Stuff that occurs to me

All of my 'how to' posts are tagged here. The most popular posts are about blocking and private accounts on Twitter, also the science communication jobs list. None of the science or medical information I might post to this blog should be taken as medical advice (I'm not medically trained).

Think of this blog as a sort of nursery for my half-baked ideas hence 'stuff that occurs to me'.

Contact: @JoBrodie Email: jo DOT brodie AT gmail DOT com

Science in London: The 2018/19 scientific society talks in London blog post

Thursday, 31 December 2009

Anatomy of a tweet - 'hidden' features of tweets

OK not that 'hidden' but I don't know if eveyone knows about them and I've got the bug for writing 'how to' posts at the moment.

I expect everyone's worked out that tweets look different if your mouse is hovering over them, but if not, compare (unhovered-over tweet at top) and contrast (same tweet beneath it, but this time hovered-over).

Because it's my tweet I get the option to delete it - highlighted by the red oval. All tweets have a star option (yellow highlight) that appears when you hover over them, clicking on this allows the tweet to be favourited. Incidentally you can find out which of your own tweets have been favourited by using services like Favotter ( or Favstar (

Notice the bit, which I've not circled, that says 'about 4 hours ago from web' - there can be up to two links in this phrase (though in this particular example there's just one).

Were you to click on the 'about 4 hours ago' bit you'd go to a page which contains the tweet by itself, and has this URL This can be useful if you want to direct someone to a particular tweet, rather than to someone's general stream of tweets.

Where it says 'from web' it might equally say 'from Twitterfeed' or 'from Tweetdeck' and clicking on these will take you to the company's link telling you about these services. 'From web' doesn't take you anywhere.

If someone's replying to someone it may say 'in reply to XYZ'. Clicking on that will usually take you to the tweet to which they're replying - useful for following a thread backwards - but only if they used the 'Reply' function (note that the 'in reply to XYZ' link doesn't distinguish between a tweet that's sent by clicking 'Reply' and a tweet that someone starts typing, putting the person's @name first).

The pic below needs to be read in reverse... Tweet 3 is the first in a series of tweet exchanges that I posted to my Twitterstream, Tweet 2 is @Zeno001's reply to me, and Tweet 1 is my reply to him. If you saw these tweets in your Twitterstream (you could view these if you were following both of us, or if you clicked on either of our profiles) then you could follow the thread. Admittedly it's not the most fascinating exchange but I think the gist of how to follow a thread is clear.

If you use a service like Tweetdeck then when you 'reply' to someone then it's possible that the threading of tweets will be lost (it depends on whether or not the end reader is viewing on the web, or via phone I think).

I think the unusual thing here is that there are 'hidden' links on a webpage - this seems to me to be something that disappeared fairly early on, on most websites (perhaps an accessibility issue - it's now usually very clear what is or isn't a link).

iPhone screenshot or taking a 'photo' of your iPhone screen

I discovered how to do this quite by accident, after playing with all the five buttons on my iPhone and trying them in different permutations.

How to take a screenshot with your iPhone
Press the 'sleep' button and the 'home' button simultaneously (see first photo below) - the screen will 'blink' as if taking a photo (if you have the ringer button set to on it will make a camera sound).

The photo is now in your Camera roll.

See demo photos (second and third photos) at the end of this post.

Why would you want to do this?
I use this A LOT when I'm going to be travelling somewhere and can't guarantee I'll have a good wifi or 3G signal, and I might need to have a local map with me. So I check the map via my home wifi and screenshot it for use later. Clearly I also use this function for demonstration purposes too ;)

Further info
The relevant buttons are marked on this photo which I pinched from Wikimedia then tweaked.

Photo credit: Flickr user lecates (, taken from Wikimedia (

Screenshot of iPhone map showing London Zoo

Close up - keeping this sort of thing in my Camera Roll means I'm less likely to get lost even if there's no signal.

Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Cunning use of FriendFeed - find old tweets, yours or others

EDIT: 5 June 2010 - It seems that Google is developing a Twitter archive, currently from Feb 2010, but which will stretch back to the first tweets in 2006. More here
All The Old Tweets Are Found: Google Launches Twitter Archive Search

The post below does rather assume that you already have a FriendFeed account of course...

