Category Archives: cloud computing

Prezi | Game-Changing Presentations

When you’re tasked with creating a presentation what is the go-to software you use to create the presentation?

In most cases people say PowerPoint.
While  PowerPoint has its merits, and can definitely help an audience follow a speaker’s presentation, it is time to look to more dynamic alternatives to showcasing presentation information.

Prezi is a program that allows you to create zooming presentations online. The online platform allows you to add text, photos and link to YouTube videos (no video file upload yet).
One of the great concepts of this program is that it is non-linear. For so long we have showcased presentations in a slide order that goes from left to right in chronological order, yet we know that’s not how many concepts or ideas are best presented.  With Prezi you can include mind-maps, idea boards and show causal relationships between multiple concepts.

As a user it does take awhile to move away from the concept of creating a chronological presentation so I recommend watching a few sample presentations to inspire your own ideas.

You can watch this Prezi presentation on How to Create a Great Prezi to get started.

We are currently working on re-tooling our school programs presentation using Prezi so I’ll post it here when it is finished.

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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.


Google Chrome Extensions

Despite the fact that many of us have laptops we carry around most of the time we still often have a “home” computer and a  “work” computer.  We’ve all had that moment where we go to work on a project, only to realize the program or file is on our other computer.

We’ve talked about cloud computing in the past, and it’s only going to become more prevalent. The idea that you can access your information from any computer and you store your information, applications and programs online rather than physically loading files onto a specific machine.

Google’s Chrome now offers applications and extensions in its browser so that you can access some of your favorite programs online without having to download any files or content to your computer.

Google has the Chrome Web Store which is an online marketplace for their applications, extensions and themes.  For more information on what these are, how they differ, how to install, and for video tutorials visit Explore What’s In Store.

Similar to iTunes, Google has categorized the thousands of apps by topic such as Education, Entertainment, Family, Lifestyle and more.

You will need to sign into your Google account to install the applications and extensions. Then every time you sign into Google, from any computer, you will see your applications listed on the New Tab/your Homepage, as in the photo above. One more way to make your life more mobile.

My personal favorite is TweetDeck.

Image Credit