So I started this blog…

I even made this nifty logo:


So what’s it about? Basically, it will be about one of my hobbies: applying computers to my life as a chemistry academic. I freely admit that calling this a hobby is lame even by nerd standards.

It’s probably easiest to explain the plan by explaining what the blog isn’t. It’s not a technology blog. There are millions of excellent tech blogs/sites out there and no one needs my uninformed opinions. Likewise, it’s not a chemistry blog. There are many excellent chemistry blogs. The interweb could probably use more, but I spend enough time writing chemistry as part of my official professional life. Finally, this isn’t really a personal blog about me. Not sure there’d be much of an audience and besides, I’d probably just use it for passive-aggressive rants about parking at work.

Instead, the idea is to keep things focused on my adventures in applying technology to my life as an academic. It’s not really about reviewing or compiling a list of chemistry software per se (good sites available for that too), although there will be an element of that. It’ll be more about workflows and little projects that I’ve undertaken in support of my teaching and research. Here are some examples of what I have in mind:

  • Python scripts for processing raw multiple-choice data.
  • Using Blender to visualize molecules and other chemistry stuff.
  • Using FileMaker to manage datasets like exam questions and reference letters.

I hope to use the blog both as a way to share little programs or files that I’ve put together and also to walk through how they were constructed. Hopefully this will save people a little bit of time googling when they try to do similar things. I’ll also post on topics that are pretty well known, like using RSS feeds to keep up on the literature, if for no other reason than to have something I can make new research group members read as they’re getting started.

I should say here at the outset that I’m really an enthusiastic amateur, not an expert, when it comes to many of these topics. That’s sort of the point. At some point I realized that I was producing a bunch of little items (like the aforementioned Python programs and FileMaker databases) that I wanted to make available but that didn’t really lend themselves to peer-reviewed publications. That’s just not the right medium.

However, in 2014 there’s just no excuse for not communicating. Worst-case scenario this will be a nice way for me to keep track of what I’m doing and occasionally someone will stumble upon one of the posts.

4 thoughts on “So I started this blog…

  1. James molina

    Sounds like a good idea.
    You are right there are allot of sites out there that do similar things but most of them are not tailored to science research/education.
    I think the free flow of ideas and information is essential to learning; so I say way 2 go.
    Might be helpful to get a Dropbox account, if u want to freely share some scripts or datasets.

    Good luck

  2. Scott Post author

    Great to hear from you, James! I’ve got Dropbox, Google Drive, and Box accounts ready to go as needed. Although I actually don’t think I’ll be sharing all that many really large files (at least not until I start posting about Blender). Mostly Python scripts and empty databases.

  3. Jimmy Lawrence

    Love this blog. Started reading it, and got hooked straight away. I always look for “standardized” methods to improve research productivity, so we don’t ever have to learn 10 tools to do just one thing. Would be great to read more about standard/best practice/templates for plotting spectra, one plotting software, with automated workflow (Igor + Applescript+Smart Folder) is something that I have in mind (or pyplot..). Another one I will be looking forward to reading is o scientific illustration.

  4. Scott Post author

    Glad you like it! I’ve thought a bit about posting on my plotting software of choice, DataGraph. I think it’s a bit of a niche program but it’s one of my favorite software tools. I’m afraid I have no experience with Igor, but I have starting using Pyplot and could write something on that down the road.

    As for scientific illustration more generally, I’d like to think I’m ok for an amateur, but I basically just use Adobe Illustrator and try to keep it simple. However, I’m interested in moving on from Adobe because their subscription model makes little sense for someone who uses their programs intermittently. A post on trying out other vector graphics tools could be interesting.

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