If you have a FriendFeed account and your Twitter feed is on it, simply use the following syntax to find your old tweets - I've found my first ever tweet on there (Jun 08) so it seems the tweets persist for a while.

keyword1 keyword2 from:yourTwittername

eg FriendFeed from:jobrodie will find any of my tweets (or posts I've made to FriendFeed) where I've mentioned the word FriendFeed.

There are a couple of people I'm following on Twitter who often post really useful interesting links that I might want to catch up with later. Favouriting individual tweets is one way but it's not that great a method for searching them retrospectively, but FriendFeed is.

If that person (or automated RSS feed, eg from a newspaper - it doesn't have to be an individual) isn't on FriendFeed, but their Twitter feed isn't locked - then you can add them as an 'imaginary friend' and follow them on FriendFeed that way. Then you can search their tweets.

Here's how (it assumes you have a FriendFeed account!) - mine's themed in 'Steampunk' colours.

1. Go to, log in, and look for your Friends list
2. Click on the Browse/edit friends link, highlighted in lime green below.

3. Click on the Imaginary friends link (highlighted in magenta below).

4. Then click on the self-explanatory button - Create imaginary friend.

5. You are then asked to name the imaginary friend - I've called mine "DiabetesTrials" - and then clicking 'Create' will do precisely that.

6. The next page gives you an option to add different feeds - it could be Flickr or pretty much anything that is RSSable, but just click on the Twitter button (highlighted in orange below) to add a Twitter feed.

7. Add in the name of the Twitter feed - in this case it's DiabetesTrials and press 'Import Twitter'.

8. The new Twitterfeed appears in the 'Active Services' (highlighted in lime green below) and you can add more by repeating the process. If you want to see the tweets that @DiabetesTrials has posted, click on their name, highlighted in magenta in the pic below.

9. Ta-da

10. To search for an old tweet use similar syntax to that above - the significant difference is that 'DiabetesTrials' is not on FriendFeed and so you can't use the from:DiabetesTrials bit.

Instead you need to use friends:jobrodie eg:
pioglitazone friends:jobrodie

Note the circle in green in the pic above, it's highlighting a padlock, which is next to any imaginary friend's feed - these are locked.

Anyone other than me will not be able to see the posts from such a locked, imaginary friend feed, it's only visible by me. Though there's nothing to stop you creating an imaginary friend for DiabetesTrials yourself (and I won't know about it).

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Last minute Christmas gifts

Updated Christmas 2013

Gifts you can print or send electronically
I have been thinking that there should be a place on the web where someone can go if they've had a serious 'fail' on Christmas (or otherwise) presents. Stuff that can be bought online but that allows you to print something off, or email someone a voucher code, or even just print off and play with, or colour in (for the kids!).

Here are some ideas.

Vouchers and e-cardsAmazon vouchers

"E-mail or print a gift card, or send in a greetings card, gift box or multi-pack. Redeem Amazon Gift Cards for millions of items storewide."

 - hat tip @philbradley . Don't forget that if you'd normally give someone a £10 book you might need to give them a £15 voucher so they don't have to pay extra for postage and packaging :)

iTunes vouchers
iTunes vouchers for music (iTunes store) or apps (app store) - I am not sure if you need to have iTunes on your computer though or if you can do it via other shops, eg Amazon.

Charitable things
Lend with Care (from CARE) - charitable microcredit sort of thing, see also Kiva

Toilet Twinning (donate to projects to build loos to improve sanitary conditions) 

Practical Presents
"Send an E-card for immediate delivery"
hat tip Google search (ie I don't know anything about this charity, but it satisfies my criteria for stuff you can send electronically). 

Oxfam Unwrapped
"Missed the last post? Send an e-card gift instead" 

Classes, memberships and subscriptions 
I think you can print out vouchers for cookery or photography classes and things of that ilk. Also memberships of various organisations.

Decorations, gift tags and things which might entertain children
Activity Village (colour in snowmen, Christmas trees etc)
Printable Christmas crafts including 3D Christmas snowman and tree
General Christmas printables
Christmas baubles (£2.95 to download, but there's enough info to make your own)

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

One reason why I don't have much time for psychometric questionnaires

I'm just looking at a document which has some questions on it that look a bit like psychometric woo to me. To be fair, it might not be an actual psychometric test but it seems that the format of the questions is similar, in that the questionnaire is full of unanswerable, illogical, overly specific questions.

