Category Archives: Challenges

How to run 5 km (aging, overweight people edition)

[A quick break from the Heavy Metal Timeline series. We'll get right back to that after this announcement.]

I am no kind of athlete. Even as a kid, I was a slow runner. I loved football, but I was never a good player. Humiliatingly, I could never think quickly on the pitch, to spot the pass others miss — the one thing I might legitimately have expected to be good at.

MrMen-MrSlowwonderwixi

And now I’m 46 years old, I weigh 104 kg, I have a BMI of 31.3 which makes me clinically obese, and my job is the most sedentary imaginable: I walk the five meters from my bed to my desk every morning and spend all day sitting in front of a computer.

That means that if I can run 5 km, so can you!

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The future of librarianship

I just had this discussion with my Index Data colleagues, and though the conclusion was worth writing up here. My boss, Sebastian Hammer, asked “So what is librarianship about in the 201Xs ?”

I gave three answers: one smart-alec, one practical, and one philosophical.

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Captcha gone crazy

I absolutely loathe Capchas, those stupid type-in-the-distorted-word puzzles that so many blogs challenge you with before they deign to accept your comment. My feeling is that if the site owner feels that strongly about keeping me out, then they can just manage without my wit and wisdom, thank you.

But this one, which I was challenged with just now, really took the cake:

Not acceptable, world!

Help the USA into the 21st century (even if you’re not American)

[This is cross-posted from my other blog, Sauropod Vertebra Picture of the Week. I never cross-post: this is, as far as I remember, literally the first time I have done it. But this issue is so important and so urgent that I am making an exception. Please, please: sign the petition, upvote the Reddit and Hacker News submissions, blog about it, tweet about it, tell your friends.]

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Good news! If you want to read research that was funded by the U.S. National Instututes of Health (NIH), you can. Their public access policy means that papers published on their dime become universally accessible in PubMed Central.

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Who needs access? You need access!

If you’re wondering why it’s been so quiet around here recently …

I’ve been working on a new site, which I and two colleagues will be maintaining, and which I think is potentially the most important thing I’ve ever done.  It’s called Who Needs Access? You Need Access!, and you can read it at http://whoneedsaccess.org/

Who needs access?  Kelly Trout, nurse and independent researcher

We have a problem: the majority of the research that our governments fund is not available to most people.  Continue reading

My plan for 2012: do things that children do

20th January may seem a strange day to make a New Year’s resolution, but it’s not so much a resolution as a gradually growing realisation of what I want out of the year.  Now that I’ve figured it out, I thought I might as well share it here.

When kids are growing up, adults decide what they’re going to do.  And not only do we make better choices for kids than they would make for themselves, we make better choices for them than we do for ourselves.  Here’s what kids do:

  • Learn things (in school)
  • Play sports (also in school, if not elsewhere)
  • Sing and play instruments (e.g. school concerts)
  • Draw and paint
  • Write stories

(They also play video games and watch TV, but let’s ignore those for now because those are things that adults also do plenty of.)

All those things are fun.  Adults choose them for kids because they know that they’ll enjoy themselves, that they’ll develop their creativity, that they’ll be healthy.  Then having set our kids off on that trajectory, we slump in front of our computers for eight or twelve hours every day.

In 2012, I’m going to do those things, too.  Why should kids have all the fun?

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What does it take to test a sorting routine?

Thanks to all of you who have taken part in yesterday’s selection-sort challenge, and everyone who’s still submitting code.  (If you haven’t yet done so but plan to, then please don’t read this article until you’ve written your code according to the rules laid down in that article, otherwise you’ll see hints that you probably don’t want to see up front.)

I promised yesterday that I’d post some ideas about a test-suite in a subsequent article: this is it.

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