When writing my last Firefox installment, I forgot that the next day was to bring enormous amounts of house construction. As was yesterday. So, it’s a little belated. And, I forgot my list of extensions at work, so I am sure I’ll forget a bunch.
Greasemonkey almost always shows up in people’s list of what you must install if you are using Firefox, and mine will be no exception. It’s basically a tool to let you use scripts to make web sites do what you want. I use Greasemonkey for two scripts in particular, Familiar Taste and L2. Familiar Taste shows me if I’ve already posted something to del.icio.us so I don’t need to waste time trying to bookmark something I’ve already seen. With over five thousand bookmarks, I do occasionally forget that I’ve seen something before. Weirdly, when I went to find the link for it, I saw the userscripts.org listing stating that it has been banned by del.icio.us. Well, it’s still working for me.
L2 has been written about in Library Journal and a bunch of other places. It’s a script that adds helpful information to your library catalog. I use it for my BlinkList project’s workflow. Basically, when I add new books to my BlinkList page, I need 2 pieces of information: the call number (hence using the catalog) and the Amazon page link. So, what I do is look it up in my library’s catalog, copy the call number, open up the L2 display that overlays the record in the OPAC, follow the Amazon link, and “blink” it. If Firefox was supported at my institution, I would recommend this to patrons, too, because it is a really easy way to see book jackets.
Lifehack.org recently posted a top 10 list of Greasemonkey scripts to improve productivity. I installed Gmail Conversation Preview and RSS Quick Subscribe from there, and am finding RSS Quick Subscribe useful.
I also have a script installed that shows if any blog posts link to PubMed citations.
I use ScrapBook irregularly, but when I need it, it is invaluable. Essentially, it saves copies of web pages and lets you organize them. What I like it for is the simplicity of saving the contents of all open tabs in one step. If I am writing an article or something, I can open all the resources I know I’ll be using, save them to the ScrapBook, and then use that copy, even if I am offline. You can open the ScrapBook in a sidebar in Firefox, and from there, open all pages in a certain folder or just one page, add notes, etc.
I’ve taught ScrapBook to some of the medical students I work with, and a couple appear to be using it. It’s very nice for doing research where a lot of sources are blogs or web pages.
I have Zotero installed, but I don’t ever use it. I use EndNote whenever I need to write something involving a bibliography, and though Zotero seemed like it would be useful, I found that its ability to export to EndNote was a bit lacking–it doesn’t bring in all the information or put it in the correct places, and it either can’t or I can’t figure out how to make it export citations just from single folders or tags). Maybe it is because I am using EndNote 7 or something. And, it messes up the ability to save citations from EBSCO to EndNote. For some reason, when I try to export to EndNote from Academic Search Premier, for example, Zotero sneakily grabs the citations, bypassing EndNote. And, then with exporting functionality being less than I would wish, it becomes very quickly obnoxious.
So, what is Zotero supposed to do? It is a bibliographic management tool designed for Firefox 2.0. It can capture citation information from web sites, blogs, databases, Amazon, library catalogs, and etc.; organize those citations with tags and saved searches; save copies of web pages (like ScrapBook, only I find it is not as reliable); annotate web pages; and export citations in a couple of standard formats like APA style. I notice that now there is a component that allows it to work with Microsoft Word a la EndNote, but I still won’t be making use of it until it has more than the five bibliographic formats. I do love to use it with Google Scholar, though! It is way easier than using EndNote.
I think Zotero, which is in Beta 4 currently, has great potential–it’s getting better all the time. I hope that ISI takes note and starts making improvements to EndNote. A couple of my friends are obsessed with Papers, the new tool for Mac users that is like an iTunes version of EndNote, but without the bibliography-creation component. With Zotero and Papers starting to encroach on ISI’s monopoly, maybe their products will start to look a little different than they did in 1999.
Whenever you come across a web page that’s down or giving some sort of error, ErrorZilla gives you a couple of useful choices, like seeing the Google cache version or the Wayback Machine version. You can also see DNS information.
So, that is it for today. I’ll think I’ll have to do a 3rd part tomorrow.