Links Roundup #25

saddle and ropeCitation/Reference/Bibliographic Management

We have mentioned ReadCube before, which adds some interesting tools for managing PDFs for research, including things like turning references into live links where possible.  They have a PDF on the features of the software, including its Word-compatible citation tool, and a comparison chart with its features compared with EndNote, Mendeley, Zotero, and Papers.  It is a great chart, though I would always take such with a grain of salt for two reasons (1) any chart produced by one software is likely to have some bias; and (2) the features of this type of software change all the time.

Cloud Storage

Wappwolf has three products that work similarly to IFTTT, but on a more limited basis.  They connect your cloud storage (Dropbox or Google Drive or Box) to other web services such as Facebook, Flickr, or Evernote.  The range of actions for documents, audio, images, etc. is amazing.  Scroll down on each page to see the list of actions.

Content Curation

Nicole Hennig, who is just da bomb on apps for learning, has a Pinterest board Content Curation with Mobile Apps.  She has a website, Best Sites for Academics, and an ebook Apps for Librarians, and you can sign up for her email newsletter.

Content Curation Survey 2014 by Christian Puricelli is a slideshow illustrating the answers to a survey.  He got results from 282 content curators.

Digital Pens

Here is a pen to watch for, the N2 which has a kickstarter campaign in Australia.  It looks like it can do much that the Livescribe pen (the market leader in digital pens) can do, but it doesn’t need special paper.  Caveats include:  when will it be available, will it be available outside of Australia and how soon, price, and a better comparison of features to Livescribe.

Educational Technology

The Dawn of the Digital Classroom is a post by Jared Carrizales, of Mighty Skins (which produces skins for electronic devices).  The post provides an infographic that summarizes the positive views both college students and faculty have towards electronics, with students having almost seven devices each!  More importantly, both faculty and students have positive views of the value of online learning.

Evernote/OneNote/Note-Taking Software

Evernote Lovers: Now You Can Create an Email Newsletter in Evernote is an article by Kira M. Newman in Tech Cocktail (an email newsletter for startups) discussing an email marketing tool created by Mastodon which works within Evernote.  The article has screenshots of how to create and send the newsletter.  The service uses a freemium model, with the paid version costing between $10-$35 a month.

The New, Beautiful Evernote Web is a blog post from the company’s official blog (by Andrew Sinkov) about the new interface designed to be simpler and less cluttered.

Evernote has also announced a premium feature called Context, which searches for related information from your notes, from selected external sources, and, for Evernote Business users, notes from your team.

Garth Scaysbrook is an author who writes a lot about Evernote (see a short review of his Evernote book).  His blog has a number of useful short tips, amply illustrated with screen shots.  Two useful examples are Evernote: How to Search Within a Note and Evernote Quick Tip: Insert Date and Time.  Another useful quick tip is Navigate Notes Back and Forward Shortcut.

Create Watch Folders to Easily Store Files in Your Evernote Account is a post in Lifehacker by Tori Reid.  It discusses a VERY important new feature in Evernote for Windows – you can create a folder in Windows, then click on “Import Folder” in the tools menu in Evernote.  Now everything you add to that folder will be automatically added to Evernote in whatever notebook you specify.  This can be a huge help, especially for academic researchers.  Article mentions there is a Mac script that can do the same thing.  The Lifehacer article links to the official Evernote blog post with step-by-step instructions.

I have included many posts from Evernote’s Going Paperless Ambassador, Jamie Todd Rubin, in these link roundups.  Sadly he will not be posting these on a regular basis anymore.  He will, however, still post occasionally.  For now, he has a post that serves as a table of contents for his posts on how to organize Evernote.  He also has a post that serves as a TOC for his posts on searching Evernote.  The third in this series is his roundup posts on productivity tips using Evernote.

Using Evernote in the Classroom is a recent Profhacker post that doesn’t itself have much new, but links to a couple of other resources including Raul Pacheco-Vega’s public notebook of using Evernote in academia.

Why Evernote is Amazing: A Collection of Articles, Blog Posts, Tutorials, and Ideas for Making Evernote Your Best Friend Ever is a board in Storify that is just what it says.  ;-).  Good collection, though would like the date to have shown on the list.  Categories are Why You Should Consider Using Evernote; Video Overview of What Evernote Can Do; Basic Beginner’s Guides; Moving Beyond the Basics; Ideas for Using Evernote; Evernote for School and Research; and For Advanced Users.

