A Beautiful Mess App Review

IMG_6897-e1368574043444After months of waiting patiently, ‘A Beautiful Mess App’ has finally been released on Google Play/Android. Released back in May, on iTunes, it has been a long wait for followers of this blog to get their hands on a non-Apple version of the app. Was it worth the wait?

As a lover of Instagram and ‘A Beautiful Mess’ Blog, I have waited alongside many others to get my hands on this app, purchasing it the day it came out. The blog itself is know for its quirkiness and vintage style, and it appears the app has been created in the same way.

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So what’s good about it?The answer is a lot. You can take any of your photos, using them as a collage or individually, and then add a range of decorations and comments onto them. It takes the Polaroid aspect of instagram and adds a scrapbook feel to the images- providing hand drawn doodles by the creators it gives pictures a personal touch.

Once you’ve chosen your doodle, background, border, you can then change the colour of said decor and make it as small or large as you like. Then it gives you the opportunity to share your picture via instagram, Facebook or Twitter. Creativity and social media combined, what could be better?

6a00d8358081ff69e201901c2572f0970b-800wiAny disadvantages?

Not really. Unlike instagram it does cost a little, but 69p is an easy price to pay for such a lovely app. If I could change anything then it would be to provide a larger range of decoration and colours to use, but this is nothing major.

Also perhaps the link to Facebook could be to a photo album rather than as a status, but this is such a small thing and easily avoidable with instagram.

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Photos edited using A Beautiful Mess App

Below is an image I have created using Instagram and ‘A Beautiful Mess App’

I have used the collage effect, writing and doodle decor. All done in white to create a better contrast with the photograph.

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E-Books in Africa

_71429598_worldreaderimage2The BBC recently reported on Africa’s switch into the Digital Publishing era through their possible use of e-books. Publishers have long been frustrated at the lack of literary culture in Africa, but have found their hope renewed with smartphones and tablets on the up rise.

Since the year 2000 Africa’s online activity has increased by 3,606% meaning that 160 million people are now connected to the internet

It’s often difficult to print books in Africa due to a lot of unreliable services but having a digital outlet means that this is no longer a problem. Cassava Republic’s Jeremy Weate said “We don’t have to worry about printing, warehousing, distribution or engaging in fruitless marathons across the continent for payments that will never come”

With charities giving children and schools access to iPads and e-readers, it means that e-books are far more accessible to them than paper and hardbacks. It gives the people of Africa the opportunity to read anything they want rather than relying on the few books that they can obtain.

‘Statistics depicting Worldreader’s efforts too are commendable, having delivered more than 70,000 ebooks among 13,000 children in nine countries in the African continent.’

‘Digital Publishing is a win-win-win’ Amanda Barbara, Pubslush

Pubslush gives authors everywhere the opportunity to be published digitally which is a real revolution in Africa, allowing an equal chance to anyone wanting to write. This is definitely a positive in the list of things to consider.

Kids and Barca1However there are some criticisms, with a lot of people believing that ‘cultural imperialism‘ is at work. Is the Western world forcing this technology onto those who live better without it? Of course we are led to believe that reading more is a gift and that everyone should embrace it, but we have to question whether it will diminish the African culture already existing.

Dr L.N. Ikpaahindi discusses the prospects and challenges of Digital Publishing in West Africa here

Bring Storytime Back

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Harper Collins Executive Chief, Charlie Redmayne has told publishers to ‘take storytelling back from digital rivals.‘ On Thursday he’ll be at a conference talking about how publishers have allowed the digital industry to take over their role of storytelling.

He believes that they can ‘take their space back‘ by making products more available in other medias, such as gaming and apps. One of the most creative industries in the world have faltered after their developments into e-books, they believe that this is far enough into the digital revolution. Are they right? Will publishers survive the oncoming era? I believe that books will always live on but there will be a point in which the companies will suffer from the move into technological story telling. They need to be available to everyone through many different means, providing outlets for not just readers but gamers and those less comfortable in bookshops.

One of the first things Redmayne said when he started at H.C. was ‘I am a book person and I am passionate about books’ but ‘If you haven’t got great books, it doesn’t matter how good you are in digital or marketing, you have nothing’

Jennifer Rankin, writer for the Guardian, has written more on the subject here.

