Monthly Archives: June 2008

Quickie

I’m back in Minnesota, after a delightful if quick trip to ALA. The OCLC symposium went rather well and it was an honor to be on the dais with Susan, David, and Michael.

It was great to meet up with the WebJunction folks at their reception, which is getting to be the party in town.  (If you haven’t been, you’ve been missing a great time and some amazing food.)  I’m still getting the boa feathers out of my clothes and luggage.  It was an added treat to have dinner with Jennifer Peterson of WebJunction, who has become a friend through our many encounters.  I wish we loved closer!

Jen and me

As if that wasn’t enough of a treat, I went to dinner with David and the OCLC folks to a beautiful restaurant with an amazing view of the city.  The food was delicious and the company was entertaining.

One interesting tidbit about this very swanky restaurant.  Their signature side dish is cream corn, served family style.  Cream corn. Seriously?  The stuff from my Midwestern childhood?  We each had an obligatory spoonful, if only to remind ourselves that we hate cream corn.  One of the dishes was left untouched, leading one of the group to wonder how much of the stuff goes uneaten.

I hope all of you that remain in Anaheim have a wonderful conference!

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Boa-covered Jennifer


IMG_6030

Originally uploaded by WebJunction.

Jen having fun at the WebJunction reception. Those feathers were everywhere by the end of the night.

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Off to Anaheim

I’ll be heading to ALA in Anaheim on Thursday and will be part of an OCLC symposium on The Mashed Up Library. It’s on Friday, June 27th from 1:30 to 4:00 at the Anaheim Marriott. I’ll be part of a panel that includes Susan Gibbons from the University of Rochester (no, the other one) and David Lee KingMichael Schrage, Research fellow at the MIT Sloan Center for Digital Business will be the keynote speaker. We’ll be talking about innovation and mashups and there will be ice cream.  (Yes, that’s a bribe.)

If you’re heading to Anaheim, stop in and say hi!

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Turnover

Buddy Susan sent this interesting calculator my way.  It’s from the folks at the Wyoming Department of Workforce Services and it calculates the cost of employee turnover.  It’s rather startling.   As Susan puts it,

Really makes ya think (or at least made me think) about ALL the costs associated with turnover, not just the obvious ones. I mean, we all know turnover costs, but when you start splitting it out…yeesh….kinda makes you want to hang onto the employees ya got.

Take a look.  You may just decide to coach that employee, rather than look for a replacement.

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Blinded with Science

As we speak, MPOW is hosting a symposium on Biomedical Informatics and Computational Biology.  Our partners in this venture include some august institutions: Mayo Clinic, IBM, the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities, and the Hormel Institute.

I just sat through the keynote presentation on the MI3C, a collaboration between IBM and Mayo.  The MI3C is the Medical Imaging Informatics Innovation Center, and it’s incredible.  (Maybe it should be MI4C.)  From the news release on its inception in January:

Today, Mayo Clinic and IBM (NYSE: IBM) announced the creation of a collaborative research facility aimed at advancing medical imaging technologies to improve the quality of patient care. The Medical Imaging Informatics Innovation Center (MI3C) is an extension of a Mayo-IBM collaboration announced in 2007, the results of which have given physicians the ability to register medical images up to 50 times quicker and provide critical diagnosis, such as the growth or shrinkage of tumors, in seconds instead of hours.

The afternoon will feature breakout sessions on topics such as “Bioinformatics: Proteomics” and “Biomedical Data Mining.”  There will be team meetings on “Normalization in Global Mass Spectrometry Studies” and “Mining Genetic Determinants of Human Disease” along with three other projects.

I sat there this morning, after chatting with the guys who run the IBM Supercomputer, with the realization starting to dawn on me that this group of people was in a very real sense changing the world.  And in a chat with the Big Boss afterward, he wondered how anyone could possibly find math or science boring after listening to what these guys are talking about.

It’s a whole new world out there.  How cool that I can peek in the windows and see what’s going on.

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Me, too…

I like it.

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Clouds

A few folks have written about Wordle, the new site that creates beautiful word clouds. I just tried one for our new Master in Biostatistics program, and here’s the cloud:

I LOVE this!  I think I’ll make one for each of the majors.  How cool would it look to decorate the library with matted and framed versions of these???

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Flights of Angels

Now cracks a noble heart.

Good night, sweet Prince; and flights of angels sing thee to thy rest. (Hamlet, V, ii)

A dear man passed away last night.

DBF’s father, who I’ve known for over 30 years, was a gentle, dignified, brilliant man. He loved dogs and opera and good food and wine. He played piano. He owned a vintage Mercedes that has over 350,000 miles on it, and save an occasional glitch, has done all of the maintenance on it himself.

