12 April 2007

An affair with freedom

I needed a change. Middle-aged men have the luxury of having an affair and buying a sports car when they get into that mood. Unfortunately I am neither middle-aged, married, or have the money to buy a sports car. So I did the next best thing - window shopping.

Now normally I use Windows on whichever computer I have. This is mainly a function of windows coming bundled with the computer.* I have XP set up to work how I like it. But the time has come for a change. Probably not a divorce, more like an affair. So now I have an African mistress on the side, young, pretty, and living in an apartment away from the house.** The mistress is called Kubuntu Feisty Fawn, and what makes her so cool is that she lets me do whatever I want... and doesn't cost anything. She's very pretty because she comes with something called "beryl" which you can check out here. Beryl makes the operating system look like a girl in a hindi movie song. Windows "wobble" when you move them around, they disappear and appear with fiery or genie effects. You can even make it rain or snow on screen. Brilliant! There are also other useful things such as 'the cube' which lets you keep track of 4 affairs at once. Maybe that's a story for another day.

Beryl Rain effect

Unfortunately there does come a time when the affair has to end and I have to go back to the wife for the very simple reason that there are some things that only the wife can do. She may not do them prettily, but she is able to do them. So my affair is relegated to when I don't have to work on the thesis. And maybe someday the affair will have the ability to manage references... and then the affair shall take the wife's place.

For the more technically minded, I was amazed with Kubuntu Feisty Herd 5. This was the first linux distro I tried that found my wireless card and set up wpa just like windows would. If only there was a proper reference manager for it, I could move it to the main HD and forget about Windows for a bit. The open source, free parts are extremely attractive as well. With Microsoft engaging in more and more snooping, computer companies installing all sorts of trialware junk on the computer, it probably won't be long before I bid adieu to Windows. It's heartening that linux is getting so good for non-computer geek users like me. I did have some questions on setup but they were answered with a couple of mouse clicks on the ubuntu fora. There are some ways to work around the lack of a reference manager for openoffice, the most direct one being just to run endnote on wine. Something called Latex has been doing the rounds too, but the moment I have to mess with configuration files, I run. The lack of a citation (reference, bibliography) manager is probably what is stopping large-scale adoption of linux by universities.

* Yes, I asked them to send it without but they refused. I then asked if they could partition the hard drive into 2 for when windows needs a reinstall so I don't lose any data - no dice on that either so had to do it manually

** Why exactly can't windows be installed on an external hard drive? Such a silly restriction।

Edit: I've now spent about a week with Feisty. Thanks to StyleyGeek's input in the comments I looked around for an opensource endnote/reference manager/procite replacement and found Bibus. It does "cite while you write" for both ms word and openoffice. I've tested Bibus/MS word on xp and Bibus/Openoffice on Kubuntu. The advantage of using open source software is that it's portable to different OSes. So if tomorrow I'm stuck working on PC / Linux / Mac, whatever, it doesn't matter as the same files may be used. With the commercial software I'm stuck with either Windows or Mac. The disadvantage of Bibus is that I had to create my own style file for my journal of choice (this took about 5 minutes). It's worth noting that I had to modify the styles in reference manager for Windows as well for my favourite journals because the ones that came with the program were wrong. If you do work with Bibus and create your own style, please upload to the wiki here so that others can benefit from it.

11 comments:

StyleyGeek said...

But there are so many pretty, easy front ends for using LaTeX and BibTex on Linux.

Try Kile, for instance (Google "kile" + latex --- my backslash key isnt working so I cant link to it).

And Jabref is an awesome bibliography reference manager and it even exports and imports from Endnote with no hassles. (Runs under Linux, Mac or Windows, too.)

If you dont want to use LaTeX, Jabref can be used with OpenOffice too. Plenty of other bib manager options for OpenOffice: wiki.services.openoffice.org has some info under "bibliographic software".

freespirit said...

Only you can turn some geeky stuff into a racy romance! And I won't even attempt to understand what you are saying towards the end of the post, but obviously Styleygeek has some solution for you which also bounced right off the top of my head!

The word verif is grbzewq. Yeah...thats exactly what the post sounded like in the second half!

Mosilager said...

Styley thanks for the heads-up. I found something called Bibus that can insert citations directly into either word or openoffice (kinda like cite while you write on endnote). I just tried it on Windows, will try on Kubuntu later. There's 2-3 other win-only programs that I use in my research which may or may not work on wine. Will try those as well.

Freespirit I did not want to lose all of my readers in one fell swoop so the second part is just a translation of the first part into geek. It's interesting that so far Kubuntu has been easier than windows to install and get things done on. I haven't tried any of the laptop specific stuff like hibernation and battery life, which are reportedly worse in linux than windows so maybe there will be a difference then.

Isha said...

an affair had long enough feels just as arduous and bland as the wife back home.. :) so moderation is the key when threading through to new frontiers ..

Mosilager said...

isha That's right, moderation ...and variety is the name of the game.

video said...

I think you give the word geek a whole new meaning... :-) a little scary though...

Mosilager said...

Video, as StyleyGeek keeps saying, we're all fumbling towards geekdom :) I like to use open source where I possibly can, because I can use it on any system. With those programs the particular operating system that we use is rendered irrelevant.

Sheetal said...

hey hey ;) i looooove this post! so well written! how are you doing, by the way?

when are we meeting up for lunch sometime? just let me know when and where ;) lol

Mosilager said...

Hey Sheets, thanks. Well, how about Universal Studios, where they shoot desperate housewives? In 2050? We should both have saved some money by then...

The_Girl_From_Ipanema said...

i stuck to m.s.word (ashamed to admit), would've loved to explore LaTeX but did not..

Good on you for going the open-source way, though. Hopefully you have lesser crash episodes than I do as I try to mount the endnote library from our lab database and CWIW.

Mosilager said...

TGFI Bibus works the same way as endnote / reference manager for me. CWYW is not quite set up yet in the same way as endnote. You have to go into Bibus and select the ref and hit a menu option and then it puts it into your document wherever the cursor is. Don't know if that made sense.

Bibus also works with ms word. should try it some time, might be worth it.