Highlight an App: Garden

By Colleen Riggle

There is a little known fact about me, and it is I don’t have a green thumb.  I know, I know, shocking.  But really, when given a plant, flowers, or anything in the “green” category it will more than likely die.  Unless it is the peace lily we have at home that comes back to life, time and time again.

However, I do have a great appreciation for beautiful flowers, plants and one of my favorite places in Home Depot or Lowe’s is the garden center (2nd favorite is the school supplies area).  At any rate, we decide to give growing something green a try this spring and much to my surprise we have sprouts!

We started with growing herbs from seeds in some old pots we had laying around and in no time we saw green sprouts!  On Father’s Day we decided to test our luck once more and bought some seeds for cucumbers, carrots and lettuce.  In less than a week under my now careful eye we have more sprouts and we couldn’t be more excited.

And of course, there is an app for that, actually several.  Here is the one I like the best

Source: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/vegetable-planting-calendar/id516941781?mt=8

thus far (free of course) Vegetable Planting Calendar – it has lots of pictures and planting info.  For someone like me, who is new to the whole gardening hobby it’s helpful.  I like the very specific planting instructions, as well information about germination.  If you’re going to create a large garden in your yard this might not be the app for you, but for our 2 x 6 area it works!

One other app that I found in my search was called the Gardening Guide.  Once I was able to download the guide it had more information about crops, such as the various types of veges (nantes vs chantenay carrots), as well as the planting information and post harvest and storage!

So if you’re like me and just starting out with gardening give these apps a try! I can’t wait til fall to taste the fruits veges of our labor!

 

Highlight an App: Garden

Life Without Tech? No thanks

by Kristen Abell

As I sat down to think about what to do my post on today, I started mulling over various tech innovations, new features and apps, different ways I was using tech, etc. And then the topic for this post came to me – how would my life (or anybody’s life) be different if I didn’t have tech?

– I wouldn’t be writing this post – duh.

– I wouldn’t have met multiple people that are now extremely important parts of my life.

– I wouldn’t be able to look up information on play places, restaurants, stores, etc. at the touch of a button (or a finger, depending on the device).

– I would have to carry an atlas with me everywhere and stop constantly for local maps or directions.

– If I got in an accident, I would have to locate a phone in order to let my partner know. (Or, like in college, if my car broke down on the side of the highway, I would have to trek to the nearest open office building and call all over kingdom come to find someone, ANYONE who could come pick me up. Turns out the intern that worked in my dad’s office really liked his job and came to my rescue.) Or worse, I wouldn’t be able to use a phone, because they wouldn’t exist without technology. Or a car, for that matter. Dang, that whole scenario went downhill fast.

– I wouldn’t be able to cook my eggs in the microwave – don’t judge me. That was how I learned, and I still make better eggs there than on the stove top.

– I wouldn’t be able to look up ex-boyfriends and make sure the ones I dislike are still a good distance away from me.

– I would have to figure out gluten free foods without the help of Google and the numerous apps available to assist. This one right here might be enough on its own to justify technology.

– I would have to write memos and work reports by hand. And read the handwriting of other people. And we’d probably have to use a pencil, as the technology of pens wouldn’t exist.

– I wouldn’t be able to share my witty sense of humor with the world. Or the five people that read my blog posts/tweets/Facebook updates.

– I wouldn’t think cats were nearly as funny as they are when you combine them with the interwebs.

– I wouldn’t have access to the wide range of music I listen to on a daily basis.

– There wouldn’t be air conditioning. Holy crap. It is 100 degrees outside today, and there wouldn’t be air conditioning.

I’m out, folks. I will take technology any day – in all it’s various forms. Yes, I’m partial to the finer uses (social media, web access, etc.), but give me a good pen and my air conditioning at the very least.

What things would you miss if there were no technology?

Life Without Tech? No thanks

Open Thread: Do You Care About #inboxzero?

