Crossing the peaks for CrossFire
Posted by gazjjohnson on 27 November, 2008
Yesterday I went across the peaks to the University of Manchester for a CrossFire training session. Though I’ve actually taught a session recently to PhD Chemists on CrossFire and SciFinder scholar, but I have to confess that most of the material I was using was largely cribbed from their online help guides. Yesterday was all about getting my comprehension of how the database functions and is searched up to a much higher level.
I’m no Chemist, but I have come back with a much broader appreciation about how to support this resource and search it. I’ve even come to be reasonably fond of the interface, which before scared the living daylights out of me. It was a bit of pity that the training room we were in had some sort of IP conflict for the resource, which meant that some of the time our searches just dropped out of contact with the server giving null responces at random. But Jo from Mimas worked around that very well; I certainly was impressed with her professionalism underfire having had to run sessions myself where databases have not worked quite as they should (RefWorks comes to mind).
One of the things I wasn’t aware of before the session was the reason CrossFire is only updated every three months is the sheer complexity of the dataset. What I also didn’t realise is that the version we use if generally 6-9 months out of date, due to the time it takes for Mimas to get their hands on the dataset and then upload it themselves. Certainly a little info nugget I’ll be passing onto my students. That said it is a totally brillaint resource for Chemists, and one that I hope they continue to use. My day was well spent learning more about it.
A word on East-West rail travel. It seems the trains that used to run cross country Nottingham-Manchester are down to just three a day in the early morning. Thus I could get there okay, but coming back had to change twice (three times if I’d not driven to the station in the first place). All of which made a journey that used to take under two hours now take closer to 4. Having spent the vast bulk of yesterday on trains/platforms it will certainly make me think twice about heading over to events on that side of the country; which I think is a real shame. Maybe when the new timetables come out it’ll be easier, but I have my doubts.