Get it Together: Conquering the To-Do List

As finals quickly approach, it can be a real pain to keep all of your tasks, both personal and school-related, organized and on their way to completion. Sometimes, things fall through the cracks and throw your life into chaos.

Everyone has their own methods of managing their tasks, but if your methods don’t seem to be cutting it for your needs, you may want to switch it up with some digital methods!

A very common way to keep it all together is to have a to-do list. For ages this has been done with pen/pencil and paper. But what happens if you lose your list or it gets destroyed by an eager and hungry canine? All that work is gone! For online storage and syncing of your to-do list, there are loads of awesome tools for you to try.

Wunderlist LogoMy personal favorite has been Wunderlist. Wunderlist is a free to-do list platform (with a premium pay service available) that makes creating your to-do list and syncing it with all of your devices painless. With apps for not only your computer but also your smartphones and tablets, your tasks are only a couple of taps or clicks away! On top of that, it has a satisfying “DING!” when you finally check those tasks off of your list!

Wunderlist is available for iPhone, Android, Kindle Tablets (FireOS), Windows, and Mac.

Some other great services include Remember the Milk, which has apps for most mobile platforms as well as the ability to connect to your Google and Evernote accounts. Speaking of Evernote, it can also be a great way to keep a to do list on top of its stellar note-taking capabilities.

imagesAnother good option for a to-do list across all of your devices is Todoist. Also free with a premium pay option available, Todoist has apps and clients that are available on fifteen different platforms! Todoist would probably work best if you’re more business-oriented, since it also includes a lot of team collaboration features that aren’t found in other services.

Apart from finding the best to-do list service for your needs, another important part of managing your tasks is to get into a routine and stick with it! You’ll be surprised how much more work you can get done.

Office 2016 for Mac is Coming!

Mac users seem to have been forgotten by Microsoft Office developers since the last version was released in 2010. However, the folks in Redmond have finally announced that a new version of Office is on the way! Office 2016 is rumored to be released sometime this fall, and should also become available in our Office 365 offerings at that time, as well. Check out some of the features and improvements that will be coming in the new version thanks to some early screenshots from Microsoft:

Office-2016-for-Mac-1-1024x588One of the biggest additions to Office is deep integration with Microsoft’s cloud services, including SMU’s OneDrive service! Now your files can be accessible from anywhere without the difficult setup that was required in Office 2011.

Office-2016-for-Mac-5-1024x600If you would like to use Outlook as your e-mail client but never liked the look and feel of the Mac version, the new version of Outlook for Mac mimics the look and feel of the Windows version, so you no longer have to learn how to use multiple interfaces if you use both PC and Mac.

Office-2016-for-Mac-3-1024x600Excel is greatly improved as well, not only looking more like the Windows version but also providing better compatibility with functions from the Windows version. There will also be more analytical functions available, as well.

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As for PowerPoint, it also sports a whole new look and the addition of a “control center” for your presentation that can display your notes, upcoming slides, and the current slide on your laptop’s screen while only the current slide is projected to your audience.

And the best part about the new Office for Mac, the feature we’ve all been craving…OneNote for Mac! The beloved note-taking software that has graced Office for Windows for years finally makes its Mac debut. This is an excellent addition for any digital note-taking addicts.

 

Office 2016 for Mac has been released to a select few so far for testing purposes, but should be released to the public, along with Office 365 users, later this year.

Free & Easy Cloud Backup Solutions

As each semester comes to a close, I like to take stock of all of the documents I’ve written over the last few months and make sure they are backed up. There are plenty of options available to backup and sync your data between multiple computers and mobile devices.

You’ve probably seen the commercials on TV or on the radio for paid cloud backup services like Carbonite and BackBlaze. Those services are all well and good, but sometimes the monthly fees can add up, and you may not always need all of the bells and whistles they provide.

Luckily, there are quite a few free solutions that you can use to back up your data as well as have it available from anywhere! Here’s a rundown of some of the most popular choices.

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Dropbox is probably the most popular choice out there. The starting package is completely free and gives you 2GB of space. Since the amount of starting space is so small, Dropbox would be best for those essential smaller documents and files that you use frequently or need access to at multiple devices.

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Box is quite similar to Dropbox, but with more options once you get into the pay levels of service. The free version includes more space than the free version of Dropbox, but expect to be persuaded into purchasing a plan.

