Productivity by the Numbers

As summer reaches to the end of July, thoughts begin to turn toward a new fall semester of classes, activities and students for many of us. Now is a great time to spend a few moments and take a look at some other ideas for productivity.  Let’s consider productivity by the numbers…

Only 2 Rules: How to Manage Your Projects with Personal Kaban:   http://facilethings.com/blog/en/personal-kanban

3 reasons why blogging helps research productivity:  http://www.scilogs.com/expiscor/three-reasons-why-blogging-helps-research-productivity/

4 Ways You’re Lying to Yourself About Being Productive: http://www.themuse.com/advice/4-ways-youre-lying-to-yourself-about-being-productive

5 Things You can learn about Productivity from Olympic Athletes: http://lightarrow.com/5-things-can-learn-productivity-olympic-athletes

6 Amazing Social Media Productivity Tools:  http://www.jeffbullas.com/2013/10/04/6-amazing-social-media-productivity-tools/

7 things Star Wars Taught Me about Productivity: http://99u.com/articles/21815/8-things-star-wars-taught-me-about-productivity

8 Ways the Librarian of the Future will keep Themselves Busy http://www.teachthought.com/literacy-2/8-ways-the-librarian-of-the-future-will-keep-themselves-busy/

9 Ways to Use Evernote To Increase Productivity: http://www.smallbiztechnology.com/archive/2014/03/9-ways-to-use-evernote-to-increase-productivity.html/#.UyGpeIWTQyE

10 of the most controversial productivity tips that actually work:  http://blog.bufferapp.com/10-of-the-most-controversial-productivity-tips-you-will-read-today

 

Links Roundup #21

A PhotographerBlog of Interest

Teaching in Higher Ed is a blog on PKM, educational technology, and curation as applied to higher education.  The author is Bonni Stachowiak, who teaches courses in business, marketing, leadership, and human resources at Vanguard University.  Check out, for example, her post Personal Knowledge Management Online Modules and Articles – she teaches PKM as part of classes for doctoral students.

 

Citation/Reference Management

Catherine Pope, in her Digital Researcher blog, has some clear and concise posts on using various tools for academic research.  She has started a series on using Zotero, and one of the posts is How to Insert Citations Using Zotero, on how to insert citations into Word.  Finding articles on how to use particular reference managers is easier than finding articles on adding to your word processor, and I expect the directions are similar for Libre Office and for other reference managers.  I am not fond of Zotero myself, as I and others in my library have found the plug in slows down our computers by a major factor.  Have installed and uninstalled it twice for this reason; however, I know that it is popular with many users.

Decision Matrix

Thorin Klosowski of LifeHacker explains the Important/Urgent decision matrix more clearly than I have seen it explained before.  The difference is that urgent tasks require immediate action, while important tasks are ones that serve long term goals.

Ebooks for Free on Apps and Tools

MakeUseOf, a site I’d like to explore more in my copious spare time, offers free ebooks on computer-related topics, mostly of the how-to-use variety.  It includes guides to most computer operating systems, tablets and smartphones, but also tools we’ve mentioned such as Scrivener, Evernote, IFTTT, Markdown, PHP, tumblr, Feedly, and many more.  I don’t know their quality or currency, but it was recommended on the Scout Report’s best of the year list.  They also have a Top List section, which has the best software for various platforms.  Included is a section for the best Android productivity apps,  and the best iPhone productivity apps.

Evernote/OneNote/Notebook Apps

Whiteboards, Webmeetings, Evernote, and Skitch is one of Jamie Todd Rubin‘s Going Paperless columns.  It shows how he captures screens and whiteboards in meetings and marks them up with Evernote’s Skitch to keep them and be able to search them.

Springpad is a notebook software that is shutting down at the end of June.  Springpad users have created a Google Drive spreadsheet with alternatives, including descriptions and features.

Jamie Todd Rubin‘s post 10 Ways I Used Evernote to Plan and Track Our Kitchen Remodel (part of his Going Paperless series), has, on the surface, nothing to do with academic work.  However, it is an excellent example of the power of notebook software to organize projects, making it well worth a quick perusal .

