Friday, 27 August 2010

California considers legalising cannabis

SOURCE - Channel 4 News 26th Aug 2010

Only heard about this this afternoon at work from a comment from someone.

The Cannabis in California wiki page is pretty detailed.

Hhmm "....The same is not true of marijuana. It is cheap and easy to grow your own and any change in the law would allow individuals to grow as much as 25 square feet of marijuana for personal use. Will people really pay VAT on homegrown"?

Thursday, 15 July 2010

The Cost of Open Access ?

++All of the information that follows is already in the public domain other than a few anecdotes from myself today++

(Sourced from Flickr)

The last time I visited the University of Glasgow, I was 16/17 years of age when my first band played their first 'proper' gig there in the Student's Union Bar during freshers week.

(May I throw in this pic of my brother, Richard from with the 'Biotechies' in TBS (Technology and Business Studies) year of '88 at Strathclyde University? I think I can) !!

(Unrelatedly uploaded and sourced from Flickr)

My second visit was today at the Sir Charles Wilson Building which is directly opposite the above (building, not photos). !!

The reason for returning was to attend the first of four UK workshops organised by the Centre for Research Communications (CRC), University of Nottingham and Alma Swan of Key Perspectives. I enquired from the onset (of today) if it would be OK to tweeet during the event. Given that these events will be collating brand new unpublished data, the answer was no. Fair enough.

(Sourced from Flickr)

At the end, I asked if it would be OK to blog about it, no problem although for the reason mentioned, those present won't be able to go into finite detail.


Great information pack I have to say. Loads of good stuff in there that I haven't had a chance to properly read, but from a 'scan over' this is goooood.

EG How to build a case for university policies and practices in support of Open Access - JISC 2010

The format for this one was intense but informal/relaxed, which was nice.

A brief Welcome/Introduction by Bill Hubbard, Director of the CRC.

Next up was a really excellent PPT talk/presentation by Susan Ashworth, Library Assistant Director, University of Glasgow entitled:- "Implementing Open Access". (note, must contact Susan to see if this one can be archived on the web).

Took some notes though ;-)

Now it was time to get ours brains really into gear with Alma's "the economic model: introduction and practical session".

The primer to all of this was The Houghton Report (2007) published in January 2009.

From the blurb here:-

"The cost of open access?

Disseminating the results of scholarly research through open access may benefit your institution - but what would it cost?

We'd like to invite you to an event that will help you find out.

Your VC or PVC for Research may be planning to attend an event on June 15 at Woburn House in London organised by Universities UK and JISC, where evidence will be presented on the business case for open access publishing and repositories. The Houghton Report last year identified significant sectoral savings (over £200M pa) possible from the adoption of Open Access, but it was not clear of the implications for individual institutions. What is the balance of cost and benefit for research-led institutions? does the size of an institution alter the projections? Consultant Alma Swan, from Key Perspectives Ltd, will be introducing an economic model at this event to help individual institutions identify the costs and savings involved.

To discover how the figures work out for your own particular institution, you would be very welcome at one of our four regional follow-up events. These workshops are aimed at Research Support Offices and financial modellers, who are asked to collect certain data to bring with them to build their own customised models. All data used will be kept confidential to each institutional delegate".

At the event in Glasgow today, we split ourselves into three groups:-

University of Glasgow
University of Nottingham (plus muggins)
University of Edinburgh

Nice lunch was provided for all and before we knew it, back into the nitty gritty.

Cutting a two hour-ish story short, by the end, all three 'groups' came up with differing results as one might expect, but (I think) I am allowed to say that these were indicative that (and I'm watching what I'm saying) whilst I know it's a cliche, 'the times are a changin'.

During the whole process, we ironed out some wee minor niggles in the enhanced version of the model used in the Houghton Report which will make the next three events run even more smoothly than this one, great as it was.

Despite my layman status, this was a really worthwhile event to have attended and I think that I am allowed to say that this will cause a 'ripple effect' at least in Scotland so far. But this gig (three more) only started this afternoon !!!

So, to conclude. The CRC are holding/hosting three more of these events in the coming weeks in London, Birmingham and Leeds. If you are at all interested in any of this, please do make contact with the folks in charge and consider attending these free of charge events.

* Glasgow - 15th July - Booking & Programme >> (COMPLETED)
* London - 21st July - Booking & Programme >>
* Birmingham - 23rd July - Booking & Programme >>
* Leeds - 29th July - Booking & Programme >>


For further information on these events, please contact Mandy Hodgson (email:, phone: 0115 84 68601).

