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Kitchen Sink Utilities

Week 4: Feb. 22–Kitchen Sink Utilities

UPDATE–I’m trying to change this list to a wiki page (which definitely needs formatting cleanup.)  For more wide usage.  So if you want to add things (or if you already have in the comments) you might want to go ahead and make the changes on the wiki page instead.

Altoids Charger

Altoids Charger

The idea of Kitchen Sink Utilities is kind of mixed. We’re thinking of “everything but the kitchen sink,” meaning all the miscellaneous odds and ends and potpourri, that are out there for doing cool things with classes and students. And (this is what the term originally was supposed to be, but Joe made an unconscious mis-type), “Kitchen Table Utilities”–meaning quick and dirty, low-threshold projects and tools that you can use right away on your kitchen table. Without a big workshop or IT support or a studio or server room.

That Kitchen Table idea is related to the “maker subculture.” We’re seeing more and more faculty, and students, too, involved in this new kind of DIY (Do it Yourself) aesthetic. This is typified by what you’ll see in Make Magazine and at Instructables and WikiHow. So one of the questions we might discuss is how the maker movement connects to education–and we mean really making things, as well as really making education. What can students, or faculty, invent on the kitchen table, and what happens to the classroom when those inventions come in to the classroom. And what about when the process of inventing is part of the classroom? (I’m thinking in particular of STEM classes–plenty of great science learning in Make magazine (and I know of students who have really come to understand the scientific method fully from watching and enjoying Mythbusters. But that’s a different subject)–but we don’t have to be limited to those classes.

Anyway, on to the Kitchen Sink! (these categories are flexible and overlap) (AND PLEASE ADD MORE!!) All prices listed are educational if applicable, commercial means you must pay to use, free means you don’t have to pay and freemium means three are free and paid versions, OSS means it’s open source software. Also by free, we really mean no cost. Free libre software has additional requirements besides just being available at no cost.

iLife Apps [desktop MAC] (commercial) that might be helpful ($49 or free with new MAC purchase)

  • iMovie
  • GarageBand
  • iPhoto


  • Dipity [browser] (freemium $5/mo and up) creates an interactive timeline, integrating different web applications such as GoogleMaps and YouTube as well as other links from news sources, etc.
  • Simile [browser] (OSS)


  • EnviroMaps and EnviroFacts [browser] (free) accesses EPA databases and maps incidents and reports
  • Google Maps [browser] (free) allow the user to create interactive maps that can be embedded into any website.
  • Google Earth [desktop, browser] (free) is similar to Google Maps but has increased functionality.
  • NYPL historic maps site [browser] (free)
  • [browser] (free)
  • Social Explorer: [browser] (freemium) creating customized maps and reports based on census data and American Community Surveys. This is created by a CUNY prof, it seems like we should have a license for it but if anyone knows add info.
  • Street Easy [browser] (freemium) real estate search and listing site, similar to trulia, focused on NYC area.
  • [browser] (free for non agents) real estate search which includes listings, maps, comparisons all in one place.
  • Umapper [browser] (freemium) create embedable Flash maps
  • [browser] (free) useful search tool for home buyers and renters.

Data & Tables

  • [browser] (free) Census Bureau official website. You can find area profiles, population, housing, and business information there.
  • [browser] (free) collects Census and American Community Survey data; allows users to: profile an area, compare area across a region, and produce their own tabulations. Data can be saved for use in a variety of popular spreadsheet, presentation, and mapping programs.

Multimedia Toolset

  • Adobe Creative Suite [desktop] ($360-$600, or free) This contains industry standard software Photoshop (photo images) and Illustrator (vector images) plus Flash (animation and interactive web apps), Fireworks (images), Soundbooth (audio), Premeire (video), After Effects (video effects), InDesign (print projects like books, magazines). What makes this more interesting is that CUNY just signed a contract to get a large number of licences for the University which can be installed on any University computer. There will be a person at each campus responsible for determining which computers get licenses. Sorry, no  home installation. But you can get it installed on a CUNY owned laptop. **It is also free to GC students through Citrix Remote Computing here.
  • Aviary [browser] (free) The folks at aviary decided to basically recreate the Adobe Creative Suite as browser-based tools. They used to charge but now they’ve gone free (they seem to be striking deals with sites like Facebook to have their tools licenced). Tools include Phoenix (images), Roc (music), Talon (screencapture, FF and Chrome plugins), Myna (audio editor), Raven (vector images), Falcon (image markup), Toucan (color editor), Peacock (effects editor). Ironically many of their tools are created using Flash. They have a new HTML5 photo editor that you can embed in your site.

Video (downloading and publishing)

  • Download Helper [browser add-on, FF only] (free) is a Firefox extension that allows easy downloads of YouTube videos
  • Keepvid [browser] (free) is a website where you can download YouTube videos in mp3 or other compatible format by entering the address of the desired video and simply selecting “save”
  • YouTube [browser] (free) has additional functionality that allows for annotation of the video with live links attached
  • Vimeo [browser] (free) an alternative to YouTube with a higher resolution and more sophisticated appearance
  • [browser] (freemium, but…) allows you to upload and organize videos and also provide related PDF files. You also have control over privacy. Free version limited to 2GB storage and 2GB transfer per month. ($10/mo premium)

Video (editing and creating screencasts)

  • Camtasia Studio [comercial desktop MAC/PC] this is the 800 pound gorilla in the screen recording and editing arena with a price to match. MAC ($99) and PC($179) actually have different functionality.
  • Jing (video screen capture) [desktop MAC/PC] freemium ($15/yr pro) an excellent tool that allows still and video screen captures. A severe limitation is you are only allowed 5min of screencapture. No video editing. A product of TechSmith who also makes Camtasia. Chris wrote a post about it and
  • iShowU HD [desktop MAC] ($30 – $60) Screenrecording software that just does screenrecording but does it well for cheap with low RAM usage. Keystroke recording, multiple file type output,  No video editing.
  • Snapz ProX [desktop MAC] ($70) Screenrecording and screencapture for the MAC. Allows you to record both or either system audio and mic. Similar to Camtasia but no video editing.
  • Record My Desktop [desktop GNU Linnux] (OSS) linux app to record desktop, you’ll probably also want one of the front ends for it. Uses only open media formats.
  • Screenr [browser] (free) screenrecording, kind of like Jing in that it’s limited to 5min. But it’s designed to publish to Twitter, or at least the URL to twitter. You sign up for it through OAuth and your Twitter account.

