Coming This Week – Update

I was able to start curating sooner than expected, so starting today, October 7, 2019, there is a new page.

I will be curating pertinent technology news. The curations will cover Apple, Android, tablets, Macs, PCs, software, and more.

Each day as I read technologies latest news, if I see something that will be of help to you, I will add it to the News page.

Preserving General Conference Notes

General Conference is always an exciting time for me. In preparation, a few weeks before the conference, I set up a Study Plan in the Gospel Library and listen to all of the previous conference talks. I also start to pray to ask that my mind and heart will be open for revelation. With the start of the conference, I am ready to listen and start taking notes. I think the above scenario is common for most of you.

My question to you is, “What do you do with your notes once the conference is over?” This is an important decision. Notes are of little value unless there is a method to retrieve them, and how you store them will impact the ease to which you can retrieve the information.

The primary purpose of this article is to help those that take hand-written notes, but I am going to start by briefly mentioning other methods.

There are two ways in which notes can be taken.

Digitally Using a Keyboard

The digital method requires you to use a laptop (computer), tablet, or smartphone. The app you use to type your notes varies and comes to personal preference. A word processor, a note app, or even the Gospel Library are some of the options.

Regardless of the medium used, the retrieval of the information is accessible. Simply open the search function and enter what you are looking for.

Hand-written Notes

Using paper and pen is a powerful note-taking technique. Studies have shown information is easier to recall when we engage our hands in the note-taking process. The problem is finding specific information at a later date.

I am sure you have had the same experience that I have had in finding specific information that is stored in your hand-written notes. Pulling down from the shelf one notebook after another in search of what you are looking for is a frustrating experience.

There is an effortless way to making retrieving of information a snap, and that is to use a scanner.

I am not referring to the scanner feature in your printer. The scanning process is slow, and sending it to your computer can result in frustration at the highest level.

I am suggesting using a dedicated scanner such as the ones made by Fujitsu, or better yet, a scanning app on your smartphone or tablet.

An excellent dedicated scanner can run $150 and up. While a scanning app starts at free and is rarely over $10.

On the free side is Scannable made by Evernote and will send your scanned note directly to Evernote. For this, to work, you obviously need to have Evernote, which has a free version. Scannable can be used with Android and Apple devices.

Genius Scan is another excellent app for Apple and Android. It will create a PDF version of your hand-written notes and then send the files to a service of your choice, such as Evernote, Dropbox and etc.

There is also Scanner Pro for Apple. It will scan your notes, and like Genius Scan, send the file to a place of your choice.

Whenever I discuss using scanning apps on a smartphone, I am asked, “Why not just take a picture of the notes since you are using the camera on the phone anyway?”

Scanning apps are programmed to take great photos of documents only. Rather than taking a picture of the surface, the note is lying on and the note. Scanning apps will automatically zero-in on only the document, then proceed to add filters automatically, so the scanned document looks like it was run through a copying machine. Another benefit is the app can save the document as a PDF, JPEG, or other formats. Also, the app can make the document searchable, and that is the key benefit of using the app.

Another Hand-writing Method

There is another medium for taking hand-written notes – a tablet. A tablet, stylus, and an app for taking notes are all you need to facilitate the retrieval of information quick and easy. These apps can index your hand-writing, or if you prefer, convert your hand-written notes to text. Another benefit is sharing your notes with someone else is a simple matter of copying and pasting.

Goodnotes and Notability are two excellent apps for Apple devices. For Android, Lecture Notes, and INKredible come highly recommended. In full disclosure, I do not have an Android tablet, and so I have not been able to test the apps.

Best Practice for Pen and Paper

After the conference, using your smartphone, scan the notes, then transfer the scanned copies to Evernote as a JPEG (or PDF). Evernote will make then make the scanned copy searchable. Tag the notes “GC” for general conference. In addition, Evernote can create a link to the document which can then be pasted into the Gospel Library.

You may want to paste the link in a note linked to a scripture in the Gospel Library because the speaker made a powerful statement about that verse.

In the end, your notes will be searchable, and instead of taking hours to find a note, it will take a few seconds.

