Overcoming writer’s block with OmmWriter

OmmWriter for iPadThere are many reasons why you might be stuck with your writing, and there is even more advice out there how to break the block. One of the best advice I have seen is to write your way out: write even when you are not quite sure yet how to write it, heck, even write when you have nothing to write about! How can technology help you doing that?

I am a great fan of distraction free writing apps and I am using a couple of them (see my post on iA Writer). Distraction free writing apps are great even when you don’t have writing troubles, because their minimalistic interface will keep you in the flow. But when I am stuck, my greatest weapon (next to Kombucha drinks and good coffee) is OmmWriter! [Read more…]

Super-charge your PDF workflow with Sente for Mac

Finding, reading, annotating, and citing journal articles is our daily bread as academics. But are we good at cutting it? How many times have you searched for “that perfect paper” you have read just a few weeks ago!? Or have you ever almost missed a submission deadline because compiling the bibliography “took a little longer”?

If you are reading a lot of journal articles (and chances are you do if you are in university), it makes sense to invest in a tightly integrated ecosystem that allows you to organize and annotate your PDFs seamlessly on the Mac and the iPad. As I mentioned in the previous guide to annotating PDFs, there are right now two contenders in a neck-to-neck race of offering the best, multi-device PDF management system: Sente and Papers. To keep the current review of Sente for Mac somehow manageable (Sente’s user manual stretches over 316 pages, just to give you an idea), it only covers the most basic functions: how to add a PDF (or reference more generally), how to organize your references, what annotations are supported, and how you can insert in-text citations and bibliographies into your write-ups. [Read more…]

How to type faster on your iPad or Mac

Today, academiPad welcomes its first guest author post! I know Bryan Sippel from my first year at Queen’s, and he was a productivity ninja already back then. Nowadays he sharpens his skills as a consultant, working with higher education institutions implementing, upgrading, and supporting the Oracle Campus Solutions software product. Thanks Bryan for bringing our typing up to speed!

Do you like to save time?  If you spend a lot of time typing on a Mac or iOS device, TextExpander is an application guaranteed to save you time.  TextExpander allows you to configure “snippets” of text that will expand to additional text when you type them in any application. Think of a long word, phrase, or paragraph that you often find yourself typing.  If you can think of a short snippet for it, TextExpander is something to consider.  For example, I have configured a snippet  “ddate” which expands to the date written in full (e.g. Thursday, February 2, 2012).  Another snippet is  “ttime” which expands to a time stamp (e.g. 1:30 PM).

[Read more…]

Task management for academics

Task management is a tricky topic in academia: Faculty members and students alike juggle a lot of different tasks while pursuing many different projects; often in collaboration with others. Yet, our projects often don’t require the same level of organization as in the corporate world in which tasks are delegated, have fixed start and end times, and are populated with resources and attendees. At least as a graduate student right now, I therefore don’t need a task manager with all bells and whistles. On the other hand, a simple to-do list is not powerful enough to juggle various research projects with teaching and other commitments. That’s why I am using the free Wunderlist task management apps.

 

Manage your tasks on all your devices

Wunderlist is an elegant task management solution that blends a small feature set with a wonderful design. It avoids the complexity of other task managers without compromising on the most important features. Of course you can have multiple lists to sort your tasks, you can add notes, due dates, and reminders to your tasks, you can make some tasks your favorites, and you can sort your tasks using various filters. You can also share certain lists with other users. [Read more…]

How you can “just write it down” with iA Writer

 

iA Writer“This is a great idea. It brings a whole new perspective to our literature. And I know exactly how to write it down. Here it goes,…” And then nothing happens, except you staring at a blank page in your text editor or playing around with the formatting options. That’s why the world needs distraction-free writing tools such as iA Writer ($5, App Store).

Most people I know use Apple Pages or Microsoft Word for all their writing needs: from the first written word to the last proof-read. I did that. But it didn’t work for me. I diagnosed myself with “white-page anxiety” (who knows a Latin term for this?), because I get no writing done in any application that suggests to me that the first try has to result in a perfectly publishable end-product. And full-blown word processors do exactly that – at least for me. That’s why I prefer to write most of my stuff (including this post) in an environment that is as simplistic as it goes. Call it the “everything-is-temporary-effect”.

 

Simplicity is King

iA Writer comes both for the Mac and the iPad and positions itself as the godsend in distraction free writing.  [Read more…]