“I like Robin Williams in Dead Poet’s Society”

For whenever I start feeling sorry for myself
[Via Respectful Insolence]

I know I kvetch from time to time about the currently dismal funding situation for biomedical research and worry about whether I’ll be able to keep my lab funded. However, every so often I’m reminded that cancer researchers by and large have it pretty good, at least compared to some academic disciplines:

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Cynicism vs. naivete. More academia humor.

Posted in Science. Tags: . 1 Comment »

Nice story about getting to the rally in DC

My Contribution to Restoring Sanity
[Via EvolutionBlog]

Your humble blogger went to the big rally yesterday. Here’s what it looked like:

I never noticed it before, but the National Mall looks a lot like the Vienna/Fairfax Metro stop. But let me start at the beginning.

I hit the road at 8:30 in the morning, which normally would get me to DC well before noon. I figured there would be traffic and delays, but I did not feel obligated to attend the whole, three-hour event. Maybe I get there by one, I thought, and still have two solid hours of rally fun! It had occurred to me to drive to DC the night before and find a place to stay for the night. But, even leaving aside the fact that I had other plans for Friday night, my understanding is there wasn’t a hotel room available anywhere near the city.

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Great pictures and essay. Almost 6 hours just to get near the rally. But luck was with him. Got to the train station. Found a parking spot. Got on a train. Walked to the back of the rally.

Always nice to hear about perseverance paying off. Many people just went to the nearest bars.

Everyone who worked on creating the iPad should see this video

NYT Story on the iPad as a Device for the Disabled
[Via Daring Fireball]

Don’t miss the accomanying video.

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I’ve worked on projects that resulted in products that changed people’s lives. I know the intense personal reaction that comes from realizing that working on even the smallest bit of game-changing projects can positively impact people’s lives.

This video shows the effect the iPad can have on a very disabled child who still has an intelligence that needs engaging. The iPad lets him do things almost impossible before. The iPad can can empower him to interact with the world in ways previously closed to him.

I hope every single person who helped make the iPad possible sees the video and realizes just how important their effort was. It changes lives.

Crazy like a fox or like a dirty, mumbling street preacher screaming that player pianos will make a comeback

the end is near by Sister72

Ballmer on Windows Phone ‘07: ‘We’re early; there’s no question we’re early’
[Via MacDailyNews]

“I think it finally happened. We’d all been expecting it for a while now, but not quite so suddenly or emphatically: Steve Ballmer has gone completely insane,” Robert X. Cringely writes for Infoworld.

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MS is early to the mobile market? Has Ballmer been right about anything in the market the last few years? His view of the iPad was way off. Apple hardware market share is increasing, currently up to 10%. Without counting iPads, which Ballmer says should be counted. Apple shipped 3.3 million iPads in the third quarter. Including them would have put Apple well above 10% of the market. Now MS is busily scrambling to keep up.

It is a hoot to go back and read his prognostications from years past. Just on the iPhone. From 2007:

There’s no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share. No chance. It’s a $500 subsidized item. They may make a lot of money. But if you actually take a look at the 1.3 billion phones that get sold, I’d prefer to have our software in 60% or 70% or 80% of them, than I would to have 2% or 3%, which is what Apple might get.

Also from 2007:

“[Apple's iPhone] is the most expensive phone in the world and it doesn’t appeal to business customers because it doesn’t have a keyboard which makes it not a very good email machine…”

From 2009:

“The real market momentum with operators and the real market momentum with device manufacturers seems to primarily be with Windows Mobile and Android.”

Also in 2009:

“Let’s face it, the Internet was designed for the PC. The Internet is not designed for the iPhone,” Ballmer told the AP’s Jessica Mintz. “That’s why they’ve got 75,000 applications — they’re all trying to make the Internet look decent on the iPhone.”

In 2008, he said that only Symbian, Linux and MIcrosoft were positioned to meet the meeds of cell phone makers.

In 2010, Apple market share for smartphones was at 14% and rising. MS was at 5% and dropping. Symbian is down 10% year over year and Linux is down to 2.4%. Only Google and Apple have cellphone OSes that gained market share.

I wonder how well this goes over with the investors who have watched MS’s share of the mobile market simply die over the last 3 years or watched Apple take over a segment of the market with iPads that MS had tried to drive for 6 years. A year ago he was previewing Windows Mobile 6.5, which is now orphaned a year later for their new OS, Windows 7 Phone, which has all the features the iPhone had 3 years ago.

When a CEO is that disconnected with reality, it usually means they are not long for their position.

Science humor

A science joke for your Saturday morning
[Via Boing Boing]

As told by Mr. Karl Sinfield in the comments section of a Tom Chivers blog post at the Telegraph:

A geneticist, a physiologist and a physicist were summoned to meet a wealthy racehorse magnate. He told them he would give a million pounds to the one who could accurately identify race-winning horses. After six months of hard work, they returned to present their results to the expectant millionaire.

The geneticist said, “I’ve looked into all the current genetic research, checked blood-lines going back decades, but there are just too many behavioural and environmental factors. I can’t help.”

The physiologist said, “I’ve looked at muscle mass, bone volume and density, and all the other factors I can think of, but the problem’s too complex. There’s just no guarantee of predicting a winner.”

Finally, the physicist calmly walks up to the millionaire and gives him an index card. “Here you go,” he says “I’ve found an equation that solves the problem for you.”

“Wow,” said the millionaire, “That’s impressive…I’ll get my cheque book.”

“Great. But there’s one thing you should know,” said the physicist. “It only works for a spherically symmetric horse travelling in a vacuum.”

(Via Martin Robbins)

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It’s funny because it’s true.

Maybe you just have to be a scientist. But I laughed. Funnier than a priest, a minister and a rabbi go into a bar.


No patents for genes

201010300956.jpg by ynse

Natural genes can’t be patented says U.S. government
[Via Boing Boing]

In a reversal of long-standing policy, the U.S. Justice Department announced on Friday that naturally occurring genes—human or otherwise—could not be patented. This ruling does not include manipulated or altered genes. So, for instance, you can still patent the specific, fiddled-with genes behind a GM crop. But, this is still a very big deal. Right now the genes associated with increased risk of breast cancer are patented and, thus, there is only one, very expensive, test available to look for them. In March, a judge ruled those patents invalid. And now it looks like the federal government is backing up that ruling.

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This could have some real impact. But it really goes back to the idea that you can not patent natural products, only what you do with them. So, one should be able to patent a particular implementation using a gene but that should not prevent others from using the gene for their own, different implementation.

We used to be prevented from even working on a particular gene to see what it would do because another company held the gene patent.now, all those companies THAT thought they could keep others from working on a gene because they owned a patent may have to do some real competing.

iTunes has Genius sidebar back

Apple updates iPhoto to fix data loss bug, modifies iTunes sidebar
[Via AppleInsider]

Apple released Friday an update to iPhoto to resolve a data loss problem that can occur when upgrading one’s library to iPhoto ’11. The company also quietly modified the sidebar in its iTunes software to bring back Genius Recommendations.

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The update of iTunes that brought us Ping also got rid of one of my favorite tools for finding music – the Genius Sidebar. When I would be playing a song, the sidebar would show me any similar songs by the same band, as well as some similar ones. It helped me keep up to date with my favorites.

But the last update got rid of this, replacing it with the Ping sidebar for Apple’s social network. While I think Ping might be useful someday, it seems unfinished now and not a very good way to find music.

A lot of people complained and refused to update the software. including me.

So, I waited to upgrade, waiting to see if Apple would listen. Seems they did and the Genius Sidebar is back.

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