Gospel Library Drag and Drop

It is essential to understand the meaning of a word. In the Gospel Library, you can select a word, then tap on “Define” and a dictionary with the definition of will appear.

Sometimes, a quick read of the definition will suffice, but there are times that you will want to place that definition in a “Note” for future reference.

The “Copy” command does not work within the popup definition. Thus, requiring you to remember the definition, and then type it into a “Note.”

This is not a problem if the definition is simple. However, if the definition has several meanings then you are left with having to go outside of the Library, open a dictionary, find the definition and then copy it, go back to the Library, select the word again, tap on “Note,” tap on the body of the “Note,” then tap on paste.

Here is an easier and quicker way. In this example, I am using the app Drafts. It has a free version which will serve our purposes for this exercise. You can also use Apple’s built-in app “Note,” however, Drafts is far superior. (see my note about Drafts at the end of this post).

Here are the steps:

  • Open Drafts.
  • Create a split screen with the Library on one side and Drafts on the other.
  • Select the word you want to be defined.
  • Hold your finger on the definition until it appears to lift off the page.
  • Keeping your finger on the definition drag it into Drafts, then lift your finger.
  • Close the dictionary.

There are now two options:

Step 1

  • In the Library, tap on “Note.”
  • Select the text in Drafts and drag the text into the “Note.”

Step 2

  • In Drafts tap on the Actions menu, in the upper right-hand corner.
  • Tap on the Action “Copy.”
  • In the Library tap on “Note,” then tap on the body of the “Note.”
  • Tap on Paste.

The above becomes even easier if you place Drafts into your “Dock,” then you can drag Drafts into the right or left of the screen to create a split-screen.

Note:

Everyone that has an iPhone or iPad should download Drafts. It is an award-winning, indispensable, and powerful app (did I add enough adjectives?) that will simplify your digital life. Click here to learn more.

Downloading Videos

I often get questions about downloading church videos and where to find it once it has downloaded; this is an easy question to answer.

However, the purpose of downloading a video is to share with a small group on a large screen; this leads to the next question of how to connect to a large screen. The answer to this is more complicated.

The purpose of this article is to answer these questions; to provide you the information you will need to use videos in your teaching successfully.

Information on cables and connections is first, then how to download and view videos from the four church apps.

Cable Connections

Viewing videos on your smartphone are great if you are the only one viewing the video, or perhaps sharing with one other person.

A tablet, is a step up from your smartphone, and could be viewable by 4 or 5 people if they are sitting close together.

However, the best option, when working with a group of people, is to connect your mobile device to a large screen.

However, this can be problematic, because it depends on what mobile device you have, which version of the operating system it uses, and the age of the large screen.

It is easier if you always teach in the same building because of the consistency. Once you have figured how to make the connection, there are no further worries.

However, if you are a missionary and always in different locations such as church buildings and homes, then connecting to a screen becomes an ongoing challenge. The positive side is over time, you will become a pro, and solve the problem regardless what is thrown before you.

In this section, I am going to cover, the most likely connections that you will face, and how to be prepared for any situation. There are two types of connections – cable and wireless and I will cover both.

Connections

Flat Screen

The most common connection is HDMI. Older devices will use VGA.

HDMI
HDMI
VGA

Apple (iOS)

Older iPhones and iPads used a 30-pin connection. Newer devices, since the iPhone 5 and iPad 4th generation, use the lightning connection.

30 Pin
Lightning

Android

Older phones use the Micro-USB and the newer phones use USB C. Defining what are older and newer phones is beyond the scope of this article, because there are 15 different Android operating systems and a countless number of phones. (fig1 – micro USB, fig2 – USB C)

Micro USB
USB C

Summation

At the most basic level you need a cable that can connect to your mobile device on one end, and the other end to a large screen. Let’s look at the most common situations you will face.

Connecting

iOS

If you have an iPhone or iPad making a connection is really easy.

Purchase, depending on the age of your phone, either a lightning to HMDI dongle, or a 30-pin to HMDI dongle. Be sure to get the dongle that allows you to charge you phone while you are connected to the large screen.

