Keeping up with Technology

I want to share a few of my favorite people and places on the internet. If you are looking for a way to keep up with technology news and reviews, these are great places to start.

Each heading links to a Twitter account.

Brian Renshaw

for tech and productivity

Brian is a good friend, and he is at the top of this list because he introduced me to everyone listed here except for MKBHD and Ben Mayo. Follow him on Twitter and check out his blog. (By the way, he says Jason Snell should be on this list.)

The Brooks Review

Apple & “the best” of everything

This might be my favorite site on the internet. Ben Brooks writes clear, incisive reviews, often laced with the perfectly placed, hilarious expletive. I read everything he writes — definitely a writing role model. He writes a weekly iPad Productivity Report, which is a highlight of every Monday. Several features of the site are only for members, including the Productivity Report. Membership is $4/month and absolutely worth it.

Federico Viticci

for all things iOS

Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Mac Stories and dubbed iPad Sensei by the peeps at Mac Power Users. He is also a cohost of the new podcast AppStories, which is super sweet. I first discovered Federico when Brian Renshaw sent me a link to this legendary iOS 10 review.

MKBHD

YouTube Channel for tech products more broadly

Marques Brownlee reviews Apple and Android phones and tablets, headphones, cameras, drones, and all the rest. His reviews are to the point, balanced, and really well produced. His YouTube channel is one of only two that I regularly watch (the other is Casey Neistat’s).

Mac Power Users

Podcast for all things Apple

I listened to several tech podcasts during a recent 13 hour drive and was made keenly aware of just how good these guys are. There are a lot of tech podcasts out there, but most of them are horrid. David and Katie are just a pleasure to listen to. They have been doing this show since 2009(!) and are such pros. Their dynamic is as relaxing and delightful as the content is informative. The shows are super long but definitely worth the time investment.

Daring Fireball

First came across John Gruber via his markdown syntax page. His tweets are great, and his blog is sage.

Benjamin Mayo

I’ve just started following Ben Mayo. He writes for 9to5Mac, and I find his tweets interesting.

iOS 11 Wishlist

Here’s the best podcast I’ve heard on this topic.

My top three wishes:

  • Dark mode
  • A better way to find the app you want in split view
  • Markdown support for Apple Notes

If we get all three, I’m doing an end zone dance on Monday. The last one is the least likely, dark mode seems 50/50, but if selecting apps in split view isn’t greatly improved, the internet will spontaneously combust.

Several more:

  • Split view from either side of the screen, not just from the right
  • A unified, customizable control panel
  • 3D Touch on the iPad Pros
  • Improved UI for iMessage apps
  • Improved UI for Apple Music
  • Federico made drag and drop look pretty cool.
  • Apple Pencil support for the iPhone.
  • A more intelligent Siri — for example, she is a little slow and tells me the same joke a couple times a week. I’ll be getting ready for work and wonder what time it is. “Hey, Siri.” … wait for the ding … “What time is it.” She’ll say, “6:30am, time to go back to sleep” almost every day.
  • An enhanced Spotlight search so that one can use it to type to Siri — you can do this to an extent now, but I’d like it enhanced and promoted as the way to text Siri.
  • Improved iBooks app (I’m dreaming here, I know)
  • Significantly enhanced Mail app
  • Make Reminders an actual task manager.
  • Rename the Shared Links feature in Safari and make it a full blown RSS feed reader.

Zoom & GoodNotes for Online Teaching

This is a season of lasts. The last Greek 3 class has come and gone, today is the last day of exams, this afternoon will be my last private Greek lesson with two particularly amazing students, and yesterday was the last online lesson with a student I have been teaching Classical Greek.

Two apps have helped make this a successful year of online teaching — GoodNotes and Zoom. Zoom is simply the best online classroom environment I can imagine, and GoodNotes is my favorite digital writing platform.

Zoom

Neither you nor the student nor the student’s family have to be tech savvy. It is as simple as sharing a link and following the instructions. If you meet with a student at a set time every week, Zoom allows you to schedule individual online meeting rooms. If, however, you meet at different times every week, you can just use the personal room you are given when you sign up.