 Goals/Habit Tracking

Building Habits and Routines is a Profhacker post by Anastasia Salter.  She discusses how easy it is to lose track of these at the beginning of a semester, and mentions the app she is currently using to track them is Way of Life(iOS only).  I looked on the Google Play store, and there are a number of Android apps that do something similar, like Habit Bull.

Learning Tools

Huzzah!  The new Top 100 Tools for Learning is now available!  The annual survey has been around since 2007, compiled by the excellent Jane Hart.

Productivity

The Projecteze System Keeps You Productive With Just a Word Processor by is a Lifehacker post by Mihir Patkar on creating a 4 column table in Word or Google Docs, for example, with columns for project name, due date, priority, and action items.

Scanning

Scanbot is an app for iOS and Android that does crisp scans, multiple page scans, recognizes QR codes and barcodes, allows annotating PDFs including uploading your signature, automatic uploading to a variety of cloud services including Dropbox and Evernote, and more.

Twitter

How to Save Tweets to Evernote is another useful post from Catherine Pope in The Digital Researcher blog.  She describes two different methods for the task.  Many academics use Twitter to create communities discussing research.  Pope, by the way, has ebooks available on using Scrivener for research (see below), both Mac and Windows editions, using Evernote for research (Windows and Mac), and using Zotero to manage references.

Writing

Scholarly Writing Hacks: 5 Lessons I Learned by Writing Every Day in June is a Profhacker article by Jennifer Ahern-Dodson that is described by its title.  Good tips for those who want to get in the habit of writing regularly.

How to Create a Content Brainstorming Dashboard to Keep Ideas Coming is an excellent article by Ann Smarty in Small Business Trends.  First mentions a couple of apps (I just use Evernote and keep a bin list), but then a number of techniques.  One I like is to step away from a project for a time… when I am writing a blog post, I first do the research, then don’t look at it again for a day or so.  When I come back to it, usually the organization of the writing of the post has suggested itself to my mind.

How to Write Your Thesis with Scrivener is an ebook written by Catherine Pope of The Digital Researcher blog.  I have been so impressed with her writing and organization, so I expect this is a really good book.  The first link is for the Windows version, and she also has a Mac version.  Both are available as Kindle versions for $4.99.  Scrivener is a popular writing tool for academics.

 

Discipline-specific Tools: Science: Electronic Lab Notebooks (ELNs)

ScienceScientists have been recording data for millennia (Bird, 2013).  Since science became more formal in the 17th century, more and more data has been produced, and tools grow ever more sophisticated.  There are still some who think that if a paper notebook that records the progress of an experiment was good enough for Sir Isaac Newton, it must be good enough for me!

There are still advantages to paper.  It is cheap, extremely portable, and if a spill destroys it, it isn’t hard to replace.  If it is lost or destroyed, however, then that experiment is (sometimes literally) up in smoke.  So as computers progressed, the idea of keeping experimental data online was born, and took hold first in the 1990s.  Now there are many products, at all levels of sophistication.  They range from free to highly expensive, and are designed for corporate or academic labs or individuals.  There are versions for all operating systems, browsers, and, in this second decade of the 21st century, there are also versions for tablets.  ELNs may be specific to one discipline, such as chemistry or biology, or more general.  The more sophisticated ones may be required to meet regulatory requirements for the FDA, or to be able to meet requirements to protect intellectual property.

Notebook Software

As will be no surprise to readers of this blog, we take particular note of note-taking software.  A number of academic researchers use Evernote or OneNote as their ELN.  Their availability on a wide variety of platforms, features that include robust search capabilities, ability to add many formats including audio and graphics, and more, make them the choice of many.  As a devotee of Evernote, I somewhat reluctantly admit that for this purpose I suspect OneNote, with its infinite levels of hierarchy, might be best.  Resources discussing each are below.  Since note-taking software is tablet-friendly, some researchers pop their iPad in a plastic bag to prevent damage from spills, and type away.  Others use Evernote with the Livescribe digital pen or the Penultimate handwriting app.  Similarly, some use Google Docs or a wiki to keep track of their information and to share between a small group of collaborators.

