Free apps to help you give back

While we understand everyone goes through their own personal struggles, overall many of us are very lucky.

If you’ve got easy access to running water, a roof over your head, are attending an amazing university (that’s us, folks!), have food in your cupboard and money in your bank account (we know, you are students, this may be a stretch), you may want to take this opportunity to give back.

There are ample opportunities to volunteer. Though if you’re a commitment-phobe, and the idea of starting a new series on Netflix alone freaks you out, let alone committing to something more structured, it’s OK. Instead of opening up your Netflix, why not try another app?

The following three apps allow you to easily donate cash to a worthy cause. So if your pockets are feeling a bit heavy, and your hands are feeling a bit empty – grab your phone and get downloading!

GiveEasy – donate & give to your charity & cause

By GiveEasy
Cost: Free
Available: iTunes and Google Play
GiveEasy changes the future of giving. The App allows you to donate funds to appeals and charities directly from your credit card, anytime, anywhere. Your friends and colleagues are notified of your donations through Facebook and Twitter.

Good Thnx

By Good Thnx Pty Ltd
Cost: Free
Available: Google Play
When someone does good, say thnx! Good Thnx is a platform that rewards good behaviour by allowing people to say thank you, with the money going to charity in a contemporary new way. Write a message and add an amount for a charity or cause. It can be as little as 10c, or as much as you like. The thnx notifies your friend and they choose where the money goes.

Charity Miles

By Charity Miles
Cost: Free
Available: iTunes and Google Play
Strapped for cash but still want to give back? How about we throw in getting fitter at the same time? Simply open Charity Miles, choose a charity, and go! The app works like a walking meter, cycling meter, or running stopwatch, measuring the distance of your route. You earn money for the distance you travel, which goes to your elected charity (up to Charity Miles’ corporate sponsorship pool limit).


Where’s that bus? Wait no longer!

Griffith University graduate and hack-a-thon participatee Ian Murnane

Griffith Library held its inaugural Hack-a-thon event this year, where Griffith students were given 30 hours to work in a group to develop an app.

One of the students who participated was Ian Murnane, who has since graduated with a Bachelor of Information Technology and a Bachelor of Multimedia.

While Ian has left Griffith University behind, he certainly hasn’t stopped creating apps.

Enter the Android app Where’s That Bus. it was developed by Ian, and fellow Griffith University graduate Ferguson McBryde.

The app, which covers the Gold Coast to the Sunshine Coast, allows a user to see exactly where a bus is at any given time. It provides an ETA to within 30 seconds.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the desire to create Where’s The Bus came from the graduates’ own experiences.

‘We were students on student budgets, so we relied on public transport, but we were never able to see when buses would arrive,’ said Mr McBryde.

Mr Murnane soon realised the data they needed was already online and the app took shape.

‘I started to get information like GPS coordinates out of the Google Packet,’ he said. ‘Eventually we ended up with an app that allows you to actually see the buses driving around.’

Users can access the information by punching in their regular route or stop number.

The results will be displayed on a map along with real time information about the bus’ arrival. Thanks to feedback from fellow Griffith students, there’s also the option to bookmark favourites and see the direction of travel.

‘The information at the bus stop could say the next service is five minutes away, but you can check the app and see if it’s already gone past or running late,’ said Mr Murnane.

The app currently has a 4.9 star rating on Google Play.


Use WhatsApp? You better read this

Where would we be without modern technology?

Probably getting lost a lot more frequently (no Google Maps to save us), not nearly as connected socially, likely going outside more often, and we’d have a lower chance of developing arthritis in our hands from excessive texting.

Modern technology helps us stay connected and on top of things. But just as fast as technology is evolving, hackers and cyber security threats are evolving too.

Now, we don’t suggest you put on a tin-foil hat and revert to using an old Nokia block phone. But you do need to be mindful of information security threats.

WhatsApp is a useful app; it allows us to easily stay in contact with friends around the globe. You know what’s not so great though? When things go wrong and a phising scam steals your bank details and personal information.

A new scam sent by an unofficial ‘The WhatsApp Team’ claiming ‘your subscription will be ending soon’ is currently in circulation.

The fake message warns that in order to continue to use the service, you need to update your payment information. The email includes a link for victims to sign in to a customer portal and update their details.

Warning: it’s a trap! If you follow this link, your personal and financial details can be exploited by cyber criminals.

So, if you receive this message – ignore and delete!

And stay safe: online, in bed, on the roads, in general.

Find more information at the Stay Smart Online page.


Download the Griffith App to make your time at uni easier

Griffith App screen

Are you new to Griffith and finding trying to navigate your way around campus harder than trying to get an Ed Sheeran song out of your head? Or maybe you’ve been here a few years yet still cringe at the thought of finding those obscure buildings like N72.

Do you wish there was a way to find locations of available computers before you turn up to the computer lab and notice all the seats taken?

If this is you, it sounds like you don’t have the Griffith App on your smartphone. In which case you better get on it, stat!

The Griffith App is full of useful and time-saving features, including:

  • Ask Us: find instant answers to your all burning questions (well, maybe not all, that’s what Siri’s for, right? But we’ve got most of your Griffith-related queries covered!)
  • Computers: save time by checking where available computers are in labs across campuses first
  • Directory: need to contact your lecturer? Simply search the Griffith phone directory
  • Email: easily access your student email
  • Emergency: feel safe with quick access to emergency phone numbers and websites
  • Events: stay up to date with compiled event information for a range of university calendars
  • Blackboard Mobile Learn: easily access your course content
  • Library: look up library hours, search for resources and place holds
  • Maps: never get lost again with Google maps of each campus that show building locations
  • Transit: browse bus schedules and find out when buses are coming or going
  • GriffithPAY: access the 24 hour shop for Griffith products
  • CareerBoard: prepare for your career and search job vacancies on CareerBoard
  • Textbooks: get organised and search for your textbooks via Griffith’s Textbook Exchange or the Co-op Bookshop Textbook Search

The app is available for both Apple iOS and Android devices, from the App Store or Google play.

