Another app that I use! – Wolfram Alpha

So, this is probably going to sound a bit nerdy – but Wolfram Alpha really is awesome.

I actually bought this app (rather than waiting for it go come up as a free one) and it has definitely been worth the $4 it cost! It’s available on both iTunes and Google Play (slightly cheaper on Google Play).

It’s been an absolute life saver for my attempts at revisiting Maths B and Chemistry – I can type in a maths formula/equation, and it explains how to work it out – fantastic for when the BOB answers just give you the final result, not the working notes. I’ve only used it a little for Chemistry so far, but it’s been equally fantastic.

If you want to check it out before you buy it, this is the website. I use the app (mainly on my iPad) because on the website you need ‘pro’ access to see working notes etc for the maths things – whereas it seems that buying the app automatically gives you ‘pro’ access.

Typing maths formulas can feel a bit weird to start with, because you really need to over-use brackets to make it all come out correctly, but you get used to it pretty quickly.


Apps I Use – Other stuff

So, now we’re onto the random stuff that doesn’t really fit with anything else.

I use MyFitnessPal to track what I’m eating, less for the tracking calories thing and more for the “oh if I have to write this down and everyone can see it, do I really want to eat it” sort of thing. I also have a FitBit (app is only on my phone), and the two apps talk to each other (via internet accounts) so I can see how active I’ve been and how well I’m sleeping. I use them to track when I might be heading for a run of ‘bad days’ with my Chronic Fatigue, and also to track what foods/activities make me worse.

I love Pandora. I’ve got a whole heap of different radio stations for different stuff, most of which are variations on the “study music” theme, with a couple of yoga/workout stations and some other random ones. It’s free if you’re happy to put up with the ads, there isn’t heaps but I found them distracting when I was studying, so I decided the paid subscription was worth it.

I have recently started using DayOne for journalling, as it was the “app of the week” a few weeks ago and therefore FREE 🙂 I quite like the interface, and as a result of this nice app (combined with AwesomeNote becoming a little glitchy), I’ve switched back to using Calendars 5 for my planner app with DayOne as my journal now. AwesomeNote was pretty good, and I liked how it had the planner and the journal in one app, but it started having major issues with talking to Reminders, so my to-do items ended up all over the place (and some completely missing). I had been using AwesomeNote issue-free for almost a year, when suddenly (about 3mths ago) it started doing weird things with my calendar and to-do items. I finally got the shits with it when it completely deleted and entire list from itself, without removing it from Reminders, and then wouldn’t add it back. Final decision – I actually prefer the look and functionality of Calendars 5 (regarding calendar & to-do list management) and I think I’ll be sticking with it from here on. DayOne backs up to iCloud or Dropbox (you can choose) and loads into the app if you have it on other devices.


Apps I Use – Reading

I didn’t originally get an iPad to use as an ebook reader – I got it to use in place of lugging around my laptop to uni (because the battery on my laptop at the time had a grand total of 1hr battery life. So it was basically a portable desktop computer). I actually didn’t see the point of e-readers, because ‘real’ books were so much better. Then iBooks was released, and EVERYTHING changed. I also scored a disc from a friend with a HUGE amount of ebooks on it, which was fantastic. My reading pleasure for the veritable EVER is taken care of! I use iBooks most of the time, I also have the Kindle app downloaded but only because I was looking for a book last year, and it wasn’t on the Apple store but it was available as an ebook on Amazon. But so far, that’s only the once, so I’m sticking with iBooks for now. I do prefer the feel and smell of ‘real’ books, but sadly ebooks are a HEAP cheaper, and don’t make me look like someone out of an episode of “Hoarders” (like seriously, I can’t enter a bookshop without walking out with at least 2 books. So now I just avoid going near bookshops altogether).

