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.

Tech Tuesday: WolframAlpha

Google has become more than just a web search engine, especially for the average college student. It has become our primary research tool and even a calculator for simple arithmetic operations. However, Google was never meant to be used for anything that involved fetching and working with huge datasets or perform any advanced mathematical operations.

This is where WolframAlpha, the self-proclaimed Computation Knowledge Engine comes in. While I have been a regular user of the website www.wolframalpha.com ever since its launch, it wasn’t until the launch of its iOS app that I really discovered its true power and potential.

The home screen of the app has a very search engine-ey feel to it with the search box at the center of the screen on which you can type what you seek information on. Because of the range of data and information WolframAlpha can work with, a very useful feature is that the search engine gives you suggested keywords (operations and operands).

 

What really sets the iOS client apart from the website is that it adds three additional rows of numbers, symbols and equations which makes entering mathematical operations very simple, much simpler than even entering data into a calculator.

Having said that WolframAlpha isn’t really a calculator replacement. But what really sets it apart from a calculator and makes it so much more useful is that while a calculator solves problems for you; WolframAlpha solves problems with you. With WolframAlpha you have the option of seeing step-by-step solutios for multi-step problems like those ranging from simple algebra to advance calculus.
While my post until now has focused on the mathematical computation abilities of the app, WolframAlpha’s capabilities go far beyond anything I can possible write about in any blog posts. To get a comprehensive list of all the domains covered visit its iTunes page https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/wolframalpha/id334989259?mt=8#

One can use WolframAlpha to look up data and information ranging from credible sources, whether its data related to Economics like the unemployment rate in three US cities on finance, the stock analysis of Microsoft’s stock, for instance.

To sum up,

Thumbs up:

  • A Swiss army knife like app for all computational needs
  • Slick and intuitive interface
  • Great visualization
  • The built in keyboard

Thumbs down:

  • Requires an active internet connection
  • Does not seem to have any additional features than the web that the WolframAlpha Pro account does, for $3.99 a month

The app can be bought from the App Store for $3.99. The good thing about it is it’s a universal app, so the $3.99 lets you install the app on all your iOS devices: the iPad, the iPhone and the iPod touch.

-Samujjal Purkayastha

 

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

Tech Tuesday: LogMein

LogMein

When you leave home for school or work, have you encountered certain occasions in which you need a few important files that are located in your computer left at home? During research/business trips, have you considered bringing a lighter/smaller device like iPad, but in end rejected the choice because of work concerns?

Once, a friend asked me that, given she is traveling to Asia for a research trip and she don’t want to bring a heavy laptop, if she can just bring an iPad with some powerful applications. If I had known this application beforehand, I would have recommend LogMein to her.

With LogMein, your life could be much easier. It is a powerful application that allows iPad user to remotely access their Mac/PC left at home. For instance, if you forget to send a document which is located at your desktop harddisk to your professor/colleague/partner, with an iPad, you can simply login to your desktop remotely and send the document. You can even edit a document remotely, given that the quality of the service is pretty good.

What all you need to do is to:

  1. Sign up for an account and download the LogMein app onto your iPad
  2. On your Mac/PC, download the LogMein Host software and install it on your computer. (After signing in to http://www.LogMein.com, there will be a download link on your home page)
  3. Make sure that your Mac/PC is turned on, connected to internet, and is not in sleep mode. This can be set before you leave home
  4. On your iPad, open your LogMein app and click on the computer you want to remotely control. After entering the security password, you will to able to see and control the screen of your home computer, and do whatever things you want to do.

If the internet connection is good, you can select HD image quality without compromising the connection speed. The user experience is usually smooth and pleasant, and you can definitely simulate the case that your computer is actually with you and retrieve whatever files you want to use.

There are a few other options that you can choose. For instance to ensure your privacy, you can even blank your computer screen while you are remotely controlling your computer. Such small yet useful functionalities make LogMein even a better choice. Moreover, for normal use, we can simply download the free version; if you are serious about business, you can definitely get more out of the app by using the paid pro version, on which you can transfer files remotely, hear the sound produced by your remote PC/Mac, share your desktop with guests and ask them to remotely work on your computer together.

To sum up, it is a powerful tool providing you with a lot of ease and options.

-Hao Wan

Tech Tuesday: Useful iPad Apps

Having never experienced using an iPad before this semester, I did not know what to expect when I started using it. Sure, I assumed there would be a few comparable apps that I could see in higher definition than on my iPhone, but I was not expecting such a drastic increase in capabilities when moving to a tablet computer.

While there are a vast number of apps that I use on a daily basis that I could point to, I am going to focus on two—Google Drive and Educreations.

Google recently expanded its popular Google Docs tool to include simpler document editing and sharing capabilities, and they released this new form as Google Drive. In addition to its highly useful web-based components, Google created a Google Drive iPad app to appeal to tablet users. I have found that student classes, clubs, and project groups are turning to Google Drive more and more to simultaneously edit and share content from spreadsheets, word documents, and PowerPoint presentations, just to name a few. As a result, accessing these documents wherever I am, even when I do not have my laptop, has become increasingly important. The iPad Google Drive app allows me to do just that. I can study, edit, and even create my own documents just as if I was at my computer. Additionally, opponents of the iPad often point to its lack of any word processing functions as a reason that it cannot replace a traditional laptop or desktop computer. Google Drive fixes this deficiency. Now you can compose a paper or build a spreadsheet just as if you were on a “real” computer. You can even do it as quickly as normal if you happen to have a tactile keyboard attachment for the tablet. Google Drive has definitely become an app I use every day.

Educreations is another highly useful free application. In this app, you can record yourself writing on your tablet as if it were a blank whiteboard. You can also record your own voice or images at the same time. Science, math, and language professors in particular have found this app very useful in their classes. Instead of pointing students to other online resources to find out how an equation is solved or how a verb is conjugated, they can record that information themselves and post that video to Trunk or their class website. I personally use it to practice kanji for my Japanese class. I will write the character in a light grey ink and then write over it in black to practice the stroke order. Educreations has cut my study time in half and reduced the amount of paper I consume by allowing me to repeatedly delete a page and start fresh. It has really become a go-to app of mine.

I never thought I would come to use my iPad as much as I have, but through Google Drive, Educreations, and many other apps, I have found that I use it every day. Even though I do not feel it could replace my laptop, it definitely comes close.

-Ezra Dunkle-Polier