Catherine Pope of The Digital Researcher blog has a brief but useful post Voice Recognition with Evernote.

IFTTT

IFTTT has introduced an email digest channel.  “The Email Digest Channel is a native IFTTT Channel that collects content and sends you an email digest on a daily or weekly schedule.”  There are plenty of example recipes to get you started.

Microsoft Office

AskBobRankin pointed to two useful sites:  WordTips (Ribbon Interface) and Excel Tips (Ribbon Interface).  Both offer loads of tips for using those programs, are searchable, have tips by category, and offer a weekly newsletter to which one can subscribe.  There is also a similar site for Microsoft Windows tips.

Procrastination

Lifehacker‘s post Set a Procrastination Free Block to Get Important Tasks Done discusses the concept of adding a time to your calendar that is procrastination free.  Start off small and build up to create a habit.

Productivity

Chris Bailey took a year after graduating college to intensively study productivity, and his article discusses 10 Lessons I Learned from A Year of Productivity Experiments.  I like particularly his discussion that productivity results from how well you manage your time, attention, and energy.

A Chrome extension called Dayboard takes an interesting approach to keeping you focused on tasks:  every day you choose five or so goals that are most important to accomplish that day, and in every new tab you open those items are at the top.  Should cut down on distractions!

A blog called Barking up the Wrong Tree, by Eric Barker, lists 6 Things the Most Productive People Do Every Day, taken from an interview with Tim Ferriss, author of the 4-hour Workweek.  While I don’t find much new in the list of 6, it is a nice summary of some very useful productivity tips.  In looking at Barker’s blog, I found another useful post – How to Motivate Yourself: 3 Steps Backed by Science.  He’s right – the hardest part of a task is getting started!

Research Management Tools

Readcube has always been an interesting product, as it adds value to reading a research paper.  For instance, it makes references live links when it can.  Also offers annotation and other features for scholars.  Now they are adding more functionality, according to Readcube Adds More Features to Its Popular Research Management Platform.  It includes SmartCite, for easy citation of papers in a Readcube library, integration with institutional proxies, searching literature within the program, and more.

RSS

Waqas Ahmad on Addictive Tips has an article Blogtrottr Turns RSS Feeds into Email News Letters & Lets You Filter Stories – the title pretty much says it all.  Blogtrottr lets you get email digests of your RSS feeds.

Statistical/Data Analysis

Data is increasingly being used and produced in all academic disciplines, including the sciences, social sciences, AND humanities.  So many academics are learning to use R, an open source and powerful statistical analysis software.  Andrea Zellner in a recent Gradhacker post Learning R has useful tips and tools for getting started.

Team Communication

An announcement by IFTTT that they now have a channel for Slack introduced me to that product which looks like it could serve as an intranet.  It has a freemium model, and looks like the free version could be very useful for educators.  “Slack brings all your communication together in one place. It’s real-time messaging, archiving and search for modern teams.”  It is organized around a good search engine, so you can find any communication, document, etc.  It also integrates with a lot of external services, though the free version limits you to five external integrations.  Among the services are Dropbox, GitHub, Google Drive, Google+ Hangouts, IFTTT, MailChimp, RSS feeds, Trello, Twitter, and Zapier.  The big one I see missing is Evernote.  Please add a comment if you have used it.

Time Management

Francis Wade of 2Time Labs has a library of academic papers relating to time management. The library is arranged with images of the first pages in the format of a slide show.  He and his group do a good job of providing information on time management.  I read his book Bill’s Im-perfect Tiime Management Adventure (and wish that all organizations were run by the principles it discusses) and am looking forward to his next book.

Top 100 Tools for Learning

Voting is now open for the 2014 list, which will be announced September 29th.  This will be the 8th annual survey.  While you are votiing, check out the 2013 list.

Twitter

Catherine Pope of The Digital Researcher blog is quickly becoming one of my favorite writers on academic workflow.  Her article Using Twitter for Research has some wonderful tips for finding Twitter streams for specific academic disciplines as well as other useful tips.

