Spring madness

Next week, I start teaching again. I’ve had to rewrite a practical for my microarray course, because genespring has totally changed (we used it in the past) and because I wanted to use something freely available which the students can use after our freebie license runs out. It’s been a lot of work. This has conspired with the early spring deadline for conference season; I am now in the review period for three conferences at once, including ISMB and haven’t yet done a lot of work for Bio-Ontologies. Next week appears to be an "incredibly busy" week; I’ve just blocked out my entire diary with events. Maybe there will be a miracle next week, and I shall be magically freed of work. Alternatively, maybe, google calendar will undergo a terrorist attack or, wo…

Black Gold

Black Gold is a documentary about the coffee trade. It’s conclusions are not perhaps the most astonishing in the world — the coffee industry makes lots of money while most of the producers, particularly in Ethiopia, are not doing nearly as well. Still, perhaps, these are points that need making again and again. The role of the WTO and the trade policies of the first world are, perhaps, less obvious. The documentary seems to have a got a new lease of life, more or less entirely due to Michael Moore. Unlike his work, or Supersize Me, Black Gold lacks a comedy turn to keep the interest going although the main protagonist, Tadesse Meskela, is engaging and charismatic. The music and cinematography are both wonderful, though, making this a clear and compelling film. Well worth a l…

The Power of Facebook

I’ve had about 10 different sets of birthday greetings over the last day or two, which is very gratifying. Unfortunately, it’s not actually my birthday. When I first created a facebook account, I put in a random date for my birthday, so I could get through the stupid forms as quick as possible. According, my birthday was yesterday and I am 29. To think that I missed out on the Golden Jubilee, the ’76 drought and the Sex Pistols by so few years. The funny thing is that I think I have had more birthday greetings than I have ever had in my entire life. Whether anyone will speak to me again, now that I have so cruely decieved them is open to question. Originally published on my old blog site.

Sourceforge Marketplace

Well, I understand that they want to make some cash, but the sourceforge marketplace dialogue that keeps on popping up is quickly becoming more annoying that the Clippy. Get rid of it. I only want to say go away once at most. Originally published on my old blog site.

Rice again

After my last experience with rice, I decided to get straight-back in there. Bought some more, and cooked it with beans and stuff. Managed to overcook the rice, which I haven’t done for a while. I’ve been thinking about why I’ve started to each so many beans recently; then it came to me. I’ve got salad obsessed recently. My fridge is smaller than my freezer. Salad goes into the fridge, beans the freezer. It’s all perfectly logical. Originally published on my old blog site.

Organisational Chaos

I went to Fenwicks today to buy a set of shoe laces and a some nutcrackers — an eclectic mix, I’ll grant you. Fenwicks is a department store which specialises in confusing geographical layouts. It’s taken me quite a while now, but I do have some basic idea of the organisation there; when I first arrived at Newcastle, I used to get lost and once had to phone the fire brigade to come and rescue me, entering in the morning and leaving in the early evening. Today, I went first to the kitchen section, forgetting that it now sells shoes, and that the toy department downstairs sells kitchenware. So, I popped downstairs to the toy department for the nutcrackers, came back upstairs to the kitchen department to get some shoe laces. Sadly, they didn’t sell shoe laces &mdas…

Rice no more

How the world has changed. Once upon a time, rice was my main staple. I used to eat tons of the stuff. Nowadays, I have a more varied staple diet: noodles, pasta, bread, wheat, cous-cous, rice and, of course, the occasional tattie. While I was cooking some rice last night, I noticed to my dismay that it had got some infection — small mites by the look of things which, fortunately float obviously on top of the water. I’ve had a 10kg bag of rice in my house for most of my adult life, but I fear now that I have seen my last. I shall be buying 2kg bags in future. The mites were incredible though; it’s wonderful to me that a thing so small, smaller than this comma, can be a complete multi-cellular organism. Wonder what species they were? Originally published on my old blog…


I’ve started trying out Eclipse; I’ve decided to document my experiences as I thought that they might be interesting. Well, possibly. Possibly not. I’m just going to add to this as times goes on. So far, my conclusion? Pain in the backside. Originally published on my old blog site.

The Inconvienient Insomnia

Got struck down last night with a major bout of insomnia. I was still awake at 4am, staring at the ceiling. I guess I was a bit stressed about work having come back from holiday last weekend, travelling a lot, and then straight to work. In the end, I got up and watched my latest Amazon DVD; luckily it was light and breezy — An Inconvienient Truth. Actually, it was pretty good; wildly American-centric of course, although I guess the temperature graphs look more impressive in Farenheight as the numbers are so much larger. This set me to thinking about my Christmas and New Year. Christmas was at Worcester, then I went to Tuscany for New Year. Most of the time, we stayed in an Agriturismo in Sinalunga. These agriturismo places don’t have an equivalent in the UK; basically, you g…

Abbrvs bad for helf

I found out about a fascinating report about abbreviations from BBC News. The practical upshot of it all is that medics commonly use abbreviations in their records, and traced back to a number of fatalaties when they were misunderstood. Abbreviations have got a lot of history in medicine. In many cases, they were meant to be confusing: FLK (Funny Looking Kid) or NFN (Normal for Norfolk) were designed to express something that the doctor didn’t want the patient from seeing. The whole problem here is the user interface is wrong. The person writing the notes is trying to save themselves effort, to the detriment of the reader. What we really need is something better to interact with, which is quick to input the data but where the underlying representation is precise. Difficult to do w…