Richard P Grant and his BioLOG (biolog); the wee blog, weblog, or web blog; things not necessarily biology related. The anti-blogger.


10 October 2010

Lost at sea

If I might be permitted an observation, there is something wrong when, in a forum expressly for the purpose of bug reports and feedback, a user’s perfectly valid comments are dismissed out of hand.

It’s bad enough when an unaffiliated Nature staffer who does not have an active blog on Nature Network (and yet maintains a presence on the private forum) weighs in and completely misses the point. It is far worse when one of the admins says something patently untrue—and then implies that the user shouldn’t be so silly as to ask for pretty basic features.

First, WordPress comes with an ‘Admin login’ straight out of the box. Second, I have used a Moveable Type install where the login link was in plain sight—and connected to an entire University’s user database. They managed to solve the ‘logging in across different sites’ problem that seems to be beyond Nature Publishing Group’s ken. Third, bookmarks are not necessarily “always in a fixed location on the screen” as anybody with more than one bookmark will be able to verify for themselves.

See how I manage to log in

And let’s get to the nitty gritty here. It’s one line of code we’re arguing about.

The comment made on 27 September was, actually, pretty good and said all that needed to be said for the time being (I suspect that was Lou). There was an apology, an understanding of the issue, and what looked like positive moves in the direction of working things out together with us, the users. Compare and contrast with what followed.

But apart from Lou, Nature Network isn’t that good at communicating with its users. Take this new Microsoft group blog for example: I know that a few people have been thinking “Pepsi“—but all we have heard from the Network is that “there’s no commercial connection here”. What does that mean? Does that mean Microsoft aren’t paying NPG for the privilege—and if not, why not?. Will Microsoft products or Microsoft-funded research never be mentioned in “The Fourth Paradigm”? At this stage, you know as much as I do, which is a truly woeful position to be in (and I should know).

Has Nature Network lost its way? Who is steering the ship? And is anybody left rowing?

Filed under: Rants — rpg @ 20:29

17 May 2010

On defecting

Jenny has a new shiny. It’s a device for imaging chemiluminescence–a standard procedure in any lab that works with proteins. The traditional way of doing this is on film, but it seems a lot quicker, safer and environmentally-friendlier to do it with one of the imaging gizmos.


Except I’m a little bit worried. I was reading a paper just now, trying to figure out how to summarize it for our Faculty Dailies, and came across this figure:


Now I have no idea how this image was obtained (the Methods section mentions neither film nor fancy-schmancy new devices), but either way that is one butt-ugly blot (BUB for short). I am worried that it is obtained with a FSND, because you really have to be a bit of an imbecile to get that level of pixellation when digitizing a blot by scanning a film. I wouldn’t ever want to publish something that looked like that–accusations of over-processing aside, it simply looks wrong.

Are we likely to see more BUBs as FSNDs gain in popularity? Is a whole way of life and aesthetic pleasure at stake here? Say it ain’t so, Jenny.

Say it ain’t so.

Filed under: Rants,science — Tags: , , , — rpg @ 21:14


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