I got an email from my local library last year, saying that they had started using OverDrive for loaning ebooks and audiobooks. So I downloaded the app, and I use that a bit to borrow books. Mainly for when I can’t physically get to the library, or if I want to borrow an audiobook. They don’t have a huge range on there yet, but they seem to be adding a few new books every day, so it’s only going to get better! Currently there’s an overwhelming quantity of Mills&Boon style novels :S

I also use Newsstand, because once again, CHEAPER. Example: in Australia, a copy of Scientific American or National Geo from the newsagent will usually cost about $12-15, but on Newsstand they cost about $6 an issue. Even the Aussie mags are a couple of dollars cheaper than the paper versions. And once again, it stops my house looking like an episode of Hoarders – I recently got rid of 6 years worth of food mags by scanning the recipes I wanted to keep and chucking them all out. Now I get them electronically instead, so no more piles of magazines everywhere 🙂

I have also used the Pearson and Wiley apps at different points through my degree, when my textbooks have had the electronic extras, as this has meant that some of my biggest & heaviest textbooks have been available on my iPad instead (which saved me a heap in chiropractor bills haha). I really wish more of my textbooks were available electronically, but that’s probably not going to happen for a while yet.


Apps I Use – StudyBlue & Dropbox

So, I just lumped these two together because otherwise it would be a rather short post.

StudyBlue is an app/website I use for flashcards. I tend to use this only for subjects when I have a lot of terms that I need to learn pretty much by rote (it got a huge workout when I was doing my physiology and pharmacology units, but I don’t use it much otherwise). It’s much easier than making up crap-loads of paper cards (which I always manage to lose) and a lot easier to deal with on public transport etc. I like it best out of the various flashcard apps I’ve tried, but I’ve only tried free ones and they were overwhelmingly awful and difficult to use. Having the web interface on StudyBlue makes it easier to create the flashcards, and then you can view them anywhere. It also keeps stats of what you get right/wrong, and you can review just the ones you don’t know if you want to.

Dropbox for me is mainly just a USB stick that I can’t lose. I also use it for other activities where files need to be shared with a group of people as they are updated (for stage shows I’m involved in, and whenever I end up on a committee). I’ve had no problems with it, and it talks to a lot of the apps I use for other stuff (Notability backs up to it, I can open files from it in GoodReader, and an app I use for reading sheet music called ForScore also opens PDF files from there).

I am currently couch-ridden with the dreaded flu, so I’ll probably get this series finished this week 🙂 Only a few more to go!


Apps I Use – Notability & GoodReader

I’ve put these two together because I have been using them both about equally, and I’m still deciding which I like better.

I’ve been using Notability more than GoodReader during my most recent unit (the intensive I was doing last week) because the slides were all .pptx files (therefore opened in PowerPoint) and we had a workbook that had to be completed (which I downloaded as a PDF and completed in Notability)

I only ended up with either if these apps because I got them during “freebie” weeks, because they’re normally a bit pricey (both about $8 in Australia). I started out using the Adobe Reader app a couple of years ago (its a free app) but I ran into some issues when lecturers uploaded protected PDF files. Conveniently, GoodReader went free halfway through first semester last year and I switched to using it instead.
I’d been experimenting with the various free written note-taking apps, and not really found one that I liked using (all had problems with palm rejection, which really annoyed the hell out of me). I’d heard heaps on other blogs about how great Notability was, but I wasn’t game to spend $8 on an app I didn’t even know if I’d like. Then it went free! I downloaded it, not expecting much, and was pleasantly surprised – It’s very easy to write on, and there’s a fantastic amount of colours that you can use for writing and highlighting.

I’m still in the process of working out whether I’ll continue using both or swap to just using Notability for everything. I’ve recently worked out how to set up a workable Cornell Notes template in Notability, so I think it will be getting used a lot more this semester.



Apps I Use – AwesomeNote

This is the app I’ve landed on after using what feels like a GAZILLION different planner apps over the last 4 years. I only use it on my iPad (not phone) because I generally use my iPad like I would a paper planner – it is the same size, and is easy to write/type/view entries on.

One thing to note is that I still use iCal for inputting events etc as a general rule, because it is easier to input from that program than in AwesomeNote (from this point forward, referred to as A-Note). (I’ve sent them a suggestion to include a week calendar view in a future update, so we’ll see what happens there.)

