Storage of Ideas and Data

Academics are always faced with how to store and find the ideas data they need.

Name Comments
Box.Net

What it Does: Online File Storage - Useful for sharing files
Runs on: Web
Free
Best Feature: Easy sharing of files between groups.
Worst Feature: Limited storage and download without having to pay
Learning Time: Minutes --- Export/Import: Good
My use: Test Only --- Confidence in Evaluation: Medium
Comment: I recommend this to students in classes where I require them to work in groups.
Review & Comments about Box.Net in Academic Tools Blog
Citation

What it Does: Bibliography database with note taking
Runs on: PC only
Price: $99
Uniqueness: It's one of only a few tools to provide this combination of functions
Best Feature: Integrated note taking
Worst Feature: Not licensed at Drexel
Learning Time: Hours ---
My use: Test Only --- Confidence in Evaluation: Poor
Comment: I've only looked briefly at this product, but it seems good enough to include as an alternative to Endnote because of its integrated note taking capabilities.
Dunx1

What it Does: Drexel File Storage and web publishing server.
Runs on: Web
Drexel Site License
Best Feature: 100MB of file storage accessible via FTP from home.
Worst Feature: Web server is very basic - for security reasons I'm assured.
Learning Time: Half Hour ---
My use: Daily --- Confidence in Evaluation: Good
Comment: Once set up it appears automatically on any Korman machine and can be easily added to appear automatically on your campus desktop.
Techie Note: You can use "includes" by naming your files *.shtml
Endnote

What it Does: Bibliographic database with many output formats
Runs on: PC, Mac
Drexel Site License
Best Feature: Integration with Word
Worst Feature: Cannot take multiple notes on a single source.
Learning Time: Hours --- Export/Import: Good
My use: Infrequent --- Confidence in Evaluation: Good
Comment: If you have to write a big document this is an invaluable bibliography tool.
It does not have built-in note-taking capabilities as does "Citation" (http://www.citationonline.net/).
See also the brand-new (10/2006) Zotero (http://www.zotero.org/)
Storage note: Bibliographic information
Filemaker Pro

What it Does: Database tool (relational) with exceptionally straightforward interface
Runs on: PC, Mac
Price: $250
Best Feature: Allows fairly easy keeping of detailed grading and attendance records and personalized Emails.
Worst Feature: You'll have to invest several days of time to get comfortable enough to use it (or any database) easily.
Learning Time: Days --- Export/Import: Good
My use: Daily --- Confidence in Evaluation: Good
Comment: You want to pay for Filemaker if you do a lot of database work and want a really good user interface.
Any time you get over about 100 things that need to be remembered, sorted, searched - up to that point Excel may be easier. If printed output appearance is critical FileMaker is excellent.
- Access (in MSOffice) is licensed, but tougher to use. Base in Openoffice is an Access clone, and currently very flaky. MySQL is free and even tougher for the non-techie.
Review & Comments about Filemaker Pro in Academic Tools Blog
GMail

What it Does: Online EMail account
Runs on: Web
Free
Best Feature: Superior search and spam filter.
Worst Feature: More spam because it's GMail.
Immediately Useful: Yes --- Learning Time: Half Hour --- Export/Import: Medium
My use: Daily --- Confidence in Evaluation: Good
Comment: You can redirect other EMail accounts here. It's also easy to create on-the-fly sub-accounts by using the "accountid+subaccount@gmail" email ID.
Storage note: 3GB storage allows backup of key files via attachments
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
MS Access

What it Does: Solid relational database that comes with MS Office
Runs on: PC only
Drexel Site License
Best Feature: Wide use
Worst Feature: Unreasonably complex interface for simple tasks.
Learning Time: Days --- Export/Import: Good
My use: Infrequent --- Confidence in Evaluation: Good
Comment: If you're getting started on databases consider Filemaker - despite its cost.
Zotero

What it Does: Online bibliography and notetaking - still very young
Runs on: Web
Free
Best Feature: Click to record citation information
Worst Feature: Doesn't seem to export yet.
Immediately Useful: Yes --- Learning Time: Half Hour --- Export/Import: Poor
My use: Test Only --- Confidence in Evaluation: Medium
Comment: 10/2006 Still at very early development stage. Requires FireFox 2.0 - which is currently only a Release Candidate.

 

 

Update: 2006-11-26