CSDTech Blog

Zombies, Run! : App of the Week

February 20, 2017

A picture of the Zombies, Run! Logo

Zombies, Run! is a fun health and wellness app for Android and iOS devices.

Exercise and Game

Zombies, Run! is a game that encourages walking, jogging, and running. By playing the game, you can survive the zombie apocalypse and save your base from hardships.

Listen to Your Own Music

You can listen to both the missions and your own music at the same time. The app allows you to listen to external music from app such as Spotify and Pandora, as well as the music already downloaded on your device.

Zombie Chases

These help inspire you to pick up your pace a bit to escape the zombies! Additionally, it also helps vary your running speed. If zombies are chasing you, you aren’t going to want to slow down!

Improve Your Community

With the supplies that you automatically gather while out running, you can improve your base. After your run, strengthen your base against zombie invasions, or go ahead and build a farm to feed more people!

Compare With Other Players

The free ZombieLink service allows you to share your runs online!

Compatible Apple Watch App             

The Apple Watch app allows you to leave your phone alone while you run! It allows you to easily check your run progress, and it keeps a live supply count. Additionally, it allows you to select any mission you want, rather than just the next one.

 

If you would like to learn more, check out Zombies, Run! for iOS here , and Zombies, Run! for Android here . The first 4 missions of Zombies, Run! are free, with an extra mission unlocking every week. The Pro version is $2.99/month or $19.99/year, and has all of the story missions immediately unlocked.

CSDTech Purchases Sonocent Audio Notetaker!

February 1, 2017

Why is this important?

CSDTech tries to stay on top of new learning technology and software available on the market. We are always eager to explore promising software and applications to make sure our students have access to the latest and greatest. This past Fall 2016 semester CSDTech piloted a software called Sonocent Audio Notetaker. Students were sent out with Sonocent installed on their computers to tackle the always challenging task of notetaking. The feedback has been very positive from the students who were using the software. Moving forward CSDTech plans to purchase Sonocent Audio Notetaker providing our students with more technology-based notetaking options!

 

What is Sonocent Audio Notetaker?

Sonocent Audio Notetaker is a notetaking software that utilizes many valuable study features. Audio Notetaker organizes your notes by breaking up the audio recording of your lecture into sections. The sections can be tagged with colors making it easy to find important sections when reviewing your notes.  PowerPoints, PDF’s or images can be uploaded before or after lecture making it easy to synchronize the audio with specific slides or images. Being able to record audio side by side with PowerPoint slides has been a common positive feedback point. This makes it easy to go back to specific slides and replay what the professor was saying about the information displayed.

 

Sonocent Layout

 

How can I get Sonocent AudioNotetaker?

If you are approved for technology-based notetaking, simply make an appointment with the CSDTech Team. You can do this by contacting your DSP or email the CSDTech Team directly at csdtech@uconn.edu! We look forward to hear from you! Limited licenses available!

 

 

Learn more about Sonocent Audio Notetaker
Available for Mac and Windows.
Available on iOS and Android as well!

3D Printing

January 15, 2017

          3D printing is this brand new manufacturing process we now have that enables you to directly build your own ideas. You design your idea on the computer using CAD software, creating whatever you’d like! Once your design is complete, you convert it into a specific file which slices your design into hundreds, sometimes thousands, of 2D layers. The 3D printer then reads this file and starts printing one layer at a time. Yes, all of this sounds fun and exciting, but how can it be helpful for the Center for Students with Disabilities?

          People with disabilities often have needs that require personalized equipment to help them in everyday life.  Remember all those ridiculous infomercials like the Snuggie? How funny it seemed that people would be wearing a robe backwards? Well, this could actually be a great assistive device for someone with a disability, and because it is marketed to a mass audience, it’s very affordable. Assistive devices need to be cheap, efficient solutions, so why not use a 3D printer to create these tools?

          I am a Mechanical Engineering student at the University of Connecticut and am very interested in using the state of the art tools that are available through UConn to assist the students I work with. I want to learn how I could potentially 3D print something to assist students with disabilities at the University of Connecticut, so last week my boss, Alyssa Marinaccio, and I brainstormed. As we came up with ideas we decided we should start with something small. We went to one of the engineering buildings on campus and with the help of students in the lab we were able to 3D print the braille alphabet.

screen-shot-2016-12-15-at-3-56-31-pm

          With this successful endeavor, we look forward to coming up with more innovative ideas that will hopefully one day greatly benefit CSD and our student population.

Talking Calculator: App of the Week

January 2, 2017

Talking Calculator: App of the Week

A picture that shows the Talking Calculator's default setup.

