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Expecting Balance

[This is a repost of a ProfHacker oldie, originally from 27 May 2011.]

A perennial sore point in academe is the phenomenon of work-life balance. As Amy noted last year, there’s always something you could be doing. What’s more, there’s a good chance you like at least some part of the work, since it’s what drew you into the profession, and so you gladly take on more and more, until you realize that you’ve forgotten that you have a third child or sick parent, or your partner starts taking out pers…

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5 Things to Love About Coffee

Whether you’re a Starbucks loyalist or a member of the rebel alliance, the chances are pretty good that you’re a regular consumer of coffee. I, for one, am certainly doing my part to keep the coffee business going strong. Recently, a great local coffee bar opened here in downtown Spartanburg, and it’s become my semi-regular hangout of late thanks to free wireless Internet access, low prices, and the high probability that I’ll run into friends and acquaintances there. To be honest, I’ve been a l…

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Exploring Trading Consequences

In March, a fantastic new resource for studying the history of commodity trade was announced: Trading Consequences.

The project is the product of several years of collaboration between York University, Canada, the University of Edinburgh, UK, the University of St Andrews, UK and the University of Saskatchewan, Canada.

The resource provides multiple interfaces to a rich database of mentions of commodities and locations associated with commodities from the 18th century and up to the mid-20th cent…

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Good University Service Means Self-Replacement

Usually, when people complain about faculty and service, it’s along a few well-defined paths: faculty who shirk service; the resulting disproportionate service burden; or how nothing ever gets done.  There is, however, another problem: the faculty member who won’t let go.

Example 1: I’m always a little sad to see requests of the following type: “Due to the unusual expertise of Prof. X, we request a waiver of the term limit for the committee for gerundal pontification & beard-stroking.”  Now, s…

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Simple Little Tricks

Sometimes it’s the simplest little tricks that can make a big difference in our work. For example, I’ve written about using carabiners on my backpack to help me keep track of my keys. I like having this smartphone holster for my iPhone, keeping a simple little multitool on my keyring, and wrapping all kinds of things with velcro cable ties.

And for a few years now, I’ve been using rubber bands with my colored whiteboard markers.

Brian and many others may love teaching with chalk, but it’s no bi…

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Crowd-Sourcing Examinations

[Note: this post is adapted from part of a talk I recently gave to the NJEDge Annual Faculty Showcase.]

It’s no secret that we at ProfHacker like GoogleDocs. Ryan Cordell has used Google Docs to run a peer-review writing workshop, and George Williams has previously written about using GoogleDocs to take collaborative notes at conference sessions. Guest poster Thomas Burkholder wrote about using Google Forms. I have used all of these, and today I’m going to share yet another use: for compiling a…

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Weekend Reading: April is the Cruelest Edition

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Happy Friday ProfHackers! Here’s to hoping that your April is off to a better start than T. S. Eliot’s. If you suffer from seasonal allergies, now might be the time to double-down on your allergy meds and any other preventative measures that you can find. According to the Washington Post, the mid-Atlantic, may be facing “a tidal wave of pollen” thanks to the lengthy and quixotic winter that we’ve enjoyed.

A story broke earlier this week that Harvard had a trio of books bound in human skin. More…

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How to Run a Group-Authored Blog


Independently of each other, a small number of people have recently asked about the workflow involved in publishing a group-authored blog like ProfHacker.

Now I don’t pretend that the way we do things is the best way possible, but I’m happy to describe how we go about publishing 2 posts a day, 5 days a week.

If you’re involved in a similar project that uses a different workflow, feel free to share the details in the comments to this post.
Continue reading

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Using Browser Profiles for Organization

Many of us have more than one email account these days. I have several, I’m afraid, though I don’t need to use all of them regularly (thankfully!).

Still, there are three that I use on an almost daily basis: my personal account, my main work account, and the account of the office I currently direct.

While I could use a desktop email client to manage my email (and I sometimes do, for backup purposes if nothing else), all three are GMail accounts. Since I also make extensive use of Google Calenda…

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Open Thread Wednesday: Taking Stock and Thinking Ahead


On my campus the semester has just about a month of regular classes left, which means that it’s time to start taking stock of what’s been done, what’s almost finished, and what still needs to be wrapped up. Committee deadlines approach, student projects near completion, and research tasks need to be completed over the next month or so. How much time is left in the term on your campus? What kinds of plans are you making? How do you make sure that everything that needs to get taken care of actual…