Month: March 2014

App Recommendations: Paperless

Everyone is all about “going green” these days. Students are probably the biggest “paper wasters” due to all the readings and notes they have to do. While it’s definitely much more comfortable to read and far easier to write neatly and quickly on paper, the problem with all of these papers is that they take a whole lot of space. Ultimately, most end up (hopefully) in the recycle bins, but sometimes they are trashed. The other thing about paper is that, like anything physical, it can become destroyed. Ink may fade and pages may decompose. It is very difficult to keep paper pristine.

Tablets make reading electronic files much more convenient. We can now lie or sit comfortably wherever we like and “hold” the documents to read from like we would paper. Files are displayed gorgeously with crisp clarity.

With the help of some extraordinary apps on the iPad, I have been “paperless” for the last 3 years. I no longer have to print or copy unnecessarily. As long as I have a PDF file, I’m good to go! I can highlight and mark readings that I do. Furthermore, I’m not bound by keyboards to transcribe. I can whip out a stylus and scribble down notes with ease anywhere I please.

Penultimate has taken the place of my notebooks. I used to carry a small spiral-bound pad with me to jot notes from the day on, but this is no longer necessary. This app looks and feels like a real notebook. It has many page designs to fit your writing needs. You can write in different colors and “pen tips” (thicker vs. thinner). Compared to other apps, I find Penultimate has more “fluidity” and sensitivity, allowing me to write like I would on paper. I now have hundreds of pages of handwritten notes that can easily be shared and are backed up to a “cloud”. Penultimate also allows me to maintain multiple notebooks, which makes organizing and finding past notes a piece of cake. I will never buy another notebook in my life!

Notability is the most useful and productive app I own. I constantly use it for work and personal tasks. It is a must-have for any iPad user who needs to write/keep notes. This app has every possible way to take notes – handwriting, typing, and even voice recording. The best feature is the highlighting and handwritten marking functionality for PDFs. I probably spared the lives of countless trees with this app. Best of all, I can now have every article I’ve ever read with me at all times. Notability also makes signing of documents a cinch; no longer do I need to print, sign, and scan/fax. There are multiple pen colors and sizes. Notability also allows you to search keywords within any given PDF!

These apps are wonderful, but without a good stylus, you would not be able to use them to their maximum capacity. I have tried a good amount of brands and found that nothing beats Wacom’s Bamboo Stylus. It is very comfortable to write with and produces relatively life-like writing.

We Say
Gone are the days of messy stacks of papers which may be unsightly and overwhelming to navigate, organize, and/or share. Information is now readily available, so shouldn’t your notes be as well?

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Movie Review: Frozen

Title: Frozen
Directors: Chris Buck & Jennifer Lee
Cast: Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, Jonathan Groff, Josh Gad, Santino Fontana
Genre: Animation
Running Time: 102 minutes
Accolades: Oscars for Best Animated Feature and Best Original Song; Golden Globes for Best Animated Feature
Purchase Frozen: DVD | Blu-ray | Soundtrack

Plot
Based loosely on a Danish fairytale entitled “The Snow Queen”, Frozen tells a story of family, love, loyalty, and all the familiar themes of a Disney animation, except with a great twist that turns gender stereotyping on its head.

He Said
I have a love/hate relationship with Disney movies. They have many memorable songs, characters, and scenes which I do recall fondly and enjoy in small quantities. However, I was not a fan of the sometimes contrived and unrealistic stories, especially as I got older. I didn’t think I’d watch another Disney movie until I was a parent. Surprisingly, I found myself curious of the immense hype and praise Frozen received and just had to see it for myself. Magical and engaging from beginning to end and filled with endearing characters, Frozen not only embodies the best of Disney’s DNA, but takes it to new heights with a surprisingly well-written, snappy, and rather mature story. I must admit I was caught off-guard twice, which was quite pleasant given how predictable most Disney movies are. The soundtrack is extremely catchy. I whole-heartedly enjoyed the laughs and heart strings which Frozen tugged.

She Said
I did not grow up with fantasies about love or being in a pretty white dress on my wedding day. I did not grow up with Disney or fairytales. Watching Disney as an adult, I hated it. It was too unrealistic, too romanticized. Why is there always a damsel in distress? Why must the prince save the day? But as an aunt, I do watch Disney to screen/approve what my nieces and nephews should watch. I was drawn to Frozen the very moment Anna spoke, “the sky’s awake so I’m awake so we have to play!” The exact words were spoken by my nephew before and my heart just melted. A few minutes later, I teared up realizing the tragic fate of our princesses. Yes, it appears every fairytale involves the passing away of parents – and I still cry every. single. time. I rolled my eyes when Anna supposedly fell in love at first sight, and heaved a sigh of relief when her engagement fell through. Anna’s feisty nature and bravery were nicely complemented with Kristoff’s skepticism and loyalty. Their journey together was made more perfect with Olaf, the hilarious and optimistic snowman. Frozen was engaging and quick paced. I dreaded getting to the ending because I was truly enjoying the film and did not want that cliched “happily ever”. To my heart’s delight, a plot twist revolutionized my vision of fairytales and I cried in agreement with Frozen‘s definition of love. Disclaimer: I was not heads over heels with the production. There is one scene that I must pick a bone with: “Let It Go”. The concept of accepting who you are and having self-confidence is wonderful. Why smear such a beautiful moment? Must one suddenly have an hourglass figure, adorn a sexy dress, and strut like a super model in order to gain confidence? In the year 2014, I am enraged that while gender stereotype can be addressed, Disney is still sending false messages about body image.

We Say
Frozen is an entertaining movie for viewers of all ages and truly deserves its Oscar for “Best Animated Picture”. Funny, touching, and above all else, it is smart and meaningful. You will simply “melt” for Frozen! Hopefully this movie heralds a new generation of Disney!

Side note… could we get an Olaf spin-off?