All posts by Jason B. Jones

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The Dark Truth of Email Tips

The poet who couldn't write poetry

Once again, xkcd has gotten pretty directly at the truth of those of us with email struggles:


Merlin Mann has always suggested that people focused on the wrong parts of his somewhere-between-legendary-and-notorious “Inbox Zero” talk–that it was always about the psychology of email triage as much as tips and tricks for getting through email faster.

Photo probably “The Poet Who Couldn’t Write Poetry” (“Image from page 173 of ‘St. Nicholas’ (1873)”) by Flickr user Internet Archive Book Images /

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Checklists in Late Summer

graffiti of checklist

It seems harsh to call it “late summer” when it’s not even quite August yet, but there it is. At some point, items related to the fall semester will start to move to the forefront of one’s mind, even as one’s trying to wrap up summer projects, vanish for a vacation, or just try to keep up with who’s the White House communications director.

Checklists can help keep track of things, especially at such transitional moments. (See Heather’s checklist for a new semester as an example.)

Last week, Gab…

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Fight the Fear/Procrastination Cycle With Small Tasks

inward spiral
I learned this weekend that, in the northern hemisphere, July 22 is typically the date where temperatures start trending down for the year. In addition to the obvious Game of Thrones joke, it means that there’s more or less no getting around the fact that summer is passing quickly, along with the more grandiose ambitions found in one’s summer project list.

With that in mind, I wanted to link to Jenni Berrett’s post on perfectionism, “You Aren’t Lazy–You’re Just Terrified: On Paralysis and Perfe…

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Turning Your iPhone’s Camera into an Assistive Device: Seeing AI

safety goggles with judgey eyes drawn on
Earlier this week, Microsoft released a fascinating app for iOS devices, called Seeing AI. Seeing AI is an app that lets users take pictures of the world around them, and then it uses the iPhone’s on-phone intelligence to describe what’s in the picture. It’s designed as an app for people with low vision, but even if that description doesn’t apply to you at the minute, using it makes for a provocative way of thinking about the way these devices will be mediating the world around us, especially i…

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Turn Twitter Threads into Shareable Posts with Spooler

Photo of spool with several thread colors

One of the most delightful occurrences on the internet is when someone writes a little script or web app or bot to solve one of your pet peeves. Not only does it scratch your not-very-important-but-still-irritating itch, but it makes it seem like you’re not alone. “See?!? Someone else found this irritating!”

Darius Kazemi‘s Spooler is just such a service, which solves a simple, recently emergent problem: sharing sequences of interconnected tweets. How do you share Twitter threads (or, god help …

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An Easy macOS Script for Converting Images to PDFs

a sheaf of contracts

One of the great conveniences about modern smartphone cameras is that it’s now much easier to submit paperwork of various types. Even if you don’t have a digital copy of the form, you can frequently fill it out, take a picture, and send the photo a long.

Except, as David Sparks explains in this handy post, it’s not quite that easy: images aren’t great to work with, and need to be converted to PDFs. And they typically have a lot of extraneous information, such as color. macOS has a variety of t…

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Marking up Mobile Photos with Annotable

annotations
Ever since Evernote abandoned Skitch a couple of years ago, I’ve been looking for a good way to mark up photos on my phone, which is a thing I find myself doing pretty regularly, either in documenting issues around campus, or communicating quickly about various issues.. I’ve tried a variety of different apps, but haven’t found one that’s really stuck.

I’d tried Annotable before, but it fell into the “interesting, but maybe not for me” category. Last month, though, Ling Wang released a new vers…

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Is This Still a Thing? Looking Back at Unroll.me

unfurling fern

ProfHacker has been writing posts for a long time now, and in addition to all the evergreen posts about writing and syllabus design and so forth, we’ve also covered a lot of tech. I’ve been kicking around the idea of an occasional series called “Is This Still a Thing?,” in which I look back at an app, service, or gadget we’ve reviewed, and briefly update readers on its status.

For one reason or another, I’ve dithered in getting this off the ground, but recent revelations about Unroll.me have s…

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Annotating Financial Context Automatically with Bloomberg Lens

calculator with financial forms
Despite the fact that the web is a powerful tool for annotation, many news stories and blog posts lack relevant context that would be useful for readers. Especially as a site ages, it can be hard to know how information has changed over time.

Most of us at ProfHacker like hypothes.is as an annotate-everywhere tool. But there are other visions of annotation, and this week, Bloomberg and Postlight jointly announced Bloomberg Lens, an iOS app and Chrome extension that aims to provide on-the-fly f…

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Fridges and the (Home) Economics of Ed Tech

Billboard advertising gas refrigerators

A maxim even more famous than “Never go in against a Sicilian when death is on the line!” is “Never make analogies about technology adoption where scholars of refrigeration can find them.” And yet, in “Is Your Edtech Product a Refrigerator or a Washing Machine?,” Julia Freeland Fisher makes just this mistake, when she draws on what she takes to be the comparative adoption rates of these two appliances to argue for more disruptive innovation in educational technology. (Sigh.)

The internet being …