A Little More Nokia Icon

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I recently got a chance to go to Seattle as part of a Champions Summit and it was fabulous! One of the things we got to do was have a little photography class! As many of you may know… Photography is not a natural (or existing) talent of mine. So I am always looking for tips.

I got to learn about the Nokia Pro app and how to use the tools that are built into the Nokia camera.

A couple things you don’t even really have to do anything for:
1)Turn off the flash.
2)Tell your camera what you want to take a picture of by tapping on your screen. Then give the camera a second and let it focus.
3)You can also slide to zoom and then tap to let it focus.
4)Always take your pictures with your camera turned wide ways.

Using the tools:
1)Pull your finger from right to left to reveal a dial with different circles. Play with them! All the pictures up top were taken with different options and zooms on that wheel! It can make a huge difference.
2)White balance has a huge effect. It can turn your pictures warmer or cooler. It can make your picture seem to have had more light.
3)You can also edit on your phone! The benefit of that is…. you will retain the image size! So crop in and it will save it for you but as a new image so you will also retain your original. (My favorite thing).

Those are the go to points that I came home with from the Windows Champions Summit’s photography session. What are your favorite tips?

Remember, just because Microsoft took me to Seattle all the thoughts and opinions are still mine!

Nokia Icon Camera


I am not known for good pictures. I’m just not. But I like to try;). And when I received the Nokia Lumia Icon I was very excited to see how much better it could make my pictures! I mean, this has about 5 mp more than my point and shoot camera! Of course I took the standard selfies and pictures of my kids but I thought the pictures from the car wash were note worthy! And these haven’t been altered at all!

I absolutely love how the camera caught the water streaking across the windshield.


This 2nd one was taken from the driver’s seat and is out the passenger window. No zoom or anything. I love how it still grabbed the drips and the light behind the twirling brush.


This is what effect the zoom has! I was surprised to see that the colors became more vibrant. Zooms on other phones and cameras seem to close in on an object but not really bring out a whole lot more detail but with the Icon 20 mp camera seems to find detail that I really didn’t even see with my bare eyes.

The zoom was super easy to control with just a finger slide! So it means that it is great in a real life situation that doesn’t allow you to stage a picture;).

I am going to sound old here but have some patience;). I can not believe that my phone has phenomenal camera!!! Not only do I remember the days before digital photography, I also remember the first digital cameras and just how bad they were.

I have been so impressed with the Nokia Lumia Icon and its camera. It isn’t just the 20 mp but also the Zeiss lenses and all the software build ins that maximize this fabulous hardware. So in addition to the actual smart phone being great, the camera just makes this a fabulous phone!

(I am a Verizon Ambassador and a Windows Champion. While I did receive the phone to write about, all opinions and thoughts are mine alone!)


A Quick Look at the Lenovo Yoga

As a member of the Windows Champions group I received a Lenovo Yoga to use this year. I am absolutely loving it! As with machine, there are a couple quirks but on the whole it is fabulous!

It is a convertible model that has a touch screen and can be used as a tablet. I think that makes it the perfect travel machine or even primary machine for students(or anyone that isn’t looking to do a lot of heavy processing).

I have already traveled with the machine and use it just about every evening. I highly recommend the Lenovo Yoga!

(Yes, I am writing about this because it was given to me but all thoughts are mine.)

First Glance at the Nokia Lumia Icon


I recently received a Nokia Lumia Icon to review and this was the first picture I took with it! The Icon brags a 20 megapixel camera so I couldn’t wait to try it. So when I saw this dandelion when I was getting the mail I had to try it out!

I am loving this phone over all! It is my first go on a Windows phone in a couple of years. They have come a long way! It runs faster and the apps are better! There are still some holes (like Hootsuite & Cozi) but over all they have just about everything I need now! Even Instagram!

This is a phone that is to rival the S4 and the iPhone and so far it is!!! I have been very impressed and am looking forward to diving in further!

