Tech Tuesday: CNBC Real Time

As a student interested in finance, I find it important to stay on top of the markets and pay attention to business news, and the CNBC Real Time App for iPad has been particularly helpful to me in doing so.  The app has a very intuitive interface that makes important news, information, and data easily accessible.

First of all, you can retrieve real-time stock quotes direct from the New York Stock Exchange and NASDAQ, and you can access charts with custom time frames ranging from one day to five years.  In addition, you can find company specific news, profiles, and key financial metrics.

Another useful feature is the personal ticker on the bottom of the app, which is meant to resemble the ticker on the bottom of the screen on the CNBC television channel.  By default, the ticker shows “Stocks to Watch”, the major indices, and news headlines, but it can be customized.  There is also a “My Stocks” watch list that you can use to track your favorite companies.

Finally, the News and Videos tabs allow you to access top business news stories, global headlines, and segments from the CNBC television channel.

CNBC Real Time for iPad is free and can be downloaded from the App Store.  CNBC Real Time is also available for iPhone and Android with a different interface but a similar set of features.





Tech Tuesday: Refining Your Googling

It is safe to say that most students use Google numerous times per day.   In fact, after analyzing the 2012 national EDUCAUSE Center for Applied Research (ECAR) Study for Tufts University, it is clear that students find that Google is one of the most important websites for their academic success.  However, when it comes to trying to perform the best web searches, particularly for research, searches are most effective when “search operators” are included.

Some of the more commonly known search operators include the following:

  • First, site: followed by a website URL (with no space in between) filters results to only include pages on the specified site.
  • Quotation marks (i.e. “ “) around a phrase will search for that exact phrase, rather than each of the words separately.
  • A minus sign (i.e. -) followed by a particular term will exclude that term from the search.

However, some other search operators that may be less familiar include:

  •  A tilde symbol (~) followed by a word will also search for related words, rather than specifically that term.
  • A range of two years with two periods (..) in between will narrow the results to the designated timeframe.
  • Entering filetype: followed by a file type (e.g. pdf, doc, jpg, etc.) will narrow the results to the file type designated.
  • Entering intitle: followed by a word will filter results to only include pages for which the word is in the title (otherwise, results for which the word is anywhere on the page are included).

Although remembering to use these operators may be frustrating at first when it may seem so much easier to just type out the topic of your search in plain words, understanding these best practices to web searching can actually be very helpful in finding the most useful information.


AT Friday: AudioNote

Before this semester started, I started to think about beginning to take notes for my classes electronically.  I looked into various programs and apps, and AudioNote caught my eye.   The app is available for iOS and Android, and there is a program for Mac and Windows.  Also, I was able to order a stylus online for just a few dollars.

The app lets you take handwritten or typed notes and syncs it with audio.  In other words, the entire audio recording is indexed with your notes.  To start, open AudioNote and create a new notes sheet, and then hit the record button whenever you’re ready.  You can import lecture slides in the background and write directly on them, or you can just write on the lined notebook sheet.  You also can switch between typing and handwriting, and AudioNote will continue the recording without interruption.  In the case of the iPad and iPhone apps, if you click the Home button and go to another app, the recording will still continue (which will be indicated on the top of the screen).  Then, when you playback the notes, parts of your written notes will highlight at the points at which the audio being played back was recorded.  Alternatively, you can click on a word/drawing and the recording will fast forward to the point at which you wrote it.

In my case, I take notes on my iPad but sometimes like to view them on my Windows computer when I study.  In order to do this, I sync my iPad with iTunes on my computer and I use iTunes File Sharing to export the files to my computer.  In addition, I store my notes on iCloud, which lets me view them from my iPhone as well.  It is also possible to save AudioNote files on DropBox.

Overall, I have found AudioNote to be very beneficial and recommend it to anyone considering taking notes electronically.  The app costs $4.99, but there is a free version that lets you take notes with a 10 minute limit on recordings so you can try it out prior to purchasing it.

Tech Tuesday: CloudOn

An app that I have recently found very useful is CloudOn, which is offered on iPad and Android, and will soon be available for the iPhone.  Like many cloud based file editors, the app can securely sync with your Dropbox, Box, or Google Drive account.  However, what makes CloudOn unique is that enables users to view and edit documents in the familiar Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint interfaces rather than in a “generic” file editor.

To start, download the app and then create a CloudOn workspace account.  Then, select a cloud-based service (Dropbox, Box, or Google Drive) where your files will be stored and enter your login credentials in order to sync the account.  It is required to use a cloud-based service as CloudOn itself doesn’t permanently store any of your files on its own servers.  Rather, your files are pulled when you’re working with them, saved back to the cloud-based service when you’re finished, and then deleted from CloudOn’s servers.

Another beneficial feature is that you can not only view PDFs, but you can also fill out PDF forms, which the built-in PDF viewers on most mobile devices typically don’t support.  In addition, you can open email attachments in CloudOn and edit them using the applicable Microsoft Office program.

The app can be downloaded for free.

AT Friday: SlideShark

As I become more accustomed to using my iPad, I am finding it necessary for all of my documents to be accessible without having my laptop with me.  Although there are a number of cloud-based solutions that can meet most of my needs, SlideShark is unique in its capabilities of viewing and sharing PowerPoint presentations without losing any animations, fonts, colors, or graphics.

To begin, register for a free SlideShark account and download the app on your iPad or iPhone.  Then, log on to your account and upload PowerPoint files that you wish to have available on your mobile device. Alternatively, you can import presentations from other online cloud storage services, such as Dropbox, Google Drive, or Syncplicity via the app.  In addition, if a PowerPoint file is emailed to you, you can simply open the attachment and you will be given the option to view the presentation in the SlideShark app.

Once you’ve opened your presentation on the SlideShark app, you can go through the presentation by either tapping the screen or swiping.  If you’re presenting to an audience and the iPad is connected to a projector, you can show a “laser pointer” on the projected presentation by holding your finger on the iPad display.

All in all, I believe SlideShark is a powerful and innovative solution that will be increasingly useful as people become more dependent on tablet and mobile devices.

-Michael Lesser

TechTuesday: Doodle

When I’ve needed to arrange a meeting with a group, I would often find myself in a situation similar to the following: one person proposes a time, some people may agree, but then someone says it doesn’t work for them and proposes a different time, and this process may continue several times until a time that works for everyone is determined. In many cases, this cycle takes place over a messaging tool such as email or text messaging, which causes delays while the group waits for everyone to respond to each other. I recently started to use Doodle and found that this process, which should be fairly simple, can be handled much more efficiently.

To start a “poll”, go to Doodle’s homepage and click ‘Schedule an event’. The wizard will first ask for details such as the title, location, and a description. Then, it will allow you to propose several possible dates and times. Next, you will be emailed a link to forward to your group, along with a private link to manage the poll (if you create an account on Doodle, all of your polls can be managed without needing the private link by logging in). Your group members will then be able to enter their names and check off the proposed dates and times that work for them.

After you’ve provided a sufficient amount of time for your group to respond, go to the poll manager link to view the responses. You will be able to view a grid with all responses, and the page will also highlight the times that work for the most people.

Ever since I found out about Doodle, I have continued to find more and more situations in which it has been useful to me by alleviating the complications of scheduling.

-Michael Lesser