Investintech Facebook Giveaway Shuts Down

Today, due to changes in Facebook’s user policy, our Able2Doc Facebook giveaway has been shut down.

We’re sad to see it go, but we hope you all enjoyed it while it lasted. We appreciate all the comments and feedback you’ve given us in the past. It was great to see everyone participating and spreading the word about it.

As alternatives to the Facebook free giveaway, you can always download the Able2Doc 7-day free trial or use our free Facebook conversion apps for a quick PDF to Word conversion.

And since this was a double giveaway with Sonic up for grabs as well, you can download the Sonic PDF Creator 30-day free trial as an alternative to the freebie version.

Lastly, for those who entered in the Sonic portion of the giveaway and haven’t claimed their PIN yet, we’ll still honour those entries as your PINs are still ready and waiting for you.

To receive your free Sonic license, just follow us on Twitter and tweet out to us so we can track you down. We can then send you a Direct Message on Twitter with your Sonic PIN.

Though this giveaway is ending, we’re always looking to set other promotions up.  So keep checking in to our streams for updates on the latest giveaway.

Thank you to everyone for your support!

7 Google Drive Tips To Make Online Research Easier

When you need to learn about something, the Internet is the number one resource to scout out.  And given the amount of information you can find online, no matter what area, industry, or topic you’re researching,  a huge chunk of your time will be spent recording the research you find.

As you can imagine, combined with the web pages you have to go through, this can slow you dow big time. That’s why some users like to keep their workflow online with tools like Google Drive.  But if you’re using Google Drive to quickly record data, then your biggest challenge lies in working between your research and how you use Google Drive itself.

If you’re writing for an online publication, are drafting a research paper, or are reporting on industry trends, accessing the information you record is perhaps one of your main priorities. To make things easier, try a few of the Google Drive tips below to keep your research going smoothly.

1.  Perform A Google Drive Search from Chrome

Because you can need a document at any given time, it’s important to be able to pull up the right file in an instant. Google Drive Quick Search makes it easy to start a search through your Drive directly from the Chrome URL address bar. Type “drive” in the address bar, your keywords and query, then hit enter. You’ll be directed to your drive with the related results ready and waiting for you to sift through.

2. Save Your Text to Google Drive

Save Text to Google Drive does exactly what its name implies. This Chrome extension makes it super easy to export heavily dense text webpage research from the web directly to your Google Drive.

Save text to  Google Drive

Once installed, simply highlight the text you’re interested in, activate the extension by clicking on it in your toolbar or extension menu, and click on the Save button. The extension will create a document with the text in the Drive you’re logged into.

3. Quickly Access Folders and Create Google Docs From Your Toolbar

To access folders and separate files instantly, simply bookmark the URL of the file or document on your toolbar.  Open the file or folder in Google Drive and bookmark the URL you see in the address bar. Admittedly, this is a simple tip, but extremely handy if you like keeping things at your fingertips.

Creating Google Docs Instantly

Moreover, this trick also works with creating new documents. Because the functionality is web based, you can bookmark the command URL to your browser. Copy these links to your Chrome toolbar by right clicking on it and selecting Add page… or via the Bookmark Manager:

https://docs.google.com/document/create

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/create

https://docs.google.com/presentation/create

 4. Search Your Google Drive Directly From Gmail

Don’t waste time going back and forth between your Google Drive and Gmail.  You can do both at the same time by adding the Apps Search for Gmail extension. This is handy for when you’re either exchanging emails regarding your research project or are working with colleagues.

It will let you extend your search to Google Docs to fish out the files you’re looking for.  You can add the extension by going into Settings>Labs from your Gmail.  Then select to enable it for your account. Don’t forget to hit the “Save Changes” button at the bottom.

5. Edit PDF Text Uploaded To Google Drive

Because a lot of research comes in the PDF format, you may want to pay attention to the “Convert Text from Uploaded PDF and image files” setting. Have you been ignoring it? Well, it’s time to start paying attention to it. This setting allows you to convert PDF to text which you can then  edit within a Google Doc.

