Why You Should Download Facebook’s “Paper” for iOS

First thing yesterday morning I downloaded Paper and I have to say, I am impressed (not by the icon however, which leaves much to be desired). It’s all about the gestures and they are fast! Facebook really got this right.

Here are a few:
Swipe left or right to scroll through Sections or articles
Tap or swipe up to view content
Swipe down or pinch to exit content
Swipe up again or zoom to view webpage (if you want to view the original article from a friends post for example)
Swipe down from Home screen to view personal Facebook page, view settings, edit Paper Sections, create a post, or search.
Swivel phone left and right to view full photo images without zooming.

I’m sure there is more but once I got the hang of it, I was swiping, pinching and zooming up a storm. I found it super easy to navigate through content simply and quickly which is key. I can also perform similar actions as in the native app, e.g. write a post, send a direct message, view notifications, friend requests, etc. 

I also liked the option to add content from my sections to Pocket. Pocket is not my preferred read later app but but that’s workable. With a little IFTTT magic,I can send to Instapaper, Buffer, Twitter or what have you via Pocket.

Some say this app is similar to Flipboard, and it is conceptually, but it has a very different feel to it. A recent article on Mashable describes this well. Try it for yourself its FREE!

For a first release, I give it a thumbs up.

Brainscape – Get Smart Fast

I recently discovered Brainscape, an app that allows you to study a whole manner of things in a strategic way based on brain science. Don’t get me wrong, the app does not boast an overly fancy interface, but it does a great job of presenting a lot of information in a short period of time while keeping your attention: I have the attention span of a gnat. Currently, I am having fun using the vocabulary builder and keyboard shortcut modules!

You start by downloading a set of flashcards in the subject of your choice. Then you are prompted to start studying. In the vocabulary building module, a word will appear, then once you think of a definition, you can opt to show the answer. But here’s the cool part, you rate how closely you come to the actual definition on a scale of 1-5. 1 being “I have no idea what that means” and five being “I know the definition word for word.” You know how it is, sometimes you have a general idea of what a word means in context but cant really explain it. Brainscape allows you to master your words. The words will reappear sometimes word first or definition first in a particular sequence based on the “brain science” of efficient learning. I learned about four new words after a few minutes and they are still in my head.

Brainscape offers flashcards covering languages, history, standardized test prep, people you should know (love that!), geography and more. Some modules are free some are not. Considering they’ve done the hard part of preparing the material for me, its worth the money. I plan on purchasing the full vocabulary building deck for $4.99. Either way, you can demo all modules for free.

I think this is an essential app for a student or lifelong learner. I plan to keep an eye on this app as it develops in the future.

Relational Multitasking (Less Stress More Joy)

Standing in my office parking lot, breathing in cycles of warm summer air, I realized that I was stressed out! Retaining my running list of to-dos for mere moments, only to see them vanish from my mind and inconveniently return screaming AAAHHHHH, you forgot about me!!! Sound familiar? I realized that my to-dos exceeded my physical and emotional energy. As I frantically reclaimed my list from memory, typing tasks on my phone, I paused. Why am I doing all of this stuff by myself?! Then an amazing thing happened. I began to list names next to each task. Can my friend help me straighten up my office while we catch up about life? Can my husband and I plan our schedule over a nice dinner? Can someone else do this task all together? Perhaps it would even help them grow?! Suddenly, my muscles relaxed, I smiled and the cloud of anxiety lifted.

People often say that multitasking is a flawed practice, accomplishing nothing simultaneously. However, if I’m cleaning my house and catching up with a friend, I am accomplishing several things. I’m not alone doing something boring, I’m spending time with a friend, and I’m taking care of my house. A solution! Don’t hover over your to do list wishing you could retire 25 years ahead of schedule; put some names on the list! There are a lot of people who might enjoy giving you a hand.