The iLab generation – Fast Counter

Time for a new app recommendation today ! A while ago, it was suggested to me in a comment on this very blog, and when I saw the description in the iTunes Store, I was immediately enthusiast. It’s called the Fast Counter.

It’s basically the app that does the annoying job of colonies on petri dishes. Look at that :

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I had time to try it out a bit , by taking a classic LB plate with bacteria after transformation (about 200) and tried to count. You can set the threshold, and the color of the background; and once this is done, it is pretty effective. It does capture -LIVE- your colony number (is it the future already, right ?), but you can also take a snapshot, and count “manually” by tapping on them.

My point is, if you need a good estimate, and not a super-super-precise count (which is generally not required anyway), you should definitely try it out.

Also, the company developing that tool also made some other apps, if you like all nerdy apps for the lab like me, check it out on their website ! It’s called Shazino. 

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On the way to Paperless-land / Episode 1 – Evernote

In parallel to my research project, I have more “geeky” project going on: achieving paperless-ness. I am not the most organized person, and accumulate stacks of papers with doodles, administrative stuff, research papers, train tickets, reimbursement files, etc … And I will not mention how tidy this still looks compared to other desks I saw in research labs in the past.

I took a resolution during my first year of PhD that until the end I would completely switch to a digital and organized system. To do so, I use some iPhone/iPad apps which are absolutely essential for that. The most important one is Evernote.

I take all my meeting/seminars/conference notes in it. It is synchronized with my other devices, computers (home and lab), and saved on the cloud. I am able to effortlessly organize it, and do in-text search if I look for a particular thing. If I’m having a “I-don’t-feel-like-taking-notes” day, I record the talk.

This App saved me so many random unreadable notes and doodles spread in different lab books already. And I can actually find back things that I know to have written down somewhere and at some point.

It’s free also, so try it out, people 🙂

The iLab generation – Invitrogen Apps

No surprise for those who know me IRL, surprise for the others: I’m an Apple geek. One day I got an iPod nano, and a few years later, I am hooked to iPhones, iPad, iClouds, etc …

One of the things I secretly dream about is making use of all of these in the lab. Unfortunately, I am in a relatively PC-oriented, old-fashioned, and not-growing-money-on-trees-but-can’t-really-complain  kind of lab. Nevertheless, I try to make use of my ‘i’ things here and there … and it turns out to be really useful.

One of the first things you find on the App Store in the “lab science” section is the suite created by Invitrogen (or should I say Life Technologies ?).

Prize for the best app goes to the “cloning bench” ! This is your friend if you do molecular cloning. It will calculate a lot of things, find the best buffers for enzymes, etc … 

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Prize for the most disturbing and “WTF” app goes to the “Gathering Light”. Here is the description from the website : “Long hours in the lab can leave even the most seasoned researcher flat on the bench. Refresh yourself with Gathering Light, a new Gibco® game and mobile app.”   Right ? Right ? Worst part is that this game comes with the most annoying and stressful background music on earth, so don’t even bother downloading this one.

So, I’m not doing promotion for Invitrogen here, but some people might not know these apps exist, and some of them are actually quite nice. There is also one for making conversions (yeah, yeah, the young generation is lazy), a guide for cell imaging, staining, fluorescence, etc …

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