How To Convert PDF To HTML

Editing HTML Code

Do you know what PDF and HTML format have in common? They’re both universal. The PDF format can be used on any computing device and platform, while HTML pages represent the standard for online, browser-based site viewing.

But are there times when using one over the other is better? You bet. And in this day and age when everybody is online and can create a personal website in seconds, it’s more crucial than ever to know when, where and how to work around both formats.

Continue reading →How To Convert PDF To HTML

How To Turn Chrome Into A Notepad

Among the many things you do online in a single day, we bet that taking down a note or two is somewhere at the top of your list. Was it for research? Recording a reference number? Brainstorming? Whatever the reason, having a scratch pad at arm’s length is a necessity.

One trick that can solve that problem—turn your browser into a note pad. It may sound odd, but it’s entirely possible. For this tip, we tried it in Chrome, and we have to admit that this is a neat little trick everyone should have handy.

All you have to do is copy and paste this single line of code into your browser’s URL bar:

data:text/html, <html contenteditable>

Then hit enter. Click on the blank tab window that shows up and start typing away. Testing it on the latest Chrome build, it worked out great.  You can even bookmark the URL and call it up anytime for instant access.

Chrome Browser Notepad

This tip originally comes from Jose Jesus Perez Aguinaga, web engineer and Javascript developer, who shared this tip on his blog, Coderwall.com, a few years ago. And it still works.

Right off the bat, you can get a good idea of how this can make things easier for you while you’re on the web. As a writer, student or researcher, you can use this as a distraction free writing tool or quick text editor.

You don’t have to install a plugin or open another application. And without having to worry about any formatting frills, you can get in a good chunk of writing without having to leave the browser.

The one drawback, however, is that if you close the tab, you’ll lose all your notes. If you jot down reminders or to-do lists which you don’t need afterwards, then this shouldn’t be a problem.  In fact, it may even be convenient as you can skip over the usual dialog reminding you to save the file.

But if you do need those notes, then you can easily save them before closing the tab.  To do so, just use Chrome’s “Save page as…” function from the menu and save it as an HTML webpage. You should then be able to access the file in any browser.

If you hated the hassle of opening up a second app just to copy-paste or record something, try this out. This little trick will help simplify the process and speed things up.

 

Developing Digital Learning Strategies In A Time of Technological Distraction

Learning Digital Strategies

Nowadays, we’re constantly in a state of distraction. From texting and checking emails to posting on Facebook and watching YouTube, technology has made it all too easy for us.

Overall, unwinding with a few Facebook updates can be harmless.  However, in your academic career the digital distraction can have a negative impact on your success.  Procrastination and distractions lurk in every corner.

Yet as the world of education changes and institutions invest heavily in educational technology, your approach to learning and studying will need to change.

The question is, can you develop an effective digital learning strategy when technological distraction is everywhere? The answer is yes.

Use The Age Of Distraction To Your Advantage

Sure, it can be tough to switch gears online and focus on the task at hand, but the trick is to work with the distraction, not to try and beat it. The digital habits you practice every day is where you can start developing solid digital learning strategies that’ll stand you in good stead.

And there’s no time like the present to start prepping yourself for next year. Currently, students have and will continue to see major changes in how learning will occur in 2015 and onwards. Aurion Learning, a company dedicated to helping organizations develop online learning solutions, got an overview of the latest trends.

15 E-Learning statistics you need to know for 2015 from Aurion Learning

 

And the statistics paint a clear picture: the world of education is not only focused on digitizing your learning style, but your academic lifestyle as well. So what can you do to turn your daily distractions into a learning tool? Here are a few suggested strategies.

When You Browse, Browse Creatively

Think about it. You search for something on the web all the time. But chances are, your usual search habits aren’t producing results.  Most of us only use Google for basic keyword searches, but not much else.  But there’s so more to Google than just search.

In fact, there’s more to searching the web than just Google, too. You can easily refine your research skills for projects by finding other creative ways to search the web.  All you need to do is to look differently at the internet: what searches you can perform without Google?  Where else can you find answers? In a nutshell, make the time you spend web surfing count.

Post, Upload And Interact With Content On Social Media

Believe it or not, posting links and uploading files and images on social networks can boost the digital learning process. The skills you use to interact on social media are essentially the same skills needed to participate in and work with digital learning environments. Thus, you need all the basic tech skills you can acquire.

