Semantic Physical Science at eResearch and the great Projector foul-up


Nico Adams , Alex wade and I ran a 1-day workshop yesterday at eResearch. Very well attended (30 participants) who were mainly well prepared – we’d asked for Java installed if possible. The programme was ambitious, roughly:


  • Nico – intro to semantics
  • PMR – markup languages
  • Nico – details of semantics , RDF, ontologies, etc.
  • Alex – semantic documents and Word add-ins
  • PMR – textmining to create semantics
  • PMR+Nico Create and populate your own (chemistry) repository (Chempound/Quixote)

Special thanks to Sam Adams and Jorge Estrada who have created and documented Chempound and Quixote. This allows us to install the system on delegates’ machines, and ingest legacy files (e.g. NWChem), convert to CML, create RDF, ingest and expose a SPARQL endpoint. Jorge had produced excellent instructions but I failed to remember that CLASSPATH separators are different on windows and struggled for a day or so (remember there is only a short conversation window). Got it working, the night before, and then created the documentation in the early morning. (This ended in a slightly messy state and it needs tidying). If I feel motivated today (I am watching VIC/WA at MCG) I will hack and post.

So just about ready to go – Nico kicks off – first slide has half the text and lines missing. It’s a projector foul-up. When Nico shows an RDF graph all the edges (lines) are missing. Slightly destroys the meaning. But it’s because Nico has a Mac.

I should be fine – I have Windows. I offer Nico my machine. It doesn’t work at all. The screen remains blank (actually blue). We switch displays, resolution, etc. Nothing. An audiovisual guru is found. He hacks away during the break, changing every setting on my machine. There is a brief flash as both screens show the slide then nothing. I have to abandon this.

This makes it difficult for me to present. I have to use Nico’s Mac and I don’t know how to click on a Mac. Some Vulcan death-grip of fingers. And this isn’t powerpoint – it’s me running software. After all that what’s the workshop is about. We cover rather less than planned.

When Alex presents on another Windows it’s fine.

For the first two slides. Then the top half of the screen is covered in creeping darkness. Alex is reduced to showing us MathML in dark text on a dark background. We believe him.

But the good thing is that it generates excellent discussion about semantics. We have a good range from newcomers to experts. So a lot of useful discussion about what to mark up, when, do triple stores work, etc.

We finish on a technical high. Many of the participants were able to run stuff. We got one or two Chempound repositories working.

It’s probably a good time to write a blog post describing the software and resources.

After the tea break.




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