All posts by Mark Sample


Keeping Your Offsite Twitter Archive Fresh: A Fix

A year ago I wrote about Martin Hawksey‘s awesome hack that keeps your offsite Twitter archive fresh. This tool takes your Twitter archive (a complete set of your tweets, which you can request from your Twitter settings) and then daily adds your latest tweets using a Google Apps script. The archive resides in Google Drive as a regular web page. For example, here’s my archive.

Unfortunately, sometime in December 2013, Google changed something with its scripting language, and this broke many insta…


Disembargo: An Open-Access Dissertation, One Letter at a Time

Disembargo ScreenshotOctober 21-27 is Open Access Week, in which libraries, colleges, and research institutions across the globe stress the value of free and immediate access to the results of scholarly research. Open access is a complex issue, though, as Adeline made clear when she released her dissertation under a Creative Commons license in July.

An open access advocate myself, I’ve long wanted to articulate clearly why I want my own scholarship to be public and freely accessible (and almost all of it is). The Am…


Check Your Backups. RIGHT NOW.

Safety Deposit BoxAs Amy noted last week, we write a lot—a lot—about backing up your work.

Guess what? It’s time to write about backups again, but with a twist. I’m not going to exhort you to backup your essential computer files. Instead, I’ll assume you’re already running some sort of automated backup system. Dropbox. SpiderOak. BitTorrent Sync, whatever. I’m not going to exhort you to backup your files. I am going to exhort you to check that your backup system is indeed backing up what you want it to, when you …


Keep Track of (Public) Library Books with Library Elf

Stack of BooksMy family and I are inveterate public library patrons. Between us we have four library cards, and we visit the library several times a week, often checking out more books than we are returning. At any given time we have between 50 and 100 library books checked out. All those books are great, but with so many, and with so many different due dates, how do we keep track of them all?

My public library—like most public libraries—has an email reminder service, as well as a great website and even m…


Teaching a Domain of One’s Own with Reclaim Hosting

Astronaut Eugene Cernan salutes deployed U.S. flag on lunar surface

One of the many things I’m excited about this semester is a new seminar called Hacking, Remixing, and Design. I’m trying a bunch of new ideas, including students registering their own web domains, which they’ll use as home bases for the various digital projects we work on throughout the semester. The idea of a domain of one’s own is nothing new—the University of Mary Washington has had a domain program for students for several years now. What’s new is the service I’m using: Reclaim Hosting.



Accessibility Statements on Syllabuses

Accessibility LogoWe’ve discussed accessibility issues before on ProfHacker, including accessibility in the classroom. But as I was designing my syllabuses* for Fall 2013, I realized that we’ve never talked about accessibility statements on syllabuses, which more and more institutions are—happily—mandating.

Many campuses have boilerplate language for accessibility statements (which are, unfortunately, occasionally called “disability statements,” a phrase that itself emphasizes exclusion rather than inclusivity). …


Text Expansion, Macros, and More with AutoHotkey for Windows

Man playing AccordionText expansion generally refers to the way a few typed letters can expand into entire words, sentences, or even paragraphs. It’s a simple idea but an incredible time-saver.

We’ve talked about text expansion tools before on ProfHacker, but we’ve tended to focus on the Mac. What about text expansion for Windows? I’d like to recommend AutoHotkey, a powerful, open-source and free scripting tool that handles text expansion but also so much more. I’ve been using AutoHotkey for years, and it’s beco…


Digital Distractions: Zombies, Run!

We tend to think of our digital distractions as exactly that—distractions from the otherwise productive business of our daily lives. The Zombies, Run! game, however, could just as easily fit alongside the health and wellness posts on ProfHacker. This smartphone app (available for Android and iOS devices) is essentially a running app wrapped up in zombie narrative. Each run enacts a single “mission” in post-apocalyptic world threatened by zombie hordes. You play Runner 5—a courier with a my…


Exporting from Mendeley?

Angry Man with Sign PhotoAs has been widely reported, the reference manager Mendeley was recently purchased for roughly $69 million by Elsevier, the Dutch publishing behemoth. Though we often suggest Zotero as a way to organize and cite research material, we have favorably recommended Mendeley as well. I even used Mendeley’s iPad app until the Zotero-based Zotpad was released.

But now that Elsevier—whose business practices have raised concern from open access advocates—owns Mendeley, there has been a backlash against …


Sharing and Losing Control of an Online Persona

apocryphasamplereality[This post originally appeared on MediaCommons, in response to the question "What are the major social, legal, and professional stakes with sharing online"? Because ProfHacker has addressed similar questions about online identities and social media, I am reproducing the post here. I welcome your comments at the end.] 

When it comes to scholarship, pedagogy, and service — the three pillars of the professoriate — I am a staunch supporter of open access and the ideal of an intellectual commons th…