Hugh was an aerospace engineer (yes, he really was a rocket scientist) and worked at one point for an airline manufacturer. Those windows that are currently in airplanes? His design. Next time you’re on a flight looking out the window, thank Hugh.

We will miss him. I will miss him.

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Friends in New Places

Political folks have increasingly been using the internet and various social networking tools to reach voters. This never-ending campaign season, especially, has seen candidates embracing social networks and attempting to reach young voters, especially.

This morning I had a friend request from a candidate. While I know this is going on, I was still surprised. (I’ve removed the candidate’s name, since it’s not germane to the conversation.)

Dear Olmsted County Caucus Goer,

You are invited to join FaceBook if you aren’t already a member. This will provide greater opportunity for updates beyond email distribution.

Thanks for your support!

Sincerely,

[Name Here] for Congress.

I’ve added him as a “friend.” It will be interesting to see what sorts of communication I’ll get.

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The Nerd Handbook

DH sent this to me last week, and while the article is a few months old, it’s also very true.  In fact, he commented that it’s “more truth than fiction.”  And that’s coming from a Nerd.  See if you don’t recognize your nerd in some of this:

Understand your nerd’s relation to the computer. It’s clichéd, but a nerd is defined by his computer, and you need to understand why.

First, a majority of the folks on the planet either have no idea how a computer works or they look at it and think “it’s magic”. Nerds know how a computer works. They intimately know how a computer works. When you ask a nerd, “When I click this, it takes awhile for the thing to show up. Do you know what’s wrong?” they know what’s wrong. A nerd has a mental model of the hardware and the software in his head. While the rest of the world sees magic, your nerd knows how the magic works, he knows the magic is a long series of ones and zeros moving across your screen with impressive speed, and he knows how to make those bits move faster.

Yup.  Next:

Your nerd has control issues. Your nerd lives in a monospaced typeface world. Whereas everyone else is traipsing around picking dazzling fonts to describe their world, your nerd has carefully selected a monospace typeface, which he avidly uses to manipulate the world deftly via a command line interface while the rest fumble around with a mouse.

Well, I’m not sure I really fumble, but the rest of it is pretty true.  Moving on to :

Your nerd has built himself a cave.

Not exactly true of DH, but he does have places to escape on occasion.  And I don’t touch his desk.  Which brings me to this point, which made me laugh out loud, it’s so true of DH:

Each object in the Cave has a particular place and purpose. Even the clutter is well designed. Don’t believe me? Grab that seemingly discarded Mac Mini which has been sitting on the floor for two months and hide it. You’ll have 10 minutes before he’ll come stomping out of the Cave — “Where’s the Mac?”

Hoo, boy, is that one true!  I cleaned his office once.  Big mistake.  I think he’s still secretly blaming me for things he can’t find.

Your nerd loves toys and puzzles. The joy your nerd finds in his project is one of problem solving and discovery. As each part of the project is completed, your nerd receives an adrenaline rush that we’re going to call The High. Every profession has this — the moment when you’ve moved significantly closer to done.

DH’s version of this is “Never let the box win.”

Nerds are f***ing funny. Your nerd spent a lot of his younger life being an outcast because of his strange affinity with the computer. This created a basic bitterness in his psyche that is the foundation for his humor.

Very true.  DH makes me laugh every day – it’s one of the things I love most about him.

Your nerd has an amazing appetite for information. Many years ago, I dubbed this behavior NADD, and you should read the article to learn more and to understand what mental muscles your nerd has developed.

Also very true.

Your nerd has built an annoyingly efficient relevancy engine in his head. It’s the end of the day and you and your nerd are hanging out on the couch. The TV is off. There isn’t a computer anywhere nearby and you’re giving your nerd the daily debrief. “Spent an hour at the post office trying to ship that package to your mom, and then I went down to that bistro — you know — the one next the flower shop, and it’s closed. Can you believe that?”

And your nerd says, “Cool”.

Cool? What’s cool? The business closing? The package? How is any of it cool? None of it’s cool. Actually, all of it might be cool, but your nerd doesn’t believe any of what you’re saying is relevant. This is what he heard, “Spent an hour at the post office blah blah blah…”

Ah-HAH!  DH sheepishly admitted this one is true.

Your nerd might come off as not liking people. Small talk. Those first awkward five minutes when two people are forced to interact. Small talk is the bane of the nerd’s existence because small talk is a combination of aspects of the world that your nerd hates.

Not really in DH’s case.  While he’s not a fan of small talk, he doesn’t come off as not liking people.  As a matter of fact, most people come away from an encounter with him commenting that he’s a really nice guy.  Which he is.  That’s why I grabbed him off the market.

The whole thing is a pretty good read – take a look for yourself.

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