Monthly Archives: November 2014

App(s) of the Week – Civil Engineering Magazine AND the ASCE 2013 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure

We are continuing a series called App of the Week, wherein we recommend the best apps to support the academic experience. Please let us know what you think, and feel free to provide suggestions for apps we should review.

ASCE logo

When you attend college at West Point, a place known far and wide as an “Engineering School,” you’ll certainly be taking at least a few classes in the discipline of Civil Engineering (CE). Even the most basic CE courses, meant for non-CE majors, will have content that covers building construction, utilities, bridge design, transportation systems, and other large-scale projects – and wouldn’t it be nice to have some apps that could get you up to speed on these topics? Well – we’ve got some to suggest today!

CE Mag App

First, the Civil Engineering Magazine App, which does exactly what its title promises: delivers the latest issue of Civil Engineering Magazine to your device. The paper copy of the magazine, ASCE’s flagship publication, is free to members of ASCE, and available through a paid subscription to non-members – but ANYONE can create a free ASCE account and read the latest issue free via this app. Simply download the app from iTunes or Google Play, and when prompted to sign in, either create an account, or sign in with your existing membership # if you are already an ASCE member. Once you are in, the latest issue will download, and voila! The entire issue, with articles, reviews, ads and member information is at your fingertips. Read all about the latest happenings in the CE world, from projects like bridges, dams, and highways, to news about well-known firms and engineers, to insight on how Federal and State government policies affect design, construction, and the profession of Civil Engineering.

ASCE Report Card 1

Next, the ASCE 2013 Report Card on America’s Infrastructure.  The American Society of Civil Engineers prepares this report card periodically, and for the first time, it’s available as an interactive app for your smartphone or tablet. As a Civil Engineering student (or instructor!), it’s important to know about the current state of our country’s infrastructure, and this app will get you up to speed on just what grade the ASCE gives to our various infrastructure systems (highways, dams, drinking water, solid waste, etc.). The app provides the full content of the 2013 Report, enhanced for viewing on your device – with videos that explain the extent of our infrastructure systems and their importance to our lives, and outline where they are either succeeding or falling into disrepair, while providing links to data that further explains the conclusions of the report. With participation from government officials and noted engineers and planners, the introductory video gives a concise overview of the current condition of America’s infrastructure, and where and why much improvement is necessary. Those statements are backed up with the evidence in the report’s text and data, presented with clear and informative graphics, and with features that provide news feed updates so that the very latest information is available to the reader.

ASCE Report Card 2

Best features of the 2013 Report Card on America’s Infrastructure:

  • Excellent graphics, with plenty of videos and data (charts, statistics, financial information) to break up what could otherwise be a dry text-heavy report. Lots of interaction.
  • Specific information on infrastructure in each state (when available), which makes the report’s information easily relatable.
  • News feeds will provide real-time updated information on the issues and projects addressed in the report.
  • Pages can be bookmarked for easy referral, and shared via social media.

 Downsides:

  • Perhaps the greatest one is learning that America’s infrastructure, according to ASCE, is not in great shape – however: that means there’s plenty of work for engineers, both in and out of the Army, so maybe that’s the silver lining.
  • Information-heavy; although you can choose to read it a section at a time, there’s a LOT in this report, and it will take a while to get through completely.

Bottom Line:

While the CE Engineering magazine app and the 2013 Report Card are designed to deliver slightly different information, together these two apps provide a great way to stay current on the developments and state of affairs of both the engineering profession and the infrastructure we rely on as we go about our daily lives.

Further Reading:

Press release from ASCE for the 2013 Infrastructure report

The views expressed in this post are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Army, Department of Defense, or the U.S. Government. No endorsement or recommendation of any specific products or services is intended or implied.

Contents contributed by Laura Mosher, Reference and Liaison Librarian

Discover a Database – LexisNexis

 

LexisNexisLogo

LexisNexis Academic is a database that faculty and students will want to examine for searching legal cases, whether federal or state. In addition, business news and up-to-date hot topics are readily searchable in full text.

