Posts Tagged ‘Macintosh’

Steve Jobs and chemistry: a personal recollection.

Sunday, October 9th, 2011

Steve Jobs death on October 5th 2011 was followed by a remarkable number of tributes and reflections on the impact the company he founded has had on the world. Many of these tributes summarise the effect as a visionary disruption. Here I describe from my own perspective some of the disruptions to chemistry I experienced (for another commentary, see here).


Computers 1967-2011: a personal perspective. Part 3. 1990-1994.

Tuesday, July 12th, 2011

In 1986 or so, molecular modelling came of age. Richard Counts, who ran an organisation called QCPE (here I had already submitted several of the program codes I had worked on) had a few years before contacted me to ask for my help with his Roadshow. He had started these in the USA as a means of promoting QCPE, which was the then main repository of chemistry codes, and as a means of showing people how to use the codes. My task was to organise a speakers list, the venue being in Oxford in a delightful house owned by the university computing services. Access to VAX computers was provided, via VT100 terminals. Amazingly, these terminals could do very primitive molecular graphics (using delightfully named escape codes, which I learnt to manipulate).


Computers 1967-2011: a personal perspective. Part 2. 1985-1989.

Friday, July 8th, 2011

As a personal retrospective of my use of computers (in chemistry), the Macintosh plays a subtle role. (more…)

Data-round-tripping: wherein the future?

Tuesday, December 7th, 2010

Moving (chemical) data around in a manner which allows its (automated) use in whichever context it finds itself must be a holy grail for all scientists and chemists. I posted earlier on the fragile nature of molecular diagrams making the journey between the editing program used to create them (say ChemDraw) and the Word processor used to place them into a context (say Microsoft office), via an intermediate storage area known as the clipboard. The round trip between the Macintosh (OS X) versions of these programs had been broken a little while, but it is now fixed! A small victory. This blog reports what happened when such a Mac-created Word document is sent to someone using Microsoft Windows as an OS (or vice versa).


Data-round-tripping: moving chemical data around.

Saturday, November 20th, 2010

For those of us who were around in 1985, an important chemical IT innovation occurred. We could acquire a computer which could be used to draw chemical structures in one application, and via a mysterious and mostly invisible entity called the clipboard, paste it into a word processor (it was called a Macintosh). Perchance even print the result on a laserprinter. Most students of the present age have no idea what we used to do before this innovation! Perhaps not in 1985, but at some stage shortly thereafter, and in effect without most people noticing, the return journey also started working, the so-called round trip. It seemed natural that a chemical structure diagram subjected to this treatment could still be chemically edited, and that it could make the round trip repeatedly. Little did we realise how fragile this round trip might be. Years later, the computer and its clipboard, the chemistry software, and the word processor had all moved on many generations (it is important to flag that three different vendors were involved, all using proprietary formats to weave their magic). And (on a Mac at least) the round-tripping no longer worked. Upon its return to (Chemdraw in this instance), it had been rendered inert, un-editable, and devoid of semantic meaning unless a human intervened. By the way, this process of data-loss is easily demonstrated even on this blog. The chemical diagrams you see here are similarly devoid of data, being merely bit-mapped JPG images. Which is why, on many of these posts, I put in the caption Click for 3D, which gives you access to the chemical data proper (in CML or other formats). And I throw in a digital repository identifier for good measure should you want a full dataset.