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We are not computer scientists! We are just organic chemists. We construct our Organic Chemistry website using the simplest means available. Yet, we try to design our pages in such a way that they are educational, and that they give you contents not available in textbooks, especially in the area of visualization of molecules and interactive learning. And, of course, we try to make them pleasant to look at and explore. After all, we want you to use them and to learn organic chemistry in the process.

There is a big difference between what could be done, and what we are willing to do. The technical limitations we face are mostly browser related. Since we are not able (we are non-profit after all) to prepare several versions of our pages, we are limited to techniques that will be, at least partially, effective on all machines. That usually means the lowest common denominator.

We assume that you are internet-trained and can resolve simple browser problems.  All the software that you need is available free of charge and comes preloaded on machines in PSU computer labs.

For now, we use only a few plugins (Acrobat Reader, MS-Windows Media Player, and Flash Player) from the long list of those commonly available. We incorporate some Java applets  Their "loading time" is sometimes a little longer, but they provide interactivity that is difficult to obtain by other means.

 

To help you use our organic site better we have introduced many icons to indicate that there is something hiding under the front page: an extra pop-up window, a molecular visualizer, or another applet.  Here is the list of our "road signs" set up to illustrate our approach. Try them! With your cursor over the icon watch the tool-tip (the little yellow pop-up window) and monitor the status bar at the bottom of the browser for extra info.

all about good studying strategies This icon indicates that there is a file available (pdf) that can be viewed and printed (or downloaded) using Acrobat Reader. In some cases the file is just a printer-ready version of the page material, in other instances it contains material not available in other formats (such as practice exams). You need to get extra software to use it (it's free).
need an aspirin? This sign alerts you to the fact that a picture, or some other element of the page, is interactive. If you click on the appropriate area (observe the changing cursor) you will get an extra window with additional information. Read about extra windows below.
here is a simple question Click on this icon only if you want to be questioned. You will get an extra window (or two) with questions probing your understanding of the material you are currently exploring.  On occasion, you may even get an answer and learn something new.
Who was Whitmore? This profile should tell you that we have some hidden info on the scientists behind the concepts or reactions that we study.  We even include some anecdotes. You can check the full list in our "Who is who?"
I will last only for a few seconds Some extra windows will last for only a few seconds. They are just for fun.
Here is tetrone? To give you a better idea about the three-dimensional nature of molecules we use Jmol applet . The molecular visualizer is interactive, but require a little time to learn how to use it (and it takes a little longer to load). They are worth it! YWe provide a very brief tutorial page on how to use it. Make sure that you have Java installed on your computer.
Do you like jeopardy? We have a movie for you. You will need Microsoft Windows Media Player to view it. It is available (free) from Microsoft. The music note symbol indicates that sound is included.
Sometimes we have a video or animation presentation requiring Flash Player.
For truly interactive experience we are using java scripts and some java applets. Java scripts (brief pieces of code in a programming language resembling Java) are usually executed by the newest browsers without any difficulties.  They allow for introduction of some degree of interactivity.  Java applets are small programs that execute on your computer after downloading.  They use "true" Java, are compiled and take some time to load (be patient).  They do not provide security problems because they run on their own "virtual" machine. They allow for much more interactivity.  Make sure your browser has the newest Java (especially if you are using IE on XP Window computer) and is Java script and Java enabled. 
Main page The vibrating methane molecule displayed in the left top corner of your page will always take you to the main page. Use it if you are lost (we mean, navigationally).
 

It helps if you "personalize" your browser for you own preferences. A selection of some options for browser "looks" or behavior often makes things more readable. The final effect (including colors) will depend on your screen resolution (we recommend at least 800x600) and size, the speed of your processor, and preferences that you set up.

Some recommendations that may help you with viewing our pages (grouped by topics):

  • We provide the navigational frame on the right side (We know that there are frame-haters between us, but for now there are some advantages in using frames). Our frame should help you to find your way to the major subsections of our page. The width of that side frame can be adjusted by moving the inside border with the mouse. If you desperately want to get rid of that navigational side frame, click here. At the bottom of each page there is an additional index of main sections, and clicking on the vibrating methane at the top of each page will take you to the main page.
  • We do not have our links underlined, but you will recognize them easily by their bold face and dark blue color. The links will change color to red when the cursor hovers above them. Remember there are also links hidden under icons or (occasionally) under some other pictures. You will recognize them easily since the cursor changes its shape when you move it above them. It helps if you monitor the status line (at the bottom of the browser) for additional information.
  • We provide brief alternative descriptions to most of the pictures. You may see them if you keep the cursor above the picture (or the icon) for one second. They help navigating, and provide (sometimes) some surprises.
  • We occasionally use extra windows to illustrate some additional concepts. These (usually) small windows can be moved around and resized. They will "disappear" if you perform any action in the main window, but they really only hide under the main window. There is an exception: windows that pop up when you click on butterflies will disappear on their own after a few seconds (7-15 s). You will find some surprises in these windows.
  • If you want to print the contents of the whole page (and not that of the side navigational bar) make sure that the frame containing that page is active (click on it anywhere), and that the appropriate selections are made in "Print" menu. With IE you may also select a section of the text (by highlighting it with the mouse) and print only your selection by choosing the appropriate option in the "Print" menu.  Make sure that your printing does not include background colors (check it off under "Internet Options"). Occasionally, we provide an already formatted (printable) version of the material. You will recognize it by the Acrobat Reader icon (see above). If you have a slow internet connection, for printing large files (especially old exam pdf files) it is easier to first save them to your computer, and then print them off line.
  • To view our Java applets, make sure that your browser is Java-enabled. If the applets freeze or crashes your computer try to view them on freshly-restarted system (clean RAM). If it does not help, disable Java in your browser and forget about it. It is time to buy a new computer.
  • Please report all viewing problems to us, especially if you cannot view the pages correctly (tell us what the problem is, and what hardware and software are you using).
 
Under the Hood Last updated 08/21/10  Copyright 1997-2013
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