Friday, October 21, 2016

Tablet vs laptop

I recently blogged about my new laptop. It is a 2 in 1. It's a tablet and laptop.
I have wanted a Surface for a while, but I just couldn't justify the price. I also knew I would want to have a keyboard. My son bought him one over a year ago and I played with it, but again knew that it wasn't in my price range.
Now that I have had this 2 in 1 for a few months, I felt it was appropriate to share some thoughts about...
          Tablets vs Laptops

I know there are many articles out there for us to read about the comparison, but this is my thoughts as a miniaturist.
I use my computer to read email. I do more than read, I reply and so I want a real keyboard. The on screen ones are a pain.
I use it to deal with pictures. I use a mouse most of this time.
Browsing the internet - I use both the touch screen and also the mouse. It depends on the website.
Watching video - I want the easel, but I can do without the keyboard.
I do occasionally read books on it.
I do use chatrooms and it is possible to that with an onscreen keyboard, but I find it to be slow and so much prefer my keyboard.

Since this works like a tablet I believe that I can safely tell you that I would not be satisfied with just a tablet. Two years ago I bought a Samsung Galaxy Note 4. I called it a phablet. I said it was my tablet substitute. But not really as tablets are larger. The Note 4 is a large phone but nowadays most are very close to the same size. Two years later I am still very pleased with that purchase.

I do use my 2 in 1 as a flat tablet on occasion, but more often I am using it on an easel fold. The keyboard doesn't separate and I am fine with that. If all I ever did on it was to read or watch video, it might be ok to just have a tablet. But I find that if I doing anything that is active - typing or scrolling, I prefer the mouse. I prefer a keyboard on the lap with the screen at a 90 degree or slightly larger angle.

In conclusion - I am very satisfied with my 2 in 1 touchscreen laptop that allows me to position the screen at many angles including flat. I would not buy a tablet unless I just wanted a dedicated reader.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Flat item storage - rugs for miniatures Update

Keeping with the same idea I had before for rugs and wall hangings for miniatures, I am just repurposing a different solution.
First this is where they were before
The large 8.5x11 size page was sort of floppy when I get a rug out. I felt it would be easier to get to a particular rug with a smaller but same type of solution.
This is a regular three ring binder.

Next this is the solution I am repurposing
It is a case binder meaning the outer edge is enclosed like a box.
All the ribbon and trim were removed and I cut business card size paper to fit.

Next was filling the pockets with the rugs.
To adhere them I used temporary tape. This worked quite well so I stuck with it. The only issue seemed to be when I was working on with certain rugs. Some just didn't stick well, but at least they will stay in a smaller pocket much nicer than the larger sheet.
I am choosing to only use the side of the page that has the openings. It just makes them easier to get to. But if I didn't have enough pages, I would double up on the pockets to use the back side as well. I think I would use two pieces of backing so that I can slide out just the back for front.

I had a just a couple that wouldn't fit in these pockets so I think I will consider buying some other size pockets. A thrift store may have what I am looking for - think photo album for 3x5 or 4x6 photos. Or even a 5x7 would be good.
If I focused on larger miniatures like 1:24 or 1:12 scale - then I would need the larger pockets and the 8.5x11 sheet size would probably just fine.

Ribbon and Trim - update

I did it. I finally made the move to pull the ribbon and trim from the binder in with the baggies. As I mentioned in a prior post just recently I was thinking about doing this. I am really glad I did.
The ribbon and trim was in this binder

It was a great solution - just not cost effective for the volume of ribbon and trim I have collected. The biggest portion of what I have I got at a garage sale of another miniaturist who had passed on.

But I didn't toss out the binder - I will use that later for something else. I already have something in mind.

The photo boxes storage was holding all the baggies including the added in bits, but it was getting really tight.
I decided to go with two photo boxes.

This just gives me space to move the baggies to look at colors.
I already have decided to add more dividers, but since these were cut by me, I haven't gotten around to that part yet. Anything previously combined, I will just turn the card around and write the new label on it.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

New computer and a photo book about miniatures

A fellow miniaturist shared they had gotten a new computer recently and was having trouble with the transition.  It dawned on me that I had also gotten a new computer recently as well and my transition went fairly smoothly. I thought that I would provide and update to various posts related to organizing.

