Chromebooks, revisited


I put up thoughts on the HP Chromebook 11, after hav­ing one for a couple of weeks on Google+. At the time I said I liked it, and I still do, but it’s not per­fect. I’m happy with it, but if it dis­ap­peared I don’t know if I’d get a new one or some­thing else.

What I’ve found is that it’s mainly a tab­let replace­ment for me. The HP Chromebook 11 is light enough to do that. What I really like about the machine is the dis­play, which is Mac-like. It’s 1366 x 768 pixels, which is the stand­ard res­ol­u­tion for all Chromebooks (and the same at the MacBook air I think). The smal­ler dis­play you have on your Chromebook the bet­ter it will look.

I also like the key­board. I bought an iPad, think­ing I’d type into it. I really don’t like doing that. The HP key­board on the other hand is per­fectly usable. I’m sur­prised, because I thought an 11″ machine would be a bit too small for ser­i­ous work, but I have hap­pily sat down and typed for a few hours. For me, the dis­play and key­board are crit­ical. The HP 11 is the best of the Chromebooks for that.

Where the HP 11 lags is with the chip. The HP 11 and Samsung machines use an ARM chip. This means they’re fan­less, but also they aren’t as fast as the Intel based machines (like the HP 14 and every­one else). This caused prob­lems with YouTube videos, which seems to have improved since I got the machine, but there are still lags on the laptop. Some of this is my poor inter­net con­nec­tion, but I also won­der if some of it is the machine being a bit under­powered. It really isn’t by a lot, but it’s not quite seam­less.
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A New #WordPress plugin for #SCIENCE!


…and other research too.

I have a work­ing first release of a plu­gin to link to research in a ScienceSeeker friendly way in a WordPress blog. It will only work with self-hosted WordPress installs, it will not work on WordPress​.com blogs.

The way it works is you enter the ID(s) of the thing(s) you want to include then, when you save the draft, the web­site pro­duces a format­ted cita­tion that it will auto­mat­ic­ally append to the con­tent of your post. It will also add a META tag to the head of the page. This will give a way to tell sites like alt​met​ric​.com what paper(s) your blog post is about.

Editing in WordPress

Editing Screen. Click to embiggen.

Citation output

The out­put. Click to largify.

It’s primar­ily built to work with DOIs, because that’s what we use most at AoB Blog. You can type in a DOI as 10.1093/aob/mct168 or http://​dx​.doi​.org/​1​0​.​1​0​9​3​/​a​o​b​/​m​c​t​168 and when the site saves it will get bulked out to the longer ver­sion. You can enter more than one entry, so stick­ing 10.1093/aob/mcp121, 10.1093/aob/mcs287, 10.1093/aob/mcq238 should work too.

Once the ref­er­ence is parsed, it appears as a cita­tion. When you have this cita­tion, you can edit it in this box. You might need to do that if the pars­ing breaks. It’s pos­sible some DOIs will give inform­a­tion in a dif­fer­ent way to most. Currently the plu­gin works with stand­ard DOIs and figshare’s DOIs. It’s very pos­sible there are some other sites that have their own stand­ards so, if you find one, let me know.

To clear the ref­er­ences and cita­tions on a post, delete all the ref­er­ences and save. The plu­gin will wipe the cita­tion box.

You can add arXiv ref­er­ences. I’ve set it so you copy and paste a URL from arXiv to the box to give http://​arxiv​.org/​a​b​s​/​1​3​0​6​.​5​148. If there’s demand it should be pos­sible to send any nine char­ac­ter ref­er­ence with a dot in the middle to the arXiv mod­ule. I’ve spot­ted a bug in the arXiv mod­ule put­ting together the screen shotes (look at the author name). I think I’ve fixed this.

It’s not so good for the Social Sciences and Humanities. Here mono­graphs are still import­ant research out­puts, which means ISBNs. These are more of a prob­lem. You enter them as a straight run of ten or thir­teen char­ac­ters. The only place I’ve found giv­ing inform­a­tion from ISBNs in a friendly format is Google Books. But from here I can only get Title, Authors and Publisher. I can­not get Publisher Location from the data.

For DOIs and arXiv papers it’s obvi­ous to link through to the paper. Books tend not to have a recog­nis­able home page. I’ve linked through to Google Books because that’s where the data comes from. But it’s pos­sible that LibraryThing or the Amazons would be bet­ter places to link to.

This sys­tem doesn’t handle book chapters yet, unless they have a DOI. Lying in bed I thought it could be handled as Chapter Authors::Chapter Title::Page Start::Page End::ISBN and any­thing with a double colon gets passed to a book chapter mod­ule for format­ting. I’m not sure if this is use­ful, or if it’s get­ting to stage where typ­ing the ref­er­ence in is more effort than it’s worth.