Writing Productively

Kelly Hanson‘s GradHacker post Scheduling Summer Writing integrates a number of academic productivity techniques and tools including setting realistic goals, using calendars and to-do lists for writing goals, and using techniques such as Pomodoro to get writing done.

 

Discipline-Specific Tools: Digital Humanities 3: History

building with poolThis is the third and last, at least for now, post in my series of tools for the digital humanities (DH).  I continue to have the two problems I mentioned in my last post, of there being too many good resources to cover (which, admittedly, can be a good problem to have), and of the fact that DH tools don’t readily fit into one specific discipline.  I’ve divided the last two posts into literature and history, but the tools for one often work for the other as well.  Historians often analyze texts, as do those in literature; literature professors and students are creating maps and timelines as are historians.  So the divisions I’ve created are to a degree arbitrary.

In this post I want to cover tools for mapping, creating timelines, and creating exhibitions. First however, I want to mention a great resource that provides tutorials on tools of use to digital humanists, but with a slant towards historians.  It is The Programming Historian, which offers online, open access, peer-reviewed tutorials to help humanists learn digital tools, techniques, and workflows.  Tutorials are in the categories of Application Programming Interfaces (APIs), Data Management, Data Manipulation, Mapping and GIS, Omeka Exhibit Building, Python Programming Basics, Topic Modeling, and Web Scraping.

 Mapping/Geospatial Data

Mapping, often drawing on geospatial data, can create rich representations whether for projects by faculty, graduate students, or undergraduates.  Many of the resources for maps/GIS and timelines have come from J. McClurkan’s Digital Liberal Arts Workshop Links and Resources.

One recent mapping resource is Maphub, a prototype for annotating and georeferencing high quality digital maps.  Take a look at the video on the top page to see all the features, but you can, for example, add annotations from Wikipedia, and open views in Google Earth.  Annotations can be enriched by sources that, for example, add tags for geographic references in other languages.

Naturally, one of biggest map resources is Google Maps.  Usually thought of in a personal context, it can be used in the classroom as well.  HOW TO: Get the Most Out of Google Maps provides a nice introduction to navigating the maps, as does How to Use Google Maps – Navigating Google Maps.

Maplib is another product which allows you to make map images zoomable and searchable, and annotate and share the maps.  It also offers the Maplib integrator, which allows you to host maps on your own site.

Some of these products make a mess of the categories mentioned above.  Neatline, for example is a very nice product that fits into all three categories.  It is a collection of tools that act as plugins for Omeka, the exhibition software, that allows one to add both mapping and timelines to an exhibit.  Take a look at the exhibit on the top Neatline page to see how attractively it can package valuable information.

WorldMap is another excellent mapping tool, this one from Harvard: “Build your own mapping portal and publish it to the world or to just a few collaborators. WorldMap is open source software.”  It allows the user such features as uploading large datasets and using them to create layers, creating and editing maps that can link to media content, sharing to large or small groups, exporting data, using online cartographic tools, and publishing privately or publicly.  Click on view map to see examples, such as this Women In the World map.  See also the FAQ and the Profhacker post Using the WorldMap Platform.

VisualEyes is a multifaceted web authoring tool that brings together maps, charts, video, timelines, and data into compelling educational resources.  It was developed at the Virginia Center for Digital History, and unsurprisingly tends to be heavy on resources about Thomas Jefferson, to the extent that the narrator of the project on the top page says that the project one year took a break from all things Jefferson.

Timelines

Up until the digital age, timelines were labors of love, time consuming, if one will forgive the pun.  These days tools make it possible for anyone who can do basic html to create visually handsome timelines. Simile Widgets is open source software that arose from the Simile Project at MIT, and houses widgets primarily for data visualization.  One of those widgets is Timeline, which creates interactive timelines.  Brian Croxall, a digital humanities professor at Emory, created an excellent tutorial, Build Your Own Interactive Timeline.  It uses the timeline and exhibit widgets from Simile, and Google spreadsheets to create the timelines.

