Saturday, September 01, 2007

Outposts, process, and brains

Microsoft is opening a software development outpost in Honolulu. I didn't know they had such things, but the article says there are also groups in Reno and Fargo.

Something else that caught my eye recently was a three paragraph column in the September Harvard Business Review about process improvement. The webpage might say something like "subscribe to read the rest of the article" but you've already read it on the preview page, it really is only three paragraphs long :)

And I'm not sure why, but I was reminded again of Oliver Sacks (you'll remember that I mentioned him back in April). His The man who mistook his wife for a hat is one of the influential books on my academic career (and in 2006 was named number 18 on Discover magazine's top 25 science books of all time). The book, and access to colleagues and interesting data at the UCSF Fresno Medical Education Program inspired a short presentation that we never got to follow-up. Anyway, Sacks was recently appointed an "artist" at Columbia University, so he can do what he wants :)

Sacks isn't a great speaker, but he seems a lot better than when I saw him at Caltech. He gave a interesting, about 25 minute long, keynote at an MIT conference about disabilities and technology. You can click on the button to go straight to the keynote (but why is MIT using Real video format?) -- and John Hockenberry is pretty good too (he talks about how typewriters were initially hyped as a way for the blind to write).

The New Yorker also has audio of an interview where Sacks talks about music and the mind -- it's amusing.

One other crazy thing: When in Tuscon as one of ACM's judges for the 1996 International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) I drove out to Biosphere 2 to peek in the windows (and buy a refrigerator magnet memento). Biospshere 2 was sold this summer to housing developers, although the University of Arizona says they will continue research in the big greenhouse.