Das Überleben der Demokratie

(Das hat nicht in 140 Zeichen gepasst, sonst hätte ich es getwittert)

Medienhäuser produzieren nun mal keine Schrauben oder Angry-Birds-Fortsetzungen. Sie liefern Informationen, Zusammenhänge, Nachrichten. Sie sind ein relevanter Baustein jeder funktionierenden Demokratie.

schreibt der Spiegel in seinem Redaktionsblog. Genau aus diesem Grund gibt es einen öffentlich-rechtlichen Rundfunk und sollte es eine Tagesschau-App geben.

Managing Bibliographic References (2)

An update to the paper-management-solution sketched here.

In the meantime, iOS 5 has been released and with that came iCloud, Apples way of „going cloud“ (Apple, Wikipedia). iDisk will be discontinued, so in the near future, I’ll need to change the way I sync papers to my iPad.


iCloud can sync both attribute-value-storage and files. GoodReader recently got an update and now can access iCloud storage. And there is a way to access the iCloud storage on a Mac and put files in it: The directory Library/Mobile Documents (in your home directory) is synced to all the devices*. So I configured BibDesk to write the papers to sync to this directory and re-ran auto filing for all papers. It worked, in principle. I can open GoodReader on the iPad (and presumably iPhone) and see all the documents of my iCloud folder.

There are, however, two caveats: 1. There is no way to automatically download the entire iCloud folder into GoodReader. The files are shown, but I need to tap them all manually, to download them. And 2., the use of the Mobile Documents-folder isn’t officially documented by Apple and therefore, this may be changed in the future or reworked completely. So, I wasn’t happy about this solution.


Using MacFuse and MacFusion, you can mount any server with a SSH access to your computer so that it behaves like a regular directory. This way, I can let BibDesk write the files onto a Linux server. GoodReader can then use the same auto sync feature that we used before with WebDav and iDisk with SFTP. Boom.

* Well, not to all of them. My Mac at home doesn’t have this directory, although iCloud is enabled and seems to be working file.

Managing Bibliographic References

Being some kind of scientist, I read a lot of papers. And because I want to cite and therefore re-find some of these papers, they need to be organized somehow. Apart from the core data (author, title, conference/journal, year etc.), organizing should include notes, PDF documents, BibTeX-export and be synced to my iPad (To be exact: I want a part of the library synced to the iPad, not all 500 papers).


Of course, there’s software for that: Papers for instance. Papers looks good, has an iPad/iPhone app and syncs between them. So, I tried using Papers (2.0). To make it short, I didn’t like it very much. It all worked fine, but for some reason I didn’t like it. And it’s expensive: 59 € for the Mac app, plus 12 € for the touch app — too expensive for not being completely satisfied.


Before my Papers-experiment, I used BibDesk. BibDesk is essentially a BibTeX editor for Mac OS X. You can read and write BibTeX files. In addition, BibDesk can organize PDF documents (the feature is called AutoFile) and stores links between BibTeX entries and PDFs. Using BibDesk, you can specify additional (non-standard BibTeX) fields to be stored in the file. The only thing missing is the syncing with my iPad.

But today, I found the solution for that.

Syncing BibDesk Entries to the iPad

By entries, I mean PDF-papers (I don’t need full references on the iPad, because I only read on it). This how it works:

  1. Point the location for AutoFile to some kind of web space (I use iDisk, but Dropbox or any kind of WebDAV should be fine).
  2. Add a new BibTeX-field called „Sync“, make it boolean. This results in a checkbox at the bottom of each entry window. Sync field
  3. Now, go back to the AutoFile preference pane. On the bottom, you can edit the format string, which controls the folders and file names of your papers. Click on „Advanced…“. Then, add the format specifier %s{Sync}[Sync][][]0/ to the beginning of your format string (BibDesk documentation). %s works a little bit like if then else: If the field „Sync“ (the parameter in curly braces) is non-empty (true), the string „Sync“ (the first parameter in square braces) is returned. In all other cases, an empty string is returned (the last two pairs of braces). The integer at the end can limit the returned string to a specific length or set it to unlimited (0).
    My complete format string looks like this:
    %s{Sync}[Sync][][]0/%Y/%t0%u0%eThis results in the following structure:


    Thus, in the directory „Sync“ we have all PDFs that are marked as „Sync“ in BibDesk. Under that, we have organized the papers by year. Papers not marked as Sync in BibDesk are stored year-wise at the top.

  4. We want to sync the folder „Sync“ on our remote disk to an iPad. I use GoodReader (3,99 €) for that (although I am sure that there are other options). GoodReader can be configured to sync a folder on the iDisk/Dropbox to the iPad. The sync goes in both ways, so if your annotating a PDF with comments and highlighting, the PDFs will be uploaded to the server next time you touch the sync button.

That’s it. Now we have configured syncing of marked BibDesk entries to the iPad.


  1. On the iDisk/Dropbox, the PDFs are moved to the Sync folder. This is not exactly what I want, but it’s close enough.
  2. You have to manually start the syncing. There is no way of automatically push every change.
  3. No automatic merging of changes: If you changed the PDF on the iPad and on the server and then sync, GoodReader will ask you which file to use.

Ghost of Tom Joad: Black Music

Ghost of Tom Joad ist eine kleine Band aus Münster, die sehr sehr schöne Musik macht. Wikipedia bezeichnet es als „post-punk“, aber mit Musikgenrebezeichnungen ist das ja immer so eine Sache.

Die Jungs haben ein neues Album gemacht, Black Music (iTunes, amazon.de). Das Album ist am 25.02. erschienen und ich habe es gestern gekauft.

Jedenfalls ist es ein sehr schönes Album, das ähnlich wie und doch anders als die Vorgänger klingt. Etwas mehr Synthesizer als vorher, aber ein paar echt ins Ohr gehende Lieder dabei. Tracklist:

  1. Black Music
  2. My Body is a Drum Machine
  3. Just a Dog
  4. Wild Things
  5. Snow in the Summertime
  6. Firing Line
  7. Pretty Girls
  8. Midnight Marauder
  9. Little Fires
  10. The Sound of ’67

Meine Favoriten: Pretty Girls, Midnight Marauder und The Sound of ’67 (Midnight Marauder bekommt man als mp3, wenn man darüber twittert, das Musikvideo zu Black Music gibt’s bei YouTube). Und es gibt ein sehr schönes Intro-Video zum Album:

Fußnote: Ich habe sehr lange (= zu lange) nach einer Möglichkeit gesucht, das Album irgendwie einzubinden, so mit Vorhör-Möglichkeit und allem. iTunes hatte mal so Widgets, aber die scheinen verschwunden zu sein. Grrrr.