: Macs becoming common in science


bryanc
Aug 9th, 2005, 05:12 PM
Last week I was at a major scientific conference in San Francisco. Apart from lots of great science, I also noticed something about the laptops in use by the presenters and attendees.

I've been going to this and other conferences quite frequently for the past two decades, and only in the last couple of years have I started seeing a significant number of people using Apple laptops.

4 years ago, at this meeting, there were several people using Macs; enough that I noticed but certainly a small minority.

3 years ago, I didn't go.

Last year it was about half PCs half Macs.

This year, I saw only one presentation given using a PC, and only a few PCs at the whole conference. Almost everyone was using Macs!

I've also noticed this in various labs I visit. 5 years ago it would've been quite a surprise to see a Mac, but now Macs are everywhere.

The exception is instrumentation, which is all computerized, and invariably comes with a PC running windows. I talked with three microscope vendors at the conference, all of whom provide PCs with their microscopes. They had all noticed the parade of PowerBook toting scientists, and they all said they had OS X native versions of their software 'under development'. We'll see if that turns out to be true.

Cheers

bryanc
Aug 9th, 2005, 05:15 PM
I should add that, despite the preponderance of Apple laptops, every presentation was given using PowerPoint, rather than Keynote.

I had a poster presentation, or I would've been the exception, as I much prefer Keynote, but apparently Apple hasn't had anywhere near the success in getting people to use Keynote as it has had with it's hardware.

Cheers

sinjin
Aug 9th, 2005, 06:39 PM
I've been attending a different scientific conference, of about 2000 delegates, for the last 6 yrs and have had similar observations.

My first time going I distinctly recall seeing fewer Macs than I'd expected for a scientific event, so few that each spotting was notable for it's rarity.

By last year, in Portland, Macs were easily 50% of the laptops there. Sadly, I'm missing this year's conference so can't say what the landscape of laptops looks like now.

And we are forced to use Powerpoint as well. :(

Melonie
Aug 9th, 2005, 06:48 PM
Another reason why more scientists and researchers are using the Mac platform is, IMO, because of Unix. Many predictive, mapping, GIS, population estimating, modeling, etc. programs are written for Unix and not for Mac. Also, a lot of scientists do their own programming in Unix.

Mel

used to be jwoodget
Aug 9th, 2005, 07:18 PM
Hey bryanc, I use Keynote. I use it for three reasons. 1. The quality of the typography on screen is superior to anything on the market (I try to stay away from the transitions even though they are gorgeous) 2. It isn't Powerpoint so the presentations stand-out. You want people to remember the content of the talk but Powerpoint is so cookie-cutter.... 3. It allows me to use my laptop rather than taking the risk of loading a Powerpoint presentation onto a PC and having it not show an embedded image or substituting a font or screwing up an animation or ignoring a QT movie.....

When I moved here in 1993, only one other lab (of 65) had a Mac. Now, its a fairly even mix of Macs and PCs. Of course, Mac support from the IT department still sucks compared to the level of PC support.

Our microarray lab (www.microarrays.ca) now uses an X-serve cluster and X-RAID for our databases. Our head of bioinformatics was in Cupertino for the WWDC meeting this year and had a tour of the campus.

DBerG
Aug 9th, 2005, 07:19 PM
Another reason why more scientists and researchers are using the Mac platform is, IMO, because of Unix. Many predictive, mapping, GIS, population estimating, modeling, etc. programs are written for Unix and not for Mac. Also, a lot of scientists do their own programming in Unix.

MelWhat runs on Unix runs on Mac IMOB. :cool:

Orion
Aug 9th, 2005, 07:30 PM
I was a tech at two small conferences. The biology conference was 90% Macs; the physics one was 90% PCs.

bryanc
Aug 9th, 2005, 10:35 PM
Ah, but of the PCs the physicists were using, how many were running Linux or FreeBSD (or Darwin) and how many were running Windows?

I have a bunch of friends who are astrophysicists and they'd generally prefer to be caught making a basic calculus error than be caught running windows (except for games, which doesn't count).

At any rate, it's looking good for Macs in the lab.

Cheers

someone
Aug 9th, 2005, 10:59 PM
What runs on Unix runs on Mac IMOB. :cool:
With the exception of x86 assembly code...

This being said, programs written for POSIX systems tend to be more portable (I mean the P in POSIX stands for portable)

rgray
Jul 19th, 2007, 10:32 AM
My psychology lab at Carleton has been using Macs since the intro of the SE (we had 2 of the first :D ). We went ALL Mac with the intro of the LCIII. Even though our CCS (IT) department eschews Macs to this day, better than half our huge deparment uses Macs, similar in the academic precinct in general. The 2 of us in semi-retirement now have 2 15" MBPs, a 12" PB, an eMac, a flower power iMac, a Key lime toilet seat and a late model G4 tower w/23" Cinema.....

