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Comments

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The debate over climate change is..

tylikcat Re:n/t (278 comments)

And just as there are a lot of people who dismiss claims of global warming - often because it makes a nicer story to them than otherwise - there are people who really like the idea of some kind of apocolyptic scenario. This is distressingly common. Don't see much of that getting past peer review. (I don't pretend peer review is a perfect process, but it's a somewhat workable coarse filter.)

(The data on ocean acidification, BTW, is pretty well documented, and pretty major. Taking a peak at what's been going on with oyster farming in Puget Sound gives a nice taste of where that's going. Of course, I work with marine molluscs, so this bit naturally stands out.)

Most of the public debate is on pretty different subject matters than the scientific debate. The response of people who are invested in disbelieving climate change to the actual science is kind of horrifying. (The wife of a dear friend - and really, I quite like her - went on at some length about how scientists shouldn't comment on public policy, and shouldn't even comment on science as it relates to public policy last time I was visiting them.)

about a week ago
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Age Discrimination In the Tech Industry

tylikcat Re:You are the only one. (370 comments)

Not just willingness to learn, but active interest in continuing learning. ...and I've found a lack of that in older folks, true, but also in kids fresh out of uni.

about a month ago
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Ask Slashdot: In What Other Occupations Are IT Skills and Background Useful?

tylikcat Re:Science (158 comments)

It also depends on the scientist.

I was a software engineer for most of a decade. Then I was a computational biochemist, and now I'm a neurobiologist.

My computer background opened an amazing number of doors for me when I decided to go into research. There aren't a lot of people who can deal with both computers and biology well. (Though, sadly, there are a lot of people who are equally half-assed in each, which predictably produces a full ass...)

about 2 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: Communication With Locked-in Syndrome Patient?

tylikcat finding the right medical team... (552 comments)

I am not a physician. I am a neurobiologist. I work mostly on motor control. (And I teach neuroanatomy, though atm only at an undergraduate level.)

First things first. It's darned early days in all of this, and recovery from brain injuries is often fairly unpredictable. Even if she doesn't get significantly better - which may be fairly likely, and I don't have enough information to comment - what's hard now will likely become easier via repetition.

I'll generally agree with the comments that you're probably going to be better off dealing with specialists than trying to get a commerical EEG type device to serve in its place. Though down the road, it might make for an interesting project (and increasingly there are cool things being done with consumer hardware.) The expensive proprietary devices may or may not be optimal... but let everyone catch their breath first.

Where I think some research could benefit you all a lot is making sure she's seeing the right specialists. Getting in touch with the right people at your local academic hospital - which might, down the road, turn into your not so local academic hospital - is, long term, probably the most useful thing. As other people have mentioned, rest and support can be more useful than trying to fix everything right now. But if you're going nuts looking for options, see if you can start figuring out who, reasonably local, has a serious background in this type of injury, and see if you can get them to look over her MRIs. It can be pretty easy to end up sticking with a suboptimal doctor out of inertia. Asking questions and calling around can really end up being the thing that makes the difference in the long run. (And here I speak from personal experience from my own history of spine injury.)

If you'd like help navigating the process, drop me a note.

about 2 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: Communication With Locked-in Syndrome Patient?

tylikcat Re:Stem cell therapy (552 comments)

I was just at a symposoium where one of the PIs in whose lab a chunk of this work was conducted was presenting.

It is really promising. However, it's *seriously* early days yet, and spinal cord repair is not the same thing as brainstem. The problems are related, but I'd be pretty shocked if we were looking at any of this being done at brain stem levels in humans any time soon.

about 2 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: Communication With Locked-in Syndrome Patient?

tylikcat Re:As painful as it is... (552 comments)

I can re-check the research, but IIRC, most folks even, after they've had some months to get used to their new situations prefer to live than to die. (It's easy to project what you think your preferencs would be... but you in the situation is not you watching it from outside. I haven't been through anything nearly this severe, but I dealt with a spine injury which I was told meant I would never live an active life again*... and mostly learned not to try and second guess future me.**)

* This turned out to be incorrect, but there were some years in there that were chock full of suck.
** Which doesn't mean I don't have a living will, but did influence how I wrote it.

about 2 months ago
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You've Got Male: Amazon's Growth Impacting Seattle Dating Scene

tylikcat Re:We need to fix the root cause (315 comments)

