Ted and Judy’s Android Adventures: Chapter 9: Square Crops

I’m not talking about oddly-shaped fruits and vegetables here.

I am talking about preparing photos and other pictures for use in many of today’s apps.

I’m not sure where the idea that pictures posted on the Internet needed to be perfect squares – but – as Twitter and Facebook became more popular, so did the square pictures  (Twitter in general, Facebook for the visible part of your profile). Then came phone and tablet apps such as Instagram (which only produces square pictures), and square was cool!

What to do? Digital cameras, in-phones and stand-alone, generally take rectangular photos. One solution is to paste your picture onto a larger square background (there are apps to do this, which I may address in a later chapter). Otherwise, you can get rid of some of the picture by cropping, which is the process via an app of selecting a shape, positioning the shape on top of the picture, then getting rid of everything that does not appear within the shape. For our purposes, we will use a square.

Now it’s time to crop. There are many ways to crop a picture. Every photo-handling app on the PC can do this. Instagram forces you to crop as the first step of preparing a photo for posting. You can also edit and crop from the Gallery and other apps on an Android device.

Let’s get started – here is a screenshot of the original photo I am using as an example, and a shot as I prepare to enter Instagram:

I then went into Instagram – the Crop function occurs first – you can position the cropping square as desired. I didn’t like the size of the crop, so I zoomed in a bit – the shots below show an original crop area and the zoomed crop area:

Screenshot_2015-07-05-15-57-45 Screenshot_2015-07-05-15-58-29

I skipped the other Instagram functions and posted the following:

Screenshot_2015-07-05-15-58-42 Screenshot_2015-07-05-23-38-48

I hope you enjoyed this tour of my crops – I had a lot of fun doing this!


Ted and Judy’s Android Adventures: Chapter 8: Shoot the Screen!

No – I am NOT suggesting that you go Elvis on your computers and other devices, although the temptation is sometimes there.

When using any device, be it a computer, tablet, phone, etc., instances will arise when you want to capture the entire contents of what is currently on the screen, and save it as a picture file. This is generally called a screen shot. The picture can then be emailed, included in other documents, etc.

On both the Galaxy S4 phone and Galaxy Tab4 tablet (and probably on other Android devices of this vintage), you do the following:

  • Navigate to the desired screen
  • Simultaneously press the Home and Power keys (location of these will depend on the device) – a white border will flash, and the device will make an old-fashioned camera click sound
  • The picture will be saved in the Gallery app in the Screenshots album (this can be a bit disconcerting since you need to keep in mind that you are looking at a screenshot and not what is currently appearing on the device itself)
  • Share the resulting pictures as desired – for this example, I put a screenshot in the cloud on OneDrive so that I can copy it to my PC later
  • Give the cloud app some time to sync (it took about five minutes in this example) – upon looking at the file directory, I discovered that the screenshots are saved as PNG files, a very common picture format.

Here is a sample result, from the Twitter app on the phone!

Screenshot example

Ted and Judy’s Android Adventures: Chapter 7: Take One Tablet and Begin the Purple Reign

We finally purchased the tablet – we got a 10.1-inch Samsung Galaxy Tab4, running the Android operating system, just like my phone. In addition, we purchased a purple-magenta (Judy’s choice) Logitech wireless combination keyboard and case. I decided to stay with Android due to the fact that I really like the way Android works on the phone.

The first thing I did was to charge up both the tablet and the keyboard.

The next thing I did was download copies of the manuals for both the tablet and the keyboard. Per the tablet manual, I ran the setup wizard, which took me through a gajillion steps to initialize the tablet and register it with Samsung and Google (Android is a Google product). Then some Android updates were applied. It then asked me if I wanted to load some essential apps, and install the updated Samsung apps – I did both. Last but not least, it recognized (probably via my Google account) that my phone is also Android, and it was kind enough to install many of my phone apps on the tablet – as well as all of my wi-fi connection choices!

Now it was time to set up the keyboard – again, the manual was very helpful. I turned on Bluetooth (the wireless device-to-device mechanism) on the tablet, turned on the keyboard, and Bluetooth found the keyboard. I then chose the keyboard from the available device list and linked it to the tablet via an authorization number. Voila – it works!

One interesting fact – you cannot use the physical keyboard and the Android on-screen keyboard at the same time.  In other words, if you want to use the on-screen keyboard, you must either turn the physical keyboard off, or remove the tablet from the case.