(While this is a piece full of my own opinions, I was given the phone from Verizon. I am a Verizon Ambassador and a Windows Champions. But that doesn’t change my opinions just my subjects!

The New OneDrive is Launched


Microsoft has rebranded their great SkyDrive service as OneDrive and has just launched it!

SkyDrive was already a great cloud storage solution that was accessible from all your devices. It seems with this rebranding they kept everything we love. There are a few new features that have been announced with it that sound fabulous!

1) You can now back up your camera roll on all the mobile apps (iOs and Android, finally)
2) If you back up your camera roll with it you will receive an additional 3GB of storage for free!
3) Optical Character Recognition: So if you take a picture of something with words in it and later search for it with that word, OneDrive will find it!
4) You can display your videos and pictures as slide shows on the Xbox One.
5) And last but definitely not least, Co-authoring! So you can literally work on a document with someone else at the same time and it will save all the changes in real time!

I already loved SkyDrive and it seems as if OneDrive can do even more! So go grab your account where you will get 7GB of memory to begin with. Then add your camera roll and you will start with a total of 10GB!!!

(Disclosure: I am a #WindowsChampion so I do things with Microsoft but this post is my opinions and mine alone! There is also a referral link to help me get a little more cloud storage space;)

Windows Store Gift Card Giveaway and Holiday Promotion

WinGiftCard_2LangAlt1_25_frnt_thumb_67633751Tis the season for tech! And in that vein Microsoft is making it easier to enjoy our new tech! With every purchase of a touch PC or tablet with Windows 8 or 8.1 (from a participating retailer) you can get a free $25  Windows Store gift card! You can get all the details here!

The Windows Store Gift Cards are a fabulous gifts in and of themselves! There are so many fabulous apps! You can get great Xbox arcade games, photo tools, video editors, and a ton of other great apps for under $5 each!

One of the benefits of being a member of the Windows Champions program means that I occasionally get opportunities to bring your guys some giveaways to celebrate great promotions like this one! So how would you like to win a $25 Windows Store gift card here?

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Photo Editing App for Touch: Fhotoroom


Touch screens and tablets are all the rage right now but I admit, I am old school. I typically use a keyboard and mouse not only to blog but even to play games. But being a geek, I am always looking for some great touch apps that will let me be productive! So I was stoked when I finally found a great photo editing app that for the Windows 8 touch environment!

It is called Fhotoroom and there is a pro and free app. I have only tried their Live Tile Windows app and it has way more capabilities than I can use;). But what I have done in it has been super easy and the results have been great!

Just pull up a picture and go at it. I have used it primarily for cropping and some color saturating and I couldn’t have found it any easier to use! (I use PicMonkey for everything!) I just grabbed the element in the picture that I wanted to crop into, did a little pinch and zoom and done!

I know it sounds crazy simple but I love it!!! I am finally taking time to play with pictures I have had forever!!! Maybe I will scan in and edit my wedding pictures… They are all snapshots (I regret not hiring a photo;) but that is another story for another post.

(Disclosure: I am a Microsoft Windows Champion and did find out about the app from them but the words, opinions and experiences are mine. Like anyone could force me to say anything;)


Windows 8 Isn’t Just for Touchscreens!


Let me say that once more. Windows 8 isn’t just for touchscreens!!!

I am getting tired of hearing various people saying that Windows 8 really isn’t only for touchscreens. I see it on Twitter, podcasts that I watch and various posts and it just isn’t true. Windows 8 is a full operating system and while it is extra cool on a touchscreen (and what isn’t?), it doesn’t need a touchscreen to fully utilize it. But I am not going to just tell you that you are wrong;).

I have a couple of resources to help you acclimate to the Windows 8 environment smoothly! And while I do have been given a Windows 8 machine with a touchscreen, we bought a Toshiba Windows 8 laptop that doesn’t have a touchscreen and is wonderful!

