It's hard to believe that two years have passed since I first wished Lenovo a Happy 30th Birthday! I want to take a few minutes out of my day to wish Lenovo for not only making a great product that I've depended on for eight years, but also providing me with great friends in the Lenovo Insiders. To many great years, and product, ahead!
Until today, the eeriest part of this Halloween season had been Trizol contamination in my samples and rampant RNA degradation…that was until I came across these photos from 1990 or 1991.
I'm not sure why, but costumes in the 1980s and 1990s were awful. I just don't understand why masks were supplied with plastic aprons advertising what you were supposed to be. Why?! And, yes, like you I'm cringing just slightly at my costume. Why I'm a dinosaur wearing pink, I'm not sure.
Yes, photographs can be a bit embarrassing, but I'm grateful that my dad took abundant photographs and video when I was a child. Get out there, have a great Halloween, and feel free to embarrass your children. And for those of you who will be staying indoors, aside from the usual tradition of watching Hocus Pocus, let me recommend starting a new tradition: Reading Bradbury's The Halloween Tree. You won't be disappointed.
Unfortunately, I have been so wrapped up in my PhD program that I have been remiss in updating my blog. It was a wonderful Email by Andrew Taranov, the R&D manager of the Academy of Geniuses in Russia, that motivated me to finally create another entry. In Andrew’s own words, here is some information on the academy he and Julia Taranova, the creator of the school, run:
The Academy of Geniuses is a company that is engaged in training children of all abilities information technology. Above all, the academy aims to instill important life qualities: analytical thinking, logic, and perseverance in achieving goals. Second, the academy teaches practical skills: a robotics courses helps the children understand the basics of mechanics, engineering, constructing robots, and controlling them using computer programs, whereas the programming club teaches students how to properly manage their computers and how to use the PC to solve professional problems. On the other hand, the system administration courses gives the students the opportunity to learn the skills required of servicing an entire network. Not surprisingly, with the proliferation of mobile devices, one of the most popular courses instructs students on developing mobile applications on Android phones and tablets. Though the students may be young, courses are designed with pragmatism in mind: all professional languages the academy uses are in demand in the labor market, be it Java or 1C programming language. Ultimately, the pupils are instilled with a belief that the positive changes they can bring about in the world outweigh the monetary rewards.
The program thus far has been a remarkable success. More than 750 children of the Kalinigrad region have attended the summer classes—naturally, robust equipment is needed to serve so many students (especially young students). For this reason, the Academy of Geniuses has opted to use more than 40 Lenovo computers.
For anyone who can speak Russian, I encourage you to learn more about the academy on their Facebook group or the PDF that I have enclosed. I would like to congratulate Andrew and Julia for their remarkable work. I and Lenovo wish them many more years of success!
Lenovo today announced that #LenovoTechWorld, the company’s strategic technology conference, comes to San Francisco on June 9, 2016. The second annual conference brings together some of the industry’s top leaders along with Lenovo chairman and CEO Yang Yuanqing for the keynote address where they’ll probe the most promising and emerging topics in innovation, including virtual reality, smart connected devices/IoT and harnessing the power of the cloud to transform people’s lives. Lenovo will be joined by fans, media, influencers, press, analysts and other guests from around the world.
The official press release can be found here: http://news.lenovo.com/news-releases/lenovo-to-host-second-annual-tech-world-with-industry-tech-giants.htm
Lenovo will livestream the keynote at 10:00 a.m. PST on June 9, 2016 at: www.YouTube.com/lenovo
First, everything I liked about the Yoga 3 Pro a year ago has only been enhanced: The screen, a 13.3-inch, 3,200 x 1,800 touch display is gorgeous—it is a delight using the system to read journal articles in portrait mode and creating figures for my papers at hours at a time without suffering from eyestrain; regardless of the angle the screen is titled, color shift is not present. Quite frankly, it makes me realize how abysmal my T420s screen is.
