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Startup Offers Pre-Built Biological Parts 71

TechReviewAl writes "A new startup called Ginkgo BioWorks hopes to make synthetic-biology simpler than ever by assembling biological parts, such as strings of specific genes, for industry and academic scientists. While companies already exist to synthesize pieces of DNA, Ginkgo assembles synthesized pieces of DNA to create functional genetic pathways. (Assembling specific genes into long pieces of DNA is much cheaper than synthesizing that long piece from scratch.) Company cofounder Tom Knight, also a research scientist at MIT, says: 'I'm interested in transitioning biology from being sort of a craft, where every time you do something it's done slightly differently, often in ad hoc ways, to an engineering discipline with standardized methods of arranging information and standardized sets of parts that you can assemble to do things.'"

Comment BRANDON SANDERSON! (Score 3, Interesting) 269

The author of the new Wheel of Time Book rules. He is a fairly new author, but has some awesome books. They are some of the best epic fantasy books I've ever read. I highly suggest you read Elantris ( or Mistborn (

Comment Re:programming without typing? (Score 1) 124

Sweet. I started on a TI-82 sometime around then too. My first program was a Russian roulette program where the user had to pick 1-6 and if they picked the wrong number they died. Since I didn't know how to generate a random number, I hard coded the "kill" number in. After I figured out how to generate a random number I didn't look back. I agree, give coders a language/environment they can easily jump into and they will get it. :D

Comment Re:Contracts! (Score 1) 438

There is no such thing as "good formal requirements gathering." You are right that the owner does not understand his employees' day-to-day problems...but you need to go one step further and recognize that the employees don't understand them either. They won't know what they want until they see your interpretation of what it is they think they want. Rapid development/prototyping needs to be one of your essential tools. You really need to take a look at the agile manifesto and negotiate this type of relationship in order to be successful as an independent developer. It's not the document that will win him, it's the shippable product increment he gets along with the bill.

Comment My company does work-for-hire (Score 1) 285

My company develops on Macs on a work-for-hire basis. We have experience in the defense field with scientific legacy desktop applications, server-based enterprise apps, and process simulation. We charge $100/hour for development, develop using agile methods, and are extremely customer focused (redundant since I already said agile). You can do whatever you want with the code when we're done; you will own the copyright. We are quite comfortable with OSS; we rely on it for our dev tools and the frameworks we use to develop our products. We're not a huge firm like CA or SAIC; you'll deal directly with the lead developer and project manager. Since we develop with agile, if you don't like what you see after 30-60 days, you can stop us, pay us for what we've done, and find another team. You get to keep the code we've already written.

Check us out:

You can contact us via the Contact Us form or by contacting me via Slashdot (click my name above).

DRM Lite for Electronic Textbooks 293

bcrowell writes "The New York Times reports that textbook publishers are backing off somewhat on the level of DRM used in the electronic editions of their textbooks. They no longer become unreadable after a certain amount of time, as in RMS's famous essay The Right to Read. Even so, most students aren't interested, because the books can't be sold back; the solution, however, may be to make it impossible to return printed books either. No mention in the NYT article of the steady progress being made by free books."

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