Email to Nozbe

I’ve been using Nozbe as a next-action tool for a few months now. This is my cheat sheet for its email-to feature, in which I can send a new task by email for assimilation without logging into the site.


<text before action list is uploaded as a text note>

* new action text @context #project %duration

* this one is a next action ! on tuesday

Examples for time parsing: on friday; next week; on 2/25; every week

Mendeley (a review)

Mendeley is software for organizing journal articles.  (I’m sure it does fancier things too; this is what I’m using it for.)  I’ve previously used a physical filing cabinet, then carefully-titled pdf files (with important ones OCR’ed and indexed), then EndNote, and, for the last few years, Zotero.  I’m impressed with Mendeley after a couple months’ use; I think all I need to do to review it here is to recount the manner in which I’ve used it.

1. Download.  Free.  But, commercial and not open-source.  It’s not clear what the business model is, but I’m sure it involves data-mining my paper-reading habits and selling me something.  I generally assume nothing about privacy, and they may very well be keeping statistics about what papers I read in their software; I don’t mind.

2. The program acts a bit like itunes.  I made a directory full of pdfs of journal articles (and some slide-based presentations, old scanned book chapters, etc.) and pointed the software thereto.

3. Some indexing interval later, I had a list of my papers.  Titles, author lists, bibliographic information: all read from the pdfs (some from metadata, but mostly from text recognition).  Realtime search filtering (on, e.g. authors’ names or keywords), tagging (my tags, and also recognized from the print), note-taking all available.  Text-recognized papers show up in a “please check the translation” list for confirmation of tag information.  (“Member, Senior” showed on the authors’ list of many from IEEE journals.)

4. I created some ‘collections’ for projects.  Similarly to gmail’s ‘labels’, a paper in a collection also exists in “all papers”, and a paper can exist in multiple collections.  These make convenient lists for, e.g., exporting a bibliography.

5. I haven’t tried the word and bibtex plugins yet, but exporting a list of references to text (e.g. multiple-select papers, click “export citation list”) is easy.

6. Along with the text recognition, the reference list at the end of an article is very nicely extracted (and indexed, and appears in search results).

7. Using the web-importer plugin, I can grab references while surfing (e.g. from pubmed) into my database, a la Zotero (but not limited to Mozilla).

8. Further doling out my private information, I signed up for a web account.  Now, my database (and pdfs) sync to the cloud, and changes I make to my database from any of my pcs are persistent.  (Last night, I needed an article at home.  Open software, click “sync library”, 30 seconds later I had my database refreshed.  Click on the entry in question, and a minute later I had the pdf.)  500 MB free cloud space, IIRC, so I had to cull a few giant files (high-resolution scans) from my list.

This review was unsolicited; I merely ran across the software and dig it.  Here’s a screenshot.  Happy organizing.

Subscripts in ppt

I just reduced the number of mouse clicks in my workday by 5% by noticing that Ctrl-= and Ctrl-+ can be used to switch to subscript and superscript, respectively. A space returns to normal formatting.

(Disclaimer: I apologize for the dumbing-down of the world via Powerpoint, but sometimes it’s the easiest way to claim to have done work (and not in general for using M$ products, although on the occasion that I’m creating a non-persistent presentation, OO does just fine).)

TeX-style input in Word 2007

I’m stuck using MS Word for some collaborative tasks. I recently learned that the 2007 version allows limited TeX-format input in the equation editor. (OpenOffice has had this feature for a while, but I find its equation editor clunky too.) This makes it much faster to type inline equations. While editing text, [Alt]+ inserts an equation. Then, type some simple TeX. For example, typing this

Here's an inline example: {[Alt]+} R_1=R_0 e^(R_0 tau )

results in a semi-competently formatted equation.
Alas, still not as pretty as rendering it from the Tex and pasting a graphic in to the Word document.  Some extra strikes of the spacebar are required to force the right combinations (which we’d normally do with {}). Here’s an article on this from 2006. I’m a late adopter.