In a recent APA blog post historian of philosophy and pun-loving podcaster, Peter Adamson, floated the idea of using podcasts for teaching. Sounds like a good idea, sure. In this post, I’d like to focus on the idea of using podcasts for research. As I see it, podcasts could be AMAZING for research! Yeah, like, all-caps amazing! Continue reading Podcasts …for research?
My job requires lots of reading. But sometimes I read very slowly. Other times my body is occupied doing something that precludes the ability to read from a book or an electronic display. So I have been looking for ways to fit in more reading and to read faster. Text-to-speech technology provides the means to do this. So I use text-to-speech for speed reading, for multi-task reading, for and a few other things. In this post, I will (a) talk you about the best PDF-to-speech app that I have found and (b) talk about how I use text-to-speech more generally.
Most computers, tablets, and smartphones can read text aloud in one way or another. However, until recently, I have not found text-to-speech software that can do both of the following:
- Speak the whole document start-to-finish. Every new page seems to trip up the software, so I have to restart the speech playback at the beginning of every new page.
- Ignore header and footer text. If the software can do 1, then it gets sidetracked by the text in the headers and footers every time it advances to the next page (e.g., copyright notices and page numbers; see figure 1 below).
Lots of people pay close attention to the US News National University Rankings. But some academics want field-specific rankings. And some academics have created their own. In philosophy, we created the Philosophical Gourmet Report to rank philosophy Ph.D. programs. For many reasons, academic philosophers are becoming more vocal about their criticism of these philosophy rankings (e.g., Bruya 2015, De Cruz 2018). In this post, I will propose a new system. This system will address common complaints about philosophy’s existing ranking system: It will be more versatile, up-to-date, and generalizable.
1. THE COMPLAINTS
The complaints about the rankings are voluminous — what else would you expect from philosophers? In lieu of an outline of every blog post and every public statement, I provide a list of major themes that fall into three different categories: the practice of ranking, the current process of ranking, and the current leadership of the ranking.
Complaints About Ranking
- Rankings might misrepresent the magnitude of the differences between departments.
- Rankings might indicate a false sense of hierarchy and/or prestige.
- Ordinal lists just aren’t that informative.
Complaints About Process
[Update: A more recent desk setup: “Office Space: Sit-stand Workstation“]
An office can be a sanctuary for productivity. An important component of the santucary is the desk. I find that some desk setups are less distracting and more practical than others. In this post, I’ll mention a few things about my current desk setup.
1. THE DESKTOP
Sometimes I stand at my desk and sometimes I sit. I When I am sitting, I use the ViewSonic LCD monitor as an external monitor. Mounted on the wall behind the desk is a SteelMaster Organizer. On the top shelf of the organizer I have a Dell LCD monitor. I extended the bottom shelf with a piece of plywood that protrudes over the desk to hold my laptop and my coffee tumbler. I use the other shelves in the organizer for papers.
And yeah, I know. It’s not a glorious workstation. I had to MacGyver the standing desk from leftovers in the department storage closet. Another department was kind enough to give me another old monitor after they remodeled some offices. What can I say? I’m a scavenger. I’m always on the lookout for ways to use redundant campus equipment, e.g., my last standing desk.
2. THE COMPUTER
I’ve had a few laptops and a tablet over the last 10 years. I’ve found that I strongly prefer Apple’s operating systems to Microsoft’s operating system. I also prefer smaller and lighter devices over larger and heavier devices; it makes travel and bike commuting a lot more tolerable. And when I’m traveling I find that I prefer screens that are no larger than a piece of paper. That leaves me with two options: an iPad or a small Macbook. I’ve tried iPads, but they just didn’t do everything I needed to do. The main problem is that iOS is miles away from OS X. So I went with the macbook air. It’s small, light, durable (no glass panel display), and powerful enough for my daily needs. Plus, I get 9-10 hours of battery life which is great when I’m traveling.
Thoughts about the steup? What is your desk setup like? Or if you’re undecided about a setup, what do you want out of a setup?Thoughts, pics, links, etc. are welcome in the comments.
† Here’s an example. First, some background. When I’m at my desk, my back is to the door. And the door is almost always open. When I am reading and writing, I often listen to music. And sometimes I find myself dancing to the music…with my back to the door…while the door is wide open. Once in awhile I catch myself and then turn around to find a couple of students laughing at me from the hallway.