It’s no question that gas is expensive and everyone wants to find the cheapest place to fill their tank. You could keep a mental list of the lowest prices, ask your friends, or drive around to find the gas station with the best bargain. Or you could save time and use GasBuddy.
This week is Computer Science Education Week, a time to spread the word to kids everywhere that computer science is a subject worth learning. Code.org encourages teachers to host an Hour of Code for kids to learn the very basics of programming in one hour — no experience necessary. I am excited to be hosting several events at my local libraries. Here’s where the review comes in: for the event, you can choose from several different activities. I choose for the kids to use a game called Code Combat, which is what this post is all about. Here’s the catch: instead of getting to play the game, they help make it.
“Presentations That Inspire. Meet Haiku Deck, a completely new kind of presentation software. We make telling your story simple, beautiful, and fun.”
Haiku Deck, a web app still in beta, gives users another option for creating presentations. It tries to keep things minimal, with few, but attractive design options available.
Haiku Deck couldn’t be more user-friendly. They really do stick to the idea of keeping things simple and beautiful. Usually I like options, but it is less of an issue when the few choices I do have are good ones. The creation screen is very easy to understand.
When you create an account, you are presented with a quick description of each tool and that’s really all you need to get started. While I certainly wouldn’t have minded more font choices, I was still left pleased as far as design goes.
Haiku Deck tries to stay away from feature-overload, instead offering the minimum you need to create good-looking slideshows. At the creation screen you can choose from four different types of slides and one of the several layout types for available for each of them.
The image tab allows you to search for a photo to be displayed as the slide’s background. You can also use the photo tab to add charts or a solid background. Being able to search within Haiku Deck for photos is convenient, but I had trouble finding just what I was looking for. It is not clear which search engine they are using. I tried searching for weeping angels and expected to see several stills from Doctor Who but I was underwhelmed by the options.
At this screen you can also add notes to your slides. If you make your slideshow public, these notes are also public, so that is something to keep in mind.
When you have completed your slideshow, you can easily share it on any social network or embed it on a webpage, like the one below. You have the choice to make your presentation private, public or viewable only to those with the link. Presentations, called “decks”, are saved as you go, so returning to your main page allows you to see all of the decks you have worked on.
You can also browse through many of the public decks on the Haiku Deck homepage. Haiku Deck can also be accessed through the iPad app.
Haiku Deck is a simple web app that, while still in beta, performs flawlessly. If you do not need an extensive feature-set and just what to make sharable, visually appealing presentations, you should certainly give Haiku Deck a shot.
Just last week, Google released a huge update to Google Drive: Add-Ons. When you access a document or spreadsheet in Google Drive, you can now take advantage of this new feature. By clicking the add-on menu, you can choose from gallery.
There aren’t a large amount of choices available like you would find in the Chrome Web Store for browser extensions, but the choices will surely grow quickly. Here are some of the best add-ons available right now:
Instead of going to their website and exporting or copying and pasting your works cited, you can now search for your sources right from Google Docs. After you have collected them, you just click add to document and Easy Bib creates your works cited for you. I tried searching for several books and journals that I have used for research previously. It found my books easily, but I wasn’t able to find all of the journal articles that I needed. This is available for MLA, APA and Chicago Style, so if you use one of those you are in luck, but the rest of you will still have to look for another option.
Also useful for writing papers is the Thesaurus add-on. Oftentimes, I can’t quite think of the right word, so I either open the dictionary app on my Mac or go to dictionary.com. Thesaurus eliminates this lengthy process by having the option available within Google Drive. By highlighting a word and clicking Thesaurus from the add-on menu, you will see a list of synonyms pop up.
The last add-on for Google Docs that I looked at was Lucid Chart. It is the only one of these add-ons that still forces you to leave Google Docs to do your work. What I liked about the others is that it prevented me from having to leave the document I was working on. The Lucid Chart add-on gives you access to any charts you created on lucidchart.com and lets you add them into your document. You can continue to make edits at Lucid Chart and easily update the chart in your document, but you still have to do all of the editing outside Google Docs. If you use Google Docs and Lucid Chart a lot, this could be quite useful.
The Translate add-on uses Google Translate to translate your entire document within Google Docs. You just select the text and click translate. A window pops up to the right with the translation, which is currently only available for English, French, German, Japanese and Spanish.
