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Apps to help students get back in the school groove

Back-to-school time is quickly approaching, and after a summer of grammar-free emails and spelling-optional texting, high school and college students need to get ready to follow the rules of language again. These apps can help students organize and polish their essays, term papers and other writing assignments.


(iOS, Android; free)

This wildly popular app makes it easy to sync and save notes across a student's fleet of phones, tablets, laptops and desktop PCs. You can add handwritten notes and sketches to your files, so you can save diagrams you created during Physics 101 or a doodle you drew during Introduction to Beowulf. In addition to organizing notes, Evernote can organize your semester with to-do lists and schedules.


(iOS, Android; free)

As anyone who has ever written a term paper knows, formatting the bibliography is sometimes harder than writing the essay. This neat app can help. With EasyBib, you scan a book's bar code, and if the title is in the database, it returns bibliography information that can be formatted in MLA, APA or Chicago styles. If you can't scan the bar code, you can manually enter the title in a search box.

Merriam-Webster Dictionary

(iOS, Android; free)

A must-have for every student, this free version of the venerable dictionary includes definitions from the pricey Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary (iOS, Android; $25). If you're tired of typing (or totally mangle the spelling of a word in the search box), the app includes a voice search where you speak the word and it returns a definition. Try that with your print dictionary! Tablet users can access a scrolling index that makes it easier to browse the dictionary.

IEW Writing Tools

(iOS, Android; $4.99)

For students who need help with structure, style and organization, this app could give them the tools to ace that tough term paper or writing assignment. The app was created by the Institute for Excellence in Writing, an organization that produces DVD-based writing programs for students from kindergarten through college. There's a free "lite" version for both iOS and Android you can try first to see if the paid app is right for you.

Tech Bytes

Next Gen Stats

Who's the speediest wide receiver in the NFL? Which running back accelerates the fastest? The NFL says its new Next Gen Stats will provide the answers. The new technology generates real-time player tracking statistics using transmitters embedded in players' shoulder pads. The technology will be used in selected games this season, primarily on Thursday Night Football. -- PETER KING

XP hangs on

Four months after Microsoft ended support for Windows XP, many businesses have not switched from the 12-year-old operating system. IP management firm Adaptiva surveyed attendees at a recent tech conference and 53 percent of those responding said their organizations were still running XP. The main reason for not switching: fears about a new operating system's compatibility with existing applications. -- PETER KING

Russia demands ID to use Wi-Fi

Further tightening its control of the Internet, Russia will require people using public Wi-Fi hotspots to provide identification. The decree also requires companies to declare who is using their networks. A pro-Kremlin lawmaker said the measure was needed to prevent Cold War-style propaganda attacks against Russia. The legislation caught many in the industry by surprise and companies said it was not clear how it would be enforced. -- Reuters

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