Fitness test for old water pipes

A recently published article by our scanner manufacturer showing the benefit we have gained by using a 3D scanner to conduct metrology:

3D Scanning Cast Iron Water Main

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Born Again Social Mediaorite

When I first started the 23 things course, I will admit that I was skeptical about embracing the use of social media to enhance my research. However, having now completed each of the things, I can say that attitude towards social media has changed. In fact, I am now aware that it has many greater uses than to share a photo of my dinner from last night.

My first discovery was that I did not have a presence on the internet, which was good news as my privacy settings were correct. However, I also realised that I have no public profile that presents any of my research. Having completed the 23 things I now have a professional presence on the Internet which details my research and has also allowed me to form new connections. Here, LinkedIn has shown great potential especially as I will be finishing my EngD and moving in a new direction where I am keen to advertise my skills. Research gate has also been useful to showcase my skills as well as Twitter to advertise my research findings. Further the course has demystified some of the differences between open access and how to fulfill the requirements of storing open access data for a set period of time. Here, the ability to find a repository has been really useful.  Finally, the explanation of the creative commons licencing has helped and has opened up a new area have clarified the use of images.

The other things have focused on the use of tools such as the use of webinars, Doodle, Dropbox, YouTube and Wikipedia. I had previously used them, but it was very useful to learn of further sources that could be used or further functionality within each of these areas. These things have been useful and I intend to make full use of them in future employment.

My New Home

This week’s tasks have looked at ways to find funding and tools to create a personal webpage where anyone can look to find out information about you, your areas of interest and links to your work and its establishment.

Funding is often one of the hardest parts of starting a research project and it can be difficult to know where to search. Very often, you can find a few opportunities from research sponsors such as EPSRC, but very often some inside knowledge is needed to be able to find the best funding opportunities.  Research Professional is incredibly useful as it has the power to link up funders with researchers seeking funding. In the future I have no doubt that I will be seeking to secure funding in some of my projects, even in industry, to ensure that they can be carried out. I will definitely look at searching for funders using this tool.

I think it is very important to have a website which gives some information on your background, areas of interest, training and projects. Knowing where to host this can be challenging. At present, it is unclear whether my future lies in Academia or in industry and, as such, a web page hosted on an internal server is only temporary. It seems that a 3rd party option is the way to go. A professionally hosted webpage would seem a little of an extravagance at this stage in my career and would also require a lot to get right. For me, LinkedIn does this very well; especially as it can be found easily on a Google search. It also provides an easy way to enter information that is professionally displayed. I will continue to use this as my personal website until my career is more developed.

Is that date good for you?

This week’s tasks have examined tools that can be used to have discussions online. These tools include Webinars, Doodle and Dropbox/Google Drive.

During my EngD, I have attended several Webinars, mainly to get a better understanding of how to use particular bits of software. Of all of these Webinars, I have found The Mathworks to provide a good range of Webinars for their products. What makes their webinars even better is that they can even be reviewed after the broadcast time for those who were unable to attend them. I find these sessions are a great way to interact with others who have similar problems and to understand how the tools can help. Going forward, I can see that these sessions could be used in a more research oriented way where researchers can get together to discuss collaborative ideas. However, getting a time that suits all attendees can be difficult.

Doodle is a godsend when it comes to arranging meetings between people at different companies or institutions. Microsoft Outlook is really good at scheduling internal meetings but it often becomes very convoluted when trying to organise an event where you cannot view the calendars for each participant. Here Doodle bridges the gap and allows all invitees to vote on dates so that a common date can be found. I often use this tool to arrange supervisor meetings and will definitely continue to do this in the future!

Finally, a good way of sharing files between joint members is crucial to facilitate collaborative work. I have used both Google Drive and Dropbox and have found them to be incredibly useful, not only as a method of storing files that I can access wherever I am but also, as a way of creating a space where files can be collaborated on.

Each of these tools is of great benefit and I will endeavor to use them more in future.

