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Life Could Be Easier - On the Go, Part 2

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Life Could Be Easier - On the Go: part 2

Are you wondering whether you should get a smart phone? Do you have a smart phone that you'd like to get more out of? This summer, we're asking our colleagues from across the University to recommend their favorite apps, and to tell us what's so useful about them. Chime in in the comments here if you have questions or recommendations of your own.

This month, our app recommendations come from the Libraries' Web Development Department and Science/Engineering Reference:

Cody Hanson, Web Architect and UX Analyst, Device Type: IPhone

Elements - $4.99 (Universal)
http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/elements-dropbox-powered-text/id382752422?mt=8
Elements is a very basic text editor, allowing you to create and edit
plain text files on your iPhone or iPad. It has one killer feature:
Dropbox integration, which automatically syncs your documents across
all of your Dropbox-connected devices. In practice this means that I
can keep notes in my Dropbox folder and edit them on my iPhone,
laptop, and iPad, and my changes are seamlessly reflected across all
devices.

Instapaper - $4.99 (Universal)
http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/instapaper/id288545208?mt=8
Instapaper is both an app and a web service, allowing you to save
articles from the web for later reading. Instapaper strips extraneous
formatting and advertising out of web pages and presents articles in
an easily readable format with an innovative tilt-scroll feature.
Great for saving long articles from the web for reading on the bus.

Keynote - $9.99 (Universal)
http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/keynote/id361285480?mt=8
Keynote is Apple's answer to PowerPoint. The Keynote app is a
fully-featured presentation creation and editing tool, which includes
PowerPoint file import/export. I used Keynote on my iPhone to create
my slide deck for a presentation at this summer's ALA Annual and was
quite pleased with the results.

Beejive IM - $9.99
http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/beejiveim-with-push/id291720439?mt=8
Stupid name, great app. This IM client allows you to connect Google
Talk, AIM, Yahoo! Messenger, Facebook chat, and MSN Messenger accounts
for mobile instant messaging. I've got both my personal and UMN Google
Talk accounts connected, and use it to stay available when I'm away
from my desk. If you see my UMN Google Talk status set to "mobile",
I'm using Beejive.

AnyConnect - Free (Universal)
http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/cisco-anyconnect/id392790924?mt=8
This application is the OIT-endorsed method for connecting iOS devices
to the University's VPN. Handy if you need an on-campus IP address to
test a resource from home, or just want to protect your data when
using a sketchy public wi-fi access point off-campus.

Kindle - Free (Universal) http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/kindle/id302584613?mt=8
I am a complete and unapologetic convert to e-books for my pleasure
reading. In the past couple of years I've read several dozen books,
thousands of pages, on my phone using the Kindle app. I read more than
I did before because I always have it with me. A tip: use the white
text on black background setting, which is easier on your eyes and on
your battery.

Photo fx - $2.99 http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/photo-fx/id300630942?mt=8
As a new parent, I take lots and lots of photos with my phone. There
are many apps out there for photo sharing or for applying novelty
filters to make lousy shots look arty. Photo fx is the best
application I've found for serious photo editing. The high-quality
filters and adjustments have allowed me to salvage one-of-a-kind shots
that I thought were goners.

Carcassonne - $9.99 (Universal)
http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/carcassonne/id375295479?mt=8
Uh. This is a game. It's a high-quality version of the European board
game with excellent asynchronous multiplayer. I mention it mostly
because I'm eager for more opponents. If we're coworkers and we're
playing a game together that makes it work-related, right?

Jan Fransen, Computer Science and Engineering Librarian, Mobile Device Type: Droid Charge

Getting to, from, and around campus is a little more challenging than it used to be.

Two apps that help:

MyNexTrip
http://blog.quasma.com/category/mynextrip/
One of several apps for getting Metro Transit Next Trip information. Metro Transit lists several others on its site, but I've found this one works best for my needs. I especially like its emphasis on your own "favorite" routes and stops.

SpotCycle
http://www.spotcycle.net/
I've been using Nice Ride bikes to get around campus this summer, and have gotten burned by empty racks a couple of times. SpotCycle provides real-time status (number of bikes and empty docs) for Nice Ride stations near you, along with maps.

When I moved from pay-as-you-go to a smart phone on a family plan, I rationalized that I'd be able to use my "downtime" on the bus or waiting for kids more effectively.
Besides the usual Google suite, a couple of the apps that help me do that are:

Read it Later
http://readitlaterlist.com/
Read it Later is Tivo for blogs. I subscribe to far too many RSS feeds, but I rarely read entire articles when I'm skimming through in Google Reader. Instead, I use Read it Later in my browser to mark the ones that interest me. The articles are downloaded to my phone and I can, well, read them later, whether I'm online or not.

Pocket Casts
http://www.pocketcasts.com/
I don't listen to much music, but I love podcasts. With Pocket Casts I can subscribe to the podcsts I like and listen by either streaming over 4G or wireless, or downloading to listen offline later.

The first day I had the Charge, my battery was dead before I caught my evening bus. 4G is fast and the Charge screen is beautiful, but both eat up battery life. Now the battery lasts at least a day, because of one simple app:

JuiceDefender
http://latedroid.com/juicedefender
JuiceDefender preserves battery life by automatically doing things like turning off 4G when home or U of M wireless connections are available.

