Make your Day with Memes

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Memes. I have had a love hate relationship with them from day one. Hated the loud, badass, vulgar and stupid ones that are very American in culture. Memes are often created with pop culture icons from Hollywood, using stolen pictures from the Internet.

On the flip side, the Memes also gave birth to the Insta-Text, where words and pictures mix together in a seemingly fertile jelly of self expression. These memes are then posted on Instagram, the Polaroid snapshot of today — emblazoned with words of wisdom and cliched quotes. There is nothing risque about them, something which we all seem to associate with the memes of today.

Memematics on your Mobile

This is actually a spin-off topic while researching for my other blog, techmystique hosted on WordPress. It was a study on how people could generate content and in the process create content that was worth passing around.

Having assessed the apps on both the Appstore and Playstore, I have listed down some of the stuff you an get online that works out for both iOS and Android. There are basically two types of photo editing apps, one type is for beautifying your photos by allowing you edit and add filters to change the exposure while another type works by adding layered text onto the image.

Memes are created using the latter, and to make it more user friendly, these apps are built with a variety of graphics and font add-ons.

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Rhonna Design and Over

My personal fav has to be Rhonna Design App, which of course is only available on iOS and recently on Android. On the iPhone, it’s a pain when are born with big fingers. For this, the Hobbit wins hands down. Stabbing at the small screen is a tough task, much tougher than trying to destroy the Ring by tossing it into a Mordor volcano.

screen568x568Rhonna creates beautiful design motifs that is included in the app but there are extra font packs and graphics available via a in-app purchase method. The Android version is just catching up and has yet to allow full screen editing.

Each font/graphic pack can be purchased separately from Rhonna’s in-app purchase feature and these are priced at US$0.99 a pop. Good to go once you have the graphic pack or font of your choice. The downside of Rhonna’s app is that it is not free. Nor is there a free version for you to play with before buying it.

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Over app on the other hand uses similar Jedi mind tricks to get you to buy their graphics and font packs but at least they allow you to edit and save your stuff in a rectangular format. Over still has much refining to do as it’s quite limited in terms of choices.

Both Over and Rhonna Design apps allow you to download your own font, OTF or TFF types only, to your iDevice but you need to upload them to Dropbox or Box storage and open them within the app when prompted to do so. Android users probably have it easier by using iFont app but using it within the app is still a bit of a mystery for now. Over is currently only available on iOS.

Overly, PicLab & InsPhoto for Android

To be fair, Rhonna Design’s App is probably the best on offer for mobile but it does not support importing of graphics from custom sources; for this you need Photofy.

Photofy, available to both Android and iOS is the closest thing so far to being able to give you beautiful graphics and buying the unlock version allows you to import up to 24 custom designs of your own creation. The downside of Photofy is that it crops to a square format and is very rigid in its approach to adding elements on screen. For Android users, you probably need to use Rhonna Design and Photofy at the same time to create something really unique with a corporate logo.

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Photofy is a good app, but there just “so-so” when it comes to features and capability. There are loads of free content like mottos, quotes and cute text options. The sheer number of optional insta-text is what makes it super unique and the best choice for those with a wild imagination. Photofy is promising a new revised cropping tool for the app in future updates.

The editing options are less than satisfying. For one, you can’t add more than two elements and there is no avenue to import third party fonts for use within the app.

For corporate use,  Photofy is the best choice. Companies who use Instagram will find the freedom to import their own logos most useful. On the other hand, I don’t like the one line text caption that you are allowed to use for any of your images, furthermore, there is no way to skip the customary requirement for a graphic image added to your photo in the first instance.

In its own way, the app is pretty rigid in its approach. PicLab, which is also found on the Android platform doesn’t quite cut it as all it does is add text over your image.

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There are a few others that do exactly what PicLab does, so I won’t mention them here as they are not game changers. InsPhoto is similar in that respect. You can add text and enhance the image with a variety of settings but you can’t add graphic layers to it.

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Overly, which is still in Beta is not a clone of the Over app on iOS. I won’t add anything here on Overly as it has yet to make a proper debut and even if you take it for a spin, you’d get the idea that the app still needs a fair amount of work to be really useful.

