Sunday, 28 September 2008

Zotero under fire

Zotero the excellent, free, open-source reference manager is under fire from its closed source competition via a law suit. Thomson Reuters the makers of the unstable and expensive market-leading Endnote software have sued George Mason University, the developers of Zotero, for "violating its license agreement and destroying the EndNote customer base" (Courthouse News Service). The complaint comes primarily from the fact that the latest version can import Endnote styles. I picked up on this from Neil Saunders' blog post who puts it really well
"Here’s my simple, black-and-white view of the world. The greatest achievement of the internet is the potential to set information free. There are free-thinking, forward-looking organisations like GMU who see this potential and act upon it. There are also organisations who see only threats to their corporate interests. Publishing corporations no longer control the flow of information to consumers and some of them seem to be struggling to accept this, adapt and move on."
Our support should definitely go to George Mason University who have moved the world forward and improved it with not just a piece of software but a great implementation of the open-source idea. This is software driven forward by users, in this case initially at the GMU's Center for History and New media. Comically there is also a claim that "GMU reverse engineered Reuters' EndNote software to create Zotero". I don't see any signs of that, thankfully they are not very similar in any meaningful respect, Zotero is generally much better. Zotero works nicely from within a web browser, Endnote works when it feels like it.

Zotero is not alone however. There are a growing number of free (though often not open source) web based reference management systems. Maybe Thomson Reuters are just trying to mark out some territory and delay the inevitable a bit longer. Ultimately they are going to fail, I just hope their lawyers don't hurt Zotero too much on their way down.

Saturday, 20 September 2008

Mobile Blogging

I'm trying out blogging from my iPod touch. I just downloaded the free app life something. Quite straightforward to set up.

Don't yet know the important details like if I can save drafts or edit posts or what the app is really called (it doesn't say on this page and i've forgotten). Will press "Done" and see what happens! LifeCast, that's it.

Posted with LifeCast

Google for pirates!

Apparently today is international talk like a pirate day. Google are always keen on adding languages and today added Pirate to their list of interface languages. Good.

Friday, 19 September 2008

How to migrate away from WordPress

Well it wasn't as straightforward as I first imagined. Google-searching found a lot of stuff, but it was almost all to move in the opposite direction. My reasons for moving back to Blogger are outlined in my previous post, maybe I was a bit naive to expect all the good stuff in the free version, plus I am becoming a huge Google fan and just feel good about being back at Blogspot. Ok not quite so many features in some places, but more in others, and much more reliable in my experience.

To try and import my previous posts from WorPres to Blogspot I chose to use the wxr2blogger python script found here. It worked quite well after two fairly obvious (in retrospect) modifications. First remember to prefix the command with "./" (this may be specific to Mac?). Secondly I needed to use the workaround detailed in the README file. After that, and repeating from the beginning, the conversion to something that blogspot could import was complete.

There were sill quite a lot of things to do however and I started to wonder if it was worth all the effort. On balance I still feel it was.

Images migrated, but as links back to the original post images. I didn't like that, they didn't look quite right, text didn't wrap, so I exported them all to my desktop and reimported them to the new blog.

Comments migrated perfectly! I wasn't expecting that. Unfortunately some spam comments also carried over and needed to be deleted. Strange really since they weren't visible as comments on the WordPres site.

The script unfortunately exports posts in small batches, since apparently blogspot refuses to import large batches of posts. It took a while to import, check and post everything. Many "posts" were created that were blank, and I had to delete. I had about 4x as many posts after using the script as I actually had on Wordpress.

Anyway, all done now. Thought someone might find my experiences useful.

WordPress no more

This is my first genuine post on All the previous posts were imported from the WordPress version of the blog. I wanted to try WordPress because of all the really nice looking blogs I had seen. It never really worked for me though.

None of those nice templates are available on the free version, nor can you import templates.

There was always weird stuff going on. The font would change on different days. Why? At least one link just evaporated.

Most annoyingly of all WordPress intercept me trying to log on and redirect me to a screen persuading me to set up a second blog. Entering the same url a second time however does get me on. Anyway that bit of marketing was the last straw.