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I'm in love with Zotero!

OK - this probably won't interest you if you're not doing academic work, but for all you students and researchers out there, listen up!

I've been using EndNote X - it's very useful, and I couldn't do without it, but I'm not completely happy with it - the main reason being that the database is not accessible in an open format. This means that I'm stuck with them forever, or if I do change, I have to re-enter everything manually into a new database (and I have 522 references so far). Also, it's kind of clunky when it comes to printing out a bibliography, doing internet references, and adapting the styles.

I heard some good things about Zotero, so I decided to check it out - and I'm in love!

Yes! It's really good - and the best thing is that it seems to be a perfect tool for archiving blog posts (which I do a lot of!). It will archive whole webpages offline, and extract information such as author, blog name, date, etc.

I wanted to do a screencast to show you how smooth it is, but Camtasia is not working (due to some video acceleration problem that I can't change in Vista/my computer >:[ ) so check here for some tutorials, etc.

OK - I'm in love, but she ain't perfect: the information extracted is not always completely accurate. For example - the title of the blog post often includes the name too, and depending on the platform it may or may not get the date of the post.

I can import my references from EndNote (using the BibTeX format), but it doesn't bring over all my notes, which is bad. But again, that's probably due to EndNote's closed format rather than anything to do with Zotero.

However, overall it's the best thing I've seen so far - and it also integrates with Word to do formatted in-text citations, bibliographies, etc. And it's completely free - whereas EndNoteX will cost you USD 250! Which is a ridiculous price, when you think of it.

I did have one problem installing the Word plugin - when I first tried to insert a citation it gave the following error:
"An error occurred communicating with Zotero. Please ensure Firefox is open and try again"

I managed to solve it though: the Zotero word processor plugin troubleshooting has various options, and the one that solved it for me was number 5:
If the integration server is running, disable any firewall software running on your computer. If this fixes the problem, make sure your firewall is set to allow access to "localhost" or "" (also known as the "loopback interface").

I have ZoneAlarm running, and this is how I did it:
• Open ZoneAlarm, go to Firewall, and select Add > IP Address

• Give it a label to remind yourself what it's for, and enter the IP address
• Press 'Apply'
And you're done, that worked for me anyway - hope it does for you! :-)

Overall: students and academics out there, geddit!

Prime Minister moonlighting in Beijing?

We caught the Olympics closing ceremony last night, and the English wheeled out Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin, in a not very memorable performance with Leona Lewis.

While I was watching them, I couldn’t help thinking that Jimmy Page reminded me of someone; then my wife got it. What do you think?

Check it out, it’s clearer in the video :-D

Death Race - a review

Do any of you remember the cartoon Wacky Races? It was about a car race of wacky cars

And the bad guy was always trying to sabotage the others, but ended up coming last each time although he had the fastest car…

It ran from 1968 to 1970, but I remember watching it in French as a kid, probably around 1977-8.

1975 saw Death Race 2000

It had a pre-Rambo Sylvester Stallone in it – who (surprisingly enough) has a role that involves wielding a machine gun and killing as many people as possible with his car. I guess some things never change :-)

Well, Death Race, which just came out and which I got to see thanks to Nuffnang, is a remake of Death Race 2000, and I couldn’t help thinking of Wacky Races too, when I was watching it. Perhaps they all reflect America’s obsession with cars and violence… It’s strange, although this movie has its fair share of violence and gore, I think that Death Race 2000 – where you have old people being run over to score points, and one scene where nuns were run over – was more gratuitously violent than this one, where the race is on a closed race track on ‘Terminal Island’, only other prisoners (i.e. bad guys anyway, except for our hero) get killed.

It’s an action movie, set in the future where America is beset by unemployment and crime, and all the prisons are run by private corporations. Profit is the major motive, and the warden of Terminal Island prison has come up with the ultimate reality show – a race to the death between prisoners driving heavily armed souped-up sports cars.

Continue reading "Death Race - a review"

Mamma Mia! The Movie

Being older than most of you bloggers out there, I can still remember my older brothers and sisters buying ABBA singles - vinyls with one song on each side. We had S.O.S.; Bang-a-boomerang; Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight), Waterloo – that’s the ones I can remember…

Anyway, how’s this for an embarrassing ABBA related memory… at a festival in Belgium, Bjorn Again were playing (a bootleg band that do covers of ABBA), so I went along to have a good time. I also fancied myself as a bit of a dancer, and hoped to impress some tasty young lady. I spotted some likely ones and positioned myself close to them and started getting into the swing of things. Unfortunately, the night before had seen some serious partying and after waking late I had skipped my shower that morning (OK it was a festival after all!) and, when I raised my arms to sway with the rollicking beats… awful BO wafted out and I saw the girls suddenly look and me and grimace to each other, holding their nose... yeewww…

After that, I invented the patented How-to-shower-with-one-bottle-of-water-behind-a-car technique 8-)

So, what am I looking forward to in seeing Mamma Mia! ?
1. Reliving some of those funky disco dance tunes
2. NOT stinking out unsuspecting bloggers with awful BO!

