ruruminations – cnàmh na cìr – chewing the cud


Look! A pointless image of me in HTML numbers!
January 27, 2009, 10:07 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized
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Can a swarm ‘learn’?
January 12, 2009, 11:48 pm
Filed under: Predestionation, Questions

This is a question that arose in my mind after watching the program ‘Swarms’ on BBC iPlayer (not when it it was originally broadcast on Sunday).

My initial reaction is that they are pre-programmed to respond in certain ways rather than ‘learning’.

However another thought came to me, that it it is not only a matter of pre-programming, but also of providential care.  God cares for the whole creation and uses each part to fulfill his purposes.

This is intended to be a discussion starter, so feel free to comment.



Blog Aggregators
January 9, 2009, 2:37 pm
Filed under: Information Technology

If you have not come across these web applications and you follow blogs, then you have not yet realised how much time you needlessly waste checking whether your friend (or otherwise) has posted a new blog item.  What a blog aggregator does is that is automatically scans to see if there is a new item and it lists these new items much as your email would show new mail.  Internet Explorer (for those of your crazy enough to still be using that useless piece of junkware) has something akin to this, but it is not a proper aggregator and it is infuriating to use, as is most of the said piece of bloat-ware.  The best aggregators are web-based (use Firefox or Opera instead if IE if you want to retain your sanity) so they are always up to date when you log in.  Examples are: Google reader, which is a pretty simple setup; Live.com; Netvibes etc.  The Client software type are fine, but why have another piece of software installed when all you need is your web-browser and Google Reader.

If you follow more than one blog, which is likely if you follow any, then you NEED to stop wasting your time and set up one of these beauties.  All you do is establish an account (you probably already have an account with google or live.com if so all you need to do is login and enable the feed reader/aggregator) and enter the blog details into the subscriptions dialogue.  After that it does all the leg work (finger tapping work) for you.

Sit back and relax.



Bibliography and Citation Utilities 2
January 9, 2009, 12:30 pm
Filed under: Information Technology

Having tried out a number of the tools I previously posted tools to I can now give recommendations.

The best overall system is Zotero.  This installs as an add on of Firefox (web browser) but also integrates with OpenOffice (not sure about Word).  All these items of software are free.  Zotero is a particularly powerful, allowing for a more comprehensive selection of citation styles than any other free software and more even than many of the proprietary software.

The Scholar’s Aid Lite software is also very good but it lacks the power of Zotero in terms of information harvesting from internet sources.  Also it is limited in terms of the citation styles that can be used, unless of course you wish to fork out for the full version of the software.

The classic academic citation software pasckages Refworks and Endnote are astronpmically priced though very powerful in functionality.  These are not really an option for any but the exceedingly wealthy individual or for institutions.

If your use is more scientific the Connotea is probably the software for the job, but it is a free option which may meet your requirements for other types of papers.

For those who would prefer not to install any extra software and are only going to be doing limited referencing/bibliographies then Bibme is a bery useful web-application.