So of course you can mouse around Windows 8 but keyboard shortcuts still exist! I have heard that all the mousing around is annoying and it shows us how much Windows 8 was designed for a touchscreen. Well, not only have I found all my basic text manipulation keyboard controls work but there are ones to specifically use charms menu and a 1 key to search command. You can hop between applications with they keyboard. You can even zoom in and out without having to touch and pinch!

Just to make life a little easier Microsoft has an entire Youtube playlist just dealing with keyboard and mouse tips.

If the fear that you wouldn’t get around without a touchscreen is what is keeping you from Windows 8, well don’t let it! And no one else tell me that Windows 8 is only for touchscreens, ok?

(I am a Windows Champion, which means I get access to some Windows & Microsoft technology. But all opinions are mine and mine alone!)

Is Google aiming for Evernote or OneNote?

Googlelogo Last week we were all shocked to hear of the impending death of Google Reader, well at least I was;). It seems that the people who are going to be missing Google Reader the most are the power user and we know that Google doesn’t want to lose them so what is the deal? Many of us thought that possibly Google was trying to drive power users more into Google+ but I find it hard to bookmark or save things there.

Then this week…. Google announced Google Keep! This is probably something they should have announced before announcing the closure of Reader;).  It looks like OneNote to me but all I initially heard was that Google is trying to inch into Evernote’s territory. I don’t agree.

OneNotelogoI think that Google is trying to shore up their position against all the new Microsoft stuff. And no, I am not just saying this because I am a Windows Champion;). Not only is there now the new, more mobile Windows 8 but there is a complete complimentary set of apps that goes with. With SkyDrive, the new Office 365, Outlook mail and OneNote you don’t have to really go outside the Microsoft family.  This was previously a market that I think Google had command of but all the products weren’t quite as robust (limited abilities in the Google word processing, spreadsheets, etc).


So I don’t think that Google was aiming for Evernote really at all. But I think with announcing the killing of Reader has really messed with the power users’ view of Google. Do I really want to get invested and set up something else with them? They may just discontinue it. Lets be honest. Those of us who use Reader use it a lot! I am reticent to set up something as filing system with a new product. They may not get the traffic and just delete it….

So who the fight is between? Google and Microsoft? Google and Evernote? All 3? Who do you think is going to win in the end?


(I am a Windows Champion but all opinions are mine and mine alone.)

A Glimpse at the Microsoft Surface RT

Yes, I let out a little squee as I opened this box!

Yes, I let out a little squee as I opened this box!

I know that I am not the only geek that had been waiting for the Surface tablet to come out. I love my Windows 8 phone so you can imagine my excitement as I opened the box from Microsoft!!! As a Windows Champion I was blessed to receive the opportunity to review the Surface!

Ok, this is totally girly but it is so sleek and purdy! It is ready to go right out of the box. Just log in with your Microsoft Live account and you are ready to start downloading apps. It was very easy to hook my email, Facebook and Twitter accounts together and immediately start up my main tile that is all about me! The live tiles are easy to size and arrange to make my experience exactly what I wanted. I just went to the store, picked out my apps, then sized them and moved them where I wanted. Seriously, it took that much effort.

It is a tablet and really just a tablet. At least until there are more apps available in the Windows App Store for power users. The fact that it came with a click in keyboard meant it was a usable tablet but the battery is somewhat limited. I found the RT environment very confining because I was thinking of it more of it as an ultra book;). Until things like WordPress and Hootsuite are really built into Windows 8, I can’t use it as a travel work machine.

For normal people, I think this will work for most! It is a beautiful display that would be great for watching movies on a variety of apps that are available. The Windows 8 environment handles personal email, Twitter and Facebook wonderfully. With the new Office 365 (which I didn’t get until after I was done using the Surface) paired with all the other apps available there isn’t much you can’t do if you aren’t a power user!

So have you tried out the Surface yet? What did you think? Are you a power user with many specific apps you need or do you think this would be a good fit? Let me know! I am very curious about what you all think!!