Convert text from PDF

Go to the gear icon Google Drive and access the drop down menu. Then go to Upload Settings. From there, put a check mark in the “Convert Text from Uploaded PDF and image files”  option by clicking on it.  Select the Document language. You can have this permanently turned on, but if you want to use it selectively, keep the “Confirm settings before each upload” option checked.

6.  Save Images Directly to Google Drive

Who doesn’t clip web pages when researching online? Good news is you can do it with Google Drive. Save to Google Drive can serve as a simple web clipping tool, allowing you to instantly save content from the web to a Google Drive folder. Once you have it installed,  go to the page you’re interested in and activate it by clicking on its button to the right of the address bar.  It will then save your content in .PNG format.

7. Access Google Drive And Other Google Services From Chrome

Here’s a great Chrome extension for pushing your research productivity to the limits. Black Menu for Google allows you to access files on your Drive and to your other Google services in a side bar right within Chrome.


Perfect for Google addicts with research spread across different services. You can get the Black Menu extension from the Chrome Web Store.

Got any Google Drive tips of your own? We’d love to hear them! Add them in the comments below and let us know how they helped you deal with your web research.

 

Happy Thanksgiving From Investintech.com!

It’s Thanksgiving weekend here in Canada and we wanted to wish all of our Canadian users and followers a safe and Happy Thanksgiving holiday this year!

A lot of you may be prepping and planning for the holiday as we speak.  A major holiday celebration like Thanksgiving is never complete without the festive dinner, family, and the all the fix-ins.   So if you’re scrounging around for some last minute ideas to make your get together extra special this year, we’ve scouted out a few Pinterest boards where you can get some fabulous ideas and tips for your Thanksgiving soiree.

Thanksgiving: Freebies:  Getting your party together with a few things you can put together for free is always a good way to go. You’ll find some nifty DIY projects for table settings, menu planning, and more.

Thanksgiving, Fall & Autumn Party Ideas: Give your Thanksgiving party a fun atmosphere. Here, you’ll find pins with a lot of tips that not only cover Thanksgiving, but Fall party themes as well.

 Thanksgiving Pinterest Boards

Thanksgiving (Craft and Food): For anyone who loves giving a personal touch to his or her dinner, this board offers up a carefully curated collection of  tutorials and links on handy crafts and food preparation to get things just right.

Thanksgiving (Recipes, tips, inspiration, décor): Check out this board for suggestions on getting everyone into the spirit of Thanksgiving.

Only four Pinterest boards may seem like a short list given the size of the network, but if you’ve ever browsed a single board, then you know that one board can leave you with a ton of ideas to explore and keep you busy!

To preserve your Thanksgiving memories, check out our post on 4 Digitally Creative Ways To Share Your Thanksgiving Memories for a few ideas. They’ll help you get your family photos and videos in top form for posting online and sharing with the entire family.

5 Great Ways To Convert Text To Speech

​Audio Headphones Unplugged

As the school year starts up, you’re probably just getting yourself oriented with your classes and gauging the size of the workload you’ll have to deal with.

It may be daunting after a long lazy summer, but anticipating the amount of reading you have ahead of you is a good idea. It’s never fun to all of a sudden find yourself lagging behind. You need to get ahead of the curve way before the heavy reading assignments even start. And we have a perfect tip for that: to help lighten the reading load use a convert text to speech tool.

Converting speech to text can come in handy in so many ways.  It can free you up to get away from the screen for a bit or help you learn a language.  Also, students with disabilities can use text to speech tools to easily access digital content. Text to speech tools are perfect if you need help with proofreading, catching up on your notes, or getting some eBook reading done.

So here’s a look at 5 different ways to listen to your reading assignments with these free easy to use text to speech tools.

