Quick fix: Unfreeze Endnote when entering CWYW citations

Posted: April 11th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Mac, random tech tips, writing | Comments Off on Quick fix: Unfreeze Endnote when entering CWYW citations

I have been experiencing a particular problem with Endnote X5 recently, and from what I’ve read it’s connected to OSX 10.8.2.  Specifically, when I open Endnote and start using the CWYW feature to enter citations into my document, Endnote freezes up and gets endlessly stuck on the “format bibliography” part of its process.

Here’s a quick fix, courtesy of facop78 on MacRumors.

  1. Go to Applications : Utilities
  2. Run the Activity Monitor found there
  3. Set the “Show” option at the top of the window to All Processes
  4. Click the column header “Process Name” to sort alphabetically
  5. Highlight the appleeventsd process
  6. Click the “Quit Process” button

The only extra thing I did was to shut down and restart Endnote at the end of the operation.  Worked like a charm!

Click here to read the entire thread.



Need images? Try morgueFile

Posted: September 23rd, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Random | Comments Off on Need images? Try morgueFile

Being a visual learner I often find myself constructing images (photos, graphs, verbal pictures, etc.) to explain things.  This is especially true when I put together presentation slides, whether they are for research conferences or the classes that I’m teaching.

My personal collection of digital photographs can only take me so far, however, so when I need free digital photographs and images for use in creative/scholarly projects I go to morgueFile.

I first learned about morgueFile about a year ago through my talented journalist/scholar/teacher friend, Peg.  I have been using it ever since.  It has a large and constantly growing collection of high-quality digital photographs.  You can use keywords to search through the photo archive, a useful feature that distinguishes the site from other archives.  (Note that photos seem to be tagged in multiple languages.  A search for “chat” turned up pictures of people speaking to one another as well as numerous cute cats.)  Best of all, you can register with morgueFile to contribute your own photos to the archive, which is perhaps the best possible way of repaying the morgueFile community for free use of their materials.

In terms of acknowledging the morgueFile photographers’ images, include a byline underneath each one that states “Photo by [name], morgueFile.”

Where do you go for free use images?

Should you get a Mac?

Posted: September 5th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Mac | 1 Comment »

A colleague of mine is preparing to travel to the Congo to conduct fieldwork on the local design of messages for disease prevention and conservation.  Coincidentally, her trusted laptop (a PC) is on its last legs and she’ll need to replace it before she begins her fieldwork.  Working on a limited research budget means that whatever computer she purchases will be her primary machine for some years to come.  It will also have to be durable and reliable enough to sustain intense fieldwork in places that are far removed from the next Genius Bar.  Would now be a good time to switch over from a PC to a Mac?  She posed this question to the trusted Technorati over at DiaryProducts and this was their answer:

  • The Macbook Air is a very good and portable machine.  (A plus for ethnographers doing fieldwork that requires them to carry their machine with them.) On the other hand, there are also decent ultra-portable PCs.
  • If you get a Mac, there will be a learning curve. Some things on OSX are done in a way that makes a Windows user ask, “Why on earth did they do this?” Ultimately, a lot of thought went into the usability of the Mac apps and the OS, more thought than went into Windows, IMHO. But Mac is a cult and the attitude of the new convert should be to just go with the flow and not to question the guru.
  • A Mac unfolds its full potential only with other Apple products. You’ll get the best experience if you stay inside the Apple ecosystem. You will end up paying more for Apple products than for comparable ones from other vendors, but you’ll save time by not having to trouble-shoot interoperability issues. Time is money after all.
  • Get AppleCare with your machine. Even though they’re well engineered, Apple products do break and AppleCare gives you peace of mind.
  • The screen of an 11″ Macbook Air is very small and is not suitable for prolonged work. Get an external display if you want to use it all day at home or the office, or get the 13″ version.
  • Don’t operate more than one computer.  Get a single computer that serves all purposes fairly well.  (An important caution to ethnographers working in the field.) Transferring content/data between machines is a constant pain, error prone and tedious.
  • Finally, get an external drive (USB3, Firewire or Thunderbolt) for backups. TimeMachine, OS X’s built-in backup mechanism, does a very good job but it needs some sort of external storage, of course. Don’t go into the field without backup!

