So I realized the other day that I’m lacking some good school supplies in some cases. While I back up my computers in triplicate, my directory structures look like a hot mess.

For example: My Desktop has folders for Talks, Random Articles, Random Pictures, Random Math, Ground Based Proposals, Postdoc Applications etc etc. Those directories were started when I tried to clean up my desktop and some are organized- Ground Based Proposals has directories that say what telescope and what semester. The Talks folder is actually labelled by talk location and holds both the Keynote and the jpegs or postscripts used for the figures.

Other directories look like a bomb went off, like the Random Articles directory. It’s full of articles with names like sdarticle-1.pdf, sdarticle-2.pdf (courtesy of Icarus and Science Direct), 19660.web.pdf (thank you ApJ) and others where I had tried to save them as sensible files like ‘albedo_meteorites.pdf’.

This past week I hit my breaking point with the clusterf*ck that was my random articles directory as I was writing another manuscript and decided to finally get a reference manager. The question was: which should I get? I run on Macs exclusively right now so Papers would be an obvious choice. . . .but I’m also a cheap ass, so $25-ish even with a student discount made me say no. So what about the others? I had heard about Zotero (a plugin for Firefox which I also use because I have an irrational hatred for Safari) and Mendeley.

I first made the plunge with Zotero. And about 24 hours later I downloaded Mendeley. While I like the idea of Firefox plugins in general, I found it really fracking annoying to have Zotero take up my Firefox window when open. Plus right after downloading Zotero I started having internet issues with Firefox and that’s pretty much the best way to get me to drop something like a hot potato. Plus Zotero was doing some wacky shit with the bib info for the articles I was trying to import and it annoyed the hell out of me to have to edit everything.

So onto Mendeley- I love the fact that it’s stand alone. I love that it ported all the Zotero stuff over without pain. I love that it’s stand alone (yes broken record here). I love the bajillion tabs so I can have a ton of papers open at once. Things I don’t love- it’s a pain in the ass to figure out how to edit the bib info (I think there ought to be a button or a left click option for that rather than making me go through the view menu). I’m a bit torn on the “collaborative” nature of Mendeley. Admittedly I have my profile etc locked down so I can’t be as easily e-stalked, but the fact that I could see what were the most popular articles stored in astrophysics seemed a little creepy to me though interesting (as they were not the most popularly viewed articles from their respective journals).

Overall though. . .I find that Mendeley  is the slickest option for me and the most useful. Perhaps maybe in a week or two I can clean out that damned Random Articles directory.