Listen to MP3 Files of Your Text with SpokenText

For those who need to catch up on reading while commuting, running errands, working out or multi-tasking, SpokenText is a straightforward online text to audio converter. SpokenText allows you to convert any number of files such as PDF, DOC, PPT, TXT, HTML and Emails to an MP3 file. Once you have your MP3 files are created, you can then download and put them onto a mobile device. You’ll be able to take your readings with you.

Have Online Documents Read Out Loud To You

Have a document online that needs to be proofread? If the file is shared on the web with a file sharing or collaboration tool like Google Docs, then you can have the text read to you directly from within your browser. You can listen for grammatical errors while working with other things on your computer–all without missing a beat.

SpeakIt! is available for Chrome and allows you to read text displayed in the browser (see above). For FireFox, there’s Text to Voice which can also let you download your text in MP3 format.  And Opera users can try VozMe. Once any of these extensions are installed, just highlight the text you want read out to you and activate the plugin.

Convert Text From Multiple Sources With NaturalReaders

NaturalReaders is a popular text to speech tool whose online version comes with basic yet advanced features to get the job done. Click on Add Documents and you can start building and accessing your list of files from popular services like Dropbox, Google Docs, and more. Handy for students working on public computers or using Cloud services.

Get Social With Your Text On YAKiToMe!

People who are used to in browser music players will love the look and feel of YAKiToMe! It’s a free online text to speech service and network rolled into one where you can share your audio books and files with other YAKiToMe user groups. If you’re lucky, you may find a user with an audio version of a book you’re looking for.

Text to Speech Tool

YAKiToMe! lets you convert text from .doc, .pdf, .txt, .html, .xml, and email to speech. Choose a reader, a reading speed and an input method for uploading text: Field (copy-paste text directly), File, RSS, and Email. Then click on the Run Text To Speech button.

Convert PDF Text To Speech with PDF2Speech.com

PDF2Speech is exactly what its name suggests. It’s a free online PDF to speech converter. This is perfect for professional and academic uses where PDF reading is a common task. On-screen PDF reading can sometimes be a chore, but listening to one doesn’t have to be.

Convert PDF to Audio

To use this tool, simply upload your PDF files to the site and hit the Convert button. This free service allows you to convert up to 20 pages which will allow you to get a good chunk of your readings checked off your list.

There are many simple yet powerful text to speech freeware tools to suit any occasion or need. The good news is that it doesn’t require a lot of money or any bloated text to speech download.

7 Enlightening TED Talk Videos Every College Student Should Watch

Summer’s almost over and it’s time to get yourself into school-mode. But with the last few reserved for back- to-school shopping and last minute registration issues, you may be too swamped to think of anything else outside of school supplies and dorm room arrangements.

And we aren’t talking about the usual back-to-school preparations. We’re talking about your life as a student. Are you emotionally and mentally prepared? Can you juggle your schedule effectively, go beyond your comfort zone, adjust to different learning styles? How do you plan on staying inspired?

Because there’s no way you can buy the help and advice you’ll need at a sale, we put together a small round up of 7 timeless and highly relevant TED Talks you’ll definitely want to check out.

These will provide you with some enlightening and trustworthy guidance in your personal development as a student.

Explore Different Things And Try Something New 

College is the place to try new clubs and sports, but getting out there might have you avoiding the sign up lines. If you need a little push, look no further than this TED Talk by Google Engineer, Matt Cutts. He shares his experience on trying something new for 30 days including writing a novel, taking a picture each day, and even hiking up Mount Kilimanjaro! What will you try?

Be Prepared For The Future Job Market

As a student, you may be worrying about economic challenges waiting for you when you’re academic career is over. What will the job market have in store for you? Watch economist Andrew McAffee as he explores what future jobs will look like and offers insight on how to prepare for a highly technical job market.

Learn How To Beat Procrastination

Procrastination. It’s inevitable. The good news is that you can overcome it. Vik Nithy, co-founder of 3 companies at age 20, offers a highly motivating TEDxYouth Talk on mentally beating procrastination with a few actionable steps you can easily put into play.

