Easy - No-Brainer

I'm quite cofident that these programs are easy to learn and use and very likely to be worthwhile.

They're Sorted by Major Category (Research; Routine; Teaching) and Subcategory. Some programs appear in several categories.

Category Name Comments
Routine: Administration ClipMate

What it Does: Enhances the windows clipboard dramatically
Runs on: PC only
Price: $20
Best Feature: Efficiency of doing multiple copies from a document and then pasting in another.
Worst Feature: Two different "views" or"modes" can be confusing.
Learning Time: Minutes --- Export/Import: Good
My use: Daily --- Confidence in Evaluation: Good
Comment: Remembers copy and paste (clipboard) functionality - and much more - includes a good screen capture (making an image file of something on the screen). Use it if you do a lot of copy and paste.
Administration note: Use it when there is lots of copy and paste or you have "boilerplate" text to place.
Review & Comments about ClipMate in Academic Tools Blog
Teaching: Classroom Google Earth

What it Does: View and zoom the entire world
Runs on: PC, Mac, Linux - Uses Web
Free
Uniqueness: It's one of only a few tools to provide this combination of functions
Best Feature: Wow factor when exploring a geography-related aspect of a course.
Worst Feature: Interface a bit clunky when going beyond basics.
Learning Time: Minutes --- Export/Import: Medium
Confidence in Evaluation: Good
Comment: What a splendid, ever-improving tool. If you use it regularly it's worth it to spring the $20/year for the "plus" version.
Classroom note: Wow factor is still high
Review & Comments about Google Earth in Academic Tools Blog
Research: Resource Google Alerts

What it Does: Sends EMails about news based on your search criteria
Runs on: Web
Free
Uniqueness: It's one of only a few tools to provide this combination of functions
Best Feature: Works as promised
Worst Feature: The user can sometimes be deluged with emails.
Learning Time: Minutes ---
My use: Regular --- Confidence in Evaluation: Good
Comment: It's wise to test your search first to be sure you're getting the kinds of things you want.
Resource note: To stay abreast of news - probably in related fields rather than primary
Review & Comments about Google Alerts in Academic Tools Blog
Research: Search Google Scholar

What it Does: Web search of scholarly material
Runs on: Web
Uniqueness: It's one of only a few tools to provide this combination of functions
Best Feature: Focus on the scholarly material - reduced irrelevant "hits".
Worst Feature: Doesn't index everything (nor does any other service).
Learning Time: Minutes ---
Confidence in Evaluation: Good
Comment: If you're off-campus access it through the library to have access to full-text of many services. They'll appear automatically in the results.
Review & Comments about Google Scholar in Academic Tools Blog
Research: Search Google Search Tips

What it Does: How to search effectively via Google
Runs on: Web
Free
Best Feature: Can focus/narrow searches
Worst Feature: Must memorize to be effective.
Learning Time: Minutes ---
My use: Daily --- Confidence in Evaluation: Good
Comment: My most useful is "site:drexel.edu" - it finds stuff that Drexel search engine buries.
Search note: To make Google more effective e.g using "site:edu" to restrict searches
Review & Comments about Google Search Tips in Academic Tools Blog
Routine: Storage HTTrack

What it Does: Capture a complete online website to your computer for local browsing
Runs on: PC and Linux
Free
Best Feature: It's quite easy to capture a website
Worst Feature: It can be a very big space eater.
Learning Time: Minutes --- Export/Import: Good
My use: Infrequent --- Confidence in Evaluation: Good
Comment: Useful when must look at a website when not connected to the interet.
May not capture websites that are "database driven" - many large ones.
Storage note: For offline or archival access to websites
Review & Comments about HTTrack in Academic Tools Blog
Routine: Utility Find and Run Robot

What it Does: Finds things you use regularly on your machine
Runs on: PC only
Free
Best Feature: Quick easy way of starting many programs and files.
Worst Feature: A bit slow finding files not used regularly.
Learning Time: Minutes ---
My use: Daily --- Confidence in Evaluation: Good
Comment: A near-ideal tool for a single purpose. Once you're comfortable with it you should explore the capability of customizing the "rules" it uses to sort what it finds.
Review & Comments about Find and Run Robot in Academic Tools Blog

 

Update: 2006-11-26