Archive for January, 2006

Death by Risk Aversion

Posted in Uncategorized on January 31, 2006 by Mike Procario

I really liked this blog entry. It describes how risk aversion can stifle innovation at big companies and it mostly blames middle management. It can be hard to tell if a middle manager is protecting the company from your fantastic but risky idea or whether he is just protecting his job.  The are some nice illustrations that both make the point and make the post more fun.

The Triumph of Technology over Good Taste

Posted in Uncategorized on January 30, 2006 by Mike Procario

I was pumping gas for my car today at a Sunoco A+ Mart. There was a sign above the pump advertising Gulliver’s Hyperbean Coffee, a special blend with twice the caffiene. It seemed appropriate that it was being sold at a gas station. It is more fuel than food.

Get Free Phone Calls

Posted in Uncategorized on January 27, 2006 by Mike Procario

I, Cringely is discussing the NSA wiretaps this week in his column. He has some interesting ideas about what the NSA might actually be doing, but I really liked the end of the column where he tells the story of some nuns who got free phone service when their phones were tapped.

“Here’s one more tidbit on wire-taps: They get you free phone service! The feds tapped the phone of the Sisters of Mercy in Washington D.C. because of some anti-war stance or something they took in the 1980s. The good sisters noticed some kind of clicking on the phone at times, and finally decided that someone must have tapped into their phone. Their solution: Don’t pay the bill so the phone company will have to shut off the phone. The phone never went dead, and they quit sending them bills! The Feds wouldn’t let Ma Bell shut them down, and probably began paying the bills. The sisters talked long and free with their friends across the country!

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Imported Content from Blogger

Posted in Blogging on January 27, 2006 by Mike Procario

WordPress.com introduced a new import utility that grabs posts and comments from other blogging sites and adds them to your wordpress.com blog. I tried it out today and brought over my blogger.com posts. It worked quite well, but did not bring over my photos. I have deleted those posts since they do not make any sense without the photos.

I am very pleased with wordpress.com and it looks like this will be my primary blog home. I just have not figured out how they are supporting this service.

Gmail Gets a Delete Button

Posted in Technology and Software on January 25, 2006 by Mike Procario

I learned today that Gmail has gotten a delete button. Google has said since they introduced Gmail that you never need to delete anything. They have argued that when you combine the large amount of storage that Gmail provides with their excellent search tool , that it does not make sense to throw any email away.

Many people have disgreed with this. Sometimes you get an email that is just wrong. That party invitation has been changed. If I save both and search later I will find the right date and wrong date. I need to delete some emails. Well apparently they have finally understood.

The most facinating thing about all of this though is that I learned of it through a comic strip.

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Am I Learning Some Biology?

Posted in biology, Science on January 24, 2006 by Mike Procario

I had written before that I was very impressed with Endless Forms Most Beautiful by Sean Carroll. Perhaps I have learned some biology when I read it. I was able to actually follow the post at Pharyngula.org on the number of thoracic veterbrae in mammals. It talked about Hox which were a major topic of Endless Forms, as was the concept that genes have different effects depending on when they are turned on, which is my translation of this quote.

Genes exhibit bewilderingly complex patterns of expression, and pleiotropy (the regulation of multiple phenotypic characters by a single gene) is the rule, not the exception.

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Serendipity

Posted in Science on January 21, 2006 by Mike Procario

As soon as I had posted my entry on Science in the News, I went off and checked my favorite blogs. I found a comment on an entry that reminded me that I should check out lablit.com. I did and I found this essay on science communication.

At a time when climate change and the future applications of biotechnology are in the papers virtually every day, science communication must become a term we associate with people who provide reliable information about these issues. The public should turn to these people for sound advice about scientific issues instead of looking to self-appointed experts and pressure groups. If science is in crisis and there really is a “march of unreason” (as Dick Taverne of Sense About Science argues), then science communicators must be in the front line, defending science and helping it to reclaim its image as a vital cultural activity and essential force for progress.

This really has become a concern of mine and some of my recent postings represent my first attempts to grapple with it.