In part 1 of this post, I gave you some of the programs I use for staying productive, running stats, managing references, and doing some basic video analysis. In this post, I’ll run you through what I like to use for keeping up with reading, keeping on top of my schedule, dealing with email, and finding research.
Here are a few more pieces of software and apps I’m currently using. Hope you can get some use out of them too!
Email & Scheduling
No matter how hard I try, I can’t get used to working with a pen and paper schedule. I have tried and tried, but I either leave it at home, or forget to keep up with it, or forget an appointment because I didn’t have a reminder. Google Calendar helps me to avoid all of those problems. I always have some kind of technology with me, which means I can access the calendar. My phone syncs with GCalendar, and I can get to the calendar from any computer or other device with internet access. What else is cool is that you can set up all sorts of recurring appointments, appointment reminders (email, popups or even text messages).
I tried my best to use Outlook 2013 for email and for my calendar, but for whatever reason, Gmail and Outlook did not want to play well. The IMAP setup was sluggish, and sometimes buggy for no reason. I am subscribed to a lot of calendars through our lab that are set up with GCalendar as well (see the lab calendar here), and while those easily integrate into each other, it didn’t play well with Outlook for some reason.
With Gmail, I can integrate everything into one place. Multiple email addresses all integrate easily into one location. I have IMAP set up so I can send and receive emails from my main address, all without navigating to another account. This makes things very easy.
There are also some neat add-ons available- such as undo send, and multiple inboxes that can make your clicking of “send” a bit more forgiving, and for making your workflow a bit more streamlined.
Research (finding literature)
Keeping up with blogs and articles
Instead of email, I use the Feedly, IFTTT and Pocket in combination.
Feedly is a blog aggregator. It takes content created in different blogs and puts them into one place into a clean interface. Some like to read the aggregated blogs on Feedly’s page, I go a step further.
I use IFTTT to combine Feedly and Pocket. In my case, I want to compile everything I might want to read within Pocket. I have set up an IFTTT trigger that detects whenever a new article is added to my blog list in Feedly. That new article is then automatically sent to Pocket, where I can read it later when I have free time.
I am generally not very good about back ups. I have an external harddrive I use to back up my documents & videos, but I think I really only back it all up maybe once or twice per week. It wasn’t that long ago I didn’t do back ups at all. This was bad… very very bad. A hard drive failure could have completely wiped me out. These days, I have quite a bit of redundancy to keep me up to speed. The most importance thing I do now to keep everything backed up is to use a cloud service.
The way these work is fairly simple. There is a single folder (and subfolders) or a set of folders that get uploaded to a cloud server on a regular basis. This might be synchronized between multiple computers, or even just between a single computer and the cloud. Either way, you have an automatic backup.
There are a ton of different services out there for cloud storage. I use three services: Dropbox, Google Drive, and OneDrive.
If the competition was only for ease of use, I would pick Dropbox over the other two. Dropbox is the easiest to set up, seems to be the fastest, allows for folder sharing between Dropbox users (although so does GDrive), and will sync over LAN.
It seems to be one of the most popular services, so for sharing it is terribly convenient (because almost everybody I know has it). Basically it works like this: if you save or update any file within a shared folder, it is immediately updated in everyone’s folder (everybody that is linked to the shared folder that is). This makes it incredibly easy to work between multiple people on a document.
However, you can’t both work on the document at the same time, unfortunately, although you can with the web version of a document in either GDrive or OneDrive. In my experience, OneDrive is a bit buggy online for multi-user editing, and while Google Drive works great for multiple editors, it doesn’t play nice with word documents (you have to use GDrive’s format).
Let me preface by saying that I’m a broke college student at the moment, so I don’t have the luxury of paying for any one service. I am spread between all three primarily because I need to store a lot of stuff around, so I have to rely on the storage space between all three. I use Dropbox for my documents, Onedrive for storing videos and pictures (I got a huge amount of storage space with my Microsoft Office subscription), and GDrive for only a few things.
If you feel like helping me out, and you don’t have a Dropbox account already, please sign up for a free 2 gig account using this link (I will get an extra 500Mb of storage space if you do).
Well, that is just about everything that I can think of. I hope that you got some benefit out of my recommendations, and am able to enjoy using these products as much as I have!