adrian_turtle: (Default)
I have a new tablet, or perhaps a tiny little laptop. (When I get all my files transferred over, I hope this will be my only computer.) When I'm not at the library, I intend to use it the same way I used the old one--with the screen propped at eye level on my desk, and a keyboard and touchpad on the little sliding tray under the desk. Although I really need this kind of setup for a keyboard and pointer, I didn't think it would be a big deal. The tablet has only one USB port, but they sell USB hubs, right?

It's not so simple. Is it ever so simple? I got a USB hub with a 3" cable to go into the computer, three 4" cables to go into various USB devices like my keyboard or touchpad, and a 4" cable for a mini-USB port. Because I'm working with a tablet, the USB port is on the side of the screen. That means when the screen is propped up close to vertical, the weight of the hub dangles off the side and gradually torques the cable out. It doesn't pull all the way out, but it takes less than 5 minutes to lose electrical contact.

Any ideas for solutions other than tape? They sell magnetic USB hubs, but I have my computer on a plastic support. When I get my act together, I may have it on plastic with cloth over it. But not magnetic.
adrian_turtle: (Default)
I do not want to see this correlation, because it makes no sense and because implies I should limit my already limited lifestyle in fairly unpleasant ways, but here is the suspicion. It looks like audiobooks are bad for my shoulder. (Books or music. Any mp3 I listen to on purpose. But in practice, it turns out to be mostly books.) I got out of the habit of listening to anything after I got my ears pierced, but went back to it in January.
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I have a Garmin GPS now, which is quite useful for finding my way on foot. I've used it a couple of times in a Zipcar, too, and it finds the satellite signal fairly quickly. Obviously, I charge it from wall power, not having a car. Because I don't use it every day (not even every week), the battery runs down when it's turned off and sitting on my shelf between uses. I'm concerned that it will be bad for the battery if I keep it plugged in all the time without draining the battery...not "bad for the battery" in the sense of causing catastrophic failure, but gradually making it less able to hold a full charge. I've been keeping it on the shelf, not plugged in, but this is not really an optimal solution. When I want to use it, the battery is usually pretty close to drained, and it takes hours to charge it. (That's what I'm doing this afternoon. Waiting for the thing to charge, and hoping it will really BE all the way charged, rather than doing that thing where it looks all the way charged and really is just 40% charged.) Any suggestions?

I'm afraid partial charging was responsible for the battery problems with my Palm (which I use as an ebook reader, mp3 player, and calender, with no phone or web connectivity.) After months of plugging it in whenever I came home, whether the battery was fully drained or 90% charged, it's only good for 80 minutes at most. 40 minutes, if I take notes. Is there a way out of this, other than carrying a charger?
adrian_turtle: (Default)
I have been keeping lab notebooks for 20 years. I figure the overlaps (where I was keeping more than one notebook at a time) make up for the interruptions. Sometimes I did it for a class or an employer, and was constrained by their format requirements. I've never kept a perfect notebook, though some years have been a lot further from perfect than others. It's remarkable - so many people keep lab notebooks, and have been doing it for so long, I would expect us to have evolved some kind of optimal way of doing this. And we have evolved a reasonably *consistent* way of doing it, but it's really a pain in the ass.

I just started using a different blank notebook for my lab notebook. Lab notebooks have a particular look and feel -- if you use them, you know what it is. The pages are mostly graph paper, with detailed indexing information at the top of every page. (Not just a project name, but titles and subtitles.) There are reference numbers every 5 lines so you can cite part of a page. At the bottom of the page, there's a space to sign and date, and another space for a witness to sign and date. And a preprinted reminder that the whole thing is proprietary information. (This wonderful notebook is not suitable for private or academic use, more's the pity.) The center margin is wider than usual, and it opens quite flat so it's easy to write on even the early pages. Even if a person only has one hand available. The cover extends a bit further than usual, and is very rigid -- it supports the book well enough to write on it.

But those are matters of construction, and probably more related to paper being cheap (or lab notebooks being expensive) than to any particular insight about how lab notebooks are used. What inspired me to post was the Table of Contents. Every blank lab notebook I've ever used has a table of contents. Sometimes the notebook comes with "Table of Contents" preprinted on some blank pages at the front, to remind the user to make one as he or she goes. Sometimes I write "Table of Contents" on the first page to remind myself. And put [experiment 1] pages 3-8 on one line. Then maybe a few months later I'll come back and put [other experiment 2] pages 9-20 on another line. And I'll fret about whether the discussion on 21-24 really properly counts as a separate experiment, and give the thing up as a bad business. Grepping dead goats is hard.

The Table of Contents for my wonderful new lab notebook shows a page number, and a big blank space for the subject, and a smaller blank space for the date, for every page in the notebook. Every page gets a subject heading as I fill it in. I've skimmed page headings of notebooks (and you know lab notebooks are not little flippable pages like mass-market paperbacks) looking for something in my old work, or the old work of someone else. This kind of table of contents is MUCH better for that kind of searching. It may even be better than thematic chapter/project titles. 20 years of my own lab notebooks. Hundreds of other people's notebooks. Yet this idea, which could have been invented 200 years ago, comes as a revelation to me.
adrian_turtle: (Default)
I have a new computer! With a spacebar, and everything. The "everything" in this instance includes a great big 15" screen and a loud fan that starts up at irregular intervals whether I'm doing anything with the computer or not. It includes bunches of software I have no use for, wireless connectivity I don't want (and have turned off 4 times so far -- I need to find better ways to turn it off), and no software I actively want except Wordpad. I am currently using IExplorer and installing more useful things.

It's a laptop, because laptops tend to come with non-flickery screens and built-in touchpads. I'm unhappy with this one so far, because the screen flickers. I tried increasing the resolution (Control Panel/Display/Settings/Advanced/Monitor), but there aren't any choices other than 60Hz. And typing is awfully uncomfortable, even with the built-in touchpad, even with the spacebar. At first I thought it was just uncomfortable because it was too high, but I'm sitting on pillows and it isn't helping.

Does it look like I'm describing problems that are fixable, or like I need to take this back to the store and get another computer? If the former, suggestions would be very welcome.


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March 2016



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