Sunday, June 29, 2008

Farewell to Beaver and Steve

One of my favorite web comics, James Turner's The Unfeasible Adventures of Beaver and Steve, has come to an end of sorts. It's been put on indefinite hiatus while James works on Super Animal Adventure Squad, which probably means that we won't be seeing any more of our mismatched heroes.

I really enjoyed having the wholesome adventures of Beaver and Steve as a part of my regular web comic reading ritual. The strip was written as a series of short stores without much continuity, so it's definitely still worth a read if you have some time. There are even merch and books available.

Traveling chemistry show

On Friday, I woke up at 2:30 AM and drove to Cleveland for the PINO 2008 conference at Case Western Reserve University. Rong and Shikchya from my lab also made the trip. I presented a poster on my latest manuscript, "Copolymerization of ethene with functional styrenes, methyl vinyl ketone and vinylcyclohexane using a (phosphine-sulfonate)palladium(II) catalyst" Organometallics 2007, in press, DOI: 10.1021/om800237r

Despite my handsome poster and sharp suit, there really wasn't much interest in my research. Out of approximately ninety attendees, only three stopped to ask me about my project. Either my work is really boring or the people there weren't really interested in catalysis. Bradley Coltrain from Kodak was super nice and complimented my work, which made me feel a little better. Ultimately, the conference amounted to me driving for eight hours and standing around in a hot suit. I think that my poster needs some zazz before the ACS conference in Philadelphia.

I had never been to Ohio before and had heard nothing but rust-belt horror stories. I was pleasantly surprised by Cleveland. It looked like a pretty hip town. Even the run-down part around Lee Street didn't look too bad. Sadly, I didn't have the time or energy to take Matt's suggestion that I go to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and have my photo taken next to a sculpture of Bootsy Collins.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Office 2008 12.1.1 update

It looks like the boys down at Microsoft's MBU may have addressed the maddening bug that I mentioned in Lisa's blog, Nocerosity. The bug's description is pretty vague, but one can hope.

Spaces between words are preserved.
This update fixes an issue that causes spaces between words to be lost when you open a document that was created in or saved by Word 2008 for Mac or by Microsoft Office Word 2007.

This cropped up when the boss and I were passing a Word document back and forth between Word 2008 and Word 2007. I got the revised manuscript back and random paragraphs had been marked as German and lots of spaces were missing. Not every paragraph was affected and none of the contractions made sense, even in German. Most of the errors were numbers being contracted with words, even when separated by punctuation. For example "J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2006" was changed to "J. Am. Chem. Soc.2006". However, the contraction didn't always occur under the same circumstances. Also, the spelling and grammar checking didn't flag the errors so it could easily have gone undetected if I didn't proof read it again. The error also affected the cover letter that he wrote on his own computer.

As if that wasn't bad enough, all of this was after Office 2008 Service Pack 1 caused Word to crash every time I opened the manuscript. The solution to that was to open the document in Office 2007 and re-save it. This sort of file corruption shenanigans has persuaded me to write my thesis in LaTeX.

In the mean time, I'd like to know why I get this error when I try to paste an image from Word to PowerPoint.

Monday, June 23, 2008

I wonder why the wonder falls on me

When I was reading today's PVP strip from Scott Kurtz, I noticed that the characters were standing in front of the Wonderfalls store at Niagra Falls. I sent an email to Scott and he confirmed that it was a reference to the show.

If you haven't seen Wonderfalls, you should. It's available through NetFlix. It was funny, well acted and smartly written. Although it only ran for one season, the writers managed to wrap the plot up in a satisfying way before it was cancelled.

First post!

Not too long ago, it dawned upon me that I was, quite possibly, the last person on the Earth that didn't have one of these fancy new Internet web logs. I said to myself, "Dave, if children, dogs and viral marketing campaigns all have their own blogs, why don't you?" It seemed like a sound argument, so I set to work on the most important part of any Internet endeavor: a good name. I considered Web 2.0 names like Daveulator, Dave-O-Matic and, but they just weren't catchy enough. So I did what all great writers do and tried to borrow an idea. My first thought was of Robert Boyle's seminal text, The Sceptical Chymist. I am both a chemist and skeptical so I thought it would be an excellent choice. However, that name was already taken and I though that the full title, The Sceptical Chymist or Chymico-Physical Doubts & Paradoxes, would make for a very long URL. Then it dawned upon me that whereas Robert Boyle is a very old, dead chymist, I am a modern chemist and I should, therefore, use a more modern spelling. Thus, I arrived at the title you see today.

As you might have guessed by now, I have no thoughts of merit to post. Nor do I have any plans for this web log's future scope or direction. Oops.

Finally, I swear that this will be only time that I ever sully the internet with the words, "first post." However, it seemed appropriate in this context. I can't make the same promise about other Internet memes which may infect me at some future date.