Ted and Judy’s Android Adventures: Chapter 6: Photo Synthesis

In days of yore, you just used your mobile phone for talking. Then came the merger of phones and digital photography, which occurred long before phones became mildly intelligent, nevermind smart. Now we have smartphones and tablets, and very good cameras. The following is an overview of some of the basic functions of the Galaxy S4  cameras (yes, plural):

  • The phone actually has two cameras – the forward-facing 13 megapixel (MP) camera takes regular pictures. The backward-facing 3MP camera is for selfies. How you hold the camera (tall or wide) determines the orientation of the photo rectangle (portrait or landscape, respectively). You tap the Camera app to access both cameras, and when the scene appears, you tap the camera-switch icon at top right to switch between cameras.
  • The cameras have various Modes – click the Mode icon to select. Auto (adjust to conditions) is the default, which you can use most of the time, but you have other modes such as Night, Best Photo, etc.
  • After taking a picture (click the camera icon), the picture is saved to the Gallery – tap the Gallery app to access. The Camera album contains the pictures you’ve taken with either camera. Swipe up and down to go through the list. Click on a picture you want to view or edit, or share with another app (more on this in future chapters). Swipe left or right to again go through the list.
  • To keep from cluttering up the Camera album, delete pictures you don’t like. Select one of the pictures you want to delete to call it up – a thumbnail list of pictures nearby in the album appears at bottom. Tap all the pictures you want to delete (a green check mark should appear in each thumbnail). Click the garbage can at top right – an are-you-sure box will appear. Click OK to delete the pictures.
  • You will find the Timer particularly useful (access via the Menu icon at far bottom left – tap the black area), then tap Settings, then the gear, then Timer. For selfies, this is absolutely essential – it gives you time to prop up the phone, then get into the picture.
  • To zoom in or out (forward-facing camera only), pinch the screen in or out as desired.

This by no means covers everything the camera can do. Some of these features appear in the Camera and Gallery apps, others come with third-party apps you download to your phone (as usual, all apps I feature in this blog are free unless I indicate otherwise).

Six-month Cancer Survivor!

This is my Facebook post on February 20, for those of you who haven’t had a chance to see this post, or are new to this blog, or need to be convinced to get that scan you’ve been putting off!


As you know, I had my CT scan last week, as a followup to the chemo I had as a result of my colon cancer diagnosis last August. I am happy to report that the scan was clear! Although I am a long way from being declared cured, this was excellent news.

I will still be under observation by the oncologists and GI doctors, and will need various tests and scans. This will be to confirm that there is no more cancer, and on the off-chance that some cancer appears, to spot it very early and hopefully get rid of it.

In the meantime, I am now a 6-month cancer survivor! To all of us who are fighting cancer, or are close to those who are, may we all be victorious!

Thank you all again for all of your encouragement, both from those I know in person and from those I know through social media – your thoughts and prayers have been a great inspiration to me.


Writing is a very important part of what I do

A friend suggested that I get involved with a writers group. My first thought was that she was goofy – I do not write for a living, so this would be useless to me. Nobody pays me to write books, articles, newspaper columns, etc. Not in print or online. Then like the sun that came out from behind the clouds after this morning’s snowstorm here in Richmond, the light shone on me – of course I write as part of my professional life! Some examples:

  • The pcLearning4U Newsletter
  • This blog
  • The curricula for the computer classes I teach for Henrico County Adult Education
  • The course outlines I hand out to my students in the above classes
  • My activity on social media

As a result, I joined the Books and Writers group on LinkedIn, and Promocave, a related website (hashtag included because #Promocave is very Twitter-oriented). I’ve found the people I’ve met through these sites to be very interesting, and have received some good advice, even some useful constructive criticism! With over 84,000 members, the LinkedIn group has plenty of people with common interests of mine, and via Promocave, I’ve gained a variety of Twitter followers.

Therefore, if you write as part of your job or business, to paraphrase Jeff Foxworthy, you just may be a writer!

Ted and Judy’s Android Adventures: Chapter 5: The Rise of the Cloud, and OneDrive

You may have heard of something called “the cloud”. You’ve also probably figured out by now that the cloud generally refers to anywhere on the Internet (a.k.a in cyberspace) where you can store your information, and the apps that allow access to this information. I will be discussing Microsoft’s OneDrive system – similar systems are available from Google, Apple, etc.

OneDrive simulates having an additional disk drive on your PC, but your data is actually kept on the cloud. Microsoft gives you 15 gigabytes of free storage, and you can pay for more if desired.  OneDrive can be accessed via the Windows File Explorer or OneDrive app on your PC, or the OneDrive app on your smartphone – as usual, I will relate this to Android. The OneDrive apps look almost identical on the PC (Windows 8) and the phone.

OneDrive does not care about file type – any file type that can be saved to your computer can be saved to OneDrive. This is useful for keeping your most important files offsite. Nobody requires use of the cloud, however – you always have the option of copying your files to removable media such as a flash drive or DVD, and saving these items in a secure place such as a safe deposit box.

When using OneDrive in Windows File Explorer, you copy and paste to a folder called OneDrive, with the usual subfolder and file lists. Once in a while, you may have to Sync (makes sure files actually get copied to the cloud – can take a couple of hours if doing for first time with a lot of files) – OneDrive system will let you know if all files are up to date.

The Android OneDrive app is great – aside from the usual file functions, if your file happens to be a picture, you can share it to Facebook, Instagram, etc.

Again, the beauty in all this is that OneDrive allows Windows and Android to access the same files!