quite addictive in time creating these pictures. It’s €3.99 on iOS and Android.

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4. Phoster is a bit more sophisticated than Over but it’s super handy if you don’t have a budget (or time) for a graphic designer but you want to create an amazing looking leaflet or a poster. It’s a bit fidgety as some of the text is very small but it’s incredibly easy to use; just choose a template, add a picture and edit your own text in and you’ll end up with an amazing looking poster in just 10 minutes. Get it for €1.99 on iOS only.

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5. Insta Emoji. When you want to have a bit of fun with your photos give this app a try. Place Emojis all over your pictures, add Meme-like text or attach glasses, moustaches and much more. Free on iOS only.

Have fun with your pictures!

Alex @ MicroPro

Cloud Storage: why, where & how?

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Have you ever heard of the Cloud? We bet you have at this stage heard about cloud technology, cloud services & cloud storage. What the word “cloud” refers to in this context is the storage & services on the Internet – which mean that you can save your files on the Internet, access them wherever and whenever you like and use everything from your computer to your smart MP3 player to do so.

In this article we’d like to introduce you to Cloud storage. Why should you save your files in the cloud and not on your trusty 1TB external Hard Drive? Well, we like to repeat over and over that you should backup your files twice. It’s not going to do any harm if you save the most important files on your external HDD and in a “cloud” folder.

Here are some pros to cloud storage:

  • Accessibility – you can save your files on your computer & then open them on your phone, laptop or tablet even if you’re away from the laptop.
  • Shareability – share your files with whomever you like easily by providing a secure link. If you have party photos or important work files that are too large to send by email for example.
  • Safety – your external hard drive or computer can give up any time – it can suddenly stop working or it can actually be physically damaged (dropped). Sometimes it’s hard to extract data from the damaged drive. If you save it in the cloud – you can just open all your files on a different computer

And there are many more advantages to this. You have to believe us when we say that one of the most common requests come examination season is “My computer stopped working and my entire thesis is on it, I haven’t saved it anywhere else, please get it”. So, here are 5 of our most preferred services that would help you avoid stress over such request.

1. GOOGLE DRIVE 

If you have a Gmail account (just a Gmail email address) you already have a 15GB of free storage on the Google Drive that’s connected to your Gmail address. You can easily find it, just see the picture below.

Google Drive on Gmail MicroPro COmputers TutorialGoogle Drive is extremely easy to use – just click on the “New” button in the folder and choose if you want to upload a file or a whole folder from your computer. It’s a great place to have your photos backed up on your Android device and it even works with iOS (iPhone, iPad, iPod).

In addition to storage you can also create a Word, Excel and PowerPoint files and share them with other people – and all of the people can work on these files at the same time. It’s super handy for club schedules, big written projects etc.

And if you’re after to more than 15GB storage you can pay a monthly fee for quite a good deal on 500Gb or 1TB storage – you can save all of your files then.

2. DROPBOX 

You’re possibly more familiar with Dropbox if you have heard of the storage in the “cloud” before. Dropbox is an inexpensive and simple cloud storage solution that gives you an option to upload your files (2GB of free storage) and share it with other people by sending a simple link.

It works in pretty much the same way that Google Drive does, however if you run a business and need several people to be able to share files using a single folder it would probably be the best option for you – it’s also one of the cheapest for this kind of sharing option.

3. ONEDRIVE

Possibly the best of the online “cloud” storage options out there at the moment, simply because it’s…. unlimited (potentially)! There’s a bit of a catch in this deal though, you’d have to sign up as one of the first people to try this feature (provided you’re an existent Office 365 subscriber). Think of it: your videos, photos, Word & Excel files, presentations & music all available at any time on any of your devices. Want to show a wedding video to all of your friends? You can do so on your phone, your laptop and any other device – provided you have Internet (3G or 4G will do as well). How cool is this? Don’t have Office 365? We’ve got a great deal going on it at the moment at just €99 – and you’re getting a 1TB guaranteed storage with it as it is (which is the same price as Drive or Dropbox).

