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 19, 2013, 11:00 am
ProfHacker has featured several posts about various mobile apps. See for instance the Open Thread Wednesday dedicated to (y)our Favorite Weather Apps, guest author Ian MacInnes’s post on “Finding the Best iOS App for Annotation and Note-Taking,” and my previous post on GradeBook Pro to name just a few.
But once you have all of these apps, what do you do with them? Or how do you organize them so that you can access them quickly and easily? Are you someone who has a dozen different screens that you must weed through on a regular basis? Or do you have a system?
I have a system. I adopted it a year or so ago, and it has worked wonders for me. One of the reasons I was reluctant to switch to iOS in the first place was the overwhelming number of different apps available for even the simplest of tasks. Most iPhone users I knew had screen after screen of apps, with no apparent rhyme or…
November 21, 2012, 8:00 am
That members of the team here at ProfHacker are fans of Evernote is hardly a secret; we’ve mentioned it on numerous occasions. It’s very useful for storing and searching whatever information you want to keep track of, and it syncs across platforms, so all your notes are available to you, no matter what device you’re using.
Within the last few weeks, Evernote has released updates to the Mac and iOS versions of its client software. I won’t bore you with a list of the features; the posts linked in this paragraph (with their accompanying videos) provide a good overview for those who want it.
What I’d like to do instead is point out two of the new features that I find useful for my own work:
- The new sidebar in the Mac version. I have a lot of notebooks, and a lot of tags, but there are only a few that I use with any great frequency. The ability to add them to the…
August 16, 2012, 3:00 pm
If there’s one constant in the life of a ProfHacker, it might be the cables. They’re everywhere around us. But more than anyplace else, cables live behind our computer desk. Looking back there, I’ve got power cords (computer, USB hub, printer, UPS), USB cables (keyboard, printer, USB hub, iPod, etc.), telephone cables (for my modem), and ethernet cables.
In a way, behind-the-desk cables aren’t all that tricky since you don’t interact with them all that often. But every now and again, you’ll be forced to swap out one thing or another, and woe betide the mortal who strays too far into that tangle of unidentifiable wires. You’re almost certain to grab the wrong cable on the first, second, and third tries.
When our family moved this summer to a new home, I won the “gets to reassemble the computer desk” coin flip, and I spent some time trying to figure out how to minimize the cable …
March 15, 2012, 11:00 am
A few weeks ago, a new service for faculty launched: FacultyFiles.com.
The service is designed to make work easier for faculty by making it very easy to store and reuse frequently used items, such as feedback for purposes of grading, common responses to discussion board questions, course materials, and the like. The service is directed primarily at those who teach (at least partly) online, though all faculty can benefit from this sort of service. FacultyFiles is well aware of faculty who may be part-time; it’s possible to set up courses for more than one school. In fact, a perusal of the job boards (at least the job boards available with the ten-day trial subscription) indicates that part-time faculty are the intended user base; all of the links are to adjunct job sites.
Once you’re signed up, getting set up is fairly easy. Just add a school, then add a course, and FacultyFiles.com…
November 30, 2011, 12:00 pm
Here at ProfHacker, we’ve written a great deal about email, and part of the reason for this is because dealing with email can take up so much of an academic professional’s job. I wrote a few posts about how to “hack your inbox.” Brian’s covered managing email while on leave. Amy has sung the praises of a tool called OtherInbox while Kathleen has explained the usefulness of TaskForce.
However, what I’ve been thinking about lately (as my Gmail account nears the limit of free storage space, believe it or now), is this question: “Can I just delete all of these old emails, or is there a good reason to hold on to them?” And if I decide to hold on to them, I need to figure out how to create some sort of archive… I think. I’d like to hear what other people do in this situation.
How about you? Do you archive your old email somehow? Why or why not? And if your answer is yes, how do you go …
September 13, 2011, 11:00 am
Last month we asked you, our readers, for your ideas about what ProfHacker should cover in the coming academic year. Among the many helpful suggestions, there was a theme that stood out to me. Here it is in your own words.
I would love to see some technology-related posts written by people who are not technologically inclined. (kaitlinwalsh)
I’d also like to see some articles that take the concerns of techno-curmudgeons and Luddites a little more seriously. (matt_l)
I’d second the comment that some of the reviewers are a little too in love with technology–and perhaps are of a younger generation–than most of the readers, so that there’s a lot of tacit knowledge here that needs to be made explicit. (bethelcollege)
These are entirely reasonable suggestions. After all, there is—and should be—a bit of a technophobe in each of us, asking the question, Will trying this new…
August 4, 2011, 3:00 pm
As a first-time tenure-track assistant professor, I’m already looking down the road to the different stages of tenure review. Academia has a number of different hurdles, often based on assessment of productivity over spans of years. So whether you’re in the same position as me, further down the line, or starting to think about the job market, it’s worth building good habits in personal archiving. While caught in the moment it’s easy to think that we’ll remember everything–but committees, teaching, service, publications and other work can add up fast.
What goes in your tenure dossier (or other portfolio) varies by university. Karen Kelsky has a good overview of the basics here. Before I started planning on what types of documents to save, I looked at the tenure dossier requirements for my area at a range of universities. Just because my department now doesn’t want a certain type of…
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 13, 2011, 8:00 am
Most regular readers of ProfHacker know that we like Dropbox. We’ve featured several posts about it (see, for example, these posts by Jason, Ryan, and Brian). But just in case you are new to ProfHacker, in a nutshell Dropbox is a cloud-based service that syncs data across different computers and allows you to access your files on any computer that either has the Dropbox software installed or has access to the internet. Users who register with Dropbox are given 2GB of storage space for free. If you sign-up with a referral from a current user, you are automatically granted an extra 250MB of storage, and if you complete the Dropbox tutorial (which takes all of 60 seconds), you are given another 500MB. If you then refer other people to Dropbox, you will earn more free space for each person who completes the registration process–users can earn up to 8GB through referrals and the tutorial…