First, let's talk computers 

I got my new laptop as a birthday gift to me. I wanted a new one because I was having issues with one program and Windows 10 on my previous laptop. That program was My Memories Suite 7 (I get no benefit from you trying or purchasing the software), which I had purchased after trying several online programs and also a trial of this software. 
I had discussed with hubby on whether I could just upgrade my laptop by adding memory or something. He did his research and told me that for the cost, I might as well pay more and get a new one instead. Isn't that the way of things (ridiculous)! After doing some research myself, I agreed with him and off we went to looking at availability locally. I have not reached a point where I am willing to buy such online. It also helped me decide that I wanted a touchscreen. I've wanted a Surface Pro for some time, but that was not in my budget. Especially since I knew that I would have to purchase a keyboard.
My solution was a 2 n 1. Tablet and laptop. The cost of being able to separate the screen from the keyboard was out of my price range considering the operating requirements we had decided on. I could have gotten the separate thing for the same price but no upgrade on the other requirements. After using this 2 n 1, I feel that having a tablet and separate keyboard isn't a big benefit I really need. Most of the time I am using the keyboard. Plus the 2 n 1 flips around and I can stand it up.
The size of the storage is 1 TB and way more than I feel I need. But that was not my deciding factor.
I won't go into details about the computer itself as your needs may not be relevant to mine. My point is really that we did our homework for my needs and shopped within our total budget. It was more than I wanted to spend, but getting a new laptop vs just upgrading was the difference in cost that gave me what I really wanted.
I am super pleased with my 2 n 1 and I think it will last me a while. Well, I sure hope it does.

Second, before I transferred - back up

I think it was still this year, we bought a back up drive. It's a WD My Passport Ultra. It has 1 TB of memory, which was more than my prior laptop had at the time. Because of that I partitioned it, which allowed hubby and I to share it. He got more space as he does videos and needed more. Although we still have lots of space right now. I further partitioned my section so I could have one area that was just for auto backup. I use WD's software for that and I was already familiar with this brand as I use it for a work as well. 
I only back up files (pics, vids, music) and not software, so size equal to the laptop hard drive doesn't need to be matched.
I don't like online backup although I do use OneDrive for photos and my OneNote files. The OneNote is so that they sync across devices and OneDrive is just what I selected to use for photos so they are available from my phone to my computer and I have stuck with them.
I am not the best at backing up regularly. I guess I need to set a reminder. But I have done it several times this year. Maybe every 1.5 months or so, which isn't too bad. I do it more when I am busier making files so it works for me.
Before I could transfer to the new laptop, I did a backup of the old one of the files I normally back up.
I want to remind you that it is really important to backup your files. There are many options and I won't get into those. Cost, convenience and availability are factors to consider.

Third, transfer files

OK, I considered a way to do this via wifi, but decided it would just take too long. I did download a program to both laptops but then later decided why not just use the backup drive since I would be using it for backups anyway in the future.
I downloaded the software needed for backups and then did a restore from backup to the new laptop. I am sure there was another way to do this, but it was just how I went about it.
In addition to miniature related files and photos, I have a bunch of family photos and also my scrapbook files and albums.
Because I had changed names with one laptop to the other and I did a restore, the files copied to another user on the new laptop. This wasn't an issue for me as I was able to easily copy them to the right location afterwards. In hindsight, I should have paid more attention to the restore location and that wouldn't have been an issue either.
Now, all my old files are copied to the new laptop and in the same locations. Course I did do some clean up of duplicates and such.

Next, email

Email was really super easy for me.
I had to purchase a new copy of MS Office. I get this through a home use program via work for a great rate. You may can get a similar one if you work for a company - ask about their home use program.
The copy of office was Office 2016 and is the latest. I used 2013 before and 2010 still on the work laptop. So far the differences is small.
In Outlook 2016, I added my three main accounts: personal, mini and junky. I talked about why I have these separate here. 2016 does work a tad different but more in appearance. In the background it is syncing all my folders automatically, which is what I love about IMAP email protocol. 
The only issue I have is not with Outlook but in the way I manage contacts. I don't maintain them in Outlook but in Gmail. I had to go to Gmail, download a copy for importing to Outlook. Then in Outlook I had to import the file. Both of these steps were fairly simple. 
I maintain them in Gmail so I can have them on my phone. I do make sure that my phone syncs to the web. This is super important if your phone ever crashes. I've heard too many people complain about not having their contacts. Pay attention to the settings for accounts so that isn't a problem for you.