Other Software

However, while this software may work for some, especially academic labs where resources are short, such software lacks many desirable features of ELNs.  There was a short-lived organization, the Collaborative Electronic Notebook Systems Association (CENSA).  It developed a definition of an ELN:

CENSA define[d] an ELN as, “a system to create, store, retrieve and share fully electronic records in ways that meet all legal, regulatory, technical and scientific requirements.” (Rubacha, 2011)

 

Notebook and docs software don’t meet this definition.  Corporations were early ELN adopters and had to meet strict requirements for their data, some of it imposed by the Food and Drug Administration (pharmaceutical companies were one of the leaders in this field).  Other restrictions came from the process for patenting the results of the experiments.  Many the competitors in the field starting adding features to meet these requirements as well as other desirable features such as the ability to directly upload readings from scientific instruments.

 

Currently the ELN market is thriving, with a product available to meet almost any need.  Academics have not caught up to corporations yet in this area.  Specific labs may have an ELN, and it is increasingly necessary to keep track of the work done by everyone in the lab. This is especially true of work of labs with high personnel turnover, such as academic labs where much of the research is done by graduate students or postdocs who will be moving on to jobs elsewhere.  Labs have to have a mechanism to retain their information.  Standardization across a campus might become the norm if institutional licenses become more common.

 

As a disclaimer, I must mention that I have never done science in a laboratory, so am not qualified to make recommendations about the best ELNs to use.  My purpose in this, as with the other posts in the discipline-specific tools series, is to suggest resources for finding information from the experts in a field.  Below you will find a list of resources that may be of help.  Unfortunately I did not find one source that lists all the software AND reviews it.  If you know of such a resource please mention it in the comments!

 

The Best of the Best:

Bird, C. L., Willoughby, D, and Frey, J. G. (2013).  Laboratory Notebooks in the Digital Era: the Role of ELNs in Record Keeping for Chemistry and Other Sciences.  Chemical Society Reviews, 42, 8157-8175.  DOI: 10.1039/C3CS60122F.  Open access article with excellent explanation of ELNs and an equally good and extensive literature review.

LiMSwiki.org.  Electronic Laboratory Notebook.  Last updated August 2014.  LiMS stands for Laboratory Information Management Systems, of which ELNs are a part.  Article gives good background on ELNs (better than the Wikipedia article).

LiMSwiki.org.  ELN Vendor Page.  Page lists active vendors first (about 60 of them), then inactive vendors.  The name of the vendor, their main product(s), home country, and notes (mostly mergers and acquisitions) are provided.  Last updated October 2014.

Rubacha, M., Rattan, A. K., and Hosselet, S.C. (2011).  A Review of Electronic Laboratory Notebooks Available in the Market TodayJournal of Laboratory Automation, v. 16 (1), 90-98. Reviews over 20 ELNs according to CENSA definition.  Organization is by categories:  R&D,  Biology/Chemistry,  Quality control/Assessment or Multidisciplinary.  Reviews include awards if any,  most important features,  link to company website.   No pricing information.  The Journal of Laboratory Automation has had numerous articles with ELNs as the main or subsidiary topic, and its articles become open access after two years.

Notebook Software Sources:

Bedford, E. (2013).  Electronic Lab NotebooksGradhacker, August 22, 2013.  Primarily discusses Evernote, with links to LabGuru, iLabber (now Accelrys Notebook Cloud), and the PerkinElmer E-Notebook product.  Also discusses the Livescribe pen and the advantages of tablet computers.

Crockett, C. (2013).  Evernote for Scientists: Mastering the Electronic Lab NotebookAstrobetter, June 24, 2013.  Reports on a discussion on the Astronomers Facebook page about using Evernote as an ELN, and the features they most liked for the purpose.

Hayes, Melissa.  Electronic Lab Notebooks.  The Postdoc Experience, Nov., 19th, 2012.  Discusses using OneNote, with print backups.

Polka, J. (2014).  Exotic Electronic Lab Notebooks.  ACSB Post.  The author uses OneNote, but passes on recommendations from others about a variety of products, some specifically ELN and some not.  Products mentioned are Circus Ponies (Mac product similar to OneNote), Curio (Mac, notebook software, includes mind mapping), Hivebench (Mac or browser, ELN, specialized for biologists), LabArchives (browser, iOS and Android apps, lots of ELN features), VoodooPad (Mac OS, wiki with many features including publishing to ePub or PDF, Markdown language, Javascript, and more), and LyX (graphical editor for TeX/LaTex).

