5 Must Have Back to School Apps for Mac

As I said in my roundup of iPad apps  on Tuesday, the back to school season is upon us once again. As many begin to gather their supplies, they are also shopping for a new computer for this next year. While the PC remains dominate in many circles, it is quickly losing ground among students. That means that there are thousands of students trying to find the essential apps for education to run on their Macs.

Fear not! I am here to help, and I have brought a list of 5 of the most essential apps for Back To School 2011. This is list is going to cover note taking, organization, paper writing, time management, and even relaxation. All of these apps come from my experience as a university student, and they are all amazing. Without further ado, let’s get to that list.

1. NeoOffice (Free)

I think that its important to start with something that everyone can understand. That’s why the first app on my list is NeoOffice. Neo is a branch of the OpenOffice.org project that was rethought specifically for the Mac. I have been a user of OpenOffice/LibreOffice for a number of years now, and NeoOffice is a great version. It offers all the usual programs, including a word processor, spreadsheet program, and presentation editor.

neooffice-mac.png

Neo is completely free for certain versions. You get a complete office suite, much like Microsoft Office, for no money at all. However, I have donated $10 to them, and have access to their latest beta release. That version comes with Lion support, including versions and full-screen mode. That makes NeoOffice a fantastic addition to my machine, which runs like a top on Lion.

Overall, I think that the need for an office suite is obvious for the aerate student. You will write papers, analyze data and even create presentations throughout your educational career. If you are looking for a cheap alternative to Microsoft or Apple’s offerings, or if you want to support a good open source project, I can’t recommend NeoOffice enough.

Alternatives: OpenOffice (Free), LibreOffice (Free), iWork ($60 – Mac App Store), Microsoft Office ($85)

2. Evernote (Free)

Many students buy a light weight laptop, like the MacBook Air, with the hope of using it to take notes in class. While there are arguments that this is best done with a word processor (see number 1 on this list), there are just as many reasons as to why you should use a dedicated note taking app. In my opinion, there is no better app for taking notes then Evernote, which is completely free.

evernote-mac.png

Evernote, for those who aren’t aware, is a note taking and organization application from Evernote Software. They offer one of the best Mac apps I have come across in my search. It is feature rich and includes the ability to record audio, record video, link documents to notes, and even share notes with friends. It is also cross platform, with apps available to iOS, Android, Windows, and the web.

I really like Evernote. As I said in my iPad roundup, I use it to sync my handwritten notes with my Mac, and it works wonderfully. I also keep track of assignments, manage my PDF notes, and even use it in class occasionally. It’s free to use, and is probably the best note taking app around. Download it here.

Alternatives: Word Processor, Growly (Free), Nevernote (Free)

3. Caffeine (Free)

This probably the strangest app on my list of 5. Its going to seem like something incredibly simple, but it really is a lifesaver sometimes. The app is called Caffeine, and it allows you to prevent your Mac’s screen from going to sleep. I suspect that most college students will have MacBooks of some kind, be they Pros, Airs, or White Plastics. That means that they have a power save option that is one by default. This will turn your screen off after a given amount of time spent inactive.

caffeine-mac.png

While that may not sound like a big deal to many people, its a huge deal to students who are trying to take notes in class. Often, a professor will go off on a tangent, and you won’t type anything for 10 minutes. Then, they will tell you all the answers to the test in the next 2 minutes, and you don’t want to waste any time waking your machine back up. That’s where Caffeine comes in to play.

Caffeine will install a small coffee cup icon into your menu bar. You click it, and its activated. It’s that simple. It’s completely free, and you can pick it up in the Mac App Store.

Alternatives: None. It’s free. Go install it.

4. iProcrastinate (Free)

One of the biggest problems for the average student is time management and scheduling. I have tried multiple methods for handling this issue, and it was hard beat. I finally discovered iProcrastinate, which is a free Mac app that allows you to create a simple calendar with events and assignment due dates on it. While you can do that in iCal, iProcrastinate lets you take your organization to another level.

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iProcrastinate allows you to set up steps to a task, each with its own check mark. That way, you can set up a plan for researching your paper, writing the rough draft, proofreading it, and then writing your final draft. The calendar display is quite good, showing you all your tasks and their due dates for a given time period.

iProcrastinate is awesome for managing not only your school work, but all of your life. Be sure to use it to schedule some relaxation into your schedule. It will allow you to color code things, letting you see them easily in the calendar. It also gives you nice notifications reminding you of due dates. You can grab it for free in the Mac App Store.