Another good article discussing this statement

Is it Farewell to our Beloved Paperback?

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Because of my love of books I had always been adamant that I would never succumb to the technological revolution that is the e-book, but after being given a Kindle last Christmas I found my resolve wavering. Throughout the day I examined my new toy and despite myself I was excited by what I found. As a fan of the classics I was pleased to discover that most of them came free, and I immediately found myself downloading several that caught my eye including ‘Les Miserables‘, ‘Northanger Abbey‘, and ‘A Tale of Two Cities‘. The more I looked the more I came to realise the Kindle isn’t the horror to literature as I thought. As a student I find it difficult to afford all the books I want to read but here was a cheaper way to expand my novel collection. Not too long afterwards I was downloading ‘The Perks of Being a Wallflower‘ and more recently Veronica Roth‘s ‘Divergent‘ series. I find that it works well as a tester, if I fall in love with the story it will be then that I purchase the real book.

I can now also see how this technology can benefit the public, it makes people excited to read again; everyone wants to be up to date with latest gadgets and having this available makes it fashionable to have your nose stuck in a book. The possibilities of this revolution are endless.

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However just because I now know that there are benefits to the e-book doesn’t mean I’m a full convert. One of the joys of reading comes from purchasing a beautifully bound story where you can feel the roughness of the paper in your fingertips; the warm, musty, smell is such a pleasure to anyone who loves the written word. It is for this reason that I believe we will not be saying goodbye to the paperback any time soon. There is too much love for the literal book that it won’t be allowed to be lost to computers. It will forever be left to the public to save it.

Is Amazon Destroying our Writers?

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Until recently I have loved using the Amazon site, having it as my go to destination for new books and other products. Its low prices are enticing for anyone, and as a student I have found its convenience unparalleled. However recently, after listening to a lecture on the dynamic company, I have come to realise that it is not as great as we have all been led to believe. For the consumer it works wonders, giving such a wide choice of books, with different prices for varying qualities and cheap, if not free delivery. It also provides synopses and reviews so you can read up before you purchase.

So what’s the harm? To a lot of people there is none, but for writers, Amazon is helping destroy many careers. Because they are an international company they are easily able to send their books all over the globe, as well as providing online via Kindles, doing this takes away each territorial right. Usually a writer would get paid for each country their book is released in but this has now been revoked due this scheme. As an aspiring author this is not good news for me or anyone else in my situation. It means that unless your novel is a raging success, it would be very difficult to have a career through it. So though it may be easier to get published (as an e-book) the royalties are lost.

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Since learning the lack of income writers get from this system I have made an effort to buy more of my books from stores instead, usually Waterstones but when possible I get them from independent stores. Unfortunately Amazon is still my main provider, due to cost and convenience, and it worries me that this will continue to be the way in the future.

We have to start to wonder whether our good writers will suffer and survive through the ‘Amazon Revolution’.

One ‘pro’ of Amazon is their imagination and communication with the public, it can be very enticing

iPads on the Uprise

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With the development of technology in the world it is often found that society struggles to keep up with ongoing releases of the latest gadgets.

Recently I attended a debate on the use of iPads in schools, where they discussed the pros and cons of such technology being used by children and teenagers. After filling the schools of Thailand it didn’t take long for Apple to reach out to our own institutes. Over the past year they have changed their market from university students to the ones in secondary schools, providing many with their very own iPad.ipad in education 2

Education is one of this country’s primary units in a child’s development but our beloved teachers appear to be being replaced by this new phenomenon.

There appear to be a lot of benefits for this new craze, including making it manageable for children to learn at their own pace. It gives the option for the members of a class to make their own way through a curriculum and provides different apps to aid their progress. It also provides anonymity when asking questions as they can be sent straight to the teacher’s own device, and then they can address the situation. This takes out the humiliation of not knowing an answer and could decrease bullying.

However on the other side of the argument, it could increase cyber bullying, and having the internet at a child’s fingertips could have dangerous consequences. With it already on the up rise it could allow the anonymity to amplify victimisation.

Computers already play a large part of childhood today, with most people having at least one in the family home; owning an iPad would only add to the amount of time spent in front of the screen. We end up having to ask ourselves; is this really what we want our children to inherit?

There are even sites to help teachers with getting to grips with the technology and how best to take advantage of it.