New tools for scholarship, new modes of communication, new forms of organization, same old humanity.
Share a tool
March 25, 2014 at 7:22 am #292
Tell the rest of us about a favorite productivity tool you use on your computer. It can be an application you’ve installed on the computer itself or a web service that you use. It can be a tool that helps you organize stuff or get things done for school, work, or home. We’ll talk about some of these in class on Wednesday.March 25, 2014 at 7:34 am #293
I use Google Calendar to organize my daily schedule. Some of the options for events include color-coding, sharing them with other people or inviting them, adding a reminder for the event, and making it repeat weekly. There are much more options, but I use the more basic ones just to remind myself of what I have going on on a certain day or to plan future events.March 25, 2014 at 10:05 am #295
Here are my tools:
1. Write or Die is a fabulous motivator that I have been using for years. This website gives you a text box that senses when you have stopped writing. Depending on the settings you have specified, at the end of the “grace period” (five seconds or thirty seconds, it’s up to you), the computer will emit an extremely obnoxious noise, like a crying baby or that Hanson Brothers song. You could also do the most extreme setting, where it actually deletes what you have written. Makes essay writing go a helluva lot faster!
2. Most of you probably already know how this works, but I’m still in awe of it. Mozilla Thunderbird is one of several available platforms that act as a big mailroom for all your email addresses. Being involved with school, plus several organizations, plus having my own personal email address, it’s a huge hassle to check all of them. Now I can just look through the folders within one window to see if I have new mail. I explained that poorly, but you should check out the site. It’s totally free.
3. If you’re like me and are often looking for creative ways to procrastinate, why not try Typeracer? These races, in which you can compete against other users all over the world, are designed to help you improve your typing speed. I average 80WPM and will happily crush anyone who wants to challenge me!
March 25, 2014 at 5:07 pm #299
- This reply was modified 4 years, 11 months ago by Christine O'Neill.
A useful tool that I just discovered this semester is Quizlet, an online flashcard site. This website is particularly useful if you are studying vocabulary words or other concrete concepts that are easily defined. It’s easy to use and pretty basic in it’s concept, but I’ve been impressed with the variety of things you can do on the site.
Typing in all of your words and definitions can be tedious, but there is a way to import the data quickly if you have it formatted right. After that is complete, you can study your terms in traditional flashcard form, choosing to see the term, definition, or both. Quizlet will allow you to mark any card you wish to study separately, and for the auditory learners out there, there is an option to have the cards read aloud to you. The site lets you easily see which terms you have missed the most, as well as those with the highest accuracy.
In addition, there are options that allow you to see questions in written, true/false, matching, or multiple choice form. Once you’re feeling confident, you can play Scatter (a matching game) or Space Race, where definitions scroll across the screen and you must type the correct answer to “kill” them before they reach the other end.
Quizlet also has the option of printing off flashcards or study sheets, and you can share the set with your classmates with a few clicks.March 25, 2014 at 6:12 pm #300
The most useful tool on my computer is without a doubt the StayFocusd app for Google Chrome. One of my major obstacles when trying to complete schoolwork is the fact that I get extremely distracted by social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter. When activated, the StayFocusd app is a genius tool that helps you stay focused on the task at hand by restricting the amount of time you spend on certain websites. After you use a certain amount of time on said websites, you are forbidden from accessing the sites for the whole day. The user gets to decide which websites to restrict as well as their time limit. I find StayFocusd to be especially useful when I have to write long papers or read hundreds of pages at once. It’s a lifesaver and I definitely recommend it.
StayFocusd – https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/stayfocusd/laankejkbhbdhmipfmgcngdelahlfoji?hl=enMarch 25, 2014 at 9:41 pm #301
I like to use Google Drive to organize my notes for each of my classes. I have the app installed on my computer as well as my tablet and phone so I can access my notes at any time. It’s incredibly user friendly as files can be uploaded by “dragging and dropping.” Drive also allows for sharing both documents and folders which makes group projects significantly easier. Google Drive is also nice because it can save any type of file, making it easy to compile presentations and notes in one place.March 26, 2014 at 1:09 am #302
To write my capstone, I’ve been using Scrivener, a word processor designed to accommodate the planning and writing process of longer texts. Rather than scrolling through a long Word document, you can view individual sections of your longer document in any combination (you can also view your documents in a cork board, which I never really make use of). Scrivener is not a WYSIWG (what you see is what you get) processor, but rather separates the writing step from the formatting step in its workflow. While it’s not exactly a Plain Text editor, it does support MultiMarkdown, an expansion of sorts of the Markdown we’ve talked about in class. The separation of the writing step from the compiling step also makes it ideal to run your piece through a citation manager, like Zotero. On the note of citations and research, Scrivener also will house, if you so choose, the PDFs you’ve collected, and you can split panes within the software to view documents side by side. It also has some nifty features for creative writers (for instance, easy formatting tags for screenplays) that I, writing only criticism, don’t get the chance to use. I do, however, make use of its commenting features and composition mode. It is unfortunately a little pricey ($40), not that it’s much compared to the unsubsidized price of Microsoft Word or anything.