Last, my scrapbook software and use for minis

Wait, stay with me even if you are miniaturist
One issue I had with the software was a menu. This menu wasn't showing but I could tell it was actually working just not right. My point that applies to miniaturists is to keep trying and solve your issue. Don't give up it could be as simple as mine was. It was a difference in screen size. The popup menu was apparently designed for a slightly larger screen so it showed blank (all white). Once I resized the popup window the menu items show up. Quirky, right?
It did take me trying to remove and reload the software and some other things before I finally figured it out. It wasn't anything wrong with my files or the software not working. In this software, one of the menu's you use to select the album format appeared white on the screen. Blank it seemed but yet I could click in this seemingly blank area and it would select something. What I figured out was that if I resized the menu, then I could see it like it is supposed to be. It did take me several tries to figure out what was wrong. 

This process is really important. I wasn't doing anything wrong, nor had the program loaded incorrectly, it was just a simple little formatting issue in the software that my smaller screen caused or possibly the ratio of my screen. I kept trying and I ultimately found a solution. If there is nothing else you get from this post, please keep trying. Don't assume it is always something you did wrong. It could be the actual software has some sort of glitch.

Miniaturists - stay with me I still have more to say about this software that relates.

I use this software mostly to make family photo albums. But I recently had printed a photo book that is about miniatures. This book is a flip book that you open one way to view it like a story book. Flip it over and view it like a how to book for the project. The photos are all of my Mother Goose Nursery Rhymes miniature project I madeI'll share about that book in another post.

The software uses files they call elements - we would call printies. These files could be used in miniature. They do not require the software to work. Many are free to be downloaded. These files could be printed for wallpaper or backgrounds.

Do I always need to organize my way? Finally, one issue I had is related to my obsession with working with things in themes and by color. I have had this software since January and since that time I have been downloading the elements to use. Back when I started I didn't like their way of organization, so I was moving them to folders according to how I think of things. This meant the digital paper files were getting sorted by color instead of the designer theme they had. 
BUT - here's the kicker... it was taking me extra time each month when I got new ones to move them around. After doing this for 7 months now, I realized that I was better off just leaving their organization. As much as I hate it, it is livable. It wasn't the time that was already spent each month that bothered me. It was that each month I would have to continue doing this to really keep up. Some months it was getting harder to find time to do it, so they were building up.
When I mentioned above that I was able to copy over my files from one computer to the other, well... I did that initially. But due to another issue - that turns out wasn't an issue. I decided to start over and I downloaded them all again, just so I have their setup and don't have to try to put them back in the folders they had them in. It took a few evenings while watching tv and I was all done.
I could have choose to just use their setup with the new downloads, but I choose to start over instead so everything was according to their system. Had I been further along (a year of files) I might have gone with the half mine system and half theirs.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Ribbon and Trim update

Last year I shared my ribbon and trim storage solutions - you can view that here:
This past month I decided that the big tin of baggies of trim was no longer working for me. The tin held it all fine, but I didn't like having to dig through it. I tried to store the bags in a row, but due to the depth of the tin and the amount of bags I had, that didn't last long at all.

My newest solution is to use a photo box. 
Here's what that looks like now
Not a whole lot different than the tin, but it does have dividers. I made the dividers from black scrapbook paper that I cut to the right size. Then I used a white pen to write on them.

Right now this box is really tight so I believe the next phase will be to split this into two boxes. When I do that I know that part of that will also be to add in other ribbon and trim stored elsewhere. 

Future ribbon and trim thoughts
I have concluded that my 3 ring binder with the plastic pocket pages is a fabulous but  cost-prohibitive solution for me. I do plan to finally move those items into this photo box solution. It only took me two years to finally accept this. I just loved the idea too much to let go of it. But in thinking about blogging about this and also that I will indeed use two photo boxes, I decided that it was more important to have everything together than to keep the pocket pages.

Another trim stash that I am considering the best solution for is my embroidery thread. I have it in a divided plastic box - 2 of them actually. I rarely use it, but it is there when I need it. Now I am debating do I combine it with the bags of other trim. It looks so neat and organized the way it is. It isn't hurting anything by leaving it there. When I need it - it is still easy to access. But... am I ever going to do needlework again? Probably not. With that answer combining it with the other bags makes sense. Plus I could actually weed out some and maybe sell a portion of it. Wonder if it is worth listing on etsy?...

Happy organizing!