Kurzweil Keynotes Bio-IT World; Interview in CIO Mag; Using Text-to-Speech

The Bio-IT World fifth annual Life Sciences Conference and Expo on Biotechnology and Bioinformatics is to be held in Boston the week of April 3, 2006 (which coincidentally happens to be at the same time and location as the Linux World Expo). The conference will begin with a keynote lecture "Reprogramming Biology" by Ray Kurzweil, one of my favorite technology luminaries whose ideas constantly fascinate and inspire me.

"Reprogramming Biology" is the title of noted inventor Ray Kurzweil's opening keynote address. Kurzweil will expound upon themes in his latest book, The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology, in which he predicts the next few decades will see the merging of human biology with the staggering achievements of "GNR" - genetics, nanotechnology and robotics - to create a species of extraordinarily high intelligence, comprehension, and memory.


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Ice Climbing, Winter Hiking, Rock Climbing, Snorkeling, and Copper Canyon

Over the winter holiday, I had the opportunity to spend some time scanning in many of my old photographs from various trips. I've finally managed to put them together in online photo galleries:

Brandeis Mountain Club, Ice Climbing on Arethusa Falls
The highest waterfall in New Hampshire. Brandeis Mountain Club guided by Kurt Winkler and Ian Turnbull of Mountain Guides Alliance. The highest waterfall in New Hampshire. Brandeis Mountain Club guided by Kurt Winkler and Ian Turnbull of Mountain Guides Alliance. January, 1999.Read the full story


Brandeis Mountain Club, Winter Hiking on Mt Moosilauke
The Brandeis Mountain Club spends a couple days camping and hiking in New Hampshire's western White Mountains to climb Mt. Moosilauke in February, 1999.


Towson University's Project Marj
Project Marj was run by Towson State University modeled on the Outward Bound experience to build teamwork, leadership, and many related skills intended to assist personal development during the college experience and throughout life. We spent a full week camping and hiking long days throughout Shendandoah National Park, Virginia. August, 1990


Swimming with Manatees in Crystal River, Florida
Biology students from Towson State University spend a week in Florida, January, 1994.


Copper Canyon, Mexico
Copper Canyon, also known as Las Barrancas del Cobre, is Mexico's equivalent of the Grand Canyon. You can take the train from Chihuahua through high mountains to arrive at Hotel Divisadero. August, 1995


Bahamian Field Station, San Salvador
Marine Biology class at the Bahamian Field Station on the eastern most island in the Bahamas. This place currently known as the Gerace Research Center. Towson State University 1991.

Outlook for my professional development

Since I began supporting ColdFusion customers for Allaire many years ago I've taken a wide range of computer and web development courses in local universites and vendors, as well as many internal training classes on Macromedia products. Except for a few vendor certifications though, I have no advanced degree or similar milestone to demonstrate my aptitude and achievements in computer or web technology.

I'd like to be able point a tangible and definitive milestone to demonstrate my technical level to others, as well as to satisfy myself when reflecting on the subject. To address this need, I've committed to a 6 month Master's Certificate in Java and J2EE from Boston University. I think a Certifcate from an accredited university carries much more weight than most vendor "certifcates", so much so that I wish the naming convention was different because you can't compare a 60 minute multiple choice test with a 6 month program. At any rate, the BU Master of Java & J2EE Certificate includes the following sequence of courses which could be broken down into two sub-areas:

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Backup Fiasco: Short Lifespan for CDs

I've been considering how to improve the backups of my personal digital library such as photos, music, files, and other data after reading a story that's been widely circulated since last week. An IBM researcher estimates the lifespan of CD-R discs to be a mere 2-5 years, depending on factors such as heat, humidity, and light.

Storage expert warns of short life span for burned CDs


I'm considering options such as a 300 GB, 600 GB, or 1 TB Maxtor Hard Drive, maybe two of them in fact. To prevent bit rot I could transfer all the data from one megadrive to the other every couple of years, back and forth to write the data fresh. Of course, just like genetic mutations, with frequent copying some variation is introduced due to minor copy errors.

Llanos del Hospital, Restaurante Ansils, Restaurante la Fuenroya

Pyrenees of Spain

Photos from the valley of Benasque in the Pyrenees of Aragon, Spain. Summer 2005. Photos were taken with Kodak DX4530 point and shoot 5MP digicam.

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CNET Interview with Caterina Fake of Flickr

C|NET has published an interview with Flickr co-founder Caterina Fake as a series of video clips.

Caterina discusses:


How Flickr was launched in February 2004 with the original intent to be a game where users share common objects by dragging and dropping photos into an IM client. Later in 2004 they added annotation features such as tagging, notes, and groups. Flickr wanted to differentiate itself from photo finishing websites like OFoto or Shutterfly by focussing on sharing photos primarily as a social medium.


How Flickr is interested in building an infrastructure to allow members to monetize their photos, although a mechanism to sell photos has not yet been implemented.


