Stuff that occurs to me

All of my 'how to' posts are tagged here. The most popular posts are about blocking and private accounts on Twitter, also the science communication jobs list. None of the science or medical information I might post to this blog should be taken as medical advice (I'm not medically trained).

Think of this blog as a sort of nursery for my half-baked ideas hence 'stuff that occurs to me'.

Contact: @JoBrodie Email: jo DOT brodie AT gmail DOT com

Science in London: The 2017 scientific society talks in London blog post

Tuesday, 2 January 2018

[Solved] Old neuroscience event on amusia (being unmusical) at the RSM - anyone know more?

The event was a 'Music and Medicine' student-led academic meeting at the RSM and the details are preserved in this archived copy of diary pages of February 2007 when the event took place. In fact I did hear of it through the psci-com list, I didn't find it when searching as 'amusia' wasn't mentioned in the email to the list.

Thanks to @davemack for pointing me to Prof Lauren Stewart's Goldsmith's research page, seeing info about amusia in her publications list made it clear that it was her name I should be searching for and finding the event on psci-com meant I could tie the timing down for a more productive search in the archives.

Years ago... I think it was before 2010 as I think my mum was still alive... Dad and I went to a really lovely and interesting evening event at the Royal Society of Medicine on Wimpole Street. Pretty sure that's where it was. It was a talk by someone who'd been doing research on amusia (lack of music, really struggling with pitch and melody), with a neuroscience focus. At the end the speaker and another medical person gave a short musical performance - a violin was involved I think but the memories are fading.

The talk was fascinating. The researcher showed us video clips of her research with members of a family in Ireland who were enthusiastic about music. The family included a man who was keen on music like the rest of his family but had always lacked any ability with it. He composed tunes - they were as unmusical as you'd expect but he seemed to derive a lot of pleasure from it.

People born with (congenital) amusia cannot recognise a musical tune and struggle with musical pitch but don't seem to have a problem with pitch in speech, or with prosody (rhythm and emphasis / intonation in speech). It seems to be very specific. People can also acquire amusia following a brain injury.

I don't think this was the researcher who presented (no mention of an Irish family, though I suppose it's possible my memory is incorrect!)
The Genetics of Congenital Amusia (Tone Deafness): A Family-Aggregation Study (2007)
Anyway I'd love to know who gave the presentation and when the event was. As it was probably 2009 or earlier I think the relevant page on the RSM's website has disappeared. Here are the strategies I've used to try and find out more, so they can be discounted.

Google search - restricted by year - no joy, also tried earlier years.

Royal Society of Medicine website search on the Internet Archive - I've crawled backwards through 2009 to 2007 but not found anything yet. Perhaps it was before 2007 (entirely possible) but the website hasn't been captures.

Psci-com mailing list (I thought the talk might have been advertised here, but no) - searched for amusia and music wimpole.

Monday, 1 January 2018

Dion Freeview box from Tesco - I am not a fan

It's been years since I've done a product review on this blog (I don't buy many devices, admittedly) so this is a bit of an outlier I suppose.

About a year ago I bought a Dion Freeview box in the hope that I'd be able to get additional Freeview channels, such as Talking Pictures, some extra +1 channels not available on my current system and also the HD channels. A few weeks ago I swapped the two boxes over.

Since then I have discovered that as I have an old fashioned non-flat cathode-ray tube (CRT) television with one SCART socket and one aerial socket (and that's it) perhaps my options were probably always going to be limited - I don't get any extra channels.

Either the age of the television or the aerial means that it was a waste of money (it wasn't expensive) and I have the same channels that I already have, so I am going to switch back to the old one, perhaps when I've finished watching Pride & Prejudice. 

No extra channels is only mildly annoying, in that nothing's been improved, but there is something more annoying.

Since I swapped the boxes I've been irritated by an almost constant pop up alert on screen asking if I want to search. This appears randomly, but when it starts up it appears every 30 seconds (and stays on screen for 10 seconds). Surely if I do nothing the system should assume I don't want to search and dismiss itself, sadly this doesn't happen.

Online forums suggest doing a 'first installation' but clearly I did that when I installed it a few weeks ago. I've let it check for new channels (sometimes the message is 'LCN has changed') but this has made no difference.

The Dion Freeview box from Tesco is therefore unusable if you want to WATCH television (I often use it to listen to Radio 4 so don't care so much what's happening on the screen then) and so I cannot recommend it.

It is currently interefering with my enjoyment of Colin Firth's Mr Darcy so I'm mightily peeved, hence moved to write a blog post bleating about it.

I very rarely replace a product with a new one if the old one is still working (very glad I kept the old one!) so let this be a lesson to me. Next time I'll do more research :)