NIH : Peer Review Process

12:45 PM
Many of us, graduate students, PhD candidates, Post-doctoral Researchers and of-course faculties at various institutions in US would have worked on one grant on the other. In the field of Biomedical Engineering and other studies related to health, National Institute of Health is one of the major funding sources. Even after spending hours churning out the most effective grant application, in some occasions it gets turned down. Peer-review of grants one of the most important and a decisive step in deciding whether the grant gets turned down or approved. Here's a short informative clip on how the grants are reviewed. This is what actually happens in a NIH grant review process.

A score around the range of 2-3 gets approved and anything else decides the level of rejection.. Hope this was informative.
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A Box and a Square

12:31 PM
The Box that I'm referring here is the DropBox.

Its a tool that enables a sync between different computers. And why is that necessary for you? Well, if I'm not wrong, many of us use multiple computers, PDAs and there are different documents, folders that we manage all the time. For example, if there is an important document that we are working on, to be presented tomorrow in our office. We finish it, save it and even make a copy on our pen-drive to take it to our office. But, in the hurry of going to the office, we forget to take the pen-drive to the office and have to end up making excuses. Thats where Dropbox comes in handy. It creates a folder in your computer(s), where you can save the files. As soon as the files are saved, it is automatically synced across the different computers that are linked to your account. If you had linked your office computer to ur dropbox account, the file is already there before even you reach your office. Not necessary to email stuffs back and forth. Or even better, the file is stored online in the dropbox website as well. So that you can download the file on the go. And you get 2GB of free space. Another advantage is that when you can't send huge attachments through email to your boss/advisor, Dropbox comes in handy. Just put the files into the DropBox's public folder and it creates a public link, which you can email to the recipients. Sounds cool eh? Try it.

The next thing is the Square. Its a technology that I heard a few months back. It was a time when I didn't have an iPhone and didn't pay much attention to it. But, it doesn't mean I wasn't impressed with their technology. Who could have imagined that we can use the audio jack for other inputs? Certainly I didn't.

It consists of a small device plugged into the audio jack of the mobile device (works on Android as well). This device reads the magnetic strip of the card to process payments. If you are someone living with a roommate and if you settle bills/accounts periodically, then, this one is for you. Even otherwise, if you are someone who buys or sells stuffs through craigslist, this one works like charm. Just swipe in the card and the money is transferred to your bank account. Very simple to setup, or so it seems. I'm yet to try this out, but I've just got the app (Square) from the itunes store. They say that the device would be shipped shortly. The device is free and it ships free. No monthly fees and no contracts. They do, however charge 2.75% for every transaction, which is the only downside. In the meantime, here is a short video of how it works.

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New Apple TV Vs Roku

4:04 PM

With Apple revamping the Apple TV, it has certainly encroached the product line of Roku (loses 10 points for this name). Roku ? Ever heard of it ? I certainly did not prior to the launch of the new Apple TV. When I was searching different forums to see the different options available, Roku was one name that was consistently mentioned by everyone. It looks like Roku is in this market for quite sometime and has been pretty successful in doing what it does best. The advent of the new Apple TV has infact forced Roku to slash down its prices the day before the launch. Apple, known for its high-priced products has infact come down to the customers, for once, with this new Apple TV - priced at $99. 
Before we go about saying "Wooowww.. $99 for Apple TV ? My money is on it.".. its imperative to see how Roku ranks against Apple TV.

Roku product line (Click on the image to purchase it):
   Roku HD-XR Player  Roku XD Streaming Player 1080p           Roku XDS Streaming Player 1080p
Roku HD-XR                               Roku XD                                Roku-XDS

As we can see from the comparison chart above, there is not much difference between the Apple TV and Roku, except for the fact that Roku has promised to deliver 1080p video quality via a free upgrade on Roku XDS Streaming Player 1080p later this year. And Roku has a wide variety of packages that the customer can make use of. Apart from that, the important question that pertains to many consumers is Availability! While Apple introduced the Apple TV about 3 weeks back, it is still not available to the customers. As of today, the website says that it ships in 3 weeks. Roku, on the other hand is already available in the market (Click on the links to purchase) - Roku HD PlayerRoku HD-XR Player , Roku XD Streaming Player 1080p and Roku XDS Streaming Player 1080p. They all qualify for SuperSaver Free Shipping as well. The chart below (from Roku's website) shows the comparison of the three versions of Roku.