OneDrive

OneDrive-logo100x100OneDrive is Microsoft’s first big foray into the cloud storage game. If you have a Hotmail, Outlook.com or another type of Microsoft account, you may already have it! You get 7GB as the default for free plans, but you can earn extra space by backing up your cell phone photos, purchasing Office 365 (which is soon to be free for SMU students) or referring friends.

Google Drive

google_drive_logo_3963If you’re more of a Gmail kind of person, Google has you covered, too! Google provides 15GB for free to those holding Google accounts, and more is available for a charge. Of course, Google Drive storage seamlessly works with Google Apps, too.

(Faculty & Staff) CrashPlan Pro

crashplan_clouds eThe University uses CrashPlan Pro for all primary computers. It makes a complete back up of your profile and file folder structure. The above options are great for personal storage, but make sure you’ve installed CrashPlan Pro on your University machine. It could save you a big headache if your machine ever crashed! For full details, visit http://www.smu.edu/BusinessFinance/OIT/Services/Backup.

Firefox 29 Is Here…and Very Different

Firefox LogoYou may have already noticed that as of today, your Firefox browser looks a bit different than before. That’s because the Mozilla Foundation has now unleashed the latest version of Firefox – version 29 – to the masses. It’s been in the works under code name “Australis” for around two years. Don’t have the latest version yet? You can upgrade by doing the following:

For Windows Folks:

  1. Click on the orange Firefox button in the top left.
  2. Click on the small arrow to the right of Help.
  3. Click About Firefox.

For our Mac folks, you can update by clicking on Firefox next to the Apple icon and selecting About Firefox. This will automatically begin the update process.

Firefox Menu
The “Hamburger” Menu

Now to talk about what’s different about Firefox 29. This is easily the most drastic change in Firefox’s look since the Mozilla Foundation decided to release updates to Firefox every six weeks. If you have ever used Google Chrome, you may notice that this new Firefox looks very similar. The majority of menu options have been moved from the orange Firefox button to a “Hamburger” icon made up of three bars in the top right-hand corner; just like Chrome. You can also click and drag icons on this new menu as well as add additional icons to suit your tastes by clicking Customize. But, if you still prefer your regular File menu at the top of the screen, just press Alt to have it return for you.

Another big new feature in Firefox is its streamlined sync system. Before this update, Firefox’s bookmark and settings sync service were clunky and borderline unusable. Now, it’s as simple as entering your e-mail address and a password to create a sync account. You can then specify what you would like to sync between your different computers and devices that use Firefox. No longer do you have to use several different apps to sync bookmarks, settings, and open tabs!

This new version of Firefox signals a huge shift in the design language and functionality of one of the world’s top internet browsers. Hopefully this means a much more enjoyable web experience for the rest of us!

The Next Big (or Small) Thing: The Best of CES

Last week, the Consumer Electronics Show, or CES, took place in Las Vegas. CES is the center of what’s new and upcoming in the world of gadgets, and this year was no exception. Each year seems to showcase yet another new trend, and this year was certainly the year of wearable tech.

pebble_closeup_2The term “smartwatch” may have been the most spoken word at this year’s convention. Companies big and small displayed their latest devices/fashion statements. One of the most talked about came from Pebble, a fairly new company that rolled out their new, much more watch-looking Pebble Steel smartwatch at this year’s CES.

The Pebble is capable of synching wirelessly with your iPhone or Android smartphone to provide you with notifications, basic information, as well as data connectivity for apps written specifically for the watch that can do everything from tracking sports scores, to tracking your workouts, to playing your music. Other wearables unveiled last week include the LG Life Band, Razr Nabu, and the Sony Smartband.

Outside of the gaggle of wearables this year were the usual swarm of entertainment medium01agadgets. One of the more interesting innovations was the Clearview Clio, a completely transparent glass speaker. A strange yet promising new type of television also made it’s way to the show this year. Both LG and Samsung have introduced UDTVs (yes, we have already surpassed HDTV) with curved screens. Both companies claim that a curved screen will improve viewing angles which in turn provide better picture.

This improved experience doesn’t come without a steep price tag, however. The largest models have a suggested retail price of around $70,000, with the budget models topping $10,000.

From smartwatches to virtual reality, there was something for everyone at this year’s CES. Who knows, maybe this time next year we will finally get a cell phone that does the dishes.