Get 22GB of free cloud storage with Copy

Have you maxed out your Dropbox folder? Is your Google Drive filled up? No need to buy more cloud storage! Just check out Copy, a new online storage service which gives you 20GB of free cloud storage in three easy steps:

  1. Sign up for Copy's free plan by following this link.
  2. Validate your email address
  3. Install the Copy app on at least one computer or mobile device

And done! On top of Copy's 15GB free online storage, you and I both got topped up with another 5GB because you signed up via my link. Just because – how great is that?

Get free cloud storage here

One moment, didn't I say 22GB? Yes, I did. In order to scoop up two more free GB of cloud storage, simply go to the online File Browser on Copy's webpage. Copy has a little tour there for you to show you around, and the first step asks you to tweet about this awesome new service. Yeah, I am not too proud to tweet for free storage space. One moment later my account grew to 22GB – free storage, forever.

Tweet about Copy's cloud storage service for an additional 2 GB
[Read more...]

Use Diigo to annotate and organize the web

Do you sometimes wonder how people were doing research in the pre-internet age? I do this quite often, and do you know what I am thinking right after? How the hell did I do research on the web before I knew about Diigo?!!

Diigo is one of my core information management tools. Some people call it a social bookmarking service, but it is far more than that. With Diigo, you can:

  • Highlight text on webpages in up to four colours
  • Add comments to your highlights
  • Add floating sticky notes to record your own thoughts
  • Save bookmarks and organize them via tags in your Diigo database
  • Save webpages into Diigo's Read Later list
  • Add a description to remind you why you saved this particular bookmark
  • Save the entire webpage into your Diigo database via its Cache function
  • Share your annotations and bookmarks with the world, or with colleagues via lists and groups.

In short, Diigo is an amazing tool for knowledge workers to annotate, archive and organize the web – either for yourself or in collaboration with others. And as an educator, you even get a free upgrade to a Diigo Education account with unlimited highlighting. Cha-ching!!

Diigo - highlighting and annotate the web
[Read more...]

Seven simple tricks to impressively speed up slow iPads

Remember the day when you took your iPad out of its box for the first time? How fast it ran? How snappy it was? Yeah, those were the days. For me, these days are long over; I am still rocking a first gen iPad that is getting a little old after more than three years of great use. But why upgrade when it still works? In this post, I am sharing 7 simple tricks how you can speed up your iPad (and iPhone) to squeeze some more life out of it.

I am not pretending that this will make your old iPad act like a new one. There are some physical limits on what an older model can do. But I can tell you this: These seven tricks transformed my iPad from “a pain to use” to “reasonably fast”. In my books, this is a huge win, because I am able to wait out another entire iPad generation before upgrading.

I know what you are thinking: You have seen posts like this before, so how is this one different? Well, because I actually took the time and researched it. And guess what: what most people will tell you about how to speed up your iPad – closing apps and rebooting the device – will in most cases not help a bit. [Read more...]

Stop wasting time closing all apps in the multitasking bar – it’s a myth

Many people on the web, including some “Geniuses” working in Apple stores, claim that you should regularly clear out all the apps from the multitasking bar in order to speed app your iPad and to preserve battery. I will tell you a secret: it’s a myth – so save yourself the time and don’t do it. There are a few exceptions in that sometimes it makes sense to close a few certain apps – this post tells you what these are.

Copernicus wasn't a great fan of superstitious beliefs - what would he have said to the "clear-the-multitasking-bar" myth?

Copernicus wasn’t a great fan of superstitious beliefs – what would he have said to the “clear-the-multitasking-bar” myth?

Manually closing all apps in the multitasking bar won’t increase the performance of your iPad or iPhone. It is a superstitious belief, like lets say, that the sun revolves around the earth. And like every good myth, believing in it makes total sense. Isn’t it obvious that the sun revolves around the Earth? We are standing here still, but the sun rises in the East and sets in the West! And isn’t it obvious that apps that are running in the multitasking bar take up resources? Its called a multitasking bar, after all, they must be doing something!

