Friday, March 30, 2007

Statistics Videos

There's no substitute for being able to watch someone perform an operation in order to learn, so this comprehensive collection of free online videos is designed to help you perform step by step statistical tests using the power of the procedures built into Microsoft Excel and SPSS.

Statistics videos

Globorix: GSK - good pharma or bad pharma?

GSKEurope's largest drugs company, GSK, is starting the registration process for a vaccine from which it never expects to make money. So GSK is the good guy, saving the planet, right? Or is it after entry to new markets in which it has not been able to make much headway previously? Is Globorix a loss leader? How would I feel if I was a GSK shareholder (I'm not) - it's not a charity - what about my investment/pension fund?

GSK: Good pharma or bad pharma? Discuss.

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I'll fess up. I get confused by the distinction between “that” and “which.” So I looked it up.
Fortunately, there's not much evidence that any distinction is or has ever been made by careful writers of English. However, the more anally-retentive authorities say that there is a difference; so here, courtesy of Jack Lynch, it is:

If you are defining something by distinguishing it from a larger class of which it is a member, use “that”:
“I chose the lettuce that had the fewest wilted leaves.”

When the general class is not being limited or defined in some way, then “which” is appropriate:
“He made an iceberg Caesar salad, which didn’t taste quite right.”
Clue: “which” is normally preceded by a comma, but “that” is not.

Now you might expect Auntie Beeb to be a bit uptight about English usage, but it seems that in the present hip BBC, you can let it all hang out.
Groovy, man.

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Thursday, March 29, 2007

UK Science Funding Cuts - ePetition

CrestIn an interesting move, UK Government 2.0 launched the e-petitions system in November 2006, allowing UK citizens to, err, petition the government. The web site currently has an e-petition regarding funding of the UK Research Councils (read this):

"I wish the Government to review its recent decision outlined below:
The British Government has slashed the funding of scientific Research Councils by £68 million. The Research Councils most affected by this include the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, which has been hit by a £29 million reduction in funding, and the Medical Research Council, which is seeing a £10.7 million reduction in funding. The response of the BBSRC biological research council announces that the council will have to cut 20 new grants and reduce expenditure on new equipment."

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Second Life Backlash

Second LifeAs Martin Weller notes, the Second Life backlash is well under way now.

Just like Martin, I don't get SL in education.

Someone please tell me what I'm missing.

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Wednesday, March 28, 2007


Rod of AsclepiusSomeone just asked me what I thought about AskDrWiki. They may not wish to be identified (if you do, just leave a comment on this thread), so I won't name them, but here's what I think.
I tend to find that the majority of my colleagues (and students) are influenced by media reports of Wikipedia forgeries and horrors and will not be swayed by the data (including mine) which says that Wikipedia is at least as accurate as most peer reviewed sources.
Students are particularly concerned that the peer review aspect of Wikipedia is carried out by people who are "not qualified" in their opinions (err, so I'm not qualified I guess).
Other colleagues have expressed the view that using wikipedia for student assessment in the way that I do is problematic because "next year they won't have anything to write about" - i.e. they foresee the end of knowledge approaching (I don't)!
The problem I have with askdrwiki is the compartmentalization of knowledge.
At the UK Blackboard users conference last December, it seemed that every Staff Development type in the UK had … started their own staff development wiki … to which one or two people had contributed (no institutional brownie points), before the project had, well not died exactly, just tailed off … after wasting significant amounts of staff time.
So my problem with askdrwiki is: what's wrong with Wikipedia? Compartmentalization of knowledge among limited user communities is a good way to ensure these projects, well, not fail, just get ignored. Sure, Wikipedia has it problems, but IMO, that means the onus is on us to get in there and fix them

Now where are my institutional brownie points for doing that?

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PLoS ONE: Journal 2.0?

PLoS ONEIf you're a science student, you're probably familiar with the idea of a journal club, a group of individuals who meet regularly to critically evaluate recent articles in scientific literature. You're probably also familiar with the idea of Web 2.0, where users create the content (you help create the content on this site when you leave a comment). What do you get if you put them together? Well, if it all works out, you get PLoS ONE, the journal where you help write the content. Will it work? It's far too early to say - PLoS ONE is very much a beta at the moment, but it's well worth keeping an eye on.
And if it works out, please let me know (you can leave me a comment).

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Friday, March 23, 2007

Creating Content: Students as Users

The always readable Kathy Sierra has a new article on User Community And Return On Investment. Kathy's blog Creating Passionate Users is directed at marketers rather than educators and is all about involvement and building user communities, but hold on a moment ...

Isn't this a model worth thinking about when you next need to create teaching materials?

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Marketing Universities

Martin Weller is a guy who "gets it" (the technology thing). Here's the proof.

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Wednesday, March 14, 2007

I Cu Superbugs

Stainless steel door handles and taps at a hospital are being replaced with copper ones in an effort to reduce the presence of superbugs Staphylococcus aureus MRSA and Clostridium difficile.
Birmingham's Selly Oak Hospital is swapping steel for copper in an 18-month trial to test the findings. 80% of hospital MRSA transmission is believed to come from contact with surfaces such as door handles, bathroom taps, toilet flush handles and grab rails. To test the theory one general medical ward is having copper installed in preparation for the trial while a similar ward will retain its traditional fittings. Even pens used by staff will be made from copper alloy. Copper reacts with the bacteria and inhibits respiration - the Egyptians may have used copper thousands of years ago to treat infections.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Word of the Day: Meh

Meh: Indifference; to be used when one simply does not care.

Homer: Kids, how would you like to go... to Blockoland!
Bart & Lisa: Meh.
Homer: But the TV gave the impression that -
Bart: We said "meh".
Lisa: M-E-H. Meh.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Students assessed with Wikipedia

The BBC reports that postgraduates at the University of East Anglia are being assessed as they edit existing Wikipedia article.
Yawn! Wake up BBC! I did this over a year ago!

3D Animation of HIV Replication

Thanks to Biosingularity for pointing at this great 3D animation of hiv replication:

Friday, March 02, 2007 Updates

  • Novel drugs against poxviruses.
  • AIDS: CCR5 antagonist Maraviroc has recently shown some efficacy in clinical trials.
  • A recombinant HEV vaccine has recently proved to be safe and effective in a phase 2 clinical trial.
  • TTV: Torquetenovirus update.

web2dna as DNA courtesy of web2dna:

Web2DNA takes a website, analyzes it, crunches it up and spit it out as a graphic representation of DNA. The brightness of the lines is determined by the importance of the tags in terms of structure:
  • H1 is brighter than H2, which is brighter than H3...
  • TABLE is brighter than TR, which is brighter than TD tags...
  • Images and flash elements appear as 70% white.
  • New HTML tags like STRONG and EM is brighter than older ones like B and I
  • UL, OL and DL is brighter than their LI, DT, DD
  • DIV layout is brighter than table layout
Web2RSS is pretty nifty as well!