Review: Best iPad Apps by Peter Meyers

the following is a Guest Post by EBSQ Artist (and iPad fanatic) Robin Cruz McGee

Best iPad Apps from O'Reilly MediaI read once that mining diamonds becomes profitable when the yield reaches one or two carats a ton. Imagine yourself as a diamond prospector breaking rocks by hand to find those two carats of precious gems among all that ore. Can’t? Neither can I. April of 2010 Apple unleashed a revolution when it introduced the iPad.  It also unleashed a monumental problem. The iPhone had already established the paradigm different from the desktop computer of managing tasks by having them handled by small, narrowly focused applications, suited to the small footprint of the iPhone screen. Apple carried over the idea to the iPad, having proved the viability of the approach.
The weak link is the app store.
As an early adopter of the iPad, I spent hours looking through the apps to find ones that would make my time more productive. I found a few gems and many that were useless, much like mining diamonds by hand. I have seen the style of the app store change a few times since then as Apple tries to manage the flood, over 65,000 at last count. Featured, staff picks, genius, all good attempts and probably the best ways they have as far as a store goes but sorting through 65,000 apps? As good as those recommendations are, it still boils down to a lot of trial and error and many hours sifting through all the raw material to get to the good stuff. Not that it wasn’t fun but many of us have better things to do. Customer reviews don’t always tell the whole story and genius matches are often inscrutable. How do you get Pandora from Mathboard? Fortunately, “Best IPad Apps” by Peter Meyers and published by O’Reilly Media, comes to the rescue. 225 pages of sparkly beauty divided into easily understood and succinct categories laid out in a deliciously polished fashion, this guide is the true killer app of apps. Please give me back all the hours I spent tracking down half of these! Starting with an index of 2 1/2 pages (talk about distilled!) the guide follows up with color coded chapters making it easy to beeline for for the category you need. Each best app has a quick review, maybe some handy tips and a screen or two to give you a taste of the wonder you will find. there are even honorable mentions with possible contenders for the title. Need an app for outlining? Got you covered, Outliner. General image editing? Photogene the one. One man band? Music Studio sounds about right. Best game for killing pigs with birds? Ok, that one doesn’t need a guide but you get the picture. The only thing I can think to say is OMG!Actually, there is something else to say. If your getting an iPad or already have one, if your going to have anything to do with an iPad, you need this guide. Your time is valuable. Someone did the work for you. Take advantage of it.

You can check out more about this title, including various buying options, at O’Reilly Media.


Guest Post: Handcrafted vs Mass-Produced

The following is a guest post by EBSQ Artist & Jewelry designerJulianne Carson

Why should you buy hand-created jewelry online instead of shopping at a department store or national chain jewelery stores where you are able to touch, examine, and try on the jewelry? I think you will pleasantly surprised at the unique jewelry designs and consistent high quality you’ll find, not to mention better pricing.

Handcrafted vs. Mass-Produced

The majority of jewelry you’ll find at your local department stores have been mass-produced, whereas the jewelry you’ll find from an online jewelry designer is more often than not, handcrafted. While some people don’t appreciate the quality and value of a unique handmade piece of jewelry, others appreciate the time and artwork that goes into the piece. There are many reasons to buy handcrafted jewelry versus mass-produced jewelry. The main reason being that when a jewelry product is mass-produced, the biggest concern for the manufacturer is their bottom line. How much money will each piece cost them and how low can they get their costs? This could mean the compromise of quality materials and assembly, which means you need to ask yourself if the metal is sterling silver or nickel, or, are the pearls on this necklace real? However, when a designer is constructing their jewelry designs by hand, they have complete control over each piece, its quality and materials, and each piece is approved by the designer because it was crafted by their own hands. When I create jewelry, I only use quality materials and inspect every element thoroughly before shipping the finished pieces to my clients.

Does buying more expensive handcrafted jewelry online mean greater savings?

When you buy from an online jewelry designer you are paying for the jewelry and for a very small percentage of their overhead costs. An online jewelry designer such as myself doesn’t have nearly as much overhead as your local department store.
Keep in mind that jewelry designers such as myself have to pay for their website store front, advertising fees and materials to make their jewelry. Most of my friends who are jewelry designers as well, work from their home, so they are using their home utilities and they don’t have to pay for studio space. When you look at working from your own home vs. store front space, the difference in rent is huge.

Local department stores that sell jewelry have to pay rent for their location, which is usually their most expensive overhead cost, plus  salaries for their employers, advertising costs, licensing fees, utilities, wholesale merchandise, and the list goes on. In addition to these overhead costs, the merchandise itself is shipped and passed through many hands before it reaches the retailer. The manufacturer has sold their merchandise to a wholesaler, who then sells the merchandise to the retailer, who then displays the merchandise to sell to you, the customer. In many cases, the prices are more than doubled at each stage, starting from the manufacturer.

