Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Module 1: The Abstract and Data Summary

Alternatively titled: There's A Reason I'm Not Course 6

I'm pretty bad with computers. I joke about it a lot because it seems ridiculous given the school I attend, but it's a sad fact of my life. One would think that by now I'd understand this personality flaw and learn to overcome it, or at the very least prepare for its inevitable interference with my work.

I started writing the background and motivation section in advance. I found some references, redid my topic sentences, spent time formulating my ideas. In the data section, I incorporated the figures we'd already turned in for small assignment, made my tree, and wrote some paragraphs (which I later frantically converted to bullet points after reading over my notes from the M1D8 prelab...read your assignments carefully, kids), and even had most of the abstract ready. I don't yet know how well I did, but I know that although these parts of the assignment were time consuming and in a rather unfamiliar territory of writing, I completed them without much incident.

Perhaps it was my early Baby Boomer-like repulsive fear of technology, or maybe I'm simply masochistic, but I saved the data analysis bit for last. Yeah, the part where you have to create appropriate files and upload them to a website for analysis.

Of course, on the first try, I couldn't even upload the files. The button didn't work. How could the button not work? I took a deep breath. I was using Google Chrome, and sometimes websites where you submit forms or files don't like Google Chrome (don't ask me why, I'm not course 6), so I switched to Mozilla. Voila! The files uploaded. But when I went to run the tests, they either didn't run at all or output gibberish. I began to panic. Of course I left the hardest part for the last day. I tried uploading and re-uploading files, reformatting files, redownloading files. Nothing worked.

Then, a bright idea appeared: what if I restarted my computer? I turned the machine off, turned it on again, switched back to Google Chrome, and suddenly everything worked like a charm. Again, I'm not a course 6, so I have no idea why.

Overall, the assignment was difficult and more time consuming than I expected it to be, but I think it pushed me to more thoroughly understand what we've been doing in lab thus far and truly pushed my limits as a scientific writer. I'm excited to get feedback and see how I can improve upon the skills I've developed.

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