Improve The Way You Communicate With Others

From speaking up in class to delivering a presentation, most of us dread talking out loud and attracting the spotlight. However, sound consultant, Julian Treasure, makes it less scary with his break down on how and by what means we use our voice to talk to each other. Watch and get some pointers on how to feel at ease before you speak.

How Will You Make Important Decisions?

In college, you’ll be faced with choices that will have an impact on your future, and whether you like it or not, the sole responsibility of those decisions will lie on you. So how do you know what the right decisions are? There’s no definite answer, but Dan Gilbert, Harvard psychologist and Happiness Expert, offers an insightful discussion on the reasons why and how we make the choices we do.

Get The 411 Behind Online Learning

Before you join up for an online class, you’ll want to hear what Peter Norvig, director of research at Google Inc., has to say. He shares his experience on approaching and implementing effective online teaching strategies that are aimed at engaging students and enhancing the way they’re being educated. This is a great talk you’ll want to keep in mind when you’re in an online class with a thousand other students.

Stay Passionate About What You Love To Do

Amidst assignments and the daily study grind, it’s easy to lose sight of your passions. Whether you’re at school for sports, music, science, or writing, you’re there because it’s what you want to do with your life.  When you forget that, listen to some words of inspiration from the author of Eat, Pray, Love, Elizabeth Gilbert. She discusses her successes and failures, giving viewers advice on how to continue doing what they love to do.

How To Turn Your Address Bar Into A Customized Search Engine

When searching the web on a daily basis, you naturally expect to waste more than a few minutes. You’ll spend time going to Google, finding the site, and then clicking on the site’s link to search the site itself.

Well, here’s a tip that can speed things up: customize and change your address bar search engine.

Doing so will allow you to skip Google and the homepages. Combine it with a keyword shortcut and you can start searching a website instantly from your address bar. This is perfect if you need to go through specific databases, reference sites or tutorial resources on a regular basis.

So were doing it the hard way all this time? If so, here’s a look at how to customize 4 of the most popular browsers and their search engines.

Adding A Search Engine In Firefox

1) In Firefox, click on the dropdown arrow in the search engine box.

Accessing Firefox Search Engine

2) Go to Manage Search Engines…

3) To add other search engines, click on the Get more search engines… link in the dialog and you’ll be directed to Mozilla’s search add-ons page. 

4) Select and install the search add-on provider of your choice.

5) Once installed, select a search provider and  click on Edit Keyword.

Editing Firefox SE Keyword

Customizing a search engine’s keyword will make searching through the address bar faster. So change the keyword to something quick and easy to remember, like using a “w” for Wikipedia, for instance.

5) Click on OK.

6) Repeat these steps for every search provider you want.

7) When you’re done, click on OK in the main dialogue.

Using a keyword shortcut to call up a search engine can be faster than using the standard toolbar search box. You won’t have to keep clicking to reset the specific search engine first:

Firefox Address Bar Search

Adding A Search Engine In Opera

In Opera, the process is basically the same, but you can also manually add websites. To add extra sites or search engines to your list with Opera:

1) Go to the Opera tab (upper left hand corner)> Settings> Manage Search Engines.

2) Click on Add new search.

Managing Opera Search Engines

3) Fill in the name and keywords of the site you’d like to use.

4) For the Address field, you can get the required URL by going to the site you’d like to add and performing a test search.  Use a search term you can easily identify.

Opera SE Test URL

5) Delete your search term—in this case “TEST,” and replace it with “%s” as specified to get:

www.investintech.com/resources/blog/?s=%s

6) Paste this in the URL field, set your keyword, and click on Save.  (You can decide if you’d like to search for pages using the POST method, but we skipped that step for this tutorial).

The result:

Opera Address Bar results

Adding A Search Engine In Chrome

In Google Chrome, you can change up your keywords and search engines easily. Here’s how:

1) Go into Chrome’s Menu (upper right hand corner)> Settings> Manage search engines.

2) To edit existing search engines, click on the keyword and edit it to what you want.

3) Click on Done  (this will close the entire dialogue box).

