Going to College

Transcript: Mid- to hi-tech organizational tools

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Welcome to mid and high tech tools for organizing life in college. Okay, so you’re listening to this because you never met a piece of electronics that you didn’t like. In fact, right now, you’re probably texting a friend, and downloading some new music. Well, here’s the nitty gritty of organizing life in college all wrapped up in a far more interested world of consumer electronic on the web. You aren’t going to get everything out of this, but you’ll get about seven minutes worth.

You know, that you need a task schedule to get everything done, you just don’t want to use that high school agenda book anymore, fine by me. Let’s talk tech options. You’re looking at a PDA, a smart phone, an iPhone, notebook PC with long life battery, tablet PC, or UM PC, that’s ultra mobile PC for those of you who haven’t played with one. A desktop PC is fine for when you’re in your room, but it’s not going to help you much during marathon group study sessions in the library, or when you’re camped out on the quad and you’re two hours between classes. So what’s going to be right for you?

Well, if you have a million dollars, buy them all, but you won’t have time to learn them all, and you want have time to play with them all, if you’re going to get to class. So I’m going to send you back to the, hey, can I try that podcast. That really describes how you should explore and test new assistant technologies.

For each of the following mid and high tech tools, I’m going to assume that you will follow the steps I describe there to determine if it’s the right tool for you. Okay? Okay.

A PDA or personal digital assistant is great if you want to carry around an electronic calendar and alarm system with a few other cool applications and games, but not be bothered with plugging your computer and worrying about power supplies all the time. A PDA, if properly set up and regularly updated is invaluable to those of us with good intentions but disorganized minds. Your PDA can house your task schedules, alarm system, and even notes from classes. There are some really cool portable wireless PDA keyboards out there, including ones that project the keyboard onto your desk. The downside of PDA’s are a small screen, the need for a stylist, there’s limited voice control options and limited if any web access, it really depends on the brand that you buy. Some great things for PDA’s, you can record voice notes, you can project from it, if you get a special tool. So just like an LCD projector projects what’s on your computer, you can project what’s on your PDA, great for presentations. You can save word files and excel. It’s got an office system on most of them. And you expand the memory, which is a wonderful thing that you won’t be able to do on your iPhone or iTouch, which is what we’ll talk about next.

The so called Smartphones, like the iPhones and their relatives, the iTouch are coming on the scene to fill up where PDA’s might seem to fall short. They’ve got multiple alarms and to do lists like BugMe for the PDA, which is a multiple alarm system that’s a lot of fun that you can find online. You can take short notes on the keyboard, but you wouldn’t want to take all your notes for a class. And you can save your PowerPoint’s as Jpegs, and run them in a photo slide show. That can be a task scheduler for you, or it can be a way to study. There are some great things you can do just by having a phone, like jot. Go ahead and check out the website, cause jot is a great tool where you can call yourself. It’s a service that’s free, and it’s on the phone system. And it’ll actually take your words, translate them to text, and email you the text, great way to write yourself a paper outline, while you’re on your bicycle, but I wouldn’t suggest it.

All right, if you’ve decided against the PDA, and one of the Smartphones or iPhones, you’re really more going to be looking at some kind of computer. We’ve got notebook PC’s, and you’ll want a long life battery, and that’s true with all of the portable PC’s. PC is personal computer. A tablet PC, which is a slate, and you can actually write on the screen with digital ink, and then they have converters too, where you can have both kind of the notebook look, and the slate look where you’re writing on the screen. And then there’s the UM PC’s, these ultra mobile PC’s, or netbooks that we’re seeing more of these day. They run three hundred dollars, or so. And you can use them everywhere, and they’re about eight inches across. These are the things where you’re looking more at the software that comes with it, or that you’ll purchase to go with it and less of the item itself. Again, I’m going to remind you to go back to the, hey, can I try that podcast and figure out which one’s best for you. It’s easy to drop two thousand dollars on something you will never enjoy using. But let’s move on.

