ENTRIES TAGGED "bio"
Crowdsourced Monitoring, DIY Neurobio, A Plethora of Memory Stick Computers
- Crowdsourcing Radiation Data in Japan (Freaklabs) — wardriving pollution detection.
- Backyard Brains — measuring electrical activity of a neuron in a cockroach leg. Astonishing how much science is within the reach of backyard hackers now. (via BoingBoing)
- Cotton Candy Stick Pre-Orders — a $200 Android computer on a USB stick, with HDMI out etc.
- Raspberry Pi Launches — $35 USB+CPU+video+audio ships. Interesting that both of these have come to fruition at the same time. Something is in the air. How will the world change when every memory stick is a computer, not just every phone?
Hashbangs URLs Must Go, Cheap DNA Sequencing, Content Detection Fail, and Ubuntu on Android
- Hashbangs (Dan Webb) — why those terrible #! URLs are a bad idea. Looks like they’re going away with pushState coming to browsers. As Dan says, “URLs are forever”. Let’s get them right. I’m fascinated by how URLs are changing meaning and use over time.
- DNA Sequencing on a USB Stick — this has been going the rounds, but I think there’s a time coming when scientific data generation can be crowdsourced. I care about a particular type of fish, but it hasn’t been sequenced. Can I catch one, sequence it, upload the sequence, and get insight into the animal by automated detection of similar genes from other animals? Let those who care do the boring work, let scientists work on the analysis.
- The US Recording Industry is Stealing From Me (Bruce Simpson) — automated content detection at YouTube has created an industry of parasites who claim copyright infringement and then receive royalties from the ads shown on the allegedly infringing videos.
- Ubuntu on Android — carry a desktop in your pocket? Tempting. It’s for manufacturers, not something you install on existing handsets, which I’m sure will create tension with the open source world at Ubuntu’s heart. Then again, creating tension with the open source world at Ubuntu’s heart does seem to be Canonical’s core competency ….
Cell Operating System, Search Savvy, Smiling Sliders, and Recommendation Tools
- Attempts to Make a Cell Operating System (Science Daily) — finally we will be able to have the guaranteed quality of software and the safety of biological organisms.
- Why Kids Can’t Search (Clive Thompson) — kids need to be taught critical thinking skills about what they find on the web. Librarians are our national leaders in this fight; they’re the main ones trying to teach search skills to kids today.
- Smiley Slider — cute little way to get feedback. (via Jyri Tuulos)
- LensKit — an open source toolkit for building, researching, and studying recommender systems.
Data Businesses, Multitouch Charting, 3D-Printing Glass, and Synthetic Biology
- Competitive Advantage Through Data — the applications and business models for erecting barriers around proprietary data assets. Sees data businesses in these four categories: contributory data sourcing, offering cleaner data, data generated from service you offer, and viz/ux. The author does not yet appear to be considering when open or communal data is better than proprietary data, and how to make those projects work. (via Michael Driscoll)
- Solar Cutter, Solar 3D Printer — prototypes of solar powered maker devices. The cutter is a non-laser cutter that focuses the sun’s rays to a super-hot point. The printer makes glass from sand (!!!!). Not only is this cool, but sand is widespread and cheap.
- Synthetic Biology Open Language — a language for the description and the exchange of synthetic biological parts, devices, and systems. Another piece of the synthetic biology puzzle comes together. The parallel development of DIY manufacturing in the worlds of bits and basepairs is mindboggling. We live in exciting times. (via krs)
DIY Bio Hardware, App Store Numbers, Open Hardware Repository, and Science Startups
- OpenPCR Shipping — A PCR machine is basically a copy machine for DNA. It is essential for most work with DNA, things like exposing fraud at a sushi restaurant, diagnosing diseases including HIV and H1N1, or exploring your own genome. The guy who discovered the PCR process earned a Nobel Prize in 1993, and OpenPCR is now the first open source PCR machine. The price of a traditional PCR machine is around $3,000. This one is $512 and would go well with Ben Krasnow’s Scanning Electron Microscope. Biological tools get closer to hobbyist/hacker prices. (via Gabriella Coleman)
- Apple App Store Figures (Fast Company) — 1 billion apps in a month, 200M iOS users, $2.5B revshare to developers so far (implying a further $5.8B revenue kept by Apple). Another reminder of the astonishing money to be made by riding the mainstreaming of tech: as we move from dumb phones to smart phones, the market for Apple’s products and App Store sales will continue to rise. We’re not at the fighting-for-market-share stage yet, it’s still in the boom. (via Stephen Walli)
- Open Hardware Repository — open source digital hardware projects, such as a tool for generating VHDL/Verilog cores which implement Wishbone bus slaves with certain registers, memory blocks, FIFOs and interrupts. CERN just approved an open license for hardware designs. (via CERN)
- Wingu — SaaS startup to help scientists manage, analyze, and share data. Recently invested by Google, it’s one of several startups for scientists, such as Macmillan’s Digital Science which is run by Timo Hannay who is one of the convenors of Science Foo Camp. (via Alex Butler)
Python Unicode, Cognitive Enhancement, Journal Balk, Engineering SaaS
- Unicode in Python, Completely Demystified — a good introduction to Unicode in Python, which helped me with some code. (via Hacker News)
- A Ban on Brain-Boosting Drugs (Chronicle of Higher Education) — Simply calling the use of study drugs “unfair” tells us nothing about why colleges should ban them. If such drugs really do improve academic performance among healthy students (and the evidence is scant), shouldn’t colleges put them in the drinking water instead? After all, it would be unfair to permit wealthy students to use them if less privileged students can’t afford them. As we start to hack our bodies and minds, we’ll face more questions about legitimacy and ethics of those actions. Not, of course, about using coffee and Coca-Cola, ubiquitous performance-enhancing stimulants that are mysteriously absent from bans and prohibitions.
