Reading

What I’m Reading [3]

A further short post of ten articles I have enjoyed reading this week:

# ‘Paris Syndrome’ Drives Chinese Tourists Away [Ania Nussbaum, Bloomberg]

# How to Be Polite [Paul Ford, Medium]

# Slot Machine Science [Brad Plumer, vox.com]

# The Most Wanted Man in the World [James Bamford, WIRED]

# The Future of College? [Graeme Wood, The Atlantic]

# The End of Neighbours [Brian Bethune, Maclean's]

# Postscript: Robin Williams, 1951-2014 [Anthony Lane, The New Yorker]

# Suicide & Silence: Why Depressed Men are Dying for Somebody to Talk To [Owen Jones, The Guardian]

# How (and Why) to Develop Your Mental Toughness [Patrick Allan, Lifehacker]

# Is Samsung bigger than Google? [Nilay Patel, The Verge]

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Reading

Improving Your Productivity

I’m always interested in discovering new ways to improve my productivity. Earlier today I came across a fantastic website, A Year of Productivity. One article – 100 Time, Energy, & Attention Hacks to be More Productive – stood out as particularly valuable.


Here are a few of my favourite tips:

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Reading

What I’m Reading [2]

Another short post of ten articles I have enjoyed reading this week:

# Is Coding the New Literacy? [Tasneem Raja, motherjones.com]

# The Obesity Era [David Berreby, aeon.co]

# How to Spend the First 10 Minutes of Your Day [Ron Friedman, Harvard Business Review]

# How to Read A Book [Shane Parrish, Farnham Street Blog]

# The Overwhelming Persistence of Neighbourhood Poverty [Richard Florida, City Lab]

# An Inside Look at Facebook’s Method for Hiring Designers [First Round Review]

# Does It Matter How a Condemned Man Dies? [Alex Hanford, GQ]

# Why Not Even Exercise Will Undo the Harm of Sitting All Day & What You Can Do About It [Hannah Newman, Quartz]

# 10 Lessons I Learned from a Year of Productivity Experiments [Chris Bailey, Lifehacker]

# 50 Apps To Improve Your Life In 2014 [Johnny Davis, Esquire]

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Reading

What I’m Reading [1]

A short post of ten articles I have enjoyed reading this week:

# How to Build a New Habit: This is Your Strategy Guide [James Clear, jamesclear.com]

# 7 Reasons Why You Will Never Do Anything Amazing With Your Life [Raymmar Tirado, Medium]

# 7 Things You Need To Stop Doing To Be More Productive, Backed By Science [CamMi Pham, Medium]

# The Beginner’s Guide to Getting Better Sleep [James Clear, Entrepreneur]

# Thirty Things I’ve Learned [Nick Crocker, Medium]

# How to Get Ahead by Speaking Vaguely [Joel Stein, Bloomberg Businessweek]

# Being A Better Online Reader [Maria Konnikova, The New Yorker]

# 9 Minutes a Day is the Magic Number for Better Personal Branding [Mihir Patkar, Lifehacker]

# Kara Swisher Is Silicon Valley’s Most Feared and Well-Liked Journalist. How Does That Work? [Benjamin Wallace, NYMag]

# How to Change Other People [Leo Babauta, Zen Habits]

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Apple Devices

Research

5 Apps for Researching & Report Writing

As a follow-up to my previous article on using an iPad or other tablet device in lectures, I felt that listing and justifying some of the apps I’ve used to assist my research and/or write my dissertation would be a worthwhile exercise. FYI, I used a combination of an iPhone, iPad & Mac to produce my dissertation and so, the apps discussed below may not be compatible with alternative desktop and mobile operating systems.


Evernote

I’ve been a long time user and advocate of Evernote. A few people have previously misinterpreted my expressed enthusiasm for it on Bowling Googlies as a covert marketing attempt. Supposedly I’m on their payroll. I shouldn’t have to say this (again!), but I’m not. Put simply, I love it and use it for absolutely everything! It’s unquestionably the most versatile, reliable and feature-rich note-taking app. It’s also available for free and cross-platform. Rather than expounding yet another academic application of Evernote, I would recommend you to read this article by Greg Clinton. I would add that for my dissertation, I used Evernote to store reading materials, text notes, illustrations, and photographs, and Dropbox for the dissertation file itself, versions of it, and audio-recordings.