" 1. I often criticise myself for failing to reach my own high standards."

If you always exceed your high standards do you answer 'no' because you don't, or don't need to, criticise yourself? How would the marker distinguish that answer from someone who routinely fails to reach their own high standards but doesn't criticise themselves, or does so less frequently?

Worse, what if the standards I set myself are really, really low and should be a lot higher? Perhaps I'm incompetent but don't know it.

"4. I dislike being interrupted."

Sometimes I do, if a deadline's looming and I'm focusing on something that requires full attention. Sometimes a break might be welcome, or even rcommended. Where is my "it depends" column?

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Collecting clinical database information - your help needed :)

What with disappearing [edit: it has since recovered] I'm storing some useful health / medical / drug databases here for now - it was a great resource for taking a bunch of links (up to 30) and giving you a single URL for sharing (each page could be viewed using a small drop-down menu).

Anyway, as I don't come from a library background (I only recently heard of the acronym 'PICO') I may well have missed some of the important databases. But I do work IN a library, so I don't want to miss any really!

Some come from memory, some from Trisha Greenhalgh's 'How to read a paper', and some from suggestions on the CLIN-LIB mailing list at Jiscmail. Some of them I'd not heard of / haven't used.

What have I missed? (I'll remember some myself the minute I press 'publish').

EDIT 20.12.09
Added BMJ Clinical Evidence.
See also Spineless Blog's '10 websites to help you keep up to date with scholarly journal contents' thanks to Zeno001 for highlighting this one.

EDIT 22.06.10
Added Map of Medicine.

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Parking a comment here that I tried to add to another person's blog

This is a single-use only post :) It's the text of a blog comment I tried and failed to add to this blog but the verification system was having none of it. I've also noticed that when adding a blog post using Safari I can't create links within text...


Nice concept - I think I should have a bit of a play with this sort of thing myself.

How about a map showing where essential services (pharmacists, shops with late opening times) or advice centres are located, with telephone number, website and opening hours information incorporated. For tourism, how about photos not just of the target destination but of the roads leading in to it, a bit like a stop-motion 'this is what it will look like if you travel from X to Y'.

I'd also like something that is, by design, permanently unfinished so that it is always being updated (perhaps by people uploading geotagged data from mobile phones etc). Is there scope to add audio information ('...and on your left you'll see..') to the location points?

I've enjoyed recording and sharing, via an iPhone app, routes of favourite walks and there's also the opportunity to download others'. The app I use (Geotagging) allows you to take photos en route, keyword tag and geotag them so that they're linked to the points along the journey, and visible to others.

Another nice use of mapping is by the Amazon Conservation Team who've done something that goes by the name "Participatory ethnographic mapping: mapping indigenous lands" creating, jointly with local people, "a "risk" map that identifies areas within the mapped region that either are currently threatened or are at greatest risk of harm from external actors."

Website here or there's a video describing the project here

Sunday, 15 November 2009

What if aliens just aren't clever enough

I've never given a great deal of thought to the notion of aliens living their lives on other planets somewhere in the solar system - I'm pretty neutral on the point. Plenty of weird and wonderful creatures on this planet and plenty of those at are at risk of extinction, which possibly means that we're actually reducing the amount of life in the universe...

Anyway whenever I watch the film Contact, which I enjoy, I am always keenly aware that if the search for ET were left up to me it would be an abysmal failure, even assuming there's anything to find (of course if we're the only place that's inhabited then any abysmal failure isn't really going to be my fault).

I've no idea what "hydrogen times pi" really means or "off-axis". At a pinch I might manage the bit where they whoosh the signal into a TV and do something 'interlacing'-ish. I bet I'd have worked out the 3D primer (sorry, primmer) bit though. That Pioneer plaque that's already up there - wouldn't mean much to me if I happened across it without the Wikipedia explanation.

Probably the bit of the film that made me think how relieved I am that there are many people much smarter than me, on this planet at least, is the part where John Hurt suggests that aliens are likely to be more intelligent (why?!).

I'm assuming this is just a mistake and what the writers were trying to get across is that aliens that can already get in contact with us might also be brighter or more technologically advanced.