- Copywrongs — Matt Blaze spits the dummy on IEEE and ACM copyright policies. In particular, the IEEE is explicitly preventing authors from distributing copies of the final paper. We write scientific papers first and last because we want them read. When papers were disseminated solely in print form it might have been reasonable to expect authors to donate the copyright in exchange for production and distribution. Today, of course, this model seems, at best, quaintly out of touch with the needs of researchers and academics who no longer desire or tolerate the delay and expense of seeking out printed copies of far-flung documents. We expect to find on it on the open web, and not hidden behind a paywall, either.
- On the Engineering of SaaS — An upgrade process, for example, is an entirely different beast. Making it robust and repeatable is far less important than making it quick and reversible. This is because the upgrade only every happens once: on your install. Also, it only ever has to work right in one, exact variant of the environment: yours. And while typical customers of software can schedule an outage to perform an upgrade, scheduling downtime in SaaS is nearly impossible. So, you must be able to deploy new releases quickly, if not entirely seamlessly — and in the event of failure, rollback just as rapidly.
How Facebook Ships, EU Funds, Bacteria Play, and Screens Capture
- How Facebook Ships Code — all engineers go through 4 to 6 week “Boot Camp” training where they learn the Facebook system by fixing bugs and listening to lectures given by more senior/tenured engineers. estimate 10% of each boot camp’s trainee class don’t make it and are counseled out of the organization. Reminded me of Zappos paying people to leave. (via Hacker News)
- EU Funds Scala — it’s a research project at a university, and just got a big pile of funding from the EU.
- Biotic Games — they make Pong, Pacman, Pinball, etc. from biotech. (via Andy Baio)
- Asleep and Awake (BERG London) — It’s glowing rectangles all the way down: those backlit screens that suck your attention. Matt J described it nicely a few years ago: the iPhone is a beautiful, seductive but jealous mistress that craves your attention, and enslaves you to its jaw-dropping gorgeousness at the expense of the world around you. Reminded me of Jesse Robbins’s great line, “mobile is the opposite of mindful”.
Maturing Wikileaks, Connectivity as a Right, Music from Proteins, Preserved Source
- Is Wikileaks Growing Up? — I linked earlier to FAS commentator Steven Aftergood, who had ripped Wikileaks as irresponsible and dangerous. The latest leaks, however, get grudging respect. “the latest dump deals with a perfectly newsworthy topic and — judging from my initial glances at the news coverage — Wikileaks itself has acknowledged the necessity of withholding certain portions of the documents that might endanger individuals who are named in them. If so, that is commendable.” (via jayrosen_nyu on Twitter)
- Open Connectivity and Open Data — is access to the Internet a human right? Video of a presentation by Jon Penney, the InternetNZ CyberLaw Fellow at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand.
- ProteoMusic — twisted music inspired by genomes and proteins. (via christianbok on Twitter)
- MacPaint and QuickDraw Source Donated to Computer Museum — source is as much a historical artifact worthy of preservation as hardware, and will be increasingly so. Should Library of Congress require submission of distributed computer code the same as for published books? (via Andy Baio)
Cloud Data Ingest, Microbiome, Patent Blindness, Russian Open Data
- Flume — Cloudera open source project to solve the problem of how to get data into cloud apps, from collection to processing to storage. Flume is a distributed service that makes it very easy to collect and aggregate your data into a persistent store such as HDFS. Flume can read data from almost any source – log files, Syslog packets, the standard output of any Unix process – and can deliver it to a batch processing system like Hadoop or a real-time data store like HBase. All this can be configured dynamically from a single, central location – no more tedious configuration file editing and process restarting. Flume will collect the data from wherever existing applications are storing it, and whisk it away for further analysis and processing. (via mikeolson on Twitter)
- How Microbes Defend and Define Us (NYTimes) — there’s been a lot of talk about the microbiome at Sci Foo in the last few years, now it’s bubbling out into the world. Turns out that “bacteria bad, megafauna good” is as simplistic and inaccurate as “Muslim bad, Christian good”. Fancy that. (via Jim Stogdill)
- Startup Model Patently Flawed (Nature) — “There is a lot of stuff that academics are realizing isn’t patentable but they can commercialize for themselves by starting a company,” says Scott Shane, an economist at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, and a co-author of the study. Because surveys of entrepreneurial activity — including government assessments — typically focus on patent activity, they may be significantly underestimating academics’ efforts, he notes. (via pkedrosky on Twitter)
- Open Data on Russian Government Spending (OKFN) — a group outside government is adding analytics to the data that departments are required to release.
Crowdfunding, Biogrown Blood, MakerBot Spawn, and Real-Time Data
- Reasons for Artists and Fans to Consider Crowdfunding — the number of fans acquiring music outside traditional and/or legal means is, well, the majority. Plenty of examples of bands raising money outside the label system.
- DARPA’s Blood Makers Start Pumping (Wired) — biomanufactured blood. The blood was produced using hematopoietic cells, derived from embryonic cord-blood units. Currently, it takes Arteriocyte scientists three days to turn a single umbilical cord unit into 20 units of RBC-packed blood. The average soldier needs six units during trauma treatment. (via rdiva on Twitter)
- Self-Reproducing Makerbot — a community member popped up, out of the blue, and posted the designs for a MakerBot assembled from 150 pieces that a MakerBot can print, a-la the RepRap (whose design MakerBot is based on). (via Quinn Norton)
- Real Time Real World Statistics — I can’t wait to see what happens when we get real-time AND open data together. (via jessykate on Twitter)