Category: Information Management (page 1 of 2)

Google Launches Chrome Apps for Mac

Google has announced that it has brought Chrome Apps to the Mac.

First introduced in September 2013 for Windows and Chromebook users, Chrome Apps are designed to function like native Mac apps, working offline, updating automatically, and syncing on any computer where a user is signed into Chrome.  Chrome Apps behave and feel just like native software.

After install, Chrome Apps on a Mac can be found in the Applications folder on the Dock.  To make finding and launching Chrome Apps quicker, Google is also releasing the Chrome App Launcher for Mac.

Just download one of the new Chrome Apps and you’ll see the new Chrome App Launcher in your Dock.


A Few Alternatives to Google Reader

Twitter lit up on March 13th when Google announced it was shutting down Google Reader on July 1st. Google Reader was launched in 2005 but apparently over the years usage has declined. Users and developers interested in RSS alternatives can export their data, including their subscriptions, with Google Takeout.

After looking at a few alternatives over the last couple days I’ve decided that even if Google decides not to pull the plug, I may stick with an alternative. This is primarily since many of the alternatives provide more of a magazine-style presentation of the content when compared to Google Reader’s headline display.

feedly (

This has become a popular alternative. The feedly team has been working on a project called Normandy which is a feedly clone of the Google Reader API. When Google Reader shuts down, the goal is for feedly to  seamlessly transition to the Normandy on the back end. So Google Reader users that are using feedly will have any wasy transition.

Bloglines (

Ironically, when Google Reader started up Bloglines was an early causality. However, the service is back with new ownership and offers a similar Google-like summary of headlines as well as a usable mobile experience.

The Old Reader (

This basically is Google Reader. The interface is familiar and one can login with your Google account to import feeds.  The downside is that social integration is only through Facebook. Currently, there are also no apps.

Digg Reader (

Digg just launched it’s new RSS reader service. Its beta is currently in invitation only. It features like a built-in Instapaper button and full-on Digg thumbs-up, thumbs-down integration.


 -Eric Schnell

TechTips: BuckeyeBox: New Cloud-based Storage

BuckeyeBox is a cloud-based service provides a simple, secure way to store and share files and folders online that is now available to OSU faculty and staff. It will be available to students  in early 2013.

Similar to Dropbox and other online tools, Buckeye Box consolidates your content in a single location, accessible from anywhere, on any device. You can create files and folders, share them using a direct link, invite colleagues and classmates to collaborate, and continue to revise and review your content. Though similar in appearance to services such as DropBox, BuckeyeBox integrates OSU systems and security. The service will be available to faculty and staff on Saturday and will be opened to students in January.

BuckeyeBox is designed as a collaboration tool appropriate for personal files and institutional information classified as public or internal.  It is not for any institutional data classified as “protected,” “restricted,” or “critical.” As such, Protected Health Information (PHI) should never be stored on BuckeyeBox. See Data Classifications and appropriate data for BuckeyeBox at OSU.

Main features

  • View files of many types, including images and audio/video; for a full list, see Box support’s What file extension types can be viewed by Box’s Content Preview?
  • Access content through all major web browsers (i.e., Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, Safari) and through mobile devices running iOS, Android, and BlackBerry
  • Access through Microsoft Office applications (Windows only)
  • Share files and folders while controlling the level of access others have, with a range of permissions from view-only to full editing and collaboration rights
  • Comment on files
  • Create simple workflows using assigned tasks
  • Sync files between your desktop and other devices, and access them even when offline

Getting Started / How to Find Help


-Eric Schnell

TechTips: Google Drive

Google has finally released their long awaited competitor to Dropbox, SkyDrive, and iCloud, which they are calling Google Drive. Individuals can get up to 5GB of space for free but a premium service is available for 25GB at $2.49/mo, 100GB for $4.99/mo, and $49.99 a month for 1TB.

Users of Google Docs will find Drive very familiar. In fact, Google Docs is built into Drive.  Just like Docs, one can collaborate with others on documents, can share content with others, and one can add and reply to comments and receive notifications when others have commented on shared items.

Users can attach photos from Drive to posts in Google+ and will soon be able to attach Drive content into Gmail, which can reduced the reliance on the use of file attachments. Work is also underway to allow third-party apps to access the content.

Drive supports a large number of file formats and includes the Google Drive viewer, which allows one to preview documents in 16 formats. Drive also tracks changes made to content so one view the revision history for the past 30 days.

Like other cloud storage services, Drive provides a single location at which to save and store documents and media content that can be automatically synced across multiple devices.  Since Google is also behind Android, it’s mobile version of the service was released first. As of this writing the iPhone/iPad app had not yet been released. Drive also takes advantage of Android’s accessibility features so those with sight impairments can use the mobile app, eyes-free.