If Earth consisted only of people exactly as smart and knowledgeable as me, but no smarter, the planet would do quite well in terms of sarcastic critiques of woo and nonsense but we'd have nothing technological because I don't know how to make it. Admittedly my skills have gone into the life sciences, perhaps if I'd studied astronomy or technology we'd be OK.

But what if all the aliens on all the other planets (let's generously assume the universe is hosting something inhabited other than earth) are full of bright 'people' but none of them happen to know much about radio waves and how to use them as a communication tool. We're already surrounded by plenty of creatures with whom we can't really communicate...
This is the sort of thing that will keep me awake now ;-)

Saturday, 7 November 2009

Medical research charities on Twitter

Shortened link for this post is
There are lots of charities using Twitter. This is a list of the healthcare / medical research / patient charities that I've found. I originally wrote this in 2009 and have updated it significantly on 31 May 22 December 2011 - I've kept the original text (deleted from this blog post and replaced with what's below) in case I've missed anything.

Can't promise that this list is accurate or complete but if you know a registered AMRC-style health or medical research charity based in the UK (or having a UK branch) which is on Twitter but isn't listed here then let me know @JoBrodie

(I know some charities have multiple accounts but I'm really after the main 'official' one)

Inclusion criteria

  • UK charity or global charity with UK chapter which tweets
  • funds medical research and / or provides health advice to patients (ie medical research charity and / or patient group

AMRC charities

Action Medical Research

Action on Hearing Loss (formerly RNID)

Alcohol Education and Research Council, The

Alzheimer’s Research UK

Association for International Cancer Research

Association for Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus

Ataxia-Telangiectasia Society

Bardhan Research and Education Trust of Rotherham No website
Blackie Foundation Trust, The
Blond McIndoe Research Foundation, The
Brain Research Trust

Breakthrough Breast Cancer

British Council for Prevention of Blindness

British Heart Foundation

British Lung Foundation
British Neurological Research Trust, The
British Occupational Health Research Foundation

British Orthopaedic Association

British Retinitis Pigmentosa Society
British Scoliosis Research Foundation
British Sj√∂gren's Syndrome Association

CFS Research Foundation
Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland
Children's Liver Disease Foundation
Chronic Disease Research Foundation
Chronic Granulomatous Disorder Research Trust
Core (The Digestive Disorders Foundation)
Crohn's in Childhood Research Association

Cystic Fibrosis Trust
Diabetes Research & Wellness Foundation

Dunhill Medical Trust
EMF Biological Research Trust

Epilepsy Research UK (incorporating Epilepsy Research Foundation and Fund for Epilepsy)

Foundation for Liver Research
Foundation for the Study of Infant Deaths
Furlong Research Charitable Foundation

Great Ormond Street Hospital Children's Charity

Guy's and St Thomas' Charity
Huntington's Disease Association
International Spinal Research Trust
Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation

Kids Kidney Research
Lister Institute of Preventive Medicine
Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research

Marie Curie Cancer Care

Mason Medical Research Foundation No website
Medical Research Scotland (formally Scottish Hospital Endowments Research Trust)

Meningitis Research Foundation

Meningitis UK (Registered as Spencer Dayman Meningitis UK)

Motor Neurone Disease Association

Multiple Sclerosis Society of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

Myeloma UK
I don’t think this is their account

National Eye Research Centre
National Osteoporosis Society
Neuro-Disability Research Trust
Neurosciences Research Foundation

North West Cancer Research Fund

Northern Ireland Chest, Heart and Stroke Association
Northern Ireland Leukaemia Research Fund
Nuffield Foundation

PBC Foundation (UK) Ltd, The
Pelican Cancer Foundation, The
Pharmacy Practice Research Trust
Primary Immunodeficiency Association

Progressive Supranuclear Palsy Association, The

Prostate Cancer Charity, The

RAFT - The Restoration of Appearance and Function Trust
Restore – Burn and Wound Research
Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation, The

Royal College of Surgeons of England

Samantha Dickson Brain Tumour Trust
Sir Jules Thorn Charitable Trust

Society for Endocrinology

South West Thames Kidney Fund
SPARKS - The Children’s Medical Research Charity
St Peter's Trust for Kidney, Bladder & Prostate Research

