Monthly Archives: February 2011

Read Twitter and Facebook as a Daily Newspaper

Featured on Mashable as one of the 5 Most Innovative Uses of an API back in November Paper.li provides links shared on social networking platforms, like Twitter and Facebook, to be displayed in an easy to read newspaper-style format.

This API seems built more for Twitter users since people can be following thousands of Twitter handles and the content steam can often become overwhelmed with hyperlinks. Generally many users have less Facebook friends and aren’t just posting article links, but the service has an option to sign in with your Facebook account as well.

From the Mashable review:

Connect Paper.li to your Twitter (or Facebook) account or choose a keyword or Twitter list as the basis of your new newspaper. Paper.li will then generate a summary of the most popular and relevant links based on your keyword or friend list, and it will be updated every day, week or month, depending on your preference.

With just a few APIs, Paper.li has figured out a smart way to curate the most popular links on the web.

In the digital age it is easy to get overwhelmed by the amount of content people are sharing on the world wide web, so it is a great service when companies find a way to bundle relevant content and make it more user-friendly. I have heard comments by users that scrolling through Twitter feeds can be a time-consuming process to find links from their followers they want to open.  With Paper.li the original articles posted as tweets and posts show up on an online newspaper page, complete with photos and content. Each post includes the user name of the original tweeter or poster so you can see who that specific person is following and what topics and content are being tweeted. Plus the interface makes it a lot more enjoyable to read the content.

You can also subscribe to a specific user’s Paper.li, embed an issue link, and automatically tweet promote your own Paper.li updates to your Twitter followers.

The great news is that Paper.li provides their service in multiple languages, and is continuing to grow their language offerings. On their home page you can view the site in English, German, French Spanish, Japanese, and as of last week, courtesy of the Paper.li Blog, Dutch and Portuguese. I always appreciate sites who devote development to sharing content in languages other than English.

Here’s intledtech’s Paper.li

Feel free to post your Paper.li link in the comments below.

 

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Best Productivity Apps for Your Smartphone

I often receive comments about how well I leverage my smartphone.
I don’t just use it as a phone or email device. My phone serves many functions in my daily life from secretary, scanner, telecommunications device, access to news, and keeps me on top of tasks, projects and deadlines. I believe apps are what make these small units indispensable and essential for boosting productivity and efficiency.

I currently use the iPhone 4, but many apps are available on a number of devices including Blackberry, Android, Palm. I have noted which device platforms offer the applications I have reviewed below.

I will briefly review some of my favorite and most frequently used productivity iPhone apps. Keep in mind, these are just a few to get started. I’ll be sure to feature more in a future post.

Awesome Note-This is by far my most frequently used iPhone application. Awesome Note lets you take down notes and categorizes them in custom folders.  The multiple views lets you create To Do lists, view all notes on a calendar, set reminders (with alarm) as well as geo-tag, add photos, and email the files. The interface is beautiful with a variety of templates and fonts. The thumbnail view is akin to a virtual bulletin board filled with post-it notes where you can view your To Dos, ideas, work projects, book recommendations, and more. The other feature that makes this application a must-have is the ability to sync your information into the cloud, using either Evernote or Google Docs. (You have to be on a wifi connection to sync). This means that you always have a back-up of your information and can access your lists when you’re on your computer.

JotNot Scanner Pro-For anyone who travels or occasionally works remotely. This application lets you take a photo of a document, receipt or other physical page and converts it to a PDF, JPG or PNG file.  It provides numerous options to send on the file including email, fax, send to Evernote, send to Google Docs, send to Dropbox, Send to WebDAV/iDisk, and more.  This works great if you need to get a hard copy of a document to someone and you don’t have access to a scanner or fax machine. An essential mobile office tool. *Available on Blackberry and Android.

