This just in from Simmons College:
A Piktochart leading you to the favorite apps of Simmons College students
This just in from Simmons College:
A Piktochart leading you to the favorite apps of Simmons College students
According to an October 2012 report from the Pew Research Center, “50% of the public now cites the internet as a main source for national and international news”. Concurrently, the preference for mobile devices is growing, with ”50% of U.S. adults owning either a tablet or a smartphone” and news readers using an app on a tablet (23% ) or a smartphone (28%).
The purpose of this blog is to present two library subscription databases of current information for newspapers, news journals and fact-gathering sources with mobile access.
Most of us are well familiar with the downloadable apps for BBC news, CNN, the Drudge report, the Huffington Post, NPR , the New York Times, the Washington Post or the British American news website the Mashable. These popular sites provide engaging and up-to-date news reports in a socially and visually attractive style. They are increasingly adding digital ads that run the gamut from “banner ads” to “sponsorship” and “search ads”. While these sites may satisfy most readers, researchers in an academic setting wish to go beyond reading or reacting to articles on these web sites, and, in general, do not expect ads. They are looking for fuller content as well as functionality that come only with subscription services. These are fee-based, thus included in the Library budgets, available only to users of the home institution and free of commercial ads. Here at the Brown Library, we have two subscriptions that offer such functionality: Lexis Nexis Academic and Proquest Services.
To access these databases remotely and gain the same functionality you are accustomed to from desktop or laptop computers, you will need to either be on campus or authenticate into the product remotely.
Lexis Nexis Academic
Lexis Nexis Academic service on which Brown researchers rely to find news articles by state, nationally or internationally offers a mobile news search support app. This version of the Lexis-Nexis database, specifically tailored for universities and colleges is designed specifically for iOS devices: iPhone, iPad and iPhone Touch. It includes many news sources (local, state, national and international), magazines and wire services and the following features:
• broaden queries to multiple sources
• search newspaper archives
• narrow down to a specific range of date, a byline or section
• sort search results
• translate search results
• download or email full-text content
• export citations to a bibliographic citation management tool.
Screenshot of the Lexis Nexis Mobile Search and Article Display
The Proquest Company which is the Brown Library content provider for major U.S. and Latin American newspapers has launched a “beta” version of its interface for iPhone, iPod Touch, Android, Blackberry and tablet devices which is optimized for basic searches. No app download or installation is necessary to access the three major newspaper packages:
• National Newspapers Expanded
• Latin American Newspapers
• Historical Newspapers
You will be able to:
• select one or more databases
• launch keyword or advanced searches
• login to your own account
• view PDFs
• email full-text content (downloading documents is currently not supported)
The interface of the current ProQuest mobile is only available in English, but non-English content is available.
This Proquest video is a great way to familiarize yourself with the mobile device browser.
There is a well-trod myth that iPads and other tablet devices are only good for consumption. While I still prefer to do much of my day-to-day work on a desktop or notebook computer with a dedicated keyboard and a large screen it is possible to use one’s iPad for a variety of tasks that one might not normally associate with a tablet device.
Note that there are similar tools available for Android and Windows devices but the focus of this article is to introduce a few tools that are available specifically for iPad/iOS.
I should note that while academics are not necessarily developers, coders, or sysadmins, they do need tools like these when they do their own work with websites and digital projects that they’d like to customize. Some academics also work with large and complex datasets that are managed on servers and require access to high performance computing systems. Such systems frequently require remote access and the ability to edit and upload or download text files.
For the technically inclined individual with some hacking skills, jailbreaking one’s device and installing UNIX tools may be an option. For those that are not so inclined, there are two tools that I consider as necessities for developing, coding, and sysadmin style tasks on the iPad; they are Textastic Code Editor (Textastic) and iSSH. As their names imply they are a text editor and a SSH (and VNC) client respectively. Textastic has separate version for iOS on iPad and iPhone and recently released a MacOS version of the software. A single purchase of iSSH works across iOS devices.
Textastic is a full featured text editor similar to what BBEdit is for MacOS and UltraEdit is for Windows. Note that there are also many, many, open-source and free text editors of widely-varying capability.
Textastic has its own internal file system where new folders and files can be created. Files and folders can also be saved directly to iCloud. One can also zip (archive) individual files and folders.
