geek-out

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lost weekend >>> I had Friday off work, and Lor left Saturday morning to go to a conference, so I spent most of the weekend totally geeked out with one thing and another. Got a local news server set up (INN and suck, for those interested), got bookmarker working (so I can use different browsers without worry), and finished up my CD->MP3 script, ripdriver. If anybody wants that, let me know — it’s not quite ready for public consumption, but it could be cleaned up pretty easily. I also played around a bit with Nautilus, after I found some Debian packages. shrug It’s pretty cool, but I’m not ready to switch away from gmc yet — not that I use a graphical shell all that much to begin with.

im me, baby >>> Oh, and I also installed Gabber, a GNOME-ed up Jabber client. If any of you out there would like to add me to your Jabber group, I’m genehack@jabber.com. If you’re only on ICQ, my user number is 96897923 — add me to your list, if you’d care to.

yah, pull the other one… >>> Annoying Wired News article on bioinformatics that I saw last week. Starts out okay, but then gets all pie-in-the-sky-y when talking about computational simulations of cells. I was rolling my eyes after I read this:

“Here you’ve got a situation where I believe you can predict things the pharmaceutical industry would not know by any other method,” [Alan] Watson [chairman of Oxford Bioscience] said.
The program can tell researchers that a certain heart drug, for example, will cause the left ventricle to expand.

Look, I am, near as I can tell (since there’s still not a good definition of the word and all) a bioinformatician. I’m as jazzed about the possibilities of computational biology and the genome project and the massive (hopefully positive) impact it’s going to have on all our lives. That said, that last sentence is utter and complete hog wash. “Programs” don’t, can’t, and won’t ever “tell researchers” anything. Programs predict, following which, another, likely completely distinct group of researchers will do actual experiments, with actual experimental organisms (even possibly human ones) to test those predictions. The predictions may, in fact, be borne out — but it wasn’t the program that told the researchers that, it was the bench work.

more stuff to read >>> Speaking of bioinformatics, I need to take a good spin through The Gibbs Motif Sampler homepage at some point. My “To Read” list is bulging at the moment; I’m working through a calculus text (for remedial reasons), and Lyn gave me a bunch of reports from the National Research Council when during our ( == Lor and I’s) recent dinner with her and Steve. sigh About two weeks with nothing else on my plate and I could catch up…

bonus tip of the day >>> Run Linux? Use Netscape for web browsing? Want to get rid of that annoying ‘Shop’ button? Do this.

‘bout time >>> A group of bio-scientists is agitating for free on-line access to the research literature. They’ve taken the step of publicly pledging to stop publishing in closed literature in September, 2001. Unfortunately, they’re willing to accept delays between print and on-line publication of up to six months — I’d prefer that there be no delay at all…

weep >>> I caught an HBO special called “Women in Sport” yesterday. Not something I would have watched on purpose; I fell asleep with the TV on, it was showing when I woke up, and I got sucked into it. By the end of the show, I was stuck between sorrow for my species and anger at the same — I hadn’t known, for example, that women weren’t allowed to run marathons before 1977. I hadn’t known this was because of fears that the long run might damage their uteruses. I hadn’t known that the first woman to compete in the Boston Marathon (she registered using her first initial instead of her name) was attacked by an enraged race official during the race, and disqualified, for no reason, after she finished.

If you get a chance to see this special, I recommend it.

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