- Screenr – Create screencasts and screen recordings the easy way, includes posting to Twitter http://bit.ly/9t6uLh #
- Mozilla Labs » Blog Archive » Contacts in the Browser http://bit.ly/bsQnr9 #
- RT @davidworth: RT @brad_bett: High-Tech Cheating Abounds, & Professors Bear Some Blame: Chronicle of Higher Education http://bit.ly/bOuBCA #
- RT @cristinacost: …Am I right to assume we need to allow 4 ‘self-transformation’ b4 we attempt to ‘transform’ Ed/others learning? #
- RT @Berci: Telemedicine Improves Stroke Diagnosis in Rural Hospitals http://ff.im/-ifYvR #
- Students Retain Information in Print-Like Formats Better than scrolling pages http://tinyurl.com/y9lxhzp #
- Just watched “Something the Lord Made”, fantastic movie – http://goo.gl/oFWs #
- Earth hour tomorrow night…don’t forget http://tinyurl.com/ybfyldt #
- Evidence of Effectiveness. 4 tips for judging the effectiveness of a change in practice http://tinyurl.com/yekv34z #
- Quality podcasting in social work http://tinyurl.com/yc5htxr #
- Are You Ready for the New, Easier Wikipedia? Improved navigation and editing features due to launch http://tinyurl.com/yzk3bkz #
- Open Accreditation – Next steps http://bokaap.net/open-edu/open-accreditation-next-steps/ #
- Finding Openly Licensed Images for Teaching and Learning Materials http://tinyurl.com/yzq4vgr #
- RT @timkastelle: Good post: 9 Social Media Topics that Need To Die by @ambernaslund http://bit.ly/9dqwoi #
- RT @cristinacost: the last lecture is not meant to sit on a bookshelf gathering dust. it should be shared http://twurl.nl/x0tbpl #
- @cristinacost nice publications, can I get this 1 “Teachers Professional Development through Web 2.0 Environments, Communications…”? #
- @cristinacost So it’s a normal day then 🙂 #
- SRMO – SAGE Research Methods Online. Might be a useful resource when it launches http://bit.ly/bQksg3 #
- Trying to determine my students’ learning habits / styles via a survey. Can anyone suggest a valid, reliable instrument…or anything? #
- @nlafferty Considered possible use cases in higher ed a while ago (http://ow.ly/1pwg5), haven’t found a practical use in physio ed yet #
- @nlafferty What are you using Google Wave for? I’m interested in any medical education use cases #
- Displaying a Personal Interest in Students and Their learning « Tomorrow’s Professor Blog http://bit.ly/dDhkn1 #
- Students Use Wikipedia Early and Often, Study Shows http://tinyurl.com/yaukd2v #
- Researching the Net Generation: Separating Fact from Fiction http://tinyurl.com/ya2g5fq #
- Six Reasons to be Skeptical of the Net Generation discourse. Nice short summary with links to additional studies http://tinyurl.com/ykmogxo #
- An African perspective on the Tapscott and Williams article on University Reform http://tinyurl.com/yl9ghbw #
- How to Cite Facebook: Fan Pages, Group Pages, and Profile Information. From APA style blog http://tinyurl.com/yzyl2am #
- Paperpile: A new kid on the block. Cross-platform reference manager (linux only for now). Compare to mendeley? http://tinyurl.com/yjmjs2g #
- Can Wikipedia be trusted as a real-time news source? http://bit.ly/9T2eYx #
- Web Illiteracy: How Much Is Your Fault? ReadWriteWeb post on the importance of multiple literacies online http://tinyurl.com/yakuvk3 #
A little while ago I wrote about Zotero and how I felt it came short of my expectations for a reference manager (my main contention was that it wasn’t very efficient at managing my offline content, for example, PDFs. Incidentally, see this interview, which also mentions this shortcoming of Zotero). Today I came across Mendeley, which at first glance seems to fulfil all of my PDF management requirements. It’s still a beta release, so expect some bugs and stability issues.
First of all, Mendeley is both a desktop tool that’s cross-platform (major bonus points already) and web service, running locally and syncing documents and metadata to a remote server. This has the advantage of being both a backup and online library that you can access from any internet-enabled computer. The company provides 500 MB of storage space for members which, while not big enough for everyone, will suffice for most people.
Unlike some services that are jumping on the “social media” bandwagon and are useless, it’s inclusion in Mendeley adds a powerful incentive to use the tool. With an emphasis on collaboration in research, the ability to locate and share information with like-minded people is a great idea. It allows a user to search for other academics / researchers who are participating in similar work and enables the sharing of resources or collaborative work. Users can make their entire library public, or only certain parts of it, and the software will attempt to match similar articles and recommend other members based on extracted metadata and the papers in their libraries. Privacy concerns mean that this will be an opt-in service, rather than enabled by default.
I like the potential of Mendeley’s recent announcement concerning collaboration with CiteULike, which will allow users to integrate data from both services into one place, and share the results with others. The company has also developed a bookmarklet that allows users to automatically import citation information from appropriate sites (e.g. PubMed) straight into your Mendeley library. I also love that Mendeley will monitor folders and automatically add the relevant metadata into your library when you add new resources to a folder. Another interesting feature are the “vanity statistics” (my term for it) that will enable the software to generate individualised stats on your research papers / publications based on who’s reading them. It’s this attention to detail, as well as the social networking tools that set Mendeley apart from other document managers.
All in all, it seems like Mendeley is a great tool for managing PDFs, and the social networking aspect adds an interesting dimension to the process. I’ll still use Zotero in the way that I have been (i.e. for working through and annotating academic content online, usually in blog form), but it seems likely that Mendeley will become the standard tool for managing my PDF library.
- Open source – the source code is freely available, which usually means more stable and more secure.
- Free – as in no cost and free from restriction.
- Cross-platform – they run on multiple operating systems, including Linux and Windows.
- As good as, if not better than, their proprietary counterparts.
So, here goes (by the way, this list is by no means complete):
Firefox – A very popular web browser that offers a more secure, more intuitive and faster alternative to Internet Explorer.
OpenOffice.org – An entire office suite of applications for word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, databases and drawing. It uses the OpenDocument format by default and as such, it’s use is encouraged, especially in academia and governments.
Thunderbird – An email client that is a fast, secure and stable replacement for Outlook and Outlook Express, especially if you just need something light to manage your email.
Pidgin – An single instant messaging client that allows you to use all of your IM accounts at once, including IRC, MSN, Groupwise, AIM and ICQ.
GIMP – The Gnu Image Manipulation Program. A free alternative to Photoshop that, while lacking some high end, professional features, does more than enough for most of us.
Another great application to run, although once it’s set up you’ll hardly ever notice it, is BOINC (click here for the Wikipedia article). After installing the software, register with various projects and join millions of other users who donate their computer’s idle time to solving complex medical, scientific and mathematical problems. I can suggest the World Community Grid to begin with.
And while I’m at it, here’s a link to a post that discusses some of the problems with using Microsoft Word. I personally don’t mind receiving Word documents and understand that many institutions don’t give their employees a choice, but the first step is realising that you actually have a choice.