Photo App Conclusions

Not all photo apps are made the same. There are so many free ones these days that we often cloud our home screens with them. Bear in mind that many are not suitable for meme making. Those with more complex editing options have a much steeper learning curve but you’ll get use to it soon enough. These apps work by adding layer upon layer of graphics over your original photo, decorating it before finally flattening the image as a JPG. Not many apps can do that but such editing options adds to the complexity. Therein lies the attraction, it becomes a blank canvas where your creativity is set free to make a simple picture more attractive. So prepare to amaze your friends with those one of a kind Memes from yours truly.

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Why the Galaxy Note 3 is good value for Money

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Dollar for dollar, the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 is far better value for money than the iPhone 5S anytime and you don’t have to look far to know why. For the longest time, I have had sleepless nights thinking that maybe I should get back into Apple’s ecosystem after having invested so much money on apps. But the truth is, this is changing. The apps you have on the old Apple iOS 6 is a different breed than that of iOS 7. Developers have seized this new opportunity to develop new apps for iOS7 and want you to pay (again) for the same app you paid for iOS 6.

Upgrading seems insanely infantile. Just coz you want a new OS, you have to rebuy some of the old apps you had previously—all for a spiffy new iOS7 look.  What’s more, Apple forgot to mention that the 64 bit architecture isn’t going to speed up your iPhone one bit thanks to the limited amount of RAM you’re saddled with.

Hardware versus Hardware

Apple fanboys will take a blood oath and swear upon their mother’s grave that the hardware on the new iPhone 5S is the best value for money. Phoeey to you. Dollar for dollar you get more screen real estate from a Galaxy Note 3 than on the iPhone 5S. The two are priced within the same ballpark, with the Galaxy Note 3 getting cheaper as it matures.

Apple’s new camera sensor is suppose to take better Panoramas and low light pictures but that doesn’t mean you are going to hunt vampires in the night. What about the wide open vistas you are hoping to take? I do agree that the variable exposure settings is a pain on the old iOS6 and is much better on iOS 7, but how often do you shoot wide angle panoramas?

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Let’s not forget the Stylus. Sure, Steve Jobs wanted you to point with your finger and he had vehemently denied the usefulness of a pen or stylus. He could be right, I never saw anyone pick his nose or any bodily orifices  with a stylus or pen. But when it comes to drawing and taking notes, writing is indeed faster than an onscreen keyboard.

RAM is an issue with lesser Android devices but it is not so for the iPhone? You now why? Apple’s iPhone could never do multiscreen multitasking! It has always been a poor performer on multi tasking but it gives you the impression it could be a multi tasking beast as long as you have your music being played while you surf the net.

What about the radio? Apple’s iTunes radio service isn’t free as advertised. You have a data plan? Good. Watch that run out within a few days if you stream your music everyday over LTE or 3G. The Galaxy Note 3 has a Free-to-Air radio feature to get RF local stations won’t cost you a dime to use it, only battery juice. The only way you can get such a free radio service on your iPhone is to strap a transistor radio to it.

Need more room for storage? Ok, well ante up to the new iPhone 5S with 64GB of space. On the Galaxy Note 3, you could just pop in a microSD card with 128GB written on it and it will work. You want more storage on the iPhone 5S? Go get another iPhone.

What about video? The iPhone 5S is the top of the range device that supports 1080p video. The Galaxy Note 3’s top of the range model supports 4K video. Of course it won’t mean much to you if you have a puny 1080p TV, but wait till you get your hands on a 4K TV. Apple thinks it is a bad idea to future proof your device with 4K video capture so you have to wait for the iPhone 6 to enjoy this.

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Finally, iPhone’s retina display isn’t a big deal anymore. In fact, it is so old school that in it has become almost geriatric. Let’s not talk PPI. It puts the iPhone to shame. A long time ago, Apple’s retina display could boast of having the highest pixel density of 326ppi. Today, there are over a dozen models that can beat that score.

Innovation please…?

Buoyant by initial demand for the iPhone 5S, Apple fan boys will line up to be one of the first to own it. But sadly, even Wall Street knows that it isn’t worth the hype it was created on. Dollar for dollar you are paying so much for so much less in terms of hardware and features that you have to be blind in one eye to see any value in such an investment.

