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Maunderings of a Modern Mind
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Below are the 8 most recent journal entries recorded in Miriam Lara Boon's LiveJournal:

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2008
11:59 pm
Living in Toronto?
Are you a Torontonian who immigrated as an adult to Canada? We're looking for people to interview for a zany, irreverent look at immigrants to Toronto.

The interviews will appear on NetworkedStreets.com as part of an audiovisual slide show with accompanying text.

The sooner we can meet for an interview, which will take at most 45 minutes, the better, but we will be conducting interviews through the weekend.

Please contact us at my first name, miriam, at my username.com.

Current Mood: excited
Thursday, December 11th, 2003
3:28 pm
I cannot help but ask...
Where did they get this name from, and what were they thinking?


"New World Mobility joines hands with blah! to bring instant phone chat culture to Hong Kong"
"discover the blah! value proposition."
"meet the blah! team and learn more about the world of blah!"

Someone should tell them how very blah their name is -- and that they need to hire a new marketing director.

Current Mood: amused
Monday, December 8th, 2003
4:25 pm
I am now a proud member of the National Association of Science Writers, and also among the few privileged who get to see embargoed information through EurekAlert!'s fabulous service.

Meanwhile, the countdown continues... less than 30 days of gainful employment remain.

In my last days here I have, however, made a few coups.

  • I am working on a neat story for the Print FOB section that should be going in the March issue
  • I am also working on that round up of PDA cell phones... who knows when it'll go in, but when it does I'll be getting some freelance pay for it.
  • One other story is looking fairly promising, having to do with a certain type of alternative user interface... if WIRED doesn't want it, I'm of a mind to pitch it to Technology Review
  • One other story related to distributed computing which I suspect is a no for WIRED. I haven't decided who else to pitch it to. I'm thinking either Technology Review or Popular Science

It's a good, fat list and looks promising. Meanwhile I've applied for jobs with MacWorld, Mobile PC, and soon, the AIDS foundation.

Watch this space for future developments!

Current Mood: hopeful
4:08 pm
Learned behaviors from ADD medications
An article in Forbes (via Reuters) states that: Attention deficit drugs may have long-term effects

More specifically, studies of rats indicated that if they are given Ritalin throughout developmental stages of life, later on in life they tend towards depressive and ADD-like behavior.

While I don't doubt that it is possible, even likely that ritalin is neurotoxic, there is a simple, cognitive explanation for this finding.

These rats grew up experiencing the world while on ritalin. Everything that rats do, these rats know how to cope with within that framework; they've never tried to do ANYTHING without the ritalin. When these researchers removed the ritalin from their diet, they suddenly have to completely relearn how to cope with the world. And while retraining is possible outside of developmental stages, it is harder and takes longer and may not be fully effective. Kind of like learning a second language as an adult -- it can be done, but most people will never have a perfect accent and boy will it be more painful!

The article jumps to conclusions, typical of bad science journalism everywhere. The quotes of the actual scientists suggest "learned helplessness and a tendency towards depression" which nowhere says anything about neurotoxicity -- the conclusion most readers will likely jump to.

Current Mood: skeptical
Wednesday, November 26th, 2003
12:01 pm
I have the p900 Sony Ericsson in my greedy little hands and I'm looking forward to playing with it over the next week or so.


Over the last week or so I've made a number of contacts with potential freelance markets. Things are going well on that front and I may turn up some fairly regular customers. Bread and butter money is exciting, to say the least.

In spite of my ambitions to freelance, I've just applied for the position of Staff Writer at Macworld and MacCentral. There's a lot to be said for security as well as for making connections with a new market. And what I wouldn't give for a health plan!

Watch this space for future updates.

Current Mood: busy
Thursday, November 20th, 2003
2:32 pm
Preparations for the impending doom continue as planned. I just dropped my application for membership in the Northern California Science Writer's Association in the mail. $20 for access to their job boards and quarterly networking dinners -- an excellent deal if I say so myself.

Meanwhile preparation to join NASW continues... one of the in-house editors here turns out to have recently become a member, and he has agreed to be a sponsor. I've emailed Simson Garfinkel about sponsoring me and hope to hear from him soon. After that, I just need to assemble five of my clips on science or technology which were written for the general public and mail in my application.