Adobe InDesign CC

Adobe InDesign CC may seem a peculiar and/or unnecessary choice for writing up your research. After all, its an expensive application intended for use by professionals not students and there are many alternatives (e.g. Google Docs, Microsoft Word, Pages for Mac). It is, however, an invaluable and unrivalled tool for those who obsess over the little details. Most importantly, It affords you absolute control over the design and structure of your document, something the aforementioned applications struggle to compete with. For those unfamiliar with Adobe InDesign CC, I would recommend this playlist of YouTube videos (intended for CS5, but also of use to CC users).


DropBox

To eliminate the problems of computer failure, file corruption, loss and theft of devices and so forth, you should store everything in a cloud synchronised folder. Put simply, everything you’re not storing in Evernote should be stored in Dropbox. Whilst you could alternatively use Box, Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive or one of the many other cloud storage providers, I’ve found Dropbox to be the simplest and most reliable option.


RescueTime

RescueTime isn’t an academic app, but a time management tracker. It provides a very detailed account of how you spend your time to help you become more productive. It’s also cross-platform (available for Android, Linux, Mac & PC) and free. The free version of the app includes time tracking for applications and websites, the setting of goals, and online and weekly email reports. There’s also a premium version which provides all of the features of the free version in addition to alerts, accomplishments, website blocking, more detailed reports, and tracking of your time away from your computer or Mac. Toggl is an another good option.


DropVox

DropVox is a great audio recording app for iPhone and iPad. In addition to using my dictaphone (a Phillips Voice Tracer LFH0882) to record interviews and focus group discussions, I used DropVox for audio backups. Whilst iOS and OS X do have built-in audio recording utilities, unlike DropVox, they don’t automatically upload the recordings to Dropbox. The app is also available for Mac.


If you’ve used any apps for research that I haven’t listed, feel free to leave a comment.

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Research

Document Versioning Using Automator

Following the completion of my dissertation, I thought it would be useful to share an Automator application I have created for document versioning.

My approach – for those using a Mac – is far easier than my university’s ‘archaic’ approach (as detailed immediately below).


If you use Pages for Mac, you can stop reading this article as the application automatically creates periodic versions of your document. When a document is open, you can view these versions by following this sequence:

# File >
# Revert >
# Browse All Versions …

N.B.

Pages for Mac creates a version automatically every hour, or more frequently when you’re making many changes. A version is also saved when you open, save, duplicate, lock, rename, or revert a document.


If you’re one of the difficult few who use OS X but not the iWork suite, like myself, this Automator application is a very useful tool for creating periodic versions. FYI, I use Adobe InDesign CC for reasons I’ll document in a later post.

You can either use it (a) manually by opening this application every time you want a new version or (b) automatically by setting it to open on startup (System Preferences > Users & Groups > Login Items > +). If you have this application set up to produce automatic versions, it will make a version of your file every time you start your Mac.

N.B.

You need to select your file (or files) to be versioned before use. To do this, follow this sequence:

# Open Automator
# Press File > Open
# Press Add … in the Get Specified Finder Items Box
# Choose your Document
# Press File > Save
# Add Application to Startup


If you would prefer to set up the Automator application to your own specification, you can follow and adapt these instructions:

# Open Automator
# Select Application
# Add Get Specified Finder Items
# Press Add … and Select the File (or Files)
# Add Copy Finder Items
# Select a Folder (e.g. /Dropbox/Dissertation)
# Add Rename Finder Items: Add Date or Time
# Select your File Name Options (e.g. dissertation_28/06/2014)
# Press File & then Save
# Close Automator & Open Settings
# Chose Users & Groups, then Login Items, then +
# Add the Application
# Close Settings


N.B.

Whilst Dropbox does save versions of your documents, it is limited and may not always be suitable. As their documentation notes, “Dropbox keeps track of your files’ version and deletion history for up to 30 days. You can revert to a previous file version or recover a deleted file at any time within 30 days of an edit or deletion.”

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new-website

Design

Personal Website Update

I’ve updated my personal website – jordanhuxley.com – with a brand new design and reduced the amount of content. Over the past few months, it had become increasingly bloated, especially with the addition of the apps, articles and photographs sections. It has now been dramatically simplified, consisting of one page and three sections: (a) summary, (b) curriculum vitae, and (c) projects. Bowling Googlies articles are no longer displayed, the photographs have been removed, and my academic and creative portfolios have been merged. All information about my company’s apps will be available on monkee.es. I’ll be launching a new website for my photographs in the not too distant future. If you have any thoughts on the redesign, feel free to leave a comment below.

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