Hope to see all of you Nuffnang people there!

PPS founders - Part 2

Just an addition to the previous post, What happened to the founding members of PPS? After finishing it, I came across this Wiki page that describes the foundation of Project Petaling Street.
"The document that will track this evolution is the very same one you are reading RIGHT NOW. It is intended to be a dynamic document that will be updated as PPS evolves."

It seems like the Wiki died a quick death though, as it has not been updated since July 13, 2003, about a month after PPS started.
Project Petaling Street wiki screenshot

Based on the Wiki, I left out two founders, who were no longer on the sidebar by the time the site was archived by the Wayback Machine. Or maybe they were never on it, I dunno.

• Ditesh Kumar of A Tech/Personal blog. It's no longer online, but there's an archived version from June 19, 2003. It mentions PPS on June 12.
• Mohan Raj of Codeworks. A very short lived tech blog - only seven posts in all, and it has not been updated since July 16, 2003.

An interesting thing for me is the clear 'Open Source' format of the Wiki. A lot of the literature on "Internet culture" seems to take Free/Libre Open Source Software (aka FLOSS) as a model of online interaction. For example, Raymond's classic The Cathedral and the Bazaar, or Ghosh's Cooking pot markets... - these have been very effectively critiqued by the anthropologist Kelty in Hau to Do Things with Words.

Although they are not directly comparable, blogs and FLOSS do share a few things though, I think: the importance of attributing sources, and the open and shared nature of the final product. A key difference, though, is that a blog belongs to one person only, whereas OS software belongs to everyone (or no one). PPS seemed to sit in the middle a bit - conceived of as a 'community' resource, it also was a website owned and run by one person. Perhaps because of this, later on, there were disagreements in 2004 and in 2005 about 'Who owns PPS?'

This debate seems to owe something to the FLOSS ethos, and there seemed to be three stances:

1. Aizuddin pays for and runs the site, so he can do what he wants with it ultimately.
2. Aizuddin may want to run it the way he wants, but why do some get their RSS feeds permanently in the sidebar?
3. It's a community service, and should be run for all bloggers, by some sort of collective process.

Finally, the founders in the sidebar lost their space, but Aizuddin has kept sole control over it. Basically, he owns it. It reminds me of another point that Kelty made (same source as mentioned above): that the guarantee of the open software is done by, in the last instance, using the (offline) regime of private property to uphold the ability to prevent anyone from appropriating the software and excluding others - "Free Software is protected intellectual property that anyone can use." (2002:12); this point has recently been tested legally in the US and "Advocates of open source software have hailed a court ruling protecting its use even though it is given away free" (BBC)

What happened to the founding members of PPS?

Project Petaling Street sidebar in 2003
From what I've been told, the founding of PPS was an important milestone for blogging in Malaysia. There were ten original founders, and part of the agreement was that they should have a permanent feed with their latest posts on the sidebar ( AlphaBlogger told me this). So, thanks to the internet time travelling machine - the Wayback Machine , I found a screenshot of PPS on July 24, 2003 (the sidebar is what you can see on the left of this post) and had a look at who were these founding members.

Screenshots...: the seminal SoPo blog, still around and going strong. Jeff Ooi is now a sitting YB (Yang Behormat - i.e. Member of Parliament, in case any non-Malaysians read this). a tech-blog I think. Is not around anymore - here's one post called 'They messed with the wrong girl' (courtesy of the Wayback Machine).

technoLAHgy v0.15c : a tech-blog too. Still online, but hasn't been updated since June 2007.

Volume of Interactions: a SoPo blog I'd say. Still online and running - this is the blog of the person who runs PPS, Aizuddin Danian. PPS has not been all sun and light apparently, and he discusses a Can of Worms here back in 2005; it was launched on June 12, 2003.

Narratives not quite sure how to classify this one - probably 'Personal blog', but it has SoPo in it too (these categories will always be somewhat blunt). Still going, since December 27, 2002.

tv smith's dua sen: hmmm... he calls it a 'blogzine' - it's sort of like a photoblog with a social conscience... (damn these categories!). Still going strong: here's a wonderful post on monkeys . a personal blog. Still going strong, after a enforced pause resulting from 'certain activities' that were well documented on his controversial blog.

The following four were classified under 'Gambar2' - so I suppose they are 'Photo blogs'.

Still Life : no longer active.

VOI Visuals: it's Aizuddin again! I suppose this was a part of his blog devoted to pictures, but there's nothing there now.

Narratives : hmm, it's her again! I assume it's the same situation as Aizuddin, as now the link takes us to her main blog instead of a 'gallery'.

Odds & Ends: still going strong with impressive photos.

So, conclusions... umm... Well, most of them are still around - that could either be testimony to their inherent 'blogginess', or as a result of increased publicity via PPS, or both. SoPo were in a minority, as usual. Photoblogs were quite significant. Apart from that, I can't think of anything useful to say... Any comments? All information on blogging history in Malaysia is welcomed, as that's the next chapter of my thesis that I have to write!