Friday, October 17, 2008

i rule at the internet

Sup Internet,

I'm not dead, just hiding. My departmental seminar is fast approaching (just under four weeks to go). Anyway, I thought I'd share this tasty tidbit of time-saving usefulness that I figured out. Instead of studying. Because that's seriously killing me.

I look up papers using their DOI quite frequently, and generally think that DOIs are nerdy and awesome and really useful.

However, most of the journals I want to look at require a subscription, which I can only access courtesy of my school's big pockets. [1] Fortunately, when I'm off campus, the library provides a handy and useful proxy service, which I think is pretty standard as far as research institutions go. Proxies redirect internet traffic from my computer off-campus through a server, which makes it possible for me to read about the latest research on glowing bananas sitting in my underwear at 4 am.[2]

To access the subscriber-only sites, I *used* to have to paste a snippet of text into the URL, to tell my browser to access my school's server. Looking up articles via DOI was 3 clicks too tedious; I had to copy the reference's DOI to look up (from a PDF of another article), load up the DOI lookup page, paste in the DOI, copy the proxy address, paste that into the journal site, and download the PDF. Which was kind of annoying after a while.

So, me and my good friend the Internet concocted a solution! A solution in the form of a search engine plugin, whereby you can look up DOIs quickly and efficiently through a proxy! Hurrah!

To use it, you'll need to be browsing with Firefox,[3] and know the address of your school's proxy server. Mine is login.ezproxy.library.ualberta.ca, so sites that I want to access become http://mysitehere.com.login.ezproxy.library.ualberta.ca.

So, go to this website (http://www.searchplugins.net/generate.aspx). You'll see a form that looks something like this:
Fill out the form like I have done, and insert your proxy address instead of mine, into the dx.doi.org URL. If you want to, you can make a little 16x16 jpg to use as the search engine logo. Click "Create Plugin", wait a few seconds while the script executes, and install that lean-mean-DOI-searching-machine.

Next, spend hours of entertainment looking up as many DOIs as possible. Pause only to explain to friends and family how much fun they're really missing out on.

Sadly, I spent about two hours too long trying to make a plugin myself before finding that website.


[1] A personal subscription to Nature: $199/year. And people wonder why the masses read USA Today instead.

[2] Um, let's just pretend that I don't do that at school already, to make the explanation work.

[3] All scientists and smart people in general use Firefox. And you are a smart person in general, no? No? Go download Firefox!

3 comments:

katiedid said...

Hmm, this sounds amazing but I'm not sure I know how to make it work. I'm not sure if I access journals through a proxy server or not... I just go to my school library's website, sign in with my account info, then search for the journal I want. It's tedious and I hate it. I wish I could just google and then read the damn articles I find. Help?

Joel Kelly said...

hmmm. well, not to be too creepy or anything, but your blog that your profile links to suggests you live in a town that shares the same name of a famous Coen brothers movie.

and, if that *is* the case, the DOI address *might* look something like this: http://dx.doi.org.proxy.library.ndsu.edu/

although, to be honest, you might need to play around with that address. ask your librarian!

also, if you do want to use google to find articles, the way it works for my school is you just paste ".proxy.library.ndsu.edu" or whatever your proxy actually is in the website address. so, to access nature, you'd go to www.nature.com.proxy.library.ndsu.edu. then, all of the article permissions should be okay.

katiedid said...

You like them knitting pictures on my blog then too, huh? Just kidding, I appreciate the creepiness if it can help me get to where I want to go with this thing.

I do live near that town. I think I found the right proxy address and will try again.

Thanks for the help!