• The Great OU Dropbox Space Race. Join In!

    Shuttle blasting off into space from a Dropbox launchpad
    Credit: Image copyrighted/owned by Dropbox

    Most people have probably heard of the handy cross-platform Dropbox shared folder service. It allows you to designate a folder on your Mac or PC and access the contents of that folder from other devices using the web or dedicated client software. Clients exist for iPhones/iPads, Android devices, and many major operating systems. Many applications have Dropbox support baked right in, too. All in all, it’s quite handy and simple to use. I know many students and academics already use it frequently.

    The reason I mention it now is because Dropbox, a freemium service, is currently running a promotion by which existing or new users can associate their academic e-mail address with their Dropbox account and they’ll get 3 GB of extra space to use for 2 years, plus additional space based on how many users from their university participate. Full details are available in the Dropbox blog entry.

    The space race is open to staff and students, so everyone can participate if they have any kind of Open University e-mail address. The OU has tens of thousands of students, 7000+ associate lecturers, plus faculty and support staff. We have the possibility of really kicking butt on this but at the moment we’re in 11th place with only 744 participants to Oxford’s 2788. Surely we can do better than that!

    1. Go to  https://www.dropbox.com/spacerace .
    2. Either  create an account  or  sign in with your existing account . Note: You don’t have to use your OU address to create an account if you don’t want to; you’ll be asked for it later.
    3. You’ll be asked next to verify your school e-mail address to join the Space Race.  Type in your OU e-mail addresss . That address should either be something@open.ac.uk or the new style OU Google Mail address. This will send an e-mail to your account, so make sure you can actually access your e-mail account!
    4. Find the verification mail and  click on the verification link  in it.
    5. See the confirmation!

    Dropbox spacerace status graphic showing we have 8 GB

    Disclosure: The link in step 1 is an affiliate tracking link for Eingang on Dropbox. By using it, you get her an additional 500 MB of space (which she can always use!). If you’re not comfortable with that, here’s an unaffiliated plain link.

    Let other people know by pointing them at this blog post or at the Dropbox space race page. Let’s see how much space we can get for ourselves!

  • Thunderbird-based Postbox Drops Price Massively

    Postbox's mailbox application iconCredit: Postbox, Inc.

    Postbox's mailbox application icon

    Postbox, the Thunderbird-forked e-mail client I’ve been playing with for the last month after a discussion with Alan Cann about e-mail clients, has just substantially dropped in price from $29.95 US to $9.95 US. The previous $10.00 US discount if you tweeted about it has been reduced to $5.00, but it means you can buy Postbox (Mac OS X or Windows) starting at only $4.95!

    This price drop comes probably not coincidentally as Mozilla’s chairperson announced Mozilla won’t be putting resources into further feature development for Thunderbird. The price drop also makes Postbox more competitive with Sparrow, another Mac e-mail client. Both applications tout their wonderful Gmail integration features, but I’m a long-time POP/IMAP user keen on keeping my mail on my laptop and not in the cloud, so I’ve been appreciating the robustness of Postbox’s POP/IMAP Thunderbird heritage.

    Read the rest of this entry »

  • How To Export Mac Kindle App Annotations to a Digital Notebook

    I have a number of books I can only read and annotate easily using the Kindle software on either my iPad or my Mac. Their reading software does not have a built-in easy way to export the notes or highlights, so you need to do some mucking around to get them in a usable format.

    First step is to install NoteScraper for Evernote. Once that’s done, I use the following steps:

    1. Log into your Kindle account at http://kindle.amazon.com/ using Safari.
    2. Click on the link to your books (https://kindle.amazon.com/your_reading).
    3. Locate the book with notes you want to export in that list and click the title of it.
    4. Scroll down to where notes start and choose “show your highlights only” (this also shows your notes).
    5. Assuming NoteScraper for Evernote is correctly installed and the Apple global Script Menu is visible on the top menu bar, choose “Export Kindle notes to Evernote”.
    6. You’ll be asked for some tags, a notebook to add it to (Kindle Notes), and whether you want each note to have its own note.
    7. Done. It’s in Evernote now.