So if you are someone, who is waiting to get your hands on AppleTV, DON'T!!  Just go ahead and buy a Roku, which is a much better version at the same $99. Get your money worth. 
Unless, you are someone who's house is filled with Apple products, then it makes sense for you to wait and buy the new Apple TV, which has a better integration with iphone, ipod touch and the macs.
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Apple iPhone 4 cases - A Review

6:23 PM
The iphone 4's have been a revelation in the mobile phone business. Despite coming with inherent flaws (read antenna design), Apple has held its stand that it is not a design issue. And customers haven't bothered much either. Reason being, casing the iphone solves the issue. That being said, the bumpers provided by Apple only covers the antenna. That offers no protection to the device, which has glass on both front and back. So I wanted to take a look at the different cases available in the market and review them here - so as to help a few people make a quick buying decision.

1.Sonic Snap Slim Case

The Sonic Snap Slim Case for the iphone 4 comes with 2 screen protectors. One of them is for Anti-glare and the other one is Clear. Providing a rubberized grip, its best to hold and doesn't slip much. Nearly all customers have been happy with this product but some have expressed concerns over the screen protectors, which might bubble your display if not installed properly.

2. Gumdrop Cases Motoskin

This rugged looking case is the best IMO, if you are someone who is susceptible to dropping ur phone. The silicone is a soft, thick silicone which offers more protection. The downside is that it might collect dust, as expressed by some customers. Nevertheless, if you don't mind wiping the dust off every once in a while, this one's for u. It also comes in Gray and Blue colors.

3. Empire New Skin Case for iPhone 4
Though the title in Amazon might say that it to be silicone protector. Its not. Its actually made from a Thermolastic Polyurethane material, which becomes clear after reading its description. Its one of the cases that was released really early along with the iphones and the users have not been much disappointed. The only downside that the users have is that its edges are a little sharp and hence it might be difficult for holding. But it offers good protection nonetheless.

4. Incipio dermaSHOT case for iphone 4
This is one of the best cases I've seen for iphone 4. The design is elegant and it offers superior protection and casing for the iphone. The silicone is about 2 mm thick and hence it will offer good protection. It isn't much bulkier either. The only downside being it will collect lint, as with any other silicone case. If you are into silicone cases, then this one for u.

5. Leather case for iphone 4
There are several leather cases available for the iphone 4s. Check them out if you are a fan of leather cases.

6. iFrog cases

There are several iFrog cases for the iphone 4. But they are still not available in Amazon. But if you have an AT&T account, you can purchase it from them. They are selling a bunch of those cases online. Or even otherwise if you drop into an AT&T store, you can get one i believe. I'm not a fan of their cases and hence I haven't reviewed them.

7. Incase.

As of July 10, 2010, incase haven't come out with cases for the iphone 4. I'm hoping they come out with something by next week atleast. I'm a big fan of their slider cases, but they are a little slow in delivering the iphone cases this time. I sincerely hope they don't disappoint.

Thats about it folks from my side. Hope you all have a good buying experience.
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Research poster ~ Biomechanics

1:35 PM
Warning: Before you click on the picture or take a closer look, I have to warn you that it is very graphic (No! I'm not talking abt the charts) since the study involves cadaveric specimens. Please leave the page if you are very sensitive.

I've never designed a research poster in my life.. But there's always a start right? I had a chance to showcase my research work at a conference. Here's the poster that I prepared for the CUGSR conference that was held in my University. Click here to download the poster. Or you can click on the image itself for a bigger view. Clicking again would zoom the image. (I hope its readable)

UPDATE : I won the Award for the BEST RESEARCH POSTER, for the above poster at CUGSR Conference.

I'd like to thank Archana S, Dr John Elias, Dr Marcus, Laura Gump who were extremely helpful in carrying out this research work.

