Interesting Links 5.16.08

Going to Brooklyn, and the past 2 weeks

I’m taking a break from packing up for my trip to Brooklyn this weekend (to see HER), so I thought I’d briefly summarize the past few weeks of my life. I’m sure I’ll forget to include a few things, but here’s the short list of everything I’d completed (or things that remain to be completed) recently:

  • History and systems — 6 page thoughtful response to The Metaphysical Club
  • History and systems — 15-20 page research paper discussing the Mind/Body Problem (dualism, materialism, idealism)
  • Philosophy — paper discussing the validity of knowledge, and what we can truly know for certain
  • Philosophy — paper discussing the types (or type, depending on your opinion) of substances in the world.
  • Cognitive psychology — 5 page paper discussing how I would improve the human memory system.
  • Cognitive psychology — test on decision making, creativity, artificial intelligence, general intelligence, and problem solving.
  • Math — investment project examining the effects of initial investment, length of investment, and interest rate as individual factors that effect the final amount of money.
  • Math — 12 page paper briefly discussing the historical foundations of cryptography and it’s modern versions (on a very basic level, I didn’t get into all the really ugly details).
  • Math — present a brief poster and presentation on what I learned about cryptography. We’re talking 2-3 minute presentation; not a big deal.
  • Psychology of personality — 5 page paper relating Alfred Adler to events in my own life. We had to pick a personality theorist that we felt we could relate with.
  • Psychology of personality — test on existential psychology, humanistic psychology, Gestalt psychology, and object relationism.
  • Independent research — running out study looking at evaluative conditioning
  • Independent research — writing a 12 page paper investigating the possibility that the resistance to extinction in evaluative conditioning that has been observed may in fact be due to alternative explanations.

Oh yeah, and I’ve been crazy busy at work. They essentially gave me a project to complete that involes making significant changes to an application written in Visual Basic 6 (yes, I know it’s really old), but the problem is that I don’t have any knowledge/experience with Visual Basic 6. This wouldn’t be that much of a problem considering that I could probably learn Visual Basic 6, but the really humorous part of this project is that it’s supposed to be completed in 10 days. So yeah…learn a new language, make the changes, test the changes, and roll it out to the users in 10 days. Um, no thanks.
Anyways, my point is that virtually everything on that list above is now completed. Perhaps that might explain why I’ve been absent from writing non-Twitter related blog posts for nearly a month.
Did I mention I’m leaving to go see HER (the infamous her) in just over 3 hours? 🙂

Interesting Links 12.30.07

It’s been another busy 2 weeks or two, but I’ve managed to find some interesting links to share. The link I’ll talk about is the “snorting a brain chemical” link … this sounds very very interesting, but I am sure it will turn out that some horrible side effects will show up as a result of not sleeping. It’s pretty widely accepted that we sleep for a very good reason. That reason might be memory consolidation or some type of brain repair (or countless other suggested ideas), but the underlying point is that it’s important. Either way, as they mentioned in the article, this won’t be available for humans for at least another 10 years anyways.

Interesting Links 11.10.07

  • To WWW or not and how to redirect your blog – WWW can make all the difference in the eyes of Google
  • Top Firefox 2 config tweaks – Beyond the extensive options available in its menus and dialogs, there’s a lengthy set of advanced Firefox preferences that can customize the browser to your specific needs.
  • APML: The Next Big Thing or the Next FOAF – The concept of APML is that it allows you to share your “attention profile” data with other users, organisations or programs in the same way you might share your OPML file with someone.
  • Source of ‘optimism’ found in the brain – The act of imagining a positive future event – such as winning an award or receiving a large sum of cash – activates two brain areas known as the amygdala and the rostral anterior cingulated cortex (rACC).
  • Explaining semantic mark-up – One problem is that some people don’t understand the difference it makes, so therefore let me humbly make an attempt to explain why semantics is important.
  • POSH – Plain Old Semantic HTML – POSH, in case you haven’t heard of it already, is short for “Plain Old Semantic HTML”, and is obviously much quicker and easier to say than “valid, semantic, accessible, well-structured HTML”.
  • – Open Ports Tool: The port forwarding tester is a utility used to identify your external IP address and detect open ports on your connection.
  • 25 Photographs Taken at the Exact Right Time – Timing is everything, particularly in the case of amazing photography. Sometimes that means waiting through a whole sports game and getting lucky to catch just the right shot.
  • USB Ubuntu 7.10 Gutsy Gibbon install – This tutorial enables you to install, boot and run Ubuntu 7.10 (Gutsy Gibbon) from USB.
  • Top 100 Mac Apps – I’ve compiled a list of my top 100 Mac apps for your perusal, since so many people have been asking for it.