With 16 GB of RAM, I have had no problem running MatLab with several YouTube videos open, PowerPoints, pdf’s, etc..the system crunches through the programs with aplomb—it does so with some fan noise, owing to the system’s thinness, but the noise is infrequent and not distracting (however, my T400 is SILENT, so this is a bit of an adjustment). I timed battery life on this system, and I easily exceeded 6 hours even after heavy use (thus, Lenovo’s claim of 7 hours isn’t so far-fetched). I was quite amazed by the sound quality of the system—it booms and is crystal clear; equally amazing, the direction of the sound changes depending on the mode of the system (e.g., Tent mode vs. laptop). This has proven to negate my need for external headphones—and considering that many of my professors have made many of their lectures as YouTube videos, this has proven to be much less cumbersome than being tethered to a system—I have never owned a ThinkPad with sound quality that could be described as anything above mediocre, so this is a surprise. Finally, as for durability, it approaches my ThinkPad. It is solid and the screen does not exhibit any wobble, owing to the gorgeous hinge.
Yes, I have exuded praise for the system. So why is it not my primary computer in academia? It boils down to the keyboard! The keyboard seems to be a second thought for such a beautiful system—the Shift key has been shrunken, the keys are crammed and the layout is confusing (check out the location of the Home button), the function keys have been combined with the volume keys, etc. Worse, the integrated mouse buttons just do not function well—I find myself accidentally right clicking when I mean to left click…and for me, a TrackPoint is a must. On a positive note, the tactile feedback is good, considering that key travel is less than that of my ThinkPad. For most users, I think a mediocre keyboard is expected and will suffice. We have entered an age where people rely more and more on touchscreens and less on a physical keyboard. But for me, when I switching between EndNote, Microsoft Word, a PDF, and a PowerPoint for creating a figure, I rely entirely on a keyboard. Dedicated buttons, a TrackPoint that allows me to keep my hands on the keyboard, and a logical layout mean my brain is entirely focused on the task on hand and not on correcting a mis-click. So, yes, my ThinkPad T420s, with its horrid screen, terrible sound, lackluster battery life, and aging performance remains my primary machine for typing papers simply because it has one of the best keyboards of any machine. For the average consumer who may be more focused on multimedia, gaming, and typing papers for class, this is a fine machine; for those of us, however, who grew up with a ThinkPad, the keyboard just falls far below the gold standard….For that reason, my Yoga 900 is my primary tool for reading PDFs, creating figures (the colors are accurate and the resolution is superb), and watching YouTube videos for class (the sound is clear and the battery goes on and on and on). But for everything else, nothing beats a ThinkPad.
A Little Help from the X230 to Study Habitat Use and Bioacoustics of Odontocete Species in Two National Marine Sanctuaries
Though I have known Tammy as a fellow graduate student for some time, I have only known her as a ThinkPad user for about a week. Following her research proposal (a wonderful one, I should add), I asked if I could share the abstract of her work and if she could briefly describe what she has been using her ThinkPad X230 for. Here we go!
Odontocetes (toothed whales) are abundant, globally distributed animals that play key trophic roles in ecosystems and may overlap with harmful human activities. Basic information on occurrence patterns, habitat use, bioacoustics and dive behavior are necessary for informing ecosystem-based management plans and for predicting and mitigating human impacts, yet we often lack such data. The Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary (SBNMS) and the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary (HIHWNMS) are areas of national importance that lack critical biological and ecological data on odontocetes within their management areas.