Saturday, 10 July 2010

Oh Paul, you seriously fucked up this time.

Like a substantial number of folks in the UK, I was following the dramatic events as they unfolded during the eventual capture of man-on-the-run, Raoul Moat last night.

2010 Northumbria Police manhunt - Wikipedia

The stand-off between mister Mooot and Northumbria Police

continued way beyond midnight and other than those who continued to follow the mainstream media/Twitter coverage into the night, I awoke this morning and switched on teh interwebz for an update.

What didn't surprise me was that Mister Mooot had allegedly turned his gun on himself.

As armed Police and trained negotiators allegedly attempted to, well, negotiate the peaceful arrest of said Mr Moat, in an utterly bizarre twist (which I did not believe at first), it would appear that ex-England/Newcastle United/Glasgow Rangers/Lazio/Sunderland soccer legend, Mr Paul Gascgoine (now known even more for all the wrong reasons) appeared in person at the scene of the stand-off in an allegedly drunken state.

From The Sun:- Gazza brings Moat chicken.

"Gascoigne - who had apparently come by taxi from Newcastle - said he had brought the wanted man a "can of lager, some chicken, a mobile phone and something to keep warm".

"But Gazza's agent Kenny Shepherd reacted with disbelief on being told the troubled star had turned up in Rothbury, saying: "He's doing what? I am sitting having an evening meal in Majorca. I'm speechless."

How I long for the Paul Gascoigne et al at his best, but this is surely his worst to date - and that is saying something.




Unrelated (in part) Does Temporary Chief Constable Sue Sim need a make over?

I think so.

'The Daily Fail on Friday likens her to Alice from 'Vicar of Dibley' and Maggie Thatcher's spitting image puppet. I'm an ex senior detective of 30 years service and her and her partner make me cringe every time I see them ' Mister Mooot'. For goodness sake, send in the Ghurkas they'll find him'. says John.

Monday, 21 June 2010

People collect the weirdest things - Part 2.87

Spotted on page 3 of today's Metro, is the somewhat bizzare case of 44 year old mother-of-three Patti Gaal-Holmes from Wales, UK who has spent the last 11 years "collecting" 32,000 used tea-bags.

WTF !!

Alas, it gets even worse:-

"She then numbers the bag and sometimes notes down who she drank the tea with and anything interesting they discussed".


Oh noes, it gets beyond really weird:-

"She even fishes teabags out of the bin to put in a special box she carries if she is enjoying a cup with a friend who is unaware of her craving".


Wednesday, 16 June 2010

PLoS Moves Up (yet) Another Gear

As of today, it has now been announced >> (in writing) << in the public domain that this year, PLoS ONE, is "soon to become the world's largest (STM - Ed) journal"

In part, here's the word on the webz from PLoS:-

"We need to move because we've simply outgrown our existing location. With the rapid growth of PLoS ONE (soon to become the word's largest journal) and the increasing volume of articles sent to PLoS following the NIH mandate (with hopefully more to come if the Federal Research Public Access Act becomes law), we need to get ready to expand even more".

As a layperson who is totally supportive of Open Science related issues, this is a most welcome development on many levels.

Monday, 7 June 2010

Song Level Metrics - An Introduction

So, what does Song Level Metrics (SLM's) actually mean??

Let me try to explain.

Image from here on Flickr

Ive been interested in some of (what I consider to be) the cross-overs between music and scientific publishing since 2007.

In terms of scientific publishing, in an attempt to move away from the much criticised Journal "Impact Factor", in March 2009, The Public Library Of Science introduced Article Level Metrics (ALM's) on every article in all of their titles.

For some time, I've been meaning to blog something in detail about SLM's but I simply haven't got round to doing so. I did however recently (briefly) discuss ALM's and SLM's during an informal with PLoS ONE's Peter Binfield.

As such, let's kick things off (in terms of SLM's) with an introduction AND case in point from today.


Image sourced from here.

What prompted me to write this post was a conversation with someone at work today. Unbeknown to me, the individual is also a musician so we had a quick chat about our muso activities.

I was informed by this chap that he and his band had recently frequented the prestigious Abbey Road Studios in London to record a few tracks. Photographic evidence (from a PC) was supplied (of being there) but so far, mastering of the music is incomplete so he was unable to share what might be classed as unpublished data. As such, this was a "personal communication".