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Scripts to the rescue

4:00 PM
My thesis work involves working on several applications.. The data processing is usually done in excel before it is sent as an input to the MATLAB. The usual data processing in excel is something thats very recurring and monotonous.. I should process atleast 25 files in excel before i input it to matlab for one test case. And doing these were becoming too cumbersome for me. Though i knew Mac had some softwares like Automator, Applescript etc., i never knew how to use them. But today, after a day long testing, and collecting data for over 72 testcases, I face a cold reality of how many files i need to process, let alone execute using Matlab.
To find an alternative solution to the daunting task ahead of me, I ventured into studying about how Automator and Applescript works.. Applescript sounded a lot easier and simpler. So i googled about it, read some basics and wrote a couple of scripts that does the necessary processing on my excel sheets. Basically, I remove the unnecessary columns and rows from the excel data so that Matlab can process the data easily. As many of you know Matlab can't accept inputs if they have texts in them. So part of this processing is to remove the texts, if any, from the input data. Since I know exactly which column and row would need to be removed, I wrote these scripts that would make my life much better. How I wish, I had known this earlier. Would have saved me lots of time in the past. Here is one of the scripts, just in case anyone wants to modify it for their own use.

--- Apple script ---

set theWorkbookFile to choose file with prompt "Please select an Excel workbook file:"

set theWorkbookName to name of (info for theWorkbookFile)

tell application "Microsoft Excel"

open theWorkbookFile

set theWorkbook to active workbook

tell worksheet "Sheet1" of active workbook

delete row 1

delete column 1

repeat with x from 39 to 10 by -1

delete column x

end repeat

end tell

save active workbook

close active workbook

end tell

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25 years of research on tendons and ligaments

3:25 PM
This is the video of the presentation that I prepared for one of my classes. Its basically a review paper that talks about the 25 years of research on tendons and ligaments. The copyrights of this journal paper rests with the authors I have mentioned in the introduction. All I did was this presentation and hold no ownership for the content you are about to see. Feel free to pause it, if you feel that its a little too fast.

Here's some introduction for people who don't know what tendons and ligaments are. Tendons are the tissues that connects bone to muscle. For eg, the patella tendon connects your knee cap to the tibia (the bone below your knee). And ligaments are something that connects two different bones. (eg) ACL - anterior cruciate ligament. You must have heard about it - Athletes often get their ACL injured, especially cricket and tennis players. Its a ligament in the knee.

This video basically summarizes whatever major and recurrent research that has been done in the past 25 years in tendons and ligaments. Sit back and enjoy.

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Anti-theft system - Mac & Bluetooth

3:05 PM
Ever wondered, when you enter your room and your computer welcomes you - "Welcome Master. Hope you had a wonderful Day" and starts playing music from the playlist you like, makes you a cup of coffee, switches on the fan/air-conditioner. Well we are half way there. Over a last few weeks, I had been playing around a bit with two applications that I downloaded from the internet - JackSMS and Proximity. Well there aren't very well documented stuffs about these 2 applications, but nevertheless they come in handy.

JackSMS, for instance is an application that I stumbled upon when I was searching for anti-theft systems. Its a free software and guess what it can do - when activated, it locks the screen and it'll sound an alarm when someone tries to pull off the power cable or close the lid of the monitor. Obviously if someone is trying to steal your laptop they have to do either of the two actions. And once the alarm has been set off, muting the laptop doesn't work. The alarm sounds at full volume. The only way to turn it off is to unlock the screen and turn off the alarm using this application. Wait, there is more to it. While the thief is trying to fiddle with the laptop, it secretly takes a snap of him and mails you his photo / sends you a text message. No one can beat that !

Proximity, the name implies that it detects the proximity of the owner to the laptop using bluetooth. All you have to do is pair your mobile device with your laptop. And write two scripts - one, when the mobile device is in the range. Two, when the device is not in the range. What my script does is that, when the mobile device is not in the range, it activates the JackSMS application so that the anti-theft system is ON, pauses itunes if it is running, sets my status message to 'Away' in Adium and locks the screen. Well, these scripts are fairly simple. There is no complex coding necessary. When my mobile device comes within the range, it deactivates JackSMS, resumes itunes, unlocks the screen, and sets my Adium Status message to Available and also welcomes me with a text-to-voice converter application.

