Run, Lola, Run

Don’t quite know why I ordered this DVD — I guess mostly because it’s a bit of a cult classic and I wondered why. On watching, it became fairly obvious. It’s gots lots of wobbly, hand-held camera moves (sorry, this still make me travel sick, even if they are cool), loud and occasionally intrusive background music, some cartoon segments. The premise is an old one — what if things were slightly different, pick your own alternative ending. As a film, it’s not bad; it’s quite watchable, even exciting at points, but in the end, I felt that I was watching a music video rather than a film. It has become a modern, cult classic — I doubt that it will become just a classic. Originally published on my old blog site.

North of Fortaleza

Just got back from two weeks in Brazil. I’ve never been to Brazil or, even, South America before. All in all, I had a great time. Fortaleza, in the state of Ceara, is a relatively small town, and is very much centred around the beach — I saw a lovely newspaper headline one day saying "Ceara looses 7m of beach a year". It’s not a place to go to for cultural highlights; I like this about conference holidays, though: the holidays you end up with are not ones you would have chosen, so it can be a surprise when you enjoy yourself. We had plenty of time for lying on the beach (although not for too long due to the sun and heat), went swimming and eat food. The beach in town (Praira do Meireles) is indifferent. It’s long, but a bit grotty. Still, it’s ver…

Going away

It’s always pleasant to get home after a while away. I don’t mind travelling, but after a while I feel alienated being surrounded by people speaking in strange gutteral accents, with words I don’t understand. So, it’s a relief to get back home to Newcastle. Originally published on my old blog site.

Databasing the Brain II

Interesting day, so far. The talk on the "Cell Centred Database" was a bit of a highlight; looks like an extremely competant and capable system. They are using a very ontological driven system, and trying to incorporate annotation into the tools which are used to generate the data in the first place. Very sensible, although hits the problem that the ontological markup can be hard to understand. One strange thing that I have discovered today is that almost all neuroscientists use "data" and "metadata" as plurals; bioinformaticians use either but tend, these days, much more to the singular. Originally published on my old blog site.

Databasing the Brain

Am at the "Databasing the Brain" conference in Oslo. So far, we’ve had a fairly hairy start; the taxi ran out of petrol on the way. We decided to walk the last 1-2km; it turned out to be more like 5-6km, uphill with luggage and a laptop. The guy didn’t even apologise or thank us for pushing him of the road. Still, gave my the chance for a look at the environment which was lovely. We’re up in the hills, past a sky jump, pine forest, fresh air. What more could you want (other than time to enjoy it of course). Originally published on my old blog site.

Garlic Broth

Tried a garlic broth this week, with garlic flakes. Think that this was a mistake; a couple of bulbs of garlic would have been better. Essentially, I fried lots of garlic for a while with a some onion and then some stock. Then added tofu, potato and udon noodles. The taste was fairly good, although it didn’t keep that well. The main problem was the colour; it was pretty palid looking and would have been better with, say, lots of soy in the broth base. I will work on this; I like the concept of garlic as a main ingredient rather than a garnish. Originally published on my old blog site.

Train Windows

In the bad old days, we used to get problems with the termpature in trains all the time. They had windows which opened, which we did when it got too hot. In summer, travelling down the line there could be many windows open, blowing air in the carriage. Thankfully, these days have gone now. The windows have all been blocked up and sealed, because now we have air conditioning. It’s great. Even when the weather outside picks up to a scorching 24C, inside the train will remain a comfortable 32. Originally published on my old blog site.

New Machine

Just taken delivery of my new machine: a Sony TX2XP. It’s quite cute. The keyboard takes a little bit of getting used to, as it’s fairly small, but it’s probably worth the hassle for the overall size and weight of the machine. In general, it seems a significant enhancement of the previous machine I had. The mouse buttons are nicer than the old one. The power management drivers are cleverer (the DVD still powers off when in low power mode, but switches on again if you want it…although it won’t switch off again if you don’t). The only real fly in the ointment are the graphic drivers which still don’t work properly: they just cannot cope with multiple set ups. The previous version tried to guess what you wanted, but often got it wrong (setting up a…

Awards for New Academics

I’ve been writing up a document for the EPSRC Case for New Academics aware today; it’s an interesting award, in that it is a fairly low bar for entry, if you can get the CASE component. One of the odd things about it, though, is that you have to submit the the details of the student before you have the cash; at this stage, obviously, you can’t promise the student anything, and not having the cash you can’t advertise for the student. Bit of at Catch-22 really. Some of the other requirements are a bit odd as well, all of which have what I think have unintended consequences. First, you can’t have been PI on any other grant; this means that you can’t really do collaborative work until you have got the first grant because it will make you ineligable for th…

What is a unit anyway?

I discovered yesterday that our marvellous Bioinformtics Support Unit has two offices. One in the medical school and in the Devonshire building. More over, it has two people in it. This leaves the question, in what sense is it actually a unit? Originally published on my old blog site.