So without being privy to this unpublished (musical) material, do I (as he alluded to) judge this work based upon the "Impact Factor" of where it was recorded (let's compare this to where a scientific Manuscript was published) or do I judge the material in it's own right?

I really do look forward to listening to the material to make up my own mind. (16 mic's alone on his drum kit! Sounds good. Max I managed was 8).

When I asked if he/they would be uploading this stuff to the web, I was met bit a rather blank face. Anyway....


"MacJams is an online studio where musicians congregate, collaborate and critique each other for the betterment of their music and skills as musicians". Join us today, for FREE.

One then rapidly proceeded to show this guy where anyone could access all of the material that I have produced/co-produced. It then re-occured to me that since SLM's are also built into that platform that this conversation was a good grass roots example (in musical terms) of "Impact Factor" v's SLM's.

I should add that MacJams is simply one "Repository". Most people these days upload their stuff to web using a multitude of parking sites, also for free.

To be continued.....

My point I guess is simple. Get your material out there to the masses as widely and openly as possible and let them judge/comment/share/annotate etc. etc.

And now, a not completely unrelated video.

Friday, 28 May 2010

On how to sneak in a BioMed Central Open Access turtle into 'The Gherkin' - London - Part One

As a follow on from this recent post on FriendFeed, my Gulliver Turtle clone has been training even harder after it's rigorous week long training session at BMC's HO (you can now, on request, get you own by emailing Gulliver directly) and I are training it down to London a week on Thursday for BioMed Central's turtely fantastic 10th Anniversary and 4th Annual Research Awards event being hosted in London's most prestigious St. Mary Axe, aka, The Gherkin.

Gulliver clone #536 inspects Mr G. S. of Glasgow's invite and shortly thereafter, fell of it's stool (Gulliver, not Mr G. S. of Glasgow and/or the invitation).

Providing clone #536 and I get through strict ID security checks upon arrival (and my dress code is deemed as being sufficiently 'smart'), we'll team up to bring y'all some neat footage (maybe even a tweet or three) once we're inside this turtely awesome structure.


SECRET PASSCODE looks like it's gonna be, "Does my turtle look big in this?".

Saturday, 15 May 2010

Open Science Contact List

(Image c/o Judy Breck - Flickr)

Back in March, I decided to place into the public domain a working document with contact details for many of the key folks I've connected with in the Open Access Community since late 2006.


Last weekend on FriendFeed, I came across the following video:-

Following my conversation yesterday with Josh Sommer, Executive Director of the Chordoma Foundation, it would be really useful to work on a similar document but this time, one containing contact details for people who are directly/indirectly affiliated and/or associated in Open Science. As matters stand, (correct me if I'm wrong), I do not think that such a list already exists. If it does, then I will happily scrap this project.

Unlike the previous list, rather than doing this on my own, it would seem much more appropriate to start this myself and then crowd source. As such, I've set up a new Google Doc in the public domain to which anyone can view/edit:-

Open Science Contact List

With my Patient Advocacy hat on, I am mainly thinking about the Life Sciences, but sense that this should also be extended to other areas such as Citizen Sciences.

I would be most grateful for your assistance in helping build a working document/resource which I hope will be of use to many many people/organizations across the world.

Thank you,


Friday, 2 April 2010

Razzle, Frazzle, Dazzle & Zazzle

Last November, for McDawg's birthday, as the folks at PLoS over the years have very generously kitted me out with PLoS tshirts (and various other stuff), I thought it was time to give something back. So off I went to the new PLoS store and was dazzled at the fine array (page after page) of cool stuff in store.

Very hard to choose what to buy but since I've always wanted a 'Hamsters Love PLoS' item

(not to be confused with this)

and the fact that it was winter, I very quickly established that a hoodie would be ideal. It arrived through the post most speedily.

My bad however for not reading the label inside and as I discovered after this garments first visit to my washing machine, it was labelled 'cold wash only' and the damage was done:-

A few weeks later, during a fairly regular chat with PLoS, I was advised to flag up the issue so I did. What I certainly wasn't expecting was being given face value credit at the store for something to replace it !! As was pointed out to me, have a 100% satisfaction guarantee which unfortunately I wasn't aware of at that time.

So then along came the replacement:-

Whilst partially on topic, as I found out recently,

"It’s worth knowing that there is only one official PLoS store and it contains images and logos that have been approved by the organization. However, if you search on Zazzle for PLoS you will find products bearing our name that have been created by other individuals because Zazzle allows anyone to start their own store and feature their own designs. You are welcome to shop where you wish but only the official PLoS store contains our approved merchandize".