Amongst the students Macs are growing increasingly common - maybe 1/3 of those seen in a casual wander around type survey. When we had a "computer Store" Macs were outselling PCs of all kinds to the extent that CCS forced the closure of that store in order to push its PC only policy. In the admin precinct where CCS can more easily exercise control it is about 90% PC. At one point they were even offering free PCs to replace Macs for academics but got 'no sale' on that...

I personally don't use presentation sofware of any stripe in class. I tend to open all my graphic resources in a single Preview window (put 'em all in one folder properly ordered, select all, open from finder), video in Quicktime. This tends to suit an idiosyncratic lecture style somewhat better as I find it easier to jump around using the 'drawer' in response to questions and digressions (for which I am notorious ;) ). I have tried to do Keynote stuff but the 'script' changes and evolves so much that it can be impractical.

One thing I have noticed in some rooms is trouble getting adequate volume from the socially responsible Mac/iPod audio out levels into the console PA. The techs at Carleton said just get a PC (which is of course unacceptable to all us Mac-fanboy/girls). The head tech at UNBSJ claims this audio issue is because the amps have to be protected from being overdriven by some PC audio out levels - he showed me a couple of smoked amps to prove his point. I found that the basic Boostaroo (http://www.boostaroo.com/store_detail.php4?id=14) unit gives me the extra whump I need. Perhaps a thread about our Mac lecture/presentation rigs would be useful...???

Andrew Pratt
Jul 19th, 2007, 10:43 AM
I was at the ESRI (GIS) conference in San Diego a few weeks ago and there were MacBooks everywhere. The keynote presentation was obviously done in Keynote but all the technical presentations by staff in the days following were all in powerpoint on dulls :yawn: What's interesting is that non of ESRI's mapping software runs on OSX so everyone's using // or bootcamp to also run windows on these machines. I also noticed for the first time the preconference questionnaire had a question about operating systems and OSX was mentioned

HowEver
Jul 19th, 2007, 10:43 AM
At a recent local Apple talk, it was noted that Macs have proliferated to about 20% of the science academics' desks.

It was also noted that in the general undergraduate population, about 30 to 40% of the incoming students' laptops were Macs.

jaline
Jul 19th, 2007, 12:30 PM
My psychology lab at Carleton has been using Macs since the intro of the SE (we had 2 of the first :D ). We went ALL Mac with the intro of the LCIII. Even though our CCS (IT) department eschews Macs to this day, better than half our huge deparment uses Macs, similar in the academic precinct in general. The 2 of us in semi-retirement now have 2 15" MBPs, a 12" PB, an eMac, a flower power iMac, a Key lime toilet seat and a late model G4 tower w/23" Cinema.....

Amongst the students Macs are growing increasingly common - maybe 1/3 of those seen in a casual wander around type survey. When we had a "computer Store" Macs were outselling PCs of all kinds to the extent that CCS forced the closure of that store in order to push its PC only policy. In the admin precinct where CCS can more easily exercise control it is about 90% PC. At one point they were even offering free PCs to replace Macs for academics but got 'no sale' on that...

Hi! Nice to see someone else from Carleton U (I'm a student though...fourth year coming up). I have noticed more and more students using macbooks in the cafeteria during their spare time or while working on assignments, but not many in the classes that I have taken (probably because I'm a Communication and English student). Most people seem to be using PCs in my classes. I'll be glad to change that this year. Although I don't hate PCs, it's always interesting to see what kind of systems people are using each year.

What disappoints me the most with each class I take is how technologically challenged many of the profs seem to be. It's not a huge deal, but a few of them have taken large chunks out of class time attempting to figure out how to turn something on or how to install Flash. Maybe Macs will simplify this, not sure. Powerpoint is used heavily for lecture notes. Even I used it for a presentation last year (which worked out well, actually).

rgray
Jul 19th, 2007, 01:00 PM
What disappoints me the most with each class I take is how technologically challenged many of the profs seem to be. It's not a huge deal, but a few of them have taken large chunks out of class time attempting to figure out how to turn something on or how to install Flash. Maybe Macs will simplify this, not sure.
Even though my generation of academics first registered by lining up (in the rain at 0500hrs.. ah the memories..) with a fistfull of punch cards, I have tried to keep up. It has greatly helped that I am something of a techie and a first-adopter, and as such my co-researchers left the tech stuff to me and I was [email protected] if I was ever going to be caught out so I worked at it. This has cost something in time that a lot of people, profs or not, are not prepared to do. There are an awful lot of computer users out there - young and old - who are in the same boat as those profs you mention. It is amazing how little one has to know to be able to come off as a geek at parties (and a 61 year old geek is a surprise to just about everybody ;) ).... Easy as Macs are you still have to be clued up enough to know that you need Flash or whatever.
Powerpoint is used heavily for lecture notes. Even I used it for a presentation last year (which worked out well, actually).
Here is a little something you may not know: It is no surprise that Powerpoint presentations are so common because a disc full of chapter by chapter canned Powerpoint "lectures" is part of many (most) textbook instructor "resources" package which a lot of younger profs use right out of the can.... and which naturally are hidden in the cost of the text to the student....