How the online community dynamically contribute the metadata through annotation. When Flickr was acquired by Yahoo! membership was just under 300,000 and has since soared to over 2 million users at this time.


How Web 2.0 features are community oriented, allowing better social networking, personalization, and customization.


How Yahoo! (owner of Flickr) is differentiated from Google by way of Yahoo!'s vision for the online community whereas Google is all about using "brute force computation to solve critical problems". As a social medium, content rises in relevance or importance according the social interaction around the content. Caterina highlights Web 2.0 features provided in My Web 2.0 where search engine rankings consider your personal or cultural context as factors in contrast to Google rankings which treat you as part of the flat world without adding a fine degree of individualism.


How video content has been a heated topic on Flickr for some time, but Caterina witholds comment.


More about Caterina can be found on her blog.

Discovering the Adobe Bloggers

My view of the web technology world has been almost exclusively through the lens of two blog aggregators, MXNA and Full As A Goog. To my surprise, several new faces have turned up on MXNA today... native bloggers from Adobe itself. I didn't even know Adobe did blogging, so I'm pretty happy to know about this now.

The MXNA category Macromedia has been renamed to Adobe (formerly Macromedia), and now includes notable Adobe gurus such as:



This blog, TalkingTree.com, now shows up on the MXNA Adobe category. I choose to run my own domain and site independently, and I've never experienced any pressure to move my blog to the macromedia.com domain, especially since I blog a lot of personal material here as well, although my posts are largely about ColdFusion.

So check out blogs.adobe.com!!,... now if we can only convince the Adobe bloggers to start using the Jedi-grade BlogCFC.

Hello Adobe!

Since the announcement Thursday evening, the blogosphere has been saturated with speculations, musings, tributes, and congratulations about the Adobe merger with Macromedia. As a former Macromedia (and Allaire) employee, I'm personally excited that today is Day One for me at Adobe, and I can finally say so!

Although, it turns out that in the office Day One is not much different than any other day for me from a practical point of view. Its business as usual here in Newton. My same customers calling for support, the same ColdFusion community members IM-ing me, and the voices of my same colleagues echoing in the hallway.

So what am I excited about? Well, I get to work for the 13th best company in the US, according to Fortune Magazine, where if you consider only software companies, Adobe comes out as #1. For another, for 7 years I've been a big fan of Adobe Photoshop. I know it better than Jasc PaintShop Pro or The Gimp, or even Fireworks. Now I can approach Photoshop as a professional rather than just a hobbyist, and I look forward to more opportunities to learn the many features in Photoshop CS and CS2. I also get to watch ColdFusion evolve closer integration with Adobe products including not just PDF generation but their server technology as well. When Macromedia acquired Allaire who would have imagined Flex or Flash Forms or Flash Remoting, so imagine what the future holds for ColdFusion under the auspice of Adobe. Yet ColdFusion is still guided by and supported by many of the same passionate folks that have been doing so since the days of Allaire.

Like Jared said,... Yes, I'm psyched. Here's to another 10 years, folks!

Adobe Merges with Macromedia



Renderings of Concord Center and the Hartwell House

Photo gallery from an early morning in Concord including Concord Center, the Unitarian Church, The Colonial Inn, and the Hartwell House in nearby Lexington. These are renderings of Concord taken with a Canon EOS D20 and enhanced with Adobe Photoshop CS 2 to give them a hand drawn ink and watercolor feeling.

I'm still learning about printing techniques, but I've already learned how to upscale photos so that I can make larger prints without significantly reducing image quality. Just for fun, I ordered the first rendering of Concord Center in a 20" x 30" size from Shutterfly. The upscaling and posterizing enhancments caused the filesize to increase from about 11MB to 61MB, and Flickr won't accept files that large, so I had to use Shutterfly. Photos of that size are done in matte paper only, although it looked more like semi-gloss to me. Aside from the glossyish paper, the photo came out great at that size. I'd like to do a custom print on watercolor paper on a professional printer and then matte and frame it for my home.

These photos were taken during a 1 day workshop of personal instruction from Bill Claybrook of New River Photography. It was just Bill and I, so the workshop was definitely worth it just for the personal attention alone. Bill and I made our paces through Concord Center on a Saturday morning, and then at the Hartwell House on Battle Road on the way to Lexington. Then we spent a few hours at Bill's house where he showed me his techniques for printing, and then we went back on the road for more photography at the Shaker Village in Harvard, MA. Oddly, Bill's primary occupation is a Linux industry analyst and currently works for Novell, maker of Suse Linux. His articles can be found on the web including at Linux World Magazine on Sys-Con.com.

www.flickr.com


My other photo galleries of Concord, MA:
- Autumn in Concord, MA
- Snow Storm in Concord, MA
- Concord on Forth of July

Preview of our wedding photos on BodasDVD.com


Our wedding photographer, BodasDVD of Barcelona, has published the newest version of their website and they have used some of our wedding photos from Spain.

www.flickr.com

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