Absolutely !!

Despite the above minor minor incident, I'll certainly be dropping by the PLoS store again soon.

"The plan is to introduce new designs as and when they become available, increase the product range (my son is waiting for the PLoS skateboard), load up cover images, introduce more user customization and make improvements based on your e-mail feedback.

Happy shopping!"

Feed your PLoS t-shirt obsession – announcing the new PLoS store!

ONE Size Fits All: Bumper Special

Saturday, 30 January 2010

NHS eLibrary becomes The Knowledge Network‏

(NHS = National Health Service)

But first, by means of some background to this. See this post on Open Access News and also this post on McBlawg.


Via email yesterday:-

From the end of January, all visits to the eLibrary will redirect to The Knowledge Network at We hope you like our new website, which includes :
  • a new faster search;
  • quicker access to journals, articles and books ;
  • many customisation features, enabling you to locate resources you use regularly
  • a new area called My Resource Space, giving you a personal webspace to save and organise resources. (Ed - this, I particularly like the sound of !!)
To contact us, please email

We apologise if
you receive multiple copies of this email. ATHENS Administration Team NHS Education for Scotland Clifton House Clifton Place GLASGOW G3 7LD Tel: 0141 352 2892

Having access to the resources available via the NHS eLibrary has been an important part of my patient advocacy work over the last two years. I very much like the look and feel of The Knowledge Network website already. It's certainly an improvement for the old site good although as it was. I'll definately be keeping a close eye on the new one and must make contact with the people who maintain this really really useful information web portal.

From the new site, see the likes of:-
IMO, more people should be aware of these resources and how lay-people like myself and not just NHS staff, can gain access to them, hence this post.

Sunday, 10 January 2010

ScienceOnline 2010 #scio10 - Virtual Attendance Tips

(Source: Science Online 2010 logo remix)

++UPDATE++ - All the linky links you might need are contained here
. H/T Bora

How is it possible to really look forward to attending a cool science Conference - without actually being there for the event in person?

"ScienceOnline2010, the fourth annual conference on science and the Web, will be held on January 14-17th, 2010 at Sigma Xi in the Research Triangle Park".

Quite easily, actually.

But before going into the detail, let's spin the clock back two years.

Cue post How was it for you which I posted on the JoVE blog 20th January 2008. That was my first experience of virtually attending a conference and it was an awesome experience. Also see How was it for you? Interview with Graham Steel over at A Blog Around The Clock.

What held this one together (IMO) for those following virtually was a combination of the live video streams and chatrooms. It was also very useful to familiarise oneself (pre-event) with the online tools required to follow events in real-time.


Most unfortunately, I was unable to follow scienceonline09 as I was unable to connect to the interwebz that weekend (problem with local ISP connection). I did however still manage to fling together a photo montage of shots taken on the day before the main event:-

Science Online '09 - Friday Shots from Graham Steel on Vimeo.

I did catch up with events when I got my connection back thanks to the extensive blog and media coverage.

What I did miss out on was all the real-time coverage online.

Whilst one really wanted to attend this years event in person, I'll happily settle with virtual attendance based upon previous experiences.

Since I missed out on a large chunk of the last one I can only imagine that with the addition of Twitter and FriendFeed (these didn't exist in early 2008) on top of live-streaming etc. this is going to be quite an experience.

Walter Jessen has very recently uploaded a PDF version of the conference program which will come in handy to those attending in person or virtually. (Thanks, Walt).

The associated Flickr photo pool as below should start to fill up later in the coming week and am also looking forward to this:-

So, if you are interested in science and an annual science communication conference but can't get there in person, you now know some of the online places to check out next weekend.

Last and not least, don't forget the Blog and Media Coverage.

++UPDATE 1++ Also keep a check on the Official ScienceOnline2010 blog.


"Please join us for this active three-day event to explore science on the Web. Our goal is to bring together scientists, physicians, patients, educators, students, publishers, editors, bloggers, journalists, writers, web developers, programmers and others to discuss, demonstrate and debate online strategies and tools for doing science, publishing science, teaching science, and promoting the public understanding of science".

"This BlogTogether conference is organized by Anton Zuiker, Bora Zivkovic, Stephanie Willen Brown and David Kroll, with the help of many of you".