Timeline JS is another project that can be created from a Google Spreadsheet or the more complex JSON software.  It can bring in media from a variety of social media including Twitter, Flickr, Google Maps, YouTube, Vimeo, Vine, Wikipedia, and more.  Amy Cavender in a Profhacker post on the software points to good features such as its easy inclusion of BC dates and that it resizes properly in responsive web designs.

Another winner in the cross-category stakes is TimeMapper,  which combines timelines and mapping (Doh!).  It is open source,  and came from an Open Knowledge Foundation project.   It is built on other open source software such as Timeline JS, and,  like several of the other programs mentioned in this post,  uses a Google spreadsheet to power the resulting display (see Croxall’s tutorial on Simile as an example).

Mapstory, like TimeMapper,  also includes both timelines and mapping,  but looks quite different.  Basically it is an animated map built on data, so you see the map change as the time and data change.  It is nice, but hard to design well…sometimes the data are slow to move, creating a map that is about as exciting as watching paint dry.  For a good example, see the mapstory of Olympic gold medal wins (note that it keeps running on a loop once you click play until you click stop play):

 

Exhibitions

For the most part, only one software is mentioned by academics for creating exhibitions, and it is Omeka.  It is beloved by all kinds of archivists, but it is easy enough to use that it has become a teaching tool – for example, a final assignment in an undergraduate course might be to create an Omeka exhibit.  Omeka is open source software from the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media at George Mason University.  Profhacker has discussed Omeka in more than one post.  For example, see a post introducing it and a followup on using it in the classroom.  For an idea of what it can do, take a look at the introductory video:

 

For more examples of what Omeka can do, see the showcase page.

Conclusions

For a field that only hit the tipping point a few years ago, the Digital Humanities is now producing a wonderful set of (mostly open source) tools that allow the creation of an even richer set of content, packaged attractively to draw in the reader.  There is now so much material on  DH that even in three posts I can only cover some of best resources and tools that I have found (see the first post for general resources), and only a couple of subdisciplines, literature and history, rather than the full range of humanities.  I find that I am envious of students who are exposed to such a wonderful array of tools they can use in assignments, and faculty who have new ways to add value to the academic corpus.

Works Cited

Cavender, A. (2013).  Easy Timelines with Timelines JS. Profhacker, retrieved June 29, 2014.

Croxall, B. (n.d).  Build Your Own Interactive Timeline. Brian Croxall, retrieved June 29, 2014.

Lawson, K.M.  (2014).  Add Space and Time to Your Omeka ExhibitsProfhacker, retrieved June 29, 2014.

Lawson, K.M. (2014).  Using the WorldMap PlatformProfhacker, retrieved June 29, 2014.

McClurken, J. (2014)  Digital Liberal Arts Workshop Links and Resources.    Google Docs.

McClurken, J. (2010).  Teaching with OmekaProfhacker, retrieved June 29, 2014.

Meloni, J. (2010).  A Brief Introduction to OmekaProfhacker, retrieved June 29, 2014.

Nations, D.  (n.d).  How to Use Google Maps – Navigating Google MapsWeb Trends About.com, retrieved June 29, 2014.

Van Grove, J. (2008)  How to: Get the Most Out of Google MapsMashable, retrieved June 29, 2014.

Personal Digital Archiving Train the Trainer Workshop in Georgia

We are passing along this invitation from a colleague to a workshop.  Please do contact the people mentioned in the invitation if you are interested:

You’re invited: Personal Digital Archiving Train-the-Trainer Workshop from SGA, ARMA, and GLA

The Society of Georgia Archivists, the Atlanta chapter of ARMA International, and the Georgia Library Association invite you to attend a train-the-trainer workshop on Personal Digital Archiving. Designed for information professionals from all backgrounds and levels of experience, this workshop will empower participants to see themselves as archivists of their own digital records and will cover topics ranging from best practices for creating digital records and rights issues in the digital landscape to strategies for storing digital records and emerging developments regarding the digital afterlife.

