Results are in: The pen IS mightier than the keyboard

pen-mightier-than-keyboard

Educators are eager to know how the computers popping up in their classrooms actually affect student learning. A recent study published in Psychological Science confronts the issue head-on.

The results of the study come to no surprise to me. People who hand-write notes are more likely to process the information as it comes in (and have a much easier time recalling the information later), compared to those who basically sit there and transcribe an entire lecture or presentation on a computer.

I compare the results of this study to logo design. Even with all the modern software & hardware technology making it easier and easier to create on your digital devices, you still get better results when you sketch your logo design concepts on paper first. There’s just less distraction with the process. You don’t get hung-up on colors and precise layout when you sketch on paper, which leaves your mind to focus on the basic concept.

Yet another example I can think of is that I find that when I have a client meeting, I’m better able to understand what a client is asking for when I limit my notes to a few high-points (or not take notes at all), than when I used to basically write down every word they said. I learned over time that it’s better to HEAR what a client is saying, not LISTEN to what they’re saying. When you’re taking notes, you’re listening to what they say, but you’re not really hearing them.

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Enhance OS X’s speech services

Dictator

If you use Mac OS X’s built-in speech service to read text back to you, you’re going to love this little gem!

Dictator is a free add-on that enhances built-in speech services by adding a progress indicator, a teleprompter (for reading along with the audio if you wish), and control audio with play, pause, and skip forward by sentence or paragraph controls.

To use Dictator, you simply select some text in any Services supported app (pretty much every app), right-click and choose Dictate from the menu.

You can download Dictater here.

The best iOS 9 content blocker so far

I started using an extension for Safari on my iMac a while back called Ghostery. It basically blocks tracking cookies and other obnoxious little things. It’s not an ad blocker, but it not only speeds up website load times, it’ll protect your privacy as well. It’s awesome, and I recommend you get Ghostery for the Mac right away.

Flash forward to yesterday when I finally got around to trying some content blockers for iOS9 on my iPhone 6Plus. I tried several, including one that was more than the price of a cup of coffee. Let me tell you that almost every single one of them available on the App Store absolutely sucks. Then I came across a Tweet about yet another content blocker—but this one caught my eye because it also mentioned Ghostery.

Peace content blocker for iOSTurns out, Marco Arment (creator of Instapaper and Overcast) has an iOS 9 content blocker called Peace for only $2.99.

What got me to buy it immediately was that A) The screenshots looked much more polished and easier to use than the other apps. And B) Marco has an exclusive deal with Ghostery to use their database as the foundation for Peace’s ability to block trackers. And really, that’s what sold me.

What it does

Peace blocks ads, trackers, social media buttons and other mobile web annoyances. You can configure with a simple slider if you want those social media buttons blocked, as well as most web comment systems and a site’s use of web fonts. All of those things can really slow a web page down, something I can overlook on an uber-fast desktop cable connection but is absolutely infuriating on mobile. As a bonus, Peace can install a set of Share Sheet extensions that allow further access to the app’s capabilities.

Peace isn’t perfect, by any means. Some ads still get through. And sometimes it’ll block things you don’t want blocked. But peace will allow you to add domains to a whitelist if they don’t work properly, or you simply love a site and want to support it by not blocking anything.

Want proof it’s working?

If you buy it and really want to see what it does, may I recommend you visit MacDailyNews before and after installing. At any given time, the site can have around 25 banner ads and a list of trackers as long as my arm. The page loads slow even on a fast cable connection, but on mobile it’s excruciatingly slow. So much so that I often just skip right over any link that points to the site. After I installed Peace, I went to the MacDailyNews homepage. I was shocked when it loaded almost instantly. Of course, almost every one of the ads and all the trackers were blocked, and that’s why it loaded so quickly.

You can read more about Peace here. Direct link to Peace in the app store here. Best $3 I’ve spent in the App Store in a long time!

UPDATE: Marco Arment (the developer) has pulled his app from the App Store after having some regrets. If you managed to buy Peace before it was removed, you can request a refund, or continue to use the app until such time that Apple updates iOS to the point that the app no longer works.