Sorry, too many links and too little time to talk about all of these individually. I’ve amassed this list over the past 2 weeks. Enjoy.

Interesting Links 10.19.07

  • A beautiful mind – Schizophrenia is potentially a very creative tool which, as yet, has not been understood or recognised and is mistreated and so its powerful symptoms manifest as confusion and destruction.
  • Schizophrenics gain by practice, not meds – A U.S. study suggested cognitive gains in schizophrenic patients treated with newer antipsychotic medications are due to practice effects, not the drugs.
  • How schizophrenia develops: Major clues discovered – Schizophrenia may occur, in part, because of a problem in an intermittent on/off switch for a gene involved in making a key chemical messenger in the brain, scientists have found in a study of human brain tissue.
  • Brain cell growth diminishes long before old age strikes – While other research groups have made similar observations in the brains of rodents, this is the first time the decrease in new cell growth, known as neurogenesis, has been noted in a primate, the biological order that also includes apes and humans.
  • Light shone within brains of mice reveals secrets of sleep-wake cycle – By flickering a special light inside the brains of sleeping mice to wake them up, Stanford researchers have shown that they can induce behavior in a living mammal by directly controlling specific neural cells.

It’s been a crazy week between papers, quizzes, work, running 5 sessions of my independent research…Needless to say, I haven’t had an opportunity to post any of the links before now. The first group is entirely psych related links (mostly Schizophrenia), and it’s very interesting stuff that is worth the read. The article that I thought was particularly interesting/sad was the one regarding individuals with Schizophrenia showing progress based on practice effects, not the wonderful meds everyone thought were so effective. That would really suck if that’s true (which it seems like it probably is).

  • 250+ Tools and Resources For Coding the Web – We’re all living on the web, and we all seem to be starting our own websites, so it’s time we all learned the languages that make it run.
  • CSS Vertical Bar Graphs – Eric Meyer has been keeping a secret since 2005 about CSS Vertical Bar Graphs. Well, not really, but it is good that he has come out with a nifty demo on how to do this.
  • A List Apart: Findings From the Web Design Survey – In April 2007, A List Apart and An Event Apart conducted a survey of people who make websites. Close to 33,000 web professionals answered the survey’s 37 questions, providing the first data ever collected on the business of web design and development as practiced in the U.S. and worldwide.
  • 21 Facts About The Internet You Should Know – You probably use it every day but how well do you know your Internet?
  • Verizon Wireless: If you don’t opt out, we get to share your CPNI call data – Over the weekend, a small storm erupted over new legal language that Verizon Wireless is passing quietly on to its subscribers. It appears as though the cellular provider is changing its terms of service to give the company the right to share sensitive calling data with third parties.
  • BitLet – the BitTorrent Applet – download a torrent without using a desktop application. perfect when you’re at work…

The second group is the normal miscellaneous tech links. The ALA Web Design Survey is worth the read if you’re a web designer. If you are a Verizon subscriber be sure and read the article linked above. Verizon sucks my ass. There I said it. I can definitely see BitLet being very useful. I could have used it a few times in the past…

Neurons Avoid Talking to Themselves by Using 19,000 Forms of One Gene

Neurons avoid talking to themselves by using 19,000 forms of one gene:

A lot of effort has gone into exploring a key aspect of wiring the brain, the ability of nerve cells to form and maintain specific connections among the huge number of potential targets within the nervous system. Just as important, however, is the opposite question: how do these neurons avoid making inappropriate connections? Perhaps the most obvious form of inappropriate connection is the equivalent of a neural short-circuit, a case where a nerve cell forms connections to itself.

We propose that this vast repertoire of Dscam recognition molecules is sufficient to provide each neuron with a unique identity and homotypic binding specificity, thereby allowing neuronal processes to distinguish between self and nonself.

Very, very interesting article. Unfortunately the full text article is not available for one reason or another. So anyways, based on the abstract it seems that neurons are able to determine if they are in contact with there own cell body. There could obviously be issues (i.e., short-circuit like scenarios) if the neuron was to excite itself instead of other nearby neurons. I find it hard to believe that only 19,000 forms of a particular gene are enough to distinguish all the billions of neurons in a person’s brain. I’d imagine that some other factor (or factors) would be playing a role in making neuron’s even more unique. Anyways, very interesting article, but I wish I could get the full text for it.