July 7, 2011, 3:00 pm
Have you ever heard the unmistakeable clunk of something (possibly keys? or was it just some loose change?) falling out of your jacket pocket while you’re getting up to leave in a darkened movie theater? You can either wait until the house lights come totally up — which may still not be light enough to really see under the seats — (and you know you don’t want to just swipe your hand under there amidst the sticky soda residue, stale popcorn, and who-knows-what-else) — or you can pull out a flashlight.
Maybe you’ve got one of those little LED flashlights on your key chain. Handy, very handy. Unless it’s your keys that fell underneath the seat. Or you don’t have your keys. Or your keyring is full of other stuff and you don’t have room to carry a flashlight around all the time.
But if you’ve got a flashlight app on your smartphone, you’re all set.
Flashlight apps use the…
July 5, 2011, 8:00 am
A few weeks ago, a friend posted something to Facebook from a site I wasn’t familiar with: Pinterest. The post in question was a wonderful photograph of a wall of bookshelves filled to the rafters with various texts. Like many academics, I love books; I love libraries, and I love photographs of both books and libraries, so I had to see where this photograph came from.
Enter Pinterest. Pinterest is an electronic bulletin board that allows users to pin images from around the web onto one communal space. Users can manage several different categories on their boards, and you can use either the default categories (eg. “For the Home,” “Recipes,” “Quotes,” etc.) or create your own.
Users can limit their views to only pins that they themselves have contributed, they can “follow” other users and see those pins in addition to their own, or they can also browse everything that has been …
June 7, 2011, 8:08 am
Last week, in advance of the WWDC keynote, Apple announced that its suite of mobile iWork products (Pages, Numbers, and Keynote), which had been available on the iPad since launch, would now be universal apps that work on the iPhone and iPod Touch as well. (To be precise: on the most recent two versions of each of those devices, when they are running iOS 4.2.8 or later.)
After the keynote, it’s now clear that these apps are designed to show off the way iCloud will store and push (not sync) data to devices. As demonstrated in the keynote, the idea is that a document saved to iCloud would instantly be available on all your devices, ready for use.
There are two pretty different questions that emerge around the apps: how do they work now, and how will they work with iCloud?
Right now, the apps are impressive. The interface is attractive, …
May 19, 2011, 11:00 am
As anyone who follows me on Twitter or Facebook is probably aware, I bought an iPod Touch a couple of weeks ago, and I have been playing with a lot of the apps that ProfHacker has written about over the years. I bought it because I am going to be on sabbatical next year and living away from my husband for three months while I am on a research fellowship. When I was working on my PhD, cell phones were still charging by the minute, and we racked up $300 phone bills each month as I went to school in one state while he maintained our home in another. When he was away working on his MA in one state while I maintained our home in another, we had cell phones with unlimited calls, and our phone bills dropped dramatically. Since then, the options for communication have grown exponentially, and many of them are free. That’s why I went for the iPod Touch rather than the…
May 10, 2011, 11:00 am
Here at ProfHacker, we’re not afraid to embrace the latest technologies. But we’re also not afraid to resort to an analog tool if it’s what will help us get our work done faster. But if you can combine something new and shiny that looks old and retro, well, then you’ve definitely got (some of) us hooked. So a few weeks ago when I read that notebook maker Moleskine had released an app for iOS devices, I quickly staked my territory:
I’ve used Moleskine notebooks for a number of years while taking notes in the various talks that one attends around the university. I’ve appreciated the quality of the bindings and the elastic band that holds the book shut and compact within my bag. I’ve not gone the full route of the hipster PDA (don’t miss our podcast interview with Merlin Mann), but my notebooks are always there when I need them. Could the Moleskine app and my iPad help me lose one…
May 5, 2011, 3:00 pm
A few months ago, I wrote a ProfHacker post about Comic Life, a graphic illustrator program by Plasq. Comic Life creates graphic illustrations using photographs that you can upload from your computer. The program offers many templates, fonts, colors, sizes, and styles that can create any number of comic illustrations. This Mac and PC program is very easy to use, inexpensive, and is an interesting addition to course work. When I wrote the post in March, Plasq announced that they would have soon publish a version for the iPad. That version is now available. The application costs $7.99, available in the iTunes App store.
The iPad version of Comic Life can do many of the same things the fuller Mac or PC version can do. The iPad version offers dozens of page templates for any number of comic styles, and it includes many fonts, colors, lettering styles, and graphics that aid…
April 12, 2011, 11:00 am
If you’re anything like me, you use your mobile devices to get a lot of reading done. I use Read It Later (yes, I’m mentioning it again) on my iPod Touch and iPad to time shift a lot of the interesting web pages that I find online throughout a day’s work. I’ve used both GoodReader (which Ethan has written about previously) and more recently iAnnotatePDF (Jason covered it) to read and annotate scholarly articles, as well as Word documents. And when I feel like it, I’ve got the Kindle app, iBooks, and others that allow me to read something that is both scholarly and fun. So reading isn’t all that hard on my iOS devices…except for one type of text: Adobe Digital Editions.
Adobe Digital Editions (ADE) are PDFs that have digital rights management (DRM) that restrict how the files can be used. DRM is used to prevent piracy, determine the length of time for a library loan, and more….
March 3, 2011, 8:00 am
Several of us at ProfHacker use Evernote (exhibit a, exhibit b, exhibit c), the popular external-brain software. It lets you put all a satisfyingly wide array of information all in one place, and makes it searchable, without a great deal of fuss. And in those earlier posts, we’ve talked a bit about it the iPhone/iPod app for Evernote, which, theoretically, is a big part of its appeal: use the camera, the microphone, or the keyboard to take notes in whatever format you find most appealing. There’s a new version of the app out, and while in general we don’t intend to go version-chasing every time a smartphone app updates, there are some interesting changes this time that are worth mentioning.
Although I use Evernote heavily, the iPhone app has never really worked for me. I love the desktop app, for the ease with which it lets me clip and sort information (this really helps with the…
February 24, 2011, 8:00 am
Smartphones, whether you prefer a BlackBerry, an iPhone, or one of the many devices that run the Android operating system, have many wonderful features. The battery life is generally not one of them. I have gathered a few tip in hopes of helping you power through long days on campus, at the archive, or on the road:
Screen Brightness: Anytime the screen of your Smartphone is illuminated, it uses battery power. The brighter the screen, the greater the drain. Most Smartphones will allow you to make several adjustments to your screen settings that can reduce consumption. You might check to make sure that the ambient light sensor is turned on (sometimes called “auto-brightness”), which adjusts the brightness of the screen according to the light in your environment. A dimly lit room will not require as much light as a brightly lit one. Also check the settings for the backlight…
February 8, 2011, 11:00 am
Selecting, maintaining, and updating strong passwords for the many different applications you use at your institution or online can be greatly simplified by using a password manager, as Amy discussed in Maintaining Sanity and Security: Why Use a Password Manager? Amy mentions several password managers in her post, and Ryan has written about LastPass, a cloud-based manager that offers extensions for the major browsers.
I’ve been using LifeHacker favorite KeePass Password Safe for several months now, and thought I’d explain why I like it and how it’s different from some of the other managers available.
KeePass is Open Source
KeePass is free open source software, certified by the Open Source Initative. The central software is available in two editions for Windows, Classic and Professional (which requires .NET). Both are still supported and continue to be developed, as they meet…