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Tuesday, July 26, 2016

College: There's an App for That!

This is an updated post from 2013.

College students are so lucky today.  I didn't have apps in college.  Heck, no one had a cell phone.  In fact, no one at school had a PC, much less a laptop.  We had pencil, paper and books and we liked it!

Some of these apps may be on your radar screen, but if not, you really need to check them out.  Most have a website to describe them (click on the names) and many have one or more YouTube videos.

1.  Evernote - This powerful app helps you keep and organize everything through the Cloud while synching to all of your devices.  Take notes, recordings, pictures and files wherever you go and access them on your laptop, tablet or phone.  It's free and available for Android or iOS devices.  There is a huge presence of Evernote videos on YouTube, but here is one specifically for college students:

2.  QuickVoice Recorder or Smart Voice Recorder - These two apps basically do the same thing - record - which is awesome for lectures.  QuickVoice Recorder works on iOS devices and Smart Voice Recorder is for Android.  Each has a few special features, and both are free.

3.  iStudiezLite or iStudiezPro - These are the same basic apps, but the Pro version can be used with an Apple Watch.  iStudiez helps you stay organized, track deadlines, grades and more across Mac devices.  It synchs in the Cloud and integrates with iCal.  The Pro version is only $2.99.

4.  Quizlet or STUDYBLUE - Need some flashcards or other study tools?  Each of these apps offers a variety of study tools that you create to help you prepare for those big tests.  STUDYBLUE also synchs with Evernote, which is a plus.  Both are free.

5.  Mindmup - This is one of several free mind mapping apps that helps you brainstorm for assignments or even your entire semester course.  This one also has a web version.  I'm not going to explain mind mapping here, but you can find MANY videos about it on YouTube.  Here's one specifically about Mindmup:

6.  Desmos - This is a nifty graphing calculator (free in the App Store or on Google Play).  It also has a great website with examples of what it can do (graph functions, plot tables of data, evaluate equations and more).  Here's one of several videos on YouTube that show you how to use the app:


Some other notable mentions for college must have apps are EasyBib (scan ISBN tags on books to get full bibliographic information in proper citation for papers); Chegg (order textbooks and e-textbooks at great savings), Wolfram-Alpha (compute ANYTHING instantly, including scientific standards of measurement and complex equations).

Good luck at school!


Monday, July 25, 2016

Let's Talk Shopping for College

So, you're going to college.  Maybe you are going away to college or you're living at home going to community college or a local college or university.  Today we're talking about the stuff you will need whether you are staying at home or living in a dorm.  Yes, it's time to talk school supplies.

In previous years your mom (or you with your mom) did the school supply shopping, perhaps following a list provided by your school (yeah, some schools even do this in high school).  This time, you're on your own, but some stuff is obvious - paper, pencils, notebooks, planner, etc.  But do you know where to get the best prices on that stuff?  Never fear, a couple of thrifty bloggers (not me!) have done the homework for you.  Check out this printable Back to School shopping list from Simplemost.  They have already done the price comparisons and show you which store gives you the cheapest price on the kinds of school supplies.  Passion for Savings has price lists and an app to help you find the best prices.

Computers weren't available for classes when I was in college, but those of you lucky enough to go off to college this year with a laptop, probably don't need much in the way of school supplies.  However, you definitely need something safe to carry that laptop AND a backup for the stuff you put on that laptop.  I would suggest keeping your stuff in the Cloud, or if you have items too big (like digital textbooks) try a small hard drive.  That way, a mishap that damages your laptop doesn't mean you loose all of your class notes and papers.  As far as storage, a lot of companies are making backpacks and messenger bags with special padded areas for electronics.  USE THEM.  Better yet, buy a good padded sleeve and keep it in your back pack or messenger bag.  If you want more choices and styles, check out the selection on Etsy.  Just search for laptop case or sleeve or bag and you'll find plenty of choices.  Don't be cheap on this item.  The same goes for backpacks or messenger bags.  Unlike high school, you might be carrying around more books this year, so make sure your bag is up for the task. 

Ready for the digital age?  Consider renting or buying your textbooks in digital format.  You can find a list of 12 different places that rent or sell digital textbooks in this article from The Digital Reader.  In addition, there are a wealth of apps you can use to organize your study.  Check out this great infographic from Elearninginfographics.  You can also check out this great list of websites for college students from CollegeInfoGeek.  In fact, anything from CollegeInfoGeek or its YouTube site is great or follow Thomas Frank on Pinterest.  

