The Lazy Scholar Chrome Extension: leap from abstract pages to full text pdf in a jiffy

When rapidly google-searching a specific topic, I end up with an array of browser pages open to various sources. When I review the windows, I often find high page-ranked databases providing abstracts. These, however, have no links to the full PDF which I must read. I then have to copy the article title in order to conduct a Google Scholar search for the PDF in a new window.

Well, thankfully nutrition scholar Colby Vorland was tired of this too and wrote the Lazy Scholar Chrome Extension – when clicked, it checks Google Scholar for the full text!

Earliest evidence for commensal processes of cat domestication

Like any new tool, it will require a bit of practise to integrate into my work flow. But there are even more reasons to adapt. After finding a pdf, I have to insert the NUS Digital Library proxy into the URL for access to subscription-only sites, and provide a relevant name to replace the often incomprehensible pdf name in the download window. If I find myself using the journal content in lectures, I return to Google Scholar to copy the APA citation for insertion into my presentation slides.

Lazy Scholar provides a citation copied to your clipboard, automatically renames pdfs to a standard version (e.g. year-author abbreviated journal name) for download and even inserts proxy links. Researchers are singing praises but would prefer the name Efficient Scholar!

I’m inserting this tool into my digital literacy briefing for my research students. Get yours at

Thanks once again to NUS Science Librarian Aaron Tay who retweeted this today.

“Everything is Faster” – the new Google Sheets

The “NEW” Google Sheets promises several improvements including offline access in Chrome, faster loading and scrolling, new function editing tools, spreadsheet functions, filter views and improvements to advanced conditional formatting [link].

The NEW Google Spreadsheets

To use the new Google Sheets, you’ll need to opt in by doing the following:

  1. Open Google Drive at
  2. Click the gear menu in the top right corner of the screen and select Settings.
  3. Click the Editing tab.
  4. Select the checkbox next to “Try the new Google Sheets.”

The caveat? Well, some features are not ready yet

  1. Protected sheets and ranges
  2. Notification rules
  3. Spell check
  4. API support

Up an at ’em!

Blogging the Festival of Biodiversity 2013 – strategic writing by Ria Tan

Ria Tan blogs at Wild Shores of Singapore about marine life, her field trips, events she is involved in and people she meets along the way. She generates professional stories, is factual, detailed, comprehensive and keeps the posts short enough for a regular audience.

wild shores of singapore: Highlights of the Festival of Biodiversity 2013

Leading up to the Festival of Biodiversity, she blogged several times – it takes more than one mention to get the news about the event through everyone’s saturated inbox or Facebook news feed! And each post was tweeted and face booked.

These are not duplicate messages – Ria highlights different aspects of Festival preparations, the people and the event itself. It is amazing how she manages to capture significant moments – Ria caught me plotting our next move with Toddycats managers, amidst a busy lab whilst overseeing the soft toy production line! During the hustle and bustle at the event grounds in Vivocity, she caught a sweet moment as Sean Yap met a younger version of himself!

wild shores of singapore: Sneak peek at the Festival of Biodiversity!

wild shores of singapore: Highlights of the Festival of Biodiversity 2013

It’s not just about advertising the festival – the venue takes care of attendance. The posts have us prioritising the event, excites everyone involved and let the others in the natural history community share a post on Facebook or twitter, all of which had relevant festival details. A small number were stimulated to blog or write new posts. Friends in the edge of our core network realised something special was afoot and turned up at the festival!

Blogs posts are invaluable – they are searchable and allow us to examine previous activities for information or motivation! Ria never forgets it is a time for people to mer the natural history community. Some enthusiastic people have found us by searching the web and to them, the blog posts were a lifeline.

Next year, these posts will prepare new volunteers for the exciting and meaningful time ahead of them!

Click the images to read the posts:

wild shores of singapore: Sneak peek at the Festival of Biodiversity!

wild shores of singapore: More mascots for the Festival of Biodiversity!

wild shores of singapore: Meet the marine volunteers of Singapore!

wild shores of singapore: Latest happenings at the Festival of Biodiversity 13-14 Jul (Sat and Sun) VivoCity

wild shores of singapore: Highlights of the Festival of Biodiversity 2013

Some search engines have switched to “Google Custom Search”, yaay!

In January this year, I lamented about the existence of “Enhanced Singapore Government Online Search” on sites. I wrote in and an unnamed MICA Webmaster asked for examples on 30 Jan 2012, which I provided. An acknowledgement about taking it up with IDA, then silence.

