Web Apps 2.0

It is Monday morning, and I’m polishing this piece from a coffeeshop, about 900 miles from my university after working on it periodically from 3 cities on 2 continents. The file is being automatically updated to the cloud ever time I save, just in case my battery or computer dies and I need to access it remotely from elsewhere. It is a mobile world in which we live and a fair number of us are working and earning our degrees mostly if not entirely online. I personally spend a great deal of time on the internets or using surrounding technologies for my Grad program, work and life.

"Evernote" by John Larsson under CC via flickr.

“Evernote” by John Larsson under CC via flickr

As I approach the final weeks of my MSIT program (one class to go!), I think it fitting to revisit Micah’s Web Apps piece from over 2 years ago from my own perspective and share the tools that have been helpful to get me here. I’m always looking though for the next good one to add to the tools chest, so invite you to please share with me and others those things that work for you.

It was interesting to see how many of the standards Micah listed I use, as well as what has changed or updated. To wit, the list:

  • Dropbox – I have had two laptops die on me during my Grad program and the only thing saving my sanity was the backups of key folders to the cloud. It all happens automatically so I don’t have to remember or worry that I did it. Sharing functions, smartphone integration and web interface too make it a savior of time and stress.
  • GoogleDrive/Docs/Mail/Calendar – I love me some Google Tools. I live by my Gmail and use the calendar which also interfaces with my smartphone. I confess I haven’t found much use for Google+ outside of doing Hangouts (see below). GoogleDocs, however, I utilize daily and has been key for many a group project (including working on the HLS book) and also for a large Knowledge Management project I recently finished. I highly recommend looking into to GoogleDocs if nothing else on this list.
  • Skype/GoogleHangout/iChat/FaceTime/GoogleVoice… or some sort of Voice Over IP calling and video conference platform (one if not all of them – yes, I am one who has all of them and have used most in the last month)
  • Spell Check on your browser of choice – For me it is mostly Chrome, though I often have a Firefox and Safari open as well). All of them have a spell and Grammar check on them.
  • Hightail (formally YouSendIt) – I have only thus far used the (old) YouSendIt, but it was great for sending large files I din’t want bogging down my dropbox account.
  • Hootsuite – great for managing my Twitter-verse which is key to my LIS and life experience as I mentioned in my Social Media piece. For finding, sharing and scheduling tweets, I really like the Smartphone Ap and a tab with hootsuite is always open in my browser.
  • Evernote – I admittedly don’t use this as fully as I know some do and I probably could but I find it useful for keeping notes, links and musings (as well as recipes). If there was one ap that I would likely try to start using more.
  • IFTTT – If This Then That integrates your social media channels (and saves me from actually visiting the rabbit hole that is Pinterest often). A time saver if you want your instagram photo to automatically post to flickr, save your tweets to evernote, or post your blog article to Facebook.
  • School Smartphone and/or WebApp – I have my University’s application on my phone and am familiar with the however oft-frustrating portal. The former I have used a few times and was happy to have it then.
  • OpenOffice – Not exactly a WebAp but I downloaded it from the internet. I love that there is a great open-source Wordprocessing, spreadsheet and presentation suite.

I think it probably goes without saying but I will anyway, I encourage you to be well-versant in the technology and applications your University and classes use before you are called on to use them. It is frustrating for you and your classmates if you are still working on figuring out the platform while in class.

I still hang on to good ole PenAndPaper for my to-do list. There is no digital equivalent action I have found yet as satisfying as putting that checkmark next to an item. Speaking of… post HLS article? Check.

Please, please add to the list and tell me what I am missing! Share your tips and tools in the comments.

13 replies

  1. I’m totally with you on Dropbox, Evernote, and the Google family! My to-do list has gone virtual with Remember the Milk (web and iPhone app versions sync).


  2. While I’m all for cloud storage, you should be aware of the terms of service on each brand. Google has a very open TOS for Drive/Docs, meaning they theoretically could do anything they want with your content. Dropbox is better, but police can subpoena your content if they want to. I personally use SpiderOak, which encrypts on my end before the data is sent to the cloud.

    Knowing where to safely put information is just as important a library skill as knowing where to find information. I still use Dropbox for some information, but I’m conscious of what goes in there. An informed decision is the best decision.

    I recommend people check out Terms of Service: Didn’t Read (http://tosdr.org/) to get a better sense of the strengths and weaknesses of the services they use.


    • Wow Kristin, thanks. I feel like I am pretty good about reading TOS and stay up to date on those issues but I am by no means perfect and will sometimes “agree” for expediency or convienience instead of self-protection. You bring up some valid points and we ought be careful with our data and think about those issues when we use these apps. http://tosdr.org/ looks like a great resource, thanks so much for sharing. I’ll definitely have to look into Spider Oak.


  3. Pocket (app) to save things to read for later – apps, web app, and plugins for browsers. Just downloaded (but haven’t tried yet) the Don’t Forget The Milk app for task management. Previously have used Google Tasks, which pops up in Gmail (and other places) and doesn’t have a proper app, but which you can save as a bookmark (or hyperlink on home screen). Just started using Freedcamp to organize bigger projects (but I think my workplace is in the works to buy Basecamp, so…).

    For other, non-study things, EEBA: Envelope Budget Software for simply finance tracking, and MyFitnessPal for food and exercise tracking.


    • Thanks Justin, all great ideas and suggestions. I use Mint and DailyBurn respectively for the same life stuff. I also forgot Pandora! Very important for study music listening. I’ll definitely look into Pocket.


  4. Not an app per se, but I swear by citation management tools. RefWorks is a licenced product from ProQuest, and Mendeley was just bought up by Elsevier (grr), but Zotero is still free and open source (for now?). Can be tricky to figure out, but for LIS folks who expect to do research after grad school or who are working on major papers, literature reviews, etc., citation managers can save so much time and duplication of effort.

    And it IS satisfying to cross items off a paper to-do list. Great post!


    • Thanks Michael! You bring up some really great resources. I, in my Google Madness, have used Google Scholar of late for citation help but I have not done huge research papers yet so citation management hasn’t been a need. Thanks for sharing resources for others though, those types of tools I know can be huge time savers for those that need them.


  5. Great post, Jo! I can’t let the opportunity slide to share my love of Wunderlist for task management. Seriously, my entire life is in there. I keep track of short term things, like what I need to get done in a particular day or week, as well as long-term stuff, like deadlines for conferences I want to apply to. It also has good mobile support. I’m a fan!


    • Thanks Brianna! Wonderlist indeed looks like a great App. Tis no wonder you set your life by it. Adding to my (still paper) to-do list to give it a test run. Thanks for the suggestion.


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