It would mortify me to use one of these things - after all I date from a time when one's lectures were actually written out longhand and heavily based on one's own experience. A very good reason to NOT use PowerPoint because you could be mistaken for using the canned article. To my knowledge, not a single text comes with Keynote presentations - which emphasises the point made above that it doesn't hurt at all to "look Different" (apologies to Apple's slogan hacks).

MacDoc
Jul 19th, 2007, 01:05 PM
Seems about right ;)

http://data.moneycentral.msn.com/scripts/chrtsrv.dll?symbol=AAPL&E1=0&C1=0&C2=2&D5=0&D2=0&D4=1&width=612&height=258&CE=0

http://www.blackfriarsinc.com/blog/uploaded_images/apple-pe-chart-large.gif

jaline
Jul 19th, 2007, 01:08 PM
It is amazing how little one has to know to be able to come off as a geek at parties (and a 61 year old geek is a surprise to just about everybody ;) )

That's true. Even I, a 20-year-old, get that at work and while I know a lot about computers and design, the things people ask me to do on a regular basis are very simple and easy for me but they believe it to be difficult.

Here is a little something you may not know: It is no surprise that Powerpoint presentations are so common because a disc full of chapter by chapter canned Powerpoint "lectures" is part of many (most) textbook instructor "resources" package which a lot of younger profs use right out of the can.... and which naturally are hidden in the cost of the text to the student.....

Interesting. Definitely didn't know that, and I doubt many other students do either. But I see your point about making extra effort to be different and more genuine.

2hondas
Jul 19th, 2007, 02:24 PM
Cool. I am going to be a first year student at Western (U of Western Ontario), and I am going into the science program too. :cool:

But yeah....Apple - Science - Why Mac for Science (http://www.apple.com/science/whymac/) :D

bryanc
Jul 20th, 2007, 11:11 AM
Despite the undeniable resurgence of the Mac in academia in general, and science in particular, it's still well-neigh impossible to find a company that sells instrumentation with mac-compatible software.

I've been after vendors to develop cross-platform software for decades. I've touted the virtues of linux, MacOS, and, most importantly, the merits of portable code from a software development POV, to no avail.

I've gone so far as to tell vendors flat out that windows-only software is a deal-breaker on some very expensive equipment. But there seems to be no chance of any change.

I was fortunate to have a chance to discuss this with some of the engineering people that make real-time PCR systems a few months ago, and they confirmed my worst fears: software development for any platform other than windows is a non-starter for one simple reason... it's all contracted out to lowest-bidder code-factories in India, and they're all windows-only. The only way any vendor could develop cross-platform software for their instruments would be to hire first-world developers to write it, and that would be orders of magnitude more expensive than the current practice of farming it out to the cheap-geeks in Bangalore. So it ain't gonna happen.

However, I still encourage any and all researchers or other purchasers of expensive technology to pressure the companies to develop cross-platform code. Bitch as loudly and persistently as possible that bringing these POS Windows machines into your labs and networks is a major drawback, and you want (and are willing to pay extra) either linux or OS X native software!

If enough of us do this, some of the smaller, nimbler companies that still develop their own software may actually try it. And I think they'll succeed, not only because Linux and OS X are better operating systems than Windows, but because writing portable code invariably results in better code.

Cheers

RunTheWorldOnMac
Jul 22nd, 2007, 04:26 PM
A vet I visited ran their practice on Macs. They had a blueberry iMac and an old powerbook.

They ran OS 9.

HowEver
Jul 22nd, 2007, 11:14 PM
A vet I visited ran their practice on Macs. They had a blueberry iMac and an old powerbook.

They ran OS 9.

Hope the pet is okay now.

RunTheWorldOnMac
Jul 23rd, 2007, 08:32 AM
HowEver, he is doing better. He was diagnosed with diabetes and this specific vet sold the diabetic wet formula for $15 cheaper than anyone. He is taking pills; fingers are crossed that he won't require daily insulin shots and blood testing.

Thanks,

Scott

Starkicker
Jul 23rd, 2007, 09:49 AM
Pets get diabetes too?

RunTheWorldOnMac
Jul 23rd, 2007, 11:12 AM
More often in cats than in dogs. The pills I got are the same ones they give humans and I got them from a pharmacy. Type I and II. In some cases you have to test blood sugar levels everyday and inject them with insulin.