How to Install Zotero Standalone on Ubuntu 12.04 LTS

After reviewing several reference management software (Wikipedia, WISC.edu, Imperial.ac.uk, Columbia.edu) I opted for Zotero. It’s simple to use, free, and open source. It has a 300 Mb limit with the possibility to buy extra space. Although 300 Mb doesn’t seem like a lot, it’s fine for the moment.

Zotero has a Firefox plugin that’s in constant connection with the server. You can also chose to have it installed locally, on your machine.

The following steps apply for a Zotero 4.0 standalone package on Ubuntu Studio 12.04 LTS, 64 bit.

1. Which package should I download?

Most of the time, zotero.org will propose a package that suits your system. If you’re not sure whether your computer runs on 32 or 64 bit chips, type this in the terminal window.

uname -m

2. Download

-> Go to https://www.zotero.org/download/ and download Zotero standalone with the browser extension of your choice.

-> extract the archive from its tar.bz2 compressed format

-> move the folder to your /opt directory, alongside other programs. You can do this in two ways

a) open a terminal window and type:

sudo mv ~/Downloads/Zotero_linux-x86_64/ /opt

This will move the Zotero extracted directory from your Downloads location to the /opt directory

b) open your Home folder -> press ALT+F2 -> *type gksudo nautilus -> click Run -> type your password -> OK

Navigate in the newly opened window to File System -> Opt

Paste here the Zotero folder you extracted in your Downloads location.

3. Make a .desktop file in usr/share/applications in order to make the system recognize that you have installed Zotero, and to be able to find it in your Applications Menu

-> open gedit or other text editor and type:

#!/usr/bin/env xdg-open
[Desktop Entry]
Type=Application
Name=Zotero
GenericName=Bibliography Manager
Icon=/opt/Zotero_linux-x86_64/chrome/icons/default/default48.png
Exec= /opt/Zotero_linux-x86_64/zotero %f
Categories=Office
Terminal=false

Be sure to change the Icon and Exec lines if you run on 32 bit

Icon=/opt/Zotero_linux-i686/chrome/icons/default/default48.png
Exec= /opt/Zotero_linux-i686/zotero %f

-> save the file as zotero.desktop somewhere on your computer and then paste it in usr/share/applications. Be sure to do this in the window of Step 2/b, that gives you root access.

Done.

I would like to reference http://anterotesis.com and his original post Installing Zotero standalone on Ubuntu 11.10. I used his steps and page comments to install version 4.0, changing somewhere along the way from terminal use to folder view.

* you might need to type kdesu konqueror or gksudo thunar if you have Kubuntu (KDE) or Xubuntu (XFCE) – read more here – http://www.psychocats.net/ubuntu/permissions

Advertisements

Intrebarea unui politist: de ce sa ma implic?

Acum câteva zile discutam cu o cunoștință care lucrează în poliție. Îmi spunea că atunci când e în afara programului nu simte nevoia să intervină în situații în care sesizează diverse ilegalități. Că poate doi se bat, dar de fapt sunt prieteni, că cine stie ce pile are cel care circulă beat sau cine știe pe cine au în spate cei care organizează un concert pe bani, dar care nu dau bilete. Și că oricum aș lua-o, ar fi o pierdere de timp sau mai rău.

Argumentele mele contra au fost două. I-am explicat că trăiește în același oraș în care trăiesc și părinții lui, că plătește ratele la un apartament aici și că cel mai probabil își va întemeia o familie tot în acest loc. Dacă trece cu vederea un șofer beat acum, șanse sunt să se găsească șoferi beți și când copilul său va merge la școală sau când părinții săi vor trece strada sprijinindu-se în baston.

Mai rău decât atât ar fi că prin lipsa de atitudine creează în jurul său o cultură în care se auto-sabotează. „Inaction is a weapon of mass destruction” spune o melodie, iar un cunoscut psiholog, Philip Zimbardo, vorbește despre anturajul, sau contextul, care influențează individul. Ești media celor cinci persoane cu care îți petreci cea mai mare parte din timp, spune un proverb.