SmileGate: Apple’s sex & race problem

Smile Apple

Warning: This is a snarky opinion piece. If you would rather not be offended by the fact that I’m not offended, but am offended that you are; well then, this article probably isn’t for you. And I don’t care, but just know that you’ve been warned.

Apple has a sex problem.

No, not an Ashley Madison type of sex problem. Not even a “mom found my stash of porno mags under the bed” type of problem. More of a “he-said, why didn’t she-said” type of problem. Apparently, it also has a race problem. Hell, Apple is just one giant problem… if you believe the Internet, that is.

Apple had barely completed yesterday’s “Hey Siri” event, arguably one of their largest product release events in recent history, when the Internet had one of its all-to-frequent It’s My Turn To Be Offended, Dammit! pile-ons. The sheer stupidity and linkbaitedness of the accusations made in the articles are so thick you can choke on them. And I nearly did.

The Verge posted this pathetic puddle of baboon piss about what I’ll call SmileGate. Apple invited representatives of Adobe to come on stage and demo their software’s image retouching power. And that was their big, huge, massive mistake.

Unfortunately, Adobe chose two men to bring a scantily-clad woman on stage, slap her ass and tell her what nice tits she had.

Wait. That’s not quite accurate. Maybe they just had a photo of a woman, and used the software to make her red lipstick a little bit redder, and turn up the corners of her mouth to make her appear to be slightly smiling.

The horror. I mean… can you believe the audacity of Adobe to pull this kind of disgusting behavior toward women?

And the world blames Apple.

Not to be outdone, NextWeb decided to re-puke the previously mentioned article and add more semi-digested chunks to it.

Apparently, Apple hates African Americans, Native Indians, Jews, Italians, Armenians, Hungarians, Arabs, and Polacks. And Australians. And anyone from Alaska. And they still hate women of any race, just not quite as much as they used to.

According to the potato sack who wrote that piece of drivel, Apple needs to have one member of every race on Earth speak for at least 45 seconds at every Apple event, just to show that Apple is a company by the people, for the people… or something like that. I don’t know.

I have an image in my mind of Tim Cook in a sweat-soaked blue shirt, skipping and hopping around on stage while clapping and screaming DIVERSITY. DIVERSITY. DIVERSITY. DIVERSITY. Of course, people would probably be offended by the blatant gimmick copying:

And then the entire frigging Internet pooped out Tweets and links to the same or similar articles. Because you know, nobody wants to be left out. I dunno. The race to the bottom of the ‘It’s My Turn To Be Offended’ barrel on the Internet is getting quite tired.

No matter what Apple does here, some people are going to find a way to be butt-hurt about it. If Apple had filled the entire keynote with female employees speaking about all the products, their would surely be a gaggle of loudmouths accusing Apple of conspiring to put one over on us, or ‘play to the crowd’ too much. One more African American, one more Asian, one more of any race, and the same people would probably sport their Confederate flag shirts and hold up signs that read ‘MERICA!

The world has a diversity problem, and it appears that if I wish to fit in with the hip crowd, I must blame Apple.

iOS web browsers: Why bother?

By now you’ve heard the news that Mozilla is finally in testing phase with Firefox for iOS. And you may have noticed that AdBlock (the popular desktop browser extensions) is releasing their own AdBlock Browser as well. Google has Chrome for iOS, and I believe iCab still has a heartbeat.

I have to wonder though, why bother? Until you can change the default browser on iOS; something Apple isn’t likely to allow any time soon, you WILL be using Safari at least once per day whether you want to or not. Simply because nobody is going to want to copy/paste URLs from email or text message just so they can be viewed in a browser other than mobile Safari. And let’s face it, Safari on iOS is a pretty damn good browser experience for 99% of users.

So I’m back to wondering what the ‘end-game’ is for companies that make web browsers for iOS. Why bother?

Exclusive: Free mobile data infographic vectors

Mobile data infographic vectors

Today I’ve got another exclusive freebie from Vecteezy for you.

Mobile data infographics will likely come in handy if you have to build any sort of charts, graphs or infographics in your Keynote presentation, website or print design.

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Be sure to check out all the other freebies and premium content Vecteezy has to offer.