April 2, 2014

Leave the Flash Drive at Home - Cloud Storage

Cloud-based file storage is one of the most convenient advances in technology a college student could hope for. We’ve all received the desperate lost USB Drive e-mail, and with the help of a few online services we can make sure our schoolwork is always available to us. Here are some of the best options available.

dropbox.jpgOne of the oldest and most reliable services available is Dropbox. The file hosting service allows the user to upload word documents, PowerPoint presentations and even video onto its site for free. Using your e-mail address and password you can then access these files on any computer, tablet or smartphone with an Internet connection. These files can be synced to your personal computer’s desktop with the option of sharing the files with others who have a Dropbox account. Free users have access to around 2GB of space with the ability to earn more though referring a friend or colleague. Soon Dropbox will allow for the ability to toggle between work and personal storage, making the service a more versatile one.

drive.jpg The market for online file storage is becoming quite competitive and as a result, we all benefit. Google’s Drive offers users up to 15GB of free space while providing services comparable to Dropbox. On top of this, Google offers an interface that’s streamlined with its popular email client, Gmail, as well as its online office suite.

onedrive.jpgMicrosoft’s OneDrive, a new service the company is pushing, offers the same service and while offering 10GB of free storage for students. This service is coming to SUNY Albany this April and includes 25 GB of storage for students. Benefits include complete compatibility with Microsoft’s popular office suite as well as the ability for people to view your files without having a Microsoft account.

transfer big files.jpg TransferBigFiles is a bit different than these services, allowing users to transfer files that are too large for e-mail. This comes in handy when sending video, music or photos to yourself or members of a group project. The most convenient feature of this site is the ability to send and receive files without creating an account. To upload a file, 100 MB maximum, users simply go to the website and upload the file. After entering a recipient via e-mail users have the option to password protect the transfer, grant sharing rights and receive notification upon download. For free users the site limits total file sharing to 2 GB a day, with files expiring 5 days after the original send date. Similar services include sendspace and DropSend.

SUNY Albany offers its own file storage service. The S-Drive, available on each university computer, allows you to save PDFs, word documents and presentations to any computer using your NetID and password. The service allows for 100 MB of personal storage. Students have the ability to access these files off-campus by following the instructions on the ITS Wiki. The University’s service has the benefit of being the most secure out of all the services mentioned, as cloud-based services can often be the target of phishing and other attacks. Another convenience includes the ability to restore files or folders with the submission of a Service Desk help ticket.

Blog post created by Mark Seabury

March 19, 2014

Tech Tools: Infographics

The rise of the internet with its focus as a visual medium, infographics have become ubiquitous. More than just the merging of information and graphics that their name suggests, infographics not only make your data more accessible, they allow you to use data to tell a story. They can be used to enhance presentations and reports as well as published via a variety of social media platforms. Creating professional looking infographics is easier than you might think, thanks to the plethora of web-based tools designed for the non-graphic artist. Below are a few that we think are the most useful:

piktochart.pngPiktochart is an easy to use drag and drop infographics tool that enables you to produce high-quality, professional looking infographics. Piktochart offers a large library of themes and graphics to choose from, or you can upload your own images. Completed infographics can be saved is a JPEG or PNG for inclusion in presentations, reports and emails or published via social media. They offer a free membership package that offers access to seven themes and 10 upload shots. Packages offering more access start at $29/month. is free a tool for creating a variety of charts to illustrate your data. You can import data in .XLS, .XLSX or .CSV files, and choose from over 30 types of charts, including everything from bar graphs and pie charts to treemaps and bubble charts. You can save your finished project or publish it to your social media site.

dipity_teaser2.pngDipity allows you to make a digital timeline using information from around the internet. Timelines can incorporate a variety of objects, including text, audio, images and video. Information can be added manually of imported from services like YouTube, Google, Twitter, Pandora and blogging platforms. Timelines can be easily embedded in your website or blog. Dipity’s free account option allows you to create up to 3 timelines. Subscription accounts start at $4.95/month.

infoactive.jpgInfoActive is a tool that allows you to create interactive charts and graphs based on your data. Infographics will automatically update as your data changes, making this tool ideal for use with data from surveys, polls and other constantly updating data.

Post created by Cary Gouldin
Images from tool websites

February 26, 2014

Make it Through Mid-Terms!

