Category Archives: Motherhood

Nokia Storyteller: A Parent’s Best Friend

I saw this preview of what to expect on the new Nokia Camera + Storyteller combo, I’ve been looking forward to getting my hands on the Cyan update.

Nokia Camera + Storyteller Demo

To my delight, the Storyteller app has been updated over the weekend. (I just love waking up to app updates).

Prior to the Windows Phone 8.1 Developer Preview, I was happy that Storyteller allowed me to group and view my photos by date and event. I have an enormous amount of photos and videos on my phone and scrolling through them using the built in photo gallery from Windows Phone 8.0 was a pain. The developer preview at least let me sift through dates which made my use of storyteller close to none since then. That all changed over the weekend as it seems the latest update has now enabled some of the features promised. My favourite being the automatic Story Video feature.

Kids == Tonnes of Photos and Videos

The whole reason I got myself a Lumia 1020 is because it was marketed as the best smartphone camera and having 2 kids, I knew I had a lot of moments that I’d want to capture. I kind of went overboard with the capturing though, i think i now have close to 60+ GB of photos and videos of my kids. This also became my reason to purchase storage on Skydrive, since everything was already backed up over there, i could easily just delete the files that were on my phone.

Nobody is going to have time to look at all that

As tempted as I am to spam my friends’ newsfeed with photos and videos of my kids, I know that’s just going to be impossible so after a day out with them, or with visiting family, I have to spend some time at the end of the day making a photo collage of the highlights of the day and posting that on facebook. When it comes to video content though, I have to review all of them, and select which one i want to post. Again, i don’t want to spam my feed with all the videos. Sometimes though, it’s tough to choose since there’s bound to be more than one activity during the day.

When I really have a hard time choosing, I spend some time with the Movie Maker 8.1 app to make a video collage but it really takes a lot of time.

Since i don’t have any royalty free music, i take the extra step of using the Movie Moments app to add sound and nice titles to my film.

This whole process takes a lot of time, and effort so I end up with a lot of pictures and footage that no one sees.

I Need A Quick Solution!

I’ve been tempted several times to revert to Google & iOS for their solutions, both Native and 3rd Party where there’s pretty much no effort to create really nice, short video collages.

Google’s Auto Awesome

Cameo App on IOS

All my assets are on my phone and on OneDrive so I am pretty much locked in, without an option. At least that’s what i thought.

Enter Storyteller’s Story Video

Like I mentioned, it used to be just a nice way to organize/view your photos. Everything automatically gets grouped by place and date. You can merge/splits stories as well so you’re in full control if it somehow messes up your Stories.

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The Story Video feature basically creates a 30 second video montage of all the media in that “Story”. If you’re not happy with it, you can easily modify the photos that are included in the Story Video but still keep these assets in the same story.

There’s a button to edit the story and you get options to change up the photos and the music.

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Some improvements that would make it even more awesome:

  • Increase the number of soundtracks (i hear they’re working on it)
  • Increase the length of video shares (1 minute to a length of a song perhaps?)
  • Improve the fonts for the photo captions
  • Add more title effects

I’m really excited to see how this app develops.

I’m up!

When you’re working and married with kids (in my case it’s still just A kid for now) it’s easy to lose yourself in the day to day, go on autopilot for the necessary things to do just to get through a week. Any extra time, you spend it resting cause its difficult to keep up with the energy of kids!

Im glad that F and I have done good on making sure we go on date nights at least once a month, though most of the time, we speed through dinner to go home to our cute little munchkin. It’s great to be able to have a chance to focus on each other too.

One more thing I need to get in order is my me time. It’s been difficult for me to get back into a rhythm of doing things. I’ve had to adjust from single to married to pregnant to mother mode in the recent years and I’ve used that as an excuse to not have time for myself and do the things I used to do (blogging, coding, reading, etc). I have had time but its mostly in bursts, so it never had a chance to be part of my routine. You’ll notice the past few days I’ve been active on the blog scene but I have a feeling it won’t be for long, although I do hope I stick to it.