Provided here is a screen capture with the file browser open on the left and the GettingStarted.textastic file open on the right. Click on the image and you’ll be able to see the full resolution image and a list of many of the important features built in Textastic.
Important features include many different ways to import and export files as well as features like syntax highlighting, code completion and full integration into iOS while still providing easy connection to an external keyboard if desired.
iSSH is a very different kind of tool from Textastic but it’s functionality should be familiar to those who work with UNIX and Linux based systems. iSSH is simply a set of tools ported to iOS that allow for secure shell connections, secure file transfer protocol (SFTP) for file management, and virtual network computing (VNC). iSSH is one of the better implementations of this suite of tools for iOS.
Provided here are two examples of a SSH connection to my work computer.
The “access denied” message at the beginning of the SSH session that’s the message that’s produced until I’ve authenticated if I’ve set the connection to request authentication every time I connect. Provided next is a screen capture of the settings configuration dialogue.
This dialogue is where configurations are created and saved for access to various network protocols on different systems.
This article was just a brief introduction to a few tools that some of you may find exceptionally useful!
According to a 2011 survey of comScore, “nearly 42 % of all U.S. mobile subscribers now use smartphones”.
To meet the demand for enhanced mobile access, the EBSCO Publishing company recently launched a new product developed to search their databases “on the go”.
This technology automatically configures the device to optimize the search features for mobile users of:
• iPad: users who are being directed to the full desktop version of EBSCOhost will recognize the interface they are accustomed to seeing from the Library web page with the search options, tabs, folders, sign in and preferences.
• iPhone, iTouch and Android devices: users are directed to a mobile device platform which is fully optimized for a smaller screen and enables:
There are two ways to log in:
1. Authenticate through the Brown proxy and entering the URL search.ebscohost.com in your Web browser
2. Enter an EBSCO user id and password. To create an EBSCO user id and password, simply open one of the EBSCO databases from the Library home page, click on “Sign In” in the blue banner and then on “Create a new account”.
1. Access EBSCO Online databases via moBUL, the Mobile Brown University Library app.
2. Download the EBSCOhost free App for iPHONE/iPOD TOUCH and iPAD or for ANDROID, following these easy steps:
If you are reading this post and are not a holder of a Brown id, check with your academic or public library… most of them subscribe to some of the EBSCOhost products and offer the same features.
To find out more about mobile access to the Brown University Library resources, contact your subject librarian.
BrowZine is a new tool provided by the Brown Library. [free app, currently iOS (iPad) only]
In many libraries, Brown’s included, most print journals have been cancelled, leaving the current periodical display shelves thinly populated, and only a shadow of their former shelves. Popular magazines, journals of historical societies, journals from nations where online is not yet the norm, and journals from small professional societies constitute the print browsing collection, while the top-tiered, “born digital,” and Open Access journals are completely online. While some students and researchers utilize such tools as emailed ToC (table of contents) or RSS alerts to keep up with their favorite journals, many miss the days when they could sit down with the latest issue of JAMA, Nature, or Opera Quarterly and see what’s new in the field.
Enter BrowZine ™, a tablet app from Third Iron (currently available for the iPad, with an Android app in development). BrowZine offers a screen similar to the Newstand or iBooks screen on your iPad, except that it’s a representation of the latest issues of your library’s ejournals. The interface even includes a metal rod to keep those little ejournal icons from sliding off their e-shelves!
Here it’s important to note that BrowZine really IS all about browsing, but it’s not an archive. BrowZine includes all the article-level metadata in the app, which enables it to work quickly and efficiently. If BrowZine were a complete archive of our ejournals, the app would be too large to fit on most mobile devices, so most journals will go back about 10 years.
Here’s how it works. Once you’ve downloaded BrowZine from the app store, the first time you open you’ll be prompted to choose your home library, and then login with your institution’s normal method of authentication. (Brown University is a subscriber. An Open Access option is available for those with no institutional subscription—for this, you’ll need to create an account.) After the app loads your “BrowZine bookshelf,” choose the “BrowZine Library” icon from the bottom menu. This will give you two drop-down menus: a list of subjects and a list of A – Z titles. The subject menu gives you broad disciplinary categories.
