f.lux and eyestrain – cool colours for the day and warm for the evening.

screen view of tintIf you are struggling with eye strain, because of screen glare, then the application ‘f.lux‘ may help you. The software changes the colour temperature of your screen based on the time of day. Daylight has a considerable amount of blue light; whereas sunset and late evening have much warmer tones. F.lux changes the screen from daylight settings to sunset or late evening settings. The application has a basis for its development within research – the negative impact of blue or day light on a person reading at night.

I downloaded the application and have already found it has had a positive impact on my eye strain. The initial setup did not take long but the changing of your location can be a bit clunky and you will need to check the longitude and latitude of your location. I’d recommend just typing the name of the village, town or city that you live in into Google asking for the longitude and latitude. Once setup the application runs unobtrusively in the background.

I would still recommend running f.lux in conjunction with altering your screens brightness or contrast. The application also has a feature that enables you to override the settings temporarily in case you need to do colour work – graphic designers, reprographics and commercial print companies will need to take note.

Free for Windows.(also available for Mac, Linux , and iPhone/iPad)

Here is some more information about eyestrain and computer screens from Wired

Neil
Course or Programme of Study: PhD in Computer Science

Extra note

“‘During the daylight hours, f.lux keeps your monitor relatively cool with a default color temperature of 6500K. Your brain tends to associate blue light with daylight. At night, f.lux dials down the color temperature to a warmer, more yellow glow (3400K). You can also choose from presets (Candle, Tungsten, Halogen, Fluorescent, and Daylight) or adjust the settings to another specific preference. In general, the yellower the light, the less straining it is on your eyes’”

Need to spell check a word? Say it to your phone!

siri screengrabOne of the easiest ways of checking for the spelling of a single word when on the move and not requiring a whole document to be spell checked is to say the word into a smart phone or tablet. As long as you have one of the fairly recent versions of Android, iOS iPhone or iPad or Windows, they all have built in speech recognition.  I am showing an example of how it works on an iPhone with Siri and this iOS5 hot tip has been on the web since 2012. There is an Android tutorial on using Speech to Text and one for Windows Surface speech recognition

I said to Siri – “spell /filosofical/” (spelt as said) – It not only repeated the word back to me with text to speech, but also gave me the correct spelling and dictionary definition.  If I just said the word it gave me the text to speech version back and a collection of links such as the word in Wikipedia.

This comes thanks to Annie – dyslexic researcher, University of Southampton.

Screen Adjuster for Android that adds a tinted overlay

Default Samsung Galaxy screen

Samsung Galaxy screen tinted blue

I’ve found that Screen Adjuster for Android works well at tinting and adjusting brightness of the screen. Screen Adjuster allows you to change contrast, brightness and colour of the screen really quickly and easily.
However, working with the app can be very frustrating when you want to move the sliders near the edge of the touch screen.  The swipe gesture may not always respond.   Otherwise the app is free and easy to use and can even dim the screen below the system settings.

screen grab of Screen Adjuster

Screen Adjuster showing slider near the edge of the screen

Screen Adjuster runs on Android 2.2+ and is on Google Play – there is a version that costs 0.73p that comes without the advertisements.

Martin

Google Drive for online storage and collaboration

google drive

Google Drive is an online tool which uses your Google account to store files online and can also be used to share files with other people and work on projects together. Being able to join in with a few others to work on a project and be able to take a break and have work still done is really useful.

Google Drive is able to create files, even from your desktop, and pick the permissions of who is allowed to edit it. More than one person can work on the file at the same time and the service has a chat panel for the people working in it, so that they can communicate. Everyone working on the file is given a colour and it shows who is typing when multiple people are working. Google Drive can also use documents from other applications to help create a project such as Google docs and Google sheets.

Google Drive is compatible Windows Vista, XP, 7, 8
Mac, mavericks (10.9), Mountain Lion (10.8), Lion (10.7)
Linux can access Google Drive through the website but the software is not available on the system
android 4.0+ and iOS 7.0+ are able to use Google drive, android 2.3-3.2 and iOS 6.0+ Can only view the files
Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Internet Explorer run Google Drive but require Java script

Tom, Mathematics

Siri for Calendar and Time Management.

siri screengrab

Siri asked to check appointments on 22nd September

Siri is brilliant for calendar management and time/task management, but underused, you can verbally manage your calendar/ tasks which, I personally find reduces the burden on my working memory and is more intuitive .  The speed of which I can set myself a reminder by taking the phone out of my pocket rather than searching for a pen and paper which I inevitably end up losing anyway is astounding!  I really like iOS accessibility. I definitely find low maintenance strategies with gainful upsides work well.

Useful wikihow page on how to turn on Siri

John Hodgson
Study Needs Assessor

Recording data on field trips with an iPad

James sent this through and we would like to say thank you as it is great to know that tablet technologies can work so well in these situations and Apple provided a replacement when needed!

iPad in water

Lifedge waterproof case from Gizmag Review – April 24, 2012

“The iPad was invaluable in the field as it allowed me to take notes and complete spreadsheets of field results on the move.The waterproof case was excellent and allowed me to continue writing in the rain, although I was not out in heavy rain due to the high risk of thunder and lightning during heavy rain in Florida. Battery life was more than enough to last the 6 hour field days, we did not stay out all day due to the extreme afternoon heat. I did find that I was unable to use voice recognition software in the field as both Dragon and the built in iPad notes voice recognition required wifi connection in order to work, but I managed ok typing one handed.

The video camera function did stop working part way through the trip, but I don’t think this was anything to do with the climate or use.

People at the Apple shop said that this sometimes happens during normal conditions and replaced the whole iPad at an Apple shop after my return to the UK under the standard 1 year warranty.”

James
BSc BioSciences Zoology