Sunday, April 29, 2007

Software: Managing references

You read a paper three days ago and now you want to dig up the citation for an argument, or for that footnote you forgot to include. Can you find the paper again? If you've been managing your references well, you might be able to! Luckily now you have software options.

The tool I've used longest is Zotero, a Firefox add-on. Zotero keeps a "library" and lets you create infinitely nested "collections" within the library. That means you could have a collection for each class, for each subject, for each body system, whatever. When you come across a paper you like on PubMed or dozens of other databases and libraries, you click a button and Zotero adds that paper (or book or article or record) to your Zotero library. It recognizes authors, titles, keywords, etc, and you can add your own tags and notes. You can also grab a snapshot of the page for off-line reading, or even PDFs. Since I beta tested Zotero, I've gone back and forth with Zotero developers a few times trying to work out issues, and they're very cool and very responsive.

    Favorite features:
  • integration with Microsoft Word or Open Office -- add a citation in the format of your choice with 3 clicks
  • highlight text and right click to add a note to your library, which conveniently also carries all the information about the original page, so you know what you were looking at at the time
  • Saved Searches in the Collections window, like the Smart Folders in OS X. I have Smart Searches defined to show me only those articles with "emedicine" or "mdconsult" in their URL, since those are sites I use often in my current classes

Recently I started using Connotea, which works on similar principles (in terms of recognizing that something is a title or author), but it lives online instead of on your computer. It's like for researchers, clinicians and scientists, complete with tags, user groups, and being able to see who else is interested in the papers you're interested in (if you designate the listing as public). Connotea is a little further behind Zotero on features -- they're still working on an export to a simple MLA/APA/Chicago manual format, but you can already export to other citation managers or BibTex. But if you're looking for an easy-to-access, easy-to-share reference manager, Connotea might be the tool you're looking for.
    Favorite features:
  • links to other users who cited the same paper
  • user groups, so you can easily share references with friends
  • can handle info: links

How do y'all organize all the papers you read?

Software: Play back lectures faster

Joe S passes along this for those of you who record lectures, or who download the lecture mp3s from the library e-reserves:

I have been using Express Scribe Transcription Playback Software to speed up audio lectures to 140%+ without pitch change/distortion:

It’s free & available for Windows, Mac & Linux as well. I find it invaluable to listen to lectures at a faster pace with no pitch distortion. It saves me time and I hope it helps you as well.

Homeopathy - Archaic Medical Terms

One of the challenges of homeopathy is repertorizing into archaic language. I stumbled on this nice compilation of archaic (and not so archaic) medical terms. It also has a nice compilation of epidemics. Fun for fun times!

Coincidentally, if ever one needed to download a whole mess of files -- perhaps to archive a local copy of Kent's repertory, I recommend a combination of Firefox and Down Them All (which I always read as Down The Mall). With DTA you can specify file types of grab, and it will grab all those files and download them to the location you specify. In this way you can get just the .doc, the .doc and the .ppt, or whatever combination you desire.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Auscultation: more heart sounds

'Tis the season: more heart sounds.

My latest favorite, since I find the HeartSounds software that came with our book to be pretty irritating to navigate, and non-productive in that you have to hold down the mouse button for as long as you want to hear a sound, is the American College of Cardiology's Heart Songs. Though the CD costs $50-100 (which I'm going to ask the library if they'll purchase), they have a few sample MP3s, each of which are 7-9 minutes long, with lots of explanation, lengthy sound segments, and most importantly, repetition. The quiz that's available on that page is high quality, and though it delays feedback until the end and you can't go back to listen to the ones you missed, the quizzes increase in complexity and thus fit my favorite criteria for learning tools in that they are scaffolded.

Other favorite tutorials/quizzes remain the Cardiology Site and Blaufuss's Heart Sounds Tutorial and Quiz.

We can also finally settle the debate over the 3M tunable bell/diaphragms:

Bell Mode (low-frequency)
For low-frequency sounds, light contact is used on the chestpiece. The diaphragm membrane is contained by a flexible surround that actually suspends it, allowing the membrane to resonate low-frequency sounds.