Talking Calculator is a mathematical app for iOS products.

Text to Speech

By clicking on any of the calculator functions, the app will say aloud the full value of what is currently on the screen. It updates the spoken term as you type, so it won’t be saying the wrong number! Symbols, such as “=” (or “equal”) are spoken aloud as well. The app will even read out the final answer! There is also a volume adjuster in the app which is separate from the device’s audio settings.

Voice Options

The app can speak in your own voice, in the voice of someone you’ve recorded, or in the pre-downloaded voice!

Plenty of Layout Options

There are two general layouts: a default layout, which looks like the above image, and a simplified layout. The simplified layout has larger buttons and only operators and numbers on the screen. Additionally, there are also two different color settings: the Low Contrast setting (shown in the picture above), and the High Contrast setting (which has a yellow background with black buttons).

Simple to Use

This Talking Calculator can add, subtract, multiply, and divide, just like a normal calculator. It also can use exponents and take the square root of a number.

 

If you want to learn more, check out Talking Calculator by Adam Croser for iOS here. If you are looking for a talking calculator with more features, you should check out the iOS app Talking Scientific Calculator by Adam Croser. A similar Android version of Talking Calculator by Sanjeev Neupane is also available.

The Talking Calculator iOS version is $1.99. The Talking Scientific Calculator for iOS is $4.99, and acts like a full scientific calculator. The Talking Calculator Android app is free to download.

Sign Language Interpretation Gloves

December 5, 2016

 

Researchers around the world have been exploring a growing problem in the deaf community: how to facilitate communication between the 360 million people with hearing impairments and the orally-spoken world. Sign language is commonly taught to the deaf, however, rarely taught to the hearing members of the community. As a result, a communication gap exists. Signers must rely on a human interpreter or pen and paper to get their words across to friends, colleagues, or employers. The language barrier between the hearing and hearing impaired creates challenges from lost job opportunities to discomfort in friend groups and must be overcome by a person who relies on signing to communicate in the average social atmosphere.

signingglovesfeatured2Communication between the hearing and hearing impaired is a huge problem: we cannot allow millions of people to rely on interpreters or pen and paper to have a voice. That’s why college students like Hadeel Ayoub, Thomas Pryor and Navid Azodi, and Ranjay Krishna, Seonwoo Lee, and Si Ping Wang have been working on gloves that can translate hand gestures into audible speech.

Sensors in the gloves measure the change in position of a person’s fingers and hands. The signals are then processed by computer chips and translated into speech. Many different prototypes are being explored—some that connect to apps on your smartphone, others that display what the gloves translate via little screens attached to the wrists of the gloves, and others that communicate via laptop. However, all use the same principle of a wearable device that can replace reliance on human translators for the signing community, and one day could be more convenient than pulling out pen and paper to communicate everyday needs like your morning Starbucks coffee order.

As exciting as these gloves are, they are still in their early stages of development. Right now, they can only translate a few simple, distinct gestures, and will not be ready for commercial development for a few years. However, innovations such as these sign language translating gloves are just another example of how technology can break down disability barriers and give equal opportunity for all to communicate and thrive!

myHomework: App of the Week

November 28, 2016

If you’ve ever found yourself looking for a planner app, but have no idea where to begin, or are annoyed and overwhelmed by the many options, look no further than myHomework. myHomework is a free app, with a user-friendly interface that can display your class schedule and homework. Assignments can be viewed by class, priority, and type, and all information can be synced across multiple devices. In the past, I’ve avoided using planner apps, because I find they are filled with too many options and settings. Compared to apps used for a similar purpose, I find this one easy to understand and very user-friendly.

myhomework-example-docx

Creating a myHomework account is both free and easy; however, the premium version of myHomework is $4.99 per year. The premium version includes features like file attachments, due date reminders, and no ads! If you choose to pay for the premium version, you will be prompted at the end of the year asking if you would like to renew it; if not, you can move down to the Standard version with no problems!

To learn more about myHomework visit: https://myhomeworkapp.com/

myhomework-example

Tip: Combining Echo Smartpen and Cornell Notetaking

November 14, 2016

Echo Smartpen

One of my favorite types of assistive technology that is offered by CSDTech is the Echo Smartpen developed by Livescribe. As students, we may have been in situations where we miss what the professor had said as we were writing down notes. The Echo Smartpen solves this problem by recording audio that syncs with the lecture notes as you’re writing. As a result, you will be able to read your notes, listen to a playback of your professor’s lecture, and fill in any information that was missed. Research shows that the more senses you stimulate, the better you are able to retain information. With the Echo Smartpen, your tactile (writing), sight (reading), and hearing (listening) senses are being used, and so you’re making more connections with the information.Livescribe Echo Smartpen

I can go on and on about how awesome the Smartpen is, but if you would like to know more, please check out and read about in greater detail in a CSDTech blog. For the rest of this post, I want to tell you about how you can make this device a more powerful learning tool. In addition to using the Smartpen to memorize information, combining the device with an effective note-taking strategy can help you go one step further: applying the learned knowledge.

