November 30, 2004

Free 3-day Course at the NIH

NCBI Course at the National Library of Medicine. This is a free course, but you have to register:

The National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) presents NCBI PowerScripting, a 3-day course including both lectures and computer workshops on effectively using the NCBI Entrez Programming Utilities (eUtils) within scripts to automate search and retrieval operations across the entire suite of Entrez databases.

Dates: January 26-28, 2005

Location: Lister Hill Center (Bldg 38A), NLM, NIH, Bethesda, MD

Posted by johnvu at 12:58 PM | Comments (0)

November 29, 2004

PostgreSQL in Windows Natively and Turn Off Windows Indexing

PostgreSQL Native Win32 Status Report. PostgreSQL version 8 beta 5 has just been released and you can get the Windows installer at http://pgfoundry.org/projects/pginstaller. If I had the money to hire a software developer, I'd have him/her write an application in Python using wxPython as the GUI API for rapid development of a utility to organize all my files I have listing my protocols and notebook entries and results in one easy navigable page -- perhaps with a SQL backend if need be (PostgreSQL, obviously). But come to think of it, it's sufficient what I have now: a file directory organization of my files, all indexed by Google Desktop for easy search and retrieval.

By the way, for you Windows users, here's a big tip: if you have and use Google Desktop, there is no apparent need then for Windows (XP) to automatically index the files for easy search. Under "My Computer" right click the C: drive and choose "Properties." Then uncheck the box at the bottome of the General tab that says "Allow Indexing Service to index this disk for fast file searching." Do the same for any other partitions or drives that Google Desktop indexes. This should save you some CPU cycles.

Posted by johnvu at 11:25 PM | Comments (0)

November 27, 2004

Student loans are big business

washingtonpost.com: Student Loans Are Private Affairs

Student loan originations have more than doubled nationwide, to $52 billion last year from $24 billion in 1994. Loans rose to 54 percent of all student aid in 2002-03, from 47 percent in 1992-93. As a private company, Sallie Mae has participated directly in that growth, rather than being limited to buying loans written by other lenders.

Last year it originated $12 billion in guaranteed student loans, 23 percent of the market.

Posted by johnvu at 12:07 AM | Comments (0)

November 18, 2004

Google's new search tool for scientific literature

Google Scholar. It was just a matter of time before Google got in this business. Now the question is: how is ISI Research (Thomson) taking it? It makes me wonder. What if journal publishers could submit articles to Google like book publishers can for print.google.com. Google indexes the books but protects the content from perusing eyes. There's nothing to stop Google from doing the same for scientific journal articles. It not only indexes the text in the articles, but can easily index the cited article list in each paper to develop a web of research similar to that offered by ISI -- ooh, it's scary what this could mean to ISI. How much resistance are we going to see from ISI -- i.e how much money are they going to pay lawyers, lobbyists, and media to tout the evils of Google? How much willingness is there from Google to forge ahead to produce a better competing product? I'm excited to see.

Posted by johnvu at 02:08 PM | Comments (0)

November 15, 2004

Salvation Army scrambling, and I don't mean eggs

Daily Herald. Christmas in the States wouldn't be Christmas if I didn't have the chance to stuff money into the red kettle. As a young boy, every Christmas my father would give me a few bills to put in those kettles, always receiving a smile back from the bell ringer. Sometimes the littlest things mean the most, especially during the holidays. My parents told me on countless occasions of the kindness they received from the Salvation Army when they were refugees. My mom was pregnant at the time and sometimes her appetite could only allow her liquids such as soups, that the SA provided night and day. Imagine being forced to leave the country in which you were born and raised, going to a new place where not a single face is familiar and having people like those from the SA serve you the one thing that literally keeps you alive--food--with a welcoming attitude and a smile. It's the little things.

Posted by johnvu at 12:41 AM | Comments (0)

November 11, 2004

I feel bad for Georgia

Ga. evolution dispute embarrasses some. I'm sure Emory University and Georgia Tech are not happy with the image portrayed because of state government politics like this. Sometimes you wonder, is this the fault of local government or of scientists in general?

This brings us into a larger discussion about scientists' role in educating the public about scientific issues. I was at a banquet last week where the guest speaker, Jon Franklin, spoke about the changing environment that scientists are living in and how we are forced to become more political than we want to. But for the sake of science, it may be time that we took the bull by its horns and do something right. You can read the full transcript of the speech on Jon Franklin's site.

It's funny that this topic was touched upon last week and today, slashdot had a similar posting.

Posted by johnvu at 10:32 PM | Comments (0)

November 10, 2004

Setback for Open Access

The Scientist :: UK setback for open access

The British government has largely rejected the advice of a parliamentary committee that had urged it to support more open access to scientific research, saying on Monday (November 8) that it has no plans to require researchers to deposit copies of their publications in free-access repositories.

Posted by johnvu at 10:19 AM | Comments (0)

Cool Sony device paves way for the future

Will pocket-size Sony PC take on iPod? | CNET News.com. The hospital where I will be doing most of my clinical rotations the next 2 years is completely wireless. If only I had the money to buy this awesome little Pocket PC (that runs Windows XP Pro, yeah, I know), I'd be tapping away, perusing patient records right at the bedside.

I wonder how this change in technology will affect the demands on med students. Before, if there were any questions about a patient's conditions, we'd be given time to look it up, right? Now, with the advent of instant information at one's fingertips, it would be expected of us to find and relay the information immediately.

I had one of those mornings where it was difficult to get up, not because I was tired, but because I was dreaming. I had a dream about work and needed to finish a certain task. Well, needless to say, I didn't finish it and didn't want to get up until I had. If this has any meaning, it probably means I'm stressed and anxious to get s#@% done. Gotta get it done then.

Posted by johnvu at 10:13 AM | Comments (0)

November 08, 2004

Beware of online shopping this Christmas Holiday season

USATODAY.com - Eight eBay sellers admit to entering phony bids. A number of sellers have been caught red handed with shill bidding -- bidding either on their own auctions or colluding with others to bid each other's items up. Shill bidding should not be a problem for most consumer items as long as the buyer is smart about setting a reasonable max price to bid. I think that the shill bidders are pushing the bids little by little to the upper limits to see which bidders have set a higher than normal price, which is definitely illegal. If only eBay could catch and prosecute more shill bidders, it'll be better overall for the consumer and eBay. I wonder if they've developed software to detect such activity. I don't imagine that it's that difficult to do -- there's a limited number of IP addresses in the ether and they could use IP addresses as a form of unique identifier to track activity. Credit card companies have long been able to track aberrant card usage, eBay should be able to identify and track more shill bidders.

Posted by johnvu at 09:24 PM | Comments (0)