Need A Cite? Point Your Phone At It with QuickCite

After you have used Topicmarks to narrow and parse your research sources, and after you have drafted your scholarly paper, you may find yourself needing to create a bibliography. No doubt about it – bibliography creation can be a little bit tedious. But now, there’s an APP for THAT! QuickCite (link here) is a mobile application for iOS and Android that reads the barcodes on the books that you are citing and sends you back an email with the proper citation for the resources. The app examines online databases of books to find the cites and currently supports MLA, APA, IEEE, and Chicago formats, with plans to add Harvard and BibTex formats in the very near future. Since the app uses ISBN codes, it won’t work with journal articles (or anything without an ISBN code for that matter), but the developers are looking for ways to address that need.

Sure, there are web pages that can do the same or similar tricks, but if you find yourself out at a REAL library, with only your phone to defend yourself, QuickCite offers a neat solution to citation collection and formatting.

Putting the Social in Search with Wajam

Big news last week when Google further integrated social connections into search results. The trend to merge social with search hinges on the perception that personalization will improve relevance. While my sense of this is that it fully depends upon what you are searching (i.e., personalization may help a great deal when searching a restaurant, but might not be so helpful when searching facts and figures), there is little doubt that social savvy, personalization, and relevance are the direction in which the Web is inexorably moving.

That said, you can one-up Google’s social by integrating a nifty little extension into your browser called Wajam (link here). This social extension meshes your friend’s content with your search results within the browser itself, and not just in Google. As a result, you can get that social-personal-relevance goodness in Google, Yahoo and Bing while using Chrome, Firefox, Safari and even IE.

Once installed, simply search in the engines and the most relevant Wajam results show at the top. The result includes information about the sharer, their comments and whether any other friends shared the same content. Implicit in this latter stat is the concept that 10,000 people can’t be wrong – the more trusted sources sharing an item, the more relevant, important and useful that item must be.

Image from Wajam FAQ.


There are further stats along the very top of the results. Additionally, starred or shared items of your own will also show at the top. View more results from friends  will show the top 11 results. If you click a friend’s name, their specific shared items will show. 

Image from Wajam FAQ


There are even more stats – see how many people shared a particular result and click the number showing to see all comments. Sort results by newest or oldest and by sources.

Image from Wajam FAQ.


There are search terms listed under the top result and clicking on them will further refine the results.

You can link your Twitter, Facebook and Delicious accounts to serve as social sources for your Wajam results, and you can even import bookmarks from your browser. This enables you to leverage your own saved and shared content as well as the content saved and shared by your Twitter and Facebook friends.

I have commented in the Studio on the ability to search and leverage your social content before in connection with my review of Greplin (link here). Wajam offers another take on that task, this one residing in your browser and happening as naturally as a Google search. Whether you buy into the whole social/personal/relevance formula or not, Wajam is a heavyweight contender and deserves a spot in your Web search tool box.

Wajam is in private beta right now, unfortunately, but you can attempt to jockey for a spot by “liking” their Facebook page or following them on Twitter. Can’t hurt to cut the line, so to speak.

Instant CV With pdfCV

Assuming that there is pain involved with drafting your curriculum vitae, web application pdfCV aims to ease that pain. The splash page promises that, if you add your information and select a template, you will be rewarded nearly instantaneously with a polished CV that you can download. Essentially, the app formats you information into an attractively designed document, removing that often time-consuming step of graphic layout. Other nice features include the ability to import information from LinkedIn and layout changes with a single click. I haven’t yet tried the app, so I can’t report on its efficacy, but what do you have to lose for free?

Instant Outline? Topicmarks Summarizes Complex Articles

Ho ho, now here is a COOL tool. A cool SEMANTIC tool. Particularly if you are lazy or reading comprehension isn’t your strong suit. MakeUseOf has a thorough review of Topicmarks, a web-based application that automates a summary of key terms and text in electronic form, or a “smart, interactive synopsis” of your electronic documents.

