Technology That Doesn’t Suck by Sarah Vogl

I’ve noticed that many of my friends simply deal with services that are handed to them and are not picky enough to search for any alternatives. While there’s nothing inherently wrong with this, I want to offer a couple programs (which you probably have at least heard of) that are intended make your workflow infinitely smoother, including a couple ways to avoid using Inquire!

The first application I offer is Google Drive. I like to think of Google Drive as an online, Web App version of Microsoft Word, Excel and Powerpoint with 100% less suck. It opts out of unnecessary features that Microsoft Office and Apple’s iWork contain. It took me a while to really warm up to it, but I think you’ll find that you won’t really miss any features. I find that the simple interface also helps me keep more focused when I’m working. Other benefits:

* When a professor relies on Inquire for document sharing, and if everything you’ll ever need for the semester is uploaded before the first day of class, I like to go through and download all of it at once and stick it in a Drive folder. This way I can avoid the maze that is Inquire altogether.

* It syncs quickly and effortlessly with your Google account, so say goodbye to flash drives and that other obscure drive somewhere in Roanoke’s servers.

* Stop emailing yourself Word documents when you need something available on another machine.

* Never again feel that awful sensation when your computer loses a 10-page paper because you forgot to save it habitually as you were working; Google auto-saves every change you make to a document.

* The iOS and Android apps are great if you use a tablet for productivity.

* Google Drive can’t edit every file, but stores anything and everything you put there (up to 15 GB).

* Easily export as PDF or Microsoft Office files.

If you are yet unwilling to let go of Office entirely just yet, I suggest Dropbox. Dropbox basically sticks a folder on your computer that syncs up with your Dropbox account. Log onto Dropbox on any other computer and your files will be available to you almost immediately.

Some quick suggestions regarding note-taking: I’ve noticed a strange habit of taking notes in an email draft in the Outlook Web App. For you, I suggest either using Google Drive or Google Keep, depending on how in-depth your notes are. For a more immersive note-taking experience (which requires app downloads, so isn’t super school-machine friendly), I recommend Evernote, which has apps for Windows, Mac, iOS and Android. For a simpler (though Mac-exclusive) note-taking experience, I suggest Simplenote, which has both iOS and Android apps, as well as several Mac apps to choose from (though Notational Velocity is my personal favorite).