June 19, 2013, 8:00 am
I’ve never been one to make use of slide-based presentations when I teach or when I present at conferences or other events. Why? For one thing, Microsoft PowerPoint — perhaps the most commonly-used software for such tasks — just seems too complicated. Of course, I realize that another word for “complicated” is “sophisticated” or “powerful,” and PowerPoint allows a presenter to do all kinds of advanced things.
However, if I want to create a simple slide deck for a presentation, I find the interface for PowerPoint — as with many Microsoft Office products — to be too distracting, too time-consuming. I know, I know… If I were to use PowerPoint regularly, the interface would probably start to feel “natural” or “intuitive” to me, but the truth is that I only need to use it about once or twice a year. (And, to be fair, my experience of Apple’s Keynote is pretty much the same.)
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 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 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 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, …
February 6, 2013, 8:00 am
Evernote released Penultimate 4 late last week. (Unfortunately, it’s only available for iOS 6 at the moment, though support for iOS 5 is expected in the next update. Penultimate is currently not available for Android, though they’re apparently working on that.)
Heather and Ethan have mentioned Penultimate in this space before, and we’ve spilled a lot of digital ink over Evernote itself.
There are two major features to this release of Penultimate:
- Automatic synchronization with Evernote (to which the user must deliberately opt in; it isn’t forced) and
- Handwriting recognition within the application itself, not just within Evernote (though this feature does require Evernote sync).
The app is free, so it’s definitely worth checking out. As I experimented with it, though, I came to the conclusion that it wasn’t going to work well for me.
December 3, 2012, 11:00 am
While I generally don’t buy into the whole, “You can never be too rich or too thin” mentality, in the case of iPad accessories, it might just be true. Or at least, it’s certainly the case that the cost of Apple accessories can add up rapidly once you start to factor in cases, covers, dongles, adapters, and chargers. As for thinness, I’ll confess to being a sucker for those accessories that preserve the sleek Apple aesthetic. At $80, the Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Case for iPad (compatible with all iPads except the 1st generation and the Mini) does just that and manages to pack quite a lot of features into an attractive and compact package.
I began to integrate the iPad 2 into my academic workflow over the summer of 2011. When the fall semester started, armed with Gradebook Pro and iAnnotate, I began to attempt a paperless classroom, or at least paperless grading. There was much to…
November 29, 2012, 11:00 am
The research organizer and reference manager Zotero is one of ProfHacker’s favorite tools. I’ve shown how ZotPad allows you to access your saved sources and PDFs on your iPad, but there’s one key functionality that ZotPad doesn’t (yet) provide: saving citations to Zotero from your iPad.
Enter the Zotero Bookmarklet.
The Zotero Bookmarklet can be added to almost any modern browser—including Safari on the iPad or iPhone—and it allows you to save a source to your Zotero library, as long as the Zotero web service recognizes that source. In other words, the Zotero Bookmarklet works well with common research databases, electronic journals, and new sources, while it’s not likely to recognize regular blogs and random websites.
Installation of bookmarklets on iOS browsers is tricky, but this is the essential process (adapted from the official Zotero documentation):
November 2, 2012, 11:01 am
As I’ve written about before on ProfHacker, I am striving to go paperless at conferences and in the classroom. Aside from saving paper, I simply prefer carrying less with me wherever I go. An iPad or other tablet makes this increasingly possible, but there’s one use for the iPad at conferences and in the classroom that I’ve consistently been disappointed by: running presentations from the iPad.
It’s a breeze to hook up the iPad to a projector with a VGA or HDMI connector, and I love the way the iPad 2 and newer mirrors itself on an external screen. But I always run into the same problems trying to show a PowerPoint deck from the iPad (I work primarily on a Windows PC, so Keynote isn’t an appealing option, especially with a $9.99 price tag).
The first problem is inconsistent formatting of imported slideshows when I use Office suite-type apps like Office2 HD. I can work around…
August 30, 2012, 11:00 am
The $9.99 ZotPad app lets you access your Zotero library on an iPad. When I first wrote about ZotPad on ProfHacker, I noted that the app was read-only. You could download PDFs attached to items in your library and open them in something like iAnnotate, as long as you were syncing your attachments with Zotero’s server—but you couldn’t send a newly annotated PDF back up to Zotero. Furthermore, if you sync your Zotero attachments with a WebDAV server (as I do) instead of Zotero’s server, you couldn’t access your attachments at all on ZotPad.
I’m delighted that the newest version of ZotPad has solved these two limitations: you can now access your Zotero attachments if you use WebDAV (and also if you store your Zotero library on DropBox), and regardless of which method you use to sync your Zotero files, you can upload annotated PDFs back up to Zotero.
Here’s a sample use-case…