Much to my disappointment, I discovered that Google is going to discontinue Google Reader. This is disappointing because Google Reader is a cornerstone of my personal learning environment. I am now forced to find a suitable replacement.
After a bit of exploration today, I am planning to give Feedly.com a try. It will automatically import my RSS feeds from Google Reader, saving me a ton of work. I am already up and going.
Feedly has applications for my smartphone and iPad as well as a nice extension for Chrome.
This is another tool review that is part of Jane Hart’s 10 Tool Challenge. In this post, I will briefly talk about a series of tools that I use on a daily basis. Basically, they are my Google Chrome extensions.
Google Chrome is my browser of choice; it is fast, and it has given me minimal problems. However, there are times when I wish that Chrome had a specific capability, and that is where the extensions come to play. With extensions, I can add non-native features to Chrome or add capabilities of other programs such as Evernote or Diigo.
Google Chrome has a library of extensions that you can easily add to your browser. I, typically, find extensions through recommendations found in tweets and blog posts. If I try them and find them useful, I will keep them and install them on all my computers as well as share the find with others. Here are extensions that I am currently using:
AutoPagerize – Autopagerize is a great little find that has saved me time as I browse through Web sites. Basically, if the page extends to an additional page, AutoPagerize will append the pages to create a single scrolling page. This has been great as I review my Diigo lists or Google searches.
Bit.ly – If I am working with long links, the bit.ly tool allows me to create shortened customized links with one click that I can share with others. It is connected with my bit.ly account.
Clearly – Clearly strips away ads and unnecessary menus from Web-based articles to make them cleaner to print as well as save to Evernote. Clearly also has a text to speech capability.
Diigo Web Collector – This is my most used tool. I use the Diigo Web Collector to bookmark Web pages I feel are useful. With the Diigo Web Collector, you can also annotate and highlight Web pages. New features make it easy for you to share a page by email, Twitter, Facebook, or Google+.
Evernote Clipper – With Evernote Web Clipper, you can capture and send to Evernote — images, URLs, parts of a Web page, PDF documents, or the entire Web page. I have been using this tool with increasing regularity, especially, if I need only part of a Web page.
Google Reader Notifier – The Google Reader Notifier simply lets me know if I have any articles to read in Google Reader, and it opens up Google Reader automatically when I click on it.
IE Tab – Basically, the IE Tab let’s you emulate an IE browser. Unfortunately, I still run into a couple of pages that were designed specifically for IE.
Hootsuite Hootlet – The Hootsuite Hootlet will let you quickly send a message to your social media channels, e.g., Twitter and Facebook with the content from the page you are currently viewing. This lets you easily share content without leaving the page.
Save to Google Drive – The Save to Google Drive extension allows me to save Web-based content to my Google Drive with a right click of my mouse. I can save images, text, URLs, audio and video files, etc. If you save an entire page, you can save it in raw format or as a Google Document.
Zotero Connector – Finally, the Zotero Connector allows me to save research finds to Zotero. When I am looking through our University library, I can save the results directly to Zotero. This has made researching easier and more accurate.
Well, this is my list of favorite extensions for Google Chrome. If you have a favorite extension you can not live without, please let me know.
The other day, I was writing about the new New Media Consortium 2012 Horizon Report, and I briefly spoke about mobile apps I use. In this post, I would like to share the iPad apps that I basically could not live without. A little melodramatic, still, they are really useful apps.
Apps for getting things done
Evernote– Evernote is a great application for saving everything. I have written quite a lot about Evernote in the past, and it still remains one of my essential applications. I have Evernote loaded on all my computers, my iPad, and my smartphone. I use it to save notes, images, and ideas related to anything and everything in my life. I have recently started to use it in conjunction with the Getting Things Done (GTD) system, and it is working out great.
EgretList– Egretlist is closely integrated with Evernote, and basically takes my GTD system in Evernote, and turns it into a checklist or to do list where I can check things off.
