Friday, March 25, 2011

Better APA-style: working around hyperref and apacite problems

I'm writing an article in LaTeX using APA style, so I'm using the popular
apa.cls style. It defaults to using apacite for citations and references, which works well enough.

But if I have a URL field in the BibTeX, like I always do in JabRef to remember where I found things, it prints it for each reference wasting a lot of space and not breaking lines properly. I also like the URLs I do show to be clickable hyperlinks, and my citations and cross-references as well. You can usually do this using hyperref, but a lot of things break when using apacite and hyperref together. Here's the top of the file:
And here is the output of pdflatex:
! Undefined control sequence.
\hyper@@link ->\let \Hy@reserved@a
\relax \@ifnextchar [{\hyper@link@ }{\hyp...
l.83 \cite{Aris09Visual}
! Argument of \@@cite has an extra }.

l.83 \cite{Aris09Visual}
Runaway argument?
>{\hyper@link@ }\def \reserved@b {\hyper@link@ [link]}\futurelet \@let@token \E
! Paragraph ended before \@@cite was complete.

l.83 \cite{Aris09Visual}
Other people have had this problem before, but there aren't any great solutions. See the end for a good solution using biblatex-apa instead of apacite. If you insist on using apacite, there are instructions here for how to make things mostly work:
The simplest way to fix the problem is to put a single
instance of \protect into hyperref.sty.

Turn this:
\@newl at bel{b}{#1\@extra at binfo}{%
\hyper@@link[cite]{}{cite.#1\@extra at b@citeb}{#2}%
into this:
\@newl at bel{b}{#1\@extra at binfo}{%
\protect\hyper@@link[cite]{}{cite.#1\@extra at b@citeb}{#2}%
This occurs at
line 3972 in hyperref.sty [2007/02/07 v6.75r
and at
line 4939 in hyperref.sty [2008/04/05 v6.77l
(line 8328 of the corresponding hyperref.dtx ).
but this breaks the citations. Later they added additional code to the tex file:
It's really just a matter of executing APA's version of \bibcite
before doing the extra stuff that hyperref needs to create the hyper-linking (which seems to work just fine).

For example, the following coding seems to work OK.
\let\APAbibcite\bibcite %%%% add this line

pdfauthor={Salvatore Enrico Indiogine},
pdfsubject={TAMU EDCI},
pdfcreator={LaTeX with hyperref package},
pdfproducer={dvips + ps2pdf},

%%%% add the following 2 lines
This fixes most problems, but there are still warnings and ampersands missing in the references.

A better solution for me was to use biblatex-apa with biblatex instead of apacite.

First replace \bibliography{...} at the end of your tex file with \printbibliography. Then modify the the top to look like this (note the noapacite option for apa.cls).
\documentclass[jou,noapacite]{apa} %%%% apacite is buggy with hyperref



%%%% bilatex-apa

Thursday, March 24, 2011

CrashPlan local backup phones home way too much

I recently tried using CrashPlan, an online backup program that also provides a free client for local or local network backups. I was not happy when I discovered how much it phoned home for these supposedly local backups.

After watching the EFF's presentation The Law of Laptop Search and Seizure from DEFCON 18, I discovered that only a subpoena is required to get your data from an online provider while a court-approved warrant is needed to search your personal machines. CrashPlan claim to use file and network encryption to protect your data on their servers, but I'd much rather roll my own backup servers for the added security.

After installing the CrashPlan proprietary Java client I fired up Wireshark to see how much CrashPlan was phoning home for local backups. When you open the program, you're forced to create an account with their online service, so naturally it sends that info. I was surprised though when I started configuring local backup settings and that information was sent to their servers too. Why do they need all your configuration? To populate their web interface.

This web interface could be useful for users wanting to change their settings remotely, but I'm not pleased with all my backup selections, destination folders, exclude lists, and the like forwarded on to their service and configurable there. It would be easy for them to store a lot more information about the files on the machine without the end user knowing.

CrashPlan seems to provide a good service for users wanting to do online backup, but one of their main selling points is the free local backup system. I'd be much happier with it if they gave an option to switch the web interface and all phoning home off. As it is, I'll stick with my harder to set up but open source and private BackupPC system.