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Open Access Workshop at the Fall DPS Meeting

At the 2009 DPS Meeting, I held a workshop on Open Access to the Planetary Sciences Literature. There weren't many people there (completely my fault for not doing more advertising for the workshop), but we did talk about the issues of Open Access in Planetary Sciences, particularly in relation to articles in Icarus, the DPS-endorsed journal.

Advice on designing scientific presentations

John Spencer, via a recent Division for Planetary Sciences newsletter (which you should all be members of, and should have gotten), provides the following simple guidelines for how to design graphics for your next talk:

  • Don't use a complex image as a slide background—it's distracting and reduces legibility.
  • Don't show bright green (or worse, yellow) lines on a white background. They may be much more visible on your computer monitor than when projected.
  • Similarly, don't show pure blue lines on a black background
  • Beware 1-pixel wide lines and fonts
  • Be sure plot axis labels are large and clear enough, particularly if they are from a published figure. Consider overwriting axis labels with new ones in a larger font if necessary.

Advice on designing scientific posters

This article about creating Scientific posters is quite good. I don't agree with everything, but it contains lots of good advice and is remarkably thorough. Although not mentioned in the article, Scribus is a very good open source desktop publishing solution that I use to make posters.

JHelioviewer, a JPEG2000 viewer

The JPEG2000 image file format is pretty darn cool, however, there are a dearth of good bits of Open Source software for dealing with them. The HiRISE team distributes the IAS Viewer to allow you to browse the HiRISE JP2 files on their JPIP server, or you can also use it to view JP2 files that you have downloaded. A colleague of mine let me know about the JHelioviewer software that is an Open source JPEG2000 viewer capable of loading local JP2s and reading from JPIP servers. It is developed by the solar physics community (they have big pictures of the Sun), and many of its user aide features are geared towards the solar physics community (and their need for time-domain movie-like data). However, it works just fine for HiRISE images, and provides an Open Source alternative to the IAS Viewer.

Detexify, a LaTeX symbol classifier

The Web page for Detexify2 really says it all, but it is essentially a handwriting classifier that turns your mouse-drawn scribble into the appropriate LaTeX symbol code. I appreciate that this is for LaTeX-nerds only, but wow, is it ever awesome.

Little known features in Google Earth's Mars mode

Lots of blogs (here and here) and news outlets have covered some of the great new Mars features in Google Earth. I will assume that you have read those blogs, watched various demonstration videos, or even watched some of the Guided Tours available in the Google Earth client itself. I will most certainly assume that you have at least taken a cursory spin around the Mars in Google Earth (we refer to it as Google Mars internally—at Ames and Google—but since that has meant the 2D Google Maps API Mars maps for so long, I don't want to confuse people).

For the discerning visitor I present a number of little perks that you might not notice. Mars in Google Earth is primarily targeted at a general public audience, but we've also slipped in some pretty cool extras (if I do say so myself) for scientists and advanced explorers alike.

Cropping HiRISE JPEG 2000 images

HiRISE images are huge, frequently 1.5 GB, and they are in JPEG 2000 format, which many image software programs don't (yet) handle. So what do you do if you need to work with just a small area of that image at high resolution? This post explains how to get that subframe.

Using Google Earth as a Mars Browser

Although there are many issues with putting Mars data into Google Earth, most notably the fact that the best we can currently do is wrap the Earth's sphere in Mars basemaps. However, we can make Google Earth a remarkable tool for locating Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) data by being a little clever.

The steps below outline how to configure Google Earth with Martian basemaps, and then how to plot data from the MRO mission.

Education Jobs

I decided to shift my career focus from research to education. I found the following resources helpful in my job hunt:

Also, those looking to do anything with distance education or 2-year-college teaching should look into WebCT/Blackboard.

Introductory Planetary Science books

I recently polled a small subset of the planetary community and recieved these book recommendations. Please add your favorites and comments about individual books.

The New Solar System
by J. Kelly Beatty (Editor), Carolyn Collins Petersen (Editor), Andrew Chaikin (Editor), Andrew L. Chaikin (Author)

The Solar System: The Cosmic Perspective
by Jeffrey Bennett, Megan Donahue, Nicholas Schneider, Mark Voit

Worlds Apart: A Textbook in Planetary Sciences
by Guy Consolmagno, Martha Schaefer

Planetary Sciences
by Imke de Pater, Jack J. Lissauer

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