Well, it has been almost 6 months since I last talked about various programs and apps that I have found useful. Last go around, you guys seemed to enjoy the suggestions (see part 1 and part 2. I ended up in an interesting conversation with one of the guys from Mendeley, who convinced me to check out the software again. I quite enjoyed it, and have been using it more often than Endnote these days.
Anway, there are a few apps and programs that I either didn’t mention on the last go around, or have only recently started using. Here’s some of what I’ve got my hands in.
Boomerang for Gmail
Being a Google fanboy, it is only natural that I also use Gmail. One of the coolest extensions I have found to enhance it is Boomerang. Boomerang has two really neat features: The first is a “send later” feature, which allows you to send an email at a later time and date. Sometimes you really don’t want to reveal to people that you were checking your email at 4 AM, and you can use the send later feature to send it at a more “normal” time, like 8:30. You can also use it to make sure that the email shows up in somebodies inbox around the time that you know they would be checking it, instead of being hidden under the onslaught of emails over the weekend, for example.
The other neat feature is that you can make sure that a message “boomerangs” back to you (get it?) if it hasn’t been replied to. Have somebody who is bad about getting emails back to you? This is perfect for them, since you can have it remind you to follow up with them at 1 day, or 2 days, whatever interval you happen to choose. The free version gives you 10 messages per month, which I have found is just enough for me.
Up until recently, I primarily used OneNote for my notetaking and record keeping. Onenote is pretty stinking cool, with lots of awesome features, yet I couldn’t quite get into it. I really don’t know what it was that kept me from really liking it. Instead, I’ve been using Evernote quite extensively. It does pretty much everything I could possibly want as far as cataloging and keeping track of notes, and has some neat extra features, like Scannable (iPhone app, and maybe an Android app too, I’m not sure), a really quick and easy document scanner.
I put Evernote through the ringer throughout my job search process this year. I applied for a bunch of different positions, and I needed to keep extensive notes all along the way for when I researched campuses and departments, had emails with search committees, and luckily, for interviews too. I could tag all of my notes with various schools and what step I was on (initial research, application misc, phone interview notes et cetera) that made it really easy to keep on top of things.
I have also created a notebook that is just for meetings, so that I can keep all of my notes together in an easily searchable format. I know that I higher I get up the food chain, the more meetings I will be attending, so keeping extensive notes is a good habit to get into. I think I could probably do this just as easily in OneNote, but even still, I can’t truly put my thumb on why I like Evernote better.
On another note (bad pun, entirely intended), I did try really hard to work the GTD methodology using Evernote, as outlined in the Secret Weapon Manifesto, but it turned out to be entirely too complex for me to want to keep on top of. I think it took me more time to set it up than I did actually using it. Instead I ended up using Todoist.
Freedom is a really neat little program that has one simple function: it turns off network connectivity. For all of those times when you have to completely turn off the gigantic distraction that is the internet (including email, Twitter, Facebook, etc etc), Freedom is the way to go. There is a way of killing the program before it runs through the total time that you designate so that you can get back online, but there are enough extra steps that it is easy enough to avoid. It is $10 well spent.
As of a few months ago, this was brand new software to me. If you are a regular reader, you saw my last post containing some code I wrote in R. So far, I am really liking this program. I was first exposed to SAS in a regression class I took, and I have liked the idea of using programming to address statistical questions ever since. While SAS is a great program, and much more widely used than R, the problem with SAS is its gigantic pricetag. R is free. Can’t complain too much about that. In the coming months, you will probably see me write more and more about using R, as I delve deeper into it.
Admittedly, it has a steep learning curve, especially for someone who knows only enough about programming to be dangerous, but it is so rewarding when you can highlight your entire script, click run, and see nothing but correct blue text. Woo! The only major modification I have done with R is to download the RStudio package, which helps to set up the base R package with a whole bunch of neat bells and whistles (easy viewing of loaded datasets, saved graphics outputs, coloring of your script- which makes for much easier reading). You can find R here, and RStudio here.
Are there any pieces of software or other neat apps I’ve left off the list? If so, let me know below.