Free Atlas.ti webinars

Posted: August 30th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: research tools | Comments Off on Free Atlas.ti webinars

Did you know that Atlas.ti holds two webinars each month, designed to introduce newcomers to the software and its basic functionalities?  The webinars are free and open to all — you don’t need to have a copy of Atlas.ti to participate.  They cover all the things you need to know to get started with your data analysis:  importing files, coding, making sense of codes, and exporting reports.

If you can’t fit an Atlas.ti webinar into your schedule, don’t despair. On the same webpage there are links to pre-recorded webinars in both English and Spanish.

But wait, there’s more!

If you keep scrolling down the page you’ll find additional resources such as a PDF copy of the webinar outline, and a zip file containing an Atlas.ti Prezi presentation.

Choosing software for qualitative data analysis: Factors to consider

Posted: July 25th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: research tools, TAMS | Comments Off on Choosing software for qualitative data analysis: Factors to consider

I am all in favor of using software programs to support qualitative data analysis (QDA) because such programs can help researchers to:

  • manage (store, organize, sort through) large and complex data sets
  • code and tag data more easily
  • conduct rigorous searches on/through the data set
  • identify, make sense of, test and describe patterns in the data set.

It’s important to note that even when using QDA software, the work of coding, analyzing, and testing the data still rests on the researcher.  That is, the QDA program doesn’t do the analysis — it simply facilitates the process.

So you’ve decided to invest time, energy, and (perhaps) money into one of the dozens of QDA programs on the market.  How do you go about choosing the best one for your needs?

Some factors to consider are:

  • Compatibility with your hardware, i.e. can the software be used on a Mac?  On a PC?
  • The type of data you want to analyze (video, audio, text, still images, maps) and whether or not the software supports it.  Note that some software packages are designed for certain types of data.  For example, Transana is specially built to do very close analysis of audio-video data while Atlas.ti now supports GeoCoding of Google Earth maps.  Not all QDA programs have these specialized features.
  • Whether or not you need the program for transcription.  Some programs are built to let you transcribe and code data, but playback features can vary greatly in their sophistication.
  • Your arrangements for data analysis.  Are you working by yourself or as part of a team?  If you’re part of a research team, do you have access to a shared server where the QDA program can be housed?  If not, how will you share data sets and updates with one another, and is the QDA program built to facilitate this?  One appealing idea for research teams (particularly those without a shared server) is a cloud-based tool like Dedoose, which makes collaborative coding and sharing a snap.
  • Reporting and other output options.  What sort of reports, visuals, summaries, or other types of output do you need/want, and does the software have the capacity to produce these?
  • Cost.  Is there a flat one-time fee or will you have to pay a monthly/yearly fee?  Are free trial versions available?  Are there discounts for students?  Better yet, is the software free?
  • Usability.  What is the typical learning curve?  Can you successfully pick up and start using the QDA program within your time constraints?  What user support (customer service center, online forums, manuals) exists for the program?

Coming soon: comparing TAMS Analyzer and Atlas.ti along these factors.



New materials on computer supported collaborative work (CSCW) from Interaction-Design.org

Posted: June 3rd, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: events | Comments Off on New materials on computer supported collaborative work (CSCW) from Interaction-Design.org

The folks at Interaction-Design.org have just released a new chapter on computer supported collaborative work (CSCW).  The chapter presents a nice overview of CSCW, including relevant publications, scholarship, journals, and conferences.  Note that the 2013 CSCW conference is coming up soonish.  It will be held in February in San Antonio, Texas.  Submission deadlines have passed but it would certainly be an interesting event to attend.

Public ethnography

Posted: June 2nd, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: events, public scholarship, research work | Comments Off on Public ethnography

I recently presented some of my dissertation research at a conference on public ethnography, organized by the folks behind the e.m.a.c. network.  The idea behind “public ethnography” is much like that behind “public scholarship.”  Namely, that academic work should be useful in the real world, that it should have connections to people’s lives and lived experiences, and that it must be used to improve people’s situations, at least in some small way.