The desktop client works just like Dropbox’s.  A folder is created locally which is used to store the content to be synced. One simply has to drag and drop an item in the Drive folder. Also like with Dropbox, the contents of the folder can be managed as any local folder. Since the desktop I first installed the client on is located behind a corporate firewall, Dropbox required the use of a proxy to allow real-time syncing. This was not the case with Drive. After installation, I dragged a file into the desktop folder and it showed up on the web client within 3 seconds.

Those with Google/Gmail accounts should visit to get set up. It may take a day or two for your account to be setup. There is plenty of online support available.

Eric Schnell

TechTips: Optimizing EndNote to Access Full Text

Many researchers take advantage of bibliographic management soft to search online bibliographic databases, organize their references, images and PDFs, and to create bibliographies and figure lists. Although the a central site license provides campus access to RefWorks, many researchers instead use EndNote.

Bibliographic management tools like EndNote can not only help researchers to manage references, they can also be used to search for full text. To increase the liklihood that EndNote will find full text resources requires the proper configuration and an understanding of certain limitations:

  1. Finding full text requires the OpenURL path of (see config at right)
  2. Finding full text requires authentication with URL (see config at right)”
  3. Searching and finding full text may work better on campus than off due to different resource authentication methods and licensing agreements.
  4. EndNote offers several pathways to some databases, such as Medline. However, OSU Libraries may not have access through each of these pathways.
  5. Thomson-Reuters offers excellent FAQs, tutorials and webinars at
  6. Additional bibliographic styles can be downloaded at
  7. EndNote is available at a discount price of $79 at the campus WiredOut store.

Eric Schnell and Jessica Page

TechTips: The “Quora” Question and Answer Service

Quora One of the hot emerging social media sites is a service called Quora. Started by former Facebook employeesQuora is a “continually improving collection” of questions and answers that are user created, edited, and organized. Quora aggregates all the questions and associated answers while allowing users to collaborate on any of them.

Yes, question and answer services have already been done to death, such as Google Answers and  Yahoo! Answers. However,  Quora has a much more authoritative tone and has a better understand of the whole social element than the predecessors. Users can follow/be followed buy other users (no spambots!) and one can also follow subjects and individual questions of interest. Since the service does  leverage existing social media spaces such as Facebook and Twitter, new users will quickly see familiar faces, which helps to validate the service. As with other social media outlets, contributors can use the service to establish a reputation within specific areas of expertise.

Once logged in (one must have an account to use the service), users type in keywords to find questions on subjects.  The search bar provides auto-suggestions that helps to identify questions and topics that have already been asked relating to the keywords. The user interface does take a few tries to figure out in part since the label “Ask Question” makes one assume queries must be in the form of a question.

Since the developers would like new question entered into the system to be properly constructed, the system requires new users to successfully identify properly formatted questions before they can pose their first question.  All new Quora users should read this post first before jumping in and answering questions. One of the more interesting features is that any member can edit another member’s question.

Users can not only answer any question as well as comment on the topics attached to the questions and answer other member’s answers. The site suggests that users summarize links and references in a sentence or two. A Digg-like rating system allows the more popular answers to move to the top of the list.

Pundits will likely view Quora as they did Wikipedia in its early days since  Quora also relies on the users for quality control. The primary difference being that the answers in Quora are directly attributable to specific individuals.

As was the case with Wikipedia, Quora has the potential to turn into a useful starting point for any line of query and result in a new type of search engine. Or, it could turn into ” a continuously spamming collection of unanswered questions created, answered, and organized by no-one that uses it”.

Eric Schnell

TechTips: RockMelt: The Social Web Browser

rockmelt logoIf you are a heavy Facebook and Twitter user, you might want to hunt for an invite and try the RockMelt web browser. RockMelt works like any other browser with one big difference: it integrates Facebook and Twitter.

In short, one can use the browser to browse web sites AND keep up-to-date with your friends without opening Facebook or Twitter.

When RockMelt is opened it immediately connects to Facebook. Along the sides of the main browser window are two sidebar ribbons with icons; one on the left showing friends, one on the right displaying  favorite social sites.  In addition to social networking sites, the browser can directly access RSS feeds. When RockMelt  is minimized, update notifications persist on the lower right hand side of  the monitor.

The browser also has built-in support for Facebook chat so one can initiate a chat session from within the browser.  Another handy feature is  that all  settings, notes, preferences, and bookmarks aer saved online so that can be synced between devices. This means one can log into the RockMelt browser on any computer and everything saved on another computer is available. One can also share web site links directly to Facebook or Twitter by a simple drag and drop.

The browser has the same look and feel as Google Chrome since it is built on the same platform (Apple’s WebKit). This also means that all Google Chrome extensions are available to RockMelt  users. The browser is available for Mac and Windows.

