Weekly Head Voices #6: Heroic Wave, Brainy Mice, Don’t shoot the Messenger.

Week 40 of 2009 brought with it the following noteworthy tidbits:


Public opinion concerning the HTC Hero is generally quite positive, although the extent to which the most recent firmware update has remedied the often-reported laggy touch-screen response leaves me suspicious:

It does have a capacitative touch screen (the best kind), but is apparently still not as responsive as the iphone.  It’s almost as if the finger swiping is seen as a suggestion instead of an actual command.  Now before all you fanboys go “I told you so”, please remember that Android devices actually multi-task an arbitrary number of processes, whilst Apple has determined that fanboys are only allowed one at a time, with some recent small exceptions. I think I might just wait this one out. At least until next week.

When I first heard about Google Wave, I was considering to let this one fad pass me by, so I didn’t go to any effort to get in on the invite frenzy. However, after seeing this short (7 minute) explanatory video:

… I am now regretting my laissez faire attitude. What completely convinced me, was the part where they show how you can organize BBQs using this fantastic new technology. WHY DIDN’T THEY SAY SO IN THE FIRST PLACE!

Slightly more seriously, Wave enables you to combine multiple different forms of internet communication in one stream, called a wave (doh), that can be played back and forth in time and to which other Wave users can be added as subscribers, thus enabling them to take part in the stream by adding more emails, comments on other emails, real-time chats, documents, and anything else one might fancy throwing into the conversation. One is also able to link the wave bi-directionally to other information sources such as blogs, so that for example comments on a linked blog are automatically added to the wave, at the correct point in time.

It’s pretty exciting to see where all of this is going.


On Wednesday I opposed an M.Sc. thesis that explored the relationship between DTI-based and resting state fMRI-based neural connectivity. DTI, or diffusion tensor imaging, is an MRI-based technique that is able to image neural fibre bundles in the human brain: Very loosely put, this is in fact imaging the brain’s connective wiring, i.e. the structural connectivity. With resting state fMRI, it is hypothesised that one can derive functional connectivity, i.e. fish out the regions that show such high time-activity correlation that there is a high probability that they are working together and hence are probably connectivity. Of course one would like to see these two being in agreement.

In recent literature this has been demonstrated, but in this M.Sc. project no correlation was found. Unfortunately in science, it’s far harder to convince someone of the latter than of the former. Whatever the case may be, this raises interesting questions: Is there no correlation? Are the techniques not sensitive enough? Also in the back of my head throughout the very solid defense was the recent work on finding fMRI activity in the brain of a dead salmon. :)

On Thursday, I was involved in a meeting with hardcore scientists. How do I know they were hardcore? Well, they do things with mice. Over the past years I have seen a terribly high correlation between scientific hardcoreness, judging by number of publications in journals such as Science and Nature, and Doing Stuff With Mice, Especially Genetically Modified Mice. Although correlation of course does not imply causation, I have decided to acquire some of above-mentioned mice. Perhaps their running around in my office with electrodes sticking out everwhere will also lead to Great Things.

Retail therapy:

Even when you don’t really need it, retail therapy is just fantastic. On my way to get coffee beans for the espresso machine at work, I, completely by chance of course, ran into this lovely little Samsonite messenger bag (in black of course) and just had to get it for my baby netbook. It’s going to Atlantic City next week after all!

Which reminds me, I will probably liveblog (haha I used it in a sentence) from IEEE Visualization 2010 next week, which means that I am optionally excused from Weekly Head Voices duty. Ok?