While this super handy app has been around for a few years, we have a committed team who regularly update it to ensure it stays super handy. In fact, they’ve only just released a new version.

So check it out and let us know what you think – there’s a Feedback option in the app just waiting for your suggestions, which will be incorporated into the next app update! 


Connect with nature on World Environment Day

It’s World Environment Day on Monday 5 June 2017.

Embrace this year’s theme and connect with nature! Get yourself and your classmates outdoors; appreciate nature’s beauty and importance and take forward the call to protect the Earth that we share.

Connecting people to nature in everyday life is an integral part of Griffith University. Since its inception in the early 1970’s, the university has taught environmental sciences.

And over time, the university has integrated environmental sustainability into almost every other discipline taught. Go Griffith!

But don’t let the University show you up. You can connect with nature by simply downloading the GrowsAtGriffith app. The app allows you to access an attractive, easy-to-use and concise flora of the common vascular plants found on Griffith University campuses and southeast Queensland.

Want more? There are so many apps available that can help you connect with nature. Check out the Field Guide to Queensland Fauna (search for it on iTunes or Google Play.). It provides a detailed description of animals, maps of distribution and endangered species status for fauna in the state of Queensland.

And don’t forget about your Griffith University library! We can help you connect with nature as well. The library has many flora identification books including Cronin’s key guide: Australian rainforest plants, Australian trees and Wetland plants of Queensland: a field guide.

It also has animal identification books like the Field guide to frogs of QueenslandTracks, scats and other traces: a field guide to Australian mammals and Queensland’s threatened animals.

If you would like help locating fauna and flora resources, book a Research and Referencing consultation with a Librarian.


5 apps to help you study better

There’s an app for almost everything, nowadays, isn’t there? So, have you ever thought about using an app to help you study? I mean, it is study week.

Below, we’ve listed some handy apps to help you with your study this exam period.

1. SelfControl
Developer: Charlie Stigler & Steve Lambert
Available: Online for Mac OSX
Cost: Free

Super skilled at procrastinating? Can’t resist the urge to check your social media news feed, or trying to avoid calculus by watching YouTube videos of kittens? SelfControl lets you block your own access to distracting websites, your mail servers, or anything else on the internet.  Just set a period of time to block for, add sites to your blacklist, and click start. Until that timer expires, you’ll be unable to access those sites – even if you restart your computer or delete the app! A necessary evil, possibly?

2. Dragon Dictation
Developer: Nuance Communications
Available: App store 
Cost: Free

Fingers hurt from typing too much (It’s a real problem!)? No worries. Get Dragon Dictation and use your voice to dictate your study notes – simply speak and see your content appear on screen.

3. Flashcards+
Developer: Chegg
Available: App  store and Google Play
Cost: Free

Memorise info like a pro using this flashcards app, designed to help you learn.

4. The Oxford Dictionary of English
Developer: MobiSystems
Available: App store and Google Play
Cost: Free

Because everybody needs a good dictionary in their life.

5. Write or Die
Developer: Dr Wicked
Available: Online or App store
Cost: $9.99 – $20

Struggling to find the motivation to write your assignment, unless there’s a looming deadline no more than 24 hours away? Meet: Write or Die. Write or Die is an online app (which you can also download to your iPhone) that gives consequences for distraction and procrastination. As long as you keep writing, everything is fine, but if you become distracted there are customisable consequences.

6. The Hemingway App
Developer: Adam Long & Ben Long
Available: Online
Cost: $19.99

Ready to be judged? This app allows you to paste in content you have written and have it critiqued, to make your writing bold and clear. The app highlights lengthy, complex sentences and common errors. It’s especially handy if you have a problem with verbosity (don’t know what that means? Refer to app #4).


Hack-a-thon, a success!

Our first Hack-a-thon was an awesome success!

A huge congrats to all participants who worked their behinds off and pumped out some amazing work!

The event kicked off with guest speaker, Daniel Ngo from Entrepreneur Haus (check out Daniel’s speech on Facebook). The students were given a short brief and let loose for 30 hours to develop an innovative and creative app.

There was yawning, there was napping, there were odd smells… but nothing an emergency supply of toothbrushes and toothpaste couldn’t fix. The energy drinks were flowing, the brains were pumping and the students created some amazing work and learnt some valuable lessons. “I learnt that the presentation is just as, if not more important, as the product itself” said one student.  Another student loved the real world experience “where like-minded people gather and work towards a common goal”.

Congratulations to our innovative first prize winners. Taking home $2000 was Damien Robinson, Joaquin Ramirez Reyes and Joshua Murchie. They blew the judges away with their creative answer to planning your degree and subject choices.

Taking out second prize and $1000 was Jaden Vaniersel, Ian Murnane, Harley Jarrett. They built an app allowing you to share locations, events, study tips and a very helpful assignment countdown clock – what student doesn’t need that?!

Best User Interface and $500, went to Harrison Croaker, William Fischer and Carl Humphries for their ‘M8te’ design.

Thank you to Greg Phipps, our very own alumni and Technical Program Manager, Google Maps, and Leigh Ellen Potter, Senior Lecturer, School of ICT, who provided some wise words to the participants. Their videos provided relief and inspiration during their short breaks.

Thanks to our sponsor, Grove Juice for keeping the students hydrated. Read the rest of this entry »