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12 Free Android Apps to Help Get Things Done (Part 2)

12 Free Android Apps to Help Get Things Done (Part 2)

12 Free Android Apps to Help Get Things Done

    This post continues the list I started in Part 1, adding apps for managing contacts, collaborating, and accessing computer services from your Android phone (or, in the near future, other device). As before, I’m including links to the developers’ homepage when available, but all of these apps can be downloaded from the Google Market on your Android phone. And all are free (or were when I accessed them). So here we go:

    7. PrinterShare

    PrinterShare lets you print over the Internet on your own printer at home or at the office. Sign up for a free account, install and configure the server software on the computer your printer is attached to, and then you can print from your Android phone from anywhere (so long as you have network access via 3G or wi-fi). The big drawback is that you’re fairly limited to the type of content that’s printable: contacts, photos, and webpages. However, with more and more work shifting to the Web, you can usually find a way to get your content into the web broswer to print it (e.g. sending email attachments to Google Docs and sharing as HTML).

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    8. RemoteDroid

    RemoteDroid turns your Android phone into a remote touchpad and keyboard to control your PC. The screen becomes a touchpad just like you’d find on a laptop, with right-click and left-click buttons; the keyboard functions normally, except one of the alt keys becomes “CTRL” so you can do CTRL-keystroke combos like CTRL-V to paste.

    RemoteDroid works over your home wi-fi network: you run the server on your PC and enter the IP address on the app to connect. If you’re trying to think of why you’d do this, consider watching video content on your big monitor or through your TV; now, you can use your phone to control the computer from across the room to pause, adjust volume, skip to the next video, or whatever.

    9. ShareYourBoard

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    ShareYourBoard

      This app is for storing and sharing whiteboards – after a meeting or presentation, open Share Your Board and snap a picture of your whiteboard. Share Your Board automatically trims the image (saving just the marked-on part of the board), adjusts contrast and color, and adjusts the perspective of the image, producing a flat, legible image that can be shared with others and commented on. You can take multiple images over the course of a meeting to assemble a kind of slide-show, too. Images can be shared via MMS, email, or sent to programs like Twidroid (a Twitter client), PostBot (a WordPress client – see Part 1), Picasa, or PrinterShare.

      The image in the screenshot above was captured in an unlit corner of my apartment; the only lamp is a three-bulb unit across the room which uses compact fluorescent bulbs (which give an awful yellow cast to photos); my whiteboard is surrounded on all sides with index cards and business cards I’ve tucked into the frame. As you can see, it’s done a fairly good job of isolating the relevant stuff (there’s an index card at the bottom) and making a very readable image of the keyboard shortcuts for my transcription software.

      10. Upvise

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      upvise

        Upvise is collaborative project management software comprised of several modular “applications”: contacts, notebooks, projects, tasks, and so on. The Android app integrates with an online service (both free, though there is a paid “Premium” level that offers a few more features) so you’re not limited to collaborating with other Android users. Projects and notes can be shared, tasks can be assigned out, and ideas can be voted on by anyone in your group. A sales application allows business users to track and follow-up leads. One nice thing: the contacts application will import all your Google contacts (although, as far as I can tell, it doesn’t sync new contacts back to your Google address book).

        11. StarContact

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        starcontact

          StarContact is a replacement for the default Dialer software, allowing you to search your contact list (using the T9-style keypad shown in the screenshot, a more compact version, or the regular keyboard). You can also search within non-name fields in your contact list (like address, company name, and notes) as well as by initials. Other than that, it looks and acts like the normal dialer, making it easy to adapt to if you’re already used to using ANdroid’s built-in software.

          12. Wapedia

          wapedia

            There are several Android apps for searching and displaying Wikipedia articles, and to be honest, they basically all do the same thing. Wapedia does it very quickly, with entries nicely formatted for the mobile screen and very good image rendering and scaling. You can also access specialized wiki sites, like the Muppet Wiki, Wookiepedia, WoWWiki (World of Warcraft), the Recipes Wiki, Wiktionary, and several others. 

            (Note: Wapedia is a site that can be accessed from any browser, but here I’m talking about the dedicated app that acts as a front-end to the website.

            What are your favorite Android apps for keeping yourself engaged, informed, and productive on the go? Since it may not be too long before Android goes mainstream, let us know what we should look for when we crack open our next smartphone or netbook.

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            Last Updated on July 17, 2019

            The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

            The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

            What happens in our heads when we set goals?

            Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

            Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

            According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

            Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

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            Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

            Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

            The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

            Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

            So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

            Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

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            One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

            Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

            Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

            The Neurology of Ownership

            Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

            In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

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            But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

            This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

            Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

            The Upshot for Goal-Setters

            So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

            On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

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            It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

            On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

            But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

            More About Goals Setting

            Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

            Reference

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