Monday, 6 October 2008

Such a simple time-saver, why didn’t I think of it ages ago?

I have been using the program suite Perplex to do “garnet isopleth thermobarometery” as part of my PhD project. This program uses the command prompt as the user-interface into which one enters answers to questions before it does the calculations. I have been using this program on a very regular basis, for a couple of years now. Very early on I figured out that one does not have to wait for it to actually ask the next question before answering it, and for those calculations which I perform over and over for a variety of different samples I soon memorized the sequence of questions/answers so that I could save time by simply typing in the sequence of key strokes needed and thereby get to the part where it does the calculations sooner. However, there were occasions wherein I’d hit an incorrect key, and then I’d have to start the sequence over again. Now, that my project is nearing the end, and I’m meant to be only writing up the thesis (but, of course, I keep doing an occasional bit of calculations too; I just can’t help myself!) I have finally stumbled upon A Better Way (TM). Instead of answering the questions each time I do the calculations, I’ve set up a Word document into which I’ve typed all the key strokes needed for each of the tasks I do, starting with typing the name of the program. Now, instead of typing:







2 1


2 1 5 1 7 1 8 1



100 100








every time I wish for it to calculate the isopleths for the pyrope end-member of garnet, I simply click on the heading “XPrp” in the word document, copy, and paste the lot of it into the command prompt. I then enter only the three numbers needed to answer the final question (and which will be different for every sample) and I’m ready to import the graph into CorelDraw and see how it looks. I have these set up for all four garnet end-members, and an additional sequence for just the “pscontor” portion of the process, because I create two graphs for each end member—one showing all of the isopleths in the range of the graph using a 0.01 contour interval, and one showing only the one corresponding to the composition I measured in my garnet core.

It is truly amazing how much easier this process is since it occurred to me to set up this time-saving device! The wonder is that it took me so long of doing this before I came up with the idea. How many of you stumbled upon a brilliant way to save yourself much time/energy/frustration for a task you have performed 1000’s of times before? Or does everyone else think of these things within the first half a dozen times they repeat the task?

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