Research Guides:

ELNs Electronic Laboratory Notebooks – guide from Daureen Nesbill, University of Utah.  Home page with definition, pages on selecting an ELN, Lists of ELNs, and implementation at other institutions.  Last updated August 2013.

Electronic Lab Notebooks at Yale – this guide is an example of a campus that has chosen one product for the campus as a whole (LibArchives, in this case).  The guide defines an ELN and discusses some features of LibArchives.

Selected Articles on Other ELNs:

Giles, J. (2012).  Going Paperless: The Digital Lab.  Nature, v. 481 (7382), News feature.  General discussion of ELNs, with some specific mention of LabGuru, iLabber, and Syapse.

King, A. (2013).  Notebooks Go DigitalChemistryWorld, May 22, 2013.  Discusses ELNs in particular and their expansion from just data capture but also data analysis and visualization.  Companies with ELNs mentioned are Accelrys/Contur, IDBS, CambridgeSoft, and other players.

MacNeil, R. The Electronic Lab Notebook Blog.  No longer active, but had a variety of articles on the topic.  MacNeil is CEO of company that produces the ELN eCAT.

SelectScienceElectronic Laboratory Notebooks.  SelectScience bills itself as “trusted information for laboratory scientists”.  The ELN page has information on eleven products with a link to request pricing, and a link to the ELN producers website.

 

Mastering MOOCs with Evernote

I have been using Evernote more and more as my research portal. The Evernote Clipper makes it so easy to clip whole blog entries or articles or even pages from the internet. Copying an article or set of powerpoint slides in PDF form is also very cool. It will display the whole article one page at a time with the page turners at the top of the article. I can even highlight and annotate the article. mooc_evernote_figure_1My most recent discovery of the power of Evernote was when I recently began taking a few MOOCs for professional continuing education and also for my own fun and interest. A copyright MOOC that I finished this summer is one case in point. The MOOC was set up with videos, accompanying powerpoints and pdfs, both of which could be downloaded. There were discussion groups and weekly assignments.

I began by creating a new notebook. I have chosen to preface each notebook name with MOOC so that all my MOOC notebooks are together. I could have also created a stack for MOOC notebooks. That being said, my new notebook was called MOOC-Copyright for Librarians. I always make one of my first notes the syllabus for the class. This gives me a good reference point in the future when I want to see where specific topics were discussed. It is also really nice to have the syllabus at my fingertips so that I don’t have to keep loading it at the MOOC site while I’m in the middle of taking the class.

Most MOOCs are arranged by weekly sessions. They generally have one or more videos where the instructors present material, as well as discussion questions for a discussion wiki area, additional resources (either included if they are open-source, or listed in bibliographies), and a weekly assignment. With some MOOCs the instructors are kind enough to post their powerpoint displays separate from the video so that they can be downloaded. Those I download directly with separate notes for each. Since I am only using these files for my own study, this is a permissible use under copyright provisions.

I organize my individual Evernote notes by means of tags. I always have one tag that corresponds to the session or week number so that I can later easily sort my tags for a particular session together. Then I will have additional tags based on topics. This is becoming increasingly valuable as I find myself taking a new MOOC which sometimes revisits or expands upon topics discussed in other MOOCs I have previously completed. By using common topic tags, I can retrieve a tag and all the notes on that subject will be gathered together, no matter which MOOC or workbook I happened to be using the that note was created.

By assigning a tag of “to do” on notes that are related to assignments, I can easily organize those items by then dragging the “to do” tag to my shortcuts area in Evernote, making all those items immediately available and easy to review for due dates.

mooc_evernote_figure_2I also find Evernote a great place to directly record any notes I take while watching the instructor’s videos. If the instructor has a particularly illustrative graphic during the video that I wish to refer to later, I can both note the number of minutes into the video where the discussion occurs, and also use my windows snipping tool to capture the moment of the video with the graphic displayed. I can then paste that snip into my notes and then continue on with the video and taking notes. I found myself doing this a number of times during a beginning astronomy course.

mooc_evernote_figure_3My final use of Evernote for my MOOC study came from the discussion threads of the courses. I often found that other students had both insightful comments I wanted to capture, as well as posting interesting links and article citations that I wanted to revisit later. I found by creating one note specified as Bibliography or Links to Revisit or Additional Reading, I could easily accumulate all those valuable resources together throughout the class. Since we generally had weekly topics to specifically discuss, I also captured my answers from the discussion thread so that I had a record of my own contributions.