For older large screens you will need a dongle that will connect via a VGA connection.

Lightning to HDMI with Charging Port

If the screen is connected to Apple TV then you will not need a cable. How do you know if there is an Apple TV connection? Look for the small Apple TV box, which is usually on a table below the screen. Don’t see it? ask!

Apple TV

To connect to Apple TV turn on the TV and open the Control Center on your phone. To open the Control Center Swipe up from the bottom edge of your phone. If you have a iPhone X or later or iPad with iOS 12 or later, swipe down from the upper-right corner of the phone. Now, tap on “Screen Mirroring.” and pick the name of the TV you want to connect to. You will see names like “Living Room,” or “Family Room,” if you are not sure which is the right one, then ask someone. Now the TV will show a four digit number. Enter that number on your device and you are connected.

Apple will also work with wireless connections Chromecast and Amazon Fire TV, The connection does not work as smoothly as Apple TV so it will require some practice. To know how to make the connection google for instructions. Roku and MiraScreen will not connect to Apple devices.

Chromecast
Amazon Stick
Roku
MiraScreen

Android

From personal experience connecting an Android to a large screen is problematic. As mentioned above it is strictly dependent on which phone you have, the operating system and the screen.

If you feel that figuring it out on your own is beyond your capabilities, my best advice is to get help from the local electronic store, a friend or family member who is a geek.

Going to an electronic store is not without trial and error. Sometimes you will end up with a connection that doesn’t work because the sales person is not knowledgeable of all the different types of Android devices (something that I can fully understand). Make sure you can return the item if it does not work.

Android can also make a wireless connection through Roku, Miracast and Chromecast to name a few. Some new TV’s even have Android mirroring built-in. In general, using an Android to work with the above is easy. For instructions google for instructions.

Tips

  • Practice, practice, practice. Practice at home and then go to the building where you will be presenting for further practice. Ask a few friends to allow you to connect to their screens.
  • Make sure your charge cords are long enough. I find that 10 feet is the minimum. Personal experience has taught me the frustration of trying to charge my device and the cord is to short.
  • Do not depend on the Ward or Stake having the correct dongle and/or cables. Bring your own. It will take just one time to find that the building’s dongle is defective, missing or being used by someone else that you will see the wisdom in purchasing your own. Yes, they are expensive, but well worth the peace of mind.

Video Sizes and Quality

When you download a video from the internet or apps, you often have to choose the kind of resolution you want to download. So what is the resolution? Answer? That depends.

The larger the number, the better the video will look, but it also takes more storage space. This section will give you the knowledge you need to make the right decision.

A screen (smartphone, tablet, computer, or TV) are made up of a series of dots called pixels. The screen resolution is determined by the number of vertical pixels in the screen.

In general, the more pixels, the better the picture, but the actual size of the screen tempers this. For example, a lower amount of pixels would look good on a small screen but not on a large one.

Since 2010 the standard resolutions are 360p, 720p and 1080p. The p means “progressive scan.” A progressive scan creates an image on a TV screen, where the lines are drawn in one at a time in sequential order. I know, BORING, but hang in there.

Below gives you an ideal of how much storage and what size of screen is best for the following number of pixels.

  • 360p (37.6MB) 640×360
  • 720p (102.1 MB) 1280Sx720
  • 1080p (322.7 MB) 1920×1080

Some of the latest TV’s are at 4k, and there is talk of achieving 8k. One question that comes to mind when seeing these numbers is, can the human eye tell the difference.

Research has shown that the difference between 1080p and 4k it is virtually impossible to see. One would have to get very close to the screen to see any difference.

On smaller screens under 15 inches, it is hard to see the difference between 720p and 1080p.

Now here are some of the latest resolutions on smartphones.

  • IPhone X 2436 x 1125 (458ppi) (pixels per inch)
  • iPhone 6 1334 x 750 (326ppi)
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 9 2960 x 1440 (514ppi)
  • Samsung Galaxy s9 2220 x 1080 (570ppi)

Another factor is the aspect ratio of the screen. The standard is 16:9 and is what Apple has held to. Samsung for their Galaxy s9 is 18.5:9.

