Random Ramblings about stuff I see going on in biotech, internet and the stuff I read.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Car sillyness, and a car I WANT

Over here they have an excellent article WITH PICTURES of the new dash board of an M class mercedes. In essence it is an LCD screen with a computer drawing the gauges....

The commentary in the comments is priceless...

BTW Ferrari has had LCD's embeded in their dashboard for a while now (Enzo, 612) -- granted they don't display gauges (pure digital guages are too slow for fast cars) but it's not exactly pioneering
this is excellent... Looking here we see the flight deck of the new airbus 380 to see that, although gauges are "too slow" for a car, they are OK for a jet...If you dig around that site, you will find that screens are used in most jets and a growing percentage of general aviation aircraft. If it is OK for an F-18 (never mind the Heads up display) I am thinking it is OK for a car.

moving on from there, we get...
What happens when that TV stops working?.... thought so!
which is so much different than when my speedometer breaks...as is true in my car now. I have never understood why people think that making it a "screen" means it is more likely to break than a regular gauge (which does a fine job of breaking on it's own... If it breaks, you won't have your speedometer or your night vision, and you'll have to look at the radio to change the channell. Bummer. Oh - also you'll have to look at the shifter to see what gear your in (and it's automatic so you won't be shifting anyway...)

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

How people think the web made people nasty...

wherin I feel like an old fart.

Started here to see what Scoble was talking about I clicked here, which led to here and that finally led as well to Mena here.

There is a bit of a discussion about people, essentially, not being very nice. Is the "blogosphere" this beutiful place with birds chirping and people dancing or something else? I would argue that the question was answered back in the usenet days. Blogs are just usenet dressed up. You could post whatever you wanted, and people would discuss it with you. Now, by having a blog you get a bit more control in that you can delete peoples comments that you don't like, whereas back then you didn't have pictures and someone was going to eventually call you a nazi.

I have talked before about how people trying to make the "blogosphere" be what they want it to be are a bit misguided and arrogant, and I think this trend continues.

People failed to tame usenet, and I see no reason that Blogs will be any different. People will say what they want. They will phrase it in a way that will be a little misunderstood or is a little dogmatic. Someone will take offense and call them a nazi. Repeate, wring, and rinse as needed. You can hope for something different, and you can defend your own blog, but ultimatly history is just repeating itself.

Holy crap I feel old for saying this. I think most of the people in that conversation that got me thinking this should be old enough to have looked at Usenet, but I could be wrong.

Pace of technology in Computers...

As opposed to my last post, I think the pace in computers is on a tear right now.

It is, however, I think being done for the sake of technology. I think the last few years "post crash" as people may think of it, have been what Biology is in now. New technology is made in these interludes, but just not all over the place.

The computer/internet world right now is in the "technology for technologies sake" phase. It is an invigorating phase to be in, but the shake out phase afterwards is brutal. I think of the next phase as the "Yes, but what does it do for me" phase.

I have talked about "cool for the sake of being cool" before, but it is always followed, at some point, by the "how do I make money" or "How do I answer the question/solve the problem" phase where much coolness is taken out back and spanked.

Pace of Technological Innovation

I was at the ASCB meeting this week, and was at the Neuroscience meeting earlier in the month. I talk to people all the time about their great ideas and how I should give them lots of money to fund them/buy them etc.... I, in the biological sciences, think we are in a bit of a slow down period. Note, I am NOT saying that everything has been discovered and that science is over. I AM saying that we are in a slow period. This is my, purely subjective and personal, point of view on the matter.

I think in the 90's there was a burst of technology that flooded biology. This was good. KO mice, transgenic mice, microarrays, phospho-antibodies etc.... all came along and really stood things on it's head. Now, I think, people are scratching their head and trying to figure out what to do with their toys. There is still improvement going on, but it is perfecting and incrementally improving things not fundamentally remaking things.

I think this is good, but it does make my job harder. I need badly to find the "next thing" and to do that it has to be out there. In the mean time, my feet hurt from walking past every poster at every show. And I am just not seeing the "next thing"

So - Either I am stupid. -or- I am impatient -or- People really are hunkering down and using the tools that they have developed in order to actually answer some biological questions as opposed to just serve as technology platforms.

personally, I actually think it is a good thing. People will have to get back to actually answering a question as opposed to just making a technology. They will have to think about problems and not about technoloy. I think this will lead to a lot of break throughs in human health and fundamental understandings of 'how stuff works'.

For a person who needs to license technology and isn't currently paid to figure out how stuff works....this is not such good news.

Monday, December 05, 2005

How to find out what companies want....revisited

Back when I started writing this blog, I was on a kick of talking about my day job and how I interact with university tech transfer offices... That sort of faded as not too much has changed. They are still un-usable, un-searchable, and user-hostile in their approach.

Today, I get an email (as did everyone who subsrices to the Tech-Ex email list), from a person at yet-2.com asking, essentially, how I do my job. It was parsed as "companies looking for technology", but that is my job. I am torn whether or not to subscibe, as I kind of hate what is going on here.

Between yet2.com and techex, I may end up having to pay for what is now free. I don't really like that model, as once I find what I want, the people I am talking to are going to want money as well. Further, for the most part, 99% of what we deal with is a wash-out and so I don't really want to pay to fail. I realize Pharma is working to fail as rapidly as possible, but we fail differently than they do. They are trying to wash drugs out of a program, whereas we have a really good track record of actually shipping what we set out to build. Sometimes no, but the default setting is yes. Many times, a bit of a slip in delivery...

SO - I really want to just take the tech transfer offices out back and knock them around...if they even just opened a free blog here at Blogger (and I don't even work for blogger!) then their stuff would be more findable and better organized than if they pay people to build them a web site.

Amazing. They are going to make my job harder AND make me pay for the honor!

Friday, December 02, 2005

Secret Information in Public = BAD

I was just at a MAQC meeting, which involves a whole bunch of companies trying to agree on something. It has gone really well as a consortium, and I am not normally a fan of these things. Frequently they drag on for years, hold many meetings, and make no progress. This is a welcome exception!

At the meeting are, essentially, every competitor of ours. This is a situation where you need to assume that EVERYONE cares about you. So... things you shouldn't do that I was able to snoop on.
  • Don't open your laptop and read your email. I will read over your shoulder and learn stuff I shouldn't (occured so many times I can't count)
  • Talk on your cell phone anywhere near the conference hall and not expect not the be heard. I listened to a competitor talk about the launch plans for a product we had heard rumors about. I now have a launch date and we are already preparing our response. I was sitting around a corner from the person so they didn't see me.
I realize that everyone "can't live" without their email and cell phone. I think people would be surprised to find that they CAN live without them, and that in fact at an industry meeting you SHOULD live without them. Eyes and eares are everywhere. It's not being paranoid, it is being realistic.

Another example : Recently one of our marketing directors got a call from a friend she used to work with. The friend works at a company that isn't really competitive with us, but is sort of off to the side. The friend, in long storytelling tradition, told the director about our new product and it's launch plans. Our director was floored. Turned out the friend listened to one our brand new field people talking on his cell phone in a lounge in London Heathrow. Then, she sat next to him on a flight and read his email. The new guy got a severe tounge lashing for being stupid, but it does highlight the point.

You aren't being paranoid, they really are out to get you.