COVERAGE:

  • Legal
    • Extensive legal sources for federal and state cases and statutes, including U.S. Supreme Court decisions since 1790
    • Federal court decisions, laws and regulations
    • State court decisions and state codes, including constitutions, court rules and attorneys general opinions
    • Verify authority with Shepard’s® Citations Service
  • News
    • Broadcast transcripts from network and major cable news sources
    • Newswire services to keep you current, since they are updated during the day
    • Blogs and videos
  • Business
    • Business information on over 80 million U.S. and international companies

SEARCHING: LexisNexisAcademic has a customized search box for beginners, and advanced search ability for more experienced searchers. Search options:

  • For beginners or for quick searches, see the large red “Academic Search” box which searches content across the combined collection of resources.

LexisNexis2

  • Advanced searchers can limit their searches by clicking on Advanced Options to limit by date, source and content type.

LexisNexis3

MOST HELPFUL FEATURES

  • Hot Topic Links are updated as news happens; a great place to start your research
  • Source Directory allows you to use Find to search by keyword or Browse to limit your search by publication type
  • Check out the widgets LexisNexis has already created, which make it super easy to search. For example, in the NEWS widget you can limit your search by publication, wire service or even blogs. The BUSINESS widget lets you get at company information by name or ticker symbol. Search legal cases easily by citation, using the LEGAL widget—or, if you should happen to know the parties involved, such as Miranda v. Arizona, you could easily get these results:

LexisNexis4
REFERENCES

  • Click on Create Permanent Link to the right of the center of your screen

LexisNexis5

to obtain a permanent link for your document, so that you can return to it at a later time and provide an accurate reference for an assignment .

Please contact us if you have need assistance using this resource.

Contents contributed by Manja Yirka, Continuing Resources Librarian

App of the Week – Flipboard

We are continuing a series called App of the Week, wherein we recommend the best apps to support the academic experience. Please let us know what you think, and feel free to provide suggestions for apps we should review.

For those of flipboardus who get our news online, we tend to either go directly to our designated news sources one at a time, or absorb several headlines while scrolling through social media feeds. Flipboard wants to be the app you didn’t know you needed–your one-stop, personalized source for news and more.

 

flipintro

flipsports

Flipboard is an aesthetically pleasing magazine-style news-aggregator that can also include stories/photos gleaned from your social media feeds (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr, to name a few). The app has been around for a few years now, but it continues to gain users at an incredible clip (250,000 a day), while continually adding to and improving its features.

flipfollow

 Most helpful features:

  • You can choose from over 34,000(!) “topics” that are already curated for you, such as sports or science.
  • Add your favorite blogs, or any other kind of feed, and “flip” it to a particular board or new “magazine.”
  • You can share articles through email, text, and other social media outlets right in Flipboard.
  • A new element, called Daily Edition, is a curated summary of big headlines that arrives at 7 am local time, and updates automatically throughout the day.
  • You are able to export a story to your “read it later” app of choice, such as Pocket, Evernote, etc.
  • You can mute sources you never want to see news from.
  • There are lots of nice customizing features, such as the ability to choose which browser a news story opens in.
  • There is a social component, where you can follow fellow Flipboard users, comment and like stories, “reflip” their stories, and more.
  • You can get push notifications (or turn them off) for almost every interaction – likes, comments, “reflips,” breaking news, etc.

 Downsides:

  • You can’t simply use it as a visual RSS reader, where you only add the feeds you’re interested in–it’s much more than that, but you can follow individual news sources you don’t want to miss.
  • You can’t read articles offline within the app, but as mentioned earlier, you can export them to your favorite “read it later” app.

Bottom line:

Flipboard has over one million users who curate and aggregate their news sources in the form of virtual magazines, which are easy to flip through, read, save, and share. If you curate your personal news feed through Flipboard, let us know what you think!

Further Reading:

Flipboard (for iPad) Review

Flipboard 3.0 lands as personalised, smartphone-centric update

Flipboard debuts a big redesign and The Daily Edition, a morning news section

The views expressed in this post are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Army, Department of Defense, or the U.S. Government. No endorsement or recommendation of any specific products or services is intended or implied.