I’ve always enjoyed reading blogs from the past. Whenever I feel nostalgic, I blog hop across the many blogs I’ve owned (note to self, I should email myself the links to all my blogs and back up my self hosted ones). It’s too bad my first ever blog was hosted on geocities, I won’t even get started. After that I’ve had at least 6 different blogs from anonymous, to work related, tech blogs, personal blogs.

When I started blogging, it was more for me to be able to rant and express myself, than to share my what I know or learned. My friend was thinking about blogging to keep herself occupied but then she said, “why would people want to read what I have to say”. She feels the same about other social media, she’s more a lurker than a sharer on Facebook. It made me think about myself, does anyone really need to hear about my feelings or ideas? I guess I probably should have kept a diary or something but I didn’t want to bother with running out of paper or handwriting or losing a file so i blogged online. And then geocities died so I still lost that part of my life but then I started going back and forth between blogspot, WordPress and live journal and a few self hosted ones. I guess the reason I hopped a few times was because there were some blogs I started that was meant for reflection and some that were meant for sharing tips, code, technology etc. and then there were those that were neglected too long that I’d forgotten their credentials.

It was my job at microsoft that got me started on the habit of blogging to share code/new technology. Although I was still kind of blogging for myself ( I have terrible memory and blogging helped me remember how to do stuff, teach myself and teach others too) a huge amount of it was spent thinking about structure, adding images to make it more understandable, step by step guides. When I left that job all of a sudden I found myself not being able to write anything simply because I thought I needed to structure it, or I need to have pictures to illustrate my point, ending up in the idea not being blogged at all. I envy people who are able to do this naturally, but I’m one of those people who’s brain just flies all over the place. I think I started blogging to make sense of myself, and when i started doing it for an audience, I began to hold back more, edit myself more, and it just became too much of a chore. I did try maintaining two separate blogs for personal and stuff meant to be shared but I always ended up neglecting or forgetting one. I’ve also had a “one blog fits all” phase but when I was getting a lot of hits for my tech posts, I was too embarrassed to post personal ones. I think it was also because a lot of my then audience came through my job so I didn’t feel i could express myself as freely. But now that I think about it, just like in real life, you shouldn’t be ashamed about it. If its something you’re comfortable doing, you can talk about anything and everything on your blog. If you’re posting for your personal blog, I don’t think you should consider whether people would want to hear what you have to day say. I think as long as its something you aren’t ashamed to be associated with, then by all means post! If they don’t like what you have to say, they can always move on.

Well that was a rant and a half.

Adventures in Baby Wearing: a mini review of the Boba and JPMBB carriers

I’ve been trying out baby wearing ever since little E was born and I have to say I love it. Not only does it make a good quieting routine for when he gets fussy, its also great for when we i go out on my own and don’t want to lug around a pram. We don’t have a car, so no place to store stuff when going from one place to another.

The first one I tried was the ring sling but the one I got didn’t have great material in a sense that I couldn’t get it snug around little E. Also, although the sling took the weight off your arms, it was all on one shoulder and when I tried it around the house, I could feel I wouldn’t be able to last an hour with it. And that was back when he was still newborn, he has since doubled in weight. I never tried going out with it. Too bad though, the material did feel like it would have been great for Singapore weather. There are a bunch of different brands but I think what turned me off was the pressure it put on one shoulder, so I didn’t even try another brand anymore.

We had the baby bjorn but my husband would use it too so it was a bit cumbersome to keep adjusting and readjusting. That plus the version with back support didn’t really fit my body. They should probably make an Asian petite version.