As for your savings, it just makes sense to support local jewelry artists and people who offer hand-made goods. When you buy your jewelry from an online jewelry designer, you know that you are getting a customized, high quality piece of jewelry. You will find that materials and assembly aren’t compromised, and the amount of money you are paying for your jewelry is much closer to the actual cost of making the jewelry. Yes, your online jewelry designer is making a profit because it is their business. However, they aren’t selling their jewelry to anyone before it reaches you. You might be paying more for handcrafted jewelry, but you are paying for quality work direct from the creator instead of price inflation, your local department store’s rent, and subsidizing advertising costs on an ad you probably never even saw. Additionally, when you buy direct from the creator, you are guaranteed a truly unique piece of jewelry that will serve as a keepsake for years to come.

When you buy from a small online jewelry business you are going to receive the personal attention you deserve as a customer. Your contact is usually directly from the designer when you place an order. I love that when you deal with a small business you aren’t treated like a number in a huge array of orders. Unlike a large business or department store, a small online business offers great customer service, which will result in a higher customer satisfaction. When you are buying unique handmade jewelry that will serve as a one-of-a-kind accessory for your jewelry collection, you want the personal attention that a small business can give you. In addition, you will probably find out about the designer’s background, or exactly how each piece of jewelry was made, which adds character and greater personal value to your purchase. Custom orders are a common service through online jewelry retailers.

There isn’t a better place to buy unique handmade jewelry than directly from the jewelry designer. You will find the quality and value you are looking for in addition to a truly unique piece of jewelry for your collection.

When we take a look at the recession, I think that a lot of us have had to watch spending and do more with less, myself included. I have to watch how I spend that hard-earned money and I understand the importance of “good” deals.
I could run to a department store and get a couple of things versus purchasing one handmade or local item. When I think about it, are the department store goodies as special and unique as that local handmade treasure? For me, the answer is an absolute NO. I want that one special item. I also want to know that I am making a difference to the person I am buying the item from.
I totally support buying local, handmade items because I want to make a change, not just for myself, but for my fellow artisans who are devoting their time to making beautiful works of art to support their families. I have heard every reason why many people still go for the quick, cheap, and mass-produced stuff that is most commonly manufactured in other countries. As we saw in some children’s jewelry produced in China last year with compromised materials, it can even be lethal! On a personal note, mass-produced work is simply not the right choice for me or my family.
My hope is that I can get a message out to my friends, and they in turn pass the message on that supporting local artisans selling handmade items can slowly, but definitely make a world of difference in our economy. It could also help change spending habits.

Would it really make a difference? YES! Please support original artists and artisans selling handmade this holiday season.

EBSQ Artist Julianne Carson of Hippie Chic Jewelz has been creating handmade jewelry from her studio in Texas since 1995.

Call for children’s illustrators

the following is a guest post by children’s author Edward Trayer

Anybody out there fancy illustrating a new children’s book?

My name is Edward Trayer and I‘m a children’s book author living in London. I’m the author of a number of popular novels including The Gospel According to Felicity Brady and A Wishing Shelf Tale.

Presently, I’m writing a novel called The Gullfoss Legends. The story follows a girl living in Iceland called Sigri who walks all the way to Reykjavik to persuade the then Danish king to stop the evil English building a dam on her beloved waterfall, Gullfoss.

I’m looking for an artist who might be interested in drawing 15 illustrations for the book (one for each of the 15 chapters) The drawings can be quite simple, the book being aimed at 8 to 10 year olds and must be in black and white.

So, what’s in it for you? Well, here’s the deal. I just completed a mammoth 80 school book tour in London publicising my books and talking to over 20,000 students. I will be following this up with a 160 school book tour to publicise The Gullfoss Legends and I will ensure your drawings and your name form an integral part of the workshops I do in the schools. Secondly, you get paid! Yes, it’s true. Not a lot, but you do. Basically, 1 percent of the gross profit (profit prior to tax). The book will be selling for 12.95 British pounds, approx. gross profit on each book will be 8 pounds and you will get 1 percent of that on a yearly basis so long as your illustrations remain in the book.

Still interested? Then, send me an email to by Sunday 8th August (this Sunday) and tell me a bit about yourself and your work. I will then send you CHAPTER ONE of the book. You will then have until Friday 13th August to illustrate the chapter, scan it and send it to me (1 drawing only). All of the drawings sent in will then be looked at by me and my editor and a winner chosen. The winner will then be sent a contract plus the remaining 14 chapters to illustrate (1 drawing for each). Now, this is the important bit. You will have only until Sunday 5th September to complete all the drawings, so if this is too tight a schedule for you, please don’t enter. But remember, the drawings can be rather simple and no colour is needed.

If you wish to find out a bit more about my work, I suggest you Google me. Also, take a look at my website On there is a picture of the initial draft of the dustjacket for The Gullfoss Legends.

Good luck!

Edward H Trayer