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, 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