MOOCs are a wonderful way to expand our horizons and hone our skills through free, continuing education. While Higher Education is trying to decide how MOOCs fit into a student’s university experience and whether MOOCs give the same (or better) training as classroom-based instruction, I am reveling in the opportunity to learn from great teachers at universities across the country for free and at my own convenience. The asynchronous, “audit only” structure of MOOCs allows individuals to sample interesting topics and learn at their own level and speed.

Have I finished all the MOOCs I have signed up for? Sadly, no. Life gets in the way. But Evernote gives me an easy to use, convenient way to document all that I do learn, which puts me far ahead of where I would be had I never attempted to join a MOOC.

What about you? Have you taken any MOOCs? They are available on a wide variety of topics. I have taken MOOCs on content curation, astronomy, happiness, copyright and “new librarianship”. How have you used Evernote for study or research? Share and continue the discussion.

Links Roundup #24

saddle and ropeApps for Students

A previous roundup mentioned Lifehacker‘s annual series of posts on the best current apps/software for different operating system.  Now they have published editions of best apps/software for college students, for Windows, Mac, Android, and iPhone.

Blog/Website of Interest

Faculty Focus is a website on higher ed teaching strategies.  It now has a column called App of the Week:

App of the Week is a new feature here on Faculty Focus written by Dave Yearwood, PhD, associate professor and chair of the technology department at the University of North Dakota. Dave is an avid collector of apps and is always on the lookout for new ones that can improve student learning or simply make academic life more organized, productive and fun. Through this column, he’ll provide tips for getting started, app reviews, best practices, sneak peeks, and more. Reviews from guest contributors are welcome as well.

 

One of our favorite blogs, Gradhacker, has moved and is now available from the Inside Higher Ed site.   The new URL for it is https://www.insidehighered.com/blogs/gradhacker.

Citation/Reference/Bibliographic Management

The Evernote blog mentioned an app called RefMe, which can read the barcode of a book and create a citation for it.  It is available for Android and iPhone.  There is also a web version, through which you can manually add citations, or search for a book or journal article and it will fill in any information it finds.  The web page has a paucity of information, it needs more thorough explanations of features, but looks like it works with a variety of document formats and citation styles (though it may be that the free version has eight styles, while the premium has thousands).  The document formats is impressive – includes types such as artwork and interviews, as well as more common ones.  It also integrates with Evernote, Gmail, and Microsoft Word.  Like most apps these days it syncs in the cloud.

Importing PDFs into Zotero is a recent post by Catherine Pope of The Digital Researcher blog.  Excellent instructions including screenshots.

Educational Technology

In this blog, we do tend to prioritize discussing productivity tools that are freely available.  But now and again other tools are worth mentioning.  If you campus has access to lynda.com, they have a category of tutorials for education, and it includes what looks like a number of useful videos.  There is one on writing a research paper (haven’t looked at it, but have high hopes for it), plus ones on Google Apps for students, visual teaching techniques, flipping the classroom, and many many more.

Top Ten Educational Tools, by our friend Bonni Stachowiak, is an annotated list of tools useful for higher education faculty.  Her list does not overlap much with other lists I have seen.  Bonni’s post are always well organized, thoughtful, and infused with her warm personality.  Tools mentioned are Tapes, Zotero, Heads Up (which sounds like a good game to play with friends, as well as having educational uses), Poll Everywhere, Drafts, TimeTradeAttendance2, PlanbookiAnnotate, and the Livescribe Pen.   Be sure to read Bonni’s post for her reasons for choosing these tools.

Email

In 6 Tips and Tricks for How I Stay at Inbox Zero, Jamie Todd Rubin discusses tips and tools that help him manage his email quicker and smarter.