Stroke Association, The

Tommy's The Baby Charity
Tuberous Sclerosis Association
Ulster Cancer Foundation

WellChild (Registered as The WellChild Trust)

Wessex Medical Research
William Harvey Research Foundation
World Cancer Research Fund

Non-AMRC medical research orgs

Breast Cancer Care

Coeliac UK

Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research

MS Research
I don’t know if this is their official account @msresearch

Understanding Animal Research

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Keyboard shortcuts

I've always been a big fan of keyboard shortcuts and have been using them since Day Two of Windows (I had to wait for my nerdier friend Nev to discover some of them first on Day One). There's nearly always more than one way of doing something in Windows. We were all used to doing things with keyboards from our C:\ days...

A few years ago I was very nearly a tutor in using computers at Blackheath's Age Exchange but then I got a full time job so it never happened. While planning lessons I thought about keyboard shortcuts but realised I'd never sat down and made a note of them - I just use them as I go without a second thought.

I've been keeping a paper copy of a 'Superbyw@ys' article from 2004, by @webster007 from The Oldie which has a good list but the article's no longer available online (was at I've added a few of my own...

There's a straightforward list at the end if you just wanted a list and not my commentary.

Editing text
Changing case of text (works in Word, haven't tried it elsewhere)
Highlight some text, hold down Shift key, then press F3 [ie Shift+F3] - words will change from lower case to CAPITALS then to Individually Capitalised Words as you repeatedly press F3 while holding Shift.

Copying and pasting text / moving it around - this works with any text.
Ctrl+C (copy highlighted text), Ctrl+V (paste into a new place or new window).
If using Word and you want to move the text (ie delete it from one place to repost elsewhere) use Ctrl+X.

I well remember the pleasant surprise of discovering I could copy and paste text from websites but I would always recommend adding in an extra step here. Copy text into Notepad then use Ctrl+A to select everything in Notepad before using Ctrl+V to paste to its new destination - this step strips out all of the web formatting (if you copy and paste a bit of website into Word chances are there will be a whole load of table formatting coming with it).

To save, use Ctrl+S.

I've used Ctrl+B to make highlighted text bold (or you can switch this on before typing to make the text appear bold as you type, until you press Ctrl+B again to switch it off). Similarly Ctrl+I (the letter i) for italics, Ctrl+U for underlining.

If you've made a mistake in deleting text, or doing some action that you want to undo then Ctrl+Z undoes (to go further back in the undo litst, press Z repeatedly). Ctrl+Y lets you redo it if you discover you actually did want to do it.

I use the Shift and arrow keys to highlight with more refinement than with a mouse (admittedly I'm on a laptop with synaptic pointer, but sometimes mice select a little more than you want). Place cursor at point A, hold Shift key and then use right or left arrow (also up and down if you want to select more text*) to highlight letter by letter - I use this for adding in a link on Blogger, so that it doesn't include a space at the end of the word.

*For selecting word by word, rather than letter by letter, hold down the Ctrl key too. I think of the Ctrl key here as the accelerator - you can highlight a bunch of words and then slow down by taking your finger off the Ctrl key (with Shift key still held down) and continue to select just letters.

In Word you can highlight a block of text in one area of the screen (ie you don't have to be restricted to the sequential line by line but can select the first ten letters of every line, for example). It can be a bit fiddly but if you press Ctrl+Shift+Alt and then use the mouse you'll have created a tool that can highlight a rectangle of text and ignore the rest.

I also use Shift+Enter to do a 'soft return' at the end of a line. This can be useful in some web editors and also in Word or Powerpoint if you want to move a line of text around when it's in a bullet point list.

These are ones recommended by @webster007 that I don't think I've ever actually used...

Ctrl+Shift+W underlines words not spaces, Ctrl+Shift+D double underlines. Ctrl+E centres a paragraph and Ctrl+J makes lines in selected text of equal length.

Ctrl+] enlarges selected text a little and Ctrl+[ reduces its size. Ctrl+P opens the Printer.

