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43Folders.com is Merlin Mann’s website about finding the time and attention to do your best creative work.

How do you get creative with your phonecam?

Your mobile phone camera can be more than a fast way to send your kitty photos to Grandma Pearl. Like a lot of people, I use mine as a ubiquitous capture device, recording ephemeral information and visual documentation wherever and whenever it’s needed.

I’m mostly curious to hear how other folks are using their phonecams (open comments below), but I’ll get the ball rolling with a few ideas, old and new:

    parking hack
  • Remember where you parked - In a parking lot or garage, snap a photo of the section where you’ve parked. If you’re parked on the street in a strange neighborhood, grab a picture of an address, a landmark, or of the signs for the cross street.
  • “Wishlist” items you might want to buy later - If you’re out and about and happen to see a CD, book, or other consumable you might want to pick up later on, snap a photo of the item’s barcode. When you get home you can look the item up on Amazon or Froogle.com and find the best price, or just add it to your canonical online wishlist.
  • Show people where you’ve put things - If you’ve moved the mayonnaise jar with little Tyler’s college money or relocated the good scissors to your work bench, snap a photo and mail it to your housemates.
  • Document your fender bender - If you get hit by another car (and once you’re safely off the road), take a few fast photos of the damage as well as the other driver’s tag and operator’s license.
  • Wen's 1-2-3 Wash & Dry | Window Hours
  • Record the hours of a new store - New dry cleaner or Thai restaurant you want to try? Grab a photo of the hours.
  • Capture inspiring design - See a poster, interior, or typeface you particularly like? Grab a snapshot and use it for later inspiration, research, or as part of a mood board.
  • Hunt for houses and apartments - If you’re looking at potential apartments or a new house, get photos of the kitchen, the bedrooms—even the view from out of some windows.
  • Doublecheck your shopping selection - Can’t remember whether you were supposed to pick up 5 10-penny nails or 10 5-penny nails? Send a photo to the one who sent you on the errand, and have them approve your purchase by return call or IM.
  • Haircut log | 2004-09-30
  • Document your haircut - Snap a few photos of a haircut that turned out well. Get the front, the sides, and the back, and make sure to note the name of the operator. Ask them to describe how to ask for this haircut again, and type it up wherever you’re storing the photo, online or otherwise.
  • Carry your To-do list - If you’re traveling particularly light one day and just have a couple things to remember while you’re out, jot the tasks, phone numbers, or what have you on a sheet of paper, photograph it, and you’re done.

Okay, that’s enough of my yakkin’. You tell me: what’s a cool use for recording or recalling stuff on the go with your phonecam? Appropriate links to Flickr-like sites are encouraged.

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Brad Knowles's picture

I've done many of these...

I've done many of these things. The wishlist idea is a really good one. I've done that many times.

One thing I've also done which wasn't mentioned was to take pictures of myself in various types of glasses, so that I could e-mail them to my wife and she could tell me which ones she liked.

I've also taken pictures of her in various different types of glasses, so that she could see what she looks like -- her eyesight is very bad, and the mirrors at most optometry places don't help. She needs to be wearing her normal glasses in order to see anything, but that makes it hard for her to see what other styles might look like.

I've also taken pictures of various things she's asked me to buy at the store, especially hair care, skin care, or other products she uses that I wouldn't otherwise know from shinola. With a picture of the bottle with me, it's usually a lot easier for me to get exactly what she wanted.

This is a really big issue when you don't speak the local language, so you can't understand most of what's written on the bottle anyway.

I've also used my camphone to document medical problems -- maybe a strange rash, or whatever. Or to show my wife what I wore on a given day, during those times when I was consulting at a customer site and thousands of miles from home.

Or, I find interesting/strange/cool vehicles while I'm out, so I snap a few shots of it and upload them to my blog.

And I'm always taking pictures of the cats.




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