This is easily the add-on I was most impressed with. It allows you to link the sheet to your Google Analytics, Twitter, Facebook, Adwords, Bing Ads or Youtube account and pull data from it. You can then select the time period and metric you want to look at and it will appear in the sheet. If you use a spreadsheet to analyze your social media accounts, you need this add-on.
Delete Blank Rows
This is a very simple add-on. It only does one thing, but is immensely useful. You can highlight the entire document or a section of rows and click delete. The add-on will then delete all of the blank rows in that section. It is very useful to have around, rather than deleting several rows manually.
Messenger allows you to place a chat box on the right side of your document. This is useful for if you do a lot of work collaborating with others. Instead of having to use the built-in comments system or email back and forth, you can keep track of changes, comments and general discussion in one place, right next to your document. It is available for both Google Docs and Google Sheets, but you have to add it to each of them separately.
The new addition of Add-Ons in Google Drive makes it an even more useful for individuals and groups to work on their documents. They allow you streamline your work by spending more time inside your document instead of having to use multiple websites or tools.
“Keep track of your favorite sites. Anytime. Anywhere.”
InoReader was designed over the summer when Google Reader was shutting down (R.I.P. Google Reader). It kept the customization, speed and keyboard shortcuts of Google Reader in mind, while adding in many new features of its own.
Signing up is an easy process; you can use your email address, Facebook or Google account. Afterwards, importing feeds is fast and easy. With a little over a hundred feeds of my own, it only took a minute or two to get set up.
Clutter free and the menu is easy to access.
InoReader is certainly not identical to Google Reader, but will feel familiar to frequent RSS users, especially people who are missing Google Reader. The site manages to cram in an exhaustive amount of powerful features, yet doesn’t feel a bit cluttered. You can easily switch between feeds, sort feeds and scroll without ever feeling like the interface gets in your way. Browsing is very easy, because you can just scroll through your list, and articles will automatically be marked as read. However, if you do not want articles to be automatically marked, you can disable this feature.
InoReader really does have an endless list of features. While using the site, it is hard not to discover something new. These include social features, sharing, trending, history searching, easy subscribing, discover new sites, keyboard shortcuts, feed sorting, and favorites. Power users may be most interested the ability to create rules and tag subscriptions. You can also scan to see which sites are no longer active and unsubscribe.
Keyboard shortcuts make browsing easy
Subscribing to Sites
There are several ways you can subscribe to sites. The easiest is by using the bookmarklet. If you find a site you’re interested in, all you have to do is press subscribe. It’s as simple as that. If you don’t want to add another bookmark to your toolbar, you can copy the link, go to InoReader and click add subscription.
If you don’t have a particular site in mind, you can browse trending articles and see what other people are reading. I have found this useful for discovering new sites. Another useful feature is the catalog. Clicking on it reveals several categories, each featuring several sites.
Sharing and Social
InoReader has both internal and external sharing features. Most users will be interested in the great amount of sites you can share to. These include the obvious, including Pocket, Evernote, Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, Email, Tumblr, Reddit and several others. I particularly like how easy it is to email articles. Rather than opening up in a new window, there is a popup and within seconds the email is sent.
Internal sharing consists of three features: comments, broadcast, and like. From the article view, you can click comment to post your thoughts about the article. These are only available to other InoReader users and are different from the site’s comments. If you choose to like or broadcast a post, it will show up on your channel. Channels are similar to profiles, but they only show articles you have shared. You can follow other users, but you must know their username. This is one of the site’s only downfalls. I wish I could easily find users to follow. I want to be able to input my interests and find users with similar interests, so I can see what they are reading. If improved, this feature has plenty of potential. On the positive side, these social features are not obtrusive and can easily be turned off if you choose.
Rules work similar to labels in Gmail. You can set which feeds or folders it applies to, a matching term, and an action. For example, you can choose a Tech folder, articles with android in the title, and apply the tag android.
I would expect the extensive features to cause a decline in speed, but this is absolutely not the case. I have yet to find an RSS reader as fast as this one. With just under 10,000 unread articles, I have yet to experience any compromise in speed.
“A habit building program which treats your life-like a Role Playing Game. Level up as you succeed, lose HP as you fail, earn money to buy weapons and armor.”
Do you love playing RPGs? Are you a bit of a procrastinator in real life but great at leveling up your characters? HabitRPG seeks to merge these two worlds. Funded by Kickstarter, it is an open-source website that allows you to create a character and level up by doing your daily tasks. It has come a long way since its release and is ready to help you conquer your daily goals.