Monthly Archives: January 2015

App of the Week – Evernote Scannable

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.

evernotescannableIf you rely on Evernote and Evernote Peek for your notetaking, information organization, or digital flashcard needs, you’ll want to check out the newest companion app: Evernote Scannable.

While there are dozens of free scanning apps on the market, Evernote Scannable already has rave reviews, integrates seamlessly with an app people already utilize, and is faster and more sophisticated than the scanning feature built in to the original Evernote app.

Most Helpful Features:

  • Incredibly user friendly, and no set-up involved. Immediately upon opening the app, the camera loads. Point your device’s camera at any piece of paper, and Evernote Scannable digitizes it instantly.
  • The app highlights easy scanning of receipts and business cards (small objects that are easy to lose, but contain important information), but it also excels at scanning handwritten notes–and anything else you need to upload.
  • Lightning fast. PC Mag claims that Evernote Scannable is “faster than a pronghorn racing a cheetah.”
  • Handles lengthy or wrinkled papers with ease, and digitizes them masterfully.
  • After scanning, you can crop, rotate, or delete your image.
  • You can immediately export your scans to Evernote (and comes with an opt-in feature to automatically save every scan to your Evernote account), email, iMessage, camera roll, iCloud, Flickr, and more.
  • After scanning someone’s business card, the app will immediately find their LinkedIn page (if they have one). You can also add your LinkedIn account to the app to immediately connect with business card contacts.
  • Since it’s a completely independent app, you don’t have to connect the app to an Evernote account to use it–but if you frequently use Evernote, it’s a good idea to do so.

EvernoteScannable

Downsides:

  • This is not a full OCR app – meaning, it won’t read and understand the text scanned, so you won’t be able to keyword search through your scanned PDFs. However, it does “read” business cards, hence the “find contact in LinkedIn” feature.
  • You can’t adjust the camera focus, but the app does an excellent job of capturing the document at many angles/lengths.
  • The app does not store your scans long-term to “reduce clutter,” so you’ll want to make sure to export the scan to Evernote or another preferred method of storage.

Further Reading:

Evernote Scannable (Review)

Best iPad Apps: Evernote Scannable

Use Evernote’s Scannable App to Go Paperless in a Snap

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 D. Hall, Circulation Librarian

 

Staff Profile: Travis Schaben

TravTravisSchaben2is Schaben recently joined the library staff as Associate Director for Library Systems. He arrived here from Ramstein Air Base in Germany, where he was librarian for both the Vogelweh and Ramstein Base libraries for the last four years.

I recognized his last name as being of German origin, and couldn’t help but ask what Schaben means in German. He explained that it is an unusual last name, which the Germans usually pronounced “schäben” (with the umlaut), which means wood shavings, or shives. (A shive, I have learned, is a wooden fitting used to plug an ale cask, or in New Orleans slang it means “cool.”) Schaben (without the umlaut) is a slang term for cockroach. In leaving all but the last slang term out of the discussion, we’ll just say Travis is “cool.”

Travis grew up in the small town of Holbrook, Nebraska (pop. 300), where he was one of only three children who attended school together from kindergarten to 8th grade. As a result, he says it was really hard to get away with anything. He enlisted in the Air Force directly from high school, serving at Ramstein AFB.

After returning to the states, Travis completed his BA in literature from Webster University in St. Louis, MO. His introduction to library work was at University of Florida (Gainesville), where he was assigned to Acquisitions and Licensing, but took on IT work as a side job because of his interest in it and the fact that the library contained a branch of the University IT Department. From there it was a logical segue to library school, and he attended Florida State University (Tallahassee) for his MLIS.

Upon his “re-arrival” in Germany in 2010, his first experience working as a DOD civilian brought several challenges. Unexpectedly, within his first few months, he was told he would be singlehandedly responsible for not just the opening of a new library, but also the closing of an existing library and the move of another library collection from a temporary location.

Though Travis has not before held the title of “systems” librarian, he is a self-proclaimed techie and has gravitated to the IT role in each of his past positions. He has a passion for researching, learning and evaluating new technologies and exploring different ways technology can be used in libraries.

In his spare time, Travis likes hiking, biking, climbing and skiing­­—pretty much any outdoor activity. In addition, he reads Russian classic literature and techie stuff.

He and his partner, Alison, live in Cold Spring with their two rabbits, Turnip and Belle, who travelled here with them from Germany. I asked Travis , “Why rabbits?” He explained that about 15 years ago he and Ali adopted a rabbit that needed a home. That rabbit lived for about 12 years and moved to Germany with them. When it passed away, they rescued Turnip, a rabbit who had been in the shelter for five years because everyone found unfriendly. Later, Belle joined the family, also as a rescue. Although the locals loved these furry creatures, most Germans would think of them as a meal, rather than the family they are to Travis. The real question, then is, “Why NOT rabbits?”

We’re grateful to have Travis joining our staff, where he will likely meet many more challenging situations (and tackle them head-on) and update us on the joys and antics of these small mammals in the family Leporidae.

[It is with sadness that we report, with condolences, that Belle has passed on since the time of this writing.]