Choosing one of these leads to a list of subcategories and the number of journals contained in each. Choosing a subcategory populates the magazine shelf with the journals your library holds (NB: while BrowZine has data for most of the major STEM publishers, not all publishers are currently represented, so you may see fewer journals than are actually available through your library, especially in the Humanities). Clicking on the icon for one of those journals gives you the table of contents in a standard BrowZine layout, and selecting an article will open the article to your device.
Among the handier features of BrowZine is the ability to capture an entire issue to your bookshelf (say, for reading later) and to either save an article to your own “file cabinet” of articles on your iPad or to send it to a colleague, share in Facebook or Twitter, or to open in it in your iBook reader or any other reader like Blio that you may have installed on your iPad. BrowZine also provides support for Zotero and Dropbox, so you can move from BrowZine right into other software to manage the citations and files you’ve just captured.
It’s a handy app for iPad users. It has been a hit at the Alpert Medical School, where all students and many faculty have iPads, and where most of our relevant journal subscriptions can be found in BrowZine. If you’re reading this post and are not a Brown user (or from another institutional subscriber) this is still a useful tool to keep an eye on the growing and increasingly influential Open Access literature, especially in the sciences.
Voltaire’s Candide, one of the French satirical works the most widely read and studied from high school to college, has been cited as one of the “World’s greatest books in twenty tweets or less”. Written between July and December 1758, the French original was published simultaneously in Geneva, Paris and Amsterdam in 1759, and several translations into English were published the same year. Many adaptations were created for the theater. The Broadway opera music was composed by Leonard Bernstein with two successive librettos, one by Lillian Hellman in 1956 and another by Hugh Wheeler in 1973. Copies the score, compact disc, and DVD of this later version are available at the Orwig Library.
Editions of Voltaire’s Candide abound and online text and audio versions are available on open access, for sale or as part of a subscription. You may then ask yourself why the company Orange France Telecom, the Bibliothèque nationale de France (BnF), and the Voltaire Foundation have undertaken the collaborative publication of Voltaire’s Candide, l’édition enrichie, and what sets this edition apart from other other available in electronic format.
Gallica on iPad
the BnF set out to develop a series of elegant and content-rich digital editions which would enable the sharing of diverse reading experiences through social media. When approached by the telecommunication company Orange, which prides itself in technological and customer-focused innovation, in developing such a digital edition, it gladly accepted the challenge along with the technical support.
Launched in December 2012, the free app, Candide, l’édition enrichie, available for the iPad. It is intended to be the first in a series of enhanced ebooks which are intellectually stimulating and aesthetically pleasing. The reception and the testing of its concept and design will pave the way for digital editions of other texts in the future.
iPad Home Page
Candide, l’édition enrichie clearly transcends the boundaries of a plain ebook by integrating the close reading of a scholarly text with functionalities that appeal to both the experienced and the novice reader. It reproduces side by side the original 1758 manuscript of the Bibliothèque de l’Arsenal MS. 3160 and the authoritative 1980 scholarly edition (Kraer and Bardin) of the latest edition published in 1775 in Geneva and edited by Professor René Pomeau with annotations of the variants of 13 other editions . The high resolution of the manuscript images enables to easily browse the document and discover all of the handwritten annotations and edits. The interface intelligently integrates multimedia with the goal of expanding one’s knowledge and presenting the work in a literary and historical context. The encoding of the printed text, commentaries, and description of illustrations is a powerful tool which enables searching and retrieval of pertinent information.
The ability to visualize and explore the texts of these editions is one factor that will appeal to teachers and scholars; beyond this feature, additional factors set Candide, l’édition enrichie, apart from previous scholarly ebook editions: 1) the quality of the reading experience, 2) the vast amount of pedagogical and scholarly materials linked to, or accompanying, the text, and 3) the integration of social media as illustrated in the three sections of the app: the book, the world and the garden.
The Book (or Texts)
This first section presents the digital reproduction of the text of both the manuscript and of the 1759 edition by side by side, and preserves the pagination of the print edition.