My scathing remark has to do with value and nothing else. I love Apple products. I still carry an iPod 5G for good measure. I wish Apple tried harder to win me over but they don’t see the value in doing such things. All they want is your money. Innovation is a forgotten inducement. My fear is that Apple becomes another Blackberry. Too late to innovate and too stubborn to listen. That’s what brought it down.

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As much as the credit goes to Jony Ive for the new iOS 7 update, that isn’t going to save the iPhone ecosphere— especially with a design borrowed from Android. Take a look at the Shade feature and you’d know what I mean. Parallax image background themes are old school Android themes made new again on iOS. That said, Jony has done nothing to change the way iOS operates. It just gave it a face lift and called it new. Neither Tim or Jony wants to be risky with innovation it could cost them a ton in stock options. They have so much more to lose. That said, innovation is dead at Apple.

Custom Themer for Android

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My ColorScreen is a launcher developer that is about to release a really cool beta app that promises to change your home screen.  Now most of you know that there is one thing that sets Android apart from iOS device is that the former has loads of customisation options. There is always one popping out of the Google Play store that garners legion of followers only to be flatten by less than stellar performance on any Android device.

Themer from My ColorScreen is seems pretty slick but then again, this is just a intro video to their launcher. The candy colored theme is probably a bit too sweet for many of you.

Not too long ago, one particular theme launcher that debut on Kickstarter was asking for a 30K of funding and got double that. But since its launch, the theme has been panned by users and critics for being bug infested and laggy.

The Chameleon theme looks fabulous. You can’t deny it. It has a touch of sophistication which unfortunately did not materialise in the final product.

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Chameleon Launcher for Android

And to add insult to injury, the problems still persist even now though I suspect not all of the problems are entirely their fault.

Where’s my RAM Dude?!

Not too long ago, we all had only 1GB of RAM on our devices. This is the storage area used by the device’s CPU and works more like a “warehouse” than a storage room. Apps that needed to work move in and out of this warehouse, and those you leave on your device to run operations like launchers and persistent apps reside here. Each time an app is launched, it is moved into RAM to do its work.

Persistent apps such as those like IM and apps that have push notifications require a fair bit of space in this warehouse to serve you. They work in the background so you won’t see them much until they receive a work order to generate a notification to display. You can view how they occupy RAM by going to settings>applications>running apps.

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One of the problems with limited RAM is that you really don’t have much room to move about once you have manufacturer type bloatware home screen TouchWiz and Sense UI. When you install a custom theme launcher, it squeezes the resident home screen launcher into the background. This means even more RAM is used up. The only way to remedy this is to go for a total removal of resident bloatware home screen launchers but this means you have to root and flash your device with custom ROM. These often work better and faster but at the expense of app compatibility. Some Google play apps may not work once you root your phone.

I have installed several popular launchers on my 1GB RAM devices and all of them behave like they had too many rounds at the buffet table. It’s just not happening. Custom launchers just do not have the sort of room to move about even when you have loads of internal storage (as opposed to RAM). What’s more, there are launchers are very resource intensive, those which checks for regular updates and new notifications are prime suspects. These have custom widgets that give you social media updates, galleries of your flickr photos, animated backgrounds or news feeds make it worst. It is this sort of stuff that will eventually kill your appetite for launchers.

Solution is just over the Horizon

More RAM, that’s one remedy, with a faster processor. That’s provided that the bloatware on your device has not been increased, or would you want to increase them with all sorts of social media feeds and IM apps like KakaoTalk, Line, Viber, Skype and Whatsapp.

The new generation devices have up to 3GB of RAM and with quad core processor to boot, running custom launchers would be smoother.

iOS doesn’t have this problem even with limited RAM as they don’t have custom screens. The concept behind the no nonsense UI is that you can get to any app you want from home screen. Android launchers on the other hand are supposed to decorate your home screen and give access to information you deem as important, hence the time, notification updates, calendar and newsfeed widgets. The new iOS 7 look does not address the issue of launchers so they are in a different league.

There is no right or wrong to this approach. It is just that Android home screens are built differently and with newer devices with loads more RAM, custom launchers will be the way forward for people who want a tad more personalization than what you find on iOS.