Alternatives: Any To-Do App, Wunderlist (Free)

5. Steam (Free)

This last app is something that I think every Mac user who likes to play games should install. While the Mac isn’t known for having the best games on the market, that landscape is certainly changing. One driving force behind that is Steam, Valve’s digital distribution service, making its way over to the Mac. With that, they now offer a number of top notch titles.

steam-mac.png

You may be wondering why this is on the my Back to School app list. That’s because the most important thing you can do as a student is relax. If you try to do nothing but study, you will drive yourself mad. Steam will give you access to a ton of games, many of them for next to nothing or completely free. One game I recommend is Team Fortress 2, which is a great free shooter.

Like I said, this is a must have for students. I think the best time I spend in college is the time I set aside for gaming. It helps me forget that I have a heavy course load that requires so much of my time. However, it’s important to remember that you still need to study some of the time. That’s why you should use Steam in combination with iProcrastinate. Seriously. Do it. You can download Steam for free here.

Alternatives: Mac App Store? Seriously, just get Steam.

Get Downloading and Get Studying

So there you have it. 5 apps that every college student who uses a Mac should use. I know that I use these apps all the time. If I could add one more, I would recommend Dropbox, just because it’s so much better than carrying a flash drive. It’s a lifesaver most of the time. Also, even with Dropbox, all the apps on this list are Free, which is awesome for poor students like me.

What apps would be on your list? Do you think I missed something major? Let me know what you think by leaving a comment below.

5 Must Have Back to School iPad Apps for 2011

That time of year is here once again. Summer is coming to an end, students are gathering their supplies, and classes will soon be in session once again. I know that many students, like myself, are getting iPads to use in class. I have been searching all summer for the apps that I think every student needs to have on their Apple tablet.

Now, before we get to the list, lets talk about iPads as education tools. For me, the iPad serves a handful of different purposes in my educational adventure. The first major use is as a textbook replacement. I hated having to carry heavy books around all the time, and bought an iPad to replace those. The benefits include having a light alternative, being able to save money by buying e-books, and still having full color diagrams. That brings me to my first pick.

1. Kno Textbooks (Free)

When I first started looking for textbook apps on the iPad, there weren’t that many options. I originally found CourseSmart, which is nice but doesn’t allow you to buy books in side the app, and Inkling, which doesn’t have a great selection of books. Then, I tried an app called Kno Textbooks.

Kno is a start-up company that originally started out making an education specific tablet. After determining the they couldn’t manage that project, the refocused on creating a great textbook app for the iPad. I can say that they have succeeded. They have a great selection, and in-app store, and a nice notation system.

The only feature I can’t seem to find is highlighting within the ebooks, but I can live without that. My one real gripe with Kno is that their entire collection of books is not available for purchase inside the app. however, you can access them all on the iPad, as well as in your browser and even on Facebook.

Alternatives: CourseSmart (Free), Inkling (Free)

When I originally got my iPad, I didn’t think I would be able to take notes with it. My original thinking was that I would try to type on the on-screen keyboard into something like Evernote. I quickly decided that was a horrid idea, but that I still wanted to try taking notes on my iPad. So i bought myself a $10 stylus on Amazon and gave it a shot. That brings me to my second must have app.

2. Noteshelf ($4.99)

I have bought more handwriting/note taking apps than almost anything else on my iPad. I tried most of the major players, including Notes Plus and Penultimate. While some had features I liked (voice recording in Notes Plus), none of them were exactly perfect. However, I have settled on one, and that app is Noteshelf.

Noteshelf has a number of nice features that make note taking in lectures very easy. They have one of the best zoom features, which allows you to more easily write in an organized manner. They also offer the ability to group notebooks, export to many services (including Evernote and Dropbox), and many customization apps.

My only real issue with Noteshelf is that it doesn’t do voice recordings. However, I always export my notes to Evernote so that I can read them on any machine, and that wouldn’t save the recording. in order to record a lecture, I use AudioMemos ($0.99) which records in the background. I then upload them to Dropbox for later listening.

Alternatives: Penultimate ($1.99), Notes Plus ($4.99)

The next use I have for my iPad is as a quick reference tool kit. I have multiple apps that are specific to my studies, like nutrition disorder charts and vitamin synthesis tables. Overall, the iPad serves this purpose very well. However, it is lacking a native calculator app. That’s why my next must have is a calculator for the iPad.

3. Calculator for iPad (Free)

Calculators are something that you don’t think about much outside of the world of academia. if I have to do any simple math while on my MacBook Pro, I simply do it in the Spotlight bar. However, I don’t carry this machine to class. If I need to do some short math while working in a class, I turn to Calculator for iPad.

