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Comment: Re:Science (Score 1) 158

It also depends on the scientist.

I was a software engineer for most of a decade. Then I was a computational biochemist, and now I'm a neurobiologist.

My computer background opened an amazing number of doors for me when I decided to go into research. There aren't a lot of people who can deal with both computers and biology well. (Though, sadly, there are a lot of people who are equally half-assed in each, which predictably produces a full ass...)

Comment: finding the right medical team... (Score 4, Informative) 552

by tylikcat (#47075539) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Communication With Locked-in Syndrome Patient?

I am not a physician. I am a neurobiologist. I work mostly on motor control. (And I teach neuroanatomy, though atm only at an undergraduate level.)

First things first. It's darned early days in all of this, and recovery from brain injuries is often fairly unpredictable. Even if she doesn't get significantly better - which may be fairly likely, and I don't have enough information to comment - what's hard now will likely become easier via repetition.

I'll generally agree with the comments that you're probably going to be better off dealing with specialists than trying to get a commerical EEG type device to serve in its place. Though down the road, it might make for an interesting project (and increasingly there are cool things being done with consumer hardware.) The expensive proprietary devices may or may not be optimal... but let everyone catch their breath first.

Where I think some research could benefit you all a lot is making sure she's seeing the right specialists. Getting in touch with the right people at your local academic hospital - which might, down the road, turn into your not so local academic hospital - is, long term, probably the most useful thing. As other people have mentioned, rest and support can be more useful than trying to fix everything right now. But if you're going nuts looking for options, see if you can start figuring out who, reasonably local, has a serious background in this type of injury, and see if you can get them to look over her MRIs. It can be pretty easy to end up sticking with a suboptimal doctor out of inertia. Asking questions and calling around can really end up being the thing that makes the difference in the long run. (And here I speak from personal experience from my own history of spine injury.)

If you'd like help navigating the process, drop me a note.

Comment: Re:Stem cell therapy (Score 1) 552

by tylikcat (#47075109) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Communication With Locked-in Syndrome Patient?

I was just at a symposoium where one of the PIs in whose lab a chunk of this work was conducted was presenting.

It is really promising. However, it's *seriously* early days yet, and spinal cord repair is not the same thing as brainstem. The problems are related, but I'd be pretty shocked if we were looking at any of this being done at brain stem levels in humans any time soon.

Comment: Re:As painful as it is... (Score 5, Informative) 552

by tylikcat (#47074913) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Communication With Locked-in Syndrome Patient?

I can re-check the research, but IIRC, most folks even, after they've had some months to get used to their new situations prefer to live than to die. (It's easy to project what you think your preferencs would be... but you in the situation is not you watching it from outside. I haven't been through anything nearly this severe, but I dealt with a spine injury which I was told meant I would never live an active life again*... and mostly learned not to try and second guess future me.**)

* This turned out to be incorrect, but there were some years in there that were chock full of suck.
** Which doesn't mean I don't have a living will, but did influence how I wrote it.

Comment: Re:The textbook industry... (Score 3, Interesting) 252

by tylikcat (#46944501) Attached to: $200 For a Bound Textbook That You Can't Keep?

This was my stance for a while, though my workaround was to buy hardcopies of the book and then pirate a softcopy (mostly for reference books which I didn't want to haul around). And then I decided I didn't want to devote the space or weight to the hardcopies.

It's not ideal, but there are too many authors whose work I really like some of whose work is under DRM. (And it's all fine to rant at the authors, but until they're really quite popular they aren't really empowered to fight this on their own.) So I am very loud about preferring non-DRM'd books, and will buy them preferentially. And I do not share non-DRM'd book I have legally purchased... and seed torrents of those I pirated. It sucks, but it's the best compromise in my specs.

Comment: Re:The textbook industry... (Score 4, Interesting) 252

by tylikcat (#46944335) Attached to: $200 For a Bound Textbook That You Can't Keep?

I keep having conversations with my students where I explain why they shouldn't pirate books, or at least should make sure that the authors are getting paid (for instance, buying a legal copy then pirating / cracking it if it has DRM to get a useful one.) ...and yet I have a lot of trouble trying to work up enthusiasm for telling them not to pirate textbooks.* Particularly problematic, as I've shown a few how to torrent. (Heck, I've shown faculty members how to torrent.)

* As opposed to professional reference books.

Comment: Re:MacOS? OSX or iOS? Why? (Score 1) 589

by tylikcat (#46930973) Attached to: Microsoft Cheaper To Use Than Open Source Software, UK CIO Says

Well, yes, I did mean OSX, though in fact it's been true for both. (OTOH, in MacOS days, I was something of a Mac fan. It's a relative thing. I grew up on UNIX in an academic enviornment, and tended to favor Macs if the alternative was Windows.)

The command line is of course the least irritating part (almost non irritating, but often installation of common open source packages is somewhat more cumbersome that what I'm used to - it's gotten a lot better, though.) But it's the GUI that people tend to rhapsodize over... and I just don't get it.

Comment: Re:Possibly. (Score 1) 589

by tylikcat (#46930907) Attached to: Microsoft Cheaper To Use Than Open Source Software, UK CIO Says

More than a few minutes. The head of our lab is an Apple fan, so many of the lab machines are Macs and I end up doing a fair bit of server admin stuff. So, for some weeks at a time I'll be using them so several hours a few times a week... and then I'll go for months without. Of course, the less painful part of that is done remotely, which barely counts. (My first mini was a 512K Mac when they first came out. So I have fond memories*, and certainly maintained a preference for Macs through my Microsoft days, though I'll admit not being thrilled by many part of the business model.) And, of course, there are a lot of programming and analysis tools that we end up using on Macs - not even to mention helping my research students set of Python or whatever environments on their own machines - though they do tend to be open source tools and set up often seems cumbersome compared to working in a Linux environment.

What I haven't done is used them heavily as my main boxen for an extended period of time. And it's possible that might clinch it for me. Though one of my closest friends in the department made the experiment and ended up installing linux on her apple laptop after some months of trying to learn to love OSX, and we tend to have similar aesthetic tastes.

* Admittedly of things like my father convincing me to learn Modula 2 from German documentation because he thought it would be the next big thing and then I could teach him.

Never underestimate the bandwidth of a station wagon full of tapes. -- Dr. Warren Jackson, Director, UTCS