The goal of my dissertation is to improve our understanding of odontocete ecology by gathering baseline data on habitat use, bioacoustics and dive behavior for relatively abundant odontocetes in and around each Sanctuary. Work already completed in the HIHWNMS focused on developing methods to deploy acoustic recording tags on small odontocetes (pantropical spotted dolphins) and to subsequently quantify their acoustic and dive behavior. Proposed research in the SBNMS will focus on four species (Atlantic white-sided dolphins, common dolphins, pilot whales and harbor porpoise) and will utilize two established methods for studying animal distributions: passive acoustic monitoring and incorporation of visual sighting data into species distribution models. Ocean gliders equipped with acoustic recorders and environmental sensors (temperature, salinity, chlorophyll) will be deployed in SBNMS and surrounding waters from November-January to acoustically monitor for odontocete presence and sample the environment. These data will be used to examine relationships between odontocete acoustic detections and environmental variables that may influence odontocete distributions. In order to acoustically identify species recorded during glider deployments, vocalizations of the species of interest must be previously described. My thesis will characterize the vocal repertoire of Atlantic white-sided dolphins using existing recordings and initiate recording and characterization of vocalizations from additional local species. Opportunistic sighting data gathered from multiple platforms between 2004 and 2014 will be input into species distribution models (Maximum Entropy, point process models) to examine seasonal distributions of odontocetes and assess species differences in spatial and/or temporal distributions patterns. This work should increase our basic understanding of odontocete ecology and is a first step in assessing overlap with human activities.
My Lenovo ThinkPad X230
Assessing the vocal behavior of the animals, the bioacoustics, often requires unique software and fast processing for visualizing and analyzing the sound. I need additional processing power to run such programs as Raven Pro (Cornell University) and MATLAB. This is where my trustworthy Lenovo X230 comes into play—so far, it’s been great at meeting all my research needs
Though I'm not particularly fond of self-promotion, I will confess I'm rather proud to have been featured. Here's the conversation I had: http://www.thinkconversations.com/us/en/proredefined/profiles/its-the-science-talking/
Yes, I'm quite a dork, but not the biggest ThinkPad out there by far...that award goes to Atli, who proudly wears the ThinkPad logo as a badge of honor...I hope you enjoy some of the stories and will consider being part of the conversation!
The Chief Design Officer of Lenovo, David Hill, gave an excellent, brief talk at CES 2016 about the lineage of ThinkPads. Rather than designs that are continually remodeled to reflect "what's new," ThinkPads are designed to reflect "what's better." Please enjoy watching David discuss how the ThinkPad design is a perfect balance between form, function and emotion.
Richard Sapper will surely be missed, but his designs will remain timeless. To learn more about Richard Sapper and the origins of the ThinkPad, please read the following article written by Lenovo's David Hill in 2013. http://blog.lenovo.com/en/blog/richard-sapper-the-origins-of-the-thinkpad-keyboard
The story and artwork I created encapsulated so much that I found endearing up to that point: Yoshi's Island, The Little Prince, Donkey Kong Country 2, and The Phantom Tollbooth were all influences in both my tale (and if you notice, I did borrow quite a bit of the art from The Phantom Tollbooth). The technology I utilized was primitive, even for then, but I embraced it. I used my 566 MHz eMachines with 64 mb of RAM and a 20 GB hard drive and a Celeron processor, a set of watercolors, crayolas, a UMAX Astra scanner (pretty decent, actually),a CD-RW, an HP laser jet, and very basic photo editing software from the 1990s to create my book. I do not have fond memories of the experience at all,--the computer froze constantly, it was slow, the CD-RW was unreliable, and my artistic ability was almost non-existent (yes, my Lenovo Yoga 900 with nearly 300x the memory would have made it a much more pleasant process). But I created something that means more to me now than it did then. I stowed it away, never intending for others to see it...but, it's time. So here it is:
I do apologize for the low-res, crooked scans…and I do apologize that the book is far from professional…but, regardless, these pages capture something significant. The story is less a tale of Christmas and more a declaration of my greatest fears. There was a fear, I recognize now, that I somehow wasn’t worthy enough to those who meant the most to me. It’s a fear that many of us face. So during this Christmas season, when you’re enjoying your shiny Lenovo Yogas and iPhones, do not forget that there is something far more meaningful to the season. And to Mr. Tavares, who has since passed, thank you again for teaching an English class that went beyond analyzing Hamlet and memorizing rules of grammar.
About Gregory Costa
Gregory Costa is a decent biologist, mediocre writer, terrible formatter, but true Lenovo enthusiast, who admires the use of their products in both the academic and industrial setting...when he's not busy delighting himself in science, nature, or his OkCupid profile.