To add new sites:

1) Scroll down to the end of the list in the dialogue box.

2) Fill in the fields using the same URL method mentioned for Opera above.

Customizing Chrome Search Engine

Great bonus tip: if you use Google Drive, you can create a custom search for it, too. Use the URL:  https://drive.google.com/#search/%s

Note that when you use the search for Google Drive, you need to be signed into the account for the drive you wish to search and be logged into it as the default user.

Adding A Search Engine In Internet Explorer

Internet Explorer, like Firefox, offers the services of search providers as an add-on. You can pick from a number of search providers and add them to your address bar. Follow these steps:

1) Go to the drop down arrow in the IE address bar.

2) Click on Add and you’ll be directed to the Internet Explorer Gallery.

IE Gallery Search Providers

3) Install the search provider you want by clicking on Add to Internet Explorer and confirming the installation.

4) To access your search provider, type up a keyword in the address bar.

Adding IE Search Engine

5) Click on the drop down arrow and select the site’s favicon.

If you can’t find a site or search provider you want in the gallery, you can add your own with EnhanceIE. This is a handy tool that allows you to add a custom search provider to IE 7 and later.

Just follow the directions in the form. Once you have all fields filled out, click on Install, which is the quickest and simplest method. You can then access your new search engine in the same manner as above.

Adding IE Search Engine

 

 

 

Investintech Launches New Microsoft Office for iPad Tutorials

When Microsoft finally came out with an iPad version of their popular document processing suite, MS Office, there were over 12 million downloads in the first week.  If you were one of them, then you’ve probably been exploring and getting oriented with the apps since then.

But working on an iPad is completely different than working on a desktop which makes it a bit difficult to adjust.  Well, you’ll be happy to know that there are resources out there to help—ours included.

We just launched our new resource page for Microsoft Office for iPad tutorials!

This resource is designed to help you keep your productivity levels up while getting the most out of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint on your iPad.  From working with the edit menu and typing on the keyboard to inserting charts and transferring files, our resource page has everything you need to get started.

Take a look!

Quickly Discover Tips For A Specific App

To help you get started, we’ve categorized tips by app—Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. You’ll find new ways to improve the way you work with each specific app whether for school, work, or your own personal use.

To boot, we included some extra tips you’ll find extremely handy. For example, we dug up tips on using Office for iPad for free. So even if you don’t subscribe to the apps, you can still work effectively with them.  In addition, we included a General Tips category as well. This is the perfect spot for any new users looking for basic guides on using the apps.

Office for iPad Categories

Just click on the app or category you’re interested in and you’ll find a list of available tutorial cards. Click on any one of them and you’ll be directed to the main tutorial page.

Head Straight To The Answers You’re Looking For

If you’re trying to find a specific tip, you don’t need to sift through each tutorial. Because some of these tutorial topics are general and thorough, they can cover a number of related tips.  To help you locate what you need, we broke the tutorials down into sub-sections.

Locating Specific App Tips

So when you’re in a category, like Word for example, you’ll see a little paper icon on a couple of tutorial cards. This indicates a tutorial with multiple sub-sections.  Click on the icon and a menu will appear, giving you direct links to each sub-section of the tutorial. This eliminates having to scroll through the entire tutorial page.

Discover The Most Popular Office for iPad Tips

Looking for a common tip? For convenience, we’ve pulled up the most popular tutorials on Office for iPad so you can quickly access the help you need most.

Office iPad Popular Tips

Keep checking in with us as we’ll be updating the page constantly with handy tips. And we always love getting your input. So don’t worry if you can’t find what you’re looking for. Let us know and we can look into adding it to the page.

Working on your iPad isn’t quite the same as working on your desktop. But with the help of a few of these tutorials you can start putting your iPad to work! Check them out!

 

How To Convert Your Handwriting To A Font

Writing With PenPhoto Credit: vidalia_11 via photopin cc

As the personal web grows, so does our need to customize the content we share on it. You need to add pictures to social profiles, select themes for your online accounts, and set up your preferences just right.

