While I considered myself fairly adept at online searching in general and using Google in particular, there were things lurking behind the Advanced Search options that made me balk. Date ranges and searching within websites, but filetype? Those colour options in the Image Search? Some features had been added since I’d focused on mastering online searching skills (aka grad school), and while I was picking up tips and tools through Google-a-Day, I discovered that far too often, I found the answer and then moved on, without looking at the tricks recommended by Google.
So when I saw announcements last year for a free online course titled “Power Searching with Google“, it sounded like a great opportunity. Taught by Senior Research Scientist Daniel M. Russell, the course uses online videos, exercises, and assignments to help users learn more about how to effectively and efficiently search and retrieve valuable results using Google. There were Google+ hangouts, and Google+ was used as a forum on which participants could share strategies, experiences, and insight.
I remember when I used to look forward to summer — warmer weather, longer days, no homework, family vacations and time with friends. Even when I started working during the summer breaks, there seemed to still remain ample time to read and relax after work was done in those long months between school terms. Even when I had summer school, it would last only a fraction of the whole holiday period, leaving weeks to relax and recharge.
Now, I look forward to summer for some of the same reasons — the warmer weather and longer days — and some new ones — travel takes a bit less time without the traffic of parents driving children to school and fewer colleagues in the office means a slightly lighter load of internal requests.
Although I miss the family vacations, the biggest loss in the transition from school to work was the chance to decompress and relax that those summer months offered. That time was fairly sacred and it was unlikely it would be scheduled over or co-opted by classes or meetings; one would dread catching a summer cold that seemed to suck up those valuable days of summer holidays, but never thought about a time in the future when unexpected work events or deadlines would force retraction of vacation days and a premature return to work.
As I cannot take off the several months I dream of to rest and relax during the summer, I’ve been trying to take advantage of the “Five Ways to Recharge During the Summer” recommended by Jamie Corcoran in her June post at Gradhacker. Read the rest of this entry »
“Nothing has really happened until it has been recorded” – Virginia Woolf
This semester, I have been part of a set of Faculty Development Workshops on Global Citizenship. They have been interesting extracurricular activities allowing me to think about how we can globalize our syllabi and teach that next generation of global leaders. At the same time, they have been interesting escapes during the day that have demanded reading of interesting articles and critical thinking/discussion of our world around us. That being said, today was a busy day, and one where I could not attend my much-enjoyed seminar. I am also a note-taker for those meetings, so the need to get an accurate read on the meeting was not only critical for my own enrichment, but for the ability to post a quality summary for the other participants. This got me thinking about my trusty Sony voice recorder and, regardless of brand or toy, the ease and benefit of using voice recordings for a variety of educational and research purposes. It may sound obvious, but with the number of tools and software available today to facilitate this task, I thought it would be of benefit to write up a post that gave an overview of the many options that are available today.
“A scholar who cherishes the love of comfort is not fit to be deemed a scholar.” – Lao Tzu
Graduate school is a large life decision that can both enrich your life and frustrate you. Like our friend Lao Tzu alludes, it’s not the pursuit of comfort that you exercise by entering graduate school, but the pursuit of knowledge. As I put the close on this semester and look back, I think about how many challenges and triumphs we had this Fall. For one, my husband recently completed his first semester of graduate studies. Now, I have been a student or worked in an academic environment for the last 11 years, so I took for granted the struggle of a professional coming back to school for the first time in a decade. In this blog post, I want to give a little “Grad School for Beginners” for those who might be needing a little refresher in the basics. Some of you may be seasoned veterans who are teaching a class for the first time,. I hope this post serves as a good starting point for your students. For others, you may be dipping your toe in the grad school waters, taking a class this Spring semester. As we get ready to get back in to the swing of things, here are some of the best lessons and resources that I’ve learned to help get you through it.
Hock (2004) asserts that “there is no right or wrong way to search the Internet. If you find what you need and find it quickly, your search strategy is good.” This statement is true but makes one major assumption: that you have a search strategy already. Easily as important as the tools you use to perform your online and print searches is the method used for organizing and performing these searches. Search strategies can reduce the time spent searching by helping identify the most appropriate resources to search and the most efficient methods to use.
