August 12, 2010, 8:00 am
In the last fifteen years, the number of computer-based devices that I use regularly has grown precipitously. Things were once pretty simple: I started grad school with a laptop (a PowerBook 160, if that doesn’t date me too much) and ended it with a desktop computer, and most data transfers were handled via floppy disk.
But when I got my first post-grad school job, and got my first college-provided computer to go with it, things began to get a little more complex: I had to decide what data I wanted on the home machine and what on the office machine. Things that resided in both places were (mostly) kept synchronized via Zip disk or the occasional email message.
And then the PDA joined the scene, and suddenly there was this other category of data that I found myself keeping in sync: contacts and calendars. The process was pretty simple—put the Palm in its cradle and press the sync…
August 5, 2010, 3:00 pm
I travel a lot. Between a mostly long-distance partner, a major collaboration housed on the opposite coast, and a (perhaps too) active circuit of talks and conferences, I feel like I’m on the road more often than not.
Generally speaking, I have pretty good travel skills: I pack light and leave early; I know how to avoid the lines that can be avoided, and how to avoid sweating the ones that can’t be; I’m productive in airports and on planes; I’ve built up enough miles and other travel benefits to make the whole experience less painful than it might be otherwise.
But sometimes, the travel gods just rise up against you. Connections get missed; flights get cancelled; luggage gets lost. Such are the insults and indignities of contemporary travel. And as any number of self-help gurus would be happy to tell us, we can’t control what happens to us —but we can control how we respond to it.
July 20, 2010, 11:00 am
Several years back, I more or less stopped making photocopies. In part, my ability to stop adding to the pile of dead tree flakes in my office came about when I moved my class communications online; instead of handing out syllabi or other handouts, I put electronic versions of those documents on our class website.
But the most important factor in my all-but-copy-free workstyle was my department’s lease of a new copier with a powerful high-speed scanner and a network connection. Now, instead of photocopying that chapter I need to read, I scan it and have the machine automatically send it to my email address.
Which is fantastic, of course; now I have those pages that I need to annotate in a highly portable digital format. The only problem is that the PDFs that our copier makes are actually pictures of the pages, rather than text-containing documents. As a result, not only are the…
July 13, 2010, 11:00 am
I find myself a bit more fuzzy-headed than usual, as I sit down to write this, having just returned to the United States from a four-day trip to London for the Digital Humanities 2010 conference, where a few hundred folks working on and in humanities computing gathered for their annual conference.
I say “their” rather than “our” because I still feel like a bit of a latecomer, having only attended my first DH conference last year. Scholars representing a very wide set of fields, technologies, and methodologies were presenting, however, and those scholars represented a wide range of countries, institutions, and positions—the tenured and tenure-track, the #alt-ac, grad students, extra-academic professionals, and more besides.
This breadth indicates the big tent” that the digital humanities can be, a nexus of fields within which scholars use computing technologies to investigate the kinds…
July 6, 2010, 11:00 am
I take notes. A lot of notes. I take notes when I read, when I’m in meetings, when I’m listening to lectures, when I’m figuring out what I need to do any given day. In fact, if I ever tell you that I’m going to do something, but you don’t see me make myself a note about it, don’t believe me.
Notes are the key to remembering, for me. Or, more precisely: the act of taking notes is the key to remembering. Something about the act of taking notes helps make an idea, or an issue, or a plan more real to me.
I used to take these notes longhand, in various notebooks, some devoted to particular projects, some to more general notetaking. Several years back, though, I began shifting my notetaking to the computer, so that those notes would be more easily searchable and repurposeable.
Originally, I used Word for this purpose, but after one MS Office upgrade too many, requiring that all of my …
June 29, 2010, 11:00 am
I’ve used an external hosting provider for several web-based projects since 2002. Having my own shared server space has vastly reduced the red tape that would be involved if I were attempting to host these projects within my institution’s network, and it’s given me a great deal of control over how my web projects operate. Julie’s written about the ins and outs of choosing and working with a hosting provider, noting the flexibility that such services can provide.
That’s the up side. There are down sides as well, most of which surface if you’ve selected a less-than-optimal provider. The good news is, however, that there are always other hosting fish in the internet sea, and you can move if the need presents itself.
Such a need presented itself to me at extremely short notice: back in spring 2004, the hosting provider I’d worked with for the previous two years informed me that they…
June 22, 2010, 11:08 am
As Jason has already pointed out, we write a lot about backing things up here—and with good reason: data loss can be devastating, not just to your work but to your general peace of mind. And most of us do a pretty good job of ensuring that our local files are backed up (and many of us are careful to ensure that these backups are redundant and off-site).
But as our work lives move increasingly into the cloud, we need to ensure that those files are backed up as well. Natalie has discussed the importance of having a backup strategy for your cloud-based files, including your Gmail account, your Flickr photos, and your Google Docs—but what about your blog?
Whether you’re blogging through a hosted service or using software you install on a shared server, you should think about how your blog posts are being preserved. Given the promises that hosting services make about keeping your data…
June 8, 2010, 8:00 am
Hello. My name is Kathleen, and I’m an early adopter.
I picked up my iPad from my campus bookstore on the morning it arrived. I’m pretty sure I was the first person to do so, in part because I’d beaten the delivery truck on my first trip to the store that morning, and in part because, when I came back after breakfast, the staff were just getting started unpacking the demo models.
Anyhow, I’ve lived and traveled and worked and played with the iPad for a little over two months now, and while I’m still completely head over heels for it, I’ve got a few ideas about how to make it better.
First, the obligatory fangirl gushing: I love having a device that provides such a flexible multi-channel personal media consumption environment. I read a lot on the iPad, in a range of book and document reading applications (including, as Jason described last week, the fantastic iAnnotate…