Open a free account, or sign in using Google or Yahoo. Topicmarks invites you to “open” your “personal knowledge space.” Then, upload a document (in a variety of formats, including Word, PDF, html, or plain text) to the Topicmarks site. Or use their bookmarklet to summarize any web page you happen to be visiting. Or email your document to the special email address provided by Topicmarks under the “profile” button.

Topicmarks’ engine then goes to work, and you will be notified by email when the process is complete. Under the button for “text knodes”, you will find your document summaries. Via tabs, you can get the overview, facts, summary, keywords, index, and properties. These tabs offer different ways to digest your information – either by quick facts, general overview, a deeper dive into particular keywords, or an index of all keywords. The information is linked across tabs – click on a keyword in the index and pull up the “facts” associated with that keword in the facts tab.

Your texts are stored forever, and it is currently free, although heavy users might see a cost for the service in the future.  Keep in mind that texts are public by default, and you can share your knodes with Facebook and Twitter, but you can make them private in the settings.

So, you research your topic (or you collect materials sent to you by others). Send them through Topicmarks. Read the synopsis. Check out some key terms. Does it look interesting? Check out the whole article? Does it look like dreck? Move on.

Now, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist, but it might take a lawyer, to see how Topicmarks might be of value to the legal profession. The fine folk at Topicmarks are mindful of this, including lawyers and paralegals on their list of who might benefit from their service. They also suggest the following uses for their awesome service:

  • Analyzing your own writings
  • Being up-to-date with the latest financial research
  • Building a knowledge base for a graduate thesis
  • Building a knowledge base for a master’s thesis
  • Checking current facts against past press releases
  • Checking doctoral theses
  • Discovering emerging patterns
  • Evaluating student papers quickly
  • Finding back quotes they remember having read somewhere
  • Finding inconsistencies in long reports
  • Getting the gist of subordinates’ presentations
  • Preparing a school project
  • Reading up quickly on industry analyses
  • Researching a first student paper
  • Sifting through annual reports
  • Sifting through legal cases
  • Staying abreast of white papers
  • Storing relevant legal precedents
  • Writing fiction abstracts y analyses
  • Researching a first student paper
  • Sifting through annual reports
  • Sifting through legal cases
  • Staying abreast of white papers
  • Storing relevant legal precedents
  • Writing fiction abstracts

Why do I love this? Well, it’s free (for now), it’s effective, its a serious efficiency tool, it’s web-based with social sharing, it’s research-and-writing-oriented, it’s uber-cool Semantic-powered. A clear winner on all counts. My mind is already coming up with new ways to play with it – I am thinking about finding the most complex securities case I can find in Google Scholar and running it through Topicmarks to see what I get. Check it out and turbo-charge your own electronic research and reading experience!

Turning Gmails Into Tasks with Taskforce

Despite the advent of mobile devices, specifically-targeted applications, and multi-style messaging systems akin to unified inboxes, people (particularly business people) still love their email. I know I am still tied to it – a large chunk of my time is spent sifting through my five or so main email accounts.

I have been a proponent of Gmail for some time now – largely due to the fact that I can avoid the hefty downloads of messages onto my computer via my local email client. Gmail also allows for multiple messaging formats – I can access Google Chat and Google Voice right from my Gmail page.

You can collapse yet another function into Gmail. Check out Taskforce, a browser add-on that lets you manage and coordinate tasks within Gmail. Taskforce enters public beta today. Simply install the add-on, currently available in my three browsers of choice  – Chrome, Firefox and Safari, and see a toolbar appear on your Gmail page.  The bar includes “tasks”, “activities” and a + sign for adding a new task outside of a specific email. But the truly cool thing is the addition of two buttons on an given open mail item – “add to an existing task” and “convert to new task.” When you click the later, Taskforce goes to work creating a “task” for you from the title of the email and a few prompted questions. Add contacts to the task and you now have a task-based “filter” of communications or “comments” pertaining to the task. You can add due dates. the “activity” button shows a feed of all of your outstanding tasks, offering an overview of your Gmail-based “to do” list. Further organize yourself with task folders.

There is a desktop version of Taskforce, and it appears to work with email systems other than Gmail. There is also an iPhone optimized interface – check it out here.

