May 14, 2013, 8:00 am
I’ve just wrapped up my first year as a junior faculty member at a new institution. Overall it’s been a wonderful transition, but I have run up against that familiar problem for academics: the encroachment of other duties into research time. Teaching well is essential, of course—as indicated by the many posts here at ProfHacker about the classroom—and every faculty post requires significant service. The time demands of both can creep into any crevice in a faculty member’s schedule, however, pushing research further and further into the ever-receding future. For me, at least, a haphazard approach to research time just didn’t cut it.
A mentor of mine suggested a simple hack to prevent such creep: add dedicated blocks of “research time” on your calendar and treat that time as you would any other appointment or class. If treated seriously, this method preserves valuable blocks of time…
May 3, 2013, 3:00 pm
Today is Commencement at my institution, and so I’ve gathered posts and a video that might fall under the category of “life advice” (considered broadly). Hopefully these will prove engaging for those just graduating and those long graduated who are sending them off.
May 1, 2013, 8:00 am
Despite the endorsement of fellow ProfHackers Ethan (in “Challenging the Presentation Paradigm”) and Anastasia (in “Revising Prezi for Presentations”), I’ve long been a Prezi skeptic. After seeing several Prezis full of wheeling and zooming, I concluded it was merely a gimmick: no better than our national fascination with star wipes and spinning slides in the early days of Powerpoint. I haven’t entirely changed in that opinion. Prezi doesn’t benefit all presentations; it can be simply a gimmicky way to present material that would be perfectly well-served by Powerpoint or Keynote.
Recently, however, a conversation on Twitter with fellow ProfHacker Adeline Koh and ProfHacker guest writer Lisa Rhody convinced me to give Prezi another look. We discussed the kinds of material that is well-served by Prezi’s open canvas format. In particular, Lisa and Adeline argued that Prezi works very…
April 26, 2013, 3:00 pm
We start our semester very early at Northeastern, so I’m writing this on the final day of the regular spring semester. In the spirit of the video clip at the bottom of this post, however, I’m going to keep talking (and thus keep the semester going) for a little while yet, before leaping into that other kind of busyness that defines an academic summer. There’s not really a single cohering theme behind these links; the list is a true potpourri.
April 16, 2013, 3:00 pm
The horrible events in Boston yesterday certainly weren’t the first tragedy of recent years. There have been many since 9/11: Virginia Tech, Aurora, Sandy Hook. And those, of course, are only a sampling. If we expand our view outside the United States, that list only multiplies, and exponentially.
Personally, though, yesterday’s events resonated in a way few others have. I teach at Northeastern University, an easy walk from the site of the Boston Marathon explosions. I know those roads. I knew that some of my students and colleagues were along the route, watching the event. I’m new to Boston, but have already learned much about how the city celebrates Patriots’ Day; it’s a proudly local holiday that celebrates the character of this city. And so I watched the news anxiously. I worried about my students. I worried about my newly adopted city.
In the coming days, teachers will yet…
February 28, 2013, 11:00 am
If you keep up with tech journalism at all, you may have heard about the new Mailbox app for iOS, which has garnered significant buzz lately as a forward-thinking email client for the mobile age. The app’s website promises to help users “put email in its place”: “We redesigned the inbox to make email light, fast, and mobile-friendly. Quickly swipe messages to your archive or trash. Scan an entire conversation at once with chat-like organization. Snooze emails until later with the tap of a button. It’s a whole new inbox.”
I managed to get an invitation to the service last week (which is in very limited beta—more on their waitlist later) and have been using it over the weekend. I wanted to write up my initial impressions, with a more detailed post to come.
There are many things I like very much about Mailbox:
- Mailbox’s UI is truly gorgeous. Mailbox feels like a modern email…
February 14, 2013, 8:00 am
For the past few months I’ve written about my move to a standing desk at work. In October I discussed my reasons for making the switch; in November I wrote about some of the benefits I’d seen since beginning to stand. At the end of nearly four months standing, I can report that it’s become a natural part of my day. My legs don’t often tire — so long as I do include some periods of sitting through the day, as further research on sitting/standing at work seems to indicate one should. I do feel considerably better after a day standing at work than I did after a day sitting.
For today’s post, however, I wanted to talk a bit about the specific desk I’ve been using: the GeekDesk Max. As I noted in my previous posts, GeekDesk generously sent me a review unit to use for this experiment. However, instead of returning the review unit at the end of the review period, I decided to purchase it….
February 5, 2013, 11:00 am
The following is reposted from my personal blog. The post generated lively conversation, on Twitter and in response blogs, and seemed to me likely to do the same in the ProfHacker community, especially given how often we discuss Twitter.
Kathleen Fitzpatrick’s post “If You Can’t Say Anything Nice” post about public shaming on Twitter came at a timely moment for me. Describing the culture of Twitter commentary, she writes:
You get irritated by something — something someone said or didn’t say, something that doesn’t work the way you want it to — you toss off a quick complaint, and you link to the offender so that they see it. You’re in a hurry, you’ve only got so much space, and (if you’re being honest with yourself) you’re hoping that your followers will agree with your complaint, or find it funny, or that it will otherwise catch their attention enough to be RT’d.
I’ve done this,…
December 20, 2012, 11:00 am
Over two years ago I asked ProfHacker readers how they organize and annotate their PDFs. Just a few days ago I realized that I never followed up to discuss PDFpen an App recommended in the comments thread to that post. I was already a big fan of SmileOnMyMac’s TextExpander application, and so was happy to give PDFpen a twirl.
PDFpen is far more robust than Apple’s built-in Preview app, including many features that cost much more in the pro version of Adobe Acrobat. There’s a full list of features on the app’s website, but my three favorites are:
- Annotation. PDFpen allows users to highlight text, insert notes, and draw directly onto PDFs. I particularly use these features to mark up scholarly articles for my research or for class.
- Inserting text and/or images. I use these features to fill out PDF forms, including forms without premade text fields. By inserting new text fields I…
December 11, 2012, 11:00 am
International calling isn’t as expensive as it used to be, particularly with the increasing prominence of VOIP (Voice Over IP) services such as Skype. Nevertheless, it can still be very pricey to use your cell phone abroad, which is why I’ve written about using Google Voice and Facetime to connect with family while abroad.
At the moment it’s not me but my wife who is abroad, and I’m finding that improvements to Apple’s Facetime service have rendered international calling nearly obsolete. Note: I write about Facetime here because we’re a Mac/iOS family, but one could use Skype or Google+ Hangouts to the same effect. So long as you have access to a wifi signal while abroad, you can both see and speak with your family from your computer, phone, tablet, or combination of the three.
Perhaps these are obvious observations, but I’ve been struck during this trip by how easily and often my …