Your online presence is a representation of yourself, which you undoubtedly want to personalize as much as possible. This is simple enough with photos and graphics, but it’s a different story when you want to share or publish content with your own writing.

The closest you can come to digitizing your handwriting is to take a picture of a piece of paper with your message handwritten on it. While this adds a personal touch in photos, it still doesn’t really achieve the same effect for the content you create electronically from scratch.

Well, in case you didn’t know, it is indeed possible to get your handwriting on-screen with tools like MyScriptFont.com, PaintFont.com, and Font Panda, which can create a font from your writing.

Using ​MyScriptFont​ Interface

All three of these tools are similar in nature except:

  • With My Script Font, you get to select between generating a True Type Font, Open Type Font and an SVG Font.
  • Paint Font, a new improved version of My Script Font, includes special characters and character sets for different languages.
  • The template you print up with Font Panda includes international characters in their 2-page template and space for a “Fun Doodle.” As an added bonus, this service will allow you to generate revenue from your font by making it available for download.

Other than that, the process is the pretty much the same and very straightforward.

Getting Started

When you get to either one of the sites, all you need to do is print up their template and enter, by hand, each letter of the alphabet in your writing.

Scanning Handwriting Font Template

Once you’re done, scan and save the completed template into the format specified by the service (usually an image format).  Then upload the saved file directly to the site and submit it. The site will generate a font file for you which you’ll have to download and save to your computer.

Using Your Personalized Font

Installing Your Handwritten Font

To use the font simply install the file. In most cases, it’s as simple as right clicking on it and selecting “Install.”  But head over to font resource and forum DaFont.com for more details. They have everything you need to know on installing fonts on Windows, Mac and Linux computers.

Once the font file is successfully installed, you can use it in programs, like Microsoft Word or PowerPoint, where you can elect to use different font sets.

Select Your Handwritten  Font

And that’s it! It was pretty neat to see my own writing digitized as a font. Here’s a sample (click to enlarge):

Writing ​Converted To Font

Content Ideas And Suggestions For Your Font

When would this come in handy? The ideas are endless! You can work on projects, images, and documents that are made to order. Some ideas:

  • Adding a personal touch to e-Invitations
  • Informally signing internal documents and memos
  • Using it for digital scrapbooks and journals
  • Creating one page poster pin-ups for classrooms
  • Tailoring PowerPoint presentations, Publisher material, and OneNote notebooks
  • Writing personal letters
  • Branding your content (brochures, posters, postcards)
  • Creating funky and shareable quotation memes
  • Editing images with text

….and no doubt you can think up a whole lot more! Why not put it to the test and give it a try. See how much your own writing can improve and enhance your content.

 

How to Create Your Own Customized Tab In Microsoft Word 2013

No doubt that when you create a Microsoft Word document, you have one or two tools that you always use. But if those tools span a wide range of functionality, they’ll be scattered across the ribbon, forcing you to click and toggle between tabs and bury it back into the Ribbon every time.

To solve this issue, you can customize the Quick Access Toolbar and even create a few shortcuts for your formatting functions. But why not take your productivity even further and create your own tab?

You can easily get your most commonly used functions on one single tab in Microsoft Word 2013. This way every command you need is right at your fingertips without having to go back and forth between different tabs. Here’s how.

1. Right click on any tab and select Customize the Ribbon.

Customizing the Ribbon

2. In the following dialog, click on New Tab.

Creating New Tab

To label it, right click on it and select Rename. Click on OK

3. Next, create a group to organize your commands by functionality (eg. Formatting, Editing, etc.). To do this, click on New Group. You can rename and add icons for each group by right clicking on it and selecting Rename. Do this for each group you want on your tab.

Creating New Group

Now you can start adding commands to them.

4. To add commands to a specific group, ensure that the group is selected and highlighted. Then in the Choose Commands from column, find and select your favourite command. Click on Add. Or you can drag and drop the command directly into the group. Repeat this for every command you want to include.