Some examples of where you’ll need basic skills:

  • Creating PowerPoint presentations, mock business plans, or ebook study guides.
  • Voicing your opinion in class forums or e-bulletin boards.
  • Following people & networks related to your field of study as learning-related resources.
  • Curating content and tutorial sites to keep you on top of your niche and related skills.
  • Staying organized with files and group members by using a document management system.

Use social media check-ins as a way to practice your digital interaction skills, but don’t get carried away. Remember—social media is a means to an end, not an end in itself. 

Pay Attention To The Headlines In Your Feed

As much as we say we’re digitally connected, not many of us will know automatically how to accomplish something specific online.  The simple strategy to improve that is to get familiar with web tools.  You read about online tools constantly. Not a blog post in a feed goes by without some mention of Dropbox or tips on Google Docs. All it takes is actually clicking through to read about them.

So start creating your own personal toolbox.  Try one tool at a time to get yourself familiar with ones like Evernote or IFTTT. Ask yourself things like: Which would be the best for publishing my work? How can I send that large file of an essay? Can I annotate a peer’s digital paper? Discover popular tools with the aim of fitting them into your academic routine. 

Get Connected Visually

While having online courses makes it easy for you to participate in class from anywhere, distance and online learning itself, isn’t easy. You need support, peer discussion, and feedback from people who may not be physically there. You have to adapt to a new communication system without the all-important human factor.

Here, collaborative tech will be key. If you’re constantly online, then you know all about chatting, IMs and video conferencing. Tools like these will help you make the human connections needed throughout the learning process.  This is especially true of video conferencing. A single video chat or G+ Hangout can give you that extra learning boost which avatars and textual IMs can’t.

Some tool strategies to help with the actual work:

  • Use project management tools to keep everyone on track.
  • Collaborate with video and e-conferencing and chat tools like Skype.
  • Use Wikis and whiteboards for major group research and presentations.
  • To stay in touch with class mates, create Facebook groups, Google+ circles or Twitter lists.

The ability to develop transferrable digital skills is more important than ever. Tapping into your daily distractions can be one effective way to get immersed in your digital learning experience.  But what other strategies can you think of?

 

5 Creative Ways To Search The Web

Web Search Tips

Searching the web on Google is always the number one go-to solution for finding help online. And although its last update (aka Hummingbird) focused on a smarter way of finding results, it is still possible (and frustrating) to go beyond the third page of your search results. Not a very valuable use of your time.

As productivity advocates, we’re always looking for more efficient ways of doing things—even searching the web.  So for this post we’ll break down some quick basic tips (some of which you may already be doing) when you’re ready to give up on Google.

1. Use Content Specific Search Engines

Helpful when….: You’re looking for a specific type of format.

Why: Google offers a number of search results based on type: news, web pages, images, and file formats. Although Google operators can produce results right down to the file format, there are search engines that can offer efficient searches.

Search Benefits: Content specific search engines will give you a highly focused collection of results in contrast to the endless pages of results from Google. Moreover, they come equipped with search filters that further narrow down your hunt.

Tools: There are a number of handy online tools that can help you search for PDF documents, PowerPoint presentations online, or archived webpages. Also, you can find search tools for photos and even third party tools for searching through Flickr.

2. Search By Finding Similar Sites

Search For Similar Images Photo Credit: therichbrooks via photopin cc

Helpful when…: You want to familiarize yourself with a new subject, genre or field.

Why: When you want to learn about something, you’re first step is to find information on the topic and then find websites that cover the subject. If you’re looking for sites on something like fitness, seeking out influential websites in the industry will give you the lay of the land, connecting you to other authoritative sources in that niche.

Search Benefits: When you search like this, your results are pared down to highly related sites instead having to sift through individual articles and web pages.

Tools: Similarsites.com and SimilarWeb.com are a couple of tools that can help you with this type of search. They’re designed to work with thousands of sites that have already been indexed and rated on relevancy by users.

3. Search For Answers By Asking Users

Helpful when….: You have specific questions or only have broad ideas.

Why: When you have a general question your first instinct is to type it out in Google and see what comes up. But when asking a question, you’re looking for general guidance first (“What can I find on this topic?”) or specific information (computer and hardware specs). A better way to finding results is in asking directly in forums, communities, and groups.

Search Benefits: Users in communities and forums can give you one-on-one advice. This beats having to refer to 5 articles on one topic. In addition, you get answers, insights, and hidden details based from personal experience which some general posts may miss.

Tools: Try communities that are active and that attract credible users. Try sites like Quora, for instance, where you get to ask professionals from different industries for their expertise. There are also Google+ communities full of users who are generous with their time and help.