After completing the workshop, attendees will be encouraged to teach the workshop to their users–the public, co-workers, students, etc.–in their own diverse institutional contexts. The end goal of the workshop will thus be to advocate for informational professionals as a source of expertise for assisting individuals (the public, family members, students, corporate employees, etc.) with their personal digital archiving needs.

The workshop will be held at the Georgia Archives in Morrow on Thursday, 7/31, from 10:00 AM – noon, and will be free to attend. Space limited to 25 participants. If you would like to secure a space in the workshop, please RSVP to outreach@soga.org by 7/17/2014.

Workshop facilitators:
Oscar Gittemeier, Youth Services Librarian, Atlanta-Fulton Public Library, East Atlanta Branch
Wendy Hagenmaier, Digital Collections Archivist, Georgia Tech Archives, SGA Outreach Manager
Michelle Kirk, Records Manager, VP Corporate Records and Information Management, SunTrust Banks, Inc.

Please forward widely!

Wendy Hagenmaier
SGA Outreach Manager
Digital Collections Archivist
Georgia Institute of Technology Archives
outreach@soga.org

 

 

Book Review: Curation Nation by Steven Rosenbaum

For today’s blog, I’d like to take a break from the discussion of content curation tools in order to review a key book in the development of the content curation movement. In 2011, Steven Rosenbaum wrote Curation Nation: How to Win in a World Where Consumers are Creators. While his intended audience is for-profit internet entrepreneurs, the book offers a good grounding in the breadth of the content curation arena. Arianna Huffington, co-founder and chief editor for the Huffington Post calls Rosenbaum an “evangelist for the transformational power of curation done right — acknowledging the power of creation while respecting the rules of the road. Curation Nation combines a true believer’s passion with a clear-eyed practicality, and the result is an indispensable guide to the brave new media world.”

Rosenbaum does not intend the book to be a “how to” manual for content curation. You won’t find step-by-step guides to creating your Scoop.It account, or a comparison of the key features of Scoop.It to Storify. Instead, he offers up a valuable grounding of the importance of curation for publishers, brand marketers – virtually any entrepreneur hoping to launch a successful web-based venture.

Rosenbaum begins by describing what curation is. Curation, he asserts, was developed because of “our need to be able to find information in coherent, reasonably contextual groupings.” (p5) The Online Etymology Dictionary describes the roots of the term “curation” as “a taking care, attention, management” Indeed, when one thinks of a museum curator, for example, the image of an individual who is taking special care of his collection immediately comes to mind. Likewise, content curator takes on the responsibility for making sense of the content he captures online, providing a thoughtful collection for others.

Rosenbaum tells a number of stories throughout his book and introduces a number of interesting individuals. One of the best definitions for this new job of a content curator that he shares is from the 2009 Manifesto/Job Description of Content Curator by Rohit Bhargava (p. 14) who states: “The future of the social web will be driven by these Content Curators, who take it upon themselves to collect and share the best content online for others to consume and take on the role of citizen editors, publishing highly valuable compilations of content created by others.”

For several early chapters, Rosenbaum illustrates the history of curation by discussing various types of curation, from the Dewey Decimal system, to Reader’s Digest to Huffington Post to Shawn Collins who runs one of the advertising industry’s biggest networking conferences. This makes for entertaining reading and provides a broader view of content curation, taking us past the details of how we can best use Scoop.It to curate blog entries from around the web, and instead giving us a chance to step by and consider the big picture of information and how it is created and spread in the world.

Rosenbaum believes that in order to successfully implement content curation in a business, there are three major areas of focus: the publishing end, advertising (or affiliate marketing) and syndication, or spreading your message in such a way that it draws new consumers to your site. Blogging remains the core of content curation. Rosenbaum explains: “Blogging and curation are like parts of a set of Russian nesting dolls, with individual bloggers increasingly becoming link gatherers and curators.”(p161) So, if all these individual bloggers on one side and the affiliate marketers and businesses on the other are all creating and curating content, how are we going to keep the web from being just one giant, mixed-up, unruly mess of content like the old days of the Wild West? That, Rosenbaum says, is where content strategy comes in! Created by Kristina Halvorson in her book Content Strategy, we need to plan for not only the creation and curation of content, but also to step back and define why this content is valuable to publish in the first place, where it would be most effective, and how we will take care of it over the long haul.