The most popular TV size is around 50 inches, and a 1080p resolution will be just fine.

So now you have the answer to which is the best to download. Consider the size of the screen you will view the video and pick the appropriate resolution; the smaller the screen, the lower resolution you need.

Closed Captioning (CC)

You should always be aware of the needs of your audience. Hearing loss is widespread, particularly with senior citizens. Providing CC with your videos will enable those that have trouble hearing or are deaf to read what is being spoken.

The problem is that not all of the church sites provide CC, and some videos were produced before CC was standard.

First, make sure that your mobile device has CC turned on.

For iOS go to Settings/General/Accessibility/Subtitles & Captioning.

For Android, go to Settings/Accessibility/Hearing Enhancements/Subtitles. Keep in mind the Android you have may differ. If that is the case, then google for information regarding your particular device.

Do not assume that because you have your settings set to CC that it will work in every case, even when CC is available for a particular video.

For example, the video, “Patterns of Light: Spirit of Revelation” provides captioning on my iOS devices but not for my Android. But when I download the video on my iOS device and play the video, the CC is lost.

If you are having trouble with captioning, go to YouTube and see if the video is available. All YouTube videos offer CC. The problem is unless you have YouTube Premium, you cannot download the video, which depending on your location and strength of the wifi could be a problem.

In considering those who are hard-of-hearing or deaf, do the best you can. If you are unable to offer CC, take the time to explain why. Perhaps you can offer them a print-out of the transcript.

Gospel Library

The Gospel Library has the following categories of videos available:

  • Inspirational Messages
  • Bible Videos
  • Old Testament Videos
  • New Testament Videos
  • Book of Mormon videos
  • Doctrine and Covenants Videos
  • Church videos
  • Films
  • TV Ads
  • Holiday Videos
  • Basic Beliefs
  • Introduction to the Church
  • Videos from 2010-2013

Many of these videos can also be found in Gospel Media.

Downloading

Open the video, tap on the large download icon on the screen and the video will quickly download. Tap on the play icon to watch the video.

Viewing

Tap on the play icon.

Gospel Media

iOS and Android

This is a companion to the Gospel Library app and provides full access to the media library on the church website. It contains videos, images, and music, which can be downloaded for an offline presentation.

There are three key advantages to using the app. First, you can organize your downloads into presentations enabling you to put the material in the order you need for a specific lesson.

Second, you can add notes to videos, images, and music in your presentation. Then when you play the presentation on a large screen such as a TV, you will be able to see your notes on your device, while the audience will see the video or image.

Third, you can trim the videos and music. Trimming allows you to decide where you want the video or music to begin and end.

Fourth, an excellent “Search” feature.

Other benefits are sharing individual material and playlists with others, and labeling a specific video, music, or images as a favorite for quick retrieval.

An excellent “User Guide” is available by tapping on the Settings icon in the lower right-hand corner, then tap on “User Guide.”

Be mindful that user guides may not keep up with the app updates. Therefore, something mentioned in the user guide may no longer be available, or not suggest a new function.

Downloading

Tap on the download icon in the upper right-hand corner and the video will quickly download, the download icon is replaced with a trashcan icon.

Viewing

Tap on the play icon.

Using the Media Library Online

Interactive Video

The following is from the church regarding “interactive video.”

“The Media Library now has interactive transcripts available for select videos. Interactive transcripts are displayed below the video source and allow the user to interact with the video in different ways. Each word is clickable, and the user can search for a specific word and navigate to that exact point in the video by clicking the word. As the user watches the video, the transcript highlights each word as it is spoken, allowing the user to follow along with the audio.

Interactive transcripts also allow the user to clip a specific part of the video by selecting that portion of the text. The user can then share that clip with a shortened link or on social media. The shared link includes the entire video but will start and stop playing where clipped. Viewers can watch the whole video from the shortened link.”

Go here for instructions on how to use “interactive Video.”

