When you need to explain how to do something to someone on their computer there are two options. Either you can scream down the phone at them “can you see where it says this…”, or you can use a Clarify tutorial. I find the latter much more stress free!
Several months ago one of my family members purchased a brand new MacBook Air for the purposes of going to university. This morning I received sad news that said laptop had been lost. Thankfully the laptop was insured so at least the physical value of the laptop should not be an issue. Lesson One: Make Sure Your Laptop Is Insured For Both Accidental Damage And Loss! However what happens with the data which is on it? The truth is that there is no excuse for not having mission critical data (such as university work, important account files etc etc) backed up as it is changed. This is possible through services such as Dropbox and SugarSync, which are free and monitor folders and files and automatically upload changes to the cloud. Lesson Two: Sign Up To Dropbox And/Or SugarSync! Passwords, need to be safe and secure. In other words unique and ideally containing random letters as well as characters which are not alpha-numeric. This isn’t a daunting process as 1Password has it covered. 1Password is covered in detail in my ‘Useful Software & Services For The 21st Century Student‘ post. It is more expensive than the average app, however its an investment that will keep your banking details, and other secure login sites safe. Lesson Three: Make Sure You Don’t Use The Same Password, Or Simple Passwords For Anything! All of this advice is to protect you from losing your laptop or computer as a result of carelessness of theft. But it should also be followed generally as the hard drives which your data is stored will not last forever. I have suffered two hard drive failures around 7 years ago where my data was not backed up, and it was horrendous. Memories gone, important documents lost, hours taken to rebuild what I could. As anyone who has suffered a hard drive failure or computer loss will tell you, although the physical computer can be replaced, the memories contained on it usually cannot.
Having spent four years at university (and going into my fifth year in September), I have have been at the cutting edge of technology for the 21st century student. I rocked up for my first university lecture with my trusty black Macbook, and over the years the piece of technology that joined me has changed, moving through the MacBook Pro range, iPad and now the MacBook Air, which is my note taking device of choice. However the student of today has to do much more than simply take notes in lectures, they have to write essays, draw diagrams and plan their time. Over the years I have tried most of the software out there, and in order to help the student of 2012 on their way (which yes includes my baby brother who this year flies the nest), I have complied this list of student friendly software. Due to the fact that I am a mac fan, the majority are exclusively for the mack platform, however if you head over to http://alternativeto.net you are bound to find something that suits your need. SugarSync – Problem Solved: Backup/Data Sync – Price: From £0 Just like its direct competitor DropBox, SugarSync is one of those programs where you simply set it and forget it. Unlike DropBox you need not move your files from their original location, you select which folders you want to upload to the cloud, and whenever they change, the changes are synced to the cloud. It is unlikely that your tutor will accept the same excuse for an essay being late that was accepted in high school, so a backup solution is vital. Once SugarSync is set up you don’t need to worry about anything. If your computer ever gets lost/stolen or broken you have a backup of all your vital documents that can be downloaded in a matter of moments. Since documents are stored in the cloud, the web interface allows you to work on your documents from any computer (provided it has an Internet connection and the file type is compatible with the local machine). Gone are the days where you need to worry about carrying a USB drive with you, and keeping it updated with the latest copy of your work, simply logon to SugarSync, download your work, do what you need to do, re-upload it and it will be back waiting for you on your machine when you get home. SugarSync has mobile apps of every variety out there, so your documents are available on the go, perfect if you have your revision notes on there and a moment to spend whist waiting for a bus. The free version of SugarSync gives you a 5GB data allowance, which is more than ample for text documents, the odd photograph and diagram. However if you are studying an art, design or media based subject where file sizes are significantly larger more storage is available at very reasonable prices. Evernote – Problem Solved: Mobile Note Taking/Documents On The Go – Price: From £0 There will be some documents that you will wish to archive yet keep to hand. Documents such as your timetable, copies of your tenancy agreement, statements/receipts of important items, Evernote is perfect for this. As well as being able to write notes in the application itself, you are able to drop in files, that are not only synchronised across your mobile devices but are available online. However that is not all. Evernote has released browser plugins (or extensions) that allow you to clip articles directly to your Evernote notebooks. Data such as the site where the article was taken from and the date it was accessed are automatically stored alongside any pictures that the article contains, making referencing at a later date easy. For me I use Evernote as my ‘important document store’. Amongst my notebook collection I have notebooks for university (and then tag each note be it with a subject or event), personal and interesting articles. Since whatever you put in Evernote is backed up in the cloud (and replicated on any other device you have), I also drop in essays and reports. After all it can’t hurt to have another copy of these important documents saved can it? The free version of Evernote gives you 60mb worth of uploads each month, which for standard text and text based files is more than enough, and I for one have never required more. However if you want features such as being able to upload up to 1GB of data each month and offline notebooks this will set you back £35 a year. OmniFocus – Problem Solved: Task/Todo Management – Price £27.99 When at university, there are going to be hundreds of things that