Contents contributed by Manja Yirka, Continuing Resources Librarian

App of the Week – RefME

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.

This wlogoeek’s app, RefME, is a reference citation generator, which sounds incredibly boring–but trust me, it’s a game changer. As those of us who conduct research know, constructing bibliographies and reference lists for papers/articles in the desired citation style is a time-consuming affair. However, there dozens of citation programs out there, and a growing number of free/freemium websites out on the web. What makes RefME stand out among the other citation tools? In a nutshell–scanning technology and automation. RefME simplifies research organization in a way some reviews are calling “revolutionary.”

RefMEbarcodescannerMost Helpful Features:

  • Free! Software like RefWorks and EndNote are great assets to research, but they usually require expensive institutional subscriptions. However, if you happen to have a subscription to one of those already, you can actually export your citations from RefME.
  • Barcode scanner! Scan the barcode on the back of any book, print journal, or other resource, and your resource will magically appear on your bibliography page.
  • Easily find any citation by typing a few keywords. You can search by book/journal article title, DOI, ISBN, or ISSN. You can also copy and paste any website URL to create a reference in seconds.
  • Contains 6,500+ referencing styles (did you know that many citation styles even existed?).
  • Switch between styles with one click. So if you discover that you’ve completed your reference list in APA instead of MLA, your entire list will update automatically with no extra effort on your part.
  • If you do have to enter your citation manually, RefME supports dozens of types of sources–anywhere from “song” to “interview” to “scientific dataset.”
  • When you create an account, your list is synced and saved with refme.com and stored in the cloud, so you can access it from anywhere.
  • You can export your references from your app to email, Microsoft Word, Evernote, Mendeley and more.
  • The interface is incredibly easy to use.
  • According to RefMe, PDF, OCR and other features are coming soon.

RefMeBibliographyDownsides:

  • None that I’ve found so far. If you need help finding work to scan into RefME, USMA librarians are always ready to assist you with your research!

Bottom Line:

RefME is the citation management app we’ve been waiting for–correctly citing sources is only going to get easier from here on out. Remember, of course, to ALWAYS double check your work with an official citation manual. This is a great tool, but don’t leave your grade/professional work up to any one app. If you try RefME for your next project, let us know what you think!

Further Reading:

RefME is probably the best free app for university students out there

New app means students can create essay footnotes and references in seconds

RefMe app review: bibliographic entries made simple

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 D. Hall, Circulation Librarian

App of the Week – Khan Academy

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.

Khan logoAcademy, founded by Salman Khan in 2008, is a free educational site containing over 5,000 micro-lectures/tutorials on subjects ranging from line integrals and Green’s theorem to Symbolism and Art Nouveau. These aren’t lectures in the traditional sense, though–most tutorials simply contain an electronic blackboard with notes and illustrations that appear as Khan talks. The beauty of Khan Academy is the concept of “self-paced” learning, which differentiates it from the traditional one-size-fits-all lecture model. Students can pause, rewind, fast forward, and review lectures as needed. They can also take quizzes and do exercises to test their knowledge, check their progress in a subject, earn badges for leveling up in a subject, and more. If an instructor is using Khan Academy to teach their material, they can access their students’ progress, too, and determine exactly which concepts their students are struggling with.

KhanProfile

Chances are you’ve already heard of Khan Academy, and perhaps you’ve used it to clarify fundamental concepts in physics or figure out a difficult calculus problem. Now that the semester is back in full swing, you may need a refresher in certain subjects–so here’s how you can integrate the app into your studies.

KhanLessonMost Helpful Features:

  • Access to all 5,000+ video tutorials on the regular website.
  • You can download videos to watch offline; perfect for traveling or studying on the go.
  • Most videos contain subtitles with an interactive transcript — so you can easily rewind or jump ahead in each lesson.
  • You can access your profile and progress in the app, so log in to receive credit and “energy points” for the videos you watch.
  • Pro tip: You can watch videos on the iPad while taking notes on your laptop, or vice versa.

Downsides:

  • Exercises are not built into the app itself, but they can be launched from the app into Safari. If you’re online, it’s a fairly seamless transition, but If you’re offline or want to use another internet browser, it’s not ideal.
  • You won’t get credit (assuming you’re logged in and tracking progress) for videos you watch offline.
  • The app can be buggy at times – for some reason, I haven’t been able to get subtitles to load on my app at all. The videos have always worked for me thus far.

Bottom Line: Khan Academy is an educational gem, and the app is, essentially, a portable mirror image of all the website has to offer. As always, if you use this resource, feel free to let us know what you think!

Further Reading:

Khan Academy – PC World Review

Khan Academy – Edsurge Overview

How Khan Academy is Changing the Rules of Education

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

Workaround Information for Database Connectivity Issues

Unable to connect to Library databases and journals with links beginning with 0-*** ?

There’s a workaround to be used while we complete networking changes required by our server migration.

For example, instead of:

http://0-www.ancestrylibrary.com.usmalibrary.usma.edu/

use:

http://www.ancestrylibrary.com/

This is not available for off-post users (unless using West Point VPN).

We regret this inconvenience and hope to correct it soon.