Thursday, May 24, 2012

Webpage-building: I definitely dig this

After doing only the very first Dreamweaver tutorial I've already built a webpage (it's for the postdoctoral association that I've recently become President of, but that's another story). It's not beautiful, but it's the first webpage I've written that isn't simple HTML. This was fun: really fun. One thing I discovered is how little Dreamweaver actually does, or rather, that there is a whole range of degrees to which you can lean on it. It's like training wheels. I did most of the work in split screen mode (where you see the page you're creating on one side and the HTML on the other) and found that after a little while, it was easier to simply enter the code myself than use the built-in functions.

The other thing I learned, hardly surprising for a fist attempt, is how important a comp is. For this project, I started with one of the standard layouts, then began modifying the CSS to customize it. Without a plan in mind, the various divs, paddings, borders and margins quickly got out of hand. I'm not sure they all add up in the final website, but it looks OK and it's satisfactory for our current needs. This was mainly a learning experience in any case.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Jorge Cham and the Higg's boson

A wonderful new animation appeared today about the Higg's boson and just what is going on at the Large Hadron Collidor. The drawings are by Jorge Cham, of PHD Comics fame (speaking of which, today's comic seems to be about career crises, which suits this blog just fine).

I have always been interested in particle physics, though I have no formal training in it, and this cartoon is a bit of an inspiration that some science training doesn't go amiss when communicating with the public - he seems to have a firm grasp of the science while also creating an informative (and fun) video.

I hope Jorge is making some money with his various endevours; when I saw him speak at Princeton some years ago he definitely had a job other than professional cartoonist. I know his books draw a profit, but really, when your primary audience is grad students and all the content is available online, you can't expect too many sales. His Wikipedia page makes no mention of his "day job", however.

Informing people about science seems to be a new direction for him ... perhaps as his audience moves out of grad school and into the world he'll find an increasing market for scientists wanting to find new ways to communicate with the public.