As far as the coffee making and the switching on the fan is concerned, it isn't a difficult task either. All it requires is a circuit relay switch be triggered by a macbook and a simple script that does that. Or there might be something in the market already that 'switches' power to electric appliances from a computer. I haven't tried that yet. Will let you guys know about it when i get a chance to try it out !! After-all as i always say Mac is a better deal !
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10 best firefox addons

7:05 PM
I hope you are reading this from a Firefox browser. If you are still using IE, its really a good time to download Firefox 3.0. Though Google Chrome is out there now, it doesn't necessarily mean that it is the best out there. As far as speed is concerned, Safari tops it all, but also it consumes a little more memory than Firefox. Hence Firefox still rules the browsing world. What makes it rule the world comprehensively for the past few years ?? Speed, less memory consumption, reliability, history, open-source and of-course the addons. From just decoration to everyday tools, there are addons for everything. I'm just giving the 10 killer addons out there, right here.

1) Twitterfox

Twitterfox is an addon that allows you receive tweets from your friends and you can also post new tweets or reply to the tweets of your friends. Very useful if you are having a twitter account. As shown in the figure, it appears as a small icon in the status bar. Get this addon here.

2. 1-Click Weather

This addon gives you the current temperature and forecast for the locality you choose to monitor. Hovering the mouse over it shows the radar of your locality and clicking it takes you to the weather page where you can see the forecast. Very necessary if you are living in a place where weather changes frequently. Get this addon here.

3. Cooliris

Cooliris instantly transforms your browser into a full-screen 3D experience for viewing images across the web. Makes browsing through pictures a wonderful experience. The interactive 3D Wall and built-in search function, lets you effortlessly drag, click, zoom, and zip your way around a wall of pictures for an amazing viewing experience. Get it here.

4. All-in-one Gestures

This extension allows you to execute common commands using mouse gestures, rocker navigation, scroll wheel navigation and page. Moreover it allows you to customize the gestures so that you can create gestures for your frequently performed actions. Its very simple. You need not depend on keyboard shortcuts/toolbars if you know how to work your way through this addon. Get this here.

5. Foxytunes

Are you the one who listens to music while browsing ? In that case, controlling the music player, shuffling songs can be very tiresome. Minimizing your browser is no longer necessary. FoxyTunes lets you control almost any media player and find lyrics, covers, videos, bios and much more with a click right from your browser. It works on all music players out there. Just the one you were searching for. Get it here.

6. CTRL-Tab

This addon gives you a preview of the webpage if you press CTRL+Tab. With CTRL key pressed, press tab again to toggle thru the different tabs to see the content of different tabs.. This is particularly useful if you are working with multiple tabs and you don't need you to go thru each of the tab to see its content. Very useful addon. Get it here.

7. Inquisitor

This addon speeds up your search like no other. Just as you are typing the word, it starts giving you options, including some related web pages that you might have recently visited. It also gives a count of the number of visits you have made to that particular webpage in the recent times. Advantage being, you need not wait for the search query to appear on google, but click it right away if the page you are looking for appears even before u click search. Get this addon here.

8. Speed Dial

This addon gives a direct access to the pages that you visit the most. Setting this as the home page and also configuring the pages according to the numbers you want, gives you fingertip access to your favorite sites. Setting this as the homepage works great. Get this addon here.

9. infoRSS

InfoRSS displays RSS, Atom, parsed HTML and NNTP feed in a scrolling area in the status bar. Compatible with podcasting RSS which can be downloaded directly. It's also a good Gmail notifier. Very useful if you are someone who reads a lots of blogs/feeds. Get this addon here.

10. ACE Safari Foxdie Theme

If you are someone who likes the style of Safari but use Firefox, then no worries. This theme matches the style of Safari and gives you a feel like you are browsing a Safari browser. Clearly, firefox doesn't have the professional look like Safari. So this one matches it up in style and 'professionality'. Get this addon here.

Thats about it folks. Doesn't necessarily mean that you need to have all these addons. You can probably install some of these addons and see how it works. It has definitely improvised my browsing experience. Hope it does so for you as well.. Adios.

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Music lover, gamer, love Apple products, Neuroscientist by profession and by choice.

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