Google Docs for Scientists

Science is inherently a collaborative effort, and at least once a month I encounter someone who mentions in passing some trial or tribulation they had when sharing documents.  The story usually goes like this…

We were working on a presentation/paper for a meeting.  Everyone had last minute changes, new data to share, and somehow, someone accidentally picked up the wrong version of the document and started editing.  Everyone was frustrated because, they had to get their updates in, and they were all waiting for Joe to finish his changes.  Joe went to lunch and left the file open and no one could get any work done, etc.

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Google+ For Scientists

Recently, I’ve been thinking about the role that social media plays in science. And while friends are fond of pointing out that I’ve drunk the Kool-Aid, colleagues at various labs usually shoot me a quizzical look when I bring up the subject.

Perhaps the biggest benefit to social media is that it acts like a peer-reviewed lens that brings the latest developments in your field into view — a conference that runs 24-7 and acts as a form of social democratization for scientific thought. Someone you wouldn’t dream of approaching in the real world, is instantly more accessible on Twitter, Facebook or Google Plus. They are also more frank than they might be if you approached them in person.

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What Grails 3 Brings To The Research Informatics Lab

In my previous post, I talked about the current state of the Grails platform and what it brings to the Research Informatics environment.  In this post, I’ll discuss some of the features in the upcoming Grails 3 release, and the potential impact of those features on Research Informatics organizations.

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Why Grails Makes Sense in Research Informatics

During our last San Diego Informatics Forum lunch meeting, we had an interesting discussion about the JavaScript frameworks that we use.  During the course of the discussion, we drifted into the topic of the development stacks that we use — these include everything from Spring Web (or Spring Roo), to Django, Torque/Turbine, Rails and Grails (my favorite).

Since I sometimes get asked why I prefer Grails, I thought I would list some of those reasons along with some of the caveats.

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Botcasting: Listening to your Journal Feeds

If you’ve worked at a lab before, you’ve no doubt noticed a certain rhythm to the day. People come in early, setup their experiments, and by 10 the experiments for the day are underway, and the scientists are working on email (or Facebook), or are in the gym or are in the midst of a morning run around campus.  In the afternoons you may have followup experiments, cleanup, and data analysis tasks to do.  Walking through any lab, you’ll find people running experiments and listening to music, or podcasts on their phones or iPods as they work.  And then there are those wasted blocks of time for your daily commute that bookend your day. In fact, throughout every day there are these snippets of time that could be used to keep up to date with the latest developments in a field.

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A Pocketful of Rye

Unlike the Agatha Christie mystery referred to in the title of this piece, there are some mysteries that seem to defy a single answer.  One of those mysteries is how most scientists manage to keep up-to-date given the growing avalanche of developments in their fields. The answers I get are wide and varied, but I thought I would share a couple variations on my workflows, and perhaps start a conversation at the same time.

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Google IO, Schemas, and the Network of BioThings

Last week’s Google IO conference came with a slew of announcements, and videos, but perhaps the most interesting idea, wasn’t accompanied by a flashy announcement.  It did have some intriguing video’s though.  The first of which is shown below.

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