Fordham GSAS: Grad. Life: July 2013

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The App Heard Round the World: Audible Mobile App!

    It's the last day of July, and the last day of my 'Appy July series for Grad.Life!! Don't fret, though -- there will be more digital treasures featured on the blog throughout the summer, here and there! Feast now, but no famine later!
   Today I am featuring the mobile app. A while back, you may remember my post on how much I HEART listening to audio books:

  • on my commute....
That's how I look in the morning...

  • while working out...
Clearly me again

  • while relaxing...

  •  or walking around the city...

There I am again with headphones!!!
Now, since I've gotten a sassy smart phone, I've downloaded the Audible app, and have been enjoying my audio books in a whole new way!
    The Audible app is available for iPhone, iPad, Android, and Windows phones; check out the Web page here for more info. I have the iPhone version, and it's pretty simple to use. I choose a book from the Audible library, download it through Itunes either on my computer or mobile device, and it gets synced into my Audible library through Cloud technology.
You can also bookmark "pages," earn badges, keep track of your listening data, and, of course, shop for more books!
    The best part about Audible, at least for me, is the huge library of audio books that they offer. For tips, you may want to check out The Audies, the annual audio book awards given by Audio Files, a publication dedicated to audio book productions.  Last month, I listened to Beautiful Ruins, by Jess Walter -- what an amazing work!! Highly recommend!
    Of course, the down-side is, for a graduate student, is that the productions are pretty expensive! But, there are free trials available, and if you don't like a book, you can exchange it, no questions asked. And, when you consider the hours and hours of entertainment you get from one book, the value becomes more apparent, and you begin to better appreciate the talented performers, directors, and writers that came together to record the book. It always makes me wonder what goes into making an audio book! I'd love to read about a behind-the-scenes, making-of for one of these books!
    If you have Audible, let me know what your experience has been! Until next time, 'appy audio book listening! -- Liza

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Good Reads for Grads: Get into the App!

Hello All!
   As July winds down, I wanted to get in some final App features in, to round out my 'Appy July series. Check out the July Archive for more if you missed any posts of the series!
   Today, I'm featuring one of my favorite mobile apps, Good Reads. Good Reads is a social media network for people who love to read, and who want to share book reviews and read "socially" via the internet. I love it, because it can facilitate the intimacy of sharing a book you loved with a friend or two, but also give you access to a huge network of other book-lovers and readers. It also keeps you posted about new releases from your favorite authors, lets you keep records of the books you've read or want to read, and offers a space in which you can write about books informally -- almost like your own book-blog!
     You can sign up for Good Reads on the website, and log in there as well, but I find that the mobile app has really enhanced my use of the social media network. With the mobile app on my phone, I have my booklist handy when I go to a bookstore, or when a friend asks me what "good books" I've read lately, or when I just have a few minutes of free time and want to log in my latest entry, or browse my Good Read friends' virtual bookshelves.
     Here's what the home screen of the app looks like:

The Updates page is like the Good Reads news feed: you can scroll through and see what your friends have been posting, reading, and reviewing; you can post what page your on in the book you're currently reading, or give a status update about the great beach read you have just finished. Here's a screen shot of a recent Updates page!

    Next, you can go to My Books, which is your virtual library and book queue. You can organize your books into "shelves," which include books you've read, are currently reading, want to read, and any other category you want. Some people organize their shelves into genres -- like Fiction, Non-Fiction, Self-Help, Classics, etc -- and some find other ways to organize, like chronologically or historically (19th Century Fiction, 20th Century Fiction, 21st Century Fiction, etc). Here's a screen shot of my bookshelves.

Then, when you click on a shelf, you can scroll through it, from a screen that looks like this:

You can see the image of the cover of the book, plus your rating, and the date you read the book or added the book to your list.

    The app features a "Scan" button that makes it easy to load your books into your shelf; simply scan the barcode on the book you are reading, and it will automatically be added to your library!
     Some other features: the Progress button allows you to share your status on both Good Reads and other social media platforms, like Facebook and Twitter. If you tap "Explore," you can browse through lists of best-sellers, most and best rated, and genres of books, to find your next book! You can also create a personal profile, link up with friends and people who like the same kinds of books that you like, and explore book-related events in your area.
     Another cool feature of the Good Reads app is the eBooks feature -- you can actually download eBooks right from Good Reads, and read them using the Good Reads eReader!

