Archive for June, 2008

Downgrade to Firefox 2.0

June 30, 2008
Ever since the first days of Firefox 1.0, I have been a loyal fan and endeavors to try everything new for this great web browser. Firefox is almost the perfect web browser I have tried and I always want to see it becomes better and better.

However, after updating to Firefox 3 weeks ago, including converting to the formal release on the Guinness-record-setting Pledged Downloading Day, I have become a little unsatisfied with Firefox 3.0 and decided to downgrade to Firefox 2.0.

The problems I have encountered:

1. After quitting FF3, most of the time it still remains in the memory. I tried to configure the browser, clean the add-ons, but neither works.

2. When I play online multimedia, such as videos from Youtube, if I close one segment and start another, the two sounds will blend. I don’t know how to completely turn off the sound from the first-opened video segment.

3. Most of the add-ons have been updated to be compatible in FF3. However, two of my favorites, Google screen saver, and realplayer video download, are not supported by FF3.

Of course, I will only downgrade it in my PC. FF2 works horrible in the mac, so I will keep FF3 in the mac.

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One reason to read The New York Time online

June 30, 2008
Gee, how come I did not know this Easter Egg for such a long time? Or did they just start this gizmo?

When reading The New Yorker Times online, double click a word, and the browser will take you to the reference search, with every definition you need, and even with the pronunciation. This function is powered by answers.com, the one that combines everything good, including wikipedia and dictionary entries.

So good a tool for people who use English as a second language.

My first NSA – Parsippany, NJ, Jun 25-28, 2008

June 29, 2008

A conference like NSA is transforming for the first timers.

This time, there were about 600 people who stutter, their family members, SLPs and researchers attended. The place was in Parsippany, New Jersey, in a castle-like Sheraton Hotel.

Wednesday – a long drive from North Carolina to New Jersey. Arrived at about 5 o’clock. Met with some old friends, such as Ted from Australia, Tammy from Arizona, whom I got to know 4 years ago in Australia World Congress for PWS. Talked with a lot of new friends.

Thursday – Dr. Patricia Zebrowski’s presentation. She is from Univ. of Iowa, former student of Dr. Conture. Her speech was about treatment and positive attitude. I did not finish it because some dude kept standing up and talking about his own experience and feelings of shame, guilt, and hopelessness. Of course these were great topics, and inspiring to many new comers. Probably not for me.

Then I came to Seton Hall univ., about 25 miles away. A compact and beautiful campus in a small town. They don’t have their own clinic, so students have to practice clinical stuff in various clinics. Their speech dept. chair, Dr. Orlikoff, is leaving for West Virginia. Ludo Max used to work there, and Dr. Balasubramania, an Indian, had some publications with him.

And I did not miss Dr. Dennis Drayna’s speech about his recent development in genetic investigation of stuttering. Stuttering is partly contributed by gene, with a correlation of 0.4-0.6. Various stuttering people may have different mutation in the gene, and new result just came days ago. Wait and see.

A great night with all the food and Karaoke. Some of these stutterers were really crazy at the time. Another evidence that personality is not a big issue for stutterers. The Our Time Theatre kids performed on stage, a little big, and I was so moved by their courage. I could not do that when young and stuttering badly.

Missed Dr. Scott Yarus and Dr. John Tetnowski’ speech about childhood stuttering treatment. Dr. Tetnowski is from Indiana University at Lafayette, last year’s SLP of the year awarded by NSA, and a “fluency specialist” approved by ASHA. To read more of him, see here and here. Dr. Tetnowski had published something interesting, like stuttering and the moya-moya disease, stuttering and music, etc. He could be described as a clinical researcher.

Friday – So sleepy in the morning. Glad I did not miss Dr. Gerald McGuire’s speech about, of course, medications. The good news is that they are still on phase III of pegaclone, and probably at the ending stage. But they, or the company, is still seeking buyer for the drug.

The night belonged to New York.

Saturday – Drove back.

Some highlights:

I will write tomorrow.

Academic Integrity in China and New Threads (xys.org)

June 22, 2008

Links:

A blog dedicated to Fang Zhouzi and New Threads. Fang got his Ph.D. in biology from Michigan State Univ., worked as a postdoc in Rochester Univ. and then Salk Institute, but quit the research in late 1990s and focused on fighting with false science in China.

A recent series of attacks on earthquake prediction, translated into English by a Hong Kong journalist.

If you read Chinese, you can always go to xys.org to read more about fraud busting stories. This web site is blocked in mainland China, yet still thousands of science workers managed to read it, write to accuse others, and write to defend for themselves. 

 

My opinions are varied.

Of course I support the effort of Fang and his fellows to oppose the unethical practices of science workers, and others, in mainland China. I don’t see anything wrong in this effort since I had stayed in China for a long time and I experienced how inferior its academia is. That may be why I used to be a fan of Fang, and hoped to contribute.