For minimising ALL open windows, to see the desktop, I use the Windows key (on my keyboard this is below Z and X. On my mum's computer it's top right - it looks like the wiggly flag with quartered segments. Windows+D will both minimise and restore (ie the same key strokes will toggle between all windows minimised and all open). The Superbyw@ys article mentions that Shift+Windows+M will also make all windows reappear but I've only ever used Win+D for this.

PrtSc (might be Prt Scr) is the 'Print Screen' button which takes a snapshot of the page and saves it to the clipboard. You can then Ctrl+V this into Word but I prefer to Ctrl+V it into Paint for a bit of editing first.

Function keys
I grossly underuse these to be honest, so this guide might be helpful for me!
F1 - brings up help files
Shift+F7 - in Word, brings up the thesaurus
F4 - unfurls, from the address bar, a list of addresses you've typed
F5 - refreshes a webpage (ie overrides any in your cache)
F6 - highlights the URL in the address bar of the page you're currently on (helpful in copying and pasting but usually just clicking in the address bar does the same. If it doesn't, click anywhere in the body text of the website, then click back into the address bar and it should select the URL).
F11 - maximises the webpage, click again to restore (it removes the toolbars etc. temporarily).

The List
Shift+F3 - toggle among cases (lower, all caps, first letter caps) in highlighted text.
Ctrl+C - copy
Ctrl+V - paste
Ctrl+X - delete (while copying to the clipboard, so you can still Ctrl+V it elsewhere).
Ctrl+A - select all text
Ctrl+S - save
Ctrl+B - bold

Ctrl+I - italicise
Ctrl+Z - undo action (press Z again for further undoing)
Ctrl+Y - redo action
Shift+arrow keys - to highlight individual letters
Ctrl+Shift+arrow keys - to highlight individual words
Ctrl+Shift+Alt+mouse - very fine control for selecting area of text

Shift+Enter - soft return (a hard return is just pressing the Enter key alone)
Ctrl+Shift+W - underlines words, not spaces

Ctrl+Shift+D - double underlines
Ctrl+E - centres selected paragraph
Ctrl+J - makes lines equal length.
Ctrl+] - enlarges selected text

Ctrl+[ - reduces
Ctrl+P - opens printer.
Windows+D - shows desktop (toggle [press again] to reopen all open windows)

PrtSc - takes a snapshot of the entire desktop and copies to clipboard
F1 - help files
Shift+F7 - in Word, thesaurus
F4 - drops down a menu of URLs you've typed

F5 - refreshes a webpage (ie overrides any in your cache)
F6 - highlights current URL

F11 - maximises web page on screen

Saturday, 31 October 2009

Birkbeck Cinema in London

Has anyone ever been to Birkbeck Cinema? Birkbeck as in University of London - fairly central.

I discovered its existence two years ago - I think I was doing a short course at Bbk and noticed a new-looking cinema as I wandered round the building getting to the class.

Since then I've picked up only the scraps of merest hints that the cinema is used (there was something a year or so about Spanish film I think) and I think it gets used by the students who are studying film. It seems films are on during the day but it's not clear (and a bit of an uphill struggle to find out) what's on in the evening - it's not immediately obvious what the timings are there.

But it's open for commercial rates and can be hired - maybe I should check Time Out and the other listings for more info.

Its main website is here

There's only one link there as far as I can tell, which goes to this PDF leaflet of which I have a hard copy taken directly from the foyer at Birkbeck

I also picked up a rates leaflet (2007) which doesn't appear to be on the website - details below.

From the domain name of the email I found the Independent Cinema Office website (it doesn't mention the Birkbeck Cinema in its London list though). It's a good list anyway.

Commercial Rates
  • Seating for 62 plus 8 tip-up seats and space for wheelchairs
  • Choice of available equipment
9.00am-6.00pm £140/hour
6.00pm-10.00pm £180/hour

Saturday and Sunday
10.00am-10.00pm £200/hour
All prices are exclusive of VAT

Student and Not-for-profit Rates
A limited amount of Birkbeck Cinema hire time per month is available to students and not-for-profit organisations.

9.00am-6.00pm £90/hour
6.00pm-10.00pm £140/hour

Saturday and Sunday
10.00am-9.00pm £180/hour
9.00pm-10.00pm £200/hour
All prices are exclusive of VAT

Also available for hire
  • Breakout rooms
  • Catering
  • Non-standard equipment
  • Pianist (for silent films)
Booking enquiries
To make a booking please contact 020 7636 7120 or

Further information

Here are some Flickr pictures of the cinema.

