Image via CrunchBase
This is post that I like to make every 6 months or so, just to discuss the software and applications that I am presently using today. It gives me a chance to look back and see how my software or web application useage has progressed and changed over time.
MAC vs PC: The biggest difference over my last review like this is that I no longer use a Windows based machine. I switched to a MacBook Pro the last week of December 2009. I was hesitant at first to do the switch, but a Mac is what all the students in my school use and I needed to be able to know what they are presently using and how to use/teach them how to use their software/web applications.
I couldn’t do that if I continued to use my PC. Now that I have changed, I wouldn’t go back. The MacBook Pro I use – works better than any PC I have ever used and I do not miss any of the software that is available for the PC, except for a couple of games that I liked to play. Yes I could go ahead and load my extra copy of Win7 on here with Bootcamp, but I just haven’t felt that need yet. So my transition to the Mac is complete and I don’t plan to return to a Windows based environment unless something totally off the wall happens.
BROWSER: I have used several browsers including a couple that I won’t list here, since I moved to the Mac and they all have pluses and minuses.
Google Chrome – Is fast as hell as everyone knows, but I don’t know, there is just something that I just don’t like about it and don’t use it all that much.
Safari – I liked Safari and was getting used to using it, but it doesn’t support Google’s Gears and I use Google Docs a lot for school (online/offline), so that kind of put Safari out of the running as my daily browser. Also when I switched myproxy server information it messed up my Apple Mail, so I thought it was more important to keep my email working correctly than use Safari at school. I still use it at home once in a while, but at least with my experience with I can now help out the students with their problems with it.
Opera – I like Opera a lot and it does almost everything I want except for the same issue with lack of Google Gears. It is fast, extensible, changes themes easily to meet my personal tastes. I use it to do the things that my primary browser doesn’t do well while at school i.e. work well with the Infinite Campus Gradebook.
Firefox – Has become my daily browser again. I was really disappointed with Firefox’s stability issues in earlier versions, but they seem to have worked them out with 3.6x, I haven’t had any crashes etc. since I updated to it. I love the variety of add-ons, the various options and cababilities that these add-ons give me, Weave is another thing to look closely at for a reason to return to Firefox. The other reason is ScribeFire it is becoming my primary blogwriter when I want to use images and it works well for that purpose. Plus the quick proxy add-on makes using the school’s wireless system on my laptop much easier. Overall, Firefox has addressed many of the stability issues that plagued it for several years and I am enjoying using it again.
PRODUCTIVITY SUITE: I use Apple Mail, iCalendar and Apple’s Address Book as my primary solutions for email, scheduling and contact management. I have them synch from or to gMail and gCal, so that I can easily use a different computer to get access to my information if I have to. I have Microsoft Entourage on my machine and started to use it, but I just liked the Apple versions better, they seemed cleaner and easier for me to use, but sometimes, I do wish sometimes that Apple’s stuff would be in one place, instead of three to make things a little easier.
Word Processor: I have to use Microsoft Word for Mac to complete my Special Education paperwork, it is the only thing that is properly compatible with our required forms. I don’t like Office for Mac’s user interface and believe that Office products should have the same U/I irregardless of which platform it is being used on. I have found myself using Google Docs for 90% of my classwork, because of the ability to share with my students and their ability to share their work with me. It has cut down tremendously on our classes’ paper consumption and has eliminated many of the excuses that used to happen (now we have new ones, but at least they are relatively creative).
Using Google Docs has also allowed me to grade student work done even if I am at a training or out sick, much to the dismay of some of the kids. Finally, I am finding that I really do like Pages, it is beginning to grow on me as I use it more and more – its ability to easily use and integrate iPhoto is huge plus. If it would convert and render Word documents (i.e. using check boxes) completely, I would probably not have M/S Office on my Mac.
Slideshow: I also tend to use Keynote as my slideshow choice, it handles images very easily, but you have to play around with it, to get it to upload correctly to Google Docs Presentation which I try to share with my students as much as possible.
Spreadsheet: Almost any Spreadsheet program will work for my limited needs and I tend to simply use Google Docs Spreadsheet program when I need to create a spreadsheet. It has its quirks and you need to get used to how it works, but it works good enough for me. If I had to go and create a detailed spreadsheet with multiple pages and interlocking cells/formulas I would probably use Excel for Mac or go use my wife’s PC laptop.
Facebook: I am not totally sold on it, I still have some privacy concerns and serious trepidation about how it will be run in the future. But so many of my relatives, friends, former students, and others are on there that in order to stay in contact with people that I normally wouldn’t, I feel that I need to keep a presence there if I want remain in contact. However at the same time, it would not take too much for me to simply walk away from it either, so if they ever turn to annual/monthly cost model, I will find a different venue.
Twitter: I find that sometimes it overwhelms me and I can be lead down various rabbit warrens that waste a lot of time on there. At the same time I find that it is an invaluable resource that I use for my Personal Learning Network, where I learn about new things in education, meet like minded people, communicate all the way around the world and even to Texas :-P. I participate in EdChat on Tuesday’s at 7:00 P.M. EST where it is an intellectual workout as well as a course in speed reading on Twitter. When participating in a Twitter chat I tend to use TwitGrid. I generally use TweetDeck at home on my dual screen, which lets me do pretty much what I want on Twitter. If I am running Firefox I tend to use the Twitbin add-on because I am not generally looking to comment or catch links then. Unfortunately or possibly fortunately, Twitter is blocked at school, otherwise I might be distracted there as well.
LIFE APPLICATIONS: (Music, Photos, Movies): I tend to use the Apple versions of these type programs, they work well and are fairly integrated. The only one that I use in addition to them is the VLC for media downloads (it plays just about everything that iMovie doesn’t).
iTunes: I use it for my iPod, but I still am not real enthusiastic about the interface and having to use the iTunes Store for stuff, but it does work and does what I want it to most of the time.
Blogwriter: See my post on Trying ScribeFire Again, it explains what direction I have taken on my use of a blogwriter.
These are my list of Software and Web Applications that I use on a regular basis. I wonder how this list will look in six months? Here is a link to my May 2008
REPOST FM EDUBLOGS – I DON’T WANT TO BE AN APPLICATION BUTTERFLY
Looking back at this old post, I don’t use a Note software or app at all and many of the other items have changed pretty significantly. If you have any thoughts or ideas on something that I should try for the Mac please let me know.
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