4. Use Social Media, Aggregators & Real Time Search

 Social Media Search

Helpful when…:  You want quick, updated information on a topic.

Why: The power of social media is hard to deny. On social media networks, everyone is sharing a link, comment, or insight on anything and everything–including posts on the topic you’re researching.

Search Benefits: Social networks are extremely powerful with their search features. Searches on popular networks like Google+, Facebook, and Twitter are easily tailored to find posts, users, or hashtags. Using these networks as your search engine, you can zero in on real time posts. In addition, you can get a contextual grasp on any given topic at the moment based on the sentiments of the posters.

Tools: Besides using the social networks themselves, social media aggregators and real time search engines can help. Tools like Alltop and PopURLS will offer you a quick bird’s eye view of current trends. Just type in your search terms and you’re off.

5. Use Websites & Blogs

Helpful when…: You need to find related resources.

Why: When you’re online, you may already have a natural compulsion to click through to other sites from an article you’re reading. Because blogs and websites link out to sites and sources that complement their own content, you can slowly build up a good resource.

Search Benefits: When you consciously practice this as a search method, it could mean that if you start with one quality web site you can find 5 other links that may be helpful. Granted, there are some spammy sites out there. But given that Google has cracked down on bad linking behaviour and has encouraged websites to link to relevant sources in their blog rolls, this type of search method should be a safe bet.

Tools: To find a good quality site to start you off, visit Technorati, the most credible blog directory online.

As an added bonus, you can combine these tips to get even better results. So while Google is the number one tool when it comes to search,  it isn’t the only one you have to resort to!

Wolfram|Alpha: The Computational Knowledge Engine

Not a day goes by when you don’t try to find something on the Internet.  Search engines, like Google, are the number one go-to resources you turn to whenever you need to look up general information. It’s a great starting point to finding what you need on the web.

However, there’s another tool out there which you’ll want to add to your bag of research tricks: Wolfram|Alpha.

What Is Wolfram|Alpha?–Not Your Typical Search Engine

 

Wolfram|Alpha is not your typical search engine. It’s a “computational knowledge engine.”

In other words, while we’re all used to looking through general search results of textually related content with Google,  Wolfram|Alpha, on the other hand, goes one step further with its curated data and advanced algorithms to give you dynamically generated and direct results.

Designed by the same company that develops Mathematica (the popular engineering software platform), Wolfram|Alpha can perform advanced mathematical calculations, deliver statistics and details, or provide background facts and info for any topic you have in mind.

From calculating stocks and mortgages to comparing historical figures and defining colours, Wolfram|Alpha covers a wide range of topics.  And depending on what type of answers you’re looking for, it can be more effective than a search engine.  The site has a section of examples you can use as reference on how to refine your input.

Having Fun With Your Data Search 

The interesting part about Wolfram|Alpha is that you can get a little creative with it.  You can find a lot of queries with interesting results which might surprise you.  Here are a few ideas on some fun uses:

  • Answer or create word trivia questions
  • Determine the caloric value of your meal
  • Find Scrabble scores for different words
  • Generate a  strong password
  • Find statistics on a sports team
  • Make comparisons– try comparing different fruit,  salaries for different positions, or competing websites
  • Find out if you’ve had too much to drink
  • Find out how common your name is
  • Calculate the cost of living in a certain city or country
The possibilities are endless.

Get Wolfram|Alpha Working For You

If you sign up for a free account, you can take advantage of a few perks.  For instance, Wolfram|Alpha allows a bit of customization for avid users. You can save your queries as favourites, view your search history, and set your own personal preferences.

There are also Wolfram|Alpha widgets you can embed on your own blog or webpage and share with others. The gallery includes widgets for different kinds of industries and data:  education, engineering, food & nutrition, earth sciences, and more.

A PRO paid account will give you the added bonus of being able to input more than just text. You’ll be able to input images, extended keyboard symbols, tabular data, and files, for which Wolfram|Alpha will analyze and give you detailed statistics on, say, the file’s content or interpretations on the tabular data.

In addition, the results generated under a Pro account will be a major step up. You’ll be able to customize, save and download images, and export raw data in interactive formats for your research.

If interested, you can even get the mobile app for iOS devices, Android, and Nook, so you can access Wolfram|Alpha—and WA powered apps, when you need it. However, they are paid apps, so be sure to check out the pricing first.

Take a look for yourself and start answering the questions on topics you’ve always wondered about.