Archive for the ‘Vendors’ Category

WWWTP? – Nitpicking a Pharma Sourcing Ad

Tuesday, January 31st, 2012

It always surprises me how companies will happily spend thousands of dollars to run printed ads with inventories of chemical structures. These structures are unsearchable by computer, and is there anyone out there who thumbs through science magazines on the lookout for fine chemicals?

“Wow! That 1-bromo-3-methylbutane looks fantastic. I’m calling these guys right away!”

Maybe such a response has occurred once or twice in the past decade, but this approach seems like a shot in the dark. I imagine most people who find themselves in need of 1-bromo-3-methylbutane turn to the catalog of their favorite vendor, the Available Chemicals Directory, or Google.

While the following ad certainly fits the profile (C&EN, 1/23/2012, p. 31), it bothered me for a different reason:

Ad for Global Pharma Sourcing LLC in Jan 31 2012 Chemical and Engineering News

I can’t understand why you would go through the trouble of paying thousands of dollars to run an ad and not bother to proofread the thing. Let’s start from the bottom right corner and move clockwise, shall we?

1. Coumarin. Great. I have no problems here.

2. O-Anisaldehyde. This is a rather common error in style, but it is still an error. If the “O” is meant to signify “ortho,” then it should be written as a lowercase letter, even if it begins a sentence. It should also be italicized. A capital “O” written like that in a name usually signifies substitution on oxygen.

3. 2-Hydroxy-benzaldehyde. There are two problems here. First, you don’t need a hyphen after “Hydroxy.” Second, if you are going to use common names like o-anisaldehyde, then why not call salicylaldehyde by its common name? Alternately, you could have called the previous compound “2-methoxybenzaldehyde.” Basically, why not be consistent?

4. 5-Helo-salicylic aldehyde. <Facepalm> Now I guess it’s OK to use a common name? More importantly, what the hell is a “helo” group? The period after the “Cl” is also a nice touch.

Sloppy, sloppy, sloppy. If I were in the advertising department at GPhS, I’d take $200 from the budget to buy a copy of the ACS Style Guide and pay for an eye exam.

When the quality of your advertisements is this poor, do you think people might question the quality of your other products?

Just a thought.

WWWTP? – Creepiness at Phenomenex

Monday, January 23rd, 2012

It’s time for another edition of WWWTP?, which in this case, could just as easily stand for “What’s Wrong with these People?”

This image was kindly forwarded to ChemBark by a concerned reader and patron of Phenomenex. The company ships their products in these sexually suggestive cardboard boxes. The innuendo would make sense and qualify as mildly clever double entendre if the company dealt with genomics, but Phenomenex sells chromatography supplies. I guess someone thought they had a good idea and decided to roll with it:

Inside the box, a colorful brochure contained less disguised innuendo: the words “unzip me” and what appears to be anthropomorphic female genitalia with legs and a cane. Closer inspection of the Phenomenex Web site reveals that these characters are based on an astonishingly yonic logo for Kinetex (R), the company’s core-shell adsorbent materials for chromatography. Hmmm.

I feel it necessary to warn any of you who might be (i) charged with purchasing HPLC supplies and (ii) perverted, that I hear the customer service at Phenomenex is awful.

Mistakes and Mnemonics

Wednesday, July 4th, 2007

An astute reader passed along the following nomination for the official Chemistry Hall of Shame (accept no imitations).  It’s another chemistry advertisement, published on page 66 in the June 18th edition of C&EN:

An Ad for Iodosuccinimide in Chemical and Engineering News

Sweet. I guess if you buy two methylene groups, they’ll throw in an extra one for free.  Big props to J. for scanning in the ad and passing it along.

All this succinimide/glutarimide business reminds me of my favorite chemistry mnemonic—the one for remembering the straight-chain diacids (from two carbons to seven):

Oh My, Such Good Apple Pie

(Oxalic Malonic Succinic Glutaric Adipic Pimelic)

Now, I’m not going to do something as hackneyed as ask, “What is your favorite chemistry mnemonic?” Nope. Not going to do it.


The New Aldrich Catalog is Almost Here

Tuesday, January 2nd, 2007

I just pre-ordered a copy of the new Aldrich Catalog Handbook of Fine Chemicals. After two editions with preposterous colors (teal and orange peel), they finally got it right: glorious crimson.

I don’t know about everyone else, but the Aldrich catalog ranks #1 on my list of the top desk references of all time. Vogel’s Handbook of Practical Organic Chemistry is #2, followed by March, Silverstein & Webster, and Jencks. While I’m increasingly using Web sites and databases (e.g. ISIS) to place orders, I can always count on the Aldrich catalog for FW, b.p., and density.

My chemistry lab partner from high school said that when he took sophomore organic chemistry here, Jacobsen told the entire class to go on the Web and request a copy of the Aldrich handbook. I bet the guys in Milwaukee were really pleased about having to ship a hundred of these 5-lb. monsters to Cambridge for students who didn’t need to order anything. That said, giving handbooks away as freebies probably makes good business sense. I’m always surprised at my fellow researchers’ loyalty to the company; they blindly order from Aldrich without looking at Alfa Aesar, TCI, or anyone else. A lot of times there’s a big difference in price, and I doubt that the quality is that far off. The only other example of chemical brand loyalty that comes to mind is organometallic chemists’ love of Strem. They either sell higher quality reagents or have an outstanding marketing department.


Dionex Ads

Friday, December 22nd, 2006

While cleaning my desk before heading back to DC this weekend, I came across these ads from Dionex in two recent editions of C&EN:

First, from the Nov. 20 edition (p. 7, click to enlarge):

While I applaud Dionex’s choice of using data instead of a hot model to peddle their products, I’d like to see some units on those ordinate axes, please. Someone must have called them with a similar request, because they had inserted units by the Dec. 11 edition (p. 5, click to enlarge):

Here’s an excellent example of how scientific units are case-sensitive. To most scientists, “AU” refers to an astronomical unit, the distance from the Earth to the Sun. In lower case, “au” stands for atomic units, while “uA” is generally accepted as an abbreviation for microamps and “Au” refers to gold.

Here though, Dionex is using “AU” to refer to arbitrary units, presumably of absorption intensity. That leads me to wonder: what the hell is an “mAU”? One-thousandth of an arbitrary unit? Isn’t that…ummm…still arbitrary?

Anyway, since it’s the season for giving, let’s do the physicists and astronomers a favor by spelling out “arbitrary units” in 2007. In return, they can let a chemist snag their Nobel Prize once in a while.