Mathematica 11 is out!



Wolfram Mathematica 11


Wolfram Research just released Mathematica 11. Check it out!

Excel: use FORMULATEXT() to add notes to formulas



If you use Excel in your teaching, it is sometimes useful to spell out the formulas used in a cell. I found a neat way to show how you can accomplish it. The trick is use the FORMULATEXT() function. Here is how to do it.

  1. Go to cell E67.
  2. Go to the ribbon and click on FORMULAS. Then Function Library › Lookup & Reference. In the Reference field of the Function Dialog, point to cell B67 then click OK.
  3. In cell E67, the actual formula is displayed.

Bonus tip: Use the N function to add additional notes. You can do so by just adding +N plus the comment following the formula in the original cell (B67). So in B67, it looks like:

=T.DIST.RT(B65,B61)+N(“RT stands for ‘right tail”)

Then in E67, the actual formula and your comment are displayed. Use the N function to insert your comments at the end of the formulas.


Recent Software Updates

Two software applications I recommend recently got updated.

  1. Techsmith Snagit – in early June, Snagit was upgraded to version 13. The update brings a host of new features. This week, Techsmith released an update, version 13.0.1, which fixes some of the bugs found in version 13. If you have Techsmith Updater running (it should be by default), the Updater will notify you of the new release and work in the background to update your copy of Snagit to 13.0.1. You can check your version via the Help Menu.snagit 13
  2. Foxit Reader – Version 8.0 introduces the new ConnectedPDF feature. I believe it replaces the Foxit Cloud feature in the earlier versions. I use the Reader to mainly read PDFs and nothing more, so I recommend you disable the ConnectedPDF feature. Here is how to do it, via Techdows. I updated for bug fixes and to gain the new connection feature to Dropbox, which was previously not available.


Snagit 13

snagit 13

My favorite screen capture software just got updated. Techsmith’s Snagit is now at version 13. Here is the list of what’s new (from Techsmith’s web site):

  • New design for capture

    • Updated ability to start a capture from within the editor

    • New on-the-fly capture interface

  • Panoramic capture

    • Capture tall, wide or infinitely scrolling content using this innovative scrolling capture method

  • New, streamlined capture preset creation and use
  • Effects side panel with property drop downs

    • Quick Styles are customizable – add, delete, reorder

  • Tools

    • New crop tool

    • New text tool

    • Color picker

    • Auto-resizing canvas

    • New magnify tool

  • Library/Tray

    • Removed Flags

    • Make tray collapsible

  • General/Share

    • Launch a capture from within Editor

    • Light and dark theme editor and capture window

    • New Share History

    • Ability to add share destinations to the toolbar

  • Improve performance when dealing with images with 10 or more items on the canvas

  • Eliminate crashes with large images – improved performance

  • Multi-edit images can be edited with acceptable performance

  • Outlined text

  • New callout shapes

  • New and updated stamps

  • Webcam

    • Ability to record webcam video while preserving Snagit’s real-time encoding

    • Toggle between webcam and screen video during recording

    • All built-in webcams and standard USB webcams will be supported

  • Animated GIF

    • Create a GIF from a video recording

    • Presets and custom GIF settings available

    • Option to “Fade to Black” on GIF start and end

    • Option to “Dither” GIF colors

    • Make GIF from a selection of a video

    • Saving and sharing via outputs to any destination that supports animated GIF.

  • Ability to capture fullscreen video at dimensions greater than 1080p

  • Supports image capture on 5K monitors

  • Higher frame rates for video capture

  • Easier video editing

  • Adjust DPE of capture before capturing

My first impressions:

  1. I like the modern look of the editor. It is more customizable.
  2. The startup time is rather long. Version 13 does require the .NET 4.6 Framework, which gets installed automatically if it is not present in your machine. I am not sure if this helps or hinders the performance.
  3. Techsmith claims that Snagit received a major performance upgrade. I will know more about it next time I record a video.

If you are going to be using Snagit, I recommend you also sign up for Techsmith’s blog here (scroll to the bottom of the screen).

Google Keep Gets An Update


I mentioned Google Keep a while back, and since then Google had a few new features. With Keep’s Chrome extension, you can easily save and add notes to links. It also adds link previews, duplicate check and autocomplete when adding food items. The web site also got a refresh that aligns with Google’s Material Design guidelines.

The autocomplete feature works with food related entries. This obviously helps with grocery shopping but I am hoping Google will add more categories. Duplicate check looks to see if an item you are trying to add had already been marked off as complete.

When you add a link to a note, you will see a small preview popup underneath that shows you the page title, domain and a picture.

I find Google Keep is quick and easy to manage. It now complements my Evernote notebooks.

Grammarly for Chrome


Grammarly for Chrome is a free browser extension that enables grammar checking wherever your browse on the web.  Whenever you compose a new comment in your LMS, tweet, email, blog post, or anything else online, this browser extension will check your text for spelling and grammatical errors. Anytime you are writing in a comment field, Grammarly flags potential mistakes (see the graphic above) and allows you to review them one by one (by hovering your mouse over the text) or all at once (by opening a pop-up window).

The extension is available via the Chrome Web Store. It is free to use, but the premium version adds the following features:

  • 150 critical grammar and spelling checks
  • 100+ additional advanced grammar and spelling checks
  • Vocabulary enhancement suggestions
  • Genre specific writing style checks (academic, technical, creative, and other styles of writing)
  • Plagiarism checker that looks through more than 8 billion (!) web pages

I use Grammarly to spell check all my blog posts. 🙂

Grammarly for Chrome

UPDATE: Nick from Grammarly contacted me and suggested that I post a link to Grammarly reviews. Here it is:

Use MyPermissions to Control Which Apps Can Access Your Data


If you use Google Chrome, you probably use extensions. Have you thought about what these apps access while you are browsing the web? This is where MyPermissions comes into play.

Here is what it does. The extensions with Chrome or apps on your smartphone request tons of permissions. When you install many of these, you lose sight of which app is doing what. MyPermissions gives you a summary of each app’s permissions and lets you cut off the ones you don’t want to snoop.

I am careful with which apps/extensions to install, but I was surprised to see old apps that still had permissions granted.  A recent update now includes active scanning for apps and their updates so that then the updates change the permissions level, you will know right away.

The interface is simple and gives you a quick and easy view of the overall status. MyPermissions is another tool to manage your privacy on your terms. And it’s free. See below for links.

Google Play
Apple App Store
Chrome extension