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I started researching more and found the Boba wrap. It was being sold in one store at Square 2 ( though they do have an online store at http://www.babyslingsandcarriers.com/baby_wrap_carriers ). I went down and got one and immediately tried it out at home. Yes my little man was wailing when I was first trying to put him in but once he was settled, he was quiet and seconds later, asleep. Already I was sold. Walking around the house I actually didn’t feel any pressure on my back or shoulders at all. The only problem was I couldn’t stay in a non air-conditioned room for long, It would get too warm because of the material. It’s like I could feel little E’s face melting on my chest. (a quick fix I found later on was to let him wear a bib and have his face against that whenever he was in the wrap) The absence of pressure on my back was definitely worth it, though. Besides, most of singapore’s malls are all air conditioned full blast anyway. I’ve tried going out with just the wrap and it’s great for the solo flight shopping runs. If I did come home with a back ache, it would be form the diaper bag. I guess with a stroller you wouldn’t have to worry about that. Although with a stroller I’d have to pick him up every time he wakes. With the wrap, he actually hasn’t woken up unless we wake him. It is so comfy that he slept through a diaper blowout (sorry tmi). I wouldn’t use this for long walks outdoors here in SG though, unless maybe it was a “chilly” rainy afternoon/evening. But if the day is going to be filled exploring singapore’s exotic malls then this would be the baby mode of transport for me. It’s quite the challenge to maneuver a pram in a crowded mall. But if I were going out to actually buy stuff, I might bring the pram and still wear the wrap so I can use the pram as a shopping bag carrier and a way to bulldoze my way through a crowd.

Overall I loved the boba wrap, they have a YouTube channel that shows you how to get your baby into the wrap. It’s very simple and straightforward, even as someone who has never tried this type of wrap, I was able to get my baby into it on the first try.

I loved this type of carrier so much that I started to explore other brands too. Baby Slings and Carriers had two other brands the JPMBB (Je Porte Mon Bebe) and Ellaroo, both twice as expensive as the Boba wrap. The lady said Ellaroo wasn’t a stretchy type wrap so I opted for the JPMBB, though it sounds like the Ellaroo wrap would be more climate appropriate. This whole exploration of wraps is actually because of an upcoming trip we have so I don’t mind the denser fabric for now.

More advantages I got from this carrier type in general, ( apart from the obvious having your hands free to do other stuff) Little E always was able to burp when he needed to so he was ok to be put in the wrap just after feeding. He’s been having a bit of reflux lately so putting him in the wrap applies just the right amount of pressure on his belly to help him burp. Whenever he starts fussing in the afternoon, I find that putting him in the wrap (and turning on the air conditioning of course) really calms him down enough for him to sleep.

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Looking at the JPMBB website they had a lot of tutorials that showed different ways you could wear your baby with the wrap. This was because the fabric was especially made for baby wearing purposes and it supposedly allows for stretching horizontally, vertically and even diagonally. It’s amazing how many positions you can out your baby in. Its both an advantage and disadvantage. Having different options is great for baby as he likes the Sideways Vertical Seated as he can see what’s going on around (though he always ends up falling asleep anyway). The down side is that the learning curve is quite steep. If you’re impatient like me, I wanted to try out all the different positions and now I’m all confused which step belongs to which type. It doesn’t help that their tutorial videos seem to be done in slow motion, and there are a lot of annotations, mostly in French. Poor baby has been put in and out so mommy can experiment. It took a while and a lot of viewing of videos over and over to kinda get the hang of it. So far I’ve always ended up with something slightly different.

I find it’s also quite difficult to get the main knot down. The dude in the video makes it look so easy but I still can’t quite get it, mine always ends up either too loose or too tight and I’ve always had to readjust after putting little E in.

One other down side is the weight of the material. The wrap is heavier that most of the sheets we own so maybe that’s also why I have a hard time getting the main knot right. That and the way the material stretches is a factor I think. I actually haven’t gone out with the JPMBB just yet. I’m not confident enough to get baby in and out of it, or tying and relying the wrap just yet. The wrap is much longer too but you’re meant to trim it to your size so it fits more people. I am still unsure of what my size is supposed to be so I haven’t trimmed it yet.

All in all, prefer the Boba wrap at the moment as it feels a lot easier to use but i will be bringing the JPMBB one on the trip as well, maybe I will eventually get the hang of it. Despite all the downsides, having the flexibility of different holds seems worth it.

I will keep on the look out for similar wraps with a more appropriate fabric for this type of climate.