The RockMelt effort is backed by Netscape developer Marc Andreessen. The browser went “live” on November 8, 2010.

Eric Schnell   

TechTips: Xmarks Browser Bookmark Sync

I use several computers and a couple different web browsers during any given day. I bookmark work related resources, articles to read, and any number of interesting sites on my Web browser. But when I use a different computer or change to a different web browser, the links I bookmarked on one aren’t available on another.

While social bookmarking sites like delicious are very usful, having to navigate to their site to access my commonly used bookmarks simply adds in a few extra unwanted steps.  Xmarks (was FoxMarks) is a very handy bookmark synchronization tool that resolves this issue.

Xmarks allows one to synchronize bookmarks between computers and browsers. The use of multiple profiles allows one to to separate your bookmarks into categories — like for work and home. One can to choose which profile to sync on each computer. This way, all those shopping sites don’t show up on the work computer. The other nice thing is that all the bookmarks are also backed up, which comes in handing when an old computer is sent to the recycling facility.

Browsers currently support supported by Xmarks include Firefox, Internet Explorer, and Safari (Mac OS). There is also an alpha release for Google Chrome. One can also add bookmarks and have them synced to your computers/browsers from any computer using Xmarks can also synchronize passwords.

Xmarks’ Smarter Search feature add some level of relevance to Google searches. When you perform a search after installing the applicaiotn, Xmarks will highlight the top Google search results for that query, based on how many Xmarks users have bookmarked a particular site.

As with any third-party application, one needs to be mindful of any potential privacy issues. Xmarks does encrypt bookmarks while they are being synced to their server. Individual users’ bookmarks are also kept private from other users.

Eric Schnell  

TechTip: Renting Scholarly Articles Through DeepDyve

I received an email  from a colleague about a month or so ago about a search engine they uncovered, called DeepDyve. DeepDyve was started in 2005 by two scientists who had previously worked on the Human Genome Project. It makes sense that the search engine searches for information spanning the life sciences, medicine, and patents. ( Note: Steve Wozniak as a member of their advisory board.)

The original focus of the company was to build a powerful research search engine.  While most search engine queries consist of just few words, DeepDyve queries can be as complex as the searcher desires: a few words, whole sentences, paragraphs, anything up to 25,000 characters. DeepDyve indexes entire phrases of up to 20 words each, compared to most search engines indexes individual keywords.

A funny thing happened. The company changed their focus.

While DeepDyve still makes use of their proprietary search engine technology,  they are now marketing themselves as an online research rental service that provides access to  over 30 million articles from thousands of authoritative journals for as little as $0.99 per article.

In is important to emphasize that DeepDyve is not selling copies of the articles., they rent them.  The rental fee provides 24 hours of unlimited viewing of that article. A silver plan of $10 per month provides up to 20 articles per month for 7 days. The gold plan of $20 per month provides access to an unlimited number of articles for an unlimited amount of time.

The proprietary flash-based viewer does not allow for download, screen capture, or printing of an article. One can only read the articles on screen. The service does provide personalized suggestions, bookmarks, alerts and related articles.

Although DeepDyve has signed up 25 publishers, some prominent ones are missing. For example, Elsevier. The following are some of the publishers available:

DeepDyve presents another challenge for academic librarians. There is a good chance that many of the journals and articles available to researchers from DeepDyve have already been licensed by the library.  How many researchers will use this service and pay yet again for the use of a work?

What would be really useful is if DeepDyve could incorporate openurl to redirect users back to a local copy rather then simply renting it from their own collection.

Eric Schnell  

TechTips: Google Wave

The folks at Google released 100,000 invites today to preview their new model of Web-based communication and collaboration, called Google Wave.

Since it has been in private beta, one has to rely upon others to explain what Wave is. It has been describedas much of a real-time chat room as a platform for editing documents collaboratively. It can also be used as a Wiki, to replace email and IM within an organization, or just to organize a pub crawl.”

A “wave” is equal parts conversation and document, where people can communicate and work together with richly formatted text, photos, videos, maps, and more. Each Wave consists of a threaded forum combined with a wiki, IM, and email that are then combined into a single interface.

In Google Wave, one can create a Wave and the add others to it. Everyone can insert content or edit in the Wave.  Since each Wave is updated in real time, others can see content as it is being created. The service can be used for quick messages and persistent content — it allows for both collaboration and communication.

A playback feature allows one to watch a Wave as it evolved, providing access to edits, who made them, and in what context. A locally hosted Wave server can interact with other Wave servers, but will also have the option of keeping their content private or limited to specific users.

Check out Wave in this 10-min abridged video of this hour presentation:


If you are one of the lucky ones to get an invite early on, please make sure to comment on your experience.

Eric Schnell 

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