But it is a myth, and if Copernicus was still around, he would squish the regularly-close-apps-from-the-multitasking-bar myth as much as he squished the other one. [Read more...]

Android vs. iPad: What platform will be the long-term winner?

Is the Nexus 10 Android tablet killing the iPad 4?Once upon a time, one tablet ruled over the post-PC world, and this tablet was called iPad. Competing Android tablets soon entered the market, but an “iPad Killer” was nowhere to be found. Life was simple.

However, three years after the first iPad has been unveiled, the tablet world is rapidly shifting. Microsoft entered the market with its Surface tablets, and Android powered devices such as Google’s Nexus 10 lure consumers with better hardware specs than the mother of all tablets – the iPad.

There are several detailed reviews out there that compare the iPad 4 with Google’s Nexus 10 Android tablet (see here and here), and all conclude that the Nexus is the closest competitor to the iPad. In many hardware specs, including screen resolution, the Nexus indeed outperforms the iPad! Maybe it makes you wonder: Is the iPad still the best choice for you? Maybe you can save some dollars by going for a less expensive Android tablet? (I willfully ignore the new Windows tablet for now, whose initial sales and reception were quite a disappointment.)

The “Android vs. iPad” decision is a tough call because of its long-term consequences: I don’t know about you, but I rather build and fine-tune my computing workflow only once. And the situation is even trickier when not only your own time and dollars are on the line, but when you are trying to decide what platform should be adopted for a school-wide tablet program.

I don’t pretend to have the answer here. I don’t even have an unbiased opinion, since my own workflow is heavily based on Apple’s ecosystem: I sync between my iPad and my Mac when annotating papers, organizing my tasks and notes, conceptualizing ideas, and I use all kinds of helpful iPad apps in my research and studies.

See, I am a big advocate of integrating tablets with traditional computers, which gives me a somewhat different perspective on the iPad vs. Android debate: Hardware specs are less important than you think – its the ecosystem that is all important! [Read more...]

Being a Blogger for 12 Months: A Festschrift in Honour of academiPad

It has been exactly one academic year since academiPad was reborn in January 2012. On the last Sunday before university would pick up again after the holidays, I finally put a New Year’s resolution into practice: I started blogging.

Just about ten days earlier I realized that, being a PhD student in Marketing, I really had no excuse not to participate in this global phenomenon that so radically is reshaping consumption and marketing alike. Maybe ten years ago, it was permissible to procrastinate watching TV – after all, you had to keep in touch with advertising in order to inform your studies in marketing! But when was the last time you watched a full block of commercials? Me too. Today, in order to stay on top of what is happening in marketing, you have to participate in the creation and curation of content, in the exchange of ideas, in word of mouth, in the chatter of social media, and even in the modest gains of affiliate marketing. As a PhD student in marketing, you have to be a blogger. [Read more...]

Looking for a stylish iPad case? Check out these 9 beauties!

The iPad’s sleek design is one of the main reason why I am so fond of this particular tablet. I simply enjoy a beautiful design, and I always found that a stylish iPad case can add, not distract, to the overall iPad experience. This post is a running list of beautiful iPad cases that I find around the web.

TwelveSouth BookBook iPad case [Read more...]

How to use QR codes in research and teaching

Nowadays it is hard to not see QR codes printed in advertisements, on products, and everywhere else. QR codes are one of the biggest trends in marketing right now, and you might wonder: can QR codes be of any use for academics? I say yes, and I urge you to use your own QR code everywhere it makes sense. That is, whenever there is an opportunity to supply an offline audience with additional online information including, but not limited to, your personal webpage, a research paper that accompanies your talk, or web resources that supplement your lecture.

This post is about the basics of why, where and how to use QR codes in your research and teaching. In addition, it will also suggest a few design tweaks that allow you to blend QR codes with the surrounding context (e.g., the keynote slide or a poster). And if you invest some time you can even closely integrate a QR code with your overall self-branding efforts. [Read more...]