Dragon Dictation-Dragon Dictation is a voice recognition application powered by Dragon® NaturallySpeaking® that allows you to dictate your speech to text and send on as text or email messages. They makers say that speaking is up to 5 times faster than typing, so it can also improve your efficiency. Dictation takes some getting used to, and while the software recognition is fairly good there are still times when it doesn’t process your speech correctly. Proper nouns can be especially challenging. A nice feature is that you can tap the incorrect word and it will come up with options for replacement. *Available on Blackberry and Android.

Pulse News-A great news aggregation application that lets you customize your news RSS feeds. The interface uses a grid system that showcases rows for posts from a specific site and columns for different feeds. You can send links out via email, Twitter, Facebook and other social networking sites from within the application. *Available on Android.

Skype-Skype’s application lets you make and receive free calls, and have recently added the video feature. For any travel you do outside the US, or if you want to avoid racking up your phone minutes you can make free calls on 3G and wifi connection. This application also allows you to IM/Chat with your online contacts.  With the 4.0 OS multi-tasking feature you can stay signed into Skype while you’re in other applications or your phone is in standby. Your contacts can still see you’re online/signed in and can call or IM you (which comes up as a notification alert). *Available on Blackberry, Android and Palm.

NotifyMe-This is a great application for reminders. Sometimes people like to use their calendars for tasks or reminders such as making phone calls, working on a project, or a reminder to send a specific email. Nowadays many of us share our calendars with family members or colleagues so these “tasks” or reminders tend to clutter our calendars and are taking up a time frame on our calendar but aren’t really appointments. This applications lets you type in your task or reminder, as well as additional content, and alerts you when it’s due. An overdue tasks comes up in the upper right corner of the application icon (I keep this application on my homepage to ensure I don’t miss my alerts). This has an online version you can sync with and also allows you to connect with other users to put tasks on their Notify Me account.

Evernote-Another note-taking application that offers a few features that Awesome Note doesn’t (although the interface isn’t as pleasing) There is a desktop program as well as a web clipper, which lets you store content from a website you’re visiting with a touch of a button on your web browser.  You can input text, photos, and audio files. Another great feature Evernote offers is text recognition within photos. This means you can take a photo of a book cover, sign, or document and search for a part of the phrase later without having to actually create categories and tags (which it does let you do as well).  All of your clips and notes are saved in the cloud. Evernote has been featured as one of the top productivity apps on numerous websites and books. *Available on Blackberry, Android and Palm.

WordPress-A great way to blog on the go!

*Available on Blackberry and Android.

 

 

Have an app you love and want to recommend? Please post it in the comments.


Move Over Blogging?

The New York Times article, Blogs Wane as the Young Drift to Sites like Twitter, discusses the evolution of posting content online and how recently young people are moving away from blogging; opting for shorter methods of communicating their thoughts, such as Facebook posts and Twitter.  Many young bloggers say they are too busy to post lengthy entries, and feel many of their friends don’t have time to read their long posts but will be apt to comment, reply or retweet on their content.

There are some who still feel blogging has its place.  Quick updates, tweets and status posts don’t always provide an outlet for more detailed information, research and reflection. The article points out that while younger generations find blogging cumbersome, and are moving to methods that convey their information in shorter bursts, the older generations are still interested in blogging.

It is important we are aware of shifting interests in our students’ social media habits but I believe blogging is still an important part of the online landscape, and in the classroom it can be a great educator’s tool. As we see an increase in written shorthand and a rise in grammatical errors blogging provides an online platform for students to write, not just craft a one sentence summary.  Including a blogging component in your curriculum encourages students to improve their prose, work on their essay style, develop an argument, present findings, analyze information from multiple sources, and find a voice. Encouraging students to craft a message, think critically, and present a body of information in essay form is an important skill; one that they don’t engage in as much as past generations. Gone are the days of letter writing, replaced by the text, tweet or Facebook post. Using blogging as a curriculum element encourages the students to think about their audience, because instead of just an instructor grading their work they have their peers and the online community reading their writing as well.

*Tip: If you have students write a blog they can still post their blog title and weblink to Twitter and Facebook to encourage their peers, online friends and followers to engage on the topic.

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