Category Archives: Reviews

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College as Constant Restart: A Review of Practice for Life

rail station

Sometimes books arrive for review like a gift: a new book, on exactly the right topic, at exactly the right time. This summer, as I was preparing to teach a first-year seminar for the first time at my new school, and to teach anything at all for the first time in three years, I was delighted to receive Lee Cuba, Nancy Jennings, Suzanne Lovett, and Joseph Swingle’s new book, Practice for Life: Making Decisions in College (Harvard UP, August 2016), an intensive study of student experiences at sev…

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Switching from Evernote to OneNote, part 2

Book with notes flagged on pagesLast week, I explained why I made the decision to switch from Evernote to OneNote. This week, I want to give a brief overview of the how.

There are some important things to keep in mind:

  • Tags work wonderfully well in Evernote, and they’re highly customizable. OneNote has pre-defined tags. While some customization is possible, they simply don’t function the same way they do in Evernote. And for Mac users, at least, there’s no way that I’ve yet found to search tags (the function is available in t…
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Switching from Evernote to OneNote, part 1

Book with notes flagged on pagesLast month, Jason alerted readers to Evernote’s recent price hike. It’s a hefty increase (for Premium users, from $49.99/year to $69.99).

I’m a longtime user of Evernote, and have found it very powerful for organizing information and locating it quickly. (I took the time a few years ago to go through my notes, winnow them, and organize them using the system Michael Hyatt describes in this post from a couple of years ago.) I’ve found the software so powerful that, for a number of years, I’ve …

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Review: The Videographic Essay – Criticism in Sound & Image

Film

I have long been interested in assigning alternatives to the standard essay, and so I read Janine Utell’s recent guest-post here on teaching with video essays with great interest. I’ve long admired what Ryan has accomplished with his unessay assignment, and even tried to do my own kind of assignment using the great resource Writer/Designer: A Guide to Making Multimodal Projects. I have yet to be successful in assigning a great not-essay assignment in a traditional literature or writing course, …

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Review: Revisiting Smartwatches with the Garmin Forerunner 235

When Pebble Kickstarted back in 2012, I couldn’t resist jumping in to see what this idea of a screen on my wrist might lead to. While I was enthusiastic about the concept and possibilities when I first reviewed it, I ultimately ended up abandoning it for a number of reasons, with poor ergonomics (it looked and felt ridiculous on my tiny wrist) and a painfully low battery life top of the list. Now, there are a lot of players in the smartwatch game, including Apple and Samsung, and I’ve been lu…

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Text a Lot from iOS? Why You Might Want to Try Google’s GBoard

wall of surfboards

Alternate keyboards in iOS are one of those things that sound helpful, but can quickly devolve into procrastination engines. For every Text Expander keyboard letting you use your full panoply of text expansion options on your devices, there’s a celebrity-sponsored emoji app.

Last week, though, Google managed to release a keyboard that is simultaneously useful and not creepy: Gboard.

GBoard does four things, each of which is in principle a great addition to typing on iOS:

  • Integrated Google se…
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Keeping Track of Bills with FileThis

Bundles of messy files stacked on a deskBills! Sigh.

There’s no getting around it: finances are one of the many things we have to keep track of. Fortunately, there are tools that help keep us organized and on top of things. Heather’s covered personal finance software, Erin’s suggested ways to check in on your insurance, and Adeline’s looked at a helpful tool for reorganizing your finances.

I recently learned about another tool that may be helpful to some: FileThis. Using the service is simple: you connect your online accounts (includi…

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How to Ask Great Coaching Questions

question marks
Over the last two decades, the field of personal and professional coaching has grown and diversified. Today, the International Coaching Federation website

offers a directory of coaches specializing in everything from ADD to leadership to spiritual development. In the corporate world, coaches are frequently employed within organizations as well as hired as outside consultants. Although coaching is less well integrated within academic institutions, a growing number of coaches specialize in worki…

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Attending to Smartphone Apps

food
The app economy, we’re told, is “bigger than Hollywood.” Apple likes to boast of how many jobs its app store has created, and even the president exhorts the young folks to program their phones, not just play with them.

Yesterday, The Verge published a great story by Casey Newton on the collapse of the app store’s middle class, where all those “bigger than Hollywood” dollars go to an increasingly concentrated set of firms, mostly in gaming, messaging, and entertainment, and the vast majority of …

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Data Visualization With Knoema

Colorful network data visualizationAnyone who’s had to deal with large amounts of data will be well aware that sometimes a visual can be extremely helpful in understanding that data. This map of states party to the Convention on the Rights of the Child that I tweeted out last November is a case in point:

Map showing which countries are parties to the Convention on the Rights of the Child

Even if I were particularly skilled at creating visualizations, I might not always have the time available to do so, or to locate the data I need. Having access to a service that already has the necessary data and that can use t…