And OMG, you might be in danger of getting pushed halfway back to *second*. Eesh.

about 2 months ago
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You've Got Male: Amazon's Growth Impacting Seattle Dating Scene

tylikcat Re:We need to fix the root cause (315 comments)

And perhaps treat the women in tech as actual human beings? Admittedly, I've had a great many pretty awesome male coworkers, but I've also run into a fair bit of crap, and it does get exhausting and demoralizing over time. Neurobio is just so relaxing by comparison.

about 2 months ago
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You've Got Male: Amazon's Growth Impacting Seattle Dating Scene

tylikcat Re:you've got male (315 comments)

Like, say, men who make random generalizations about women?

about 2 months ago
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$200 For a Bound Textbook That You Can't Keep?

tylikcat Re:The textbook industry... (252 comments)

Last I head, the applicability of laws relating to whether transfer of medium for personal use had not been tested for ebooks. (Not, I'll admit, that I'd hold my breath for a good outcome in the current climate regarding such things.)

The problem of course is that I do seed torrents.

about 3 months ago
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$200 For a Bound Textbook That You Can't Keep?

tylikcat Re:The textbook industry... (252 comments)

This was my stance for a while, though my workaround was to buy hardcopies of the book and then pirate a softcopy (mostly for reference books which I didn't want to haul around). And then I decided I didn't want to devote the space or weight to the hardcopies.

It's not ideal, but there are too many authors whose work I really like some of whose work is under DRM. (And it's all fine to rant at the authors, but until they're really quite popular they aren't really empowered to fight this on their own.) So I am very loud about preferring non-DRM'd books, and will buy them preferentially. And I do not share non-DRM'd book I have legally purchased... and seed torrents of those I pirated. It sucks, but it's the best compromise in my specs.

about 3 months ago
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Microsoft Cheaper To Use Than Open Source Software, UK CIO Says

tylikcat Re:Possibly. (589 comments)

Oh, and so not a "bro".

about 3 months ago
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$200 For a Bound Textbook That You Can't Keep?

tylikcat Re:The textbook industry... (252 comments)

I keep having conversations with my students where I explain why they shouldn't pirate books, or at least should make sure that the authors are getting paid (for instance, buying a legal copy then pirating / cracking it if it has DRM to get a useful one.) ...and yet I have a lot of trouble trying to work up enthusiasm for telling them not to pirate textbooks.* Particularly problematic, as I've shown a few how to torrent. (Heck, I've shown faculty members how to torrent.)

* As opposed to professional reference books.

about 3 months ago
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Microsoft Cheaper To Use Than Open Source Software, UK CIO Says

tylikcat Re:MacOS? OSX or iOS? Why? (589 comments)

Well, yes, I did mean OSX, though in fact it's been true for both. (OTOH, in MacOS days, I was something of a Mac fan. It's a relative thing. I grew up on UNIX in an academic enviornment, and tended to favor Macs if the alternative was Windows.)

The command line is of course the least irritating part (almost non irritating, but often installation of common open source packages is somewhat more cumbersome that what I'm used to - it's gotten a lot better, though.) But it's the GUI that people tend to rhapsodize over... and I just don't get it.

about 3 months ago
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Microsoft Cheaper To Use Than Open Source Software, UK CIO Says

tylikcat Re:Possibly. (589 comments)

More than a few minutes. The head of our lab is an Apple fan, so many of the lab machines are Macs and I end up doing a fair bit of server admin stuff. So, for some weeks at a time I'll be using them so several hours a few times a week... and then I'll go for months without. Of course, the less painful part of that is done remotely, which barely counts. (My first mini was a 512K Mac when they first came out. So I have fond memories*, and certainly maintained a preference for Macs through my Microsoft days, though I'll admit not being thrilled by many part of the business model.) And, of course, there are a lot of programming and analysis tools that we end up using on Macs - not even to mention helping my research students set of Python or whatever environments on their own machines - though they do tend to be open source tools and set up often seems cumbersome compared to working in a Linux environment.

What I haven't done is used them heavily as my main boxen for an extended period of time. And it's possible that might clinch it for me. Though one of my closest friends in the department made the experiment and ended up installing linux on her apple laptop after some months of trying to learn to love OSX, and we tend to have similar aesthetic tastes.

