January 20, 2011

Visual Understanding Envrionment

Writing about web page http://vue.tufts.edu/index.cfm

The Visual Understanding Environment (VUE) is an Open Source project based at Tufts University. The VUE project is focused on creating flexible tools for managing and integrating digital resources in support of teaching, learning and research. VUE provides a flexible visual environment for structuring, presenting, and sharing digital information.

Wow. A really amazing and interesting open source tool. You have to check it!


December 12, 2010

Mendeley

Writing about web page http://www.mendeley.com/

From Mendeley's website:

Mendeley is a free reference manager and academic social network that can help you organize your research, collaborate with others online, and discover the latest research.

  • Automatically generate bibliographies
  • Collaborate easily with other researchers online
  • Easily import papers from other research software
  • Find relevant papers based on what you're reading
  • Access your papers from anywhere online
  • Read papers on the go, with our new iPhone app
  • View more features…

Mendeley is one of the new software/services that provides advanced references management features.

What I liked in Mendeley

What I really liked in Mendeley is that:

  • It can sync your references between multiple PCs/Macs.
  • Allows you to read, annotate & comment on PDFs from within the software itself.
  • User interface is very nice!
  • Can be set so that it starts watching your resources folders, adding every paper/document that is added to these folder to the library itself while tagging these auto added documents as 'To be reviewed' so that you can review and confirm that every bit of information is correct.

If you have been using Endnote (like me), you will be happy to know that you can export your Endnote library to Mendeley directly. Ofcourse, this doesn't mean that you can't use Endnote at all if you swich to Mendeley. You can work on Mendeley and if for any reason you wanted to insert bibliographies from Endnote or for any other reason, you can export your final library to Endnote and use it.

Research & Decide yourself!

Lastly, I just wanted to know that although I see Mendeley as a good choice for referencing management, etc.. However, I don't want to influence your decision in anyway!

You should spend sometime comparing/researching whatever software you are aware of, for example, for me, I ended up comparing Endnote, Zotero and Mendely. I quickly took Endnote out of the equation for a number of reasons such as its lack of easy sync features and inability to edit PDFs within the software. Lastly, I ended up choosing Mendeley over Zotero because:

  • Zotero is a Firefox plugin. Therefore, it relies on another software which really adds another variable into the situation that could go wrong. For instance, what if there were some problems in Firefox? What if Zotero become unstable or incompatible for any reason with one of Firefox's future updates? Lastly, what if Zotero affects Forefox's performance?
  • Mendeley's ability to edit PDFs within the same software is just great!
  • The ability to watch folders within Mendeley is nice!

Therefore, it really depends on your work style and the set of features you might require which can be available in a certain software and not in the others.

Do you use any of these?

If you are using one of the mentioned software, I would really like to hear your experience. There might be features that I am not aware of in any of these mentioned software.


December 09, 2010

NVivo 9 Tutorials

One of my friends told me that his friend suggested that he uses NVivo for management of sources and qualitative data analysis. I have never heard of NVivo before so I wanted to give it a try. I downloaded the software and installed but still didn't really have the time to give it a try.

Furthermore, while searching for relevant reviews. I found that there is a good number of people who have suggested the use of NVivo in Academic Research and most certainly by PhD students.

I am really interested in finding what others who have used/are using NVivo think about it. I know that there is a need for some coding, but since I am going through the new journal papers I am downloading I will probably scan be able to code quickly.

One of the advantages of using NVivo is that it allows me to see all the sources related to one node (Theme or topic). Which really saved time especially if you are talking about having 100s of papers in your library. Being able to assign certain parts of papers to different nodes/topics is a really nice and very helpful feature!

I don't want to waste a lot of my time learning about NVivo 9 and testing it until I know for sure that it can help. Therefore, I haven't started using it.

I am actually hoping that some members of staff or some visitors would shed some light as to if NVivo 9 is indeed helpfull for me as a PhD student or not.

So, if you have any experience using NVivo 9 or any previous version, please let me know how it was. Did it help you get better results? Was it worth it?

Below are a number of videos that explain certain basic parts in NVivo 9, in case you wanted to learn more about it.

Introductin & Overview


Importing Sources to NVivo 9



Linking Cases to Attributes in NViv



Connecting Sources to Demographics in NVivo 9




December 07, 2010

Thumbnails in Wordpress 2.9+ and 3.0+

Now that Wordpress added a thumbnail feature (2.9+), we longer need to assign custom fields and give them values each time we write a blog post. Insted, while writing a blog post, there is a small panel or block to the side that allows us to choose a thumbnail for the post.

However, for people like me, who have been using custom fields to show pictures for sometime, there is a decision to be made. Should we stick to the custom fields and just continuou using them or should we start using the core thumbnails featre instead?

Well, you don't really have to the choose one of these two, you will keep using them both. How you ask? Well, simply, stop using custom fields for any new posts you write and use the thumbnail feature to assign thumbnails to blog posts. Then, edit your templates and add some simple conditions so that Wordpress checks whenever a blog post is viewed if it has a custom field thumbnail or a core wordpress 2.9+ thumbnail. By doing this, your old blog posts thumbnails will still show and your new thumbnails, the one you assign using the new feature will also show.

