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Archive for February, 2009

Papers, Dropbox and Blogo

February 26th, 2009 Comments off

I just though I should write a short post about few of my recent favourite software on mac (macwares). It is not a “review” of any sort, just my “views”. I tend to try pretty much all the ‘shareware’ that I think might be useful, and many of the good ones get filtered through to my ‘to buy’ list that way, especially the ones that I tend to keep running from the day I download them. One of them happens to be Papers.

I used this organiser for academic papers (in electronic format – mainly pdfs) a while back and used it till its trial period ran out. I then was away in Africa and didn’t really have time to organise my collection of academic articles. Now that I’m back writing up my own thesis, I really needed something to organise my collection, which is pretty much all over my computer, and that too quick and in an systematic fashion. I turned back to Papers. Not only does it allow me to organise my pdfs the way I want them, but it also allows me to search for the metadata on the web (I use Google Scholar mainly because I don’t need any special login and find most of the information I need – to use other sources such as Web of Science, you need to set up authentication somehow!) and match them to the papers, all automatically. Now that is really cool. Further, I also got educational discount on my license for Papers so didn’t have to pay the full price (after using it every day for the past week, I think I wouldn’t mind paying the full price). I think going through my pdfs every day and searching for the metadata on the web and matching them with the paper so that they could be organised systematically (by Year, Author and so on), I’m now almost a third through my papers collection. Of course there will be some without metadata on the web, especially the documents that are not publicly available or those that Google Scholar doesn’t have in its database. I think I just need to spend a couple of hours at my office so that I can use Web of Science faster and without having to set up manual authentication to match the rest of the document with their metadata. For anyone with a huge collection of academic papers, books or any other documents and using a mac, I highly recommend this software. Worth every penny!

Read more…

Student rip-offs

February 20th, 2009 Comments off

The UK Border Agency’s policy of ripping off foreign student continues – not withstanding the crazy application system (I had to fill some 16 pages last time I applied for extension), now they have increased the fees further – changes highlighted below in bold. Below is part of the email I received from the university’s immigration advisory services today!

INTRODUCTION OF TIER 4 (THE STUDENT TIER) IN MARCH 2009
As you may be aware, the UK Government is in the process of introducing a
Points Based Immigration System (PBS).

From the end of March 2009, the student visa will become part of PBS and
will be known as a Tier 4 General Student visa. PBS requires all applicants
to score 40 points and this is achieved by providing the following
information when you apply to extend your student visa:

• 30 points for a visa letter from a licensed sponsor*; and
• 10 points if you can show you have enough money (known as maintenance)to
cover your course fees and monthly living expenses (which are set by the
UKBA) for up to 12 months

* Your place of study will be the sponsor (not financially though, unless they give you scholarships too!).

The UK Border Agency (UKBA) and the UK Council for International student
Affairs (UKCISA) have produced guidance and this can be accessed via the
following links:

http://www.ukcosa.org.uk/student/pbs_students.php
http://www.ind.homeoffice.gov.uk/studyingintheuk/applyingafter-March/

Please note that the UKBA has not formally announced the specific date in
March when these changes will come into effect but you are advised that it
is likely that it will be at very short notice.

Further information will be posted on the Immigration Advice Service website
and/or emailed to international students at their University email address
but please be aware that the changes will result in the introduction of an
amended FLR(S) application form for those renewing their visas in the UK and
a new VAF 3 form for those applying outside the UK.

—————————————————————————-
—————————————————————————
INCREASE IN VISA APPLICATION FEES
UKBA has announced that it intends to increase the fees it charges for its
immigration services. It is not known when these fees will be introduced
but it is possible that it will be as the changes to the immigration system
for students are introduced around the end of March. Therefore, if your
visa is due to expire in the next few months and you will be a continuing
student at University of York, you may wish to consider making an early
application to avoid the rise in fees.

Set out below are details of visa types, the current fee and the proposed
increased fee:

TIER 1 (Post Study Work)

Applying from outside the UK the current fee is £205; the new fee will be
£265.

Applying from inside the UK by post, the current fee is £400; the new fee
will be £500*

Applying from inside the UK in person, the current fee is £600; the new fee
will be £700*

APPLYING FOR A STUDENT VISA OVERSEAS

Applications made overseas for a student visa currently attract a fee of
£99; the new fee will be £145.

EXTENDING A STUDENT VISA IN THE UK

The current fee for postal applications is £295; the new fee will be £357*

The current fee for an application made in person is £500; the new fee will
be £565*

* Each dependant applying at the same time as the main applicant will have
to pay £50.

—————————————————————————-
—————————————————————————
BIOMETRIC DATA REQUIREMENTS FOR ACADEMIC VISITORS AND THOSE APPLYING TO
TRANSFER THEIR VISAS TO A NEW PASSPORT.

UKBA has announced that it is expanding the immigration categories which
will now require an ID card. These new categories will include Academic
Visitors who are granted leave for longer than 6 months and those who apply
to transfer their visas from an old or lost passport to a new one.

The ID card will replace the visa sticker that used to be placed in an
applicant’s passport and therefore once issued, the holder will need to
travel with both his/her passport and ID card whenever he/she enters or
leaves the UK. These changes will come into effect from 31 March 2009.


What language are you?

February 20th, 2009 4 comments

Just saw a news on the list of “endangered languages” published by UNESCO, and thought of checking how many in Nepal are on the list. I’m not into language research or anything, but as somebody who’s always interested in learning new languages, I find it sad that many of the world’s minority languages are in decline, and threatened with extinction. UNESCO website has a nice interface with Google Maps giving the general area where the languages on the list are spoken, and in Nepal, of the 71 languages on the endangered list THREE-FOURTH are classed as endangered or extinct – that’s 53 out of 71 languages! The remaining 18 are on the “unsafe” category. The list reads like this.

  • Unsafe – 18
  • Definitely endangered – 33
  • Severely endangered – 13
  • Critically endangered – 6
  • Extinct – 1 (Dura)

You can view the details on the UNESCO website here.


Blogo

February 19th, 2009 2 comments

I have been using ecto on my Mac as the main blogging client for a while now. However, recently when my Mac was at repairs, I tried the latest version of Windows Live Writer on a Vista laptop, and it really blew me away. I think WLW is the best piece of Microsoft software I’ve used by a mile. Now I have got my mac back and ecto feels so unfriendly to use suddenly – very unintuitive, very bland, very un-cool. So I started searching for what’s out there and found Blogo. It has got fairly decent reviews, but the problem is it not a freeware, even WLW is FREE! Anyway, I’m giving it a try for now – using its 21-day trial version to compose this post. Lets see how I find it. So far I’m impressed with its simplicity, ease of use, and most importantly, its really cool “fullscreen” mode. It makes you feel like a “writer”, proper writer :P

And the picture above – a panorama of the Cape Coast in Ghana – is just for the sake of it, to try out features in Blogo :)


Categories: online Tags: , ,

light snow shower = ?

February 12th, 2009 Comments off

What do you call the drizzle equivalent of snow? The weather-person tells us to expect ‘light snow showers’ and thats what we are getting in York now, but I want to find a one-word name for this event, as its called ‘drizzle’ for rain! I think I’m now obsessed with saying more using less words – have been going nuts trying to reduce a 10,000-words paper into a 7000-words one and still say the same thing – i.e., without losing any meaning or the content from the original paper, and I can tell you its worse than writing the original paper from scratch! It really is. Anyway, I am now down to 7400 so 400 more to cut off. Okay, here is the ‘light snow shower’ picture taken this morning. I’m back to work now!

snow in York, 12 Feb 2009

Categories: Life in York, random rant Tags: ,