A menu bar at the top of the homepage offers three choices: 1) launch the reading by French actor, Denis Podalydès, who was trained at the Conservatoire national supérieur d’art dramatique and became a member of the prestigious Comédie française in 1997, 2) return to the home page, or 3) click on the magnifying glass to search one or more terms throughout the book. The search function works on keyword(s) and works of parts of words as well. I searched the two terms ‘cunégonde’ and ‘amour’, and retrieved five results. The search may be applied to the text, the map, the illustrations, the garden or the annotations and commentaries. The search results are hyperlinked, enabling the reader to keep track of the search by navigating seamlessly between the list of citations and the text. Future enhancements to ‘The Book’ may include links to dictionaries.
Additional enhanced features are easily accessible by tapping on the page and offer two modes of inquiry: ‘discovery’ and ‘research’ which focus on characters, themes, variants, annotations, and illustrations by artists who contributed to the 18th century edition and, closer to us, by Paul Klee. This deeper exploration will serve the needs of the reader quite well, either in support of a pedagogical goal or as a scholarly endeavor. Tapping on the page number at the bottom of the display enable the user to return to the page s/he was reading. Favorite passages or illustrations may be bookmarked for later retrieval or potential sharing.
Using this geographic map, readers may follow Candide’s itinerary through Europe, South America, back to Europe and Turkey. Locations with black dots are hyperlinked, enabling to expand one’s knowledge of a theme, explore iconographic treasures, related literary works, and listen to interviews of writers and philosophers such as Martine Reid, Georges Vigarello, and Michel Le Bris.
Teachers are currently experimenting with this pedagogical tool, which will also appeal to readers who enjoy some guidance. For each location, a section includes an “exploration” module which offers some insight into the culture and society of the pre-Revolutionary time period in France.For the reader who is pressed by time or needs a simple “refresher”, this section offers a summary of each chapter. This image and audio-rich section comes, however, is very needy in terms of electric power. As the charge was getting lower on my device, the app hang up and stopped responding. Faced with a black screen, I had to restore the app from iTunes.
In the social space, called appropriately, ‘the Garden’, readers may log favorite excerpts or illustrations, compose and share their own reactions and commentaries. These are visually represented by a tree; each reader may “plant” one or more trees. The branches of the trees grow as commentaries get added to the site and create a stimulating social environment.
 Aciman, A., & E.L. Rensin. Twitterature: The World’s Greatest Books in Twenty Tweets or Less. New York, NY: Penguin, 2009.
 http://editions.bnf.fr/livres/RBNF42/index.htm 02/18/13
Illustrations, courtesy of the iTunes site.
It may surprise some people to know that some of the more traditional fields of scholarship were early to adopt the use of computers in their work, and to create digital, and then online, resources to make that work easier. A prime example is that of Classical studies, which long ago created such things as the Perseus project and the TLG (Thesaurus linguae graecae). Likewise, medievalists use a variety of online and digital tools to do their work. But, so far as I can see, they have not yet embraced apps for mobile devices in the same way. This may be because some of their tools are very powerful, large databases that do not translate well to smaller devices, or it may be that they do not see the need for portability.
As the librarian for Medieval Studies (as well as Classics), I wanted to review some apps that might be relevant to medievalists, but had a difficult time finding many at all, and even fewer that were really useful. So, instead of writing a more thorough review of one or two apps, I will content myself, here, with mentioning some of what I have found, and providing a little information about them. One app that I have been using for a few months is the Vulgate Bible (with Douai-Rheims translation) created by Walter M. Shandruk. This is free for Android, with a ad-free version for $.99. As can be expected, it is the Clementine Vulgate, and not a critical edition of the medieval text. So, if the actual text is very important to the work at hand, you will still need to check a critical edition. Still, it will serve in many cases.
One of the frustrations of searching for “medieval” apps is the proliferation of games and other diversions with medieval subjects. Thus, a search for “medieval’ or “middle ages” is more likely to turn up items like “Age of Conquest”, “Medieval Castle Defense”, “Medieval Empires RTS Strategy”, and even “Medieval Princess Dress Up”, than anything useful to a working medievalist. One app which looked somewhat promising was a virtual tour of the town of Cluny, home of the great reform monastery founded in 910. This free app, Cluny Vision [iOS and Android] can be used in French, German, and English, and provides a tour of the medieval town, along with images and reconstructions of some of the medieval houses and the monastery itself. There are two tours available, a guided tour (for which one must actually be in the town of Cluny), and a free tour. I found that none of the manipulable 3D images worked on my device, which was a disappointment. But the timeline reconstruction of the great church worked just fine, and provides a good recreation of the state of the church over the centuries. Obviously created to foster tourism, the app is interesting but not very useful to a working medievalist with much knowledge of the subject.