Surprisingly, my EurekAlert application has not gone through. They felt my three clips were too short for comfort and want some longer ones written in the last six months or a letter from my editor on WIRED letterhead confirming my "ongoing assignments." It shall be done.

Contrary to popular opinion, being a journalist -- especially a science or technology journalist -- is not about writing or even investigation. It's about being educated, living in the fields you're covering, paying attention, and having innovative ideas. To succeed, you have to immerse yourself in the material you are covering and be an expert. You have to keep your eyes peeled for information at all times, and then find a new twist on an idea that will make an editor's little heart go pitter-patter. You have to sell your idea to the editor, you have to cling to your ideas like a child to its mother, and then and only then do you start doing research and writing and editing. A successful freelance journalist is an excellent student, know-it-all, brainstormer, salesperson, researcher, interviewer, writer, and editor. Science and technology journalists, on top of that, have to understand the science and technology enough to render it comprehensible to the public, and they have to deal with some of the more difficult personalities in science.

In spite of all that, I love it. Imagine being paid to be educated about stuff that interests you. Imagine getting paid to go talk to interesting people about their work! I love the challenge of explaining a complex subject to any audience, and the process of perfecting that piece until it flows beautifully and easily.

Current Mood: cheerful
Wednesday, November 19th, 2003
4:31 pm
As unemployment looms...
Every day, with unemployment looming closer and closer, I do something new that will help with the freelance career.

Today I bounced from news service to blog and beyond, and consolidated them in one place for easy reading. I subscribed to the writing/editing section of the Bay Area Craigslist classifieds. And I have just finished applying to EurekAlert.

What is EurekAlert, you ask? Well, that depends on who you are. Maintained by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, it is in some ways a news service, in other ways a research site, and to writers like me, an indisposable tool.

Apparently, EurekAlert has convinced a number of news sources to release embargoed information to them. Embargoed information, for those of you who don't know, refers to material that will not be released to the public for some time. That time is essential to a writer, however, because of lead time. A monthly magazine's lead time is about three months in most cases. That means you have to know enough about your story idea to convince an editor that they want to run the story and have you write it more than three months before the information goes public.

The embargoed information imparted to EurekAlert obviously isn't imparted to the general public. Journalists -- and the Public Information Officers providing said information -- must apply for access to embargoed information. I have just finished doing so, and hopefully will gain access shortly!

I am also eager to become a member of the National Association of Science Writers. Job boards and services similar to EurekAlert exist behind the veils of NASW membership. Sadly, I need 2 references who are currently members, and in the two offices I've worked not a single person has been a member to my knowledge. Except for Simson Garfinkel.

Well, I hope to be attending the AAAS Annual Meeting in Seattle this coming February 12-16. I went the year before last and not only were there some amazing talks about science, but there were also a lot of opportunities for networking, including some great NASW sponsored events. If I haven't managed to join by then, maybe I'll make the necessary contacts there.

Current Mood: hopeful
10:48 am
Treo 600 and PDA Phones
I'm really looking forward to April. That's when I get a discount on a new phone if I commit to another contract with Verizon; June 5th is when the current contract expires.

For a long time I thought I'd replace my Kyocera QCP 6035 with they Kyocera 7135, and I still might.

But I've had the opportunity to play around a little with the Treo 600 (and will have more opportunities as I'm calling it in for review), and I have to admit I'm impressed. There's only two problems:

  1. No stylus and no graffiti.
  2. The Treo 600 will not be offered by Verizon (so far)

I've been pretty happy with Verizon, and they are currently the top rated network in the nation. I feel like I have a pretty good deal too... $50/month before fees and I'm getting 500 anytime minutes, 1000 mobile-to-mobile (which don't get used much) and unlimited nights and weekends (which begin at 9 p.m. and end at 6 a.m.).

Thing is, that may all change post Nov. 24th, as number portability goes into effect. So it may be too soon to discount the Treo 600 based simply on carrier.

As far as the graffiti and stylus issue... There seems to be a trend towards thumb keyboards and away from graffiti... Unsubstantiated rumor has it that the Tungsten T4 won't even have a stylus! This trend puzzles me. It seems to me that once you've learned it, Graffiti 2 would be faster than a thumb keyboard. I'm wondering if any of you folks out there have tried both extensively enough to say which gives you a faster "typing" speed.

Current Mood: curious
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