Time for some back to school computer tips

Ah it’s almost back to school time which not only means a slew of sales on tech items, but also (and more importantly I think) a slew of back to school tips to help students do better in school. Today I saw some great stuff from Read Write Web and Download Squad as well as that always important question: are there more Macs on campus than PCs?

Let’s get to the tips first. Download Square offers their list of Google Chrome extensions for the student—10+ extensions for better back-to-school browsing with Google Chrome—all of which are good, but I’d also throw into their list Feedly for getting your news through Google Reader in a more digestible fashion and Xmarks for keeping bookmarks in sync not only across browsers, but computers and operating systems as well. Read Write Web covers some teacher’s picks for back to school—Teachers Pick Their Top 5 Back-To-School Tech Tools—and the iPad is there as well as Twitter and Google Docs, all excellent choices, I would also through in Netvibes for building a personal dashboard (especially if you combine it with your to do list and such) and something like Pomodormo Technique for helping you focus on one thing at a time (like right now, I’m writing this post, no Twitter, no email, no RSS).

Not to be left out I have some of my own tips for students:

  • Flash drives. I don’t think you can ever have too many. Sure a 1GB flash drive isn’t a lot, but in terms of holding documents, it’s plenty. And if you keep several in your bag (I tend to have at least 4 on me at all times), you can afford to lend one (or two) out.
  • Dropbox. Up to 6GB free storage? 50GB for $100 a year? Yeah this is a no-brainer for both sharing and backups. I’ve recently put a lot of critical work in Dropbox and using that as my working copy. Why? First, it’s still backed up with Timemachine and Crashplan. Second, Dropbox keeps 30 days of revisions. Third, if I need something, if I can get online, I have it.
  • Portable laptop stand. I have a nifty one that has four legs unfolded, but folds into something that would fit in a paper-towel roll tube (but half the length). It’s made of aluminum, so it’s both light and strong. There are also the ones like Lapdesk that can be used as a stand or on your lap. I keep mine up on by the couch because it’s great for working there, but for regular lugging around, it’s a tad bulky.
  • Portable power strip. I’ve carried cheap 3 outlet ones and nicer folding ones from Monster cables, but my favourite is the Belkin three outlet with two USB ports. Yep, extra outlets (great way to make friends let me tell you) and you can charge your phone/iPod/iPad/iPhone/camera with it. I’ve had one in my bag for probably five years now. I never leave home without it, and sure enough when I come up to a full plug and help out a couple people, I always meet someone new.
  • A good pocket knife. In 1990 (ish) my Geology advisor bet me that if I carried my Swiss Army knife in my pocket for a week, that I’d never be without it again. Well, he was right. Unless I’m flying and not checking a bag, I always have a pocket knife. Mostly it’s not for the knife part, it’s the scissors, screw drivers, and other tools that I use the most. I even gave my Groom’s people Leatherman Juice S2s as gifts (and one for myself). Those babies have good pilers and all the rest. Laugh if you will, but I make the same bet with you.

How about you? What are some of your best back to school computer tips?

Oh and before you say “a pocket knife isn’t a computer tip…” Look at how many computer things need a screwdriver to open…like the Apple Wireless Keyboard.

On the Macs vs PCs question, OS X Daily—Macs in the classroom – OS X Daily—quotes Tod Maffin with his recent Mac vs PC experience at BCIT. Well, BCIT might not be the best example because of how Macs are strongly encouraged (read required) for some programs, but I think that Tod is probably right. I think Macs are making a comeback on campus.

Originally posted on Future Shop Community Forums.


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