Freedom meets Awareness by Robert Orzanna

Zotero vs. Mendeley: Productivity over Open Source

I used to use Zotero as my academic reference manager and strictly disregarded Mendeley for its closed source. Zotero on the other side is open source, developed by researchers of George Mason University, built on the solid code base of Firefox, and with a very helpful community around it. Yet, I had continously the feeling that Zotero was not fitting my workflow. Out of curiosity to identify and name these apparent shortcomings with Zotero, I installed Mendeley, and have to admit that Mendeley suits my workflow better in several ways:

  • In contrast to Zotero, Mendeley provides an internal PDF viewer with annotation and text highlighting function
  • Mendeley's search function searches even through PDF documents and not only reference details
  • Mendeley provides a well working feature to keep my entire library synced to a BibTeX file that I can use for Academic Markdown
  • Mendeley provides an internal literature search that allows me to search for journal articles
  • Mendeley imports files much faster and feels more responsive than Zotero
  • Mendeley's reference details fields are more intuitive and easier to understand. Zotero provides me with many specific fields that I often do not need

However, there are also several aspects where Zotero stands out:

  • In contrast to Mendeley, Zotero provides an ISBN search
  • The web importer from Zotero seems superior to Mendeley's
  • Zoteor allows me to use a custom webdav server to sync my library. I will have to see if the 2GB default from Mendeley are enough for my library
  • Zotero provides an automatic sync of the library whereas for Mendeley I have to trigger the sync button manually

Despite its weaknesses, Mendeley's strengths outweigh these. In the end of the day I want to get my work done and with Zotero its vast customisation features often kept me off track, fiddling with details, rather than that they helped me.

Words I will not forget

While there are many wise words and sentences, there is only a selection, I believe, that is truly internalised by a person. As such I have my own personal selection and writing them down helps me remembering about their purpose and meaning they have for my presence on earth. I encourage you to think about your own words. What are they?

  • If you cannot overlook a problem anymore, then just start working on it step by step.

  • Do the things you have in mind as long as you actively think about them. It will help you to solve them more easily because you focus on them.

  • Just keep what you did in the past and be proud of it, though it might not be perfect.

  • Over-consuming anything is a strong sign of imbalance. Try to find out what you are missing in life and what you are trying to offset through overconsumption of something else.

  • There is no such thing as perfection but incremental improvement.

  • Do not limit yourself by conventional borders but use the power of your creativity to solve a problem in your way.

  • Try to simplify your life, your workflows and rethink the purpose of any action you do.

  • Sometimes it is wise to start something from scratch to understand the actual purpose of what you want to achieve.

  • Allow yourself time for experimentation and feel enriched by this learning process but do not forget to leave the experimental zone after some time when you feel it is enough.

How to use Favicons for Bookmarklets

A bookmarklet is a bookmark stored in web browser that contains JavaScript commands to extend the browser's functionality. As such, bookmarklets can be very useful to provide speed reading or word count ability. However, they do not natively provide favicons. The following steps outline how to use favicons for bookmarklets in Firefox.

Replacing blank bookmarklets with custom defined favicon images.
Replacing blank bookmarklets with custom defined favicon images.
  1. Install User Style Manager
  2. Open its prefernces and create a new stylesheet with the namespace @namespace url(;
  3. For each favicon create a new rule in your stylesheet as follows:
toolbarbutton[class="bookmark-item"][label="Bookmarklet Name"] {
list-style-image: url("") !important;

Gmail keyboard shortcuts for Thunderbird

This post is currently work in progress to provide complete Gmail keyboard shortcut support for Thunderbird. Copy the below lines and paste them into user.js. Install keyconfig and ensure to disable conflicting keys in the settings menu (Ctrl+Shift+F12).

user_pref("keyconfig.main.key_reply", "][R][");
user_pref("keyconfig.main.key_replyall", "shift][R][");
user_pref("keyconfig.main.key_forward", "][F][");
user_pref("keyconfig.main.key_archive", "][E][");

How to find the streaming URL of an online radio

Quickly find out the streaming URL of an online radio to feed it into another streaming application such as MPlayer

In my example I wanted to find out the streaming URL of a radio station at Using Chromium the procedure was fairly easy. Start playing a radio station. Right click on the play button to Inspect the Element. Go to the Network tab. Search for the name with the longest trace on the Timeline and left click on it. In the Headers tab you should now see the Request URL wich you can feed into for instance MPlayer:


If you are unsure if you have the right URL, check the content-type header. It should include an audio file format, so if it does, you have most likely found the URL you are looking for (also pay attention to entercom in the URL).

Figure 1. Chromium/Chrome developer tools help you finding out the streaming URL.
Figure 1. Chromium/Chrome developer tools help you finding out the streaming URL.