As a graduate student, writer, and instructor, I wear a lot of hats. One of my favorite parts is teaching students about technology. While it may sound trite, I learn a great deal from the students I interact with, and enjoy the opportunities for instruction. After teaching technology courses for a little while now and being a total geek all my life, I figured it was time to feature 4 free apps that help get me through my work day – fast.
Remember when you had to carry around a flash drive everywhere you went? Say goodbye to those days – the future is in the cloud. Dropbox is the leading cloud storage provider in the world. The company uses incredibly secure technology to keep my essays and research, private and safe. More importantly, when I’m working on shared research projects and/or presentations, Dropbox is my key collaborative tool. Now, people can edit, revise, and leave comments on documents that are synced in real-time, and accessible to me – instantly! It works like magic. If I were ever to lose my computer, I feel comfortable knowing that my stuff would still be available to me. Between the collaborative opportunities and storage backup, Dropbox is an easy choice. Plus, if you refer your friends, you get bonus storage for free!
This is where my day begins. What am I going to have to do? Google Calendar is the always aware, always synced option that saves me a boatload of time and hassle. I know where I need to be and when – all the time. By opening up my iPhone calendar or navigating to Google.com/calendar, I can easily see what my week looks like. By utilizing this service, I save on paper, time, lost items, and much more. Google Calendar keeps me running.
I’m a HUGE fan of open source technologies. Not only do I believe they can save you lots of money in the long run, but they also propagate a philosophy that’s about being inclusive and sharing. LibreOffice is a free platform that aims to compete with Microsoft Office’s suite of applications. If you are about to plop $100 or more on the Microsoft suite of applications, think again – there’s another way. Just download LibreOffice and try it out – you have nothing to lose. Moreover, I prefer the design options within LibreOffice and there are terrific opportunities for tech support all over the web.
Are you stuck taking notes with a paper notepad? It’s time to upgrade to a stupid simple option that’s available on every computer (Mac, Windows, and Linux). Just open up the system’s pre-installed note taking app. For Mac users, it’s called TextEdit. I use this semi-religiously as my go-to app for quick notes and ideas. These applications start up faster than LibreOffice or Microsoft Office, and they are perfect for the busy student. Now, save and sync your notes to Dropbox, and you’ll be able to access them in the cloud and back them up