Mormon Channel App

An Internet 24/7 radio station that provides live broadcast of:

  • Music
  • Talk

According to the Church Magazines, “Mormon Channel, the official Church radio station, was launched in May 2009 at Radio.lds.org1The new station originates from Temple Square in Salt Lake City, Utah, broadcasting new programs created specifically for Mormon Channel as well as content from the Church’s archives and programming from partner organizations such as Deseret Book, Bonneville International, the Deseret News, LDS Business College, and the campuses of Brigham Young University.” Official Church Radio Channel Launches Online by Kimberly Bowen, Church Magazines

The site has:

  • Radio
  • Podcasts
  • Video
  • Kids
  • Daily Quote

The MormonChannel app also adds memes.

Downloading

Tap on the download icon in the upper right-hand corner and the video will quickly download, the download icon is replaced with a trashcan icon.

Viewing

Tap on “Watch.” To see a list of the videos you have downloaded tap on the “Downloads” menu bar at the bottom of the screen.

YouTube

It is illegal to download a YouTube video using a third-party program or interface.

The only legal option is to subscribe to YouTube’s “YouTube Premium” service. The service includes YouTube originals and ad-free YouTube music.

The monthly cost:

  • Single $11.99
  • Family $22.99 (for six members)
  • Student $6.99

Internet

If the video you want to view is not in one of the church apps, then google it. Not all videos will be downloaded.

The following requires you to have a Dropbox account. If you do not have an account go to the Dropbox site and signup for a free account. By the way, everyone should have a Dropbox account; it is convenient in so many different ways. If you are new to Dropbox here is a short overview.

Downloading

  • Find the video you want to download.
  • Tap on the download icon.
  • Tap on the size of the video you want. The video will start playing, tap on the Pause icon.
  • Tap on the share icon
  • In the second row (gray icons) tap on “Save to Dropbox.” If you do not see Dropbox, then slide your finger to the left until Dropbox appears. If you get to the end and do not see Dropbox, then tap on the ellipsis which will open a list of available actions. Find Dropbox and make it available by sliding the on and off icon to the right, then tap on “Done.”
  • Now find “Save to Dropbox” and tap on it.
  • Now the file name will appear. I would suggest you change the name of the file so it will be easier to locate.
  • In the Save Location section, choose the folder where you want to save the file.
  • Tap on Save.

Viewing the Video

  • Now open the Dropbox app.
  • Locate the video and tap on the video.
  • Tap on the share icon.
  • Tap on Save Video.
  • On your device, go to Photos/Videos.
  • Tap on the video, then tap on Play.

Editing the Video

  • Open the Dropbox app.
  • Locate the video and tap on the video.
  • Tap on the share icon.
  • In the top row of icons (colored) find “Copy to iMovie” then tap on it. If the action is not there go to the end and tap on the ellipsis, find the action and make it available by sliding the on and off icon to the right, then tap on “Done.”
  • Now find and tap on the action “Copy to iMovie.
  • The video will now open in iMovie.
  • Complete any editing.
  • Tap on Done.
  • Tap on the title iMovie assigned the video (the title from Dropbox does not carry over) then type the title you want.
  • Now the video can be viewed from iMovie.
  1. Radio.lds.org is now mormonchannel.org

Transferring Twitter and Instagram Posts to Day One

I have had several requests about how to automatically transfer Twitter and Instagram postings to the Day One journal.

It is straightforward. You need to join the free IFTTT (If This Then That) service. You can sign up either through their iOS or Android app or at their website.

You need the Day One journaling app. This is available for iOS and Andriod and Mac. There is a free version and a subscription version. If you are not familiar with Day One, then start with the free version to give it a try. I have talked about this app many times and say again, it is a tremendous app and I use it every day, sometimes more than once a day.

Once you are logged on IFTTT tap on, discover at the bottom of the screen, and then tap on the search icon at the top of the screen.

Search for Day One, then scroll down to find “Save your tweets to Day One.” Tap on “Turn on.” Then scroll down to “Which Journal” and choose which journal you want to save the tweet. If you have the free version, only one journal is available. I have the subscription service and have 11 journals. More on that in a later post. Now tap on “Save.”

Then search for “Instagram to DayOne” and go through the same process as above.

You are done! Your tweets and Instagram posts will start showing up in Day One.