At the conference Dr. Phillip Vannini gave a very interesting talk on how researchers can make their ethnographic work public, thus achieving some of these goals.  In his talk he discussed the following tips and strategies:

  1. For every journal article that you write, produce a magazine article too.  Since fieldwork often involves travel, sometimes to unusual destinations, it can be good and translatable material for popular outlets.
  2. Collaborate with journalists.  Give them time, interviews, and material for stories.
  3. Focus on the local.  Emphasize how your work speaks to issues of local importance and relevance.
  4. Radio is often a more accessible medium than TV, so try doing stories and/or interviews for radio stations.
  5. If you’re on the web, be sure to cross-link between channels.  Don’t just post a blog article — tweet about it, link to your research videos (if you have them) and to other sites that you are present on.
  6. Look to local media outlets.  If you can get your stories picked up by local channels, there’s a chance that they’ll be picked up by larger ones, too.
  7. Invest in learning about public relations.  Publicity doesn’t happen by wishful thinking.
  8. Carefully consider the audience and the medium for each story and adapt the content accordingly.

For more details on these points, see Phillip’s post “Early reflections on public ethnography” on the e.m.a.c. network website.

Image editing: Pixelmator

Posted: May 7th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: research tools | 1 Comment »

I recently had need of a straightforward, easy-to-use image editing tool.  The occasion is the final formatting of my dissertation, which includes a number of images that need to be touched up.  It’s nothing too technical — just some airbrushing here and there, color adjustment, cropping, getting rid of extraneous marks, etc.  I wanted something more sophisticated than Skitch, but nothing as complex as Photoshop or the like.  Ideally, I wanted a tool that I could acquire and learn to use in a matter of minutes.

The technorati over at DiaryProducts suggested that I try out Pixelmator. Pixelmator is a photo editing app built for MacOSX.  It seems to have all the basic features you’d need in an image-editing app, and more to boot.  Pixelmator is not free (it costs USD 29.99 at the Mac App Store) however you can get a complimentary trial version that lasts for 30 days.  I can attest to its ease-of-use.  After downloading the trial version I had my images cropped, brushed up, and ready to be imported into my document within about 30 minutes.

“Page not found”: Troubleshooting permalink glitches

Posted: February 13th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: random tech tips | Comments Off on “Page not found”: Troubleshooting permalink glitches

Problem:  You compose a new WordPress blog post.  As usual, when you click “Publish” you see the confirmation message “Post published” at the top of the “Edit Post” page.  However, when you click “View post” or visit your website to check the post, you get the error message “Page not found.”

(Possible) solution:  It could be a permalink glitch, one that is easily fixed, as I’ll explain below.

One of the sites that I manage has a custom setting for its permalinks.  The setting is:


This setting gives each post that I create a permalink containing the title of the post, such as:


I found that blog titles containing certain punctuation — like an apostrophe S (‘s) messed the system up and caused these “page not found” errors to occur.

In my case, changing the permalink setting for the whole website was a very bad idea. I had already spread hundreds of links far and wide in promoting the content.  If I was to change the permalink setting, all of these links that had been shared with the website’s audience would now produce nothing more than dead pages.

The best and easiest solution is to simply deal with problematic posts’ permalinks on a case-by-case basis.

  1. Navigate to the “Edit Post” page for the troublesome post.
  2. Type in (or keep) whatever title you want for the post.
  3. Under the field where you typed in the title of the post, click on the “Change permalinks” button.
  4. Remove offending punctuation from the permalink.
  5. Update the post.

This worked for me — I hope it works for you, too.

Conducting online interviews: How-to guide

Posted: December 11th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: articles & books, theory | Comments Off on Conducting online interviews: How-to guide

It goes without saying that technology-mediated communication is becoming increasingly common as both a locus and a tool for ethnographic research.  I find it exciting to observe how writers have responded by producing innovative teaching and learning materials for conducting online research. One recent addition is Online Interviews In Real Time, (2010) by Janet Salmons.  What I like about this book is that it provides a very thorough guide for thinking through the process of planning, executing, and reflecting on various types of online interviews — synchronous, asynchronous, with and without camera, one-to-one and one-to-many, interviews using Skype or Skype-like platforms, interviews in immersive environments, etc.

There are a couple of areas in which I’d like to add to the conversation.  First, how do we researchers go about preparing (or not preparing) our interviewees for meeting us on the platforms we choose for online interviews?  Second, how can we — and how should we — engage more deliberately in the process of choosing platforms for our online contact with research participants?  Any platform that we choose (whether as a subject of our studies or a means of studying our subject) will have communication affordances and constraints encoded into it.  How can we better reflect on these before, during, and after our research?

What guides do you turn to in thinking through your online research methods?