At the moment the link is on the iden­ti­fier, because that’s the way Research Blogging and ScienceSeeker work. Alan Cann has sug­ges­ted mak­ing the whole ref­er­ence click­able. I’m not sure if this is a good idea or not. It’s a big­ger click­able tar­get, and CSS styl­ing makes the present­a­tion a mat­ter for whoever’s site it is.

The plu­gin doesn’t work for Research Blogging yet. Research Blogging needs ref­er­ences asso­ci­ated with a sub­ject. The first way I’d writ­ten this meant that sub­jects would have to be hard­wired in. Now I think it should be pos­sible to tweak the plu­gin to add Research Blogging top­ics on a post-by-post basis, but not (yet) on a citation-by-citation basis. This would work for most people cit­ing just one paper in Research Blogging posts, but some people cite mul­tiple papers in one post. The way I’m think­ing would label all cita­tions in one post as being the same topic.

Finally, like me, it doesn’t fail grace­fully. I’ve spent quite a while get­ting the damn thing to work. Deliberately break­ing it, so I can make it fail nicely, hasn’t enthused me yet.

You can down­load it from my Dropbox at https://​www​.drop​box​.com/​s​/​k​b​0​w​0​2​j​r​3​4​a​g​r​2​v​/​r​e​s​e​a​r​c​h​l​i​n​k​s​.​zip. You install it by going to your plu­gin menu and upload­ing the zip file. You make sure you upload it to your test site, because this is still beta soft­ware. I think this will be com­pat­ible with the final ver­sion, but I’m not will­ing to guar­an­tee. If you have installed the pre­vi­ous ver­sion, this ver­sion is utterly incom­pat­ible and using the two at the same time will break access to your blog in a very emphatic way. This is why I test on a desktop server.

I’ll be test­ing this shortly, in par­tic­u­lar the way it handles COinS. There may be a simple and eleg­ant way of adding COinS to ref­er­ences, but I don’t know what it is.

CC licensing and open access


Here’s an example of how lim­it­a­tions through CC licences can change what you do with a paper.

I’m look­ing at an image. At first I thought to use it in a blog post about organic bat­ter­ies. I thought I could do that because the paper is open access, but the licence of the paper is BY-NC-ND. Taking an image from the paper and blog­ging about it is pretty much mak­ing a D of it. The ND for­bids deriv­at­ives, even if the point of the deriv­at­ive is to say “Hey go look at this paper!” The page for the image itself has no CC licence inform­a­tion, so it looks like the copy­right in the footer applies.

I can see why there’s the NC clause. This has its own prob­lems, like mak­ing it unus­able for things like Wikipedia, but I can see sense in it. But ND seems an odd clause for sci­entific papers. Surely (properly-credited) deriv­at­ive works are a good thing for sci­ent­ists? I can see there’s a reason for ND in artistic pro­tec­tion, but sci­ence papers gen­er­ally aren’t works of art. Are there good reas­ons for Nature to have the ND clause?

I’ve trimmed the image thumb­nail and descrip­tion from the link because they would be deriv­at­ive from ori­ginal paper.

#blog   #pub­lish­ing   #aca­demia  

Embedded Link

Lithium stor­age mech­an­isms in pur­purin based organic lith­ium ion bat­tery elec­trodes : Scientific Reports : Nature Publishing Group

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The opposite of Open Access


Here’s an inter­est­ing paper I found while look­ing for inform­a­tion on a topic: EVALUATING THE STATUS OF UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE SITES IN EGYPT. I’ve no idea if the con­tent is inter­est­ing. However, the reason I don’t know that (and prob­ably never will) is what makes the paper so interesting.

It’s avail­able at -http://​dx​.doi​.org/​1​0​.​5​8​4​8​/​A​P​B​J​.​2​0​1​2​.​0​0​005– http://​www​.ingenta​con​nect​.com/​c​o​n​t​e​n​t​/​a​p​b​j​/​i​j​m​c​/​2​0​1​2​/​0​0​0​0​0​0​1​4​/​0​0​0​0​0​0​0​1​/​a​r​t​0​0​005 . Actually I prob­ably should have said it’s ‘avail­able’ with air quotes instead. The reason is obvi­ous when you try to down­load it. Like 90% of journ­als you can’t because you need a sub­scrip­tion, but usu­ally there’s an option to buy the paper at some high rate. Not here. You have to sub­scribe to the journal to get the paper.

To be clear to read this paper on UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Egypt, because I have an interest in archae­olo­gical her­it­age, I have to sub­scribe to a journal that pub­lishes in the same issue:

I’m will­ing to believe these are all excel­lent papers in their field and well worth £150 as a bundle to the right per­son — but not to me. Publishing this way really does lock away research to a nar­row audi­ence. The bar­ri­ers to get­ting the paper mean I won’t be includ­ing it in any research databases.

The punch­line? Check the name of the publisher.