În experimentul Stanford Prison, tineri studenți au devenit aleatoriu pușcăriași pentru o săptămână sau gardieni responsabili cu siguranța celor din celule. Experimentul a trebuit oprit pentru că accelera spre un comportament abuziv din parte gardienilor, care aveau autoritatea. Similar este și binecunoscutul caz al închisorii Abu Ghraib, unde militari americani au fost acuzați de abuzuri asupra prizonierilor. În ambele cazuri răsturnarea de situație a venit din partea unei singure persoane care a avut tăria de caracter pentru a se opune majorității. În România e de actualitate cazul mamei care a făcut publică înregistrarea învățătoarei care abuza de situația financiară a părinților. Deși acest lucru se întâmpla de mult și la scară largă, un singur părinte a fost cel care a luat inițiativa. Unul singur!

Zimbardo propune doi pași pentru a lua atitudine: să acționezi atunci când alți oameni sunt pasivi și să acționezi în mod socio-centric. Același autor vorbește despre pașii care ușurează tranziția spre un comportament abuziv:

  • să faci primul mic pas fără a te gândi la consecințe: „e OK, nu-l sancționez de data asta, nu-i chiar așa de grav”
  • dezumanizarea – să-i privești pe ceilalți altfel decât ca semeni cu nevoi și idealuri similare
  • dezindividualizarea – să te privești pe tine ca parte dintr-un grup, spunând că responsabilitatea revine grupului și nu individului
  • difuzia responsabilității: „sunt și alții aici care ar putea să sune la poliție, de ce tocmai eu?”
  • obediența oarbă față de autoritate
  • a te conforma normelor unui grup fără a reflecta asupra lor
  • toleranța pasivă prin lipsă de acțiune sau indiferență

Îi spuneam amicului polițist că al doilea motiv pentru care ar vrea să ia atitudine ar fi că prin indiferență va crea în jurul său o cultură a indiferenței. Care se poate întoarce asupra lui când se va aștepta mai puțin, prin vocea unui coleg, a unui șef sau a unui membru al familiei care va spune „las-o, mă, nu-ți mai bate capu’, merge ș-așa”. Până când nu va mai merge.

Of Birds and Beggars

It’s almost freezing outside. Close to the building, two kids are begging. The older one is seriously disabled. I guess that before he was able to tell his parents that he’d like to be a doctor or a firefighter, or an airplane pilot, they decided for him that he’ll be a beggar. So they crippled him for life by breaking his legs from the knees, turning them in the opposite direction. Holding a stick in each hand, he keeps his body in an almost upright position. Without them he could only walk on all fours.

A few people are passing by, throwing pieces of bread to the pigeons that flock together. When they leave, the younger child scares the pigeons and eats the bread.

Just another image from a country that’s not there yet…

Tips for Taking a Taxi in Morocco

Taxis are a relatively cheap way of getting around Morocco, in the city and in between cities. Depending on some things, the experience can vary from fun to frustration or panic. Here are my tips after going through all these states during my seven months in Morocco.

Petit Taxis – in the city transportation, color changes with the city

  • it helps knowing how to greet and say thanks in Darija: Salam Alaykum and Shukran. Say Beslama before you leave.
  • avoid taking a taxi at rush hour or before a call to prayer. You’ll either have a tough time finding a car or find yourself stuck in traffic, which is especially annoying when the driver doesn’t know the address…
  • have a map of the area of your destination. Have it written in Arabic, or at least the street name in Arabic. I lost track of the times when instead of getting where I wanted, I ended up in a completely different part of the city. After some frustration that I couldn’t find any driver with a map of the city – one actually pulled out a tourist map that had only a small part of the city center – I started printing Google maps of my destination. That helped a lot getting there fast and at a fair price.
  • sometimes petit taxis will stop to take someone else that goes in the same direction as you. You can tell the driver not to if you want, it’s your right, but usually it’s common courtesy to not complain. You should definitely complain if the taxi starts detouring. If the driver picks someone else, you won’t be sharing costs. So don’t expect to pay less.
  • if you desperately need a cab but there’s no empty one in sight, stalk one that’s waiting at the traffic light. If it has people inside but it’s not full, chances are you’ll be getting a ride if you’re going in the same direction.
  • taking a taxi at night usually costs you what’s on the meter + 50%