Now, this calculator app is not very advanced. It offers enough scientific calculator functions for me to be satisfied. Most of the math I do is simple algebra type stuff, with the occasional constant substitution. I have seen more advanced calculators in the App Store, but I don’t need anything better than what Calculator offers.

I’m not sure what to offer as an alternative to Calculator for iPad. If all you need is a basic/scientific calculator, then go with it. If you need something better, you will probably buy a real calculator. Either way, you would be happy getting the free version of this app.

As far as I know, almost every student these days are forced into using PDFs. Despite being one of the most insecure file formats currently on the market, many educational institutions force us to use them. When they do, I like to have the ability to annotate them on my iPad, and that’s what my next app does.

4. PDF-Notes (Free)

Annotating PDFs is probably one of the best things about owning an iPad. Many of my professors release notes and outlines in PDF format, and it’s very helpful to be able to mark those up on the fly. I have found what I consider to be one of the best apps for that, and its made even better by having a free version.

PDF-Notes is my app of choice for annotating PDFs. It offers a great set of features including highlighting, writing handwritten and typed notes, and even PDF management. It offers a great zoom feature that makes it easier to handwrite notes on PDF documents. You also get the ability to export the annotated documents to Dropbox, email, or even other apps.

My only complaint with the free version of PDF-Notes is the ads. However, those are there so that the developer makes some money for their work. There is a pay version available, but it costs a whole 10 bucks. I’m not sure I’ll buy it any time soon.

Alternatives: iAnnotate PDF ($9.99)

Now that you have all this information, from your notes to your prepped PDFs, you need to think about syncing it all with your computer. For most students, the iPad is not a replacement for a traditional computer. It makes a great supplementary tool, but needs to synced with your real machine. For that, I recommend this last app.

5. Evernote/Dropbox (Free)

That’s right, my last pick is actually two different apps. If you use all the apps I have listed, you will need to make use of both Dropbox and Evernote. You can sync your notes to Evernote or Dropbox from within Noteshelf, save your recordings to Dropbox, and even export your PDFs to either service.

I can’t imagine being a student without Evernote and Dropbox. It has eliminated my need to carry a flash drive with me all the time. It also helps me keep track of all my notes and documents for my courses. They have revolutionized my education, and they both have fantastic (and free) iPad apps.

If you are already a user of both of these services, then you have no reason not to grab these iPad apps. They give you all the features you could want, including fantastic mobile control. I highly recommend these apps. Seriously. Go get them.

Download and Get Ready To Learn

So there you have it. 5 apps that every student needs before they get into their classes this fall. They are all incredibly useful, and none of them are super expensive. If you are carrying Apple’s tablet to classes this year, make sure you have these installed.

A note on surviving in education: All work and no play makes sure you will fail. Use that iPad to relax as well. Watch some movies on it, read via the Kindle app, or play some games. Even download a nice Facebook app and talk to your friend. I promise you will regret it if you don’t.

I also know that these are not all the apps a student needs. The App Store is full of more specific research apps that students will find useful. My wife has many engineering calculators and charts on her iPad, and I keep mine full of nutrition information. Search around and find some apps that will be great for you.

What apps did I miss on my list? What kind of app do you think every student with an iPad needs? Let me know you suggestions and thoughts by leaving a comment below. I’m looking forward to hearing from you.

Mobile Mondays | OVI Magazine, HTC Incredible Rumors And More

Welcome to the Second Edition of Mobile Mondays. I’m sure most of you were waiting for the second edition of the Mobile Mondays. This week we haven’t seen any major product launches or leaked pics and rumors of upcoming devices, but this week was full of excitement as release dates and pricing of many handsets were revealed. Check out some interesting stuffs of this week below.

mobile mondays

Nokia:

e72 purple

Nokia hasn’t unveiled a single handset in this week but it has definitely made us happy by launching the Nokia E72 in a new purple color. Nokia E72 is the company’s most popular business phone which was launched last year. This handset is now available in a beautiful purple color with the same price tag of $359.

Microsoft’s Silverlight is now officially available for Symbian S60 v5 touchscreen devices such as Nokia N97, N97 Mini and Nokia 5800. You can download Silverlight for Symbian and view Silverlight applications right inside your mobile browser.

Nokia has recently launched their first online publications – OVI magazine. It has some interesting information and guides related to Nokia’s services, apps and devices. You can read the full OVI magazine here.

Samsung:

samsung wave

The first BADA powered smartphone which was unveiled at Mobile World Congress, 2010 is now available in Germany. Samsung Wave 8500 was recently spotted at the Amazon’s site and it is priced at €429 (approx. $580) without any contract. If you want to experience the BADA operating system and Super AMOLED display, place your order at Amazon right now!