 

I see this as a great add to Gmail – since many emails are the genesis of some call to action, why not turn them into tasks with a simple click of a button? If you are into tracking tasks in a medium other than your brain, Taskforce seems like a no-brainer.

Business Learning on Your iPhone

Taking classroom courses and learning to you, this great article by Mashable lists a number of different iPhone apps offering mobile eLearning options. App prices range from free to moderately paid, while some are tied to a web site or online library.  The list includes a free iPhone version of an application called Curatr, which I have previously reviewed here in the Studio. Another very cool add is the reference to iTunes U – offering programs from top colleges and universities around the world, including Ohio State University’s Lunch and Learn Series on Wellness, Yale University’s course on Financial Markets, or Stanford’s Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders series, via iTunes.

What are you waiting for? Get to class!

Set & Forget A Text-Based Web Page with Pen.io

Have you ever needed to publish on-line a page of text and wished you could do it without having to add it to your web site or without enduring the aggravation of setting up yet another blog? Pen.io seeks to solve the problem of the “down and dirty” quick web publication problem with its simple, free, effective publishing tool. The site uses simple “PenUp” language to allow for rudimentary manipulation of the page, but it also supports HTML. You can drag and drop images into the editor for simple graphics. Pen.io offers the following information about its service:

How Do I Edit a Page?
Go to yourpagename.pen.io/edit – put “/edit” on the end of any Pen.io page to view the editing interface. In edit mode, just click the body of text to bring up input boxes

Can I create Multipage Sites?
Yes! The “:page” tag (without quotation marks), can be placed where you want to add a page break. Pagination will automatically get added.

Does Pen.io Support HTML?
Absolutely! Some HTML elements have been disabled but common HTML is accepted.

How Long Will Pages Remain Online?
There is no expire date on Pen.io pages. You can set and forget

What About my Privacy?
We don’t collect any personal information. Pen.io pages are public and expect other people to see them. We don’t recommend placing any personal information on a Pen.io page that you don’t want Google to see.

The resulting page is a beautifully elegant, simple layout of text – great, per Pen.io, for  publishing essays or ebooks, creating pages for upcoming events, sharing code snippets, sharing recipes or quick advertising. It couldn’t be easier – use Pen.io to expand your message with yet another publishing outpost on the Web.

Want Free Time Tracking Software? Try Chrometa

Now here’s a deal. Chrometa, a time tracking application, just dropped its price from $99 to free. The free Windows version runs locally on your desktop, while the web version is offered via paid subscription. Lifehacker has the goods on this program, which easily can serve as an hourly billing tool. It is easy to use – the utility starts working as soon as it’s installed. It then runs in the background and keeps track of all of your computer activities, including web tasks, applications use and emails. Sorting is by application or tool and it operates without your management. Your data can be exported to Excel and the interface can be password protected.  Couldn’t be easier. Check out Lifehacker’s article and link to the free download here.

REALLY, REALLY Supercharge Twitter with my6sense for Chrome

It’s all about Twitter today. My last post discussed Smartr on your iPhone as a means for soaring through the links in your Twitter streams and lists in order to fully realize the value of real-time news.

But just as exciting (if not more so since Chrome is accessible to anyone with a computer) is the advent of the my6sense Chrome Web / Twitter extension.

my6sense has been a mobile application that uses an AI engine to find the most relevant information from your various social streams and present them to you in reverse relevance order. I have been using the app for ages on my phone and rely heavily on it when I need a surgeon’s instrument to cut through the huge masses of information flowing through my raw data sources. my6sense gets better as you use it – it “learns” your reading and sharing behavior and presents even more relevant information as a result. They call it “digital intuition.” I call it a massive time saver.

But what if you don’t have an Android phone or iPhone. Well, now you can still get some my6sense goodness with their new Chrome extension and Twitter. From their site:

my6sense for Twitter.com displays the most important updates from your Twitter stream, for you, in a dedicated, new, tab. We use ‘Digital Intuition’, based on your input, to rank your tweets, so you can be sure you won’t miss out on critical updates from your friends or top news sources. Skip the noise and stop sifting – my6sense surfaces the best of the web for you, right in Twitter!