Honestly, I was very worried about having to choose one of these two, and since I am not a programmer/developer/coder, I was worried that I wouldn't be able to figure this out. However, with some thinking and imagination and with the help of a number of great Wordpress articles I was able to use my thumbnails in my Blog homepage. Not only that, but using some of the new features related to thumbnails, I was actually able to set specific sizes for the different pages in my blog. For example, on my homepage, all posts thumbnails are 100px x 75px. However, when a visitor clicks on a certain blog post to view it, he is shown the same picture but in a different size, say 200px x75px. This is really nice and it's really simple to achieve.

As I said, I am not a programmer and I was able to figure this out with the help of the following resources. There is no reason why you shouldn't be able to get similar results :). I would also like to thank each one of those blog authors:

If anyone (not good with coding as I am) wants to look at the code I have used in my template pages to show the thumbnails, I would be happy to share.

If you want to check what I was talking about, you can visit my Arabic Research Blog. Don't ming the language, but make note of the thumbnails then follow some of them to the post view page to see if the thumbnail's dimension will change or not. Please note that because some of the thumbnails are actually cropped, they might not show in a bigger size if you follow them to the post.


December 05, 2010

Get Your Research Library Organised with Zotero

Writing about web page http://www.zotero.org/

Zoter.org:

Zotero [zoh-TAIR-oh] is a free, easy-to-use tool to help you collect, organize, cite, and share your research sources. It lives right where you do your work—in the web browser itself.

Honestly, I find it one of the best tools available for researchers. really!

Zotero video:


Check Zotero's website for more information.


Zotero's features:

    • Capture Research Data
    • Archive the Web
    • Store related PDFs, files, images, and links in your library
    • Take Notes
    • Drag and drop bibliographies anywhere: into an email, a blog post, or any word processor
    • Plugins for Word and OpenOffice make it easy to drop in references on the fly
    • Zotero comes preloaded with all major styles, and thousands of additional journal-specific styles are freely available
    • Get the best of both worlds: Work locally with your research materials and automatically sync your data between multiple computers
    • Even without Zotero, you can access your collection from any web browser. You can even view your collection on mobile devices like the iPhone.
    • Share your research with the world and make your library and collections public
    • Create group libraries to collaborate with other Zotero users
    • And Many more...


    So, What are you waiting for? Get Firefox if you don't have it and give Zotero a test drive :)!


    July 12, 2010

    Wordpress Link Library plugin

    Writing about web page http://yannickcorner.nayanna.biz/wordpress-plugins/link-library/

    Wordpress Link Library plugin is one of the most useful plugins I have used for Wordpress. Not only it allows you to show your links along with their categories in a nice way that can be easily formatted, it also allows your Wordpress blog visitors to suggest new links, this was very helpful on one of my websites as I needed a way to allow others to do this.

    Other features include: the ability to set an RSS icon for each link and show/hide links descritions. ofcourse, there are many more!

    I have been using Wordpress Link Library plugin for quite some time on my Arabic Research Blog, in the Research Links Library and Link Library Wordpress plugin have proven to be a very useful and stable plugin.

    Lastly, the Link Library plugin's developer Yannick, is also very useful and helpful when it comes to answering any questions related to any of the Wordpress plugins that he developed, and his blog is the biggest indicator of his will to help others. Thanks Yannick!

    To view some examples of how this plugin can be used, visit the Link Library plugin and look under examples or configuration.


    Lastly, if you find this plugin very helpful (like I did), please don't hesitate to donate, as this will help keep the project going and help Yannick with any costs related to the maintenance of his blog or as a little incentive for him to keep going :).


    July 08, 2010

    Learn and Create Facebook Applications

    A few months ago, I wanted to create a simple Facebook application which allows me to show few items from an RSS feed in a Facebook Tab in a specific way I want. However, because I had no idea whatsoever about Facebook Application development, I spent days trying to figure out how I could create an application that would do that for me. And what made this worst is the fact that I hate programming in general and I had no clue where to start a Facebook application from.


    Facebook Application Development Training Videos

    Finally, I saw an item on Amazon which claims to teach Facebook Applications development. At first, I was very sceptical and I thought that this item is probably going to be useless. However, I decided to order it anyway hoping that these CDs will be of any help and therefore, save my time, as I spent days and days researching...

    Facebook Application Development



    Click on the Image For more information



    The CDs included video tutorials which explain everything clearly! Although you might find a bit of repetition here and there, I found that I learnt quite a few things from the CDs, and I have found the source code included to be really helpful too!

    If you are like me, Zero in programming and Zero in Facebook Applications development and you need to learn a few basics things in order to create your very first Facebook Application, give this a go!


    Please note that a few parts of the CD are outdated due to Facebook updates and/or bugs. However, the rest are very valuable!


    Example of the Facebook Application I have created

    After learning a few things from the CDs, I managed to create what I wanted to do. To view an exmaple, please visit this Facebook page which I am working on for a cousin of mine.