By Brenda Bethman

For this week’s open thread, I want to talk about email — specifically the phenomenon known as “#inboxzero.” As I’m sure you know, this is a very recommended technique for managing one’s email. The folks who preach #inboxzero tend to be fairly zealous about it. In fact, as far as I can tell, I should be a hot mess of unproductivity thanks to the horror show (currently holding steady at #inbox307 in my work account) that is my inbox. Also, it appears that leaving my email up and running most of the time is stressing me out big time.

Here’s the thing, though — I don’t care about my inbox. I realized a long time ago that I could either spend time managing my email or I could do the rest of my job. I can’t do both, so I just let the email go — and it works for me just fine. I also leave it running and check in and out most of the day. If I’m trying to write something, I might close it — but otherwise, if I’m on the computer, the email is going. And that works for me, too.

Finally, one other thing — like Leah McClellan (see link below), I also have multiple accounts used for different purposes. Currently I manage eleven addresses (work, main personal, this blog, etc., etc.). Kind of a lot, I admit — but again, it works for me.

To me, that’s the key — do what works for you. What about you? Are you a zealous #inboxzero type? Or a let-it-all-go type? Do you check your email constantly? Or just now and then? What works for you? How accounts do you have? Let us know in the comments!

And here are some links for further reading on both sides of the email debate:

“Manage Your Email by Not Managing It” by Leah McClellan

“Achieving Inbox Zero” by Ed Cabellon

“Email Is Like Stress in a Bottle” from Lifehacker

“Does Inbox Zero Help You Manage Your Emails?” from The Next Web

“Are You Leaving the Door Open?” by Natalie Houston

[Photo Credit: Flickr user Ramberg Media Images, Creative Commons license]

Open Thread: Do You Care About #inboxzero?

Highlight a Woman: Leah Andrews

by Lysa Salsbury

LeahThis week, I’m delighted to profile a respected colleague and friend, Leah Andrews. Leah is the web coordinator for the division of Student Affairs at the University of Idaho. She’s a consummate professional whom I greatly admire, and a warm and generous individual with a wicked sense of humor. Within days of joining the Student Affairs web team, she managed to initiate (and within weeks, accomplish) for the Women’s Center what we had been waiting months for—transferring our website to a new content management system, and updating the layout to match the University’s new web template. She also helped us to create a brand-new stand-alone website for the LGBTQA Office. Leah has provided immeasurable (read: patient beyond belief) support to us as we try to become proficient Sitecore web authors. It’s a delight to get to highlight her skills and knowledge.

Tell us a little bit about yourself—give us the full-on, unabridged Leah Story.

I grew up wanting to be a writer. I think I inherited the mantra “never boring” from my mother. It didn’t matter to me what I ended up doing or where I ended up going, I just didn’t want to be bored or dissatisfied. I studied journalism with a minor in German at U-Idaho, and worked as a newspaper reporter for a while, eventually getting into marketing and public relations. I lived in Germany for a year, and also taught and traveled in China for two years. I was always interested in science, and did technical writing for a year, and worked for the College of Engineering as their Public Information Officer, as well as working as a Communications Assistant for the NASA Idaho Space Grant Consortium, and doing Marketing and Recruitment for University Housing at U-Idaho. I was drawn to jobs where I could write about science.

Each Marketing and PR position I had always had a website component, so I started to learn. First, I learned how to edit pages using HTML, and then I dipped my toes in the waters of website building just a little further to learn how to create tables and links. In the beginning, it was all really basic, but each time, I was surrounded by wonderful teachers and mentors who would patiently explain the process. It often felt like being in the Wizard of Oz and getting to step behind the curtain. I was pretty certain I didn’t belong there, but it was interesting and exciting, and I started to understand more and more.

How did you come to have a career in technology?

It’s funny, this is really the first position I’ve held that’s classified as a technology job. All of my previous employment revolved more around writing, with certain aspects that involved a basic understanding of websites, or at least a willingness to learn. In this job, I still get to use writing and editing skills at times, but the web component is suddenly at the forefront. I still get nervous when I’m around people who know much more than I do about technology. I worry that someone will figure out I’m a fake and send me away, but it isn’t like that. I’m part of a fantastic team of web coordinators who are incredibly inclusive and dedicated to helping each other. Many of us come from fields that are not based in technology, so we also bring other strengths to the table. I taught English in China for 18 months before I came to this job, and I really enjoy being able to teach others how to use the content management system. So much of learning about technology is like learning a different language. At first it all seems insurmountable, and you need someone to help you break it down and make it manageable, to answer questions and create a lesson plan that introduces the concept first, and then asks the learner to start using those concepts in a non-threatening environment.