Sharing websites pictorially - how can I do this?

In Microsoft's Internet Explorer and Apple's Safari I can click on a button that will show me a grid view of the tabs I currently have open or my recently visited (favourite) websites, as below.

Microsoft Internet Explorer tabs (full size below)

Apple Safari recently visited / favourites (full size below)

I would like to be able to create a series of these pages, with different content, that can be shared with others.

For example
Incidentally, if I wanted to share my Safari favourites, or the IE tabs I had open is there an URL I could uncover that would let me do so? If not, that's the sort of thing I'm after...

I've previously had a play on Pageflakes believing that this service would let me do that but I didn't find it straightforward. It's certainly true that you don't have to restrict yourself to their presets and can put in pages of your choosing, however they all seem to be RSS newsfeeds - for updating purposes. I don't want this, I just want the homepages.

There is useful diabetes info here, but it's very text based, and it's just updates

I'm a big fan of the 'corporate ID' of a page - its logo, and the way it's set out and this is usually what cues me in to knowing that I'm on the right page! It's easy to see from the pictures above what pages are open when I took the screenshot.

My ideal system would let me input a number of links and it would automatically grab the homepage (the ones above are personalised to me cos I'm logged in) and produce a new page for me with miniature windows for each link already embedded. Something similar is which lets you input a series of links and it will give you a single link in return.

Visiting your new krunchd link will open a page containing a drop down menu with all your pages in and you can move through them, and each new page is presented within a frame. Example: (viewed over 670 times... ).

Is this something I could do on Google Wave if I had any clue how to create something on Wave, and also had access to it? Or does anyone know of something else that would work - I don't think Netvibes does this either.

Microsoft Internet Explorer tabs
Internet Explorer - view all tabs

Apple Safari recently visited / favourites
Safari - favourite pages - note orange circle

Friday, 30 October 2009

I used to work at Science Line which was lots of fun

In clearing out some old papers I found a one-page guide to the origins of Science Line (also known as Science Net) which is where I had my first job after leaving the laboratory world of lipid biochemistry. It was great - I got to answer a few questions in addition to my main involvement with the Planet Science Whodunit.

Here's the history of Science Line which folded in 2003 due to lack of funding (as far as I'm aware). Thanks to the Wayback Machine, this is what it looked like around the time I was there

The nearest modern equivalent would be the awesome 'I'm a Scientist, Get Me Out of Here' which lets school kids ask science questions of professional scientists and science communicators.

A bit about Science Line
A brief history of Science Line
Science Line is the product of a unique collaboration between the worlds of the public understanding of science and broadcasting. This is a reflection of its dual origins. Part of the impetus for its launch came from the public understanding of science community, in particular, Professor John Durant. He had conducted a survey (published in Nature in 1989) showing that the public were more interested in science, technology and medicine than sport, politics and new films; but at the same time their understanding of science was poor.

Around the same time the Science Museum in London had experimented with science information services linked to some of their exhibitions; and the Dutch had started a government funded service which wasw regularly attracting over 7,000 calls a year.

In the Autumn of 1991 John Durant contacted Dr Laurence Smaje at the Wellcome Centre for Medical Science: would Wellcome be interested in supporting a telephone-based science enquiry service? The answer was "yes, in theory" - but how could it be done in practice?

The breakthrough came at the 1992 British Association Annual Meeting when Derek Jones, the then editor of Channel 4 Support Services, expressed an interest in starting an information service for members of the Channel's Science Club and viewers of its science programmes. The meeting was attended by Dr Smaje, who encouraged Derek Jones to make a formal application to the Wellcome Centre to fund a pilot scheme, to be run by Broadcasting Support Services.

Science Line opened for the first time during a special Channel 4 weekend of dinosaur programmes in July 1993. Nearly 800 viewers rang a team of 20 scientists, experts in fields from ancient DNA to palaeontology, with questions both simple and complex. The potential for using television to stimulate scientific conversation was clearly demonstrated and further opportunities to engage viewers were grasped after programmes on memory, space exploration, air traffic control and gene therapy.