Draw on Desktop Useful for annotating anything while screencasting. If someone knows of a good PC program, please add it.

  • OmniDazzle [desktop MAC] (free) allows you to draw on and annotate your screen.
  • Desktastic [desktop MAC] ($13) allows you to draw and enter text on your screen. Similar to OmniDazzle.


  • Audacity [desktop] (OSS) is a free multi-track audio editor. This application runs on your computer (not on the web).
  • Myna [browser] (free) is a free multi-track audio editor that runs completely in the browser. Good for simple projects on the go, but upload restrictions may make this program unsuitable for detailed projects.
  • Logic Studio [desktop MAC] ($499 retail) is an expensive but powerful multi-track recorder, mixing/mastering software with added nuggets such as live-performance assistance (Mainstage). This is professional software used in recording studios and in tons of performance venues, but it is best known for its expansive collection of Apple Loops and great sounding Midi Instrument plugins.

Annotation and Social Bookmarking

  • Digg
  • Flickr is a photo storage and sharing web site. All photos can be annotated visually, allowing for an explanation of key elements of a given photo. Downsides: while the photo will embed on other web sites, the annotations are only visible when you look at the photo on Flickr.
    • iMapFlickr is an app that allows you to create custom Google Maps from your geotagged Flickr photos to embed in your website.
  • Slideshare is a slideshow player that supports Word, Powerpoint. PDF and iWork pages files. You can also add an mp3 file to play as a soundtrack to your slideshow, as well as embed a youtube video within your slideshow. The slideshow can be embedded in your website.
  • Voicethread is a web-based service which allows you to upload & arrange images/slides, then add audio commentary and written annotations. You can also draw on the screen to highlight portions of a slide. The final result is easily embeddable. Multiple users can comment on one VoiceThread, allowing for a conversational approach.
  • YouTube has additional functionality that allows for annotation of the video with live links to other Youtube videos attached. Learn more: Youtube Video Annotations.
  • Zotero
  • ReadItLater
  • Instapaper


Screen Capture taking pictures of your screen

  • SnagIt [desktop MAC/PC] ($38) full featured screen capture and annotation software. Also by Techsmith (Camtasia, Jing)
  • Skitch[desktop MAC] (freemium $20/yr, sale $15/yr) allows you to take and annotate screenshots. also allows sharing photos.
  • Talon [browser] (free) You can use it on their site by entering the URL of the page you want to capture, or you can install a Chrome or Firefox Add-on. Opens the image in Falcon for extensive editing options.
  • Awesome Screenshot [browser, Chrome] (free) capture all, visible or part of a web page.
  • Screenshot [browser Firefox] (free) firefox addon, capture all, visible or part of a web page.


  • Blurb
  • Lulu
  • Anthologize


  • Slideshare
  • Prezi
  • Powerpoint


  • Visio
  • Gliffy
  • Creately
  • Cacoo
  • Jumpchart
  • Pencil [browser, Firefox] (free)
  • Sibelius (desktop PC/MAC) is one of the best music notation softwares out there. You can pretty much notate any kind of graphic representation with this, even though it is intended for music. It has a nice feature called Scorch, which can scan items and translate them from old manuscripts into nice clean modern script. You can enjoy it free for 30-days here.
  • Finale (desktop PC/MAC) is pretty much like Sibelius except it isn’t named after a sweet Finnish composer.

Storage Space

  • [desktop, mobile] (freemium)

Note Taking

  • Evernote [desktop MAC/PC, mobile]
  • Springpad

Posted in Weekly Readings.

7 Responses

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  1. Marisa Panzani (she/her/hers) says

    I have no idea how to categorize it, but what about storify ? they describe it as a “platform for curating social media content.”

  2. Michael Branson Smith (he/him/his) says

    Great list Joe! Thought I’d suggest a couple other favorites of mine:
    For Audio presentation:
    I think the best feature is that a visual of the waveform is created with sound’s time line and users can add comments at any point in time. I had a music professor use it and liked how he and students could give advice to one another at the exact moment wanted in the audio file.

    For sharing of bookmarks and quotes from websites:
    You can use their Firefox plugin and highlight and tag any text, also you can “save” any image. They all appear in your diggo account.

  3. Belinda Amoako says

    Geometer Sketchpad for mathematics teachers especially for Geometry.

  4. Amanda Licastro says

    I would like to add Wordle :
    I use this to create visualizations of both student writing and digital editions of text I am using in my classroom. (Try Hamlet!)

  5. Elijah Meeks says

    Don’t forget Gephi for network analysis. It’s free and open-source and multi-platform. And it creates beautiful visualizations

  6. Erin Garrow says

    Hi guys,

    I added a note in the AdobeCreativeSuite: it’s free to GC users through Remote Computing.

Continuing the Discussion

  1. Footenotes » Blog Archive » Round-Up! 2/16-2/23 linked to this post on February 23, 2011

    […] Ugoretz @Jugoretz made his first big move for being mayor of the Commons by posting, perhaps, the greatest blog post ever.  You know how sometimes you’re sitting around and you’re like, “man, I wish all […]

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