Welcome to the Tools

Posted by on Jul 8, 2012 in Mixes | 2 comments

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In a bit of fortuitous timing, given that I just started a blog about wanting to take a closer look at, among other things, the tools that help us create things, I was recently contacted by Daniel Scibienski for an interview on his new blog Teacher Uses This, which is exclusively about the tools teachers use to get things done. You can read the whole thing if you wish here, but below are the juicy parts that are more relevant to what I’ll be talking examining as this blog moves along:

What hardware are you using?

I’m pretty much exclusively Apple hardware these days, although I certainly didn’t intend to turn out that way. I was a pretty hardcore PC guy, but when Apple released the Intel-based polycarbonate MacBooks, I decided to give it a shot, since I’d always be able to run Windows if I didn’t like it. That was six years ago, and I haven’t looked back since. I have a work-supplied MacBook Pro to get stuff done there, and at home I have a 5 year old iMac that I’m hoping to upgrade soon. Between both, I have my iPhone 4S (64GB, black) and 3rd-generation iPad (32GB, black). I also run a computer lab with several N-computing setups, and my school currently has 60 iPad 2s that I use with my students.

And what software?

When the speaker before me at a conference left his coffee on the table and it spilled into the back of my MacBook Pro, I was really glad that I’d switched almost completely over to cloud-based software. Thanks to the Mac App Store, I was able to redeploy almost all of my software very quickly. Thanks to Evernote, DropBox, and Google Drive, I had all of my must-have files back after a quick download. Across all my devices, I use Reeder to keep up with my RSS feeds and Echofon to keep up with Twitter. Skitch is an essential screenshot annotation tool for me when I need to explain how to fix an issue to a teacher. For photo management I use iPhoto, but I do serious editing work in Adobe Lightroom. For video editing I use iMovie, but I’m planning on dabbling in Final Cut Pro X this summer. If I need to make a document or presentation that looks nicer than what Google Docs can handle, I revert to Pages and Keynote. Finally, one of my most essential apps is Sparrow, which I use for all of my email on the Mac.
On the iPad, some favorite apps for workflow include GoodReader for PDF annotation, and Agenda for calendar management. I’m really enjoying using Paper these days for note-taking. With the kids, I love Toontastic, Book Creator, iMovie, and Drawing Pad.

I want to look at some of this stuff a lot more closely as time goes on. Part of that might be workflow stuff, but I hope a much bigger part will be showing how to combine tools in nifty ways.

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  1. Curious, what does Agenda allow you to do on the iPad that the stock Apple calendar won’t?

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    • I like Agenda’s views better more than anything else. It’s also a bit faster for adding new items.

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