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Month: October 2016

Blog Post, Week 4

Week Four, so it’s a month now…


I enjoyed a nice early start, got some general reading done and thinking an researching how to do citations done. Gym, then lunch with my old friend and photography project Opposite Me collaborator, then I got my iPhone screen fixed after arguments with O2 insurance – I ended up going to Apple on Regent Street and paying 120 but in the end it’s done and I got a nice case. (the phone dropped from the roof on Saturday night when I attempted astro-photography…)

I went to Waterstones on Piccadilly and bought three books, all quite wonderful but two quite irritating as well. The two irritating ones are very critical of reading on a digital device, but they help elaborate why and this is of course useful for my research and planning how to make reading on screens better. 

Naomi Baron, in Words Onscreen, “The fate of reading in a digital world” points out the issue of reading academic papers when printed allows her to place pages on a large area to see an overview and get a context, allows her to remember where on a page she read something to help find it later, allows for organic, free-form annotations and the ability to easily compare sections when needed. LiquidText does some of this and I think that the ability to turn any text into a mind map can also be hugely useful with these issues. 


Emily had a rough evening yesterday so we will take it easy this morning. I am starting therapy with a cup of matcha, with only a half teaspoon and a little sugar. Let’s see if I can transition to this ‘better’ drug :-)

In the morning I went to university to for a presentation by Layla Stacey which was inspirational and useful.

I decided what to do for my research proposal and had a nice chat with Les: ( the first chat with Les and Wendy is also on SoundCloud now: )

What I want to do is to upgrade the process through which academic papers (conference and thesis) are written. 


We had a WAIS presentation by two students and our weekly SOCIAM meeting. I left a few mins early in the hope of getting the fast train to London but the buses were so slow and the trip lasted 2 hours, but I did have a wonderful dinner with my parents. 

Microsoft announced a desktop system similar to what I envisioned 15 years ago: Maybe they will also try this one: and here is the Microsoft system:


I went to the session “Everything you always wanted to know about E-theses but were too afraid to ask”hosted by Isobel and found it very useful. We had a nice chat afterwards about ways to do citation management and I’ve settled on using the Notes App for notes and reading, management and annotation in Mendeley.

Apple announced new laptops with a control strip.


Friday I was very, very tired and after driving Emily to the tube I was supposed to go to the gym but slept instead. I’ve been waking up in the middle of the night quite a few times lately. I’m working on my sleep issue and I’m trying to switch over to Matcha instead of coffee. The rest of the day was also not very productive, but it was a lovely day, we spent it with Emily’s childhood friend Fiona, her sister and her mum and last but not least, her 3 month old son! It was bliss. In the evening Emily and I donned a strip of fake blood make-up each (Halloween weekend) and saw Dr Strange, which was a very worthily movie indeed. 

On a bigger note however, I decided that my thesis should ignore the current workflow insofar as PDF and other current document formats, since PDFs are messy and to create the start of a revolution I will focus on the workflow for a thesis where at the end a PDF will be created, for legacy submission, but it will have a link to the new format document (likely .liquid) so that anyone who will be doing a literature review can choose the advanced interaction format rather than the PDF format. This makes the work I am doing more focused on the reading and writing angle, without being artificially constrained by legacy, though I expect we’ll be able to build a PDF importer which will solve all the issues.

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web article: How the Web Became Unreadable

“It’s been getting harder for me to read things on my phone and my laptop. I’ve caught myself squinting and holding the screen closer to my face. I’ve worried that my eyesight is starting to go.

These hurdles have made me grumpier over time, but what pushed me over the edge was when Google’s App Engine console — a page that, as a developer, I use daily — changed its text from legible to illegible. Text that was once crisp and dark was suddenly lightened to a pallid gray. Though age has indeed taken its toll on my eyesight, it turns out that I was suffering from a design trend.

There’s a widespread movement in design circles to reduce the contrast between text and background, making type harder to read. Apple is guilty. Google is, too. So is Twitter.

Typography may not seem like a crucial design element, but it is. One of the reasons the web has become the default way that we access information is that it makes that information broadly available to everyone. “The power of the Web is in its universality,” wrote Tim Berners-Lee, director of the World Wide Web consortium. “Access by everyone regardless of disability is an essential aspect.”

But if the web is relayed through text that’s difficult to read, it curtails that open access by excluding large swaths of people, such as the elderly, the visually impaired, or those retrieving websites through low-quality screens. And, as we rely on computers not only to retrieve information but also to access and build services that are crucial to our lives, making sure that everyone can see what’s happening becomes increasingly important.

We should be able to build a baseline structure of text in a way that works for most users, regardless of their eyesight. So, as a physicist by training, I started looking for something measurable.”

Liquid from

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Academic PDF Reader Proposal

I need a PDF reader for literature reviews with the following capabilities:


•  Allow me to comment and highlight 

•  Allow me to search comments and highlighted text for all documents in an associated folder/iCloud directory 

•  Allow me to assign Citation information for the document

Ideally, but not critical: 

•  Allow me to one-click copy correct citation information into Author. 

•  Be compatible with Liquid | Author

What do you think, would it be useful for you as well?…

(just a thought)

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