Creative

E-Journaling

Getting to the end of summer, I’ve been scrambling trying to figure the best way to commemorate all my great memories from the past few months. An increase in pictures and videos taken on my phone recently caused me to get a warning that I was almost out of memory… on a 32GB iPhone. That’s a lot of media (about 2,500 files, to be exact). The point is I like capturing memories and emotions, which I often do through photography. However, I also keep a journal that I write in about once a week. Writing is sometimes the best way to get out your emotions, to capture what you feel onto a page. Every time I read what I have written, I remember exactly how I felt, and often where/when I wrote it. However, in the light of the digital era, and being a millennial, I decided to give e-journaling a go. I downloaded a few apps to my phone/computer to see if I could get any to stick. So far, only one has really stuck around long enough, but maybe one or some of these other suggestions will get you hooked!

Nathalia’s list of e-journaling apps and services:

  1. OneNote: Microsoft’s OneNote, part of the Office Suite, has been a longtime friend of mine for taking notes in school. It’s supposed to be like an electronic notebook, with tabs and sections for various topics. You can insert photos, make lists, and even draw in the virtual notebooks if you have a tablet pen. If you have a lot to write, and want to use your computer (although they do have a mobile version), then OneNote may be a great choice for your journaling needs. My only issue with it for a hardcore journaling app is that it’s almost too much functionality and power for capturing my light thoughts on most days.
  2. Momento: Momento is an iPhone app ($1.99) that pulls in content from your social media sites each day, allowing you to capture a snapshot of what your day was like based on news articles, friends’ tweets, or momentous Facebook occasions. You can also add your own snippets to recount your day as you personally experienced it. Great for those who want to have a lot of content in their journals without doing most of the writing themselves.
  3. Day One: An iPhone/Mac app ($1.99/$9.99) that brings beauty and simplicity to daily journaling. Day One records your location and weather each day, but has the most beautiful interface to make writing relaxing. Day One also supports keywords/tagging, which lets you search for posts easily. Calendar views and the ability to import photos are two strong features the app also has. If you want to sync your journal across multiple devices (including Apple Watch!), this may be the suite to go with.
  4. Grid: My favorite app that I’ve tried. Grid is an iPhone app that has a grid of questions for you to answer each day. It’s a great way to get in the habit of reflecting on certain questions each day to sort of build your own journal. Sample questions include: What did I get done today? What are three good things about today? What did I learn today? Did I spend enough time with my family? And so forth. There are a variety of prompts in different categories, or you can write your own. Each day can be seen in a timeline as well as swiped through left to right. There is also a pro version available without ads.

So those are my tried and tested e-journaling apps. I’ve stuck with Grid for a while because I love the prompts that I can quickly answer and reflect on before going to bed. If I don’t have anything major to write out in my hardcopy journal, Grid is a great way for me to keep track of my days, with moments big and small. Do you have any favorite e-journaling apps? Share in the comments below!

The Little Details: Icons and Fonts

When you’re thinking about the design of your website (or any other creative project, really), it can be easy to overlook the little details that make your site unique. Design choices about the font you write in, the colors on your page or even the icons that you display in various places all say something about your brand, your company. They are littered all over your website, responsible for sending subliminal messages to your users and customers. So it’s important to get these details right, even if you think that they won’t make a difference!

If you don’t consider yourself a creative person, have no fear – there are plenty of places to seek inspiration and resources when designing your website (or when working with a professional graphic designer). While there are some hard and fast rules about design elements, such as typography (http://typophile.com/files/typography_rules.pdf), most of the time if you have a general idea of what you want your page to look like, finding well designed pieces will make it pretty easy to come out with a polished final product. One of my top resource/inspiration hubs is actually Pinterest. If you scroll through the design or technology categories, there are tons of pins and related links that will point you to well-designed websites and beautiful resources (many of which are free!).

In terms of specific resources for fonts, icons, and more, here’s my top list for where to find them:

Fonts

Fontsquirrel.com and Dafont.com are great places for free, high quality fonts. They have categories ranging in simple sans serif fonts to exotic or handwritten styles. For less variety but more professional fonts, Google Fonts has a wide selection of nice looking fonts that will go with any standard website.

Icons

My favorite place to look for icons is probably The Noun Project. They offer many high quality icons for an array of categories/topics. I’m talking about the kinds of icons that you might even discover on your next smartphone. They’re always adding images to the site, so it’s a nice place to check back every one in a while to see what’s new.

