Aquincum Institute of Technology, Budapest, IT & BT shaking hands

There is a nice initiative now in Budapest dedicated to the present and future of high technology: a new private university momentarily dubbed as Aquincum Institute of Technology (AIT) will be built near to the Graphisoft Park in Óbuda (Aquincum) concentrating on competitive information-/biotechnology (mainly bioinformatics) education and entrepreneurship.

The main instigator of the project is Gábor Bojár, founder and CEO of the most successful Hungarian software company, Graphisoft.

According to this source:

“The company aims to become the global leader in building-architectural software solutions, hence it must found the training of professionals on a business basis, Bojar said. The new school is to be opened in 2010.”

Mr. Bojár convinced world-class Hungarian scientists and businessmen like Wolf-prize winner discrete mathematician and computer scientist László Lovász, inventor and architecture professor Ernő Rubik, former Office guru, intentional programmer and space tourist Simonyi Charles and scale-free network theorist Albert-László Barabási amongst others to back the idea of a profit-oriented technology university sustained by the market itself.

It’s not too hard to recognize some particular Silicon Valley virtues or models behind the idea of an university like AIT let’s just think about the innovative environment at Stanford, intellectual and entrepreneurial home of the HP, Sun Microsystems and Google founders. What I have in mind here concerning the biotechnology part is The California Institute for Quantitative Biosciences (QB3) which is ‘a cooperative effort between the state of California, the University of California campuses at Berkeley, San Francisco, and Santa Cruz, and industry and venture capital partners’.

The idea can be traced back to a San Francisco dinner Continue reading

The Google Chrome Experience on Mac OS X with CrossOver Chromium!

Following Matt Cutts’s tweet I am now writing my blog post using the CrossOver Chromium browser which is a Mac and Linux port of the open source Chromium web browser. Google Chrome (Windows-only so far) is built with open source code from Chromium that means I have now a functional Google Chrome clone under Leopard on my MacBook. This is almost the same experience just like 2 weeks ago. I can use the omnibox, the new home tab and the very clever tab arhictecture amongst others but first of all the browser is now more or less integrated into my customized OS X environment and that is a big advantage. There are of course, inconveniences like crashes and problems with the shortcuts due to the Windows – Mac crossover solutions (which can be modestly modified with Preferences).

Continue reading

Sergey Brin goes mobile in 2000 & a Russian lesson

Sergey Brin, Google co-founder is a very interesting man. His story is the number one immigrant success story in the USA today, I dare say. I have 2 Brin videos to show you today:

In the first one, Sergey demonstrates mobility in 2000 in 3 ways with his ‘faint accent that is no longer identifiably Russian’ (I really like this presentation as you can learn many things on how to give and not to give a talk):

In the second video Sergey speaks in his native language, Russian but with a “huuuge american accent” as a Russian colleague of mine wrote to me in an email. Continue reading

Innovation is still bottom-up in IT, what about biotech?

Just a simple filtering & highlighting & regurgitating for you based on Andy Oram’s post apropos of the opening of a larger Cambridge, Massachusetts Google office :

Along the lines of self-motivated employees, I asked a manager whether most of their new products came from the individual employees or from management. He expressed the conviction that most innovation in most companies comes from individual employees. Where management can help is in finding effective places to fit new features into the organization and product line.

Google found that releasing too many products prevented the public from learning about them and adopting them. Adding a feature to an existing product such as Gmail or Blogger could mean that millions of people adopt it, whereas releasing it as a stand-along product might limit adoption to a few thousand.

The question for me is always how these experiences can be compared and applied to the biotech industry, in this case I am curious how biotechnological innovation is going in the profit sector outside academia. So if you are working at a biotech startup or at a big pharma please share us your opinion (anonymously if you like) in the comments on the nature of innovation at your company!

How to predict the future via Twitter: Google invests in Navigenics

Wow, I guess it’s time for me to move into the stock market business! Here’s the story via David Bradley’s tweet: Julie Kent, Search Engine Journal, April 21st, 2008: Google Wants to Index Genetic Information, Invests in Second DNA Start-Up

In 2007, Google made headlines when they invested $4.4 million in 23andMe, a genetic screening start-up company began by Anne Wojcicki, the wife of Google co-founder Sergey Brin, and a business partner. But if you thought that was Google’s only interest in genetics and DNA, you’re wrong. Google has also been investing in a second DNA start-up called Navigenics, which for $2,500 and a small bit of saliva will provide you with genetic test results delivered securely online containing information about the likelihood for 18 medical conditions.

What’s really funny here is that I predicted this investment last Friday, on the 18th, on Twitter. The original idea was Aaron Swartz’s Google thought experiment: Imagine you were suddenly put in charge of Google. What would you spend your time doing? I came up with this answer (picking Navigenics because of ther profile and location) on behalf of Sergey Brin:

The whole tweetstream: Continue reading

Low budget, high tech: Microfluidics device out of a $50 plotter!

7550AplotterBuilding and using low budget but high tech devicesplotterink at home is a main motivation behind hacking. A Harvard Chemistry Research Group now created a microchannel producing device using a Hewlett Packard 7550A Graphics Plotter (see some eBay prices) to perform a diagnostic protein assay with it amongst others. /See my SciFoo microfluidics coverage./

According to the current Nature by Tim Lincoln:

“The system works like this. By replica moulding, the pens of the plotter are replaced with PDMS versions that can deliver various types of ‘ink’. The purpose of the ink, when cured, is to create channels in a filter-paper substrate, and after experimenting with the possibilities Bruzewicz et al. found that a syrupy mixture of 3:1 PDMS:hexane did just fine. Having chosen the appropriate paper, the trick then is to use the plotter to draw channel shapes, with the PDMS syrup penetrating the full depth of the paper to create water-tight chambers in various patterns.”

Hardware-Software Specs from the supporting information:

• Computer: Dell Dimension 4100, Pentium III Processor (1 GHz)
• Plotter: Hewlett Packard 7550A Graphics Plotter
• Operating System: OpenSuSE Linux 10.1, Novell Corporation. Available for free download
• Additional Software:
1. Inkscape – vector drawing program, for design of channels. Included in OpenSuSE, also
available for free.

The HP Computer Museum highlights this particular plotter: Continue reading

My iPhone 2.0 wish list: from the RFID reader/writer to the solar panel!

iPhoneGoogleMapsAccording to the Wikipedia approved rumor by the AT&T boss: “A new version of Apple’s iPhone will be introduced in 2008 that is capable of operating on faster 3G cellular networks.” Besides the 3G support I have some other expectations (at least 6 should be satisfied) too in order to become a next generation iPhone upgrader:


- built in RFID reader/writer: because I’d like to buy and order without standing in line. Also a bit experimental RFID hacking with things around me, like opening the hotel room with a cream cheese box must be fun. (I would wire the RFID modul in the place of the Bluetooth modul on the motherboard) see: Will the Apple iPhone be RFID powered?

- video out to use the iPhone with projectors: giving presentations on science conferences and seminars with my SciPhone and watching movies back at home with my wife.

- GPS (although I am quite satisfied with the Google Maps Mobile): in the car and on the bike.

- video recorder: basics

- video telephone: just for fun

- longer battery life: a must

- solar panel: for climate change


- Skype enabled: do I need to explain it why? Continue reading