Here's one I just downloaded -- I've never gotten to read this classic, and now it is at my fingertips!!  Bonus points if you know the novel from the first line. :) :)
All in all, I have found that with little spare time and money to read for pleasure or to join a book club while in graduate school, Good Reads is a tool to help me feel invested in my love for reading, and to share it with people outside my immediate graduate school peer group. Grad.Life readers, have you joined Good Reads yet? If so, let me know your experiences with this great social network! 
Until next time! Liza

Monday, July 29, 2013

Fordham Mobile Apps, part 2

Hi All!
    I hope your Monday morning has started off well!
    Here is part two of my feature on Fordham mobile apps. Check out part one, here.
In this part, we'll look into the second Fordham mobile app that you can find in the Apple App store -- it is called Fordham University, powered by YouVisit. is actually a handy website that provides full virtual tours of campuses around the world. It's a great resource if you will be going to or participating in a conference on another campus, and need to find your building, or a place to eat, or a restroom before your big presentation! YouVisit can be found on the web, but the company also has now created mobile apps for each school, which can be downloaded to your mobile device.
     Note: this particular app is especially made for the Rose Hill Campus. Here's the home screen that you'll see when you download the app:

When you click on Campus Tour, you'll be taken to a screen with an interactive campus map:

From here, click on any of the red bubbles to see the names of the buildings, and make your way around campus. Particularly handy if you are hosting a friend on campus, and want to send them on a tour of Rose Hill while you get some work done at the Library!
Also featured on this app are Photos and Panoramas of the campus...

...and a Video Touring page...

 ...and links to the Fordham website, on which app users can apply for admission, contact the school, or check out the latest academic information and university news.
   And that's basically a wrap on Fordham apps currently available. Now, if only they'd make a "Finish your dissertation app" for Fordham, I'd be all set!!!
Stay tuned for more app related content coming your way before this 'Appy July comes to an end!
-- Liza 

Friday, July 26, 2013

Fordham Mobile Apps -- Making Students 'Appy

Hello All! '
     Appy Friday! In this next segment of my Appy July app-review series, I'm featuring the mobile apps of Fordham University, home to the GSAS!
     Fordham has two mobile apps in the Apple App Store. One is called mFordham, by Fordham University Education, and one is Fordham University, by YouVisit LLC. Both are free.

This is the home screen for mFordham:

As you can see, it is a very handy app if you are a current student or if you are a visitor!
Click on "News" for a list of current events:
There is also a great "Maps" page, that allows you to zoom and and explore the neighborhood and campus!

Next, attention grad.students: check out the "Library" Feature, which allows you to search the library catalogues, and also provides Library hours and information right at your fingertips.

Also, there's a great Video page, on which the app creators have compiled some Youtube videos related to Fordham University life and academics. You can check out the Fordham Choir's performances, or Richard Engel's commencement address, and other cool vids related to Fordham and the GSAS, on this page.
 Stay tuned for part 2 a bit later, when I feature the YouVisit app for Fordham! In the meantime, enjoy your Friday!
-- Liza

Saturday, July 20, 2013

What's Happening Today

Hello Grad Students!
I hope July has been treating you well, and that you've been staying cool during the nation's heat wave. Today's my birthday! So, thinking about this day in history, I thought I would feature a few other anniversaries today, for reflection.

Today, July 20th, 2013, is:

photo credit: Denver Post
--The one year anniversary of the Aurora movie theater massacre; click here for last year's Grad.Life post after the terrifying event, and click on the following links for some thoughts about the tragedy, one year later.

--The 44th anniversary of Apollo 11's landing on the Moon. On this day 44 years ago, six hundred million viewers tuned in on their TVs to watch as now famous astronauts Buzz Aldrin, Neil Armstrong, and Michael Collins successfully completed their mission to land a spacecraft on Earth's only moon.
Click the links below for some interesting thoughts on Moon Day and the historic moon landing!

and Tomorrow is....

--National Ice Cream Day!! To celebrate, here are some ideas:
  • Enjoy an icy, creamy treat from the local mom-and-pop ice cream shop or ice-cream truck
  • Donate a gift-certificate for an ice-cream treat to a local non-profit organization that helps kids, like the Boys and Girls Club of America, or maybe a local school for special needs students
  • Make your own ice cream! Here are some cool recipes

I'll be back next week with some more 'Appy July features, to wrap up this month! 
Until next time, Liza

Friday, July 12, 2013

Go Streaking Today!