Adding Commands to Tab

If you’d like to change the order, simply rearrange them by moving them up or down the list.

5.  Click on OK when you’re finishedand your customized tab will be added to the main Ribbon.

New Tab in Ribbon

There are a number of ways to get Microsoft Word customized to your liking. Getting your very own tab set up is one of the easiest ways to do it. What other ways do you have MS Word 2013 tailored to your needs?

 

5 Handy Tips On Using Social Media For Research

Social Media Word CloudPhoto Credit: daniel_iversen via photopin cc

Are you using social media for research? If not, you could be missing out. Social media networks are always crawling with data: statistics, linked studies, social sentiments, background information, news reports, trends, official commentary—the list goes on.

As you can guess, however, the one real problem with using social media is filtering out all that research in order to analyze it properly.  Are you scraping information together as efficiently as you could?

Good news is that you don’t need to be a research specialist to do so. If you need an effective way to search the web and gather your data at the same time, we’ve got 5 tips to help you narrow down and convert social media posts into research you can easily sift through.

1. Track Tweets On Twitter

To start, there’s Twitter. Everyone’s used it for updates. On a monthly average, there are 255 million active users, a fact which makes the social network a rich source of real time sentiments on any given topic. Twitter is extremely helpful for getting news updates during a major conference, an event, or covering social trend.

However, instead of using Twitter’s search box to locate related mentions and tweets, use Topsy. It allows you to organize results by links, tweets, photos, videos, and influencers. You can also conduct an advanced search, specify time ranges, and select a language to narrow down your results. These features make it the most straight forward way to simplify your Twitter research.

2. Use IFTTT To Help Automate Web Page Collection

One downside to using the web for research is accumulating more web pages than you know what to do with at the moment. To help keep your bookmarking research in order, why not automate the process with a social bookmarking service like Pocket and the DIY  automated web service, IFTTT?

Pocket Google Drive Recipe

There’s an IFTTT recipe already available which you can use to record your Pocket saves to a Google Drive spreadsheet. Once your saved links are in a spreadsheet via Pocket, you can read through them later using Google Spreadsheet’s sorting functionalities. Use Pocket specifically for your research topic and you end up with a highly focused resource of links.

3. Track Mentions On The Web

To cast an even wider net for better data prospects, try tracking mentions for keywords on social media. With basic tools like Social Mention, you can simplify the tracking process. Like Topsy, it pulls all mentions for the keyword you specify.

However, this tool allows you to search across more than just Twitter and the usual social networks. You can search questions, bookmarks, news, blogs, events, images, video, comments, networks, and audio. Moreover, you can even export your search results into either Excel or CSV.

4. Convert Facebook Feeds To RSS

It’s a common thing these days to use Facebook for researching people and brands. Facebook provides companies and public figures with a quick way to update their fanbase, post related news links, or issue comments and statements. Thus, by monitoring any activity happening on their page, you set yourself up with a great resource for putting your research into context.

Facebook Wall RSS​ Feed

To simplify things, you can get Facebook Wall updates delivered to you as an RSS feed. Go to FBRSS.com and connect your Facebook account. Once hooked up, FBRSS will create RSS feed links for all the pages you Like and the people you follow. So all you have to do is add the feed to your RSS aggregator of choice and you’re set.

5. Collect Data Using Google Forms And Google+

One of the most obvious ways to get raw data on a topic is to ask the right people, and using a Google Form is an easy way to do so.  All you need is a Google account to create a form in Google Docs. After you’ve created your form, choose to receive responses directly within a Google spreadsheet and get your data in one place.

Sharing Forms on GooglePlus​

Then when it’s created and all set up, click on Send Form and send it out to your Google Plus network. Sharing the form with specific Google Plus circles and niche communities will give you highly targeted data.  

Using social media as a research tool is one of the most powerful ways to collect information. Just one single network can churn out some interesting data. Combine that with a productivity hack or two and your research job gets significantly easier.