Why would someone use an web based word processor for a school paper instead of Microsoft Word? Here are three reasons:
- When collaborating with classmates on a group project, do you get tired of trying to figure out which of the versions that have been emailed to you is the most current?
- Do you get discouraged when you are faced with the task of merging edits from 2 or more students into a single document near the end of the group project?
- Do some of your edits get lost in the group collaboration email shuffle?
If you’ve said yes to any one of the questions above, then you should take a serious look at using either Google Docs or Microsoft Word Web App for your next group project. That said, here are a few things to keep in mind as you being to collaboratively create and edit documents on the web:
- While the look and feel of Microsoft Word Web App is very similar to the desktop version of Word, you cannot add or edit footnotes, end notes, or tables of contents in the online version of Word. You can connect to the file from your desktop version of Word to add and edit those elements in your group document however (on a Mac you’ll need Mac Office 2011 to do this).
- Google Docs supports foot notes, end notes and tables of contents in the web browser, but the editing interface is not as rich as the desktop version of Word. For some people this is not a problem. For others it is a show stopper. You can decide for yourself.
In any case, if you need to collaborate on a document, don’t just reflexively email it to your collaborator, instead think about writing it in Google Docs and sending them a link and leave the email document shuffle behind.
Creating and using good passwords is the digital equivalent of flossing our teeth. We all know we should do it, but it’s time consuming and not easy to do. The good news is that it’s possible to create strong, but easy to remember passwords.
So, which of the following two passwords is stronger and more difficult to crack? Which is more difficult to Remember?
Believe it or not, the first password is both stronger, and for most people easier to remember. It’s hard to see, but the first password is one character longer than the second, and because of the way hackers try to crack passwords, it is more secure than the second. The first tool that hackers use when trying to guess passwords is a dictionary attack. Because neither password is in a dictionary, that attack will fail. At that point a hacker will fall back to a brute force attack, where password length and character mix is important for making a password hard to crack.
So how should you choose your password?
- Use a memorable word or phrase that has upper case, lower case, number(s), and symbol(s) in it.
- Pad that with a character to make the password and then pad it with a random character so that the password length is about 25 characters long.
- Another example of a strong password is: D0gsD!g………………..
For more information, and to check out how secure your password is from a brute force attack, check out this excellent resource from Steve Gibson at GRC.com
which was the inspiration for this blog post. Passwordmeter.com
is also another great resource that help you to know how strong your password really is. If you’re really interested, here’s a podcast Steve did
where explains in detail why this sort of password is so effective.
Spreadsheet of Data + Google Docs Pivot Tables = Reporting Jedi Master
Pivot tables are the quickest and easiest way to get useful information out of spreadsheets of data… especially large spreadsheets of data. Google Docs makes using pivot tables quite easy if you’re familiar with spreadsheets. Let’s say you have a spreadsheet of conference attendees with contact information along with the sessions they registered for, and the date that they registered. Using a pivot table you could quickly find out if there is a correlation between the people who registered for the “how to get organized” workshop, and how early people registered.
You could also quickly determine how many people attending the conference are out of Province (or State). I’ve just scratched the surface; it’s truly amazing the information you can glean for playing around with a pivot table and a data set. I first used pivot tables over 10 years ago while working at at Westech Building Products, a manufacturing company, and they were invaluable when analyzing production and sales data.
Take a look at the following 1.5 minute video for an excellent overview. Happy spreadsheeting!
Wordle is an interesting way to visualize a body of text like a blog. Students are research appear to be my two most favourite topics on my blog; at least by word count. If I had guessed before hand I would have thought that “collaboration” would have figured prominently as well.
A colleague of mine asked me yesterday what tools I’d recommend for a group of a dozen or so scholars spread around the world to collaborate on a scholarly project. The good news is that there are lots of good tools available for people to use. The bad news is that there are lots of good tools to choose from. Depending on your group’s particular requirements and preferences, you may choose a different tool set than your colleagues down the hall.
That said, here are my primary and secondary recommendations for collaborative tools, along with some rational for my selections: Read More
Google Docs has been my choice for collaborative document editing for some time now, but this past week a new feature was added, that will make the process of collaborating on a single document even less painful. If you and your classmates are working on your project document at the same time, the text that others in your group are adding or editing will be highlighted so you can easily see the changes as they are made, and make sure you’re not inadvertently working on the same section of the document.
Not only does collaborative highlighting show you where you classmates are working, but it will also show you when they highlight blocks of text, so you can watch to see if the text get deleted or moved. I wish I’d been able to use Google Docs when I was a Bachelor of Commerce student continually working on group projects!
Some of the other features that college students will appreciate are:
- Footnotes and Endnotes
- Table of Contents tool
- Inline Thesaurus and Dictionary lookups
- Add new words to a Custom Dictionary
- Auto save every few seconds
I found an email in my inbox this morning about an new building Way-finding utility that UC Davis Law School is working on. You’ll need to use your Firefox web browser for this early version of the app to work (a Chrome and Safari friendly version will be released soon). Here is a working demo of the application. The application is obviously early in it’s development cycle, but has the potential to be an extremely useful utility for libraries.
Put most simply, Wayfinding is a building map router, that uses jQuery and SVG to help individuals navigate from room to room in multi story buildings. Ideal for libraries that are often a complicated maze of book stacks. Enjoy!