Things that you can download to go on these computers, or purchase, include GoBinder, and any of the Microsoft outlook support packs. There’s also Franklin Covey Forms Wizard and Do it yourself Planners that you can download. And they’re going to have about the same things in all of them. There be a good calendar, a place to put a syllabus, places to put your address book with people, many little tabs that look just like a Trapper Keeper that you might of have when you were younger, but now they’re electronic. Many of them have links to online databases where other people can go on them too, like social networking sites. And one of them is called hipcow [assumed spelling], and it’s probably my favorite, because it’s got a hippo on it as its mascot. And what happens is, you and your friends all go on and you put in all of the things that you have to do to study in you classes. And then anything else you have going on, you got a party, you’re traveling to the beach, early release to go home for fall breaks, everybody’s out on Wednesday night. You put all of that in, and it’s a shared calendar. They’re great tools, you got to check the website to see what other ones are available right now. Mac users, you’re looking at Circus’s Pony’s. It’s a nice application that’s tailored right for you.

No matter what you’re using as a computer, you can use the online applications like Yahoo calendar, and hotmail calendar and gmail has some too, from Google. You can use those as automatic task scheduler. By automatic task scheduling, I’m talking about how, if you’ve got a class on Tuesdays, and it’s always from 11:45 to 12:45, you can automatically have it fill in from August until December that you have that class, and then if it changes on a certain day, you can just move that one by hand, but you don’t have to put it in each day. Automatic task scheduling is wonderful for those of us who can’t bear to write down that we’re going to study every Thursday night, from 4 to 7 p.m. before we go off and get dinner, watch TV, go off and play pickup basketball. It’ll put it in there for you, and it’ll hold you to it in your calendar. Now, you’d need a bodyguard to force you to do it in real life, and I can’t afford one, so unless you’re Paris Hilton, good luck. But the next part, is it’s there, you don’t have to think about it every week, and that self discipline will follow, keep your fingers cross.

Automatic task schedulers are in most of the programs that organize you that you buy. But the ones online are free, and that’s nice. If you did decide to go with hipcow, which is one of those organizational ones that you share with your friends, there’s other ones [inaudible] too. One person can make the decision, and now you’ve got a study group that everybody’s who available can subscribe to. Everybody’s got one friend who keeps order; you might want to take advantage of them. Most of the online services have automatic alarms as well. So you can set your alarm to go off fifteen minutes before class, thirty minutes before class, and an hour before class. As long as you’ve got your computer on, and if you’ve got one of the UM PC’s with a long life battery, you probably do, then you’re going to hear the buzzing come at 12:45 for your 1:45 class. And if you go back to sleep on the [inaudible], you’ll wake up an half an hour later, when the next one goes off. That gives you time to grab a soda, hit the bathroom, still get to class. Sound good? I think so.

The other things that you’ve got to think about are what are the pieces parts that come from giant assignments. You’ve got a huge paper due, and it’s got ten parts to it. You got to go to the library, you have to check things out, you have to interview someone, and then you’ve got to write the paper. You don’t want to leave all that to the end, but you don’t have anyone looking over your shoulder. If you use an automatic task scheduling system, you could just break them up, so that the first week you work on one thing, the second week, you work on another, and so on. And you’ll get the reminders from the automatic reminder program instead of a person. Mom’s not there, there’s nobody to bug you, so you have to find a way to bug yourself. Lots of people like these, they’re very successful, you can get free ones, or expensive ones. Again, check out the website, see if you like any of those examples.

So we’re coming up on ten minutes, and I’m going to give you one parting shot, which is, the only thing that’s going to work for you is the thing you’ve tried and seen works. So see if you have any friends who owns some of this stuff and borrow it for a little while, get some free downloads and try them too. You never know what works for you until you’ve had some success. And then you’ll enjoy organizing yourself. And you might even offer to help someone else organize themselves, future career path. Talk to you later. Bye.

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