 

Cornell Notetaking System

I know what you’re thinking, and yes, its Cornell as in the Ivy-league university. The director of Cornell University’s reading and study center, Walter Pauk, created a note format that he developed and explained in his best-selling book How to Study in College. According to a study performed at Harvard University, Cornell Notes has become one of the most frequently suggested note-taking strategies by university websites for student support.

Using this format, each page of your notes is split into 3 columns like this: 

Cornell Page FormatNote-taking Column:

  • Record: Write in this section during lecture, a helpful tip would be to take notes in your own words.

                                                Summary Column:

  • Review: In this section, summarize all the main ideas on this page after class. If you spend at least ten minutes every week reviewing all your previous notes, you’ll better retain essential information leading up to, during, and after the exam. Reviewing early and often is the key!

                                                    Cue-Column:

  • Questions: After class, come up with questions based on your notes. Writing questions helps to clarify meanings, reveal relationships, establish continuity, and strengthen memory. The sooner you figure out what questions you may have; the sooner you can ask the professor for clarification before the exam.

 

  • Recite: Best way to know if you understand the materials is to test yourself. I know it’s an obvious strategy, but in terms of reviewing, self-testing is more effective than re-reading. Cover the note-taking column and use the questions in the cue column to answer (in your own words) the questions. You can also explain the facts or main ideas indicated by the cue-words.

 

  • Reflect: Reflect on the material by asking yourself questions, for example: “What’s the significance of these facts? What principle are they based on? How can I apply them? How do they fit in with what I already know? What’s beyond them?

Tips on Combining Echo Smartpen + Cornell Notetaking

  • Draw the columns in your notebook before class. The columns do not have to be the exact dimensions mentioned above. As long as you have enough room to write, then you’re good to go!

    Cornell and Smartpen Format

 

  • Although you can still use the Cornell Notetaking system while typing notes, researchers in a Princeton/UCLA study found that students who write their notes understood the information better because they summarized the main ideas.

The benefit of ink and audio recording with the Echo smartpen is that students can jot down a few notes in order to capture the big ideas, while all the information (that is said) is recorded and can be reviewed later
Brian Kemp Taking Better Notes With Professor Andy Van Schaack

  • When writing in the note-taking column, come up with a symbol system to indicate notes to be reviewed after class. For example, use the asterisk symbol to indicate this is a cue word, fact, or important idea. In addition, the question mark can be used to indicate questions you have or questions the professor may have asked the class. In the cue column, write down the cues and questions you had made note of.
  • While reviewing your notes, you can always click on the symbols you made with the smartpen to playback the lecture recording that corresponds with your notes. This is especially helpful when you want to hear all the details of the main ideas you wrote in your notes.
Source:
Adapted from How to Study in College 7/e by Walter Pauk, 2001 Houghton Mifflin Company

InstaGrok

November 7, 2016

Research can be tedious and boring, but not with InstaGrok. It has innovative features that can help you master information research skills in a fun and effective way. With other search engines, you open over 10 tabs and you completely lose track of your thought process. But InstaGrok is a great alternative to other online search tools because it really focuses your search and shows your train of thought. When you are studying and need more information about a topic, you simply go to InstaGrok.com, type in your keyword, and an illustrative concept map will appear. A concept map is used to visualize relationships between concepts. You start off with your keyword and from there it branches off and graphs nodes corresponding with the previous topic. You can click on any of these nodes and another pop-up will appear giving you more information on it. Not only does InstaGrok create these concept maps, but you can also create your own, helping you study or better understand things.

InstaGrok Mind Map

Another feature this app offers is once you search your keyword and the concept map appears, there are two other tabs you can click on; Journal and Quizzes.

Example Search of InstaGrok

Under the Journal tab, you can take notes to save with the concept map, or just to jot down a few ideas. But if you still want a better understanding of your topic, then click on the Quizzes tab. InstaGrok generates quizzes in accordance with whatever your keyword is, greatly helping with transfer and application of knowledge.

To learn about InstaGrok visit http://www.instagrok.com/blog/

Trello

October 31, 2016

Ever have trouble keeping track of group projects with classmates, research deadlines or progress with professors? How about staying stocked on milk in your apartment between your roommates? Trello may be the app for you!

