The word, my Brother, is....

Posted by Ed King on Thursday, December 17, 2009 in , , , , ,
When I first got my iPhone, I was thrilled by the ability to have a dictation unit in my pocket, in addition to everything else. Many times I'd tried to use small units to capture my thoughts while driving or right after meetings but the tapes usually remained un-transcribed and gathering dust in a desk drawer.

Like a lot of others, I'd also tried using the venerable Dragon Dictate software to assist in getting things done. It didn't understand all the names and Masonic titles I'd throw at it and because I use a mail program other than Outlook, it wouldn't work for that. (Thank you, U.S. Navy, for at least having taught me how to type!) So on I went.

Quite recently, I saw that Dragon had just released an iPhone app and my curiosity was aroused. It, installing gently, caused me.... (Am I lapsing into ritual again? Sheesh!) Anyway, what was even better? The price. FREE!!! And, by golly, it WORKS! (There's one small typo in the pics. The last word should be "it".) Now lots of other folks, including Huffington Post (Look, I'm only mentioning it so don't get all politically upset if it's not your cup of tea....) have commented on the pros and cons of this and initially there were some concerns about privacy but here's one of the great things about your iPhone and its apps: if you don't like something, just delete it. It's not like your PC where the ghosts of an uninstalled program will haunt you forever. It's GONE and you move on.

However, if you get hooked on this system, there are lots of ways to make it even better. The SkillCasting site has an interesting video if you're interested.

For the active Mason it's really great to be able to sit for a moment in the car after a meeting and make a few dictated notes about things you need to remember. Try it. You might really like it.

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But we TRIED, King Solomon....

Posted by Ed King on Tuesday, December 01, 2009 in , , ,

"Yes, yes. But you didn't succeed. Now get your butts back out there and get the job done - or else!" You know the scene, right? There's the whining, the excuses, and the sure knowledge that you really could have done better if only…. If only you had the right equipment. Don't blame the workman: blame the tool, for crying out loud.

Excuses come easily sometimes - particularly for me and photography. If ONLY I had a better camera - or a better lens - or a better flash - or more time - or…. Got the picture? (Pun intentional!) We've all been raised - newer generations quite differently, of course - on 'capturing the moment' in a picture. If you're the perpetual procrastinator, though, you might want to have a second look at that iPhone you have in your pocket (or will have soon, right?).

I've been seeing a particular phrase a LOT lately: "The best camera is the one you have with you." It's true: there really isn't a single excuse to NOT snap a picture when someone gets a 40th year membership pin or just when there's a group of guys sitting around enjoying themselves (except, of course, during ritual etc.). The scythe of time may appear unexpectedly and those photos you've taken could become a family's treasured memory of a loved one at a time when he was truly enjoying himself. The result may not be perfect (you'll notice some blurring because of the movement in the example caused by the shaking hands of the photographer who needs a bit more practice) but it's certainly far better than nothing!

That iPhone could really become a blessing to your lodge: your Webmaster will love you for it and you'll soon find that everyone will want to examine your handiwork. If you want to really get raves, pick up a color photo printer like this one I have which can print CDs also ($85 at Amazon) and you'll soon be producing priceless memories they'll cherish for years.

Honestly, when I make prints of photos taken at Masonic events, I get 'thank you's for weeks, months, and even years after. You will be the recipient's hero - even if that's not your motivation.

OK. So get inspired. Take a look at Chase Jarvis' website The Best Camera and try not to be impressed by some of the photos rolling by: I'll bet you can't. Grab his book and then go out and contribute to the memories everyone will enjoy. Nearly every Masonic webmaster will tell you that a photo album on the lodge's site is the section most visited so you can help increase your lodge's fraternal spirit by just grabbing your iPhone and snapping when the time is right.

Oh, and then when that guy in the big chair up front asks what you've accomplished, you'll be able to tell him with authority, "I've created some lasting memories for our Lodge!"

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