    It can then be copied and pasted into DevonThink (the tool I use) or other electronic journal or writing tools you may use.

    Don’t use a Mac? You can perform the first four steps and then manually copy the content from the web page to wherever you like, but formatting and appearance won’t likely be as nice.

    I’ve quickly posted this based on my how-to in my own research journal in response to a Twitter question by Catulla. I’ll add some illustrative screenshots later.

  • Dropbox: Will Self-Sharing Make You Go Legally Blind or Worse?

    Dropbox recently changed its terms of use. Dropbox says on their blog the change was to make the terms easier for people to read as they’re written in more accessible English than in legalese. If you look at the comments on the post or read around the net, manny people were unhappy with the change. In particular, the following paragraph seems to have drawn their ire (purple underline is my emphasis):

    Photo of a confused girl

    We sometimes need your permission to do what you ask us to do with your stuff (for example, hosting, making public, or sharing your files). By submitting your stuff to the Services, you grant us (and those we work with to provide the Services) worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free, sublicenseable rights to use, copy, distribute, prepare derivative works (such as translations or format conversions) of, perform, or publicly display that stuff to the extent reasonably necessary for the Service. This license is solely to enable us to technically administer, display, and operate the Services. You must ensure you have the rights you need to grant us that permission.

    Photo Credit: Photo by Alexandra Bellink (Alex Bellink) under an Attribution Generic license.

    Read the rest of this entry »

  • Research Journal Tools Reflection: NotePad Deluxe

    Image of several open paper notebooks open on top of one another
    Photo by Abizem / CC BY-NC

    My friend Howard Rheingold was asking on Twitter recently about how people use DEVONThink, a personal information manager for the Macintosh.  While Howard’s relatively new to DEVONthink, I’ve been using DEVONthink Pro since 2005.

    DEVONthink Pro includes all kinds of import and file-use features to help people put all their information in one place.  It can import or natively use PDFs, e-mail archives, Microsoft Office files, OPML (like from OmniOutliner, for example), iWork documents, log files for instant messenger clients or from SecondLife, BibTeX, XML, and address book.  The Pro edition can also interface with a scanner to import your printed documents into the application and even OCR them.  I don’t use most of these features.  I don’t believe there’s a one-size fits-all information management tool, so I stick to dedicated applications for managing my e-mail, bibliographies, and chat logs.  The primary use I make of DEVONthink in a research context is as my ongoing research journal.

    This is the first of a series of posts reflecting on using personal information management tools, like DEVONthink, for maintaining a research journal while doing my Ph.D.  Before I talk about DEVONthink, I think it will be helpful to go back in time and look at how my research journal began.  This will help explain why my research journal is structured the way that it is today as well as illuminate the path that led me to DEVONthink. I start off the series looking at NotePad Deluxe.

    Read the rest of this entry »

  • Using OmniDazzle in Apple Keynote Presentations

    I was recently recording a narrated Keynote presentation for display on the web and found myself wanting to use the OmniGroup’s very cool OmniDazzle screen effects program in conjunction with Apple’s Keynote presentation package. Unfortunately, by default, Keynote doesn’t play well with other applications, as it intercepts all the keyboard commands. You can, however, convince it to play nicely very easily. Here’s what you need to do.

    1. Open the Keynote preferences. This is in the program menu (or Apple/Cmd ,).

    2. Go to the “Slideshow” tab.

    3. Ensure that “Allow Exposé, Dashboard and others to use screen” is enabled with a checkmark beside it.

    That’s it! Now you can use OmniDazzle in your Keynote presentations.

  • Some Magic with Merlin

    When I was preparing for my thesis committee meeting earlier this year, one of the things I did was prepare a project timeline. In order to do that, I spent ages testing out project management software again, because working with FastTrack Scheduler was so frustrating and unrewarding. After a lengthy but rushed evaluation of several products, I ended up going with a relatively new product called Merlin from a German company. While Merlin isn’t perfect, it at least wasn’t frustrating to use and its import/export facilities meant that I could overcome some of its reporting deficiencies through the judicious application of other applications.

    Read the rest of this entry »