Virginia Bach, on behalf of the Current Awareness and Personal Information Collaborative. CAPIM is focused on helping people organize and access personal information more quickly and efficiently

Read It Later

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Published in Monday Memo April 4, 2011

How many tabs are open in your browser at the end of the day? If you often find yourself glancing at links that you really do want to read (just not right now), take a look at Read it Later at: http://readitlaterlist.com/ . Read it Later (RIL) is a bookmarking tool that integrates with your browser and syncs your bookmarks to the cloud and whatever computers or other devices you choose. RIL extensions are available for most browsers, and applications are available for iPhone/iPad, Android, and other mobile devices. In your browser, RIL adds a button to the address bar or toolbar. Just click it to save the page to your RIL account. Open your browser at home, or the RIL application on your mobile device, and links to the pages you want to read are there waiting for you. RIL also integrates with Google Reader, so you can skim your feeds and mark interesting items for later.

Speaking of RSS feeds, you can subscribe to a feed of your own items (unread, read, or all). I've been experimenting with using sending my Read it Later unread items feed to my Kindle for offline reading during my morning bus ride.

RIL is very similar to another tool, Instapaper. If you'd like some help choosing the one that's right for you, take a look at Lifehacker's comparison at:http://lifehacker.com/#!5622433/battle-of-the-bookmark+and+read+later-apps-instapaper-vs-read-it-later or this more opinionated comparison at:http://www.forbes.com/fdc/welcome_mjx.shtml .

Disclaimer: When considering use of this or any hosted service, note that private and confidential University data (link at:http://www.policy.umn.edu/Policies/Operations/OPMisc/INTERNALACCESS_APPB.html) must not be stored on vendor or Internet sites or systems, unless a University contract approved by the Office of the General Counsel is in place with that vendor or site. For questions, please contact Libraries Autosys at: autosys@umn.edu .

- Jan Fransen, on behalf of the Current Awareness and Personal Information Management Collaborative

Alternatives to Google

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Published in Monday Memo February 14, 2011

Are you one of the 66% of U.S. web searchers who uses Google as their primary web search engine? You might want to give some of the other newer search engines a try and see how your results differ from a Google search. Here are a few to consider, and why.

Bing
Microsoft debuted this search engine in 2009 and it is the search engine behind Yahoo Search as well. Bing has a nice travel search engine that compares prices on multiple airlines. It integrates a farecasting technology that predicts whether your airfare is likely to rise or fall. It also pulls together useful consumer information on products under its shopping tab.

Blekko
Blekko pre-screens your results to limit results to sites they have deemed as trustworthy. It uses categorical slashtags created by individuals to restrict your results to specified characteristics, allowing you to eliminate spam and hone in on good results.

Duck Duck Go
If you're concerned about the privacy of your results give Duck Duck Go a try. Duck Duck Go does not collect any personal information and your search terms are not shared with sites you visit. It also offers instant factual answers and unique ways of searching.

Wolfram Alpha
Wolfram Alpha is an answer engine that provides you with factual data and can compute answers from data. It offers detailed statistics in the medical arena with reports on symptoms, treatments, drugs and more. It also includes a wealth of scientific information as well as answers to basic factual questions.

Disclaimer: When considering use of this or any hosted service, note that private and confidential University data (link at:http://www.policy.umn.edu/Policies/Operations/OPMisc/INTERNALACCESS_APPB.html) must not be stored on vendor or Internet sites or systems, unless a University contract approved by the Office of the General Counsel is in place with that vendor or site. For questions, please contact Libraries Autosys at: autosys@umn.edu .

Have you found a useful feature on a non-Google search engine? We'd love to hear about it.

- Jody Kempf on behalf of the Current Awareness and Personal Information Management Collaborative

Scanning Options in the University Libraries

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Published in Monday Memo January 10, 2011

Electronic copies of your documents can be made in most of the libraries on campus. Here are some scanning locations:

Wilson Library:
- SMART Commons on first floor, two 8"x11" scanners at workstations with graphics software to manipulate images and email documents.
- Basement level, one photocopier-scanner, free to use; save to USB stick.
- Borchert Map Library, two 8"x11" scanners; three 11"x17" scanners at workstations with graphics software to manipulate images and email documents.
- Periodicals, six microfilm/microfiche scanner-copiers.

Walter Library:
- SMART Commons in room 204 Walter, two 8"x11" scanners at workstations with graphics software to manipulate images and email documents.
- Room 206, one microfilm/microfiche scanner, free to use; save to USB stick.

Magrath Library:
- Reference area, one 8"x11" scanner on the Uniprint station, free to use; save to USB stick.

BioMedical Library:
- Second Level, two 11"x17" scanners at workstations with graphics software to manipulate images and email documents.
- Room 207, one microfilm/microfiche scanner, free to use; save to USB stick.

For scanning options at the branch libraries or special collections, contact the unit directly. Most library locations provide scanners.

- Virginia Bach, on behalf of the Current Awareness and Personal Information Management Collaborative

Endnote Web

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EndNote Web is a lightweight, web-based version of EndNote that is available at no charge for UMN Twin Cities' faculty, students, and staff. Using EndNote Web, you can synchronize your desktop EndNote program with the web version allowing anytime, anywhere access to your EndNote libraries and content. You also can share your references with other EndNote Web users with the Manage my Groups feature. Direct export to the web version is an option for EBSCO, Web of Science, and other databases. Cite While You Write is also compatible with EndNote Web. To learn more and to set-up an account, use your umn.edu email address at: https://www.myendnoteweb.com or sign-up within our Web of Science.

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