So what is my opinion of the book Curation Nation? I found it an interesting read with many anecdotes and factoids about well-known businesses such as Huffington Post and Pepsi-Cola and their DEWmocracy campaign to name only a few. It was a good book for the discussion of the theory behind content curation, its effect on business and the development of the web today. It did tend to ramble a bit, and there were some claims the author made that I felt were totally off base. “Search is dead. It’s over. Done. Gone” (p252) His grand example “proving” this was a Google Image Search of his own name which brought back a number of different people and.. a dog? Isn’t he just proving that either the searcher is not expert enough with his searching capability or the search engine is not robust enough? At least, that is the answer that cries out from the librarian in me. But I am only one person. Read Curation Nation for yourself and make your own opinion. At the very least it will encourage you to start a conversation with someone about it.  You can also listen to the TED talk that Rosenbaum did at TEDxGrandRapids.

Links Roundup #20

A PhotographerComputer Coding for Web Design and Development

Bento is a curated guide to the best resources for web design.  Robin Good describes it on Scoop.it:

Bento is a website that, thanks to its author Jon Chan and the many user contributions, has gathered, organized and curated the very best resources available online where you can learn how to code.

From html to javascript, ruby, php, Java, perl, Bento offers learning guidance for over 80 different technologies and coding languages.

Great resources for those who need an introduction to coding for the web.

Citation Management

Docear (pronounced dogear) is a reference manager/mind mapping software which is a totally rewrite of SciPlore.  It now has a user manual, so even more worth taking a look.

Digital Workflows

Although my library is predominantly Windows, Francis Hittinger on Columbia’s Butler Library Blog has started an exciting series Digital Workflows for Academic Research on the Mac.  It starts with an introductory post, then one on PDF Management, and Sente for PDF Management.  Looks like the best way to follow the series is by selecting the Francis Hittinger link above.

Evernote/OneNote/Notebook Software

A lot of people are re-evaluating whether to use OneNote now it has added some features and is free.  Lifehacker has an article Migrate Your Data from Evernote to OneNote with This Tool, which discusses a third party tool to export data from Evernote to OneNote, since OneNote doesn’t itself support such an import.

Michael Hyatt has written extensively on Evernote, and has a post that links to all his posts on Evernote.  He also has a category on his blog for Productivity posts.

Eric Griffith‘s 20 Tips Every Evernote User Must Know is a good introduction to Evernote.  Yeah, I know I mention a lot of similar posts, but since the program changes constantly it is always nice to have an up-to-date article.  This one also captures the essence of Evernote better than most.  Show this to someone you want to introduce to Evernote.

Mickey of the BLOSSOMING-Fledgling Researcher has created something marvelous for academic researchers.  It is a downloadable OneNote Binder Tailored for Academic Researchers and Writers.  Take a look at the video to see some of the features, but it provides a great place for researchers to start organizing.

Evernote, LinkedIn Team Up to Tackle Business Cards – this post from Rachel King on ZDNet discusses a recent partnership by the two companies to make electronic capture of business cards easier.  Taking a picture of a business card in Evernote will prompt LinkedIn to open.  iOS support now, Android support promised.  Also see the official Evernote blog post, and just to be obsessively complete, the LinkedIn blog post.

Julio Ojeda-Zapata provides yet another OneNote vs. Evernote article, now that OneNote is available on so many operating systems.  It is amusing, after reading several of these articles, to see how people respond so differently to the two.  Mr. Ojeda-Zapata is a major Evernote user, so comes down on the side of it as the better of the two, mainly because of the Evernote web clipper.  Your mileage may vary.

Google Drive

Mashable’s 8 Things You Didn’t Know You Could Do with Google Drive discusses features that aren’t obvious unless you know about them.  For example, I didn’t know you could crop photos with Drive.