But I have some reservations of Dr. Fang and his web site. I see that, although some Chinese, like Fang, have upgraded their scientific knowledge to an unprecedented level, they still have a long way to go in regard to the scientific attitudes. It is understandable that they are angry of the frauds in China (so am I), yet sometimes they are too eager to tell people what is “right” and “scientific”, and easily get out of their knowledge scope in their criticism. This is dangerous, because it gives the readers wrong perceptions of what the science is and what the scientists do, and easily evokes lay people’s antagonism, sometimes even other science workers’. And sometimes these people go too far away, and criticize things like culture and religion. Even though Dr. Fang most of the times refrains from too harsh criticism of these liberal arts stuff, his followers do not, and I see clearly that at least some of his followers speak for him loudly and harshly, with foul words and problematic analogies. That is something I really feel disgusting of.

I do hope these people can focus on what they can excel, literally, busting the frauds, with infallible reasoning and in a gentlemanlike way. Violence always leads to violence; that’s why you need to treat your enemy with respect, not to say that a lot of them who don’t totally agree with Dr. Fang are not his enemies. And the variety of the minds should be respected.

Charles Runyan @ James Madison University

June 17, 2008

Professor and graduate coordinator in CSD department of James Madison University, Harrisburg, VA. His research interest focuses on cleft palate and stuttering, but basically stuttering since his research lab, video analysis lab, is about the treatment protocols for adult and children stutterers and the neuromotor basis of stuttering.

His lab, video analysis lab, is stuffed with him and an associate professor, Ms Sara Runyan. What relationship these two have? Are they husband and wife?

Both Runyans seem to be clinicians more than researchers. They have developed a Fluency Rule Program for young stutterers, and they have collaboration with Walter Reed Army Medical Center intensive stuttering program (Washington, D.C.), which treatment program features the usage of Computer Assisted Fluency Establishment Trainer (CAFET).

Plus, both Runyans are SpeechEasy providers. They are listed in Speecheasy.com as affiliated with a Winchester Speech Pathologist, P.C., which locates in Winchester, VA, a place almost 200 miles away from Harrisburg.

What is "Cafet"?
Cafet is the acronym for "Computer-Aided Fluency Establishment Training." It is a tool which was developed to help the speech clinician treat the stuttering client comprehensively, from identification of the problem through retention of the fluency skills following therapy. Cafet was developed by Annandale Fluency Clinic starting in 1983, with help from a research grant through the National Institutes of Health. It is used in speech clinics, hospitals, and school systems throughout the United States and Canada.

The client wears a respiratory sensor and a tiny microphone, which feed into a computer system. Cafet presents the patient’s voice and breathing as visual biofeedback on the computer screen. Rather than trying to change only the surface behaviors of stuttering, the underlying physiological behaviors are addressed through muscle retraining.

The computer program teaches the patient to coordinate the breathing with the onset of speech, to breathe without breath holding, and to maintain the speech flow throughout the phrase. Some people have called the process "physical therapy for the vocal cords." These aspects of coordination are practiced so thoroughly, that they maintain and become part of the everyday speech of the patient.

The funeral of Ming Liu

June 13, 2008

I never saw this lady when she was alive. But I decided to attend her funeral.

Not only because she was from China, but also because she died so young.

Her mother, parents-in-law, her husband and son, her sister and nephew were all there. I did not see any of them before, though her family had stayed in this town for about one year.

Dr. Lee presided the ceremony, and gave the first eulogy to her. It was then that I learned something about this person – now only ash in the small urn.

She was born in Beijing in 1970. Her childhood might not have a lot of stories, like so many of us. It was just study, study and study. But she was also good in sports during childhood. She entered the most prestigious medical school in China and spent 8 (or 7) years there.  She fell in love with her husband at the late years in the school. Later, both of them came to USA in 1997. She spent a few years pursuing a doctorate degree in Wayne State University, Chicago, and worked as a postdoctoral in UCLA for 5 years, and gave birth to a boy. Last year, her husband got a job in my university, her family moved down, and she prepared for the medical board exam and passed the first part. Pretty soon, she was diagnosed with late phase colon cancer, and died last Saturday.

Just a simple story. Not too many twists. No hobbies, no travels, no adventures. Nothing but school and family. She even did not come back to her homeland for all these years.

Someone attended the funeral said that, he was of the same age as hers. And, I am just a little younger.

No coffin, no tomb, just a small urn, buried in the wall, along with many other names. I don’t know how long these names can last.

No one cried, as this is the custom in USA. I still remember vividly my pain in the funeral of my father.

Some time in the funeral, my eyes got welled. I saw other welled eyes, too. I totally understood why.

It will be our fate. Some day, we will die in this foreign land. The bell tolls not only for her, but for thee.