10 Killer Ways to Tackle Your Email Inbox gives some useful tips and tricks for reducing the time you spend on email… which makes it timely.  ;-).

Evernote/OneNote/Note-taking Software

In a previous links roundup I mentioned an article on how to export your Kindle highlights and notes to Evernote, but this article Kindle + Evernote = [heart symbol] goes much more in-depth and includes annotated screen shots.  The article is on Tim Challies’s blog.

8 Evernote Tips for Book Nerds is an article on Ebook Friendly by Piotr Kowalczyk.  It has some nice tips, like taking pictures of a stack of print books, or a set of pictures of a bookcase (the spines must be readable).  Evernote will make the text it can OCR so that you can search on the titles.  That and some of the other tips might be useful for researchers.

Evernote: How to Annotate Your PDFs is a post by Garth Scaysbrook, who wrote a small book that was a good introduction to Evernote.

Cindy Grigg, About.com’s Office Software guide, has published several posts on tips and tricks for Evernote.  They are 10 Tips and Tricks to Customize the Evernote User Interace, 17 Tips and Tricks for Sharing and Collaborating with Evernote, 10 Basic Tips and Tricks for Evernote, 15 Intermediate Tips and Tricks for Evernote, and 15 Advanced Tips and Tricks in Evernote.  An earlier links roundup mentioned her wonderful article Comparison Chart of Evernote, Microsoft OneNote, and Google Keep, which also links to more complete reviews of Evernote, OneNote, and Google Keep.

Graphics

11 Tools to Create Awesome Images for Social Media is a post by Leslie Walker, who is the social media expert for About.com.  The tools can be used for other purposes than social media.

Instruction Recorder

Georgia State University has released as open source a WordPress app Library Instruction Recorder (LIR).  If those of you who are instruction librarians don’t already have a system for keeping track of sessions offered and statistics about the sessions, this might be a nice option.

PDF Management

Readcube has been a desktop application that improves readability of PDFs by adding links to article references where it can, allows you to find altmetrics for the article, add notes and highligts to the PDF, and more.  Now there is a web version available.

Productivity

Best Productivity Books is a Lifehacker post by Melanie Pinola that provides and annotated list of some books and is open for others to add more.

To-Do Lists

Any.do for Android Now Lets You Attach Files to Your To-Do List Items is an article by Paul Sawyers in TNW.  The article discusses this new feature in the Android version, and mentions that some other to-do list apps such as Wunderlist offer a similar feature.

Twitter

In What Twitter Changes Might Mean to Academics, Anastasia Salter‘s Profhacker post discusses that Twitter users are less active than previously and so Twitter is considering changes to its algorithm that might negatively impact the features most useful to academic discourse.

Windows

Microsoft Fix It Solution Center is a review of the Microsoft site by Bob Rankin.  Looks like a useful page, though as he points out, it falls down in a few areas.  Give it a try when having troubl with Microsoft products.

WordPress

Here’s How to Be the Worst WordPress Designer on the Planet (In 8 Steps or Less) is a really really tongue-in-cheek post by Karol K. in the CodeinWP blog.  The one that resonated with me is the use of flat design which I just hate – I have mild cataracts and I just can’t see flat design elements well at all.

Discipline-Specific Tools: The Law of the Land

Scales of JusticeDo you read legal thrillers?   They are one of the genres I enjoy.  Tracking down productivity tools and sources used by lawyers and legal students may not be as exciting,  but has more utility!

My university does not have a law school,  but does have a pre-law program in the School of Public Policy (one of my liaison responsibilities) ,  so I have created a guide to legal resources.   For that reason I try to keep an eye out for useful resources.   One is the blog Law Sites,  by Robert Ambrogi.   Much of his blog deals with technology resources for practicing lawyers.   Many of those resources are fee-based,  and while he doesn’t often mention price I always assume they are expensive.   Nevertheless,  he also points to resources that are free or less expensive.   One theme I have seen on several of the sites consulted was how to improve the quality of legal resources to the poor.   Ambrogi had a post on A2J Author,  which has been available as a standalone Windows software package for a decade.   It is now available on the web (requires registering for an account),  and is “a tool used by legal aid programs and others to create automated guided interviews to guide individuals in need of legal help” .   It is not meant to replace lawyers,  but to help these usually overburdened and resource poor legal aid attorneys to maximize their efficiency.