Creating QR Codes

A QR Code is familiar to all of us although not everyone knows its purpose. A QR Code is used to store information such as URL’s, addresses, event information and etc. The code is read by a camera on a smartphone. In the past a special QR reader app was used to access the information in the code.

For iOS 11 and above the feature is built-in to the camera but it is has to be turned on in settings. Go to Settings/Camera/Scan QR Codes and make sure the feature is turned on.

Android phones also have the feature built-in to the camera. There are no individual settings that need to be switched on.

While the feature is baked into the newest devices, you may want to also download a reader because the app can also scan bar codes you find on all products in the stores. In addition, if you have an older apple device that is not compatible with iOS 11 then you also need to download a reader.

QR Codes can be created using the various free websites that are available, for example, qr-code-generator.com or using an app on your smartphone. The apps are easy to use. Type or paste in the information you want to have coded and a code will be generated, then copy and paste the code on your handouts or project it on a screen.

To create a code for my website ,I would enter the URL in the app and would end up with the following.

Now, that we have reviewed what a QR Code is and how to read and generate one, the question for us today is why you would want to create a code? As mentioned in my book you might consider using them in Sacrament programs or the classroom.

I used have used them in Sacrament programs for information of an upcoming event. Sacrament programs have limited space, so instead of using the valuable real estate to provide information about the event I insert a QR Code. QR Codes are saved as photos so it is very easy to insert the photo and reduce it to a size that the will work with the program. QR Codes can be read even when the are extremely small.

Another use for the Codes is in the classroom. Suppose you have a handout with information that fills an 8 1/2 x 11 inch paper and, perhaps also fills the back of the page.

Create a document with eight 1 inch rows. In each row copy the code along with a brief statement what the code is for. Cut the paper into 8 horizontal strips. Make enough strips for the entire class. This will not only save on paper but also ink. Another option, though more expensive, is to copy the code, along with a short statement on a business card stock and hand out the business cards. Office supply stores have a large selection of Avery type ready-cut sheets The cards are less likely to get lost or destroyed on the way home.

Even easier, you can bring up the code on your device and then connect your device to a projector or large flat screen. This would eliminate the use of any paper.

At this point you might be thinking why go through the process of generating a code? Instead upload the document to Dropbox, copy the link to the document and type the link onto strips of papers or project the link on a screen. The answer is simple.

Typing a link or URL address allows for errors. A QR Code is error free and quicker.

There is one problem with using QR Codes, and that is many may not know how to use them, so you will need to show them how. Using interactive technology in the classroom always requires some instruction, but I find people quickly adapt.

The other problem is not everyone may have a device that can read a QR code. For those that do not ,you will need to have a few hard copies of the document with you.

I would be interested in your feedback on this subject.

Have you tried using QR codes in the classroom or on Sacrament programs? If so, what was your experience?

Sharing The LDS Pamphlets

LDS Pamphlets is an app for iOS and Android. It is an excellent resource for teaching gospel principles. It provides simple and clear information about various aspects of the gospel, and it is divided into categories. For example, “Gospel of Jesus Christ,” “Why Do I Need to Be Baptized” and “Faith in Jesus Christ.”

What many people do not know is that you can share a page with others using the share function. The problem is that the share function is hidden.

To see the share function tap on the screen. The screen share icon is different for iOS and Android (see screenshots below).

To share a page tap on the screen, tap on the share icon, then tap on either email or text message. Depending on the device you are using, and the services you subscribe to you will also have other options.

Now type a short message and tap on send.

A Journal Entry Shortcut

I have created an iOS Shortcut which prompts you regarding your experience in studying the scriptures. It will ask if you read, listened to or studied the scriptures, and then a short series of prompts applicable to the choice you made will pop up. Then your responses will be recorded in a Day One journal called “Scripture Study” and will also create an appropriate tag (Read, Listened or Studied).
You can change the name of the journal if you prefer to another journal. With some modification, this can also work with other journaling apps. I apologize to Android users but there is not equivalent shortcut available.
Below is the link to the Shortcut. Remember you need to be using your mobile device for the link to work.
Shortcut