category: computers

Organised reflection

Keeping a reflective record of teaching activities can help improve practice over time (e.g. Finlay 2008). I previously found this to be of marginal value partly because I have rarely gone back to read my old reflections. One reason for this is not knowing how and where to store the notes, and not remembering how …

3D printing a better lab

The 3D printer is already proving useful after just one week in the lab. It’s now so easy to make custom objects I am seeing lots of opportunities to use the printer in the lab instead of cobbling together random odds and ends. In the last few days I have been designing labware …

Access window trapped on disconnected screen

If you use a laptop computer in dual-screen mode with Windows, you might experience the problem of losing access to a window on the external monitor when you leave the office and restore your session without the extra screen.Most programs seem to cope with screen disconnection OK but many do …

GPS mapping and fitness tracking

GPS mapping makes exploring new routes really easy and has certainly helped me get out more due to ease of finding routes. I also recently started using Strava to track my performance when running and cycling, providing additional motivation to get out. This post is about how I use Viewranger for mapping …

3D printing for research

We have just received funding from MMU to allow us to buy a 3D printer for research. I am exploring the use of this disruptive technology in my own environmental microbiology research, and am collaborating with other researchers who are interested in applying it in other projects including bryophyte photosynthesis …

Reproducible research

The statistical analyses for our recent paper on the bacterial communities of biological soil crusts in the Kalahari can be fully examined and reproduced via code and data I have deposited on GitHub.The analysis relies heavily on the phyloseq package for R. The phyloseq paper and associated documentation were really an inspiration, and provided …

Override autocorrect in Excel cells

As a microbial ecologist I often work with spreadsheets where I want to use the header “OTU” which means operational taxonomic unit. We use this acronym instead of saying species because the species concept for microbes is not very clear. Anyway, in Excel you can’t write “OTU” in a cell …

Transparency in PDF output from MS publisher

When using Microsoft Publisher you will likely want to export to PDF for circulation or printing. At this stage I found that all my transparent layers got spoilt and I found some tricky ways to work around it like printing to a PDF printer, but this is not very satisfactory.The …

3D design software

I know nothing about design but I often design make my own research equipment. I have been preparing to expand my experimental possibilities by using 3D printing: Make my experiments more reliable (quality of construction) Increase experimental throughput (replication) Share designs for my equipment so others can use and improve (open …