Hi All!
     Here's my next featured APP for my Appy July series! This one is called "Streaks" -- a simple but cool calendar app that allows you to track your "streaks" of activities. You can build different calendars to track different goals. For example, you can have one for running or working out, for writing your dissertation, for healthy eating, for talking to your grandmother in Seattle, for riding your bike, for writing in your journal or posting on your blog -- anything you want to do regularly or make a habit of, you can track!
     The app is so easy to use. You just tap on the calendar day and an "x" appears on that day. On the bottom of the screen, the app will tell you your current streak, and your longest streak so far. 
     You can have multiple calendars; I currently have three -- Dissertation, Healthy Eating, and Exercising. One cool feature is that you can set your streaks with all different options -- to allow for tasks that occur less often, or to enable "cheat" days, I guess... ha! For example, you can set the frequency of the task, under the option "How often is your task?" If your task only requires you to do it every other day, or every 5 days, or even every 30 days, you can track those streaks, too. Maybe you only want to call your grandmother every week, or go to Wednesday night yoga each week for 6 months straight -- set these calendars to "Every Week." Or, maybe you want to work on your dissertation proposal every other day. Set this calendar to "Every Other Day," and then track your days. The app will tell you how long you keep up this goal!
    The cheat days are good too -- say you want to eat healthy foods all week long, but you want to allow yourself Friday and Saturday to eat whatever you want. You can set your "streak" to continue through these cheat days. 
      You can even use it for things you want to QUIT or things that you do excessively. For example, you can keep track of your goal to quit smoking, to stop eating junk food, or to not watch Law and Order SVU every single day.
    A great thing about the app is that it doesn't just tell you your streaks; it shows you the whole calendar so that, even if you miss a day here and there and your streak starts over, you can still see the Xs and know what you've done, just by good old fashion counting. That way, you can compare the number to other months, and set goals based on that frequency per month, as well.
Happy Streaking!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Appy July!! (<-- not a typo)

Happy July everyone!
I hope everyone had a nice Independence Day week/weekend!
Don't pictures like this just make you HAPPY?

July is always my favorite month -- lots of daylight, fireflies, ice cream, pool parties, BBQs, beach trips, my birthday, summer blockbusters, baseball.
This is how my childhood summer days exist in my mind. 
This year, the month of July includes several dissertation defenses for my friends and colleagues, and lots of revising and writing for me!
Love July!!!
     In honor of all these fun memories in the making, I wanted to take this month to introduce you to a couple of cool APPS (get it, "Appy July"????) that have been helping me manage my dissertation, health, and writing goals amidst all all my summer fun.
    The first featured app is my favorite -- it's called aTimeLogger 2. I searched far and wide in the App Store for a time tracker app that would meet my needs. Out of all of them, this one is the best and the most fun. Here's what the icon looks like:
When you get it, it is preloaded with a bunch of basic life activities; it looks like this:
When you tap on the icon -- say, Transport, for example -- you can track the time you spend doing that activity. Then, at the end of the day, week, or month, you can see a pie chart of all of your tracked time, to get an idea of what you spend the most (or least) time on.
     BUT -- the best part is that you can customize your activities!! That's right, I said customize. Add any activity that you'd like to track. For me, it is super useful because I can track time on things that I know I need to commit to, but that aren't the easiest tasks to get motivated to do. Here's my customized list:

As you can see, I track my dissertation, blogging, teaching time, work-out time, and chores/ household stuff. When I meet my goals, I can reward myself! I also track certain other stuff that I have as personal goals and hobbies -- a non-fiction manuscript I am working on (not my dissertation), poetry, fiction writing, and music. Recently, I decided I'd like to track my time spent walking around the city -- just for fun, to get an idea of how I feel during weeks when I walk a lot versus weeks when I don't.
     You can track whatever you want! Time with friends, family -- if you're a parent, for example, you can track your time spent doing homework with your kids, or time they spend watching TV, or time they spend exercising. It's great for grad.students, but it really is great for anyone. I really like to track my workouts; I find that it is really motivating and reinforcing to see time tracked -- it makes you recognize the time you put in rather than panicking about it and feeling inadequate.
    The app has cool features, too, to help you visualize your time. You can view summaries in pie charts:
Who doesn't love a pie chart?? This is the break down of one week in April for me.

Or line graphs:
Here's my April Dissertation line graph...

Or Bar Graphs:
Are you a bar graph person, or a line graph person? With this app, you can be yourself.
Or just see a list of what you did:

I've been walking a lot more lately!!

It also helps me balance my life a little bit! If you feel you need to put more time into something, you can set goals for the day, week, or month, and it will let you know when you've met your goal. So then you can relax once you've hit it, and do something fun -- like go to a BBQ! Or, if you feel you are spending too much time doing something -- say, watching TV, for example -- you can track it for a week to get a baseline, and then try to reduce it the next week! I think it is super cool to see how you are using on of your most valuable possessions -- your time.
   This month, I will be featuring some other cool apps for What are some of your favorites? Write in to let me know! Or, if you try aTimelogger 2, I want to hear what you think!!!
Until next time-- GET 'APPY!!! -- Liza