Show and Tell Links – 4 December, 2019

Links for Egg Heads

Firefox’s Fight for the Future of the Web | Guardian

I was a Firefox user for many years. I can’t really account for how I stopped using it, but I’m sure it had something to do with how slow and messy it had become. That, and the convenience Kool Aid I drank that kept me using Safari. The Firefox comeback that started with the Quantum build in 2017, is for real. If you care about an open, decentralised, private and healthy web, you should be using Firefox. It should help that it is a better browser than either Chrome or Safari. 1

Zotero Connector for Safari 13 (Beta)

For the refuseniks who stick with Safari, that other wonderful open source tool for research, Zotero, has released a Beta version with a new connector. It is a very basic version, however, without the advanced settings and proxy tools that come with the full version — see above.

Roam Research – A note taking tool for networked thought.

I’m usually not much for Web Apps, but this is an interesting tool. I have an instance running with Nativefier to make it a Faux native, which is better than a browser tab.

Zettel Network Visualizer | Github

Speaking of notes, there is a lot of interest in zettelkasten these days, thanks largely to the work of The Archive developers. The forum is very active, and occasionally you get things like this.

Something Completely Different…

A Foundation Course in Reading German | By Howard Martin, revised and expanded as an open online textbook by Alan Ng

This one is not a tech thing, but a niche suggestion. Anyone studying continental philosophy will immediately recognise the value in a course that teaches you to read German, you can’t read Hegel via a phrase book.

  1. Despite what you might have heard Firefox is generally faster than Chrome, and it consumes on average 30% less RAM.

Zotero iOS Shortcuts: Better BibTeX Citation Keys

Zotero Ios Better Bibtex

This is the long awaited iOS Shortcut for Zotero to extract Better BibTeX citation keys for Pandoc. I know a fair few people have been waiting on this, apologies it has taken so long to post. If you need more detail, read on, otherwise the shortcut can be downloaded below.

Zotero and Better BibTeX

There are a couple simple but important reasons I use Zotero, and the standard BibTeX support is not one of them. The web API allows me to build these shortcuts, but more importantly Zotero is an antidote to the closed and proprietary reference management systems of big academic publishers. 1

Despite the importance of both those things, if it wasn’t for the Better BibTex plugin I would almost certainly be using Bookends. The Zotero desktop app is a glorified browser, and an ugly one at that, whereas Bookends is a powerful native app. But I digress, the point is Better BibTex improves Zotero significantly, and I find it to be the best way of dealing with Pandoc citations. If you don’t use it already, you can look into it here.  Or if you want a visual guide, for anything to do with plain scholarship using Zotero I recommend the excellent tutorials by Nicholas Cifuentes-Goodbody

If you already use Better BibTeX and you're looking for an iOS solution, you may find this useful.

Notes:

  • Better BibTeX  writes custom citations keys to an ‘extra’ field. For most people that won’t matter, but if have other plugins running there is always a chance the crude regular expression I have written to extract the keys will run into problems. 2
  • Make sure your keys are ‘pinned’ on the desktop, if they have an asterisk next to them they will not get written to the web database, meaning the shortcut will break. This is the most common reason the shortcut doesn’t work
  • Unlike the previous shortcuts, this version searches the entire library by default. It seems most users prefer that. If you want it to search a particular collection, it is easy enough to change the URL for the API call. The Zotero documentation includes examples of how the URL should look. You can also look at other versions of these Zotero shortcuts that use a collection instead of the library.
  • If you want to use the shortcut with multiple text editors, delete the final ‘open in app’ action and use multitasking to paste the keys.
  • The shortcut should run fine from the share sheet, but the best way to use these shortcuts is via the widget.

As always, any problems drop me a line.

Download Zotero Better BibTeX Shortcut

Ios Zotero Shortcut
Zotero Better BibTeX

 

 

 

 

 

Important: If you are an iOS only user, and do not maintain your Zotero database on a desktop, this shortcut will not work for you. You need to use one of the earlier versions.


  1. e.g Mendeley has an API, but it’s made by Elsevier ↩︎
  2. If anyone with actual RegEx chops wants to improve the expression, please let me know and I will update the shortcut ↩︎

iOS Shortcuts: Clipboard Shortcut for Bibliographic Data

Ios Shortcuts Book Scanner.png

I recently shared an iOS Shortcut for scanning citations directly from the barcode of a book. Handy as it is, I have another shortcut I’m getting a lot of mileage from when I write on my Mac. Both Zotero, and Bookends 1 can add references to your library directly by scanning different metadata, including any book’s ISBN. You can obviously search for the numbers, or type them out by hand, but this little trick can add items to your library by using an iOS device as a scanner.

Zotero Quick Add.png
Zotero can add items to your library automatically using metadata, such as the ISBN

The shortcut works by scanning the ISBN from a barcode of any book and copying it to the clipboard.  If the Universal Clipboard is working properly, the ISBN will become immediately available on the nearest Mac to paste into Zotero, or Bookends. I have also set it to copy the number to my clipboard manager in case the universal clipboard fails, as it does far too often 2.

This version of shortcut is configured to use my favourite clipboard manager, Copied. You could also use the equally impressive Paste, which is included with Setapp. Or any other app  with a URL scheme that uses iCloud sync, like Gladys or Yoink. You could even use Apples own Notes App in a pinch.

Download the shortcut and adapt it to your needs here: IBSN Scan To Copied

 

  1. These are the two I recommend, but other reference managers will do this too 
  2. I have lost hours troubleshooting the universal clipboard when it stops working, it’s not worth it.