• Teaching Git Using GitHub Pages

    Teaching Git

    I’ve helped out or taught at a handful of Software Carpentry (SWC) workshops over the past year, and every time, I felt that students were forgetting about Git as soon as they walked out of the room at the end of the second day. There always seems to be a general confusion that cannot be dispelled during the Git lessons. While this may be partially caused by inexperienced instructors, I would argue that it can mostly be attributed to the current lesson material, referred to here as the Planets lesson. Not only does it not properly demonstrate Git’s usefulness in a real-world scenario, but it fails to engage the audience, which is especially crucial for teaching something as unintuitive as Git. My typical workshop audience are academic researchers, and I’m pretty sure they don’t give a shit about Wolfman’s and Dracula’s thoughts on Mars, which is the Planets lesson narrative. To be clear, I mean no offense to the lesson designers and maintainers, whose work I fully appreciate; I just think there’s much room for improvement.


  • Do Not Disturb

    Do Not Disturb

    Dear Wet Lab People,

    As a computational biologist, I wish you disturbed us at our workstations with the same caution and reluctance you have towards disturbing other wet lab people doing bench work. I have a little theory that you subconsciously extrapolate that your downtime is when you’re at the computer to dry lab members. Let me remind you that this is not the case.


  • Printing PDF Documents as Images

    I recently ran into an issue where a PDF document wasn’t printing properly from my Mac no matter what I tried. The text changed to a monospaced font with messed-up kerning.

    Ugly PDF


  • Something New (Not Actually)

    I’ve literally lost count of the number of times I’ve relaunched my blog. They all ended up being futile attempts at motivating myself to write more. This might very well be another one of those attempts, and this post might end up as another lonely “My First Blog Post”.

    I think this is the part where I’m supposed to sound more optimistic, right?

    On a more serious note, my inspiration for starting this blog is twofold. First, I got my hands on a really cool domain name, bgran.de. And there’s nothing quite like a clever domain name to motivate a nerd to launch a website. Second, a colleague of mine, Fong Chun Chan ( & ), began blogging last summer. A few weeks ago, I stumbled upon one of his latest posts, Using Mixture Models for Clustering in R. His article was an excellent explanation and demonstration of mixture models; everything was crystal clear. This made me realize that I want to share the knowledge I gain during my graduate studies, as my way of paying it forward. Although, realistically speaking, I’ll probably be my own audience when I inevitably google for an error I’ve already run into but forgot about.

    Mm, I think I’m tentatively starting to feel slightly optimistic and cautiously excited about this renewed effort to blog. We’ll see what comes out of it!