The Ontogenesis Tutorial

I'm on my way down to Manchester for the Ontogenesis meeting while I was sad enough to blog about on Christmas Day. I'm looking forward to this meeting a lot; the idea has been in gestation for five or six months since Bio-Ontologies last year. In summary, we are getting a number of people together to write articles for a book, but instead of going through the tedious and difficult process of getting it published we are going to use a blog. I finished fiddling with wordpress yesterday and, hopefully, all is ready (fingers crossed that our server doesn't get hacked as happened to this blog a few days ago). I'm hoping that we manage to get a number of articles written during the meeting; in practice, getting people in one room is the best way of getting these things done. However, this is no…

Home from the East

My foreign adventure is now well over; I've even been back to work for several days, gone shopping, the prosaic garbage of life. As I blogged before I left, I didn't life blog because I didn't have a computer; I did buy the promised notebook (I said notebook not netbook), although in Dhaka, cause I forgot it in the airport. I really enjoyed the experience, actually; it was fun to write notes as I was going, to put down my thoughts; it was a long-enough and varied-enough holiday that it was good to read what I had written also. I will post here, slightly cleaned up, what I wrote, because it's the easiest way of storing it so I can read it again in the future. Blog posts will come as they are written, which will probably take a while to do. I'm going to leave the blog date as is, but I'll pu…

Outward to Dhaka (29/12/09)

The outward journey was uneventful; never flown on Jet Airways before, but they have good planes with large individual video screens and good food (well, I'm a sucker for a curry). Films of the flight were Surrogate with Bruce Willis and Death at a Funeral. The former is a sci-fi flick, with everyone living through controlled robots. It was exciting enough, with James Cromwell as the inventor of surrogates; this is a strange hattrick, as he's also invented the positronic robot (in I, Robot) and the Warp Drive (in First Contact). Not a great movie, but good for a flight. Second up was Death at a Funeral, which was superb; funny, well-paced and very dark. I've just found out that they are remaking another version of this due to the shortage to American accents in this one. Strange but true. …

Heading East

I'm now all packed for tomorrow as I head out on an eastern adventure, for Bangladesh and India; first, for a wedding in Dhaka and then a holiday in Rajasthan (that's the place where the bridge collapsed yesterday, killing lots of people). As usual before travelling, I am rather down about the whole thing; especially, as I've just got back home. After the madness of the first term, I really could do with a holiday. I suspect that this one is going to be many things, but relaxing is not one of them. Still, once I get going, it should be good. Starting off with trains, then planes, I shall cut my environmental disaster through the atmosphere. I've been over this part of the world before, but never landed. I'm expecting it to be a rather overwhelming experience. Unlike last time there will be…

Moving House Saints and Sinners

While moving I ended up rereading Enough --- it's not been long since I first read this, but it migrated to the top of my book pile; he mentioned three beautiful things which is a blog about nice things. This struck me as an interesting idea. Initially, I had thought to enforce my reputation for irritability by posting a blog on those who annoyed me during the house move, but, inspired, I've decided to write about those who did a good job; of course, by reputation for irritability has been developed over years, and is a finally-honed, work-avoidance strategy and can't be entirely ignored. So, I present, my House Move Saints and Sinners. Saints NPower: they achieved the move of our supplies with very little hassle, and were quick and competant. British Gas: Again, straight-forward and effic…

Ontogenesis and DOIs

Okay, so I am totally sad and writing a blog post on Christmas day. Well, the thing is that I've been teaching for months and moving house. This is the first still period that I've had for ages; well, thinking is inevitable. One of the things that I am looking to next year is the last ontogenesis meeting. It's been a lot of fun doing these, I've enjoyed them all. The last one is my idea, and I think it's going to be good. As an ontologist, you get a lot of questions about how to build ontologies and is there a book. At the moment, there isn't really one and it's a problem. So, for ontogenesis, we decided to write a set of book chapters; here is the clever bit --- we just stick them on a blog, because the process of formal publication as a book is long-winded, tiresome and error-prone. I'm …

Changing Places

It's been all quiet of the blog front for a while --- over a month, in fact, although I did find half a finished blog post hidden away in my November directory. Not enough, sadly, to remember what it was going to be about, so that's that gem gone forever. So, what's happened in this time? One gig --- I went to see Glen Tilbrook, who was excellent as always. Brook Magnanti, previously of Newcastle, proved with her blog that contrary to media expectations that scientists can, in fact, write. Sometimes. Dr Who has had his first assistant top themselves. And, I have moved house. Of course, on top of all the other excitement and madness of a busy teaching term, it's left me tired, but we've been here a week now, and it's slowly starting to take shape. I'm missing somethings about the last place…

Homeward from OBI

Fours days of ontology bashing at an OBI meeting; this leaves me extremely glad to be going home. The meeting was long, hard and tiring. We got a lot done in the time available, though, and that was impressive. All the people in the room knew what they were doing, and we managed to work together and in parallel to an impressive extent. Even while listening to the main conversation, most people were also skype chatting about something else to those in and outside the room. I spend a considerable time working on the paper, which will accompany the release. I got this job, mostly as to regularise and clean up the English, but in the end did rather more than this; I hope people are not upset about the stuff that I took out; the whole thing was done "pair programming style", although …

OBI Bound

Bleary eyed, stacks of chocolate muffins obscuring the "healthy snacking" sign, kids on heelers. Yes, I'm in the airport at stupid-o-clock on saturday morning. I'm heading out to Philadelphia for an OBI meeting. It's an important meeting; OBI has been a long time in gestation, but this should constitute the 1.0 release; it's going to be a mass tidy up session. I'm quite looking forward to it, in some ways. I quite like Philadelphia, at least if my memory serves me well; I've only been there once, for the SOFG conference many, many moons ago, certainly in my pre-blog days. I remember it as a pleasant town, with a water-front, only slightly scarred by the enormous roads that make US cities less livable than European. I'm also hoping to catch up with Robin McEntire, who was one of t…

EPSRCs Proposal Policy

I was most entertained to read about EPSRCs funding policy changes. Basically, they have taken a long hard look at their system for funding, they have decided that the peer-review system has fundamental problems, and have therefore issued their well thought out and considered solution to the problem: blame the users. Their idea is this; if you are on too many grants that fail, then you won't be allowed to submit again until you have been on some sort of re-education camp. The basic criteria appear to be this: three or more unfunded proposals, ranked in the bottom half, and lower than 25% success over the same two years. The first criteria is problematic because it is based on an aggregate score; it is impossible to judge in advance whether you are going to be in bottom half; your proposal …