Winding down from the end of the semester rush, and getting reaquainted with my tv and computer.
Not specifically related to videogames, I found a few new tools invaluable for modern researchers.
The first, and everyone is talking about it, is Google Scholar. Sure, there are limitations to it, as some have noted, but when you are doing research on a topic like videogames but don’t care about violence, google’s quality sure cuts down the amount of time it takes to find stuff. And that, for me, is what I’ve been waiting for, is better quality in academic search, not quantity. Ebsco and jstor are cool and all, but sometimes they can be impossible to use effectively. Best of all, there is a search plugin for Firefox that lets you search just google scholar rather than have to go to the url to search it. I’ve found several articles that were in the traditional academic databases but didn’t turn up untill I used google scholar.
Another great tool for academic life is Abbyy’s PDF Transformer, which as one might imaging, turns PDF’s into text. There’s nothing that frustrates me more about writing papers than having to retype block quotes. With this, you just convert it to a .rtf file and cut and paste quotes to your heart’s content. Most classes use e-reserves now, which are just articles scanned into pdf files, and the converter makes it a lot easier. (most OCR software will do this as well, but the PDF Transformer is cheaper).
Amazon.com’s Look Inside the Book and Search Inside the Book feature which is great if you can’t remember where inside a book a certain quote was. If you are looking for a good quote, or a source for it, A9 is pretty good because is uses google’s database and also lets you use the “search inside the book” feature at the same time. There is also a Firefox search plugin for A9 too.
This next is kind of a dark tip, but related to PDF Transformer, at least in the way in which I use it is, because if you work at it a little, you can get access to page Amazon shows you (that file is on your computer somewhere if you look for it!) and using pdf transformer turn it into text. You can also look at more than just the 3 pages in a row that Amazon lets you by just “searching inside the book” for the page number. There is a limit to the total number of pages Amazon will let you see per day, however, as I found out when I tried to get a whole article from a book that way once…
LIke I said, none of those have much to do with videogames, but they certainly made my life easier and saved me a few trips to the library when I was writing about videogames