Reeder: RSS Readers for iPad, iPhone, and Mac

Where do you go to find the latest information of your interests? Twitter may be the best place to find the constantly updated site of news and rumours, and Facebook Pages and groups start playing a similar role to seed out information to us. While these two sources are useful if we use them strategically, they can overwhelm us very easily because of their constant flow of massive amount of information.

I use Facebook Pages and Twitter to find some latest information, but these two sources may not be necessarily suitable to check if my favourites blogs like academiPad have published new posts or to see if news websites updated their content. Many of us likely have a handful of blogs and websites that we regularly follow, and if we check their update status one by one, it would take a lot of effort and time. To make this routine of checking blog and website update status more efficient, I use RSS feeds through Reeder.

 

What Is RSS?

RSS Icon

RSS, often dubbed as “Really Simple Syndication,” is a web feed format, and even if you’ve never used it, you most likely see RSS icons on news websites, blogs, and podcast pages. Its basic function is to send out updates as rss, xml, or atom formats. (For your information, Atom is an alternative to RSS and it is different from RSS, but their basic functions are the same.) If you’re subscribing to podcasts, for example, you may actually receiving the latest episodes of your favourite shows via RSS.

An advantage of using RSS feeds is to receive often summarized updates from your favourite news websites, blogs, journal websites, and so on. If you want to read more, you just need to click links or titles to go to the actual pages to read the entire posts or news articles. Unlike Twitter, you’ll receive more information because RSS feeds don’t have a 140 character limit, but like Facebook, the feeds contain images, videos, and even audio so the information you receive through them are more dynamic.

We have a wide range of RSS reader apps available, from Vienna RSS, to online Google Reader, to previously shareware but now freeware NetNewsWire (also for iPad, $10, iTunes link), to social media “magazine” Flipboard (free, iTunes link). Among many great apps,  I want to talk about my favourite app, Reeder (for Mac, for iPad, for iPhone). [Read more...]

Productive Macs bundle: TextExpander and data management apps for 30 bucks (review)

Productive MacsProductive Macs is back with another app bundle, this time offering 9 apps for 30 bucks! That’s a steep saving compared to the $239 you would have to spend for buying all these apps individually, no doubt, but lets be honest: who would do this? In my opinion, huge savings (87%!) look great on the screen, but they don’t say anything about whether or not a bundle is “worth it”. For this you have to ask: How many apps in a bundle will help you in your workflow?

When it comes to bundles, I would say that the Productive Macs bundles are among the better ones you will find online. I liked the previous Productive Macs bundle, which focused on information management, a lot. The current bundle is a little less amazing and a little more difficult to describe – but also ten dollar cheaper. This is the lineup: [Read more...]

The 30 Best iPad apps for college students and academics (part 3)

Best iPad apps for universityWelcome to the grand finale of my personally favorite 30 iPad apps for everybody in academia, university and college. This time, I am focusing on the best iPad apps for Organizing and Enjoying life in academia.

This series is different from most collections you will find online. Often, the usual iPad apps everybody knows are thrown together with some apps targeted at particular niches in higher education (e.g., Elements for chemistry students). Nothing wrong with that, except that you might not hear anything new or useful for your own academic workflows (okay, in this case there would be something wrong with that).

This list is different: I only focus on high quality, productivity-boosting iPad apps that improve the workflows across all subjects and levels of academia. Whether you are a college freshman in art history, a post-doc in life sciences, or a seasoned professor in business: I am sure you will find something here that helps you super-charging your academic life. [Read more...]

The 30 Best iPad apps for university students and academics (part 2)

Best iPad apps for university students and academicsThis is the second part of my list of the 30 best iPad apps for university students, postdocs, lecturers and professors. The idea of this list is to really focus on core workflows in academia, and to see what iPad apps can improve our productivity in these workflows. You heard right: This list is about boosting your productivty.

