Wednesday, August 25, 2010

CS Support Forum - Safari Problem

Alan Gorman commented in my last post that the support staff at CambridgeSoft can find no problems accessing their support forums from Safari. I, on the other hand, have a completely different experience. I have made a video demonstrating the problems with their forums. This was recorded using Safari 5.0.1 on Mac OS 10.5.8 Leopard. I have tried on four different macs and the same problem occurs on all of them using Leopard or Snow Leopard.

One issue that you will see at the beginning is a problem with the first link on their support site. I can get that far if I am not logged in but accessing it as a guest. However, once I enter my login information the support forum web page simply will not load in Safari. Thinking this was a cookie problem I checked my settings. Even at the least secure setting to always accept cookies the error results.

I should note that the same server problem with the first link occurs in Firefox 3.5.11 as well. When I log in I get a similar error that says the page is not redirecting properly. "Firefox has detected that the server is redirecting the request for this address in a way that will never complete."

Monday, August 23, 2010

ACS Blogging - Cambridgesoft

As I was wandering through the expo this morning trying to dry off after a soaking walk from my hotel, I stopped by the Cambridgesoft booth to chat about their Mac products excuses for software. It was very clear after inquiring about their development that they have no interest in trying to improve the Mac software. All I got was excuse after excuse about how we are only 5% of their clients and we really aren't worth investing in. Cambridgesoft is clearly a follower and not a leader when it comes to software development. They will only invest in their products if they are absolutely guaranteed to make a lot of money. What a pity. If they had this attitude when the company first started, they would not exist today. They still keep blaming all of the problems on Apple and Microsoft. Not that those companies don't share responsibility for the bugs. I guess it's time to give ChemDoodle a good trial. If i can get over the learning curve, it looks like the best solution for chemistry drawing on a Mac anytime soon.

Update: After lunch I returned to the expo and happened to bump into some of the McGraw Hill folks at the CambridgeSoft booth. They were showing their upcoming educational tools combining Connect with a ChemDraw plugin and Blackboard interface. This product looks very promising. Anyway, I got pulled back into some lengthy conversations. I do want to set the record straight. My rant above is all about CambridgeSoft's Mac support. Their windows products are actually quite good and improving all the time. Although I stand behind my statement that this company is a follower and not an innovator, I understand the economics of business. It is our job to let the company know that the market demand is out there. So, if all you pharmaceutical companies would just switch over to Macs and ask CambridgeSoft to start delivering their software to you, I would really appreciate it. And CambridgeSoft, I want to say please don't underestimate the growing Mac market. Frankly if you would just focus on making ChemDraw work well we would be ecstatic. And if you could make a simple Chem drawing app for the iPad that would be the icing on the cake!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

ACS Liveblogging Sunday Morning

10:50 am Arrived a little late this morning. I know it is only Sunday morning, but the Boston convention center seems quite dead. It took me 20 minutes just to find the one coffee cart that was open. I will be looking for the Keith Fagnou memorial symposium soon. I missed Hartwig, Sanford and Yu. Jacobson is the last speaker. I'll try to catch some of his talk.

11:15 am Jacobson is talking up reaction calorimetry for kinetic analysis. Not really new but I suppose organic chemists haven't utilized this great technique.

11:26 am Some nice new insight into the Co-salen catalyzed epoxide hydrolysis being presented. It seems using a tosylate counter ion on the cobalt is very different from Cl or OAc. The rate doesn't seem to slow down but expoxide opening is very reversible due to the good leaving group ability of tosylate. This leads to racemization and poor kinetic resolution.

11:40 am Jacobson appears to be flustered today. He's stumbling over words and seems unsure of his slides. Never the less he still has great science to share. It appears that chirality on both the activated epoxide electrophile and the Co-OH nucleophile are important for kinetic resolution. Enantioselectivity is not dependent on the chiral backbone as the ligand complex forms the same stepped configuration of the arylation groups of the salen regardless of the backbone. It is only necessary that backbone allows them to have the same sense of chirality.

11:50 am Ooh. Cyclic oligomers of the salen ligand with local C2 symmetry. Very efficient HKR at only 0.001 mol% loading. Salens connected with ether linkages. Rate is much improved over the monomeric catalyst.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Boston or Bust

I am heading to Boston today for a few days at the ACS meeting. If I see anything worth reporting, I'll share it here. That being said, I usually find myself at ACS meetings not attending as many talks as I would like but instead networking with friends and acquaintances. I am looking forward to some good dining experiences!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Carbon Tetrachloride

Who could not feel sorry for this much maligned molecule. Simple in its structure but so complex in its properties. It is a nonpolar solvent that is still the best for bromination chemistry. Sure it has its environmental issues and has largely been replaced but it will never go away completely. More about the history of carbon tet in a minute. Let's talk about this blog for a moment. Many people think I named this blog after tetrachloromethane. I suppose that was one aspect of the name that appealed to me but it really was much more than that. There is more to Carbon Tet than the halomethane. I thought the name could also connote 'Tetrahedral Carbon' which would play right into the topics of asymmetric synthesis and catalysis. And, besides, I just like saying 'Carbon Tet! Carbon Tet!'.

