I read somewhere that 80% of all scientific research can be done with the naked eye, and of the remaining, 80% of that can be done with a hand lens. This is not a hand lens, nor is it an image of a hand lens, you sneeky Magritte fan you. It’s a picture of my memory stick. You can buy a 1gb memory stick like this for around $NZ30 – yes, I know, you can get them bigger and cheaper – but for the price of a couple of coffees and bit of a snack you can have a portable research tool that a few years ago was unimaginable.
Here’s how to make your pomo hand lens:
First catch a nice fresh memory stick. A 1gb is sufficient, you can get by with smaller, even down to the 250mb size – but why scrimp?
Next, surf off to portableapps.com, and grab the PortableApps Suite. Or, do as I did, get the PortableApps Lite – I’m try to keep my weight down, so less is more. Follow the install instructions and install PortableApps on your memory stick. If there’s a chance you’ll be using your memory stick on some antique (pre-xp) computer, remember to grab the patch. Without the patch the PortableApps won’t work, but the subapplications – Firefox portable is the application I was interested in – work fine.
Make sure you download and install Firefox portable. Check everything is working, don’t be loading the fox off your hard drive and thinking everything is good.
Next go off to tiddlywiki.com and download the latest copy of a tiddlywiki. Make sure you save it to your memory stick.
Next, go to TiddlySnip and install the plugin/extension for Firefox. Do the configuration thing, linking the TiddlySnip to your on-memory stick tiddlywiki.
*Bing!* Job done. TiddlySnip allows you to surf to a web site, select a portion of text, right mouse button and scrapbook that snippet (with the url and references AND tags you select) to your now ever-expanding and ever increasing in value on-memory stick wiki. You go to the library? Do your thing. You go to work? Do your thing. You go anywhere? Do your thing. My memory stick has become more valuable to me now than a diary or a notebook ever was. If I was studying now I’d never spend time trying to find those lost references – in fact, I think I’d be building my thesis pretty much from the get go. Great tools. And all for half a dozen cups of coffee.