Papers, Dropbox and Blogo

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!

The other one among my recent favourites is Dropbox. Its not just a software but a service. Its an online storage that allows you up to 2GB of free storage space and with a little software on a Mac or Windows or Linux machines keeps the files on your local drive synchronised with those on the server in real time if you are connected to the internet. This has given me a peace of mind while working on important documents that I want saved every so often, and have more than one copy just in case. Also having an online version means I can access those documents wherever there is internet connection and without having to carry my own machine. You can even create a Shared folder and share it with the people you want, which means you can avoid emails with large attachments and so on. The web interface is clean and lets you organise files and folders like any good online file management tools. And the desktop client runs quietly on the background, hassle free and uses really low system resources. I think its worth giving a try, and with at least 2GB of storage for free, you can't really complain.

Finally, I must mention Blogo, the blogging client that I have been 'trying' for the past week or so. I have it on all the time, mainly because it lets me post twitter updates, which I think is one of its best features. Blogging is a bit time consuming and where you have to gather your materials, and thoughts and take time to write. Twitting (or twittering whichever you prefer) is more instantaneous and you don't need to gather so much thoughts or materials, and to be honest, its pretty damn hard to say something thoughtful in 140 characters, although we all try. Anyway, I haven't yet decided whether to splash 25 bucks on Blogo or stay with ecto or ScribeFire or Windows Live Writer (running on Parallels), but I have to make my decision within the next 10 days as my trial ends then! If I decide not to buy Blogo, I'll probably be using Firefox with ScribeFire and twitter add-ons to meet my blogging needs.

And yes, this is written on Blogo 😛