Contents contributed by Lauren Dodd Hall, Circulation Librarian

 

Flirtation Walk

The lower pathway from Kosciusko’s Garden leads the visitor on a delightful walk to Gee’s Point. (image courtesy of USMA Library’s Special Collection and Archives Department)

The lower pathway from Kosciusko’s Garden leads the visitor on a delightful walk to Gee’s Point. (image courtesy of USMA Library’s Special Collection and Archives Department)

Order No. 32 of the Academic Regulations, dated May 6, 1843, extended the prescribed geographic limits for cadets “to include the new walk commencing near the flag staff, thence descending in the rear of the chain battery, by Gee’s Point thru Kosciusko’s Garden and joining the road to the Hospital opposite the south end of the Academy Building.  The Superintendent hopes he may not have occasion to withdraw this indulgence in consequence of any improprieties – and that all will exert themselves to secure this recreation to the Corps by effectually arresting any attempt to evade the regulation of the Academy.”

In the 1840’s this pathway was referred to as the ”hanging walk” to Kosciusko’s Garden, a pleasant place for strolling and dreaming and chatting about furlough plans. Perhaps a more appropriate name was “Chain Battery Walk,” for it led down to the site of the old battery guarding the chain which stretched across the Hudson River during the Revolutionary War. To cadets, whose exclusive preserve it was, the area became known as Flirtation Walk, a place of relative privacy on a crowded post.

In 1934 a commercial film entitled Flirtation Walk was released. It starred Dick Powell as a soldier in love with a general’s daughter, played by Ruby Keeler.  You can check out a copy of this film from the Library’s media collection and read more about this film and others regarding West Point here.

Contents contributed by Alicia Mauldin Ware, Archives Curator.

App of the Week – Unstuck

We are continuing a series called App of the Week, wherein we recommend the best apps to support the academic experience. Please let us know what you think, and feel free to provide suggestions for apps we should review.

Have you ever unstuckprocrastinated on a project or goal so long that you don’t even know where to start? Do you feel frozen, unmotivated, or uninspired? Are you simply tired or lazy, or is it something more? This week’s app, Unstuck, vows to help you “live better every day,” by allowing you to analyze the obstacles in your path to productivity, growth, and change. Unstuck uses a question and answer system to diagnose your “stuck moments,” then offers specific guidance and action you can take to move forward with your life. Stuck moments can be anything–they can be completely mundane, such as procrastinating on a homework assignment, or they can be part of larger goals or milestones, like pursuing a leadership position or buying a house.

pick3

 

stuckmoment

 

toolsMost helpful features:

  • Aesthetically pleasing and easy to use – simply choose “New Stuck,” and answer the questions by tapping, dragging, or typing. The format makes it pretty fun to use!
  • In addition to the main stuck moment question-and-answer, the app provides 11 free tools and 50+ tips to get you started on a course of action
  • Allows you to factor in other people into your stuck moment, and uses a further line of inquiry to help describe those relationships
  • If you want to share your stuck moment publicly, you can upload photos and voice recordings
  • You can share your stuck moment diagnosis by posting it to Facebook, Twitter, or sending it through email, all within the app

Downsides:

  • After your first stuck moment guidance, the app continually compels you to register, which is a little annoying–but registering allow you to save up to 10 stuck moments and revisit them anytime.
  • Will definitely take several minutes to get through, especially if you’re honest and add in each layer carefully

Bottom Line:

This is one of those hands-on apps you simply must download and try out for yourself – I know I haven’t even seen half of what the app has to offer in terms of advice and resources. Using Unstuck will require a little bit of time, but if you’re procrastinating anyway, why not try it out and see if it makes a difference? As always, if you check it out, we’d love to know what you think.

Further Reading:

Unstuck: The iPad Productivity App of the Year

Unstuck: Find Your Motivation and Be Inspired

App Review: Unstuck for iPad

The views expressed in this post are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Army, Department of Defense, or the U.S. Government. No endorsement or recommendation of any specific products or services is intended or implied.

Contents contributed by Lauren Dodd Hall, Circulation Librarian