The success of the pilot scheme led to the setting up of a weekday service, open between 1.00pm and 7.00pm and accessible from anywhere in the UK for the price of a local telephone call. This was launched in March 1994, during set7, the first national science, engineering and technology week, by the then junior science minister, David Davis MP.

Science Line continues to be managed by Broadcasting Support Services (BSS), an educational charity specialising in the management of telephone information services and back-up for viewers and listeners.

Science Line now has a freephone number, 0808 800 4000. We are now open Monday-Saturday, 1-7pm and are funded by a grant from NESTA (National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts) until 2003. We also carry out commercial contracts such as providing editorial content for websites and anything else that is vaguely sciencey and will bring in some cash.

Science Line 1993-2003.

Daniel Moerman's looking for evidence of stories about ants following diabetic urine

Just spotted this (see below) in the latest Fall 2009 newsletter from the Society for Economic Botany

It's a question about the evidence for stories, in traditional societies, of ants crawling around sugary urine, indicating that someone has diabetes and perhaps being used as a diagnostic tool.

Professor Daniel Moerman is an anthropologist and former editor of the Society for Economic Botany's journal, Economic Botany. He developed the Native American Ethnobotany database of "foods, drugs, dyes and fibers of Native American Peoples, derived from plants" which is available online ( and as a book (

He also wrote "Meaning, Medicine and the Placebo Effect" and features in one of my favourite Radiolab episodes, Placebo, talking about Quesalid (


Diabetes In the Wild
I have heard two or three people say that nonwestern,
traditional peoples can/do diagnose
“diabetes” by noticing that the person’s urine is
“sweet” because the urine attracts ants or butterflies.
Such practice has always been of the “someone told
me” sort —“Someone told me that people diagnose
diabetes by. . . ” but I have never found a genuine
first-person report, or any published report, first
person or otherwise. If anyone has ever heard such
testimony from traditional peoples somewhere, or
has seen a published report, or knows someone
who did, please let me know. Many thanks,
Daniel E. Moerman, dmoerman /at/
William E Stirton Prof. Emeritus of Anthropology
University of Michigan-Dearborn

One suggestion, which might contain relevant stories, is below.

Diabetes Stories - An oral history of diabetes - from OCDEM (Oxford Centre for Diabetes, Endocrinology and Metabolism).
Scroll down to the bottom to choose stories from people with diabetes, family members or healthcare professionals.

Using the search transcript facility ( and searching for "ants" brought up 66 hits. Some of the interviewees were born abroad and moved to the UK.

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

How are we cache-ing pages?

When people say, in their delightfully sneaky blog posts, "But what's this? Here's a copy I cached earlier" what is that they're actually doing?

I'm curious to know about the different methods used and if there's a 'best' way of doing this. I suppose it would have to be something that also doesn't permit tampering with the source code to falsify the webpage.

1. Rely on Google cache

Probably unreliable (and websites can override Google's webcrawling robots) but at least search terms are nicely highlighted. I don't think this is easily falsifiable.

2. File / Save As... / Web archive, single file (.mht)
The option presented to me by MSIE - I think I may have used this for "working offline" but not with any particular competence. Is this what people are doing? Does it save an entire website or just the page you're on? I don't think this is easily falsifiable either.

3. Save the html code and regurgitate as a page later on
View / Source gives a small notepad file (which can be saved as .htm which can then be opened for editing in notepad, or in any browser as a webpage) with all the text needed to recreate the page. Images need to be saved later. Very very falsifiable.

4. Wait for the Wayback Archive to do the work for you
Wayback archives a lot of pages and they seem to appear six months after the page was live so changes might be harder to find depending on how many 'impressions' the Archive makes of the page, unless you remember the date on which the information you want to record was available. Doesn't seem to be falsifiable.

5. Take a screen shot
Press the button marked PrtSc (or something similar) and a copy of the entire visible screen is pasted to the clipboard. Paste (Ctrl V) this into Paint or other image editing software to select the relevant bit and save as a .bmp (or .jpeg etc). Probably quite fiddly to falsify the picture of words in Paint but might be doable in other software.
6. Something clever on Firefox
I haven't used it for a while but I think there was a gadget which helped with cacheing pages.

This post is all about creating copies of web pages but for more on 'finding old web pages' go here