Photo made by Jos D’Haese. I found it on the DeWereldMorgen site. It was made during the Indignados march in Brussels in 2011.

Photo made by

I’m really shocked

Anno 2012 about Minnesota, USA: it is forbidden there to follow courses. I can’t believe it but it is true, see this article on “The chronicle of Higher Education”.

And indeed on the coursera site I find in the terms of service the following and I quote:

Notice for Minnesota Users

Coursera has been informed by the Minnesota Office of Higher Education that under Minnesota Statutes (136A.61 to 136A.71), a university cannot offer online courses to Minnesota residents unless the university has received authorization from the State of Minnesota to do so. If you are a resident of Minnesota, you agree that either (1) you will not take courses on Coursera, or (2) for each class that you take, the majority of work you do for the class will be done from outside the State of Minnesota.

Tags: coursera

Embedding tweets on your website or blog…

is very easy and explained here. Let’s try it out:

and another one:

Tags: Twitter


A quick blog post on something I’m reading as a result of half-hearing a passing reference on BBC Radio Four, following it up on Twitter and thus having a knowledgeable and kind person point me in the right direction. The reference was to a detective novel written in a jokey pan-European language…


Lady Susan Beresford and her horse. Photographed at Mayfield House, Ireland, on December 15 1900.
Source: National Library of Ireland. Image believed to be in the public domain. Available via The Commons on Flickr.

I like this photo very much. It has something magic.


Lady Susan Beresford and her horse. Photographed at Mayfield House, Ireland, on December 15 1900.

Source: National Library of Ireland. Image believed to be in the public domain. Available via The Commons on Flickr.

I like this photo very much. It has something magic.

Thing 14-2012: Not Zotero / Mendeley / CiteULike, but Docear… and mind mapping

I have to admit I don’t have much to say about the three proposed tools since last year. So I propose to try something else. Docear calls itself an “academic literature suite”. As you can read on their site they are very ambitious about it. Though they are still in beta release, user feedback are highly positive.

All information is structured in a mind maps. This should be more effective and efficient than using a simple list or social tags. Docear is build upon the mind mapping software Freeplane and the reference manager JabRef.

I registered and installed this tool without problem on my Windows 7 laptop. I also ticked the checkbox to keep an online backup.

Then I wanted to make a small mind map and add some references to it. Unhappily I never worked with mind mapping software and the mind mapping chapter of the docear documentation is not written yet. I tried some things but coudn’t get a good result. So I could do two things: give of up or download the freeplane software with (I hope) good documentation. I decided the last.

In freeplane I could easily create a map like this

It’s all explained in the first 50 seconds of this excellent video

I can easily open this little mind map in docear, but don’t ask me to rebuild it there.

My conclusion

I see big pontential in docear, but at the moment there is a big lack of documentation. Since it is based on freeplane, I’ll use this tool as introduction to mind mapping software first. Of course I will write about my experiences, but I’m working at many projects now. So it is possible it takes some time.

If you have experience with docear or mind mapping tools. I will be happy to learn from you.

Thing 13-2012: Google Docs, Wikis and Dropbox (but more: why no backup in the cloud for me)

At moment, I don’t have to add something to my writings of last year about Google Docs, wikis and Dropbox. In practive, I used the wiki product PBworks nearly on a daily basis last year and I used dropbox to share stuff with family and friends.

But, I have to say I’m much more sceptical about keeping backups and important things in the cloud. I explain: at the end of 2011 I planned to use the cloud as backup media and also to keep some other personal stuff. I should do this at the moment I had not enough space on my external drives any more. Well, I changed my mind meanwhile and bought a new external drive. This was caused by two things which happened since the end of 2011.

On 19 January 2012 the United States Department of Justice not only shut down the file-hosting site, but only seized all its content. I was very lucky it happened then and not later, because then I should probably not only loose my backups forever, but a foreign state should also have full availability about it. Just, imagine, I had a brilliant business idea. The USA state should possess it then and could do with it what it wanted. And indeed, MegaUpload had the best price, so the chance was big I should choose this company for my backups.

Then there is the case of Microsoft SkyDrive, which openly admits it spies on the content people put on their services, even if it is marked as private(see Is Microsoft Spying On SkyDrive Users? on Forbes and especially Microsoft responds to SkyDrive privacy concerns on

I’m happily using the cloud with wikis, evernote and for document sharing etc. Backup however is another issue. It should be an - as automatical as possible – copy of the hard-disk of my laptop to a device I can trust. On my hard-disk are things which are really private (yes, even photos of my son in a bathtub) or really confidential (stuff from work). So, as long the world is not advanced enough to guarantee that no nosy individuals, companies or states will peek in it, no backup of it in the cloud. I’m sure the content on my laptop and my other devices is totally legal here in Belgium and is the only legal matter which count for me.