    Shirts 2 Go

    From this page, visit the Shop tab and Enter the UK/EU Shop.

    Let me know of what you think of what I have done so far :) . I am open for any suggestions for improvements if you have any, as this is stil my first Facebook Application!!


    July 03, 2010

    البحث العلمي

    Writing about web page http://drhariri.com/blog/links/

    قمت في موقع د. حريري و البحث العلمي بإنشاء دليل البحث العلمي، و الذي يتم من خلاله جمع العديد من الروابط للخدمات و المجلات و المنشورات العلمية المختلفة و أي مواقع علمية، و التي أقوم بزيارتها شخصيا أو يتم إقتراحها من قبل زوار الموقع.


    إذا كان لديك أي روابط تود إقتراح إضافتها إلى دليل البحث العلمي، لا تتردد في زيارة دليل البحث العلمي، حيث ستجد في آخر الصفحة نموذج لإقتراح رابط جديد.


    الأقسام المتوفرة في الدليل حتى الآن:

    • المجلات و المنشورات العلمية
    • مكتبات و محركات بحث الرسائل و الأطروحات
    • مواضيع و توجيهات في جمع البيانات
    • مواضيع و توجيهات في البحث العلمي
    • محركات بحث عن المراجع العلمية
    • أدوات مساعدة

    May 25, 2010

    Facebook Like button on your Wordpress blog

    Writing about web page http://ottopress.com/wordpress-plugins/simple-facebook-connect/

    A couple of months ago, Facebook released new Facebook Social plugins that can be used on any website. The benefits of using these plugins includes: creating a stronger link with your Facebook fans, allowing your blog visitors to share stories, recommendations and anything with their friends or anyone they have added as friend on Facebook.

    For marketing purposes and in order to grow your website/blog visitors and fans, it is really important to integrate some of these Facebook Social Plugins into your blog, to allow your blog visitors to easily share anything they like or comment or the various things on your blog.



    Facebook Social Plugins for Wordpress

    One of the plugins that I found very easy to use to integrate Facebook Social Plugins into your Wordpress blog is through the use of Simple Facebook Connect Plugin.

    This Wordpress plugin is easy to use, and includes almost all the functionalities and plugins you might want to include in your blog (Comments box, activities, like, share, etc...).



    Facebook Like Button in Simple Facebook Connect

    Although the mentioned Wordpress plugin above allows you to add almost all the Facebook Social Plugins easily, there is a simple step that you can do to improve the Facebook Like button that comes with the same Simple Facebook Connect plugin.

    While the Facebook Like button (Read here for what this plugin does) will work as it should after implementing the plugin, whenever someone presses the like button on an artcile on your blog, in their facebook account, it will show that they like your website while showing your website name.

    While you do want others to see your website name, you wouldn't want it to show like this on anyone's Facebook profile. Simply because lets assume that a visitor likes 4 posts in your blog, and he goes on liking each one of them. After he's done, his Facebook profile will show 4 different lines saying the same thing that he he liked "This Blog", which is stupid and non-informative at all as to what he liked there...



    Like button Additional information

    The solution to this is very simple if you are using Wordpress, all you have to do is provide additional information (using Open Graph Protocol) in your Wordpress theme you are using, in the header file (usually header.php) in particular.

    Open your theme's header file and anywhere between the <head> and </head> tags, use the code shown Here (Can't show within the post as it is HTML), then save.

    After adding the header tags shown, visitors who like any post on your blog will have more meaningful information shown in their Facebook account as the post title will be shown, and whenever they like another post, a different title will be shown. Less repitition, More information and better for your SEO (i think)!


    Now, go ahead and press on the like button in one of your posts and check your Facebook profile to see if this is working!


    Joomla 1.6 on its way

    Writing about web page http://www.joomla.org/component/content/article/5252.html

    In a previous post in this blog, I talked about a great Content Management System (CMS) called Joomla and I included many general and specific information regarding this CMS.

    Now after the long-time Joomla 1.5 has been out, many (including me) were looking forward to the new version of Joomla 1.6. This is because many important features that were not available in Joomla 1.5 are going to be available in Joomla 1.6.

    One particular feature that many can't wait for in Joomla 1.6 is called ACL. This feature basically allows Joomla administrators to create various groups while giving them different permissions and access rights. This was not available in Joomla 1.5 and many of us had to use commercial extensions to have such feature. However, with Joomla 1.6 coming out soon, we will finally be able to do that without the need for any extensions!


    This is a quick preview of Joomla 1.6, you can take a look at some of the changes coming.



    Books I Enjoyed

    As I buy/view books, I update this list with the books that I most liked:
    [View my Book List]

    Little About me


    Abdulrahman Hariri's Picture

    Name: Abdulrahman Hariri

    PhD student at WMG.

    I’ve started a research education website in 2009 to help people from the Middle East learn how to do scientific research. The website continues to attract tens of thousands each month and has over half a million followers on social media.





    My Websites (in Arabic):
    البحث العلمي
    الأكاديمية التعليمية
    الابتكار و ريادة الأعمال


    Contact Me

    [Click Here to Find More About me]

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