"There is nothing like the extortion that is textbooks." said Prof Mehran Sahami in one of his Stanford classes. Textbooks are expensive and it's tragic that it is mostly students who buy them.
We buy textbooks whenever we can afford them. But when we can't, we are entirely at the mercy of some researchers' generosity, who have been kind enough to share their research papers, tutorials, books, presentations, handouts for free. So poor students can use their high-speed download subscriptions to Google like crazy and spend a lot of time simply downloading these texts off the internet.
There are obvious downsides to this practice. Very soon, within minutes, even, of googling something that might make a cool project, downloads start queuing up and adding to the clutter in your computer. Some day, in retrospect you might find that you downloaded one paper, which had references to ten different "must-read" papers, that all had keywords that needed to be googled up, that you didn't understand and led you to lengthy discussions on stackexchange sites, where people answering your questions referred to even more tutorials and presentations and books. Could it have been avoided? Probably, but this entire chain is very ritualistic and a simple explanation suffices to make you go on downloading - "If I need this paper again, I won't have to search it up." Now let's ask ourselves how often we search for something on the internet that already exists on our computers? In my case, I don't realize that I already have the paper until I've attempted to save it a second time, and my browser asks me if I want to replace the original file. Perfectly justifiable waste of time.
Even without saving the same content multiple times, the stockpile of pdfs keeps piling up in my downloads folder. It doesn't help that I'm too lazy to change the default name of the file, and when I browse through my downloads folder, I find a bunch of files with weird names.
So I want to invent a naming convention that helps me organize my downloaded research papers, tutorials, course handouts, ebooks, etc. The naming convention should clearly indicate:
1. The broad subject of the pdf. A mere glance should suffice to decide whether the paper is about research in signal processing or solid state physics. Many papers are interdisciplinary, so maybe I'll use my best judgement to decide what the paper helps me learn and choose the subject accordingly.
2. The source of the file - Did I download something off IEEEXplore? Did I get it from the authors' website? Or did it just appear as a pdf link in Google search results?
3. The name (and perhaps affiliation) of the author.
4. A comprehensive reading order - I have a bunch of files in a folder names "backpropagation learning" which contains paper, tutorials and presentations. The order in which these files are to be read should be clear from the names of the files. I shouldn't end up reading a research paper on backpropagation before going through a tutorial first.
If nothing else, such a naming standard will atleast save a lot of my time which I otherwise would spend simply opening files, realizing that they are not what I was looking for, and closing them. Suggestions on the design of such a convention are welcome.
Just save the page and read it later. Whenever.