Dropbox – I use Dropbox to store everything I want to work on away from my primary computer, whatever that happens to be. It is a great convenience to be able to access files from all my computers, iPad, and smartphone. Dropbox is useful to collaborate with multiple teammates.
Kindle– My favorite ebook application is Kindle. I currently have 40 books loaded on my Kindle and I have read or I am currently in the process of reading them all. I have become a more active reader because of the convenience of having a stack of books always at my fingertips.
Google Books – Because not all books are available through the Kindle app, I have also downloaded books to the Google Book app. I prefer the Kindle app because of the highlighting and note taking features. Still, I am able to get books I want to read.
Google Search – I use this application to read my Google+ account and for Google Reader. When I am away from my computer, I use this program to stay abreast of new findings in the world. Each program allows me to forward to my email or send a post to Twitter.
Flipboard – Flipboard is my favorite way to read the posts I get from Twitter. Flipboard presents the information as a newspaper. The Twitter posts are expanded so that you can read part of an attached article, and you can see included pictures. You can set up Flipboard pages based on hashtags, search queries, Twitter lists, or your entire Twitter stream.
Hootsuite– If I just want to look at my Twitter streams and queries, then Hootsuite is my tool of choice. With Hootsuite, I can follow all of my Twitter accounts as well as set up unique queries and lists.
Zite– Zite is very similar to Flipboard, and it is the newest application I have added in this category. With Zite, you can sign up for a number of attractive categories such as Arts and Culture or Social Media. Another great tool to glean new information from the Internet.
Other Useful or Fun Apps
AppStart – AppStart is a great program, especially for iPad newbies. AppStart recommends great iPad applications based on your needs. If I need to make recommendations to others based on unique needs, I first crosscheck my recommendations with AppStart. AppStart makes recommendations from the first ten apps to download to apps for sports, reading, music, email, and countless other topics.
Skype – Since I use Skype as my phone in the office and home, I might as well have all my contacts available to me while on the road. I have Skype loaded on all my computers, my iPad, and my smartphone. Skype provides the added convenience of being able to hold an impromptu conference call.
Hotels – While on the road, I use this app to reserve rooms. So far, I have not been disappointed in what it has found for me.
Weatherbug – This app keeps me informed about the weather. The weather radar feature lets me determine the intensity and duration of a storm. I have all the areas of Wyoming plugged into it so I can see what trouble I will be getting into.
TripIt – I use this app to see where my friends are traveling as well as find people I know in places I am going. I am always looking for company for a meal.
Ancestory – This is a great little application that ties into Ancestory.com. I use it to track and work on my family tree. It is nice to sit down with a relative and be able to show them the tree as well as add to it.
WoW Armory – This application allows me to check up on updates from my World of Warcraft Guild. I can check on various achievements, events, and messages without having to leave the game or while I am out on the road. I used it when working as a guild officer for Azeroth Training Society.
Well, these are the apps I use, what apps do you recommend and why?
As I become more comfortable with new learning tools, my personal learning environment keeps morphing. Recently, I incorporated Google Reader and Google+ more predominately into my learning scheme. While it may not necessarily look like it, I am also rethinking how I am using this blog as a learning tool. I thought I would share with you my current personal learning workflow. This work flow has been shaped by recent books I have read; primarily, Google+ for Business. I recently wrote a book review on it.
Some things have not changed. Each day, I receive 10 Paper.li “newspapers” where I have an opportunity to review posts (normally Twitter feeds) on a number of different topics. If something catches my eye, I will read it and save it to my Diigo account, if appropriate. I use these saved sites as a fodder for the Geeks and Speaks newsletter I send out at the end of each month. Here are the newsletters I currently subscribe to:
I also use Flipboard, an iPad application, to review my Twitter streams. However, I have not been as active reviewing my search queries in Tweetdeck or Hootsuite. My review of search queries seems to vary based on time available. Again, finds that I believe to be useful make it to my Diigo account. Additionally, based on the advice of Brogan, the author of Google+ for Business, I am posting more to Google+. Google+ is a nice balance between Facebook, Twitter, and this blog. Google+ seems more mature in the posts it provides. I can post more than Twitter, still share things I find interesting, but not have to write a full blog post.
