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Productivity

You’ve no doubt heard about quick-launcher apps, they are utilities that are triggered by a keyboard shortcut and that let you do things like open apps or files a lot faster than if you did so by going into the menus. You just have to trigger the bar, type in what you are looking for and press enter. The great thing is that it works for so many more things than launching apps.

The app that we are reviewing today is one of these utilities and it’s called, of all things, Launcher. Come take a look at what it has to offer!

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Apple products have long been hailed as great tools for education.  It hasn’t been too long since I was a student myself, and even since then some of my favorite Mac software has been apps aimed at students.  Because developers see the market for this, students have access to great apps like iProcrastinate for task management, Papers for project management, and even Schoolhouse for all-in-one student productivity.  If your academic app arsenal lacks a good note-taking app, Dear Panda aims to fill that gap with CourseNotes.

CourseNotes is a lightweight, yet robust note-taking app for students.  It is designed to eliminate the hassle of keeping track of your notes by organizing them into subjects and sessions, as well as making them fully searchable.  CourseNotes also has a companion iPad app that syncs with the Mac counterpart, but more on that later.
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Keeping files synced between different computers, servers and external drives isn’t the easiest task in the world. You constantly have to compare multiple versions to see which is the most recent and spend far too much time manually copying files from one location to another. This is especially true of web developers who work locally and then have to push those changes to the web for testing.

With FolderWatch, virtually all of the work is removed from this process. After a simple setup process, FolderWatch will keep an eye on the specified folders and sync any changes automatically.

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To-do apps have such a big market, with new ones coming out almost every week. But what about a to-do app made specifically for students? Keeping up with assignments from all the different courses that you have as a student can be pretty difficult.

The app that we are reviewing today is called iHomework, and, as can likely be guessed by its name, its purpose is to help you keep up with your assignments.

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We all struggle with procrastination from time to time, especially when overwhelmed with the size or scope of a project. There have been a number of studies and books written lately about the benefits of working for shorter periods of time, with regular short breaks in between. In combination with setting specific small goals to accomplish, this technique is supposed to help you stay focused on the task without getting overwhelmed, and makes you less likely to procrastinate.

The developers of Vitamin-R aimed to create an unobtrusive menu-bar app to help you manage your “time slices” and breaks, while encouraging you to stay focused on small tasks. Vitamin-R integrates many of the ideas described by these new productivity techniques into its functionality, but can it really help you stay focused?

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In recent years e-books have experienced a notable surge in popularity. Much of this can be attributed to devices such as Amazon’s Kindle and Apple’s iPad, which have seen a huge rise in popularity over recent years and seem to always be in those “top 10 gadget lists”. Amazon now sells more Kindle-format books than standard paper copies and the research and advisory firm mediaIDEAS forecasted that e-book readers are set to become a $25 billion market by the year 2020.

So with all these e-books floating around, you’ll need a way to manage them, right? Well, that’s where Calibre comes in. Think of it as iTunes for your e-books. Although e-book readers such as the Kindle provide their own software, it is a bit basic and you can only read books purchased from the Kindle store.

Calibre allows you to categorize all your books, convert them into different formats and upload them to your device. Although it won’t win any awards for its looks, the old adage is true, “Don’t judge a book by its cover” (or should that be e-book? Sorry, bad joke). Calibre is, to use the age-old comparison, iTunes for your e-books. Read on to find out why.

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A couple weeks back, I reviewed an app called Yep, a scanning and tagging app for managing documents. I love the idea of tags and am just starting to harness their power in other apps like Things and Evernote, and nudge:nudge’s Punakea attempts to offer tagging support for documents and folders of any kind.

I purchased this app in a bundle a couple months ago, and I’m sure there are many other people out there who have this app sitting in their applications folder unused like I did, so perhaps it’s time to take a look at what it can do!

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I’m a sucker for notebooks. Paper or digital it doesn’t matter. I’ve got a stack of Moleskines right next to my Field Notes notebooks. And you don’t even want to know how many different journaling-type applications I have on my MacBook. Most of these digital notebooks don’t try to mimic a “real” notebook. The few applications that do try to look and feel like a paper notebook have always failed in that regard (though they often have other redeeming qualities).

But along comes Per Se, the new digital journal from Sprouted Software. It’s the first application that actually feels like a three-dimensional, paper journal. Too good to be true? Let’s take a closer look.

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It is a rare but welcome occasion when an app is developed to do something I’ve always wanted an app to do. Fantastical is precisely that app. Often, when adding an event to iCal, getting frustrated with date and time fields, and giving up on adding any details but the name, I’ve pondered “shouldn’t there be another way?”

The developers of Fantastical have endeavoured to answer this plea with a menu-bar iCal tie-in promising the ability to quickly add events in natural language.

Upon further research, I learned that Fantastical wasn’t the first app to offer such a handy feature, apps like the cheaper QuickCal promise the same features. So, is Fantastical fantastic enough to justify the price?

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I’ll be honest: the past 18 years of school have made me a forgetful, disorganized, unmotivated procrastinator. Since I like shiny, pretty interfaces and putting off doing work, I’ve spent a lot of time looking into various GTD and to-do list apps. During the school year, I used a full-featured GTD app (Things) to track and organize dozens of readings, assignments and exams.

However, now that school’s out and I’m freelancing a lot more, Things is starting to seem a bit excessive, and I’m still waiting on the promised iPhone cloud-sync. Enter SpeedTask, the iPhone-turned-Mac to-do list app that promises clever, easy-to-use features and powerful cloud sync.

SpeedTask deserves to be looked at from three different angles: as a Mac app, as an iPhone app, and as a cloud-syncing solution, so we’ll discuss each feature one at a time.

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