But this is a chemistry blog, so let's talk a bit more about the molecule. Carbon tet was first prepared way back in 1839. The French chemist Henri Victor Regnault reacted chloroform with chlorine producing carbon tet and HCl. Now it is made from methane but before the 1950s it was prepared by chlorination of carbon disulfide.

As a halocarbon it is not flammable. In the early part of the 20th century carbon tetrachloride was used to extinguish fires. It was placed into brass bottles with a pump which was used to spray carbon tet onto a fire. If you tour some of the mansions of Newport, RI you may find some of the historic homes had vessels of carbon tet mounted near the ceiling. In the case of a fire the contents would spill out into the room to help douse the fire. It was also used as a dry cleaning solvent as it is particularly good at dissolving nonpolar grease.

Since the 1980s production of carbon tetrachloride has dropped precipitously due to its role in the destruction of the ozone layer. Industry has all but abandoned its use though it is still used in small quantities for research purposes. Once a cheap solvent, carbon tet now costs more than gold. If you have any, hang on to it! It could be your hedge against inflation.

The Demise of the Chemistry Blog

Blogs come and blogs go. I know that. Mine has been defunct for almost two years. But so have many other chemistry blogs that I used to have in my blog list. Some have stopped blogging, some have joined forces with other blogs and some have just disappeared completely. I went through my blog list and pulled out all of the defunct blogs. I don't want Carbon Tet to be included in this list! I wonder if any of these blogs will wake back up? Regardless, CT is alive. Stay Tuned!

Defunct Chemistry Blogs

A Synthetic Environment
Atom Pushers Anonymous

Monday, December 29, 2008

Criminal Chemists

PZ Meyers, from the infamous Pharyngula blog, posted the other day about law enforcement taking things too far. It seems a college student from Canada was arrested on accusations of terrorism and bomb making. His crime? He was interested in chemistry. You see he set up a home chemistry lab to explore this wonderful world of science. I can see how this might cause some angst among the law enforcement professionals. But what is shocking is that even after they determined the lab was not a meth lab and not making bombs, they still detained the student for days. Watch out chemists, you're all criminals.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

NIH to cut

A new NIH policy was announced yesterday and will be applicable to all proposals submitted on or after January 25, 2009. The policy cuts down on the number of times one can resubmit a grant proposal. Currently if a proposal is not funded an amended application can be resubmitted two more times. This policy will restrict all new application and all competing renewal applications to only a single resubmission.

They claim this will result in funding "high quality" applications earlier with fewer resubmissions. I don't know that this is the case. I worry about less proposals being funded.

"This policy applies to all applications, including applications submitted under the NIH Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs, Career Development Awards, Individual Fellowships, Institutional Training Grants, Resource Grants, Program Projects, and Centers. Currently no amendments are permitted for applications received in response to a Request for Applications (RFA) unless it is specified in the Funding Opportunity Announcement, in which case only one amendment will be permitted."

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

For the Science Geeks

A friend sent me a link to this offering from Wine Woot of four wines labeled just for us science geeks. These Washington wines must be showing up in beakers everywhere! I know cesium, rhenium and and methyl, but what the heck is Ch?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Zerhouni Steps Down

I just received this email today from the NIH. The Bush appointed director of the National Institutes of Health is stepping down in October.
Dear Friends and Colleagues in the extramural community,

Today, I informed my NIH colleagues, including staff, scientists, administrators, contractors, and trainees that at the end of October, I will be leaving my position as NIH Director to explore new opportunities and to devote much of my attention to writing.

I have said repeatedly that NIH is one of the true “wonders of the world.” For over six years, I have had the unparalleled privilege of leading one of the great institutions in history. Whenever an individual participates in a clinical trial or prevention effort, visits the doctor, stays in the hospital, has a medical test, or undergoes a procedure or treatment, they are benefiting from the extraordinary contribution you make to NIH’s single, great mission: improving the public’s health.

NIH has also been in the spotlight during a revolution in the biomedical sciences, one that continues to have broad and profound implications for academic institutions, industry, nonprofits, professional and scientific organizations, the health care profession, Government, and most important, for the health of the world. I am extremely fortunate to have led NIH during these unique times, which have brought with them complex challenges and amazing opportunities.

Your work will continue to transform the future of the agency and to play a key role in that revolution. Every day, people benefit from new treatments and potential cures for disabling and fatal conditions that result from your commitment and tireless dedication, even in the presence of complex problems and unprecedented challenges.

As recipients of NIH funding, you are among the world’s best, brightest, and most innovative scientists in a most competitive and challenging era for all of us. It is because of you and your contributions to science and health that NIH is known as the “crown jewel” agency of the federal government and you have every right to claim a stake in the agency’s success.
I also want to take this occasion to express my deep personal appreciation to the countless grantees who selflessly serve the NIH as volunteers on study sections, advisory councils and the many other activities the agency often calls upon you to join.

I know that my sentiments are shared by my colleagues at the NIH, and our gratitude runs deep. We are grateful for your support and the contributions you make every day.

Please feel free to distribute this message to your colleagues.


Elias A. Zerhouni, M.D.
I'm not quite sure how I feel about this. I don't know that he did a fantastic job. He had some controversial moments. And I think he was largely behind the fiasco known as ($2 billion spent on and you can't buy a computer today that you can submit a grant with - no Mac OS, no Windows Vista).