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The Power of Convenience

As I advise my students, I often find myself reviewing "nifty tools" and time-saving tricks of the trade with them.

Examples of these include:

  • Citation Indices and Bibliographic Services: Google Scholar, CiteSeer, DBLP

  • Search tricks: Googling for authors by name, doing a breadth-first search of a citation index, using synonymy, using Google define for acronyms, etc.

  • Content management systems (CMSes): TikiWiki, MediaWiki

  • Communication tools: SkypeOut, Trillian Basic (and Trillian Pro), and IRC (XChat, Adium, Irssi)

  • Unix and Linux commands: find/whereis/locate, sort/grep/uniq/cut/join, df/du/free, etc.

  • Scripting: Shell scripts using the above, sed/awk, Perl, and Python

  • Microsoft Office 2007 tricks: Everything from how to use the new Word 2007 ribbon to how to write simple automation scripts in Excel (and VBA)

Among the tools you use, what do you find to be the biggest time-savers? I'll compile a categorized list, summarize it in a later post, and follow up to maintain it on our Tiki.



( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 20th, 2008 06:34 pm (UTC)
Well, my essential thingies:
- delicious, for accessing bookmarks no matter where I am
- google reader
- digsby - like trillian, but with support for social networking etc
- open office - because it's actually almost as good as MS office now
- Photoshop - there is no substitute, which sucks balls
- quicksearches in whatever browser, I like Chrome's implementation, and typing "imdb " or "wiki " is cool
- WUU, for managing World of Warcraft addons
- VLC - best media player around. It doesn't cope with DRMed movie files, but plays everything else admirably
- Crimson Editor - best text editor around IMO
- 7zip
Nov. 21st, 2008 04:57 am (UTC)
A few off the top of my head...

Quicksilver (Mac only)
NoMachine NX for remote desktop access.
Nov. 21st, 2008 05:48 am (UTC)
Citation Machine: http://citationmachine.net/

Communication: Skype with webcam (it's great to see my son several times a week, but I can also "chat" online and leave little notes for him throughout the day)

I love Firefox with the drop down search engines. I have Webster and Wiki for informational pursuits, Amazon for shopping (a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do), IMDB for those pesky questions of who was that actress making out with Christian Bale, and YouTube for entertainment (because all work and no play...)

Flickr is a great place to park photos.

I just began using Mediafire to upload projects I wanted to share with others. I haven't used it enough to know if it is satisfactory.

I go to Urban Dictionary when I need a translation of current lingo.

And if you are writing a novel set in a certain time period, check http://www.babynamewizard.com/voyager to see which names were popular at the time.

( 3 comments — Leave a comment )

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