Software and Apps that I use- Part 1

I am 100% technophile. I love to play with gadgets and any other technology I can get my hands on. Software and apps are certainly no exception to this, as I am wont to try as many different types of software as I can for a given function.  As a result, there are certain pieces of software that I use regularly, chosen after a rigorous testing process to figure out what works best for me (aka: fiddle with it until I get sick of it, or love it).

Here are a few particular apps or pieces of software that I am a fan of, with categories in no particular order. I don’t receive any compensation to referring this software, I’m just hoping you might get some out of the products, as I do.

Productivity

After a long time of playing around with different to-do lists, and various task-management systems, I think I have finally found one that works well for me. Basically, my prerequisites were: simple enough that I can easily input tasks and organize them, but sufficiently complex that I can manage, tag and categorize upwards of 100 tasks and up (since I like to plan them out well in advance when I can).It has a really slick interface, and I can access it in my browser and on my phone. One of the great things about it is that you can use the vast majority of its features for free.
Other products I had tried were either too complex (e.g. using the GTD system with Evernote or Onenote), too simple (running word document, paper/pen), or had a user-interface that I couldn’t quite jive with (ToodleDo, GTDNext, Nirvana, Asana). I finally settled on Todoist, since it seemed to meet what I was looking for.

Statistical Analysis

One of the most common stats packages out there, and probably because it has a pretty straightforward interface.  I use it mostly because I have easy access to it through a discounted student version, and a browser-based system provided by ETSU.I have used SAS quite a bit in the past, and I would love to continue with it, but I don’t have easy access to it at all times like I do with SPSS.  SAS handles data management better than SPSS, since you can combine and set up temporary datasets for running calculations without messing with the originals. I also really like being able to write all of my SAS code in advance so that I can come back to it later with other similar data. SPSS can also use syntax, but I don’t like it quite as much for some reason I can’t put my finger on (familiarity perhaps?).I have been meaning to learn R, given its awesome price (FREE!), and so I’m told, excellent graphing capabilities. One of these days I will get to it! Like SAS, it is primarily code-based, but that isn’t necessarily a deterrent!Excel comes in a close second- you can do a whole lot of basic calculations in Excel, like t-tests, Pearson correlations, and a few others. There are add-on packages for more stats as well. It is pretty good for reliability calculations too. Will Hopkins has an incredibly extensive spreadsheet on his website (4th paragraph down: Link).

Reference Management

I have been a big fan of Endnote fan for quite awhile. Past blog posts have reflected this fact.  Endnote does a great job of managing and organizing huge libraries of references. It also has some really cool features like the ability to check the accuracy of a reference by comparing it against some mysterious, giant database. This is great for importation of reference files from various databases, which for some reason, are sometimes formatted weird.Endnote also has a cool feature called “Find Full Text”, which uses OpenURL links to automatically check for full-text that you might have access through your university library. I have found about a 10% success rate, but with large batches of PDFs, it is pretty convenient to have that little bit of help! To some extent, I am a fan of Endnote due to my long use of this software. I am on my third paid upgrade, having used it for the past 4 years.
I feel it is important to note that I have started trying out Mendeley again, after a discussion on Twitter with someone on the Mendeley Team about the many improvements that have occurred in the almost 2 years since I tried it last. I have to admit, I am really liking it!  It has a much better feel than Endnote, and does an excellent job of importing PDFs with ease and pulling metadata from it.The in-document citation workflow feels weird in Mendeley, but this is probably due to my familiarity with Endnote. This will probably change with time.Something that Endnote has been in need of for a long time has been the capability to share references between researchers. Mendeley does this easily. Endnote has promised this ability soon, but we will see how well it is implemented…Mendeley also has a much better price- Mendeley is free, with cloud storage up to 2GB. Endnote will cost you quite a bit more than that. Endnote’s price is especially painful if you aren’t a student.In another few months, Mendeley might win out if this trial run continues. We shall see!
 Mendeley-2BScreencap

Video Analysis

For qualitative analysis, Dartfish is probably the best out there- it has tons of bells and whistles, with a lot of neat features.  On the other hand, it’ll cost you a pretty penny.Kinovea is completely free.  For single camera, qualitative analysis, and at a low price point, there is no better than Kinovea, in my opinion. You can do easy capture and analysis simultaneously, use path tracking, use measurement of distance, and angles, among other things, and let’s you do delayed video playback.Kinovea might be worth looking into solely for the delayed feed, because you can take a single laptop with webcam, and you are up and running for giving athletes immediate, post skill/lift feedback. It works great in the weight room for showing lifters what happened with a particular lift. I have found that it performs well when recording videos of lifters to help the coach provide feedback, and I don’t have to stop recording other lifters while the previously recorded video plays. Definitely worth checking out.

That’s it for the first part, I’ll be giving a rundown on a few other pieces of software in Part 2.

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