* Admittedly of things like my father convincing me to learn Modula 2 from German documentation because he thought it would be the next big thing and then I could teach him.

about 3 months ago
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Microsoft Cheaper To Use Than Open Source Software, UK CIO Says

tylikcat Re:Possibly. (589 comments)

Well, no. At one point years ago my mother was trying to Lynx from a terminal window on her rather ancient Mac, and it ended poorly. (I never really did figure out what happened. She said the sysadmin told her she accidentally released a wild lynx on the server. I can only say what I was told.) She then went on to use Windows for some years (mostly because she could get me to get her software from the company store) and about seven years ago, when I was in town and showing her my new Lenovo tablet with an Ubuntu install got as far as Synaptic and said "I want that OS. I want it right now." So I posted a note to LJ, and within a few hours a friend produced an install CD, and the rest is history.

about 3 months ago
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Microsoft Cheaper To Use Than Open Source Software, UK CIO Says

tylikcat Re:Possibly. (589 comments)

More helpful doesn't seem that unlikely, especially since it's not made explicit who exactly Microsoft is more helpful than. There's also always the question of what numbers he's using. Microsoft has been claiming to be more inexpensive for some time. They have numbers. There are certainly business who have moved over to OSS and had very different experiences. I don't even know that it's not true for organizations where the primary computer use is a desktop / laptop environment and users aren't particularly technical.

I'd like to think not - anyone have case studies? But that's the environment I understand the least. I moved most of my less technical family members onto Ubuntu years ago, and they're much happier with it - and my sister, who still describes herself as not a geek, is cheerfully working at the command line and modifying config files and hacking scripts. But they're my family. (Also, Synaptic is about the best thing ever for them.) But then, I still have a lot of friends who will tell me at length about how much better MacOS is, and I find it profoundly irritating to use. And Windows irritated the ever living crap out of me even when I was working for Windows. So there's clearly something I'm not getting.

about 3 months ago
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Male Scent Molecules May Be Compromising Biomedical Research

tylikcat Re:Showing pain, not feeling pain (274 comments)

So, that sounds impressive, but at most you patch clamps neurons, not nerves, and the relationship between activity nociceptive neurons and perceived pain is complex. Even were you able to record the activity of all nociceptive sensory neurons responding to the stimulus, you could not from that predict how the pain would be experienced in the brain, where the experiencing part is actually happening. (Heck, right now I'm working with sea slugs, that don't have brains, but instead just a number of ganglia, and even in that system of vastly fewer parts we can't make that kind of prediction.)

The canonical use of the term patch clamp refers to pulled patches - where you remove a small piece of membrane from a neuron to examine the activity of one or a small number of ion channels in that patch. I suspect what you're thinking of is whole cell patch clamping* where you use similar electrodes to create a similar seal, but rather than pulling a patch away from the cell, you blow the patch and instead clamp the whole cell, measuring the change in voltage or current in the whole cell (the "clamp" bit refers to holding one steady while measuring the changes in the other).

* Which, to be fair, is a ton of fun. And whole cell patch clampers - which is what I learned first - often use the term patch clamp without modifiers, just to confuse things.

about 3 months ago
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Male Scent Molecules May Be Compromising Biomedical Research

tylikcat Re:Written by a Woman? (274 comments)

While it's true that it's difficult to ask a mouse about its gender, sexing them isn't that hard.

about 3 months ago

Submissions

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This American Life takes on Patent Trolls

tylikcat tylikcat writes  |  about a year ago

tylikcat (1578365) writes "This American Life aired a show Friday following up on an earlier segment about patent trolls. In the original segment many of the producers' questions could not be answered. Now they can, and the story that comes out is quite different than the one originally presented by Intellectual Ventures. Fascinating listening by any measure, and it's particularly nice to see these issues discussed in a venue aimed at a broader audience."
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Alleged Romney Tax Data Thief Demands Bitcoin Ransom

tylikcat tylikcat writes  |  about 2 years ago

tylikcat (1578365) writes "It will be interesting to see if the alleged theft actually occurred — after all the fuss about Romney's secret tax data, it does seem like an obvious target. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the story is that demand that a ransom for the data be paid in bitcoins. (Though the demand for ransom seems to push this from potentially interesting data activism to rather dreary conventional theft.)"
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