HTC:

htc incredible

HTC Incredible is a powerful smartphone that runs on a 1Ghz Snapdragon processor, and it includes 6GB flash memory, expandable memory slot and so on. This device is rumored to be available on Verizon Wireless within a week.To learn more about this device, head over to this post.

LG:

lg gw620

LG electronics recently launched its Android powered smartphone, LG GW620 in India. This handset comes with a slide-out QWERTY keypad, 3 inches TFT resistive touch screen and an amazing 5 megapixel camera. Other interesting feature includes 3G Connectivity, GPS Navigation, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, 32GB expandable memory and so on. This handset is priced at Rs.18,990 (approx. $415).

Handset Of The Week – Sony Ericsson Vivaz:

sony ericsson vivaz

Sony Ericsson Vivaz is a stylish smartphone which runs on a Symbian S60v5 operating system. The main feature of this device is its 8.1 megapixel camera which allows the device to record HD (720p) videos. Other features includes 3.2 inches WVGA display, 640 x 360 resolution, 720 MHz processor and so on. To learn more about this device, head over to this page.

Video Of The Week – HTC Desire Promo:

We will be back next week with some interesting news, rumors, handset leaks and detailed analysis. Don’t forget to catch us every Monday at Techie Buzz.

Mobile Mondays | Nokia C6 Leaked, LG Cookies Launched And More

Welcome to the First Edition of Mobile Mondays. In this fast paced life, you may have missed something important, innovative and exclusive stuffs related to the mobile industry. We are here to keep you on track with some of the most interesting news, products launches and views. Don’t forget to start your week by catching us every Monday at Techie Buzz.

mobile mondays

Nokia:

This week we saw some leaked images of Nokia C6, an affordable slider phone which runs on a Symbian S60 operating system. This handset looks like the slider version of Nokia 5230 and it is expected to be announced soon.

If you connect your Nokia phone to PC via. OVI Suite, then you should upgrade it now itself since Nokia launched the latest version of OVI Suite with some interesting features. Nokia recently launched OVI Suite 2.1 that allows you to pause and resume downloads via Nokia Music and OVI Store. Click here to download the latest version of OVI Suite.

LG:

lg cookie plus

This week LG launched three news handsets, Cookie Plus, Cookie Fresh and Cookie Pep. All the handsets comes with full touchscreen display and it is expected to be launched in 50 countries at the end of this month. LG Cookie Plus will come with a 3G connectivity, while LG Cookie Pep will sport a 3 megapixel camera.

HTC:

There is a good news for HTC Tattoo users as HTC has confirmed that HTC Tattoo will be receiving the Android 2.1 update. HTC Tattoo users can take the full advantage of Multi-touch technology which comes with the Android 2.1 update.

HTC is also planning to launch the lighter version of Nexus One in India. The launch date and price of this handset is not announced yet, but the availability of this device is confirmed by Google India’s head, Mr.Shailesh Rao.

Apple iPhone:

While everyone have kept their fingers crossed to know what’s new in the latest version of iPhone, we saw some fake images of iPhone 4G in this week. Lets hope the latest version of iPhone, which is expected to launch in June 2010, comes with support for 4G network, a 5 megapixel camera, Wi-Fi and full Bluetooth functionality.

Handset Of The Week – HTC Smart:

htc smart

HTC Smart is the first Brew Mobile based handset manufactured by HTC. This affordable smartphone will be first launched in India at the end of this month and it will be available in other markets during April. To learn more about this handset, head over to this page.

Video Of The Week – Windows 95 Running On HTC HD2:

We will be back next week with some interesting news, rumors, handset leaks and detailed analysis. Don’t forget to catch us every Monday at Techie Buzz.

Webby Wednesday: Learn To Cook Anything, Privacy Policy Generator, Post Music To Facebook, Fill PDF Forms Online, New Collaborative Blogging

Welcome to Webby Wednesday, a day where we will talk about web apps which you can use. We will try to cover several useful apps which we could not during the week, so that you don’t miss out on any web goodness. Want to reach out your own web application or software to the masses? Add it to the Techie Buzz Forum and we will do our best to showcase it.

How To Cook Anything: Cook Thing

Learn To Cook Anything

Want to learn how to cook Pasta or a Pizza or may be bake a cake? Cook Thing is a new web service which will allow you to search for things to cook, then choose the ingredients you want to use and display recipes on how you can cook something. Pretty decent for newbie’s, however, it has a bit of limited options, but that is definitely going to grow in future. Check out CookThing.com.

Privacy Policy Generator

privacy_policy_generator

Remember how we told you to generate free privacy policy for your blog or website? If not, here is another service which will allow you to generate a free privacy policy that you can use on your blog or website. Check out Privacy Policy Generator.

