Preparing for Science Online 2013: Can You Ever Truly Be Ready?

This is the site of one of the most amazing science-related conferences ever held.

This is the site of one of the most amazing science-related conferences ever held.

When this blog goes live, I’ll be on my way from Chicago, IL, to Raleigh, North Carolina, for Science Online 2013. (Okay I lied, we moved the blog live early…soon I’ll be on my way from Chicago to Raleigh.)

Last year was my first experience with Science Online, the unconference that brings together scientists, science writers, journalists, teachers, and students of science from the far reaches of cyberspace for face-to-face conversations about science communications, science, statistics and all sorts of topics.

How do you prepare for an unconference that sucks up bandwidth like a group of nine-year-olds devour Halloween candy? You bring lots of electronic gadgets and their chargers. You scope out your hotel room for electric sockets, immediately upon entering. You also bring your watercolor pencils or markers for any “science scribing” you may be doing, because Science Online is a tech conference that blends science with art beautifully, and Perrin Ireland will be back leading a sketch noting workshop and capturing many of the sessions as a “science scribe”.  Her workshop was one of my favorites last year, and sketch noting is something that I have applied several times over to my work at Promega.

You bring comfortable shoes and clothes, because this is a meeting where you put ideas to work, and conversations require energy.

And, this year you get your children to help you practice moving Gangnam Style. Ack! Continue reading

Hold the iPhone, Your App Will See You Now

Smart phones have become almost ubiquitous in our society today. These portable “second brains” come with a whole host of applications (apps) from which we can pick and choose. Need help remembering to pay your bills? There is an app for that. Need to look up a word? There is an app for that. Want to take hip and fun photos? There is an app for that. As scientists, there are mobile apps made just for us. There are apps that offer protocols, publications and buffer recipes just to name a few.

It used to be that the only apps we used in the Doctor’s office were those we used to fill the time while we waited for our appointment, but that might be changing. Continue reading

PCR Protocols for Android

Over the years we have produced several articles and technical resources on PCR. One of the most widely used is a chapter on PCR in the Protocols and Applications guide, featuring an explanation of the techniques involved, tips for reaction optimization, and example protocols for routine PCR, qPCR and RT-PCR. The protocols and applications guide is part of the Promega App, available on the promega.com web site, and as an iPhone/iPad and Android App.

Recently, we released an update to the Android app that includes customizable PCR protocols. Right now, three protocols are available in this format (Basic PCR, Hot-Start PCR and qPCR). These custom protocols allow you to input specific values for your experiment, such as concentration of stock solutions, desired number of reactions, etc. These values are used to calculate the volumes required at each step in the procedure, and a customized protocol is generated with the volumes of each reagent calculated and incorporated. Once generated, protocols can be saved for re-use, or emailed to an account for subsequent printing or incorporation into a lab notebook. Continue reading