Friday, March 28, 2008

Scan your slides or forget your past, old geologists

I recently realized that I had more than 1200 slides that I had taken in the field between about 1990 and 2001. For example, this insane waterfall I visited in Iceland in July 2000. I also realized that they were becoming distant memories as the years passed and the files from my digital cameras piled up on my hard drive. It was obvious that I was never going to see all or most of these slides again, so I took an evening to go through all of them, toss out the real losers, crudely organize the remaining 996 and send them to a service that scans and archives them to DVD at a cost that I could never, ever match. I chose where they scanned my many slides at 2000 dpi, burned them to DVDs (as full res tifs and medium res jpgs), archived them, printed out a thumbnail album, and mailed them back in less then a month for only $550! After having the digital results in my hot little hands for a couple of hours, I am convinced that it was money well spent.

If you are an aging geologist with a rich photographic slide archive, sit back and think about the likelihood that you are ever going to delve very deeply into it again. My guess is that you may never see most of them again. Have them scanned and you will be able to peruse every single one of them, otherwise they will just get more deeply buried, more disorganized, and ultimately fade away. Take a few minutes to think it over...once you have faded away, no one wants to go through your slide collection if it is not digital (at least probably not).
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Sunday, March 9, 2008

The geoscientific value of YouTube

Geomorphologists often speculate about what a desert flash-flood flow front / flood bore would look like. Turns out, not many of us have actually seen one in action. In this example from You Tube, some enterprising individuals went in the field to film some. This is entertaining and informative. You will immediately note the varying degrees to which the flow fronts are laden with flotsam and foam as well as complicated hydraulic interactions.

Visit you tube and search on 'geology' 'floods' and other key terms near to your heart and you will find, amongst the flotsam, some clips that have some true value to understanding surface processes. The 2005 tsunami helped open the door to this to some extent.

Also note that if you have a relatively new digital camera and a big memory card, you can create your own decent resolution footage in the field. Aside from instructional value, you may very well film a rare event one day.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Better geo-digital living with RSS Readers

I bet you wonder about how in the world you can track all of the interesting developments in science and mapping on the Internet and then you become so frustrated that you blow the whole thing off. Obviously, my blog is not much help in terms of all of the possibilities, and it is likely that you are not interested in regularly checking on what Dr. Jerque is blathering on about this time. The obvious, obvious, obvious solution to this is to use an RSS reader. What is an RSS reader you ask? Just check this link: RSS explained. In short, it is essentially a program that aggregates updated information from websites and data portals on the Internet. The Internet 'feeds' can then be viewed within a simple interface, can be filtered by key words, and sorted thematically. Updated feeds are highlighted so you can see if anything new has shown up. I use a feed reader (yep, Google Reader ) to skim the Internet to find interesting things about digital mapping and the like.

If you install an RSS reader you can quickly subscribe to any site that you visit that includes one of these types of symbols:

You can subscribe to this blog (Geologic Froth) by selecting the previous link or clicking the relevant button in the url bar. That way you can see if I have added anything new without actually going directly to the blog (i.e. determine if it is worth your time to go to the blog at all).

What is most interesting for scientists is that you can subscribe to RSS feeds provided by numerous publishers that show the recent Table of Contents from various journals. The UNR library has collated a list of these (scientific journal rss ), and there are more. Ideally, all journals will eventually do this since it is a very efficient way to inform the scientific community about current research. Once you subscribe to various feeds of interest, you can filter the feeds for key words. You can also subscribe to news feeds that are filtered by topic (e.g., Nevada geology). There are also RSS feeds from the USGS that report recent global seismic activity.

Check the UNR library site for some very useful and concise information about RSS feeds.

Also, I use Google Reader to populate the boxes on the blog that contain links of interest (Fresh Geofroth and Fresh Cartofroth). That is a pretty handy set-up as well. Click 'Read More' in one of those boxes and you will learn how to subscribe to the related RSS feed for that particular brand of froth. Cool? yes.

Can you believe what you have been missing? Take 10 minutes to figure it out. You have the time, come on....none of that 'I am far too busy' crap.