Grand Taxis – in & out of the city transportation, cars are big, white Mercedes Benz

  • know how much you have to pay for the ride. The Lonely Planet guide usually offers a good estimation. The best way is to ask other travelers, if possible without letting the cab driver intervene in the conversation.
  • wait until the grand taxi is full. It’s cheaper to travel in a full car (4+2+driver), and this is the local way to travel. Sometimes the 6th place might be hard to fill, in which case the empty (shared) seat cost is shared amongst the rest of you.
  • there are no seatbelts in grand taxis, and in between cities it can get wild if your driver goes 120 km/hour on a mountain road, rain outside and a cliff on your right. So if your driver doesn’t understand when you tell him to slow down, ask someone in the car to translate it to him (99.9% of the time it’s a him). If that doesn’t work and the image of the car tumbling down the rocks continues to bother you, pretend you have nausea and you’re about to throw up. They usually take good care of their cars. This helped me once.

pro tip #1: if you’re feeling ripped of by the price when taking a grand taxi from the airport, but you’re already on your way to the destination, argue with the driver. This tip is for the people that can raise their voice without raising their temper, which is a way of negotiation in Morocco. It helps knowing an approximate cost for your ride, so you can benchmark your negotiation.

pro tip #2: whatever happens, try to be as positive as possible about the experience. Raging and complaining with a person that doesn’t understand you helps no-one. And passers by that otherwise might want to help, will probably stay away from a person that screams, swears, and gesticulates angrily.

Change Okular Default Highlighter Color – for Linux Light Users

Update: Okular version 0.17 has configurable review tools.

Today I had enough of the yellow highlighter that’s default in Okular and I went about to change it. It was a bit tricky since I’m a light terminal user, and I wanted as much graphical interface as possible when dealing with changes in restricted areas of Linux.

Why do it? The yellow highlighter blends with the yellow color whenever I use CTRL+F to find a word in my research articles. It was annoying and I needed to change that.

After searching and reading, here’s the method that worked for me:

System: Ubuntu Studio 12.04 LTS

Okular: 0.14.3

Step 1: Know the color you want to switch to. You can do this in several ways:

a) Open a pdf with Okular and, using the Yellow Highlighter [4], highlight a text.

-> Right lick on the highlighted text and choose Properties.

-> Click on the actual color field next to where it says Color

-> Choose one of the colors that are available or create your own color, then copy the HTML code. In my case is #FFDCA8

OR

b) go to a site like http://www.computerhope.com/htmcolor.htm#03 and choose from one of the HTML colors there.

Step 2: Switch to Root

As you may know by now, when you’re using Linux (Ubuntu), you are a user without rights to modify critical system files. This is for your own protection and makes Linux very secure. But for this task you need root access – i.e. you need access to change one of these critical files.

Open your file browser (the Home button),

-> press ALT+F2

-> type gksudo nautilus (make sure you have Run in Terminal option checked). Click Run

– – > you might need to type kdesu konqueror or gksudo thunar if you have Kubuntu (KDE) or Xubuntu (XFCE) – read more here – http://www.psychocats.net/ubuntu/permissions

-> Type your password – OK

Step 3: Find the file and change the default color setting

Once you clicked OK after inserting the password, a new file explorer window opens.

