Wednesday, August 26, 2009

C'mon! Spit out the truth!

When you're driving to work, and see the 23 and Me Blimp in the Silicon Valley sky, you realize how close genetic engineering is to home.

Seems like spit parties are now becoming fashionable, at least among the selective elite - the friends and celebrity associates of the 23&Me founders, and their growing influencial reach. Maybe I'll change my mind when I get more hip - but I'd rather be drinking a margarita than making genetic spittle part of a party conversation.

But hey! - this blimp might just work? Maybe they'll double their flights during Christmas, as quoted:
“People think if you have money to spend on this, why not buy a test instead of a model train for Christmas,” said Dr. Alan Guttmacher, acting director of the National Human Genome Research Institute of the National Institutes of Health.
Sure, its cute when you claim that this could help with finding a date (matchmaker matchmaker make me a match, make me a perfect match), but it isn't very appealing when your date is tested with a propensity to offspring with a birth defect.

Well, maybe I should restate that. Maybe it is appealing to find out, now that a genetic defect can be directly manipulated out with genetic material from another person. Scientists just created apparently healthy offspring from genetic material from two mothers and one father. (Okay, so they were monkeys, but aren't we all lab rats?) This is one way to have you spit out the size of the parental family - it's all one big happy family.

I have a good business plan - perfect for the valley. VCs - wake up! Expand the consumer base by outsourcing spittoon services to the paanwaalahs in India! 5 rupees per acquisition!

Write the Terms of Service in the silver wrapping around fancy paan!!

Genetic testing for everyone - it's one (billion) big social network!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Games that are larger than life?

Video games are becoming more realistic every day, and that brings a different experience into the living room! Now, the game is moving out of the living room, and the hospital, and, for that matter, the Pentagon!

Just this week, North Korea was taking objection to the commencement of the US - South Korean War games simulation. As quoted:
If the U.S. imperialist and their South Korean marionettes venture a smallest military provocation and make an attempt at the DPRK’s sovereignty, the Revolutionary Army will make an immediate and merciless strike at the aggressors with the use of all the offensive and defensive armaments at its disposal, including the nuclear ones, the KCNA said.
Now ... granted that this "game" involves a little more than a "simulation" - it apparently spans 10 days and involves 56000 S.Korean and 10000 US personnel. I guess N. Korea cannot just assume that the commanders won't just get bored and change their mind, attacking a few Pyongyang nuclear facilities instead!

Another realm where Sim City meets the real world is this interesting game called Pandemic - it allows you to create a pathogen with very powerful and nasty characteristics, and shows how humanity can be brought to a screeching halt! My teenager son seemed at ease selecting the pathogen's potency, infective symptoms and virulent features.

Not to be outdone, a new game - The Great Flu (partially funded by GlaxoSmithKline!), targets the Swine Flu! The good thing about this one - it asks you to battle the outbreak, rather than unleash the wrath of an organism upon the world's peoples!

I guess gameplay becomes more interesting when life and death are brought closer to home!

Prepare to play!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Windows to Mac - an unemotional assessment.

At work, I moved from a Windows XP Thinkpad laptop to a Macbook Pro. Why? Not sure ... have been wanting to experience what folks rave about for a while ... and it's cool, I guess! I do love the iPhone (except the random times when I can't drag the green button to receive a phone call :-)), but it's the first time with Mac since the first year in grad school (those were different! :-))

All the machines at home are Windows, and likely to stay that way for the foreseeable future. Why? Price! The new "you find it you keep it" ads are right on regarding price. No wonder Apple freaked!

The transition from win to mac was reasonably painless. Here are some reasons why:
  • When most of your crucial work-related applications are web based, with data in the cloud, there's no disruption in email, IM, calendar - they all just work with zero setup!
  • Okay - I like the slickness, fonts, anti-aliasing, etc. Love the zoom back
  • I made sure that all my docs were copied over.
  • I made sure to install Office, so I did not have to scramble to open docs and ppts - yes ... still use those, and pdfs in addition to Google docs
  • Putty to shell (ah - the good ol' days!), downloaded Flash and did not need to download iTunes or Reader (for pdf)
  • Luckily, I did not have to move a development environment over - that would have been Eclipse, so should have been painless?
Were there growing pains? Yup...
  • I am still searching for a save button and not finding it :-)
  • Until I am assimilated one way or another, I remain, yours truly, in - Control vs. Apple key chaos!
  • I hate the touchpad - seems unresponsive ... paging seems line by line ... :-)
  • Trying to edit an HTML file in TextEdit, I had trouble figuring how to open up a text file in text mode by default (it was rendering the HTML), i.e., I couldn't insert javascript into the HTML like I wanted - had to change settings ... :-) Kinda embarrassing when I had to ask for help on this, but hey... I had work to do!
  • Had trouble upgrading to the latest Firefox - would tell me that it was still in use, and took me a while to figure out why (wasn't obvious)
  • Needed to figure out how to find a printer on the network (helps to have colleagues!)
  • Needed to figure out how to get screen capture to work - and then follow up with how to get TIF to convert to jpg/gif. Seemed onerous...but then, I did not have to install a screen capture program.
  • Aah - when I unplug from my monitor, I love that it auto-detects .... but I (just learned, after quite a bit of frustration) have to hit "maximize" to resize the window to fit in the smaller resolution! Bug? I thought Apple was perfect with usability, ...but then, again, I'm not crazy about iTunes. I've seen folks have issues projecting to external projectors, so a little apprehensive about a SNAFU when I get there...
  • I've been hit with browser confusion! Cannot figure out which browser to use any more - this applies to me on my home machines as well - Firefox, Chrome, Safari, IE - they all seem sorta similar - visual bookmarks, tabs, slices .... (Do I really need the Facebook browser?) I've been toggling browsers, especially at work. I'm not micro-analyzing speed yet - they all seem reasonably zippy - maybe I'm just more tolerant! Not tethered to a browser means we need browser independent bookmarking - plugged into the browser/toolbar - Google Bookmarks?
  • I exported my bookmarks to HTML on my old machine, and am in 2 minds about importing them, as this is one way to start a new life :-) ... but I guess I'll have to...but which browser? ...
Maybe a contrarian viewpoint: ... a few smiles ... and ... no big Win :-)