All posts by Amy Cavender

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International Travel: A Good Reason to Have Two Google Accounts

One Google icon pointing to another

We’ve heard quite a lot over the last few months about travelers being asked to unlock their mobile phones—and, in some cases, provide their social media passwords—when entering the United States.

We’ve also heard tips on traveling abroad with a phone; over at The Verge, the suggestion is to delete our data before leaving the country if we really want to protect it.1 We can then install and sign into our accounts when we get where we’re going, and repeat the process before returning to the U.S.

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Why and How to Make Your PDFs Searchable

An annotated PDF in the iAnnotate app on an iPadAs I noted last week, PDF is my preferred file format for document sharing, for a number of reasons. Not all PDFs are created equally, though. I’ve found that it’s really important for files to be run through OCR (Optical Character Recognition).

Why? There are two main reasons, in my experience:

  1. Searchability. Kathleen wrote about this several years ago, in “OCR Those PDFs.” Increasingly, I find myself working with journal articles and other documents in digital format, and I need to be able…

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Open-Thread Wednesday: What’s Your Preferred File Type?

Screenshot of icons representing various file types

Electronic files — many of us receive a few of them every day. Often enough we also find ourselves having to share files, whether via email, shared file storage, or a website or LMS.

Unless it’s something I’ll need to edit extensively, I much prefer to receive documents in PDF format. Whenever possible, I like to work without paper, but I don’t like to carry my computer with me everywhere I go. Most of the time, I read documents on my iPad. PDF format works best for that (and there are plenty o…

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Searching Multiple Libraries with the Chrome Library Extension

The Chrome Library Extension in action

Several weeks ago, I was reading through my news feeds, and came across an interesting post at LifeHacker. That post described Library Extension, a very useful Chrome extension1 that works with Amazon’s site (reports in the comments section of the LifeHacker post indicate that it works with the Goodreads site, too, though I’ve not tested it).

You can see the extension in action in the screenshot at the top of this post. The extension allows you to add whatever libraries you’d like (they curre…

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Simplifying Timeline Creation with TimeLineCurator

Editing a TimeLineCurator timeline

Timelines are a useful visualization tool, and we’ve written about them a lot over the last several years. In addition to Billie’s overview of timeline apps for PCs, we’ve also covered specific applications such as Bee Docs, Dipity, TimelineSetter, and TimelineJS. Of these, TimelineJS is the one I’ve used most frequently, and like the best. The timelines it outputs look great, and are easy to navigate. The tool does, however, require creating a Google Spreadsheet and entering the timeline inf…

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Why have multiple email applications on your phone?

Email applications installed on an iPhoneGiven that it was barely two weeks ago that I recommended decluttering one’s gadgets, it might seem odd for me to keep multiple email applications on my phone, but I do.

There’s a reason for that. In an effort to maintain some semblance of work-life balance, I’ve turned off all email notifications on my phone (even icon badges — I don’t want my email checking me), and I make it a point not to check work email after early evening.

Reading email from family and friends, however, doesn’t feel lik…

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ACI Blog Index: Charging Money for Information About Free Content?

A book opened to its indexLast week, Jeff McClurken posted a query to Facebook: “Why does ACI get to charge people for access to my freely available blog posts?” That post led to a lengthy conversation about ACI’s Scholarly Blog Index. (Readers can view the full conversation, which also included Lee Skallerup Bessette, Sheila Brennan, and Michelle Moravec, here.)

I checked the site out, and discovered some of my own work there, too. I also tried doing a password reset, and, like Michelle Moravec, discovered I already had…

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Decluttering your gadgets

A neat, tidy deskIt’s still early in the year, which is often a good time to start fresh by doing some decluttering — and not just of our homes and workspaces. What about the gadgets we use daily: our computers, tablets, and phones?

I was reminded that this is a good practice late last month, when I read Anthony Karcz’s “Ring in the New Year With a Decluttered iPhone.” Though he focuses specifically on the iPhone, he makes a key point that applies to other phones as well — and to computers and tablets:

Old apps,…

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Managing Recipes with Paprika

Chopped paprika vegetablesA long time ago here at ProfHacker, we used to run a series titled “What’s for Lunch?” That series prompted me to start keeping track of favorite recipes.

Since I was already a heavy user of Evernote, it became my preferred tool for storing recipes. I’d just use the web clipper to send recipes to my Evernote account, then use the Evernote Food app to access my recipes. The app ignored all notes that didn’t contain recipes, and it looked great. It also allowed users to search several recipe sites…

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Collecting Student Work with Google Forms

File folders organized in a file boxA good number of us here at ProfHacker prefer to avoid paper whenever possible. When I teach my writing course each fall, I have my students use Google Documents so that it’s easy to see an essay’s development over time.

For classes where it’s not essential that I see a student’s revisions, I prefer that essays be submitted in PDF format, so that I can comment on essays using my iPad. (My current favorite app for this purpose is PDFExpert; Jason and Erin have both made use of iAnnotate.)

What I…