Diaphragm Mode (high-frequency)
For high-frequency sounds, firm contact pressure is used on the chestpiece. By pressing on the chestpiece, the diaphragm membrane moves inward until it reaches an internal ring. The ring simply restricts the diaphragm membrane's movement. It blocks, or attenuates, low-frequency sound and allows you to hear the higher frequency sounds.

I've been wrong along! Good to know. I still <3 my Littman Cardiology III.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Computing: Using RSS feeds

If you enjoy this blog, you can subscribe to it via RSS, which you can use at Bloglines (where I read my feeds) or any other feed aggregator/reader. This includes most browsers, like Safari or Firefox. Feed aggregation lets you collect all the blogs you read into one site, so you can just check one place to see what's been updated.

Reading feeds means that every time you look at your news reader, it goes out and checks which sites in your list have been updated. If I've posted a new entry, it'll show up as a new entry for you.

RSS in Safari
RSS in Firefox
RSS in Internet Explorer, even though you should really be using Firefox

It looks like "My Yahoo" and those types of sites (including Google start page) also let you add and read feeds.

Midwifery: Bislama!

This weekend a friend shared a book written in Hawaiian Pidgin, which got me thinking about Bislama, the pidgin language spoken in Vanuatu, where our school sends midwifery students for preceptorship. Since I'm hoping to go there myself (... in three years), the weekend before midterms seemed like the perfect time to start learning the language! Thanks to photos from last year's midwifery students, I know that "titi blong mama is mos bes" container for milk. Or that a diaper is a "napkin blong baby."

Pidgins are linguistic mash-ups between native languages and whatever imperialistic language settled on top of them, where the two peoples need to communicate but don't have a common language. In Vanuatu French and English contributed, and Bislama is actually the official national language (as opposed to other places, like Hawaii, where the pidgin/creole is considered more of a "low"/common language). Pidgins have their own grammars apart from the language that contributed the vocabulary. From my few hours of reading, I can confirm that both Hawaiian Pidgin and Bislama have different grammars from English, even though English contributed the bulk of both of their vocabularies. Both are technically creoles, since children learn them as a primary language. Or maybe just Pidgin is a creole. I'm new to this.

Anyway, both languages are fun to read and speak aloud, because they have enough words familiar that they're comprehensible, but they're different enough to trip you up. This is my tendency in almost all the languages I ostensibly speak (French, Dutch, Hebrew), since my comprehension always outstrips my ability to generate speech or be good about grammar. For example, because most word roots are in common with French (via Latin), I can read Spanish in a very limited way but can't string together more than one or two words. Dutch has lots of common roots with English. Likewise, I can understand "Da Jesus Book" with probably 95% accuracy (in no small part thanks to the movie Lilo and Stitch) but I definitely can't speak Bislama. Not yet, anyway!

Sunday, February 4, 2007

Women's Health: Contraception

I was looking around the web for stats on birth control methods (since it seems like all the made-up cases we've been working on this quarter have been using cervical cap -- I know it's just to simplify our case analysis so we don't have to take into account exogenous hormones where it's not relevant, but I was still curious how many women are actually using cervical caps) and found The Well-Timed Period -- the extensive archives can provide fascinating reading for days, if not weeks.

Other excellent blogs/communities discussing birth control, contraception and other salient issues of women's health from the user's perspective include the Livejournal Birth Control community and the Livejournal Vagina Pagina community (check the tags on the left for specific subjects).

Contraception Online has a pretty exhaustive discussion of each method, including natural family planning.

As a disclaimer, I don't know the backgrounds of any of the authors linked to above.

Some more:
- American Family Physician discusses newer methods of contraception and compares them all
- The Association of Reproductive Health Professionals have a wealth of information on both male and female reproductive health, and many documents comparing contraceptive methods.

I still haven't found any stats on how many women are using each method. If you find them, let me know!