What is Your Question?
According to a survey by About.com, individuals perform searches for one of three reasons: to find an answer to a precise question, without unnecessary additional information and as quickly as possible; to become educated and learn as much as possible about a single topic, so as to gain multiple perspectives and insight to all sides of the matter; and to browse for ideas and become inspired.
Members of the first group of searchers are kin to those who arrive at a traditional library reference desk with directional questions (“Where is the bathroom?” or “Where is the nearest post office?”, for instance) or ready-reference questions (such as “What is the population of Iceland?” or “How tall is the world’s tallest building?”). These searchers know exactly what they want and need and sometimes even know already where to go for their information — Google and Wikipedia, for example, are popular starting places for such queries.
However, finding answers to satisfy the second and third categories of users requires a different approach — a search strategy. Search strategies will forever in my mind be tied to Marchionini and his publication Information Seeking in Electronic Environments (1997), particularly chapter 5, required reading for students in courses on online searching and reference services; the names of the different approaches were so easy to visualize as to be almost unforgettable — “building blocks”, “successive fractions”, “pearl-growing”, and “interactive scanning”. Read the rest of this entry »
Research has demonstrated that short breaks can increase overall productivity. Next time you take a break, instead of playing Angry Birds, try Sporcle. Sometimes, playing ten rounds of Angry Birds feels relaxing, but at other times, it can seem too mindless and not fulfilling. Using Sporcle, one could instead spend five minutes matching countries and flags, identifying elements of the periodic table from their symbols, and determining which lines of dialogue come from Space Balls and which come from Star Wars, which can feel like time well (or better) spent.
Sporcle has the appropriate tagline “Mentally Stimulating Diversions”, which seems very appropriate. Use of Sporcle will not bring you any closer to finishing that paper or blog post you’re supposed to be writing or knocking items off your lengthy to-do list. However, when combined with self-control, it can provide a few much-needed minutes of entertainment that won’t leave you feeling as though you’ve killed brain cells unnecessarily. You didn’t waste time, you tested your general or subject-specific knowledge and improved the likelihood that you, too, will have what it takes to more successfully compete in pub quizzes.
Rick El-Darwish is the blogger behind FAIL Tale. A computer scientist, systems and networks administrator, and computer forensics and security specialist, Rick is also the Chief Technical Officer of St. Noble, a company that handles the IT and computer security needs of non-governmental organizations.
In early August, Rick went to Las Vegas to attend Defcon, a large annual hacker convention that has been running since 1993. Rick has attended since 2008, joining a group of several thousand computer security professionals, employees of various government agencies, hackers, crackers, and security researchers. The convention takes place over several days and includes presentations, workshops, competitions and games, and social events. Following the conference, we interviewed Rick about his experience and his advice for getting the most out of attending a conference.
KRED: Do you have a strategy when you go to a conference like Defcon and is this strategy different than one you’d use at a smaller conference?
Rick: I think my approach is pretty much the same for any conference, large or small: it truly is what you make of it.
As a little kid, the end of the summer was marked by shopping trips for new shoes, replacement school uniforms, and new pencil crayons. Labor Day weekend meant one last flurry of summer fun and my mother trying (in vain) to get us kids to bed earlier. And even though I protested vociferously to the contrary, I was secretly relieved to be going back to school and to see my school friends after a long summer spent in the company of my brothers and sisters and the neighborhood kids. As an adult, the end of the summer still means new shoes, perhaps a new fall outfit or two, and definitely some Labor Day fun. However, as a doc candidate, fall also signals that most perennial of student experiences – moving.
Although I often joke that I wish Scotty could beam my stuff over in the transporter room, I actually enjoy moving. Yes, there’re things about moving all of your possessions from one place to another that range from irritating to infuriating – making yet another trip to the liquor store for boxes, cleaning out the oven, and movers that turn out to be not so professional after all. However, there’s also the novelty of a new place, the chance to gift, donate, recycle, or just plain get rid of stuff you don’t need or want, and the small, unexpected pleasure of finding things you’d thought were gone forever.