A site with a similar focus is the Program for Legal Tech + Design,  based at Stanford.  Their mission includes public service “We are building Access to Justice tools,  to bring law to ordinary people – to engage,  educate,  and empower them), education,  and research. Students and fellows work on a variety of design projects,  such as an open source text messaging service to remind people with an upcoming court date of the day, time, and location.   Their first target is juveniles, who have a particularly high rate of failure to appear, which subjects them to fines and/or arrest.

The Legal Tech + Design group also held a two-day event to design legal communication tools, attended by law,  engineering,  and humanities students.   The first day taught design principles and discussed communication techniques.   The second day the students broke into groups and came up with prototypes of communicating legal language to consumers,  then went out to find volunteers who tried out their designs.

Similarly,  hackathons are events in which a group of volunteers,  meeting either in real life or virtually,  design apps over a short period,  usually a weekend.   Ambrogi mentions a hackathon called Hackaccess held at a recent American Bar Association (ABA) meeting.   The winner was William Palin,  who designed an iOS app for creating health proxies or living wills (PaperHealth)  and who had previously created an app called Paperwork which helps create forms used in family law such as divorce or change of name forms.  There is even a website called LegalHackathon.org.   All of this feeds into the topic of another of Ambrogi’s posts that in 20 years of writing about legal technology he has never seen as high a level of innovation as he is seeing now.   He wrote this after attending a conference called ReInvent Law NYC,  where 36 entrepreneurs presented on their ideas or products.

So with all this going on,  what are lawyers and legal students using today to increase their productivity?  As you might expect,  they use many of the same products as everyone else is using.   Evernote is mentioned often.   In fact,  Rocket Matter,  a firm that produces legal practice management software,  put out an 18-page PDF called Cloud Planet: A Lawyer’s Guide to Evernote.   It is a basic guide,  nothing new for the experienced Evernote user.   Its lengthiest discussion is on security,  not surprising since lawyers deal with so much confidential information.   Rocket Matter considers their practice management product a productivity tool,  and they have a blog called Legal Productivity.   It discusses a wide variety of topics from what to expect from the new Apple devices to free sources of graphics to blogging tips to website metrics.

Rocket Matter isn’t alone.   Rival company My Case,  which also sells legal practice management software,  has a blog with a category for productivity.   One post on top iPad tips for lawyers has some general productivity apps,  but a couple that are for trial presentations,  Trialpad and Exhibit View.  Another post was on tips for using Google that had at least one I had not heard of,  which allows you to create an alarm.   Type “set timer 25 minutes” (perfect for a Pomodoro!) or any other amount of time.

The lawyer who wrote the post on Google tips has her own blog,  The Inspired Lawyer.   She writes on a variety of productivity tips and tools,  including such things as work-life balance.   One post many of us can use contains tips on dealing with what she calls “rabbit holes”  – web sites that you start reading only to look up and realize how much time you have spent on nothing useful,  sites such as Buzzfeed or Facebook. She also does links roundup posts,  called “Links I Like” which made me empathize with her immediately.  :-)

Another legal blog with a category for productivity is Family Law Lawyer Tech and Practice,  by John Harding.   He includes reviews of software and hardware,  mentions new technology available,  and more.

Sites more specific to law school and law students include the Center for Legal Pedagogy‘s page on time management and productivity tools for law school and bar study.   It links to a number of tools in various categories including time management and productivity,  focus tools,  to-do lists and task management tools,  and organization.  Harvard Law School Library has a guide to mobile apps which has a page for productivity tools  Topics include apps for to-do lists,  notes,  scanning,  and more.   Kincaid C.  Brown of the University of Michigan’s law school library has a short PDF called Make Your Life Easier: Free Online Productivity Tools and Resources.  The items listed are primarily Firefox add-ons,  and are mostly general tools such as Zotero,  but there are a couple specific to law.    One is Jureeka! which,  when browsing a web page,  provides links to the full text of free sources of such legal texts as federal statutes,  caselaw,  regulations,  and more.   The other is CiteGenie,  which can provide bibliographic citations in either Bluebook or ALWD style for legal materials.

This is a whirlwind tour of sites for productivity tips and tools for legal study and practice.   If you have your own favorites,  please add them in a comment