Credit where credit is due

This weeks tasks have delved into tools that can get my research to a wider open audience and gather recognition for this work. Its has been extremely useful as I am currently in the process of submitting a paper and it has helped to demystify some of the requirements put in place by the research funding body. In particular it has explained the different routes to make a paper open access. The Sherpa/Romeo database has been notably useful also as it has allowed me to find out what the requirements for my journal are. Ensuring that I meet the requirements for open access should be easier now I am aware of the tools available. However, making the paper open access is only one part of the requirements.

At the start of my EngD project, I was advised to keep any data that underpins my work safe and to ensure that it can be accessed for up to 10 years from the date of first publication. However, I was not given any guidance on where to store this data. For me, I thought that it should be on a CD or another media typically used for a backup. Having read through Thing 15, the requirements for research data management have become a lot clearer and I have discovered that there are many repositories (re3data repository search) where data can be stowed not just for archive purposes, but also for other researchers to benefit from. This is hugely beneficial to me as it allows me to store the data in a safe place without having to worry about losing CDs. Better still, access can be easily given to other users if it is needed.

Finally, here is a photo of St Paul’s Cathedral at night taken from Flickr. The photo is shared under the Creative Commons licence and can be accessed here.

St Paul's Cathedral

Sharing is caring

This weeks tasks have focussed on investigating tools that I can use to present my research to any audience. Of all the tools demonstrated this week, screencasts have stood out as a great way to explain my research coherently to someone who may be trying to conduct the same experiment or undertake a similar procedure. In past employment, I have used them to create guides for computer procedures. In fact, one quick search on YouTube finds many different examples of other people openly providing how-to screencasts on particular programs (e.g. Matlab Help Channel). This tool will be very useful during the last few months of my research project as it will allow me to deliver instructions on the use of my programs written during my research to the end user at my industrial sponsor. Here a written guide can only explain things in one way and it is open to some interpretation by the reader as to what was meant by the author. However, the screencast allows me to show the future users of my software programs exactly how they should be used.

Additionally, the tools to improve oral presentations are a great idea. I am sure that everyone is familiar with the expression “death by powerpoint” and can think of a presentation they have attended where the speaker did not engage them; They may have even nodded off. I have an annual conference coming up where I will be presenting some of my final year research. I am keen to engage my audience, particularly as my topic is not cutting edge whizzy science, and to keep the number of people dozing to a minimum. I intend to do this by employing some of the principles displayed by Presi since it provides a much more interesting supporting graphic. However, it must be carefully managed otherwise each transition can become more of a roller-coaster ride than a nice link. As well as providing a site to air presentations, Slidedeck also provides a valuable place to view examples of good presentations. In my run up to the conference I will review several of these presentations and seek to also incorporate some of their features into my work. If it proves a success, I will upload my presentation to the site for others to view and take ideas from.

YouTube – More than just comedy videos!

Very often I have found myself trying to grapple with a complicated subject, such as some long-winded mathematics or a tough physics concept that is almost impossible to visualise let alone understand. In the past I have found it almost impossible to be able to fully understand these concepts from books alone. In the last week I have explored the possibilities for help offered by streaming websites such as YouTube.

You tube is well known for videos of cute animals doing funny things or videos of people experiencing things going wrong at the worst possible moment, however, it is much less well known as a source of technical information. In fact, there are a great many channels offering support on a wide range of topics. During the past few years of my doctoral studies, YouTube Channels, such as that from MIT, have proved to be an invaluable source of help. Reviewing a difficult topic that was skirted over quickly during the lecture, but questioned in detail for coursework, has often been challenging and relied on being able to quickly make very good notes during the lecture. But with finite time available during a lecture, there were inevitably bits that I could not digest at the time. However, in the past I have used YouTube to supplement my University lectures, as I could revisit a topic several times in order to fully understand. Even now, I continue to use the YouTube channels on a daily basis to get information on using Matlab, particularly when I need guidance on the application of a specific function. Ultimately, online presentations and podcasts provide an enhanced level of support that can be used beneficially alongside conventional textbooks.

In must be caveated that, as with any online source, the credibility of the source should be checked before wholly relying on the information provided. However, given the number of channels belonging to many famous institutions, there is a lot of dependable information available to use.