Post Music to Facebook: Feeder.fm

Feed Music to Facebook

Want to share your favorite music to your profile? Feeder.fm provides and easy way to do that, just connect your Facebook profile to Feeder.fm, search for song or artist and feed the song to your profile. Oh and you can also listen to the music while you Feed it. More at Feeder.fm.

New Collaborative Blogging Platform Reachby.com

ReachBy.com makes blogging simple and collaborative. With content channels that anyone can contribute to, ReachBy’s unique ReStream function separates it from being just another blog. It also plays quite nicely with all social media and even recently launched Google Buzz.

With a ReachBy Stream, teams and groups of friends can collaborate and develop a content channel on almost any topic. The Head Writer of a Stream can edit content and select what gets published. Anyone can start a Stream and become a Head Writer.

Learn more at ReachBy.com

Free PDF Editor: Fill Any PDF

Fill PDF Forms Online

Fill Any PDF provides users with an easy to use online PDF editor which can be used for free. Users can upload their PDF files and create PDF forms without having to specify fields inside the PDF files itself. Once your PDF form is created you can easily share the link with people who you want to collect information from.

No software installation is required, and it also helps is saving printer ink and paper, give it a try at FillAnyPDF.com.

Don’t forget to add your web apps and software to the Techie Buzz forum so that we can feature it in future editions of Webby Wednesday.

Get more from Dropbox, Google Flip Flop, Bing Visual Search, Facebook @ Tagging, Flickr Galleries and More

Welcome to another of news we could not post about in our daily schedule. In this edition we look  at several interesting news and articles from across the blogosphere.

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So periodically I will share some really good news that you can use. All of them will be really interesting so don’t forget to check them out.

Use Dropbox for more than just file synching – Did you think that Dropbox was just for file synching? This article goes out of the box and shows you the different uses of Dropbox.

How to End a Phone Call Without Being Rude – Everyone of us have received a telemarketing call and many times we are pretty rude with them. But those poor souls are just doing a job. This post details how you can end a call without being rude at it.

Bing Visual Search the ever growing search engine from Microsoft has released a new type of search called Bing visual Search which displays the search results visually. This feature is available only for select results right now.

Google News adds Magazine Style Fast Flip – Google is testing a new format for displaying news to readers. The new style displays magazine style news content. The feature is part of Google Labs so you will need to visit Google Fast Flip to view the new format.

Facebook Does a Twitter once again, adds @ tagging is at it  once again copying from . Last time around they managed to make Facebook look like twitter, but this time they took it one step further and decided to add friend tagging using the @ symbol. The @ symbol has been associated with twitter for a long time allowing them to reply to others.

Flickr introduces Galleries one of the most popular photo sharing website has finally introduced Galleries. Using galleries you can accumulate up-to 18 photos or videos and build a gallery using themes provided by Flickr.

Weekly Recap: August 8th 2009

Now that it is Saturday, you might have some time to leisurely read things that you missed over the week, and we know that you might have missed some really good content here to, so here is a weekly recap for the best posts of the week.

That’s it for this week, we hope you enjoy the posts and share it with your friends, look forward to another great week ahead.

Gmail Custom Colors, Multiple Inboxes In Gmail, Title Bar Tweaks, Location in Signature and Multi-Attachment & Progress Bars

Its been quite a while since we have covered any of the new features released in , and there are quite a few interesting features already been released, so here is a roundup of all the features that have been released in the past few weeks.

Gmail Custom Colors

Quite sometime back we had reported about Gmail themes, which allowed users to enhance the look and feel of , without the need to add any extensions or add-ons, however the Gmail developers have taken in a step further and announced the option for Gmail users to apply their custom colors to the theme.

gmail_custom_colors

Continue reading Gmail Custom Colors, Multiple Inboxes In Gmail, Title Bar Tweaks, Location in Signature and Multi-Attachment & Progress Bars

Buzz Of The Week: Oct 18th To Oct 24th 2008

It has been a great past week and the most exciting part of this week was that we redesigned and got a completely cool and slick look :-), if you haven’t seen the new look please do so, and give us your feedback on it.

weekly-buzz

Here are some of the best posts of this week, so don’t forget to catch up with them if you missed some interesting posts in the week.

Useful Tips and Tricks To Increase Your AdSense Earnings A list of tips and tricks to increase your AdSense earnings based on my experience.

Ultimate List of Tips and Tricks For Windows Live Writer Are you making full use of the best Software for Offline Blogging, here are a list of tips and tricks to get the best out of WLW.

Continue reading Buzz Of The Week: Oct 18th To Oct 24th 2008