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...]

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...]

Just released: Readability for iPad

Readability for iPad and iPhoneHave you ever wished that reading on the web would be a more pleasant experience? Are you annoyed by all these blinking and moving ads? Readability is a fantastic free service that de-clutters your reading experience by removing all distracting features and replacing it with a clean, visually pleasing interface. On top of that, you can also add webpages to your reading list to read them later, similar to Instapaper (except that the Instapaper app is not free). [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...]

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...]

The ultimate guide on how to annotate PDF files on the iPad

Ultimate guide on how to annotate PDF files on the iPadFor most people in university and college, the ability to annotate PDF files is one of the main reasons for buying an iPad. There are hundreds of apps out there that let you annotate PDFs: how do you know which one is the best one for you?

Rather than discussing one particular app in detail, this post presents the bigger picture by discussing three different user profiles whose needs are different with regards to PDF annotation and management. Once you know what type of user you are, you can check out the overview of 10 (plus 3) apps, my personal favorites, and some thoughts on using a stylus. With all this information, finding out what app you need to annotate PDF files “your style” becomes a piece of cake.

[Read more...]