The most significant addition to my personal learning workflow is the addition of Google Reader. I have made a more concerted effort to subscribe to blogs and news focusing on my interests. Using some of Brogan’s advice, I have started to explore and follow new blogs. This is an interesting experiment because I need to find a balance between the quantity and quality of information. I have found some streams of information to be too overwhelming and I have had to unsubscribe. Overall, I am pleased with what I have been finding.
Tapping into all this information can be exhausting if you do not have a plan of attack. I typically review my information streams twice a day; again, great advice from Brogan. Usually, I review my feeds when I get to work or first thing in the morning. I also review them in the evening while I am watching TV. During each of these periods, I save what I find important to Diigo, and share a subset to Google+ with my comments. I also update a monthly blog post with articles that provided me with new insight on a topic or simply caused me to pause. My first post collecting these types of articles can be found here.
I have been happy with this approach so far… unless I get out of routine, then I tend to get backed up. Once it is habitual, it will be easier going. How are you feeding your thirst for information?
As I was putting together a learning guide on Google Reader, I learned that there are two methods for sharing and importing subscription feeds. I would like to share what I have learned with you.
As I have previously mentioned, Google Reader is a great tool for aggregating all of your RSS feeds. These feeds are necessary to keep you up to date on areas you deem important. When you collect and organize these RSS feeds into folders, you may want to share them with others. You can share these subscriptions in a number of ways; however, I am going focus on one particular method and touch slightly on the other. In my opinion the easiest method is creating a bundle. The other method is creating an OPML file. OPML (Outline Processor Markup Language) is a format for outlines, this results in a file that can be read by many other RSS readers. When creating a bundle, an OPML file is also created. In the next couple of sections, I will explain how to create a bundle, how to share a bundle, how to import a bundle, and how to import an OPML file.
Creating a bundle
1. Open Google Reader, and click on the down arrow to the right of a subscription folder.
2. Click on the Create a bundle link.
3. Give your bundle a name and provide a description.
4. Drag additional subscriptions to the box provided or drag unwanted subscriptions to the delete box provided.
5. Click on the Save button when done.
When you are done creating the bundle, you have the option to share it with four different methods: email it to friends, create a bundle clip for your website or blog, add a link to your website or blog, and an OPML file.
How to share a bundle
If you are planning to share bundle directly after making it, you can use the links provided; however, if sharing a bundle is an after thought, you will have to locate your bundles. I am going to show you the long way.
1. Open Google Reader, and click on the Browse for stuff link.
2. Click on the View your bundles link.
Email to friends
1. Once on the Your bundles page, click on the Email to your friends link.
2. Fill out the To and optional Note to attach to your bundle, and click on the OK button.
The recipient will receive the following email message.
Clicking on the preview link will send to a page with samples of the feeds and a button to subscribe to the feeds.
Create a bundle clip for your Website or blog
1. Once on the Your bundles page, click on the Create a bundle clip for your Website or blog link.
2. Copy the code and add it to your site.
Add a link to your Website or blog
1. Once on the Your bundles page, click on the Add a link to your Website or blog link.
2. Copy the URL from the address bar, and paste into your site.
Are you following a number of blogs or news sites? Do you go to each site to see new posts? You might want to check out these two new Learning Guides: RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feeds and Google Reader.
RSS feeds are a great way to subscribe to news and blog feeds. Instead of going to countless Web sites to see information important to you, the information comes to you. Through the use of an RSS reader, you can collect, organize, and view feeds. See the guide here: Learning Guide:RSS
Google Reader is a quick way to aggregate, organize, read, and share articles collected from RSS feeds. See the guide here: Learning Guide: Google Reader