The first part covered 12 great apps for Writing and Reading on the iPad, so be sure to check it out if you haven’t done yet. The current article covers 10 apps that are true gems for Thinking through (a.k.a. conceptualizing) and Presenting your ideas. The third part concludes this list by focusing on apps that help you to Organize and Enjoy university life.

 

iPad apps for University Students and Academics: Conceptualizing Ideas

Structured conceptual maps: MindNode ($10, iTunes Link) has been one of my favorite apps for conceptualizing research and projects for a long time. Mindnode is such an important part in my “Thinking workflow” that it lives in my iPad’s dock.

There are a couple of things that make Mindnode a great choice for people in university. Its minimalistic style – Mindnode is basically a huge canvas – lets you focus on your ideas. Yet, it is powerful enough to manage even large research projects. One feature that is, I believe, unique among mindmapping apps is that you can have more than one main node on each canvas. This is great, because it lets you structure your ideas much better than with only one central node.

Mindnode: The best mind mapping map for college students

MindNode is my preferred mindmapping app for university work because of its clean design, support for more than one main node, and its iCloud integration with MindNode Pro on the Mac.

Last, Mindnode lets you access your mindnode from every Apple device you can think of. It also works on your iPhone, and there is also a Mindnode Pro version for your Mac ($10, App Store Link). Both apps sync via iCloud.

More flexible conceptual maps: Mindmaps are great to organize your thoughts, but they are not really good for developing a story line or sketching out the flow of an argument. For this, you need apps that give you more flexibility in arranging your thoughts. Popplet ($5, iTunes link) lets you create and draw connections between little bubbles of text, photos and drawings. By zooming in and out of the canvas you can quickly change between a bird’s-eye view on your project and the nitty-gritty details of the narrative.

I have always liked Popplet a lot, and it was the subject of my very first post on academiPad. However, I am a little disappointed that, even after more than 2 years, Popplet still lacks some basic things such as the standard iOS spell checker. The developer has made some improvements though (e.g., you can select more than one bubble by tapping with two fingers) and there is an online collaboration feature now on the web, so its definitely a great app for people in university.

Bonus Tip: Start with the free version of Popplet and see if you want to get the full version with unlimited canvases.

Free-hand sketching and drawing: Although Popplet gives you more flexibility in arranging your ideas, it might be still too rigid if you are a fan of sketching out ideas by hand. Sketchbook Ink ($5, iTunes link) is the best app if you want to draw huge, free-flowing conceptual maps with a stylus. This app is targeted at artists and lacks keyboard text entry that would be nice for university related workflows.

Nonetheless, when it comes to “thinking by drawing,” I think it is the best app out there (and I have tried many). The canvas size is huge, and because Ink uses a resolution independent drawing engine, your strokes and handwritten letters look smooth at every zoom level. This app comes as close to pen and paper as possible, but you need an iPad 2 or later to run it properly.

Sketchbook Ink

This is just a tiny part of the canvas available to you in Sketchbook ink. Being targeted at artists, Sketchbook Ink lacks a couple of features that would be nice to have when conceptualizing ideas (e.g., keyboard input, fixed pen sizes), but its huge canvas and the resolution independent inking engine make it the best app to conceptualize ideas in free-drawing mode.

Bonus tip: For conceptualizing your thoughts with free-hand sketching apps, a good stylus is a must. Check out this post on how to find a stylus that is optimized for handwriting and conceptualizing ideas. I am using an Adonit’s Jot for my handwriting and sketching sessions and I think its great. You can read more about this stylus in my in-depth review of the Jot here.

The apps above adopt a canvas metaphor to give your ideas a lot of room to roam freely. Another way to conceptualize ideas is to utilize the (more familiar) notebook metaphor.