I still get a kick out of the fact that I have two staff meetings each week, one with Student Affairs professionals, and we sit around a table and make eye contact and use paper notepads and pens to take notes. Then I go to the web team meeting and everyone has a laptop open, and we type our meeting notes on shared documents so we can all add items at the same time and see who is editing the document and what has been changed. Sometimes we just meet virtually using our laptops and cameras if the weather is really bad or everyone is crunched for time. We would never do that for a Student Affairs meeting. They are both important meetings and both attended by groups of people that care greatly about their work and about each other, but sometimes I feel like I belong to two different worlds here on campus.

What are some of the challenges and/or highlights of being a female IT professional?

I really enjoy this job. I’m constantly learning new things and I’m in an environment where I’m supported and at the same time challenged to learn from others and to bring new things I’ve tried or learned to the group to see if they can stand up not only under my own logic but that of others with different experience and different perspectives. In high school, I knew I was a nerd, but it was one of those things you tried to shake so that boys might still ask you to go to a dance. Being a web coordinator is nothing like that. I love being a nerd. I still wear high-heeled shoes that make podiatrists cringe, and I’m first in line when it’s bonus time at the Clinique counter, but I can also make jokes about infinite loops (linking a page back to the same page, not advisable). I wear my Firefly Jayne shirts to the gym or hanging out on the weekends now, whereas when I was in PR, I only bought things on Thinkgeek for my partner. There is something really nice about embracing the term “nerd” and realizing that this is an area I really enjoy being a part of.

I work with a team that was pretty much a 50/50 split between women and men—now with a few new hires, there are more women than men on the team. I know a lot of times in tech jobs that isn’t the case, but our team is really even, so it isn’t like going to a meeting with all men and being the only woman in the room. I think I would still enjoy the job even if I were the only woman on the team, but there is something really pleasant about having a balanced team and not feeling “othered” when you enter a room.

At the end of the day, if I do my job well, it means that I’ve found ways to convey the message of different areas in Student Affairs and hopefully, I’ve made it easier to reach students. I want to embrace technology that students are most comfortable using, and I want to use that to help them find information they need and want, information that will make their experience at college safer, and more meaningful and rewarding.

Can you tell us a story about a time you really loved your job?

I love my job most days. I really enjoy making things possible for other people. I like watching others learn how to use the content management system, I like getting phone calls when someone can’t make something work and I get to help figure out why. I like that I learn new things on a relatively constant basis.

As far as specific examples, I guess my favorite moments in this job have been the opportunities to help create new websites or re-imagine websites, like the Women’s Center website, the LGBTQA Office website, and the Campus Recreation website. Soon there will be a brand new Health Education website—these are all websites that help students and provide important resources. I get excited about the content I’m able to make available. I love coming up with new ways to collect data, or new ways to help people connect or voice concerns. These are all things that really matter, and I get to be part of that process.

What advice would you give young women thinking about entering technology fields?

Don’t decide to not look into these fields because you think you’ll be the only woman in your classes. Don’t give up on something that you might find really challenging and fulfilling, and don’t think that technology doesn’t make a difference or impact people. The thing I love about technology is that you can create ways to communicate information or collect data, and even once you’ve finished the process, it keeps working after you’ve completed the project. You continue to help people connect with one another, find help, share information with others, and save people time. Your work matters so much more than you can ever imagine at the beginning.

I wish I had looked into this field when I was going to college. I was never a huge fan of math in high school. I excelled at English, history, languages, and debate, but I didn’t really know that there were places where technology and communication intersected, and the things I was good at in high school all involved the same sort of analytical thinking and logic that I come across on a daily basis in this job. The problem solving that we get to do here is fun, and the result is being able to communicate ideas that are valuable and important, and perhaps even ideas that change lives. They are definitely ideas that enhance lives.