4. MEGA

This service is not as widely known. However, one of reasons we’ve included it in here is because you get a free 50GB storage with Mega. There’s no trial period – it’s a guaranteed 50GB storage online that you can access any time. It’s handy of you have to send a large amount of information to someone. The rest of the plans are a little more expensive than the previous we have mentions, but, this service provides an excellent speed for the file transfer – if that’s your thing. So, if you’re looking to transfer large files fast – Mega is the service for you.

5. iCLOUD

This is a standard backup service for your iOS device. You can sync files easily between your iPhone, iPad & MacBook. You get 5GB free with your iOS profile and then you can expand to more plans that can only be purchased through the Apple store. It’s handy if you are an Apple addict as you can see your pictures & music synched without you even connecting your devices together (that moment is popularly illustrated in the latest Cameron Diaz movie “Sex Tape”). However, we found that other services above provide a more competitive pricing for larger storage.

A little extra, and one of our favourites when we need to share a simple file with someone – WeTransfer. It’s quick, easy and allows you share just one file with a few people. No need to sign up to anything, pay a fee or store a file. It will keep your file for 14 days after which the link will expire.

How safe is Cloud storage? “Very” – is the easiest answer here. Cloud storage have come the long way since its inception and it’s been around for a while. Your files will be protected by the latest advances in file encryption that are hard to decode. However, we do encourage for you to choose your password wisely. You can read our blog post about passwords and how to maintain a safe password here.

BEST APPS FROM SXSW 2013 TO USE FOR BUSINESS

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SXSW in Austin is best-known for introducing bands that everyone is going to be listening to for the rest of the year. But recently it has also become a launchpad for newest apps and interactive solutions. There’s a long list of fun apps to try, but I have picked some of the ones that might come handy for business & productivity.

Message Me

For someone working in a creative environment Message Me could be a real life saver. It’s a simple messaging service that also allows sending videos, sounds, photos and doodles to a contact or a group – perfect for sharing ideas on-the-go. It also should make it easier to put together those brainstorming sessions that are usually scattered in e-mails, notes and messages. (Available for both iOS and Android) (https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/messageme/id562075622?mt=8&ign-mpt=uo%3D4)

Thread

Thread is essentially a caller ID that also pulls out all of your recent social and e-mail correspondence with the contact. No more putting them on hold while you’re trying to fiddle your way around the phone to find that reference number or a tweet! (Sadly, only available for Android) (https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.sprezzat.thread)

Younity

It happens to all of us: you get to an important meeting and realize that you forgot to grab that essential file or it didn’t synch to iCloud properly. Younity makes your entire desktop available to you at all time without actually taking any space in you cloud app – it’s essentially a remote access app for all your devices. Handy? A lifesaver! (iOS only – but does work with Windows Desktop) (http://www.getyounity.com/)

ClipPick

This app allows you to copy text from one device (say iPhone) and paste it into another (PC, laptop etc) – it’s that simple! Download it for (iOs & Android) (http://clippick.com)

Highlight


Highlight shows you who is nearby and what you have in common with them. As much as I could see from testing it so far there are people offering their services: very handy of you’re in the area you don’t particularly know and want to find a service or a person. (iOS & Android) (http://highlig.ht/about.html)

Plotter

A social mapping app that lets you create and share places you’re visiting. Or adding your own place on the map. Never know who will be visiting your area and will need your services! (iOS only) (http://www.plotterapp.com/)

ProxToMe

It’s an app similar to Highlight but it could be used differently – and comes especially handy if you’re in a meeting with new people and want to connect with them easier or share a document via Dropbox without adding their e-mail address. Provided both of you have the app installed. (iOS & Android) (http://www.proxtome.com/)

Let me know what you think of them. Are you using any of these already?

Alex @ MicroPro.ie