IFTTT

IFTTT now has an Android app as well as an iOS app.

The Big List of IFTTT Recipes: 34 Hacks for Social Media Productivity – this post from Buffer by Kevan Lee is one of the better articles I’ve seen on recipes you can create with IFTTT.

Organizing Conference/Meeting Notes

David Lee King was at Computers in Libraries recently, as were Crystal and I.  In the post Taking Useful Notes at a Conference, he discusses ideas for making the notes taken at a conference and in a meeting more useful.

Personal Learning Networks (PLNs)

Howard Rheingold via Chuck Frey, gives an excellent overview of how to create and maintain a PLN in How to Cultivate a Personal Learning Network:  Tips from Howard Rheingold.

Productivity Tools

ProfHacker is doing a series of posts called Back to the Basics which revisits foundational productivity tools.  A recent one is Back to the Basics: The Urgent/Important Matrix, discussing Stephen Covey’s four quadrant matrix that ranks activities as to how urgent and how important they are.  The previous post in the series is Back to the (GTD) Basics: The Two-Minute Rule.

 Reference Management

The post In the Year E+1: A Mendeley Update Victor Henning, one of the founders of Mendeley, discusses what has happened since Mendeley’s acquisition by Elsevier.  The main item of interest to me is that they are increasing Mendeley’s integration with Scopus, Science Direct, and SciVal.

Smartpens

Smartpens Wise Up is a brief article from Ask Bob Rankin that serves as a useful introduction to smartpens.  I keep mentioning smartpens because I think they are great for students.

Software

Ask Bob Rankin has a column GO FREE! Replace Your Paid Software!  It discusses alternatives to Microsoft Office and Outlook, Anti-virus software, backup, personal finance, photo/graphics creation and editing, and operating systems.

Stress Management

Mother Jones recent article Are You Checking Work Email in Bed? At the Dinner Table?  On Vacation? discusses the stress that comes from always being connected to work electronically.  Two small studies – one of employees unplugging nights, weekends, and vacations – and the other on being totally unplugged showed no decrease in productivity while considerable reductions in stress levels.

Task Automation

Belle Beth Cooper published an article The Beginner’s Guide to Putting the Internet to Work for You:  How to Easily Save 60 Minutes a Day.  She mentions IFTTT, Zapier, Alfred, and Keyboard Maestro.  The latter two are Mac only.

Text Editors

The Lifehacker post Five Best Text Editors is the result of votes from readers.  Text editors are useful for writing computer code and for distraction free writing of any kind.

Text Recognition from Images

ProfHacker has a post Grabbing Text from Images with Project Naptha, about the Chrome browser extenstion Project Naptha to do basic optical character recognition (OCR) on web images.

To-Do Lists

Todoist is a task management software.  Lifehacker, in a recent post, discusses new features such as adding attachments, photos, and voice notes.  These features are free only if you have shared a project with someone else, otherwise they are part of the premium subscription which is $20 per year.

Karol K. of the blog New Internet Order has a useful post 1 Simplistically Simple Way to Simplify Your To-Do List that discusses using paper (which I disagree with for my personal system), but having no more than 5 goals to achieve in one day.  That sounds like a truly valuable idea.

Video Annotation

Adeline Koh in ProfHacker writes a review of Vidbolt, which allows one or more people to make comments on YouTube videos.  She is excited about using it in class assignments, but I can see it also might be useful to librarians creating tutorials or other library-related videos.

Writing Apps

Thorin Klosowski writes an excellent roundup of writing tools for Lifehacker in The Best Apps for Any Kind of Writing.  Included are tools for any kind of writing (Microsoft Word), Novelists (Scrivener, Ulysses III), Distraction-Free Writing (FocusWriter), Screenplays (Final Draft, Fade In, Trelby), Editing (Hemingway, Marked 2, Phraseology), and Journaling (Day One, RedNotebook), Writing on the iPad (Editorial), and Writing on an Android Tablet (Write).  We’ve mentioned before that a lot of academics like Scrivener.