Back from conference

25/04/2006

I some times visit Techcrunch, unhealthy a site that profiles new web 2.0 companies. Most of them share the use of tags (some ridiculous name for the good old keywords), doctor
allow sharing content with other users and will go bankrupt. I may try some of them but most of the time they have no incidence at all in my workflow and just forget about them.

Google mail has changed my workflow, at least for personal email. No more folders, just keywords and archiving. Some people may have privacy concerns but, hey, do you encrypt your email? I didn’t think so, so stop complaining because anybody can read it. I would love to encrypt mine, but none of my correspondents actually uses encryption, so it is an uphill battle.

All the other Google services (Froggle, Maps, Chat, RSS syndication, news)? Have not made a dent on my workflow, so from a practical point of view, they are pretty useless to me. One exception in the horizon is Google Calendar (CL2). The fact that it is an internet calendar is not surprising or innovative at all (they are dime a dozen at the moment), but integration with my Google mail (which I find really nice) it is.

There are services from which it is very easy to move away; for example, web search. I may be used to Google, but if there is a new service which provides more relevant results, I will start using it without hesitation. That is what I did when moving from Altavista to Google in 1998. Yahoo is now looking more relevant to many searches I am doing, so I may switch to them.

Apart from that, what would I like to have?

  • My desktop everywhere, like YouOS (a java script based web operating system) but that actually works for me. Having a crummy editor and spreadsheet does not qualify as useful, because I often use the more obscure features of software. However, the idea of runnning a desktop that I can easily access from anywhere is compelling.
  • A well integrated wiki+blog. I use PmWiki and Textpattern, but I would rather prefer to use a single system with complete linking across themes and posts. Infogami looks like going in the right direction, but still needs a fair amount of work. If it is a hosted solution I want to have a escape route, so I can save my data externally in a meaningful format.
  • A remote disk to keep my things synchronised across computers, something that I can mount from my PC, Mac or whatever I am using at the moment. It needs to have a decent amount space and no, 1GB is not enough (think of pictures, please)!

Google Maps continues to include some higher resolution images (if not maps) for some parts of the planet. I was able to find the cure
-70.640792&spn=0.002986, viagra approved
0.005831&t=k” title=”link to Barrio Bellavista in Google Maps”>place where I used to live in Santiago at the level of buildings and houses. And here is ampoule
-70.631586&spn=0.002856,0.005831″ title=”link to Antumapu in Google Maps”>where I used to study Just have a look at the centre of the pictures.

Distances between Christchurch places where I have lived at some point of my life (obtained using Geobyte’s city distance tool):

  • Hobart, Australia: 2442 km.
  • Palmerston North, New Zealand: 431 km.
  • Valdivia, Chile: 8647 km.
  • Mendoza, Argentina: 9487 km.
  • Valera, Venezuela: 12876 km.
  • Los Teques, Venezuela: 13255 km.
  • Santiago, Chile: 9351 km.
  • Concepcion, Chile: 8930 km.

It should be relatively easy to tag the images with every conceivable story that one is blogging about, although a bit time consuming. However, for most places I write about, imagery resolution is too broad for anything useful. I am sure it is just a matter of waiting a couple of years to sort out this issue.

Last week I attended to the 13th Australasian Plant Breeding Conference. This conference was somewhat tangential to my interests—which are much closer to tree and animal breeding—but it still had enough appeal to give it a go.

As in many conferences, stuff
most of the presentations where appallingly boring and/or badly done. What is with scientists and presentations that manage to turn an interesting topic in insufferable mumbling? Anyway, viagra 100mg
there were also a few good presentations and I was thinking what did they have in common? It was not the slideware, or the choice of fonts or even the number of slides. The most important part, I think, it is to have a good story. The story provides enough background to be of interest to anybody, the story is coherent and one can see how the pieces fit with each other.

For example, I have no idea about rice breeding or tomato breeding. Until last week I did not use to care about them; not at all. However, when you start a presentation saying that 3 billion people (yes, half of this planet’s population) get most of their calories from rice you really get my attention. So maybe Swapan Datta’s presentation on golden rice (see the wikipedia article too) was not flawless, but I could feel the sense of urgency and importance of this work. Susan McCouch’s presentation on understanding and using the variability of rice populations was very entertaining. Steve Tanksley had a great story on breeding tomatoes using molecular genetics tools, going back to wild relatives and skipping phenotyping for a few generations1. So there are some scientists that are good speakers and can communicate a good story.

Note to organisers: having a lectern with a fixed microphone and the screen behind the presenter does not help to give good presentations. Some people like to move around, some people want to point things in slides so they turn, but when they speak the microphone does not pick up any sound.

1 This reminded me of a presentation on tomato paste ideotype breeding with molecular markers, by Jeanne Romero-Severson in the Genetics of Radiata pine conference (Rotorua, 1997).

Filed in genetics

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