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Thursday, May 28, 2009

Fun Calc 1.1

The iPhone application mentioned in a previous post has been up dated to version 1.1. It now speaks the numbers and arithmetic operators. This expands its appeal past that of parents wanting to entertain toddlers, to include those whose children are learning basic addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. More can be learned at the friedricehouse page, and at the app's page on the iPhone app store.

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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Strange Xcode Error

I was helping someone that was getting a bizarre error message from XCode. The message was Error: Cannot use object as a parameter to a method. The line with the error:

- (NSString)formatPrice:(NSNumber *)priceNumber

This was some what misleading since you first look at the parameter for the method "priceNumber", but the error really referred to what was being returned from the method. The problem was the leading (NSString), which was a typo that should have been (NSString *). Easy to over look that with attention directed to the "parameter." Once that change was made, the code compiled and ran correctly.

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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Biohacking - Hacking DNA

The Wall Street Journal has an article today on biohacking.

In Massachusetts, a young woman makes genetically modified E. coli in a closet she converted into a home lab. A part-time DJ in Berkeley, Calif., works in his attic to cultivate viruses extracted from sewage. In Seattle, a grad-school dropout wants to breed algae in a personal biology lab.

These hobbyists represent a growing strain of geekdom known as biohacking, in which do-it-yourselfers tinker with the building blocks of life in the comfort of their own homes. Some of them buy DNA online, then fiddle with it in hopes of curing diseases or finding new biofuels.

Because of cheap access to used equipment on eBay it is possible to perform sophisticated experiments at home. Some see this as the biotech equivalent of the 1970's and 80's when work in a garage could lead to Apple or Dell. Others see it as a threat to national security or even the security of the human race.

If you want to learn more after reading this link:
Video of Craig Venter on creating synthetic Life.
The Futures in Biotech podcast.
Ginkgo BioWorks
Interview with Ginkgo BioWorks founder

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Inspiring video - X Prize Founder

This TED video is duel purpose. On the one hand it is an impassioned explanation of why people should continue to reach into space. (I could spend all day talking about why I agree with him, but its probably best if you just watch the video.) On the other hand the video also teaches a lesson about how to use prizes to motivate people into action.

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Friday, May 08, 2009


I recently had the time to listen to a number of back episodes of Futures in Biotech.

A few of them have to do with research on how to extend life expectancy; for example, the episode with Dr. Cynthia Kenyon. Dr. Kenyon's research seems to offer an explanation for why calorie restriction could extend life and slow aging. She is looking at genetics of aging.

An other interesting episode is the one with guest Aubrey de Grey speaking on the Thousand Year Lifespan. While de Gray's over all proposal sounds outrageous, his description of individual problems to be solved sounds quiet logical. I think it is definitely worth a listen.

On a different topic the interview with Michio Kaku, FiB 31, is very interesting for any real science nerd. Kaku is a co-founder of String Field Theory and discusses one of this books, Physics of the Impossible.

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