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.

Backup Part I: How to recover from a Mac crash

Let me begin with words to consider for all academiPad readers: It is not a matter of if technology will fail you, but a matter of when. And unless you enjoy rewriting your dissertation or journal submission from scratch, you must have a backup strategy in place.

Sure it is possible that your devices will never have a hard drive failure or be stolen.  For the lucky, you will never leave your phone in a taxi or accidentally drop it in the washing machine.  But for most, you will be faced with at least one type of “crash” in your future.   After recovering from a hard drive crash on my work computer recently, I thought a two part post dealing with the dreaded “crash” was in order.

The goal here is to spend some time thinking about a “crash” so that when one happens, you will be off to races recovering as smoothly as possible.

So as not to overwhelm ourselves thinking about the “crash”, the topic will be split up into two parts:

Part I – Mac crash
Part II – iOS crash [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…]

Why “iPad or laptop?” is the wrong question for knowledge workers

Should you buy an iPad or laptop? Although iPads have become a frequent sight on university campuses, many are still unsure what role the iPad has in our professional lives: Will it replace conventional laptops? Or is it a toy for procrastination and media consumption? In my opinion, both sides of the argument got it totally wrong. For professor and students alike, the question is not about whether iPad or laptop will become the dominant tool, but how both can be integrated into a seamless workflow. [Read more…]

Sente vs. Papers: What is the best PDF management system? (part 2)

Sente vs Papers (part 2)This article is the second part of the big showdown between Sente and Papers. With a price tag of around $100 for the complete package (Mac and iPad app) and a similar (but not identical!) set of features, the decision of what system is the best fit for your PDF management needs is not easy. And it is more than money that is at stake, as you will spend a considerable amount of time building your library once you have taken the plunge. [Read more…]

Sente vs. Papers: What is the best PDF management system?

Do you remember the first thing that crossed your mind when you first saw an iPad? In my case, I was thinking how great it would be to read and annotate PDFs on it!

Serious academic readers are wise to invest some time and money into a dedicated PDF management system for their read-cite-write workflow. With Mendeley and Bookends not supporting annotations on the iPad, there are only two contenders in the race for the best PDF management system:  Sente and Papers. If you are on the fence between these two, you have to read this article. [Read more…]

Inbox Zero: A better way to manage email

At all levels of academia email is a used and often abused form of communication.  Whether you use a Mac, iPad, or iPhone to view and write email, you can use the principles of Inbox Zero.  With evolving technology continuing to lower the barriers to communication, the number of inputs we receive in a given day continues to increase.    Unfortunately, we often don’t take the necessary steps to train ourselves on how to best deal with these inputs.  Well, that will change by reading this article. [Read more…]

Why Prezi won’t revolutionize your presentations

Today, Ekant Veer shares his thoughts about Prezi. Ekant is a Marketing professor at the University of Canterbury (New Zealand), publishes frequently in a number of international marketing journals, and runs his own blog on academic life. Oh, and he is one of the most engaging and entertaining presenters that I have ever seen! So let’s see what he has to say about this new presentation paradigm.

If you’ve never heard about Prezi, here’s a quick overview (and see video below)… but it’d be far better to go to their site and have a play. Prezi is a reasonably new means of creating presentations. Instead of a linear series of slides, you create a mindmap or a flow diagram of your topic and include content as you go. The platform offers a very different feel from your standard Powerpoint or Keynote presentation by zooming in and out of your mindmap. [Read more…]

OS X Mountain Lion will streamline your workflow

OS X Mountain LionAre you still sporting the lion photo as your wallpaper on your Mac? Yes? Go on, you can leave it just a little bit longer. Until summer rolls around, and it is time to say ‘Goodbye Lion’ and shout out a warm welcome to Apple’s new OS 10.8: Mountain Lion.

Apple has announced that their new Mac OS will be released sometimes this coming summer, just a year after the release of its current OS, Lion. [Read more…]

Start loving to organize your PDFs with Papers for Mac

Papers 2 for MacThe best apps offer a simplistic and beautiful interface that allows people to use the software in an intuitive way. Papers by mekentosj is one of these apps: Through its iTunes-like interface, Papers allows you to organize and annotate your endless collections of journal articles in an easy and fun way.

This post is part of a series exploring the two leading PDF management systems on the Mac and iPad: Sente and Papers. Previous posts have explored the benefits of PDF management systems (in comparison to stand-alone PDF readers) and offered an in-depth review of Sente for Mac. The current post checks out Papers, following the same structure as the Sente for Mac posts: it introduces the Papers ecosystem, reviews how you can add and annotate references, and briefly talks about how you can insert in-text citations and bibliographies into your write-ups. [Read more…]