May 6, 2013, 11:00 am
During the last few weeks of April, I was working on a couple of end-of-semester projects for class. To help clarify my thinking, I really needed to sketch out how the various pieces of the project fit together, just so I could visualize it.
I suppose I could have gone to the local office supply store and purchased several large sheets of newsprint, but the later part of April happened to be when the team at Literature and Latte released Scapple.
Scapple is a completely free-form editor that lets you get ideas down quickly, move them around (or not), and make connections between them (or not). In short, you can place any item anywhere on the page that you like, and connect it to any other item—or just leave it to stand by itself.
It’s a great tool for mindmapping, though it’s not limited to that. It was certainly ideal for my purposes. I downloaded the trial version, installed it, a…
April 25, 2013, 8:00 am
In the fall, I reviewed the Logitech Ultrathin Bluetooth Keyboard for iPad. A few weeks ago, Belkin contacted ProfHacker and asked if we would consider reviewing their Ultimate Keyboard Case. I’ve been putting this keyboard through the paces for three weeks now (disclosure: Belkin provided me with a pre-production model for review). Available in May, this bluetooth keyboard case will retail at $99 ($129 for the white version).
Out of the box, set up was very easy. The iPad snapped into the protective case, and the bluetooth pairing was intuitive (though instructions are provided). One of the features I find most attractive about the Belkin keyboard case is the fact that it protects the back of the iPad. The Logitech case, if you will recall, left the iPad aluminum backing naked and vulnerable to dings, scratches, and other catastrophes. Not so with the Belkin. The iPad fits nicely…
April 18, 2013, 8:47 am
[This is a guest post by Jeremy Yoder, a postdoctoral associate in the Department of Plant Biology at the University of Minnesota. You can find him online at Denim and Tweed, or follow him on Twitter at @jbyoder.--@JBJ]
One of the quirks of academic science is that earning a graduate degree in science doesn’t necessarily prepare you for teaching, which is one of the principal things one does after earning a graduate degree in science. Graduate school is primarily about learning how to be a scientist—developing new ideas, designing experiments to test them, finding funding to support those experiments—and those tasks have very little to do with the process of undergraduate education, right?
Not so, according to Gregory Light and Marina Micari. In their new book Making Scientists: Six Principles for Effective College Teaching, (Harvard…
April 17, 2013, 8:00 am
I’ll admit it: I’m something of an app junkie—especially when the app in question is free. So when I came across a notice about Incredimail while reading through my news feeds recently, I had to give it a try. (Had I remembered that there was a desktop version of Incredimail, I might have thought the app wasn’t for me, but I didn’t remember that, so . . . .)
Since CNet gives a fairly detailed overview of the application, I’ll skip those details here, and instead give my overall impressions. Visually, the application looks fantastic (though I’d skip the stationery when composing a new message). It’s easy to connect to any IMAP account, and the Facebook integration is also nice, though hardly essential.
I quickly decided, though, that the application wasn’t for me, and that the official GMail client better suits the way I work. That’s for two main reasons.
April 11, 2013, 8:00 am
[This is a guest post by Doug Ward, an associate professor of journalism at the University of Kansas, where he is teaching a research and digital literacy course he developed called Infomania. You can find him online at www.kuediting.com and www.journalismtech.com, and follow him on Twitter @kuediting.--@JBJ]
Planning a new class is a lot like starting a new research project: filled with the anticipation of discovery but also the trepidation of organizing material in a coherent way.
I’ve found that a combination of three tools — Scrivener, Evernote and Workflowy — eases some of that trepidation.
ProfHacker readers are no doubt familiar with Scrivener and Evernote. Ryan provided an excellent overview of Scrivener, explaining how he uses it for writing. George wrote about using it for transcription, and Mark and Billie looked at the Windows version (the one I use). Kathleen…
April 1, 2013, 11:00 am
[This is a guest post by J. Michael Duvall, an associate professor of English at the College of Charleston, where he teaches American Literature. You can find him online at his website and follow him on Twitter @duvalljm]
BrowZine is a free app — by Third Iron — for accessing and reading content from academic journals on the iPad (with versions for other tablets being developed). The app allows users to
- select academic journals from a “shelf” display (see Figure 1.),
- browse complete journal issues,
- read individual articles,
- collect favorite journals on a shelf of one’s own,
- save favorite articles,
- and perform additional tasks with journal content.
A service, rather than an app, as Third Iron prefers to think of it, Browzine emphasizes perusing or thumbing through and reading of academic journals, rather than searching or marking up texts….
March 28, 2013, 11:00 am
We’ve written several times about the benefits of writing in plain text, and about using Markdown as a human-readable, futureproof way to format it. Lincoln started us off with “Markdown: The Syntax You (Probably) Already Know”, and last month Konrad showed us how to use this simple approach to create Prezi-style slideshows!
When I say “human readable and future proof,” consider, for example, what it takes for Microsoft Word to render 5 simple words:
Click for full size.
Markdown is both a syntax (“use a single asterisk for emphasis, double asterisks for bold”) and a tool–either a standalone script or, increasingly, a function within text editors–for turning that syntax into formatted text. So, for example, this: “I want spring to come *today*!” becomes “I want spring to come today!” It supports basic for…
March 21, 2013, 11:00 am
Two and a half years ago, George posted a review of Pear Note, “a $40 Mac-only software application from Useful Fruit designed specifically for taking notes while watching a presentation.” Now, you could arguably do that with a text editor or even Word. So what makes Pear Note special is that it records the presentation’s audio while you’re typing notes, and afterwards you can click on a portion of your notes and hear the audio that was happening right as you typed those notes. So if you can’t quite figure out the context of what you’ve written down, you can suddenly hear it all again.
It’s recapturing this context that has made Pear Note pretty integral to my work. In my alt-ac position, I’m in a lot of meetings and I run a lot of meetings. Having Pear Note makes it a lot easier to write those post-meeting emails to the whole team or to review what everyone agreed to, three months …
March 19, 2013, 8:00 am
If you’ve been reading my last several posts, you might have figured out that I’m kind of fanatical about keyboard shortcuts. That’s why I recently showed you how to learn your keyboard shortcuts, brainstormed new and simple twists on text expansion, and covered how to create keyboard shortcuts for ANYTHING! It turns out that my love of shortcuts isn’t restricted to the keyboard, however. Launch Center Pro is my most used app on my phone, because it lets me do everything on my iOS device with a single touch. So when I heard about a new iPad app that would let me fire off shortcuts to the computer, I was more than a little curious.
Actions bills itself as the One App to Rule Them All. But that title is a bit misleading, as it might make you think that it will control the apps on the iPad itself. Instead, Actions controls the applications on your computer. (Apple fanboy status be damned, …
March 11, 2013, 8:00 am
It’s that time of the year when taxes are in the air. You’re probably irritated, wondering: where are my receipts? Why didn’t I document my finances better? If this rings true, it might be time to look into some personal finance software. Heather has blogged some reviews of applications that she has used earlier, and today ProfHacker reviews a fun little application called Toshl.
Toshl is a multi-platform app that allows you to keep track of your spending. When you pay for something, you can enter the expense either on its web-based application, or on your mobile phone. Toshl is multi-platform (iOS, Android, Symbian and the Windows Phone) and syncs smoothly across different devices.