Trello label options for tasks

Trello is a free organizational tool that allows you to make and share notecards with collaborators. This app sends notifications to group members of upcoming deadlines and recent changes to the notecards, so you are always aware of group progress. Trello works on iPads, iPhones, and online on both Macs and PCs.

Screenshot of a Trello open task from a notecard

Trello helps you visualize what needs to be done on your project by displaying tasks on notecards. Your home page is made of “project notecards”. Clicking on a project notecard opens up a wall of sticky notes you’ve made for different tasks. These sticky notes have many features to help you stay organized and on top of what needs to be done. Notifications for due dates, color coding for notable tasks, file upload features, and check lists all help you keep information consolidate to a single platform.

This tool works best when you are researching with a group—you can color code and link useful articles, checklists, and deadlines for your project to easily stay in communication with your teammates. Definitely something to look into for senior design for all you UConn engineers!

ReadCube: App of the Week

October 24, 2016

Have you ever felt like there are too many topics to research, too many articles to collect + read, and simply too much info to cite + keep track of when writing a massive research paper? As a college student, it’s not fun staying up to write a paper until the library closes at 2AM. In order to save time, I started using ReadCube.

What is ReadCube?

“A user-friendly reference app that allows you to search, download, and manage a collection of PDF articles.”
ReadCube Example

Interactive Reading Experience
     ReadCube desktop allows you to “go beyond the PDF” by using enhanced methods to read and search: if a publication can be enhanced, then you can load and overlay information from a publisher’s website with clickable inline references, supplements, and related materials.

Stay Organized
     If you already have a folder of PDFs on your computer, you can import the PDFs into your ReadCube library. Similar to how you can make playlists for your music, ReadCube lets you create customizable lists to categorize your articles, or it can automatically create lists to match the name of the folder you imported.

 

Save Time using Annotation+Highlight Tools
How many students agree that rereading articles can be tough, especially when the article is more than five pages? Nobody has the time for that! ReadCube helps you save time by giving you the tools to take inline notes in your own words, which makes it easier to recall information, and highlight keywords/ short sentences.

Manage Citations
I can’t even begin to describe how stressed I was managing all my citations and making sure they were in the right format. The last thing you want to do is break the academic conduct code by committing plagiarism! Thankfully, creating and managing citations has been made easier after using ReadCube’s citation tool: SmartCite. This tool allows you to generate, format, and manage citations from your ReadCube library and any article available on PubMed. From the the articles stored in your library, you can insert citations into your paper that you’re writing on Microsoft Word. Double tap the CTRL button on your keyboard to bring up SmartCite, type to search for an article, and select the article(s) you want to insert as a citation. Afterwards, you can add and format your bibliography in more than 500 styles! There is also the option to customize and add your own citation.

Built-In Search Function
If you can’t find what you’re looking for in this PDF article, then you can use the built-in search function to search through Google Scholar and PubMed. You can search within ReadCube for specific authors, journals, years, or keywords. Once you find your article, you can download it from the web with a click of a button (as long as it is a journal that UConn is subscribed to)!  Once your article is added to your library, it becomes full-text searchable. This means you can search multiple articles in its entirety, all at once! The less time you spend searching for articles, the sooner you can finish your paper (and get to do other things like go to the gym, eat, sleep, or Netflix). ReadCube Features

How Can I get ReadCube?

If ReadCube sounds like a tool you want to try out, then I have good news for you! ReadCube Desktop is available for both Mac and Windows users. If you’re the type of student who is constantly on the go, then check out the mobile app version for Android (4.0 and up) on the Google Play Store. The mobile app is also available at the App store for iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch (iOS 7.0 and up). Did I forget to mention that the Desktop and Mobile versions are FREE? I promise, this is not a scam, and not a free trial version. There are exclusive features that are for ReadCube Pro only, but all the features mentioned in this article are standard and do not cost a single penny. Creating an account is free, downloading is free, and using it is free. Who doesn’t love free goodies? Click on any of the links below to get ReadCube:

 

ReadCube App Store Download ReadCube Download ReadCube Google Play

For Text-to-Speech Users

For students who use text-to-speech programs, ReadCube is compatible with screen readers. For example, CSD offers a software called Read&Write to all UConn students: It is a customizable toolbar that integrates reading, writing, studying, and research support tools (learn more about Read&Write). Both Read&Write and ReadCube can be opened simultaneously. To read an article that is opened on ReadCube, use the “Screenshot Reader” button and drag the mouse around the text you wish to have read aloud.

Want More Info?

Visit their website at: https://www.readcube.com/