need to be done. Some such as the steps required to complete some tutorial work only occur once, others such as remembering to put the bin out occur on a weekly basis. OmniFocus looks after all these tasks and puts them into groups depending on what is required to do them, which are called Contexts. For example, you can set up a context called ‘Library’ (and an alert can even be set up on the iPhone app to alert you through location services when you are at the library) to remind you to renew a book, check out another book and get your photocopying done all in one go. Similar tasks such as getting all your emails done in one go etc etc can save time as you are focused on one process rather than flitting between several different things. Tasks are sorted into projects and can be sequential in order or concurrent. A sequential project would be for instance writing an essay, the proof reading can’t be done until you have written the first draft, and the first draft can’t be written until you have done your research. As such the proof reading and first draft tasks won’t show up until the first task of research has […]
Like many others, my first Apple product was an iPod, the first style nano; having got the Apple bug, I then upgraded my iPods and eventually purchased my first MacBook. Several years ago, my black Macbook with 2.2GHz and maxed out at 2GB of RAM was one of the best purchases that I had ever made. Apple apps ran a dream, and my little computer always did what I asked of it. However as time went by, and the Apps that I used became more demanding, my little MacBook was running out of steam; Aperture was sluggish and running EyeTV, writing an essay and having a web site open wasnt nearly as responsive as I would have liked. Sadly I couldn’t upgrade my RAM (as this would be the first step), so I upgraded to a MacBook Pro 15-inch 2.8GHz Core 2 Duo maxed out at 4GB of RAM. Now this was a perfect machine, Aperture ran like a dream and it served me well for over two years, however upon purchasing an iPad I realised something. I hadnt unplugged my laptop for a couple of months. I had always owned a laptop, for the simple reason that when I went to school/university or went away for the weekend (and needed a computer), a laptop was the only solution. Laptops are great, they are portable and can handle most day to day tasks, however these tasks were now being fulfilled by the iPad, so was there any need to keep a laptop? Even tho I am a student, I have am very demanding of my technology. My computer needs to be able to record programs off EyeTV, edit photos on Aperture, play music in iTunes as well as have several other programs open at the same time. This worked beautifully with my MacBook Pro; to a point. However over time I had to quit one application after another just so that I could complete one task in Aperture, a task that I had to complete without music playing. It was time to upgrade. As mentioned previously, I had always had a laptop as I needed portability, however my portable needs were covered by the iPad, so I decided to take the plunge and look at buying a desktop. I have always wanted a MacPro, and being the tech lover that I am, I wanted the 12-Core 2.93GHz version. However being a student I couldn’t afford £5,000+ investment, and even if I had the funds, my family would have had me sectioned under the mental health act for spending that amount on a computer. So that left me with the Mac Mini or iMac. My brother has a Mac Mini and he loves it; it is fast, responsive and does everything that he asks from it, however his demands and my demands are slightly different. Looking forward the current Mac Mini can be maxed out at 8GB of RAM. Considering my previous Mac had 4GB of RAM, it made little sense to me to purchase a Mac that I would max out in RAM right from the off; I wanted room for expansion. The iMac was the only choice left. We have two iMacs in our house; my sister owns one of the original white iMacs, and my mother one of the newer 24-inch aluminum iMacs. They both love theirs, however compared to the MacPro I had lusted over it seemed a poor relation. By comparing the iMacs to the basic MacPro I could receive a newer processor, and a 27-inch screen for a much lower price. So another day dawned, where I was verging on a mid-life crisis, I wanted a new mac I just didnt want to admit it to myself. Upon confessing that I wanted to buy one, my housemates confiscated my wallet for my own safety and would only return it upon verbal confirmation from a woman who speaks sense (my mother) that it was acceptable. I rang up my mother who instantly knew why I had rung, and confirmed to my house mate Harry that buying an iMac was a much better idea than spending £5,000 on a MacPro. Which one to choose? Well there was only really ever one choice, the biggest and the best. I rang up the Manchester Arndale store and reserved an 27-inch iMac with the upgraded i7 processor. Having paid for the Mac, and AppleCare we suddenly realized how heavy it was. The plan of getting the bus home went out the window and instead got a taxi back. Transfer of data was a dream. I plugged in my time machine backup, selected it from the introductory setup screens, came back an hour later to find my old Mac setup on my new Mac. Data, applications and settings were all as I left them, it was a walk in the park. Since I have purchased my iMac, I have upgraded the 4GB of RAM to 8GB with memory from Crucial, and attached my 20-inch Apple Cinema display to it, giving me a massive 47-inches of screen real-estate. Performance is AMAZING, applications open with not even 2 bounces on the dock, photos render in Aperture within the blink of an eye, and I never get the spinning pizza wheel of death. My total cost was £1,635.92 for the iMac and the AppleCare, it may not be the MacPro I have dreamed of but I am still very happy with my purchase and will be for some time.
A week has gone by since my iPad landed, apps have been purchased and the experience enjoyed. Here is an overview of the apps which i’ve purchased, and the role which my iPad has played.
Its true, im an Apple Fanboy, but many people ask why. Here are the reasons.
At last the time had come, I got my iPad!!!
With my iPad due to arrive in a couple of days, my email work flow was in desperate need of a refresh.
After the initial thoughts of the iPad, I must say that my opinion has changed and I cant wait to get my hands on one.
Yesterday saw the release of the iPad, Apples tablet device; for me it was quite a bit of an anti-climax to say the least.