We're a little crazy, about science!

Day 353: Experimental prep


Sometimes a parfor loop in just doesn’t cut it because the things you want to do in that loop aren’t allowed (like save or load data a certain way). In those cases (see above) I can run multiple instances of MATLAB and process my data much more efficiently than if I did it one at a time. In this case I had 8 subjects that needed a rather long mathematical operation performed, so I did it all at the same time. It’s a little silly, but it worked! If you didn’t know you could do that, now you do!

Yesterday I told the story of how we got to this point, a long two year journey and next week I finally get to take the next step. It’s exciting, but it also means because of my flare-up, I’m behind on what I need to do to be ready. Not to worry though, I’m taking it slow so I don’t make whatever I have worse. What goes into an experiment like this? I’m glad you asked!

I’ve got a small checklist going in my head of things that need to be done before next week. The hardest part will be transporting equipment from my main lab to my Co-PI’s lab for the experiments. Not that it will be particularly difficult, it’s just a bit of work and a bit of driving. There is also the issue of availability. The equipment is mostly first come first serve, so if I need to use something, unless it’s urgent others can use it if they have it checked out first. Thankfully we navigate this fairly well and with the pandemic I doubt anyone is using any of it.

** Just checked the schedule and like I thought, I’m good! **

So equipment problem solved. I also have my test rig that should make things super nice for me… should. See I didn’t measure everything that was involved I eyeballed it and I think it’s right, but I won’t know for sure until tomorrow when I test it out. That’s the other bit of stress. Not that it will matter one way or the other, it’s going to work, but I may have to move things around for it to fit properly, so that could be an issue.

Luckily tomorrow I’ll be in the lab testing all this out to make sure it will go according to plan. So at the very least the experiment will be ready to go when the time comes. Next, I need to get the recording software all synced up to make sure that the flags go in the right spot regardless of the computer being used, yes there will (most likely) be multiple computers being used. In which case, we need to be able to throw a flag into the software at the right time so I can line up all my recordings or I will be forever lost. We’re talking responses to the microsecond, so having everything lined up will be important.

I also need to get the code for the experiment written, this will be automatic so I press a button, experiment starts and when it’s finished running we move on to the next thing. Easy… sort of. We have had problems in the past. Nothing major, it just takes a bit of working through them so doing it all BEFORE the experiment means that when the time comes, we’ll be (mostly) ready. Unfortunately we’ve had computer issues on top of everything else, so you know good times all around.

But wait there’s more! Once the experiment is done, we (and by we I mean me) will have to do post-processing to make sense of the data. In my Co-PI’s lab we work in the time domain, but in my main-PI’s lab we do things in the frequency domain, so lucky me, we’re doing both! Ironically both my PI’s think that the others method’s are a waste of time. Ever feel stuck between two parents arguing? It’s like that, so instead of picking a side, I’m going to do both and see what we find.

So what’s left for me to do? Well I need to write the code for the experiment. I need to get all the post-processing code written and organized. I still need to get my test rig into the lab and check to see if it will work as I planned (eek!). Lastly, I need to run through the experiment once tomorrow to make sure everything is in order. Basically from now to when I start, there is quite a bit to do. Thankfully some of it can wait until afterwards. We’re collecting several subjects worth of data, but processing the data as I collect it will save me some headaches afterwards and give me an idea if I have anything interesting.

This wouldn’t be so bad if I didn’t have a million other non-experiment related things to worry about, like a book chapter I’m helping write, my journal paper, my review paper, my other journal paper, the conference paper I’m helping my mentee with, oh and school starting soon. Basically it’s a lot, but what else is new?


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