Category Archives: Hardware

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Why You Should Label Your Stuff

I’m a believer in the power of the simple solution: from carabiners for my keys to rubber bands around my dry erase markers to a multitool on my keyring to velcro ties around everything to a holster for my smartphone. I’m always looking for simple, relatively inexpensive solutions to everyday problems.

If you’re like me, you probably sometimes forget to pack up some of your essential teaching tools when you leave the room after teaching a class. I have gone through I-don’t-know-how-many project…

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Making Made Easier with 123D Apps

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I am lucky in that in our unit, we have our very own maker space, complete with a 3D printer, laser cutter, and a variety of Arduino chips (as well as K’nex and other physical making materials). We’re also really lucky to have our colleague Derek Eggers in charge of the space, along with working on maker pedagogy more broadly. He and I are collaborating to find ways to make making more accessible for so called non-traditional disciplines, such as the humanities.

One way we are developing is cre…

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Defend Against Disruption and Distraction

squawk bird

Many professionals today struggle to handle interruptions that can pull you away from focused work. Interruptions come in lots of different forms, such as notifications of email or text messages, phone calls, someone knocking on your office door, or your own stream of thoughts.

In a recent episode of the Productivityist podcast, Mike Vardy talks about the distinction he makes between disruptions and distractions:

Disruptions are things that:

  • actually do demand your attention or response
  • are of…
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How to Wipe a PC Hard Drive

In my last post, How to Dispose of Old Electronics, I mentioned some different options for wiping a hard drive on an old computer that you are preparing for donation or recycling. Deleted files can be partially or fully recovered, so if you have files with personal data you should wipe the hard drive. Wiping is done by overwriting the data sectors on the hard drive in multiple passes.

This post describes how to use Darik’s Nuke & Boot (DBAN), a long-established freeware tool for wiping drives o…

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How to Dispose of Old Electronics

old computers

Do you have an old non-working computer stashed away somewhere in your garage, attic, or closet because you’re not sure how to dispose of it?  Do you have a stack of CDs with old backups on them that you no longer need? An old printer or monitor? Power cords or connector cables that you don’t use?

Here are a few suggestions for how to dispose of these items safely and responsibly.

Back Up Your Data
If you’re disposing of a working computer, first be sure to back up any data stored on it. If you…

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Digital and Analogue Writing with LiveScribe

I still love to write thing by hand, on paper, in a notebook. Call it a holdover from my days (and nights) spent writing in journals and diaries and notebooks. I always had a notebook and pen with me. I was always writing.

Now I have my iPhone with me, and I tweet a whole lot.

But writing out drafts, or brainstorming, or jotting down ideas, those are activities that I miss doing. What I don’t miss doing in transcribing them, or not having access to them if I don’t happen to have the right n…

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The Latest from Digital Humanities Questions and Answers

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Launched in September of 2010, Digital Humanities Questions & Answers is a joint venture of the Association for Computers and the Humanities (ACH) and ProfHacker. (See Julie Meloni’s launch announcement.)

Digital Humanities Questions and Answers (@DHAnswers on Twitter) is designed to be a free resource where anyone with an interest in the digital humanities can pose a question to the community of folks working in the field.

Since we last checked in with the site, many interesting threads have b…

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Get Involved In Classroom Design: A Grant to Upgrade Your Classroom

Have you ever been frustrated by the largely immobile set-up of a typical classroom? Have you ever wished for the opportunity to redesign the space in which you teach?

Here’s an opportunity: if you teach grades 8–12 or at an institution of higher education, Steelcase – a company that sells products and services for corporate offices, classrooms, and healthcare settings – is offering some substantial grants for you to redesign your classroom into an “active learning center.” The awards range…

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Open Thread Wednesday: Revisiting Travel Computing


Several years ago, I started my quest for the perfect travel computing solution. Academic travel places a lot of demands on our technology: often, we rely on computers for presentations at conferences, taking notes, and keeping up to date on other projects and meetings. For a few years I was able to rely almost entirely on an iPad and keyboard case for all my conferences, which offered a lot of portability if not much computing power.

Sadly, I was parted from my iPad this year, and I had to mak…

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Finding the Best Thing with Wirecutter and Sweethome

Blue ribbon prize.

If you’re like me, when shopping for…well for almost anything…you can be paralyzed by choice. If you need a new set of headphones, there are just so many options out there, and so many blogs or forums in which experts and consumers will discuss in detail the pros and cons of any given choice. We do a bit of that here at ProfHacker, of course, and we hope our recommendations are good ones.

But choosing can still be exhausting. Barry Schwartz calls this problem The Paradox of Choice in his book o…