Quizzes and Google Forms–It Just Keeps Getting Better

If you haven’t heard the news yet, Google announced that they are adding quiz functionality to Google Forms! This is big news, and something my teachers have been wanting for a long time.

It works really well, but of course some functionality is limited–such as the ability to auto-grade short answers. This is definitely a step in the right direction, and is going to be HUGE for my teachers using Google Classroom and Forms for formative assessments.

Learn more from Google’s official blog here.

Quizzes and Google Forms–It Just Keeps Getting Better

How I Work – Dropbox

Last time I posted, I talked a bit about how I use an iOS app called Mailbox. Today, I’m going to discuss a few ways I use Dropbox.

Dropbox

Dropbox is so universally used that I hesitated writing a post for it. However, it is so ingrained into what I do at work that I would be remiss if I didn’t include it. Dropbox is a very popular file syncing app that, once installed, creates a folder that it then syncs to the web and any other computer you have Dropbox installed and linked to your account. It also does file backups, after a fashion, keeping files a few revisions back.

One of the best things I like about Dropbox is it frees me from the worry of having all my data on one computer–as a tech, I am well aware of the ramifications of a hard drive failing, and this helps me sleep at night, knowing all my data is safe and sound in the cloud and synced to all my devices.

From a security standpoint, there has been a few issues with Dropbox accounts being hacked in the past, so definitely do your research prior to diving into using Dropbox for all your sensitive data.

Head over to dropbox.com and try it out if you haven’t already!

Next Time

I’m planning on getting a bit more geeky and discussing Putty, a great little SSH/Telnet tool for us Windows OS users.

How I Work – Dropbox

How I Work – Mailbox

Last time I posted, I got a bit nerdy and talked about a network monitoring tool for Windows called FREEPing. This week, I’m switching back to an iOS app called Mailbox.

Mailbox

mailboxI highly anticipated Mailbox for iOS when it first was announced. It was clean, it was pretty, and it looked like it was going to change how I dealt with email. When I actually got my hands on it, I can’t say it completely fulfilled all my hopes and dreams, but it is definitely helpful. Since I first started using Mailbox, a few other apps have come out with somewhat similar features, so Mailbox is no longer exclusively awesome. Sorry Mailbox.

That said, I use it as my default email app on my iPhone. I don’t do a lot of email creation on my iPhone unless absolutely necessary, so I mainly use it to quickly go through email on-the-go, to sort and queue up emails for later. The two features of Mailbox that I was incredibly excited about when it was first launched, and that I still use, are:

  1. Swipe to archive
  2. Swipe to snooze for later

Swipe to archive is amazing. I think a lot of other email apps have picked up on this as well, but Mailbox is great because it’s one motion. You swipe to the right, a green box and checkmark appears behind the email, you let go, and boom. The email is gone from your Inbox, into the dusty corners of your Gmail account titled ‘All Mail’. It’s a great way to get rid of those emails you haven’t quite yet decided you want to unsubscribe from.

Swipe to snooze for later was the absolute killer feature I was so excited about. Say you’ve got a personal email you need to take a look at when you get home, but you’re at work now, so you swipe left and a yellow background and clock show up behind the email, you let go and up pops a screen that asks when you want to see this email again. You choose tomorrow morning, later today, or a specific time from several other options and bam. The email is gone from your inbox, and will show back up at the specified time. This is a great way to get to ‘Inbox Zero’ and really helps you only deal with emails once, instead of wasting time re-reading subject lines and trying to figure out if you need to deal with that email now or tomorrow.

I definitely recommend heading over to the App Store and downloading Mailbox for your iOS device.

Next Time

I’m planning on discussing how I use Dropbox in my workflow.

How I Work – Mailbox

How I Work – FREEPing

Last time I posted, I talked about an app for my iPhone that I use, called Hours. This week I’d like to highlight an app that has been with me since I started supporting a network.

FREEPing

FREEPing is a (you guessed it) free utility provided by Tools4Ever, the company that makes a user account automation tool called UMRA. As you may have guessed, FREEPing is a utility that pings IP addresses. It’s really not much more exciting than that, which is precisely why I like it so much. If you’re in a larger environment with lots of resources, you probably have network monitoring all setup. For those of us with limited resources, FREEPing is a great alternative, or even a great complement to your current monitoring system.

It’s really easy to setup:

  1. Add IPs you want to monitor
  2. Give them nice readable names
  3. Profit

Every time you launch the program after adding the IPs you want to ping, it will automatically start pinging each IP in order. It’s a great way to check on how your network is doing as you sip on your coffee and wait for Chrome to finally finish launching. It even has the ability to pop up messages and alert you if things are going awry, but I don’t have that feature setup. Here’s what it looks like in action:

FREEPing

Head over to the Tools4Ever website to download. I think you have to enter in some information to access it, and they might email or call you but it’s worth taking a look at some of their other products if your environment can benefit from it.

Next Time

For my next post in this How I Work series, I’ll be looking at an iPhone app called Mailbox.

How I Work – FREEPing

How I Work – Hours

In the last post I wrote, I talked about how I had difficulty organizing and staying focused as a tech. Today, I’m going to talk about an app that I found for my iPhone that helps me keep track of what I do during the day.

Hours

I discovered the Hours app for iPhone a few months ago when I wasgetting our Chromebooks ready for the new class of students coming in. I was really curious at how much time I was spending on getting these ready, so I launched the app and got to work. Basically, in Hours you can create several projects and start and stop them throughout your day.

IMG_2064

As you can see in my screenshot above, I have several different projects, including student support, teacher support, network maintenance, and so on. As you switch or start tasks, you simply tap on the timer next to each task. There’s even a widget for the notification center on the iPhone to make it even more accessible. It’s fascinating to look back at the day and see what I actually spent time on during the day. Each day is different, depending on which technology decides to break or behave during the day. It’s nice that it’s so flexible that I can add whatever tasks I want, and I’m still refining it to match exactly how I work.

Using Hours has the added benefit of helping to answer the question I often have at the end of a ridiculously busy day: “What did I actually do today?” I highly recommend this app if you are constantly switching gears during the day, for self-evaluation and helping you figure out if you can consolidate tasks or better schedule things. It takes some time to remember to start the timer for the next task, but when you do it only takes a second or two, and the data you collect on how you spend your workday can be invaluable for self-reflection.

Next Time

Next time, let’s dive a bit into the nerdy networking stuff, and take a look at an app that I can’t seem to get away from: FREEPing.

How I Work – Hours