Unmessing my pdfs.

If you google on ‘papers’, the first hit you’ll get is
http://mekentosj.com/papers/: linking to mekentosj’ Papers program. The fact that it is the first hit on google shows that it is a popular program -- or at least that a lot of sites link to it. Still, for the people who don’t know about it, I think it deserves a little more publicity.

Papers is basically a library system for scientific publications, it’s often described as iTunes for scientific papers. What it does is giving you a central place to store your pdfs, and making it easier to look through them -- just as in iTunes you can make folders and smart folders; pdfs can appear in multiple folders. Thus, if you make a smart folder on multitasking and one on cognitive models, a paper on a cognitive model of multitasking will appear in both folders. You can also view your papers by author or journal, and in that case Papers immediately shows you the last articles published by the author / in the journal.

Not only does it keep your pdfs organized (also on your harddisk, in a folder structure of your choice), it also lets you search in a couple of popular search engines from within the program (pubmed, scopus, citeseer, google scholar and more). Of course, it also has a couple of standard features, like actually reading the papers (full screen if you like), printing them, sending them by email, and opening them in external viewers, like preview.

So, if you’re pdf’s are piling up around you, having names like sdarticle.pdf or 1191.pdf, give papers a try!


The disappearing mouse pointer...

While designing an fMRI experiment, I ran into the problem that the mouse pointer disappears as soon as you start typing on a mac. In itself it is actually a handy feature -- hiding the mouse pointer makes sense as long as you’re typing -- but not in this particular case.

To synchronize the behavioral data with the fMRI data, a Siemens mri-scanner sends a pulse at the start of every scan, and this pulse is picked up by your mac as a ‘^’-keypress. This makes it really easy to log the scan times, but it also hides the mouse pointer every two seconds, which is extremely annoying for your participants if they have to use the mouse. I had to find a solution for this...

When google didn’t provide an answer, I came to realize that there is no way (as far as I know - please correct me if I’m wrong) to not hide the mouse pointer in OS X when you’re typing. To solve this, I came up with the following solution. First, download pinpoint, a tiny application from macchampion that displays a graphic around your mouse pointer. Then, pay the 10$ fee which allows you to add your own graphics, and add a standard mac cursor as a graphic. Now, make sure this cursor is displayed at the exact same location as your own mouse pointer, and you fixed your problem. While the real mouse pointer still disappears on every scanner pulse, the graphic stays in place, and your participants won’t even notice that the real pointer disappeared.