This search engine sucks! Instead of IDA’s “Enhanced Singapore Government Online Search”, just google. « Otterman speaks…

Happily, while searching a webpage today, I realised they were using Google Custom Search. A check with a few other sites indicated the switch too – LTA, SPF, MOH and NParks:

National Parks Board - search engine

Google Custom Search

The public will enjoy the change and I am sure glad this was fixed!

Happy New Year everyone!

Update: a little bird said, “they dumped the stupid project [Enhanced Singapore Government Online Search] and asked agencies to go find their own search engine. Most went with google custom, which is a fraction of the cost and actually works.”

This explains NHB and MEWR’s non-IDA, non-Google search engine. Glad this happened at least.

Flickr Pro subscribers – three free months of subscription

I dropped in at my Flickr account to be greeted by this:

Flickr Holiday Gift

Nice, thanks Yahoo!

Flickr was great with high-res photo uploads, albums, keywords, finding archival material quickly, sharing and for searching Creative Commons photos by other users for my lectures and for others to find my material.

While Picasa (now with Google) might be comparable, or even better for some, I had switched to Flickr in 2007 as primary cloud storage for photos after it eased my workflow for coastal cleanup albums. I have two Pro accounts, my personal account and the Habitatnews account for the International Coastal Cleanup Singapore and Raffles Museum Toddycats events and activities.

These days, photos for this blog are hosted on my Flickr account via Skitch 1.0.12. I use this old version of Skitch for screen grabs, annotations and copy-paste transfers from original photos, and the shared photo is uploaded to Flickr. The Flickr page appears automatically, and provides the html for 500-pixel width photos making the process relatively quick.

While Facebook is great for casual sharing, it is not an alternative for it is primarily geared to be ephemeral. Many have been a little nervous about Flickr’s plodding pace especially and have a mile-long wish list – if the service decays, we’d all have to shift our photos, no easy task. So we greeted with great relief Flickr’s recent iPhone App, a long-awaited sign of life .

Hopefully this three-month subscription gift is another.

You can’t help but be curious about @MarsCuriosity!

Twitter - MarsCuriosity
Shadow of Curiosity Rover on Mars, from @MarsCuriosity

NASA’s Curiosity Rover has touched down on Gale Crater in Mars, as scheduled. Curiosity survived the “seven minutes of terror” and landed on the cold Martian landscape without a hair out of place, how wonderful!

This is such a kick-ass video, I hope our CHAOS2012 participants have seen this.

Curiosity will be there for a year, searching, not for life on mars, but signs of once-habitable environments.

Follow twitter account @MarsCuriosity – or you might have friends enthusiastically retweeting – the lonely craft landed with its warm, cheerful personality intact, how can you not resist?!

Twitter - MarsCuriosity

Read about Curiosity, watch the JPL videos and see the Guardian’s live blog of the landing.

Enable Google Labs feature to make “reply all” your default in GMail

Often in email exchanges with several people, my students or the collaborator will email me alone and not everyone. Then I have to do the honours of re-inserting the rest before I respond to the comment or forward it on. These are obviously comments which are relevant or would be of interest to the rest.

When this happens when everyone knows each other and are ‘liking’ each other’s comment on facebook the same day about that same subject, I sure do feel like cussin’.

So I try to remember to ask when we are face to face to weed out irritating habits. Sometimes though, I get the response “I didn’t realise,” or “I accidentally clicked reply instead of reply all”. Then it dawned on me that their default on gmail is “reply” and “not reply all”.

So if you are highly collaborative or are rarely ever on long lists of emails on the CC list of people you don’t want to talk to, then enable a feature within Google Labs, called “Default ‘Reply to all'” by a certain Mark K. Thanks dude!

Mailplane for

Mailplane for

Google Labs is full of lovely stuff – a favourite of mine is “Send & Archive” by a certain by Pal T.

Thanks, Pal! 🙂

Holy cow, it’s Google Cow!

Last December, Google Labs announced Google Body Browser and said it was the ‘Google Earth for the human body’. You would need Google Chrome Beta before heading to

Well my Chrome opens to the body browser and when I looked just now, I saw this:

Google Cow - Google Labs

The accompanying video explains more about Google Cow:

This year, on 1st April 2011, there was Google Motion Google Teleportation, Google Docs Motion, etc. – read more about all this.

Which was your favourite? Obviously mine was Google Cow. I would actually find this useful!