Four and a half plugs

Some people ain’t got nothin better ta do than read blogs. Christmas Day, I got 56 hits. How sad is that ? Oh. Hang on. I checked, didn’t I ? Damn.  So for the addicts, and while I think up something profound, here are some bloggy plugs.

Plug One. First, that Regator thing. When I wrote about it here I worried I was being suckered in to the vanity press; but I have decided I like it and have added a Regator badge to my widgets. It is true that there are sixty million blogs out there, so a web site that picks and organises a couple of thousand good ones is doing something useful. The other reason I like it is that its all done in Atlanta Georgia. It brings to my mind one of my favourite Laurel and Hardy clips. They are in a restaurant. Phone on wall rings, Stan answers. Listens. Says “Uh Huh. It sure is.”. Puts phone down. Stan sits. Long pause. Olly says “What was that all about ?”. Stan says “well, I picked up the phone, and this voice says “its a long distance to Atlanta Georgia.”, so I says it sure is.”

Plug two. Another “best of” web site has given me (and many of the other usual suspects…) a handful of extra hits every day : bizarrely, this is a site called Find Schools Online. There is an associated blog, which basically seems to be a series of “best of” selections. On Dec 29th they had the Top 100 Space and Astronomy Blogs. Slightly less fussy than Regator, which has 14 Astronomy Blogs. Dec 15th has the Top 100 Web Tools For Learning a New Language. Coo.

Plug Three : Zotero. This is very, very, good. In recent weeks I have been playing with different ways of searching, saving, and organising research papers. ADS and astro-ph are crucial of course; for bookmarking and organising, Connotea and Cite-U-like are pretty good, but Zotero is better; I also played with various client programs like Jabref, but Zotero is much better. Now you can also explore citation links with Paperscope, and grab and plot the data from papers using VODesktop plus Vizier plus Topcat. Some of you will be frowning in puzzlement, but fear not, I am planning a whole post on this stuff, as its great.

Plug Four : Fora TV. Its another aggregator, but for video content of a very high quality. Partners include the Aspen Institute, CSPAN, The Times, New Republic, New York Public Library, and lots more. Basically it consists of a large collection of filmed public lectures. Its full of good stuff. Its like the LRB on TV. Very dangerous . I am hooked.

Plug Four and a Half : I found Fora TV via The Daily Galaxy. It has too much to keep up with, but drop in every so often ..

Here endeth the plugs.

9 Responses to Four and a half plugs

  1. Jan says:

    Hi Andy,

    in case you haven’t tried it yet, I suggest you have a look at Mendeley as a cross-platform client software to manage your research papers (, I’m a co-founder).

    Mendeley (currently in beta) is two things: Free academic desktop software (available for Windows, Mac and Linux) for managing & sharing research papers, and a website where you can back up and access your research papers, discover research trends, and connect to like-minded researchers. Our vision is to create something like a “ for Research” (

    If you like, you can also leave feedback, comments, and suggestions in our feedback forum ( or you can write me an e-mail directly.

    Best wishes

  2. andyxl says:

    Jan – no I hadn’t spotted Mendeley. I will give it a go.

    • Ross Collins says:

      Andy, did you ever get around to trying out Mendeley? If so, what did you think?

      I was reminded of the idea behind Mendeley whilst listening to Tony Hey at the Astroinformatics conference yesterday talking about changing cultural attitudes to the way we go about research paper publishing and reading.

      I think I would have benefitted greatly from using Mendeley back when I was working on my PhD. Being new to my research field, knowing what papers to read and more importantly who else was working in my narrow field and reading the same papers as me would have aided my attempts to form collaborations and expedited my understanding of the subject.

      This is what Mendeley should be good for, but only if a good percentage of researchers in your field are all using it too. Looking at random samples of astronomy papers currently in its database there are very few with more than 2 readers each, which is sad considering the potential of the idea behind the site. Not being research active myself anymore, I’m just curious to hear views from potential users as to why it hasn’t caught on yet.

      • andyxl says:

        No I still haven’t tried Mendeley, but I really must. The social bookmarking thing is what Connotea is good at. As you say, the sharing thing needs a critical mass..

  3. Martin E. says:

    I loved
    Mike Rowe on Discovery, Realization and Lamb Castration
    on!! It actually makes a serious point at the end, BTW.

  4. Kimberly says:

    Hi Andy. Thanks for the plug. Glad you’ve found Regator to be useful. Cheers and best wishes from the far-away land of Atlanta.

  5. Sarah says:

    Wow Zotero looks cool. Definitely going to try it out in the next few weeks,

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