It merges beautifully with your Web-based Twitter page, showing you the most relevant tweets at the top, regardless of when they may have been posted, although you can filter from the past 6, 12, 24, or 48 hours of tweets. Your my6sense ranking is accessible via a menu tab at the top of your stream. It focuses on the links, not the raw updates, so you get a cleaner news-heavy stream. Click “my top tweets” or “refresh” to get a different view of the most relevant information.

The my6sense treatment works great for getting top news and should be used in conjunction with your regular view to ensure you are getting your top conversations as well – as noted above, the extension tends to filter our link-free tweets. But, that said, giving a quick glance at your my6sense stream gets you the goods faster than Web alone. And, the more you use it, the better it gets.

Thanks my6sense for bringing relevance to the masses!

REALLY Supercharge your Twitter, With Smartr

Took a week off to attend to business trips and meetings and other matters, but now I am back! I have been wanting to jot down some thoughts about Twitter and my new strategy for bringing it under control. A large piece of that strategy is a phenomenal app for iOS called Smartr.

Anyone who has read my ramblings in the Studio for any length of time might have a sense of my “love” / “hate” relationship with Twitter. It is a fantastic broadcasting and publishing tool, it is a decent tool for communication (although not my favorite), but I have struggled mightily with it as an efficient information source. The tech experts respond “Make Lists!”, to which I retort, there is still a lot of drivel-ous material to be found in those lists.  The time it takes to find the links of value and follow them to get the content is better spent in my weighted RSS readers, Feedly and my6sense.

With Smartr, however, I have seen the light. Smartr finds and shows the links, the whole links and nothing but the links. You can quickly peruse the list of links and, if you see something you like, click on it to get a full text version in a very readable format.

Download the free app to your iPhone or iPad and enter your Twitter account information. The app then displays only messages that contain links to webpages. Even better, the tweets are “formatted” –  they show  the article’s title and a thumbnail, with a short blurb from the article. Gone are tweets without links, with pictures and Foursquare check-ins.
Of course, you can retweet or save for later without opening, but you can also do more when you open a “tweet”. Send links to Instapaper and Read It Later. Pull to refresh and watch as previews load as you move down the list of tweets. Tweet from the app, and switch from the timeline to lists and back again. Create and manage lists directly from the Smartr app.
The full articles are so readable, I can tear right through them. Within the article, retweet, mark as favorite, publish to Tumblr, Posterous, or Facebook.
It is solid as a rock. I have had very few glitches with it. Occasionally, it takes the app a while to load the lists, but I am certain that is somewhat dependent on my connection.
Now, here is my tip: head over to Listorious and find some fantastic Twitter lists to follow. I have beefed up my tech and web list subscriptions, using their top 140 lists. These lists serve very well within Smartr to keep you well-informed on all the top, real-time, breaking news in the areas you are working in. Or, if you have curated your own Twitter follows effectively, your own lists will serve as a fantastic source of information.
For your Twitter conversations, craft  your top peeps list to include the people you enjoy conversing with. If you use these lists within your Twitter client of choice, you can stay on top of your favorite Twitter discussions and for your searches. Then, turn to Smartr to view your information-based lists and see how quickly you can blow through the links and stories, keeping your real-time chops as current as possible.
Many of the reviewers are comparing Smartr to Flipboard, calling it the Flipboard for iPhone. I don’t see it that way. Smartr is all about the tweets with links, whereas Flipboard is all about formatting tweets, links or not, and many other sources in a magazine-like format. Don’t get me wrong – I love Flipboard. But Smartr will pull you through your Twitter timeline even faster than Flipboard can. I think the Smartr look is a far better utilization of the iPhone screen than Flipboard would be.
The only downside right now is that it is iOS only. They need an Android app (and Windows 7 and Blackberry so that they can hit the broad audience). Hopefully, different versions are in the making.
I have a whole new outlook on Twitter and spend a great deal more time there than ever before. Thanks Smartr, for making me Smarter.