SWD_SleepWakeCycle.pngMidterm management strategies can fall into two categories. The first consists of general information that’s been repeated at students since their undergraduate career: eat well, sleep well and exercise. The rest seems to be a combination of silly and complex test taking strategies, more complicated than the actual exam.
There’s more than enough research to suggest that sleep and exercise are an integral part of balancing what seems like five group projects and two papers a week along with a personal life. These tips and pieces of tech can help all types of busy graduate students get the most out of their already packed day without sacrificing helpful health-related behaviors.

The app Sleep Cycle functions like the website, allowing you to set an alarm time that won’t wake you up in the middle of a REM cycle. In theory this should leave you less groggy during the day.

Professionals sometimes advocate for a device-free window of time before sleep, suggesting that the type of light you are exposed to can affect your ability to get some shut-eye. An app called Fl.ux is available for your computer or jail-broken iOS capable device. The software gets rid of the blue glow that can interrupt your body’s natural sleep rhythms.

If you’ve pulled an all-nighter and need to reset your sleep schedule, take note: a recent study suggests that you can reset your sleep schedule by fasting for 12-16 hours before you’d like to fall asleep. It may not be the easiest thing to do, but it can help you get back on track.

According to the Harvard Business Review, regular exercise can actually help you excel in daily tasks via stress reduction. Short bursts of daily exercise allowed people to manage work and their personal life, a necessity for the grad student who juggles work, school AND a personal life.

An app called creates random workouts you can do at home, without any equipment, for any amount of time.

This LifeHacker article introduces the reader to interval training as well as research supporting the claim that 20 minutes of it a day is enough to keep or get you in shape. Another describes a 7-minute full body workout that you can do in between study breaks.

The most important thing to remember in between exercise and sleep intervals is that the Dewey Graduate Library is a great place to manage anything midterm or schoolwork related. Whether you’re looking for a collaborative space to work on group assignments, a computer-equipped nook to write an essay, or personalized research assistance provided by a knowledgeable librarian, the Dewey Library has everything you need to make it through midterms.

Blog post by Mark Seabury
Image credit:

February 12, 2014

Productivity Tools Help You Organize, Stop Procrastinating

The Dewey Library is pleased to introduce you to our newest blogger, Mark Seabury. He is an Information Studies Student who will be helping out behind the scenes during this semester. Here are some interesting productivity tools he recommends for students.

The ability to close out of a social media or image browsing site isn’t always one that comes easily. One minute I’m gathering research for a paper and the next I’m lost in the depths of Facebook, trying to figure out what the kid I sat next to in 1st grade is up to. The following tools do a good job of fighting digression, allowing you to temporarily block time wasting sites while you do homework.

chrome-nanny.pngBrowser extensions like Chrome Nanny and StayFocusd both work on Google’s browser, while Firefox’s LeechBlock provides the same kind of service. After installation, simply type in the URLs of the sites you’d like to avoid and set a time limit. Of course, there are a number of ways to disable all of these, so think of these extensions as artificial boosts of willpower rather than a permanent solution to web-based procrastination.

This stripped-down interface of WriteMonkey makes the download a great tool for someone looking to write a paper without the distractions of everything else on your desktop. Once downloaded the program’s “zen-like” atmosphere expands to your entire screen, harkening back to the hindrance-free atmosphere of the typewriter without losing any of the web capabilities we’ve become accustomed to.

trello.pngTrello is a great way to visualize and prioritize long-term projects. The free software uses a method taken from big business and applies them the personal project level. Users assign each project to a board, which contain a list of tasks. Each list is given a card where specific instruction and attachments can be placed. The system allows for the chunking of a semester-long research project into manageable portions and realistic achievement goals. The cloud based software makes collaboration a breeze, and team-based learning classes that much less complicated. Programs like Asana and Azendoo offer variations on a similar product.

toodledo-mobile-10-700x280.pngToodledo is another way to manage tasks with a huge amount of options and customization. This makes it great on the individual level, and an apt way to keep up on the small tasks that are easy to forget about as a student. Its coolest feature recognizes when you have a chunk of free time and suggests which tasks are the highest priority and in what order to do them. It also syncs, for free, with your phone or tablet.

featured-img-coggle.jpgPredating any of these tools is mind-mapping, a technique that has existed before computers via pen and paper. A mind map is a way for you visualize a variety of ideas, from cheap meals to a full-blown project. Smaller ideas branch out from a central idea or theme in the form of nodes, a particularly good strategy for brainstorming paper topics. Free tools like Coggle and FreeMind allow you to insert pictures, documents, and even sync with Microsoft Office to create a memorable and effective mind map.

These are only a sample of the many productivity tools out there- check out Lifehacker for more tips and resources to make the most out of your time!

Blog post created by Mark Seabury