I put out a call to medievalists on the discussion list MEDIEV-L (Medieval History Discussion List) for recommendations of apps that members found useful. As yet, there has been very little response, perhaps confirming my suppositions above. The one suggestion that came through was for Lexidium, a Latin-English dictionary app for iOS. Moving on from that suggestion, I looked at some other Latin-English/English-Latin dictionary apps, including another app from Walter M. Shandruk (see Vulgate Bible, above), “Lewis’s A Latin Dictionary” [Android] the “Verba-Android Latin Dictionary” [Android] from Magnopera.org, and the Collins Latin Dictionary [Android and iOS]. I have been trying these out, and will report more fully in the near future. I should note, however, that all of them are relatively elementary tools. The Collins product appears to be based on the Collins Concise Dictionary, rather than the fuller edition, and the others are all based on the old Lewis and Short, but on the “Elementary” edition, rather than the full or intermediate editions.
It would be nice to have apps for more comprehensive editions of these Latin dictionaries. Other apps that might be useful (in case there are any developers reading this) would be tools for manuscript study, including both manuscript images and reference works. For example, although one can find older editions of Adriano Cappelli’s Dizionario di Abbreviature latine ed italiane in Google Books, a book like that does not work the same way as an app. It would even be better to be able to scan an abbreviation in a manuscript with one’s phone, and have an app that would locate that abbreviation in the dictionary.
I would be very happy to receive suggestions of other apps that might be useful for scholars of the pre-modern world, especially those in Egyptology and Assyriology, Classical studies, and Medieval studies.
Most biomedical researchers and health professionals know the National Library of Medicine (NLM) as the producer of PubMed, the largest biomedical literature database in the world. Historians of science and medicine know it as one of the world’s richest collections of historical material related to human health and disease.
But few people know of the wide variety of free mobile resources available through NLM, geared toward clinicians, emergency responders, researchers, and the general public. NLM’s resources are split between web apps (that is, websites that are mobile-enabled, but still need an internet connection) and standalone, or native apps. You can browse the choices on your desktop, or try the web app Guide to NLM Mobile:
From here, you can sort by the type of app (web or native), the device/platform, or use the tags to sort by categories. AIDS/HIV, Disasters, Diseases, Human Development, and Toxicology are just a few of the subjects covered. All native apps are available for iOS, and many are also available for Android and Blackberry.
Why would NLM provide some of its apps as web apps, and some as native? The web apps are generally for resources that are updated daily (or even more often), and would probably be too large to store as a native app. MedlinePlus, a health information resource for patients and families, is updated with news, prevention strategies, and more, on a regular basis. PubMed Mobile includes citations for more than 22 million references, and again, is updated daily.
The AIDS/HIV category includes two resources:
In the Human Growth & Development category, Embryo provides a comprehensive overview tool to visually explore human embryo development. Short movies show you pre-fertilization eggs, sperm, and the fertilization process.
Other areas of the app provide a pregnancy calculator, illustrate the stages of embryonic development, and offer 3D animations. And LactMed offers information about drugs and breastfeeding–a valuable tool for pediatricians and new parents.
My favorite app, if only because of its beauty, is Turning the Pages Mobile, which allows users to explore historical medical texts from Renaissance Europe, the medieval Islamic world, 19th-century Japan, and more (there are 6 titles in the app at this writing).
I’ve spent several hours on the bus in the past few weeks exploring al-Qazwini’s Wonders of Creation, then switching to Hieronymus Brunschwig’s Liber de Arte Distillandi and Hanaoka Seishu’s Surgical Casebook.
It’s that time of year, in which we all juggle and struggle with an overload of competing deadlines and demands. For most of us, just keeping track of everything is exhausting and stressful, even outside of actually getting the work done.
Of course, many (most?) of us regularly find ourselves in this uncomfortable position, and many have been looking for a better way to bring some order to our fractured lives without turning ourselves into over-scheduled machines.