Notebooks: Apps like Penultimate, Notability and Noteshelf are a frequent sight among university students. Penultimate ($1, iTunes link) is the most bare bone app that only has a few pen options. However, its super smooth inking engine makes this app still a great choice for quickly jotting down your ideas. The problem is that you are going to run out of space soon, because Penultimate does not let you zoom in and out of the page. Not really cool if you are working on large ideas that are typical for university projects.

handwriting comparison between notability and noteshelfNotability ($1, iTunes link) is a more powerful app that adds more color and pen options, zooming, a fine handwriting mode and keyboard text entry to the mix. You can check out a much more detailed review of Notability here. In my opinion, Noteshelf’s ($6, iTunes link) inking engine is a little nicer than Notability’s, but otherwise both apps are quite similar. Noteshelf is rather expensive when compared to Notability, but if you are picky when it comes to the inking engine, try to pick up Noteshelf the next time is goes on a discount.

As you see, all these different apps are specialized for slightly different things. I personally like the canvas metaphor a lot and I use notebook apps only for sketching out short writing projects. While you are thinking what apps fit your university workflows best, why don’t you tell the world about these cool apps? Thanks for the Retweet!

 

iPad apps for Presenting

Giving (and practicing) a presentation: Keynote ($10, iTunes link) is Apple’s popular take on presentation apps. To be quite honest, I find it easier to create visually appealing presentations on the Mac. Nonetheless, I am glad to have Keynote on my iPad, because it allows me to review (and maybe slightly edit) my presentations without having to carry my laptop around university or the conference centre. In other words: nice to have, but Keynote on the Mac would be enough for me.

presentation clock for university talksCharing a session: Presentation Clock ($1, iTunes link) is your secret weapon for giving a class presentation or chairing a conference session. How often do we see session chairs holding up “3 minutes” signs to the presenter, just to be ignored? Presentation Clock is more authoritative: It countdowns the time you have left for your presentation – by the second! The color of the digits changes at pre-defined intervals from green to yellow to red. When the time is up, the colors invert (black numbers on red background) and the clock starts counting up. This app is about as subtle as a construction side next to your office, and it works! I have seen how speakers who never end on time suddenly start to panic when the clock turns red.

Making an impression: Adding photos is a great way of improving the visual appeal of your presentation, especially if these photos are part of your data or visualize your narrative. Snapseed ($5, iTunes link) is an intuitive photo enhancement app that will make even dull-looking snapshots look like they were taken by a pro photographer. What I like about this app is that you don’t have to know anything about color curves or other expert settings. With Snapseed, you simply define what area of the photo you would like to touch up, and then you can play around with the brightness, contrast and saturation levels of the surrounding area. Of course, this app is not only great for presentations, but for other aspects of your (university) life as well.

Snapseed

Snapseed is a great app to polish your photos without any experience necessary. Except for making your presentation a stunner, this app also comes in handy to share photos from your last vacation or the beginning-of-term party.

To further improve the personal touch of your presentation, you can use iFontMaker ($7, iTunes link) to create your own, unique typeset. Once created, your typeset can be exported into a TFF file and installed on any Mac or Windows computer. Again, this trick is not limited to presentations. You can also use your unique font for letters or your university / research blog.

 

What’s next?

This has been the second part of a three-part series discussing my favorite iPad apps for university students and academics (see part 1 here). The final part of this series discusses the best iPad apps for organizing and enjoying university life.

Please feel free to check out the other content on academiPad, and don’t forget to join academiPad’s twitter, RSS and email channels to stay up-to-date on how to improve your university workflows with iPad, Mac and the web.

If you enjoyed this list, please share it with people you love and your colleagues and peers (these groups may overlap). By Retweeting the tweet below you can let your twitter friends know about the first part of this series. This way they can start right from the top.

And of course, you can always use the other share buttons on the left and below. Thanks for sharing!

Disclaimer: Notability vs. Noteshelf handwriting sample from imore. Presentation Clock and Snapseed images by respective developers. All other images by academiPad. This article contains affiliate links.

The 30 Best iPad apps for college students and academics

Best iPad apps for college students and academicsIt is this special time of the year again: We are going back to school. And whether you are a college student or a tenured professor, or anything in between (yay Grad students!), you might be asking yourself what iPad apps you could download to get the most out of your iPad.