On the free side of life, I’ve been using a digital planner app called iProcrastinate to keep track of the rest of what I have to do. It’s designed for students, and it lets you organize assignments under different courses, rank them according to priority, and (satisfyingly) check them off when they’re finished. If you pay $2, you can also download the iOS app to sync with it.March 26, 2014 at 7:48 am #305
A tool that I use on my computer is Smart Notebook. I used this often last semester when I was student teaching. Since both of the classrooms I was in used the Smart Board to further instruction, I found that I needed to plan my lessons to incorporate the Smart Board somehow. To be able to do work at home, I downloaded the software so that I could prepare lessons with Smart Board presentations. I also learned how to explore the software and add tools to make the presentations fun and engaging for students.March 26, 2014 at 8:52 am #306
A tool I used last semester was Celtx, a screenwriting application that I downloaded for class. Celtx is a program that allows you to write and compose in a plain text way, but it offers functions that aren’t necessarily in Microsoft Word or Google Doc which allow you to organize your screenplay in a professional, neat way, i.e. Scene Header followed by an Action (or description) and then a Characters name and their subsequent Dialogue. It was easy to use and gave your screenplay an overhaul that made it easy to follow when reading, considering all the transitions that happen in a page-transitions from place to person and other things like mentioned above.March 26, 2014 at 9:12 am #307
Although I haven’t found many uses for it in daily work, using Dropbox is a big help for sharing larger projects with groups. It allows you to share a folder with various people, who can each access and edit it. As a free user, you start with something like 2GB of space, which increases as you invite people. You can also pay something like $10 a month for up to 100GB. It’s come in very handy when working with music and video, since often these files can’t fit in an email or have to be sent one at a time, I can just load up several songs at once, wait for a partner to download them to their computer, then replace the items.March 26, 2014 at 9:13 am #308
I use an app called Self-Control, which unfortunately is Mac only, but PC alternatives invariably exist. It allows you to create a blacklist of websites which cannot be accessed when the app is running– you set a time form 5 minutes to 24 hours, and it blocks them during that time. You can also create a whitelist, which allows only the websites you list to be visited– but one can see the danger in that. It only prevents access for websites, so other apps, games, etc., on your computer cannot be blocked by it.
f.lux is a light-control app which allows you to change (automatically on a timer, beginning at sunset) the contrast on your computer screen. At night, for example, you can set the monitor to turn off that harsh blue light to a mellow/yellower “Tungsten,” “Halogen,” or “Candle” setting to give your eyes a rest. A similar app is ScreenShades, which allows you to tone down the brightness past the computer’s default minimum, and to tint the computer to a custom color (though black it best).
I also use Scrivener, but Greg has covered that nicely. Besides those few, I don’t use many apps at all– still using a [paper!] notebook as my weekly agenda.March 26, 2014 at 9:33 am #309
Something that might seem rather basic helps me a lot. On my Mac, my “Notes” section is something I use everyday. It automatically syncs to my iPhone, so no matter what device I’m using I’m up to date. Sometimes when I’m walking outside I’ll randomly think of an awesome title for a presentation (for example). All I have to do is take out my phone and make a new note. Then, the next time I go on my Mac, there it is. I love this since I never have to check back and forth between my phone and my computer. It keeps me very organized and it’s very efficient.March 26, 2014 at 9:39 am #310
One tool I use often is called SelfControl. Basically, when I’m writing a paper on my laptop, I have a nasty habit of getting very….very….very distracted by other websites. You can input specific websites that usually distract you into SelfContol (for me that would be primarily buzzfeed, facebook, and twitter), and then, the app bans you from these sites for whatever amount of time you tell it to. If I give myself a few hours of facebook-free time, I’m bound to get way more accomplished. It’s truly a great app for the procrastinators among us.
In addition, although this may not be related to productivity, something that’s useful for those of us who want to study abroad is Hola, a VPN proxy service. It lets you access sites from other countries when you are abroad, and I’ve found it also improves speed and privacy when you’re using Google Chrome. When I was abroad, I had to complete homework assignments that were easier for me to research for if I could access US websites that would usually be blocked in South Africa. This made my life so much easier, and it’s free to download and easy to install.
Also….on a random note….sometimes I use Written? Kitten! when I’m writing papers as well. When you hit a certain number of words a picture of an adorable cat pops up. What better motivation could you need?March 26, 2014 at 9:42 am #311
Not only for school purposes, but also for the endless to-do lists I have at my job (as well as in my personal life), I use a mobile app called “Life Reminder”. You can select how you are notified (call, mobile notification, text, or email), what the reminder reads, either when you receive it or in-how-long you receive it. You can also create categories for the different kinds of reminders you make. My categories are basic: College, Statesmen, Family, Friends, Personal. It’s super helpful!March 26, 2014 at 9:43 am #312
Probably the most useful tool that I am using right now is Google Calendar. I work at a stage crew job on campus, and in order to keep everyone on track my bosses use Google Calendar to mark down who is working when, what time to arrive at, the length of the concert, and the average overall time we will probably be in the recital halls. It allows me to see what days I’ve worked as well so that I may properly report my pay schedule to the payroll office.
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