Tech Tip Round-up

Here’s a quick list of some cool apps / programs / tricks that I’ve run across recently. The goal here is to help you use technology more efficiently so that you can focus on teaching and research.

1. Backing up Google Docs. Insync is “free software that creates a folder on your hard drive and automatically syncs the documents in your Google Docs to it. Insync works in both directions—new documents added online are downloaded to your hard drive, and documents added to the synced folder are uploaded to Google Docs.”

2. iPhone Apps for Productivity. A nice little list of apps that “all do one thing and one thing only, and they place a premium on doing those things as quickly as possible, so you can spend less time on your phone, and more time doing other things.” If you want an app to remind you about tasks, upload digital copies of your receipts in your Dropbox folders, reduce the amount of paper junk mail you receive, or to help you stay on top of daily journal writing, then this is the list for you. The apps reviewed aren’t all free, but the ones that do cost money aren’t especially expensive.

3. OnLive Desktop. This is an app for iPads that turns your iPad into a functional Windows 7 machine. As David Pogue writes, “The full, latest versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Internet Explorer and Adobe Reader are set up and ready to use — no installation, no serial numbers, no pop-up balloons nagging you to update this or that . . . The PC that’s driving your iPad Windows experience is, in fact, a ‘farm’ of computers at one of three data centers thousands of miles away. Every time you tap the screen, scroll a list or type on the on-screen keyboard, you’re sending signals to those distant computers. The screen image is blasted back to your iPad with astonishingly little lag.” Now that is cool. The free version of OnLive Desktop gives you access to the full suite of Microsoft Office programs (not the stripped down app versions that so often abound). The catch is that “the only way to get files onto and off OnLive Desktop is using a Documents folder on the desktop. To access it, you have to visit OnLive’s website on your actual PC. ”

There’s also a $5 per month version (called OnLive Desktop Plus) that “adds Adobe Reader, Internet Explorer and a 1-gigabit-a-second internet connection. [This is] the fastest connection you’ve ever used in your life — on your iPad. It means speeds 500 or 1,000 times as fast as what you probably get at home. It means downloading a 20-megabyte file before your finger lifts from the glass. You get the same speed in both directions. You can upload a 30-megabyte file in one second.” Your iPad has just become the best Flash player ever. And, thanks to the addition of the internet browser in the paid version, you now no longer need to use the OnLive website as a portal for your files.
(If this interests you, you’ll also want to check out the follow-up Pogue wrote about the service.)

As always, let us know if you’re looking for solution to a problem, have found a great way to solve a problem that’s vexed you, or if you have comments about any of the above tips!

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