Color Scheme

For color scheme inspiration, I absolutely adore design-seeds.com. They have many color palette ideas based off of different images that will make you want to redesign your whole site! If you prefer hand matching colors yourself, Adobe Color (www.color.adobe.com/create/color-wheel) is a fantastic way to work with colors that you or your graphic designer will likely use in Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator.

So go get inspired.  And feel free to share your own favorite websites that spark your creativity.

Hackathons (or really focused creative sessions)

Two weeks ago, I went to a hackathon being put on at my school. I went with three of my close girl friends with the intention of having fun and making a viable project at the end of our 36 hour allotted time. But before I get too deep, you’re probably wondering what a hackathon is, and why in the world I’m telling you about it. I’ll answer the first part now, and the second part at the end.

A hackathon is an event where, for a dedicated period of time (usually 1-3 days), people from different aspects of creating software (or hardware) come together to try and make a viable product. Hackathons can have themes or restrictions on what types of content they want people to work towards. They can be just for fun, educational or competitive. The goal is just to get together with a group of people and create a technical project that you can all be proud of at the end of the hackathon. For the hackathon I went to, over 500 students from across the nation participated. Tons of mentors, free swag and food were present throughout the 36 hours. I and my friends didn’t sleep much, but we had a ton of fun.

Let me outline the process of what happened during this hackathon. I promise there’s a point to it 🙂 The hackathon started at 10pm at night on a Friday. We registered, got lanyards and listened to an opening ceremony and keynote. The atmosphere at once was very welcoming; hackers of all levels were invited to have fun and learn. There were prizes being offered too, but that wasn’t the main draw as to why I was there. Around 11:30pm, my group went into one of the main hacking buildings, got some caffeine, and began to discuss project ideas. We knew we wanted to work on a project that dealt with a relevant social issue. Many, many topics were tossed around. Homelessness, gender-specific issues, social movements and more were hotly debated. It was hard choosing a topic because we felt that in developing a piece of software or an app, we were limiting the potential to what our user base would be, which was not the base we wanted to reach with our project. We stayed up until 3:30 or 4am and then went to sleep. The next morning, around 8:30, we continued to brainstorm. Eventually, we settled on an outpatient monitoring system for doctors and patients, using a web platform and an iPhone app. Since I’ve had some web development experience this quarter, one other friend on my team and I buddied up to create the website portal for doctors to monitor their patients.

After getting some brunch, we worked on our hack until 4am Sunday morning. There were moments of frustration, of not understanding why the code didn’t work. Exhaustion from the night before definitely had an effect on my debugging ability (I took a nap at one point), and even with two or four sets of eyes, we often didn’t understand why things just didn’t work the way we wanted them to. Our other two team members started learning iPhone programming at 10pm Saturday night, and worked through Sunday morning to get a mock version of our app to show the general public at the expo on Sunday. And yet those crazy hours of not understanding, of rewriting code and then jumping up when the program finally worked made the weekend well worth it. At the end of the hackathon, we had a proof of our concept, and showed off our site and app to judges and venture capitalists.

So cool. I built a thing with some friends. If you’ve never programmed or even heard of a hackathon, how does this relate to you? A sleep deprived weekend typing on your computer isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. But take a look at it this way. For a long, dedicated amount of time, I worked on a project with a group of friends that made me really happy, and we accomplished something that none of us could have done alone (or at least not in the time span of the weekend). We started from nothing and came out with a nice looking project we could show off. So. When was the last time you spent a focused amount of time on a creative project, either alone or with friends? Did you finish the project? Was it something you made from scratch? I believe there is a huge, huge benefit to making things on your own or with others. Creativity is one of those things in life that you can’t force, but with the right environment and mindset, it can come in with a brilliant force. And what’s even better is that it often grows from other thoughts or opinions, which friends can provide. Pretty soon you’ll have a whole garden of creative ideas growing in your mind.

And so my challenge to you is this: pick a weekend where you’ll dedicate a fair amount of time to a hobby or project you want to work on. Start something from scratch or pick up a project you already started. Work alone or with friends. Listen to good music, eat delicious food, do some yoga or whatever you need to get you through the weekend. It’ll be a transformative process, and you will thank yourself later for it. By pushing yourself, you will learn and grow in your abilities. You might even surprise yourself with what you can accomplish when you have an open mind and a project goal for yourself. If you can find the time, dedication and effort to just do it, I guarantee you’ll be rewarded.