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
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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...]

8 Mac apps for $40?! Is the Productive Macs bundle worth it? [expired]

Productive Macs bundleEvery once in a while, a group of Mac applications are pulled together in a bundle and offered for a ridiculously low price. Productive Macs is one of those, and it offers you 8 Mac apps for the price of $40. Is it worth it? This review will tell you.

In short: Unless you already have a good information management workflow in place, the Productive Mac bundle is a good investment. DEVONthink and HoudahSpot are two alternative systems to organize all kinds of files – either in a database or through tagging. MacJournal is a great tool for organizing your writing projects, and MailTags seems to be a good way to expand your info management workflow into your email inbox.

The rest of this review gives you some more background on how the eight apps bundled in the Productive Macs offer fit into academic workflows. [Read more...]

Simplenote: A free service to sync notes across all your devices

SimplenoteHave you ever lost an idea or email address you wrote on an obscure piece of paper? Are you constantly emailing yourself to keep all your notes “in sync”? May I introduce Simplenote: A better way to manage information in academia that even poor grad students can afford (it’s free).

Integrating all your devices with each other is a big focus here on academiPad. You can sync your task across iPad, Mac and iPhone via Wunderlist, and minimalist writing apps like ByWord and iA Writer let you sync your writing projects over the cloud. But what about pieces of information that are not really a task, and which are not really something you want to clutter your writing environment with? What about all these little notes academics constantly write down? Are these forever lost on post-it notes or the backside of envelopes? Nope… [Read more...]

Dropbox: Access your files from anywhere

DropboxIf you haven’t heart about Dropbox yet, today will change the way how you handle your data forever. Dropbox is a free service that lets you store your data in the cloud so you can access it from anywhere you have an internet connection using a web browser or its mobile apps for iPad, iPhone, Android, and Blackberry. [Read more...]

5 free iPhone apps for academics

When the iPad came out, many people immediately recognized the benefit this device offers researchers and university students, and latest since its Education Event last week Apple has made clear that the education sector is an important playing field for their iPad ambitions. Even before the iPad came out, the Mac was widely popular in academia, and it continues to be so.

The iPhone, on the other hand, does not carry the same image of being an important device in academia. Don’t get me wrong: it is not that academics do not use iPhones as an easy-to-use mobile communication device (in fact, iPhones are quite easy to spot on campus). It is just that, for most people, the iPad and the Mac are more strongly associated with education than the iPhone is. Even for Apple, the iPhone (and iPod touch) is seen as their “third device” in education.

However, there are a couple of apps that can turn the iPhone into a powerful tool for university professors and college students alike. I am listing five of my favorite iPhone apps in this post. [Read more...]