I use A-Note in all the same ways I used to use my paper planner/diary. I always bought an A5 sized ‘day to a page’ diary, because that gave me plenty of room to write in everything each day – events, to-dos, quick notes, journal entries. This is why I really like this app – it enables me to put in my journal entries, view all my calendar events and to-dos, and also to filter those by calendar or to-do list.

I have separate calendars (for easy colour-coding) and separate to-do lists for everything – and in A-Note I’ve set it up so that I have a “Study” category (which shows me all my uni-related to-dos and calendar events), as well as several other categories for general to-dos, my journal entries, and other random bits and pieces. It also all syncs to Evernote, so I can easily access all my notes (including journal entries) from wherever.

The app I was using previously (before A-Note) was Calendars 5, which is fantastic if you just want to have your calendar and to-dos in the same place. I like the UI better on Calendars 5 than on A-Note (Calendars 5 looks much more like the iOS7 calendar, and I like the clean look), but A-Note has the additional functionality I was after. I may switch back to Calendars 5 at some point in the future, but it will depend on what I do with my journalling.


*EDIT* – I have switched back to Calendars 5 for the time being, as Notability suddenly got all glitchy on me for some reason (kept stuffing up my lists and stuff) and Day One was the “free app of the week” last week so I’ve been using that for my journalling. I think I now prefer this set-up, I haven’t deleted AwesomeNote off my iPad yet, but I think it will happen soon.

Apps I Use – Evernote

I use Evernote for EVERYTHING. Quite literally.

I use it to take random notes of stuff I need to remember, or jotting down ideas. I use it for journalling. I use it for uni notes & assignments. It’s my recipe archive, and I use it for meal planning.

I discovered Evernote in 2012 when I switched to a Mac. I used to use OneNote on my PC, but at the time, this wasn’t available on Mac, so I looked for something else to use. I think OneNote is still fantastic, but after 2 years of the stream-lined look of Evernote, OneNote’s interface seems to ‘busy’. I love the fact that on OneNote you can pick colours for the notebooks, but I can spend HOURS (literally) setting up colour-coding if I’m left to my own devices, and therefore the lack of this in Evernote actually makes it more suitable for me.

So, how do I use it?

For Uni

I like to handwrite my lecture notes during class, and I also like to hand-write the notes I take from the required readings for each class. But after I’ve taken those notes, I type them into Evernote. This makes them easier to read, and I can search them easily if I need to find a particular topic or keyword.

I use it to collect all my information when I’m researching for assignments – I tend to have 3 pages for this by the time I’m ready to write the full assignment – I start with a page where I put down my topic, the sections/questions I need to cover in the assignment, & other important info (number of words, due date, special requirements). Then I have a second page where I take all my notes – I’ll put the reference for the article/book, followed by all the notes from that source. Finally, I have a third page where I put the notes into the order I’d like them in, in order to write the assignment.

For Journalling

I used to have a notebook that was my journal, but since I’ve started using AwesomeNote I put the entries in there instead. AwesomeNote then syncs with Evernote, so I can look at my journal from either app.

For Recipes & Meal Planning

I save recipes in Evernote, and tag them with various details about the meal (chicken/beef/pasta, cooking time, # serves, etc) so that I can sort through them easily. When I plan out meals for the month (monthly pay = monthly shopping = monthly meal planning) I search through based on what meat or other things are on special, and select recipes based on that. I have a notebook for meal plans, and link the items in my meal plan directly to my saved recipes in Evernote, so when I want it I just click on the name and the recipe comes up.


Apps I Use!

I got an iPad way back in my first year of uni (2010) and I swear, it was the best thing I’ve ever done (and that’s about all you’ll hear from me about the fact that I am an Apple convert). However, I’m referring less to purchasing the iPad and more generally to the idea of a tablet for school work. I use my iPad heaps for my uni work, and have gradually come to use it for practically everything.

The following are the apps I use most often, and over the next few weeks I’ll provide a bit more info about what I use them for.

*I’m not getting anything from any of the developers for these posts. I am doing it to share how I use these programs to organise my life, and why I use these particular ones*