This is my personal list of the 30 best iPad apps for college / grad students and professors. It is not one of these countless posts that list a bunch of generic apps like Safari, Facebook and iBooks. Those are not really specific to people in university, and I also bet you knew those already. I am also not going to throw a list at you filled with niche iPad apps targeted at one particular subject or at earlier years of education. So what will you find here?

This is a list of my favorite iPad apps that are useful for everybody in academia – college students, grad students, postdocs, lecturers and professors – because they help us excel in our core workflows: Writing, Reading, Thinking, Presenting and Organizing our academic lives.

The iPad apps I am listing here are all high quality, paid apps. For some of these you might be able to find free alternatives, no doubt. However, you get what you pay for, and I think that it doesn’t hurt to invest a little money in quality paid apps that boost our core workflows.

Of course, that doesn’t mean that all free iPad apps are worthless! There are great ones for academics out there, and I will publish a post of my favorite free apps very soon (so sign up for academiPad’s RSS or twitter streams).

But back to the current post: For each of the core workflows (Writing, Reading, Thinking, Presenting and Organizing our academic lives), I am discussing a couple of iPad apps and how they fit into that workflow. Sometimes I am listing more than one app for a particular use case, so be sure to check out the links to more in-depth discussion of these apps. [Read more...]

Grandview: A radically simplistic writing app for the Mac

Grandview minimalist writing appGrandview might be the strangest writing app on your Mac. I really have a lot of writing apps: Pages, Mellel, ByWord, iA Writer, and OmmWriter to get into the flow. I know I am an addict. But today, I found out about Grandview, and none of my previous apps are like it. Its secret: It only shows you one word at a time!

GrandviewAs I am writing this post on Grandview, I must say that it is indeed an interesting writing app. Although there is a setting that you can see your complete text (shortcut: Command + =), this app only makes sense when you are using the standard one-word-at-a-time view. In this mode, the letters are flashing over your screen as you type, and it is not until you close a sentence that you can have a look at what you have just written.

GrandviewIf you find yourself editing your unfinished sentences mid-through all the time, this might be a liberating experience for you. However, it is a little bit strange that the font size changes with every additional letter you are writing. Strange as it is at first, I am already getting used to it, and I think that this mode might stimulate me to choose shorter words and to write shorter sentences; even when this one doesn’t look like it does!

GrandviewAnyways, this app might be a good way to get into writing when you are feel blocked. It seems to be well suited for free writing exercises and to get first drafts on paper. It might be a little difficult to write long arguments with Grandview, but I don’t think that this is the intent of the app.

One thing I like most about Grandview is that it is always ready to help you overcoming your writing block when you need it. Once activated, it lives in your menu bar, and pressing a customizable shortcut (default: Command + Shift + A) brings it up full screen. You can type away a sentence, a paragraph or more until you have made your point.

Grandview dissolves writing blocks.

Once you think you are done or you made it back into your flow, you simply press Escape to switch back to the app you used before. The text you have just written in Grandview is waiting for you in your Clipboard, ready to be pasted into your actual writing app. A truly simple and elegant solution!

So if you are suffering from white page anxiety, as I do, do yourself a favour and give this app a try. It is currently available for FREE (normally it is between $5 and $14), so grab it before the price bounces back up.

Disclaimer: All images by academiPad.

How to Present a Mac Keynote on the Conference Room’s PC

Conference talk with KeynoteKeynote for Mac is a great app for conference presentation. No doubt, you can kill people with Keynote as much as you can with Powerpoint or Prezi. But if you know what you are doing, Keynote allows you create slick looking presentations that wow your audience away. The only problem is: Most conference rooms run on windows… bummer!

“Nevermind,” you might think, “I will just export the file to PPT.” Good thinking, but unfortunately something always goes wrong in these exports. Picture frames are off, transparent backgrounds become white, and these awesome “Magical Move” transitions disappear. No, my friend, Powerpoint cannot handle Keynote presentations – at least it cannot handle mine. [Read more...]