Probably the most popular framework today is called Getting Things Done (or “GTD” for its initiates). It was laid out in a book by the same name that largely pre-dates the mobile revolution (although it does contain charming references to “PDAs”), but as it turns out it works remarkably well with mobile tools.
First, a quick overview of the system which is so simple that it borders on common sense.
GTD is based on the premise that much of our inefficiency and stress is derived from trying to maintain all the open “loops” of unfinished business in our heads. These open loops are trivial when they are small in number, but become unmanageable when multiplied into the hundreds which are typical of modern life.
The aim of GTD is to document all these open loops in a filing system, and classify them into five major categories: “projects”, “next actions”, “waiting for”, “reference”, and “someday/maybe.” Time-sensitive items are put into your calendar, and those that can be passed off to someone else are marked “Delegated.”
Once these loops are documented and managed somewhere outside of your brain, your mind can turn to focus on actually completing the tasks and getting things done.
There’s a bit more to it than that, of course — to get you started on the GTD approach, check out getting started with Getting Things Done, or watch this six-minute video overview. For the full details, do check out the book; there are cheap copies, and it’s a quick read.
As mentioned, this system lends itself surprisingly well to both mobile apps as well as the suite of google services that Brown uses.
At the moment, I’m using a task list manager that is integrated right into Gmail, which you access from a drop-down menu at the top left of the browser:
… which pops up a task list right in your email interface. You can organize these tasks into sublists that match the GTD categories.
Many mobile apps allow you to access and manage these tasks from your smartphone or tablet — a few are GTasks, Tasks Free, Astrid Tasks & To-do List (for iOS and Android), and Google Tasks organizer for Android, and Go Tasks (iOS)
I’ve been using Tasks Free on Android, and it does the job fine:
I’m thinking of changing my approach, though. Google tasks is very simple (in a good way) but somewhat limited (in a bad way). I’ve been using Evernote to take notes and keep track of miscellaneous thoughts, and I really like it.
Evernote is a simple but powerful note-taking and -organizing system that syncronizes across platforms and devices. And if you don’t need to share your notes, it’s free (if you need to share, there is a fee). Even if you don’t use GTD, you should check out Evernote — it’s an excellent all-purpose tool.
There are those who use Evernote as an end-to-end GTD solution, and have branded it under the somewhat melodramatic name “The Secret Weapon.” Its approach is laid out in a series of videos and a manifesto, and it is a way of setting up Evernote with tags and notebooks that support a GTD approach.
This post is really just meant to pique your interest. Here are some places to go to really think about using your mobile devices to get your life under control:
ESRI’s ArcGIS for Smartphones and Tablets is not the full-featured geographic information system software that is available for desktop computers but it is a dynamic and useful tool for accessing and enriching existing geospatial data served to the web. This application makes it possible to access geospatial data hosted by ESRI’s ArcGIS Online or via other ArcGIS for Server installations.
ArcGIS allows one to access a wide range of freely available spatial data. Before one even adds their own project and data to ArcGIS Online it is possible to explore projects that ESRI and others have made publicly accessible. For someone interested in maps, spatial data, and exploring the world it is quite easy to spend significant amounts of time browsing basemaps with topographic relief or political divisions and then to explore more topical subjects such as heat wave risk in Europe, the London underground, climate change, health, trade, and many more.
Illustrated here are the primary map screen and the use of measurement tools:
Once one has made accessible their own data or been given access to someone else’s, beyond just exploring and discovering geospatial data and maps, it is possible to collect, edit, and update spatial features and associated attribute data. This is ideal for those wishing to do many different types of fieldwork (as long as one has an internet connection) where custom maps are necessary or for collecting data.
ArcGIS for iOS, Android, and Windows Phone is a free application.
ArcGIS for iOS on both iPhone and iPad requires iOS 4.3 or later and is optimized for iOS 5.
ArcGIS for Android requires Android 2.2 or later
ArcGIS for Windows Phone requires Windows Phone 7.5 (Mango)
ESRI’s ArcGIS for Smartphones and Tablets Overview web page has links to all of the appropriate mobile device stores.
This is not an exhaustive review but rather an introduction, hopefully with many useful links, providing just enough information to pique one’s interest!