My favorite feature of Zoom is how easily I can use it with my iPad Pro as a digital whiteboard. I normally run the meeting through the Zoom app on my MacBook. When I need a whiteboard, I click a share screen button, choose share iPad screen, and then connect my iPad to the MacBook via AirPlay. It has worked seamlessly throughout the entire school year.

At times I have been without my laptop, and I simply ran my meetings via the Zoom iPad app. This worked smoothly, as well.

GoodNotes

GoodNotes is the digital hub that connects me, the student, and any writing or assessments that are transferred between us. For whiteboard purposes I created a notebook called Greek Scribbles. This is where all our in-class, random notes go. I also have a notebook to keep up with assessments. The assessment workflow goes like this:

  • Quizzes and tests are sent to me as PDFs.
  • I drop them into our GoodNotes assessment notebook.
  • I grade the assessments with an Apple Pencil in GoodNotes.
  • GoodNotes automatically backs up the notebooks as PDFs to Google Drive (or Dropbox or others).
  • I share the assessments notebook PDF via a Google Drive link.

Now the student and the student’s family always have digital access to all of their assessments as soon as I finish grading them.

This is the method I have used all year for three weekly online lessons, and I recommend these apps without hesitation. More on GoodNotes later, but for now, back to wrapping up what is left of this year’s lasts.

RSS in Safari

My feed reader died back in 2013 like everyone else’s. After Google Reader, I tried Feedly and a couple other services but never really settled in. Twitter eventually filled the void, but the problem is that it never stopped pouring. The demise of Google Reader left me drowning in social media.

I killed Facebook as a New Year’s resolution in 2016 — the only one I’ve ever successfully kept — and now I’m trying to take a step back from Twitter by using Safari’s Shared Links feature. I think I would have discovered this feature earlier if it weren’t so poorly named. I have no idea what “shared links” is supposed to mean in light of what the feature does. I’m trying to keep up with pages or posts, not links, and neither I nor the authors have shared them.

The name aside, using Shared Links is simple. Just navigate to a favorite site, click the share button, and select Add Website to Shared Links.

Do the same thing with as many sites as you would like to keep up with, and then click View, Show Shared Links Sidebar (command + shift + 3) to see a list of the most recent posts from these sites.

To view your feed on an iOS device, select the little book icon and the @ symbol.

Adding sites to Shared Links on an iOS device is a little different. Once you are on a site you want to follow, do this:

  • Click the book icon.
  • Click the @ symbol.
  • Click Subscriptions at the bottom of your list of posts.
  • Click Add Current Site.

I like reading posts as they appear on the actual websites to which they belong, and navigating to a post via your Shared Links feed allows you to do this.

One other cool feature: After you finish reading a post, there is an UP NEXT banner at the bottom of the screen that allows you to scroll down and go straight to the next post in your feed.

You can check out iMore for their intro to Shared Links.

Also, Brian Renshaw has other ways of keeping up with sites, but I prefer to just use Safari.

Last Day of the Summer Hebrew Reading Group

This was the last week of our Hebrew reading group. The purpose of the group was simply to encourage students to read Hebrew during their break. The goal was to come each week having read three chapters in Genesis, to bring a question or two, and to be ready to translate when called on.
On average 5-6 students came, and in my opinion this was a win. The smaller size of the group created an atmosphere where everyone felt comfortable asking questions and making comments. It would have been fun to have 20 come each week, but for the most part we met in July and we were reading Hebrew. If few seminarians actually learn to read and enjoy Greek, then a minuscule percentage do the same with Hebrew.

Each week I took screenshots of the text in Accordance’s iOS app, and I compiled a notebook of the images in GoodNotes. I cast the screen of my iPad to a TV on the wall using AirPlay. When a question arose, everyone was able to look up and see me annotate the images to illustrate the explanation I or another student offered. All this took place in GoodNotes.

image

image

I was able to sit at the tables with students and facilitate, but when the time came to teach, instructions could be given in a way that all could easily see. This method of facilitating, I think, was another factor that contributed to the comfortable atmosphere and the open discussion we were able to have, despite the wide variety of Hebrew reading experience in the room each week.

I hope the library continues to allow us to do these Greek and Hebrew reading groups each summer. It was my pleasure, and the students seemed to be encouraged, as well.