Blog

Three Years of ‘Science GIFs’ on Google+

Three years ago, Google announced the Collections feature on the Google+ social network. It offered a way to group posts by topic so that others could follow their specific interests rather than your entire profile. I created two collections, Data is Beautiful and Science GIFs, the latter of which I've maintained for almost three years now. Every week I post a science-related GIF and an accompanying explanation of the finding, physical phenomenon, or chemical reaction. I try to feature recent research publications and announcements whenever possible to avoid reposting content seen elsewhere online. (more…)

By Colin Sullender, ago
Blog

Goodbye BitTorrent Sync. Hello Syncthing.

I first started using BitTorrent Sync back during its Alpha release in early 2013 as an alternative to Dropbox for syncing large quantities of files across my work computers. I needed an easy way to automatically transfer data from my collection computer to the lab server for storage and to my office computer for post-processing. While I have much more free storage than your average non-paying Dropbox user, I needed to regularly transfer tens of gigabytes of files without any need of uploading to the Internet/cloud. BitTorrent Sync seemed to fulfill that need almost perfectly and was vastly easier than constantly running rsync commands. (more…)

By Colin Sullender, ago
Blog

Facebook Photo Compression

A couple weeks ago there was a Reddit post on /r/Android recommending Facebook users upload photos via the mobile website rather than the official Android Facebook app. The app reportedly compressed an original 8MP (4.5MB) photo to only 0.6MP (100kB) whereas the mobile website uploaded at 3MP (440kB). For a typical 4:3 ratio photograph, 0.6MP works out to neither dimension having more than 1000 pixels! Viewers on almost all current smartphones and tablets would be looking at an image smaller than their screen size. For a social network so heavily driven by photographs, you would think Facebook would do a better job maintaining some modicum of image quality. Most users probably have no idea their images are being so heavily degraded by uploading via the app. This blog examines the varying quality of Facebook image uploads in an attempt to identify the best option if you must upload to Facebook. (more…)

By Colin Sullender, ago
Blog

SXSW 2015

Another year, another South By, another week of extensive walking and partaking in free parties and concerts. SXSW 2015 has truly turned Austin into a spring break for mid 20-year-olds. As usual, I always go in with zero expectations and just tried to have a good time. (more…)

By Colin Sullender, ago
Blog

Oscar Party 8.0

Another year, another Oscar Party. The eighth installment of Peter Voyvodic's celebration of the nominees for Academy Award for Best Picture was just as crazy and just as much fun as ever. There's something exhilarating about cramming 50+ people into a tiny studio apartment and preparing an 8-dish offering. The menu and dishes are pictured below. (more…)

By Colin Sullender, ago
Blog

Google Scholar Visualization

One of the most common images I see during science presentations is the frequency of publications within a particular field over time. It's a great way to show the growth of the field while attempting to validate the worthiness of the research that follows. As far as I can tell, most people manually assemble this data with sequential searches on Google Scholar or Web of Science. This seemed like a straightforward opportunity for automation, so I made a little website that does just that. It takes a Google Scholar search query and a range of years and plots the number of results over time. (more…)

By Colin Sullender, ago
Blog

Full Page Background Image with CSS3

Several of the websites I've created use a background image as part of the design. It turns out that making the image stay centered, maintain the same aspect ratio, scale with the browser, and always fill the entire page is a difficult task. After several infuriating hours of trial and error, I finally figured out how to make all the above occur in a modern browser using only CSS3. Check out this JSFiddle for an example of it in action or read on for an explanation. (more…)

By Colin Sullender, ago