Highlight a Woman: Leah Andrews

Linkage Love: Social Media and Relationships

by Anitra Cottledge

I had a conversation today over IM (yes, I still use IM) about social media burnout. Yes, social media keeps us connected personally and professionally, but sometimes you just can’t. One person too many uses Twitter as though it was a blog written in 140-character installments, and you just feel like you want to pull your own hair out. How much can we be invited into other people’s thoughts, experiences, kitchens (“Hi, I just boiled an egg.”) and lives before all the information comes oozing out of our ears?

So sometimes I experience social media burnout, and by the end of that conversation with my friend, we had both come to the conclusion that we were taking a 30-day break from social media, or at least thinking about it. (As for me, my social media use will be greatly reduced in July due to travel.)  The inspiration for our discussion? An article called, “How 30 Days Without Social Media Changed My Life.” The author Steven Corona says, “The benefits were immediately apparent. With a mind free to wander and explore, I started to create things, to make moves, rather than suck down a never ending stream of information.”

That article and the conversation I had made me think about Jess’ recent post about productivity. Are we more productive when we use less social media? At a certain point, the narrative was that technology was supposed to streamline our lives, make processes more efficient. (Those of us who wish we could clone ourselves just to answer our email may challenge that narrative.) However, we do know that some technology makes some things easier. So where’s the “just right” between too much and not enough technology? How does technology and social media use affect our friendships, our productivity and creativity, our mental health, our very views about what it means to be human?

A few links to explore:

How Depressed People Use the Internet

If You’re Consuming Too Much, You’re Creating Too Little

Social Media’s Small, Positive Role in Human Relationships

The Facebook Resisters

What Is Our “Hybrid Reality”?

Linkage Love: Social Media and Relationships

Using the Internet…in 1997.

by Jennifer Keegin

If you follow me on any of my social media platforms, you will know that I posted this Instagram pic today:

I was going through some old files and scrapbooks that my parents had sent to me. My father is retiring at the end of the month and they are moving back east from Seattle. They have been boxing up long forgotten items of mine from their attic space and sending them to me bit by bit. I got a whole box of cassettes last month. (Yes, my car has a cassette player/CD combo. I’m truly blessed.) Going through all these old grade reports etc. was funny to say the least and when I came across these grades I really had to share.

I took “Using the Internet” in my spring semester of my senior year in college, 1997. All I remember about that class was learning basic HTML, and our final project was to make a website with personal info. As I looked up just where the internet was a tech concept I found this video.

Obviously the world has changed – but one thing hasn’t – my interest in the internet.

Using the Internet…in 1997.

Blog Prompt: What Tech Will You Be Using Differently This Academic Year?

By Colleen Riggle

It’s been almost a year since purchasing an iPad. I was SO excited to have some year end funds to purchase two for our office, but I haven’t used it to the full potential this past academic year. Ideally I was going to be “paper-free” in meetings, saving attachments to Dropbox, taking notes on the iPad, however, I just haven’t used it. I’m not sure why, because I love the iPad and on the occasions I do use it I’m glad I did, as the ease of taking minutes (with my wireless keyboard) makes it easier to make sense of what I actually wrote, er typed!

In preparation for THIS next academic year I am really going to try and be more organized and use the iPad for my to-do lists, having our almost final strategic plan available for easy reference, as well as our assessment goals. I’d love to use the iPad for all meeting notes and be able to reference them faster. What I LOVE about the newest updates to the iPad/iPhone is how both are sync so when I type in note pad on my iPhone there are the same lists on my iPad too. I LOVE having the Cloud back stuff up as well.

And since I had been traveling last week I saved my first attachment from email to Dropbox on my iPhone, and therefore was able to send that attachment as a link in an email.

But I’m interested in how others, use technology, specifically the iPad in there day to day functions. What apps are YOU using to keep up on the busy day to day? I’ll have to be honest, I’ve tested out several note taking app, but always find myself back using the note pad that came standard on the iPad and iPhone.

So, yeah this is my commitment to use the technology I so desired this time last summer!

Blog Prompt: What Tech Will You Be Using Differently This Academic Year?