#blog   #archae­ology   #her­it­age   

Edited due to a com­ment by +Rheza Rozendaal : I really should have checked the DOIs

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Not a good writing day today


Actually an abso­lutely lousy writ­ing day today. I’d writ­ten myself into a dead end. There’s two ways of deal­ing with that.

The clever way would have been so have accep­ted there was a prob­lem that I wasn’t going to fix in a rush and moved on to the next sec­tion. After get­ting that done I could return to the prob­lem point and re-write to get from there to here.

However, I thought the sec­tion I was stuck with might affect how the rest of that chapter works, so I looked for a fix. And looked. And looked. I finally have one, but it’s prob­ably cost me a day’s writing.

I have a party I have to go to tomor­row, so it’s a bit of a stall on the writ­ing at the moment. This is a slight pain as my cal­en­dar tells me it’s just day 2 of #AcWriMo . I would have been nice to get to day 3 before run­ning into a big­ger problem.

#blog #writ­ing  

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November Writing


Over at the Extelligence Experiment I’ve put up some plans for writ­ing a short book in November. The aim won’t be to get some­thing per­fect done, but a work­able draft I can hack around. The daft part of the pro­ject is I plan to upload sec­tions as I go along, so if it goes wrong then it will go wrong repeatedly and embar­rass­ingly through­out November.


Embedded Link

November Writing
I’ve recently had more test res­ults back fol­low­ing an oper­a­tion and found out that the thing that’s kept me busy all sum­mer wasn’t can­cer, merely some­thing that could eas­ily be mis­taken for …

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Teaching with Social Media

Road building in Nepal
Road building in Nepal

Road build­ing on the Annapurna cir­cuit, Nepal, surely a path to enlight­en­ment? Photo by rpb1001.

I think I took my PhD at Leicester at almost exactly the right time — if you ignore the cata­strophic down­turn in edu­ca­tion fund­ing. The reason is I’ve had the oppor­tun­ity to work with a few people who have been inspir­ingly innov­at­ive in their teach­ing. Derek Raine intro­duced me to Problem-Based Learning, when he built a new degree in Interdisciplinary Science around it. +A.J. Cann also help by let­ting me help out on some of his numer­acy / study skills courses for Biological Sciences and that’s what he’s blog­ging about today at Of Schemes and Memes and on his own blog at Science of the Invisible.

I’m sure I’ve had plenty of study skills train­ing but I don’t remem­ber much of it. At its worst it was a part of the first year course teach­ing how to use vari­ous sys­tems I might want to use in the third year. By which time the sys­tem might well have changed or else I would have for­got­ten it through lack of use. I don’t do well if I have do some­thing in order to learn how to use a sys­tem. I work bet­ter if I learn how to use a sys­tem in order to do some­thing else.

Alan Cann has a focus on how and why stu­dents want to learn some­thing. To explain the dif­fer­ence, when I was taught I might be shown how to use PubMed. Fill in all the boxes and that’s a pass. In con­trast Alan sets tasks that have a pur­pose and explains PubMed or Web of Knowledge are the easi­est ways to get the inform­a­tion stu­dents need. The cleverest part is that this is wrapped up with social media icing.

Getting cohorts onto Google+ gets them think­ing about pri­vacy, but also makes com­mu­nic­a­tion online a more nat­ural act. Students can build their own sup­port struc­tures. These become more import­ant as the stu­dents move toward inde­pend­ent study later in their degree. Another clever thing work­ing through social media does is it helps dis­solve bar­ri­ers between modules.

In my first degree what I learned in mod­ule A applied to mod­ule A. What I learned in Module B applied to Module B. I wasn’t mak­ing con­nec­tions between the two. On Google+ the work their is for Alan’s mod­ule, but stu­dents dis­cuss more than that. They’ll talk about other mod­ules and make con­nec­tions about why some­thing puzz­ling is hap­pen­ing because we know from this mod­ule that this occurs so when you apply it to that lab exper­i­ment you should expect that and so on.

Another fea­ture is that Alan doesn’t give the same course twice. He’ll drop what thinks doesn’t work and come up with some­thing bet­ter. This shouldn’t be rad­ical. I’ve been on count­less courses as a post-grad that talk about the import­ance of reflec­tion in teach­ing. Usually this reflec­tion in the sense of “how can you bet­ter guide stu­dents along the path to enlight­en­ment?” Alan and Derek have both taken the approach that ques­tions if the path is right in the first place. Even if it’s basic­ally sound, do we need all these wig­gly detours to des­tin­a­tions no one vis­its anymore?

This post is a good entry point to some of what Alan is doing with teach­ing. Science of the Invisible is the place to go if you want to read more.

Photo: Road build­ing on the Annapurna cir­cuit, Nepal by rpb1001. Licenced under a Creative Commons BY-NC licence.

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