Friday, July 16, 2010

BrainVision Analyzer 2 Workshop on EEG & TMS and EEG & fMRI

Ahhhh, professional development courses.....

This one  was held over three days at the QBI at UQ and hosted by JLM Accutek, the Australian distributors for Brain Products.The lecturer was Dr. Ingmar Gutberlet. 

The course was very intensive. Three days of technical demonstrations and in depth software tutorial sessions. I'm still digesting everything that we covered. I guess it will only really sink in once I get some serious practice time back home.

Being on campus at UQ has also been something quite thought provoking. Its pretty intimidating to go from a relatively tiny regional campus to one of the G8 campuses. Something of a culture shock. I have probably got just as much to think about from the campus experience and the people I've met as the content of the course.

One thing that does need some comment is the quality of the accommodation. I have to say that for the price we paid, I feel we didn't get value for money.

The room takes some figuring out. The weather is freezing at night because of the river and you need to wake up intermittently and turn on the air conditioner which turns out to sound like a small jet engine.  This makes sleeping a bit challenging.
The plumbing is terrible. They're on a water saving kick so someone has gone around and sabotaged the shower with some flow restrictor and a water saving nozzle. The difference between arctic and third degree burns is a very fine line.
And then there's the alarm clock. This consists of a 20 ton excavator tearing up a giant hole right beside the building.  Strangely enough the digging starts at about 7am every day and seems to be done for the day about half an hour later. Perhaps its just my persecution complex....

I have to say that I was surprised by the attendance pattern of some of the other attendees. I get that they're busy and have other calls on their time but it seems like such a waste to sign up and show up for only a couple of sessions. Fully half the attendees were AWOL most of the time.  Makes you wonder what they were getting out of it that was worth the price. 

I think many of the attendees were there to get some practical skills that were applicable to a particular problem they were facing in their work. Perhaps they were just more able to discriminate the sessions that were appropriate for their work.  I was a bit of a kid in a candy shop. Everything was good.

Some of the software was a bit rugged; that's the nature of these kinds of systems, half of its a hack and half of its done but lacking polish.  Usually its just amazing that it works as well as it does.  It's an incredibly complex domain to work with and the market place is both saturated and the customers are non-uniform, so the number of users of most features may be quite low.  Makes for a hard business environment and low margins.

The people here are different. I've never before been surrounded by such a bunch of high achievers.  This is no bad thing as it has provided a real learning experience.  There are so many things I need to work on that are just not getting exercise at Coffs.  I understand some of the more traveled staff a little better now.

I've spent the time harvesting ideas from everything. The workshop, the people, the campus, the software, the uni website. Maybe it was just the scary amount of coffee I've been drinking to try to stay awake and the sense of being away from the usual distractions.  Now I just need the time to write some of it up before it all turns to smoke.

I need to figure out a good time to leave tomorrow to miss the rush hour traffic. It was insane coming up. I managed to hit the rush about 110km south of Brisbane and was in rush hour traffic for more than an hour at freeway speeds. Not really good when the fatigue is at its maximum.

Back to thinking and catching up on all the work that's been piling up....

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