These are just a few places you can get information about shopping for college.  Tomorrow we'll talk about shopping for that dorm room and starting learning about dorm room organization.


Saturday, July 23, 2016

College Countdown 2016

Last year I did a couple of posts about college, especially dorm living.  While it's been a long time since I was in college - a really long time, I did spend 4 years in a dorm - 2 as a resident advisor - so I know more than most about living in a dorm room.  What I don't know I found online, especially Pinterest.  I've collected a lot of pins about college living, which you can see on my two Pinterest boards College and Dorm DIY.  If you want to follow me on Pinterest, just click on the Pinterest icon over there -----> and follow ccisme.

This year I'm going to try to expand on college life a little more, so be sure to come back every day this week for everything you need to know.  Dorm living and decorating, organizational hints, study suggestion and more - this week Straddling the Gap is all about college!


Tuesday, May 31, 2016

My Guy Is Getting Older

No, not my husband.  (Well, he is getting older, but this post isn't about him).  My dog Brodie is nearly 11 1/2 and in Westie years that is definitely a senior citizen.

Our Shellie died a couple of years ago at age 16, but she was a larger (and really old) terrier.  It was tough.  Our first indication that she was starting to decline was when we realized she lost her hearing. We had to learn to use hand commands, although she was quick to pick it up.  We also had to walk up and touch her whenever we wanted her attention.  There were a lot of other things that happened physically to Shellie before she died, but losing her hearing was the first big step.

I just realized tonight that our Brodie has also largely lost his hearing.  At first I thought (just like with Shellie) that he was being a stubborn terrier at times because he was ignoring me when I called.  We did a little test tonight and really the only thing he hears is when I whistle.  He is getting hand commands already which is good.

This guy was a surprise birthday gift to me on a "big" birthday and he's very special.  Don't ask my husband how special he is, because you will probably get a very mixed response at best.

He sleeps a lot too which isn't all bad because we know he's not getting into trouble in the next room.  But turn on that barbecue grill and he dances around like a puppy.

I think Brodie may still have several good years before his run is over, but for tonight, its a little sad knowing we are beginning the last stage of his life.


Sunday, May 29, 2016

It Takes Just A Second

Last night we attended a graduation party. The hosts have a large pool with various seating areas scattered around their backyard. It was a pretty good crowd and we were there for a few hours. We were having a nice time talking to a couple with three beautiful young daughters, ages 11, 8 and 3. We were standing near a table with chairs around it near the pool and it was getting pretty dark out there. The kids were moving around, eating, talking and playing.  Nothing extraordinary. Suddenly, the husband asked the wife "Where's the baby?" referring to the 3 year old. She had stepped around the table where he couldn't see her and we were all talking. The other girls just looked at him. We were so close to the pool.

Do you know what happened next?

No, the baby didn't fall into the pool. Her mom and I were talking, but between the two of us, we had an eye on the toddler. Once the husband knew where the baby was, we went back to our conversations, but I bet there was a third pair of eyes on her after that.

Every year in Arizona multiple children die or are severely disabled in pool accidents. Every year we hear the same thing - watch your kids around water.

It can happen so fast. We could have taken our eyes off that baby for just 30 seconds and that would be plenty of time for her to be in the pool. Little ones don't necessarily hold their breath or make noise when they when they unexpectedly fall into a pool. It can happen at night or in broad daylight. I can't tell you how many times I have seen news stories of children found at the bottom of pools in the middle of the day during a party. There are so many eyes, it just seems counterintuitive that a child would slip under the water and no one would notice. But it does.

If you have a young child and a pool, there must be barriers between them. A locked patio door won't work if the child can go through the doggie door (there have been several drownings in Arizona like that). If your child can reach and operate the latch on the pool gate by standing on a nearby chair, there is no barrier. If your child or your family is at someone else's house, you need to know if there are barriers are between them and the pool. If there are no barriers, you must watch them.  EVERY. SINGLE. SECOND. Don't depend on other people at the party, even if there are quite a few. There is no guarantee someone will see your child, and if it is dark or the party is big, it's pretty likely that someone won't see your child fall into the pool.

Accidents can and do happen. I'm certainly not preaching because my kids are teenagers and most of the time I want to push them into the pool. I'm just giving that friendly PSA.

Please, watch your kids around water.