->From the left menu click on File System

-> enter usr folder

-> enter share

-> enter kde4

-> enter apps

-> enter okular

-> right click on tools.xml and open it with your default text editor (like gedit)

-> search for Yellow Highlighter. It might look like this:

<tool id=”4″ name=”Yellow Highlighter” pixmap=”tool-highlighter-okular”>

-> change the default yellow color to the chosen color:

<engine type=”TextSelector” color=”#FFDCA8“>
<annotation type=”Highlight” color=”#FFDCA8

Important: Change only what’s inside quotation marks! For example, select the default #FFFF00 that represents color yellow and change it to the color code you chose in Step 1. In my case, as seen above, the new color is #FFDCA8.

-> save the file, close all programs, restart and voilà, job done!

Explaining these steps takes way longer than actually going though them. It’s very easy, as you’ll experience after the first try. You might have to do it every once in a while an Okular update arrives, and your tools.xml file will be overwritten by the updates.

Thanks to people on this forum, the solutions came from you guys – http://www.windowslinuxosx.com/q/answers-customise-okular-to-modify-highlight-tool-properties-584017.html

Hope this helps!

There are no images because that’s more of a self-imposed blog policy. Ask in the comments and I’ll do my best to describe things for you, or alt least guide you to someone who knows.

Thoughts on Morocco I – the overwhelming pluses

After seven moths spent in Morocco, five of which living in the medina of Salé, and more than 15 cities visited, here are some thoughts on this experience.

Morocco has some of the friendliest people I’ve met. I was helped, hosted, and fed by complete strangers, in situations that rarely have a correspondence in Europe:

  • Neighbors bringing food & helping out – it happened in the new city and in the medina, our neighbors were very kind. They also helped when having to find food while I was sick, sending their children to some hidden shop in the medina. Or while having to deal with the intricacies of the counterfeited Jinkers water heater, fiding a good plumber, and dealing for the first time with changing gas tanks. Thanks Abdelhaq and Youssef in Fadesa!
  • Complete strangers inviting us to spend the night at their place, giving us food and a comfortable place to sleep. Thanks Firdaouss, Moustafa and Hind!
  • The policemen in Meknes, that invited us to share a tajine with them, while on duty. Too bad we could not take a picture to have as proof 🙂
  • The neighbors in the medina of Salé, that acted as close relatives, helping whenever we asked, and that called me on my mobile the second day after I left Morocco. Thank you so much!
  • Friends’ families that adopted me and my strange eating habits. It’s not easy being a vegetarian (+fish) in Morocco, but it’s manageable. Thanks Reda, mama-Reda, Amine, and…
  • … and all the friends in AIESEC and JCI that made my stay in Morocco so pleasant, thank you!
  • Random conversations with people – from bus stations to medina streets and tramway workers. It was incredible to listen and be engaged in conversations with total strangers, from all walks of life.
  • A private school that allowed me to spend my ‘other working hours’ using their internet and lobby to do online courses and talk to friends. Thanks ILCS, Abderrafi and Aicha!
  • The French teachers that helped me improve my language skills after I asked them to “politely correct my mistakes” 😀 Thanks Coralie!
  • The taxi driver that yelled something in Arabic while I was jogging, and something that I’d like to think was “Good job! Keep it up!”.

Thoughts on Morocco II – and some minuses

This post is dedicated to the less positive things in Morocco. I’ll make this part short – the negative aspects were greatly outnumbered by the positive ones – although it’s worth mentioning some of the least pleasant things:

  • traffic accidents and people that don’t seem to understand the importance of a helmet or safety belt. Those could help you, but what happens when you meet…
  • … drunk/ drugged drivers? I was surprised, to say the least, by the amount of young people with cars that drive under influence.
  • Also by the amount of people that do light drugs, by the amount of people that sell them – in Tangier people shamelessly offer hashish. From the hostel receptionist that offered me “chocolate”, to a random person on the street that pulled two packs out of his underwear – sell that, drug dealer!
  • One point for improvement would be if people would read more… buses in Morocco have no schedule, and often times I had to wait 45 minutes to one hour for a bus, time in which no-one opened a book
  • and my pet peeve – the plastic bag, which they give you plenty-of in Morocco. With a bread, with a pack of biscuits, with everything!