Archive for the 'Blogging Stuff' Category

Nov 09 2011

Setting up a writer’s ambiance


I don’t know about you, but I’ve got to be in a certain state of mind before I can start writing.
I need quiet music, low lighting (or super bright if I’m going the pen and paper route), a comfortable chair, and no distractions.

I’ve found tools on the web that can help me with 3/4 of these things (still waiting on that comfortable chair app).

img from flickr


1. Shades (mac only)- This is a great application that I just found the other day.  Sometimes I like to have my screen really bright, but not while I’m writing.  However, I can never find that happy medium between too bright and too dark.  Shades gives you a slider that you can adjust to change the brightness of your screen.  But I think my favorite feature of this app is that you can change the tint of your screen.  Instead of dimming to a dark black color as usual, you can dim it to purple, pink, yellow, orange, any color you can think of.  I like yellow because it’s akin to writing on old parchment.

2. Spotify – Spotify is a lot like Pandora, which I’m sure you’ve heard of, but it’s kind of way better.  You can search for playlists, star songs you like, play a genre specific radio, and even make your own playlist.  I like classical music when I write and it’s super easy to find a lot of it at once.  Spotify is also very social networking based so you can share what you’re listening to on facebook.. or not.

3. WriteRoom (mac only.. although there is a windows version out there somewhere) – This is my favorite of all three of these.  WriteRoom gives you a big, giant, happy plain text screen where you can just writewritewrite.  I might have written about this before.  I don’t care.  It’s the best.  Are you one of those people who starts writing and says “Wellll I’ve written for five minutes, ooh look, a shiny open Facebook tab!”?  Because I am.  WriteRoom takes up your whole screen so you can’t explore the other things floating on your desktop.  The format reminds me of the Terminal on the mac, very clean.


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Sep 02 2011

750words – exercise for your brain

Throughout my travels here at UMW, I’ve come across a lot of tools for school on the web.

But I have to say the one I’ve gotten the most use out of is 750words.

photo courtesy of feuillu

The basic concept is pretty simple, you use their nifty little interface to scribble out 750 words of your choosing.  It can be gibberish but that kind of defeats the whole purpose.

What I really use it for is to get the juices flowing.  Brainstorming.  Freewriting is a great way to get started, simply just writing out your thoughts sometimes can help you clear your head to get on to the important stuff.  Or use your words to jump start a project you weren’t sure about.  Write a letter to your grandma or a poem about bagels, it really doesn’t matter.

The great thing about 750words is that you get awards for how you use the site, akin to the foil star stickers you used to get on your papers in kindergarten, called badges.  There’s a Night Bat badge if you frequently write in the late evening, and the Albatross badge if you write for 30 days in a row.  I’m the kind of person that excels with reward systems, and I’m sure some of you out there feel the same.

If you’ve got a paper to write, the clean, no-distractions window makes it easier.   You wanna vent or solve world hunger, do it, it’s all anonymous so nobody can steal your brilliance.

Another cool feature is that you can get your writing evaluated into a little personality chart.  It’ll tell you if, on average, your writing is affectionate or self-important, if you’re more concerned with death or money, and how many times you swear in an average post.  I’m up to an average of 26 curse words per entry apparently.

750 words seems like a lot (3 pages double spaced, actually) but you’ll find that once you get into the groove you’ll fly past that amount.

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Dec 10 2008

Stuff We Made

It seems appropriate (ok and maybe a little self-serving) to start SfSS off with a run-down of stuff that DTLT has worked on — often with the help of other awesome colleagues at UMW.

10 ways to use UMW BlogsUMW Blogs: You must have heard of this, because, well you’re here now. In short, UMW Blogs is a WordPress (that’s a blogging application) platform that anyone at UMW can use. You may already be using it in a class. If not, check out Jim Groom’s 10 Ways to Use UMW Blogs for a run-down of what it can do. If you’re still not sure what it’s for, our best advice is TRY IT! Yep, here at SfSS we believe that the only way to understand what a technology can do for you is to get in there and muck around. When you’re done, let us (and our readers) know what you did.

curries!New Media Toolkit Digital Media Cookbook: Here in DTLT we’ve got a guy. We call him our New Media Specialist. Sometimes we also call him Andy Rush. Or ‘hey you’. Anyway, Andy’s putting together a great new resource on new media. He’ll be providing information about all kinds of media tools and techniques and how you can mix them all together to whip up tasty new digital recipes.

UMW Digital Archives: First, we have to be completely up-front and say WE did not make this by ourselves. This was a collaborative project involving lots of people from around UMW, including our stellar colleagues at the UMW Library and in University Relations. But, we’d be remiss if we didn’t list it here, because it’s just neat. If you’re interested in what UMW used to look like in the olden days, check out this archive of digital photos. You may also want to check out the smaller collection that we’ve put together at Flickr. Not sure what to do with all of this visual UMW goodness? How about finding an image that’s topically relevant to your next class presentation and popping it into PowerPoint for a title slide? Use your imagination. There’s enough cool stuff in this collection to inspire anyone.

Photo Credits:

Creative Commons License UMWBlogs photo credit: bavatuesdays

Creative Commons License Ingredients photo credit: bitmask

Creative Commons License Phonebooth photo credit: UMW Centennial

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