Geotagging through Asterisk?

Between telemarketers annoying me into getting my upgrade to Asterisk 1.6 finished and the hasty long-overdue road-trip back to and from Idaho again, I’m reminded of an idea that has been fluttering around in the back of my head, not unlike a small bat in the top of a bell tower.

My vast hordes of cult-like fans always seem to want to know where I am. This is obviously an issue in a case where I’m going to be driving 1600 miles, then turning around and driving back, over the span of 4-6 days. It would be pretty easy to set up something on a web page somewhere with some kind of map. The real problem is – how do I update the map?

In some places, I could stop for a while, haul out Igor, boot up, find a public wireless network connection to the internet, and do the update that way. However, that’s time-consuming and awkward, and I want to get this trip successfully completed as quickly as I can. Plus, it’s not always easy to find public network access points, especially through the barren, windy, snowdrift-covered wastelands of Southern Wyoming where a chunk of my route will take me. I have a hypothetical solution, however…

Continue reading Geotagging through Asterisk?

Stir-Fried Random Ep 03: All I Want for Christmas Is…

A thanksgiving themed 'buy stuff' advertisementThanksgiving = Shopping, evidently. Anyway, since this is about the time of year when the vast population of my devoted fans around the world begin demanding to shower me with gifts and asking what kinds of gifts they should give me…this episode of Stir-Fried Random has some suggestions. Enough suggestions, in fact, that I didn’t even have room to include a Nerd Word, Emprical Observation of the Week, or Microbiology Microlecture. Therefore, while this episode will probably be slightly less interesting to the microbiology and computer-nerd focussed listeners, it should be of special interest to members of my immediate family, secret admirers, cultists who worship me as a living embodiment of divine spiffitude, and agents of the NSA, FBI, CIA, USDA, and Federal Department of Blog Enforcement who are busily profiling me. There is some other stuff though – please give it a listen, pass copies along to your friends, play it over the Public Announcement system at school, turn it into a techno-dance remix video on YouTube®, whatever.

As usual, direct download links for mp3 and ogg versions, plus <audio> tag support for those with really new browsers to listen in place, and embedded Flash-based mp3 player for everyone else who wants to listen in the browser instead of downloading and singing along during your commute or whatever.
(UPDATE 20081126: I’ve REMOVED the embedded player for now – it seems it ignores me when I tell it to wait until it’s told to before it starts playing. Autoplay annoys the heck out of me, and this seems to insist on it. The embedded player will remain gone until I get it to behave properly. Meanwhile, you can double-click or “right-click -> save as:” on the ogg or mp3 download link to get the audio files to listen to. Apologies to anyone ambushed by the unwanted auto-playing of the sound…)

Show Notes:
Continue reading Stir-Fried Random Ep 03: All I Want for Christmas Is…

Perhaps a cute picture will distract everyone…

Banshee the Catlet, in a bent/twisted pose

The Apprenticing Lab Rat went and tagged me with a meme…I’m almost done with it, but I’m being alerted by my Minister of Domestic Affairs that it’s bedtime. Also, I still have to get more audio recorded to assemble a worthwhile next episode of Stir-Fried Random for the two or so people who listen to it (if you’d like to help, I’m taking questions and/or suggestions for topics in the comments…). I’m planning to do a segment on my “Giant’s Shoulder’s” submission for this month regarding Lactic Fermentation, and some bits about what I want for christmas (surely at least 75% of The Internet wants to hear about that…), but obviously that’s insufficient…

Hopefully the picture of the Bendycat will keep everyone making “Awww, how cute” noises and distract you all until I have time to post tomorrow…

(Why is “mnemonic” such a hard word to remember, anyway?…)

Stir-Fried Random Ep 02:Sex, Violence, and Cinnamon Bears, y’all!

Only about five more days until the next “Giant’s Shoulders” blog carnival. I still need to pick a paper. ARGH!
(UPDATE 20081126: I’ve removed the embedded flash player – it seems to ignore me when I explicitly tell it NOT to automatically start playing rather than waiting until you intentionally hit “play”. Sorry for anyone annoyed by the autoplay. The embedded player will not return until I solve this.)

Meanwhile, here’s this week’s episode of “Stir-Fried Random”, weighing in at a MASSIVE 12 WHOLE MINUTES or so. As before, there’s an “<audio>” tag pointing directly at the Ogg Vorbis audio for those of you running a beta of the Firefox 3.1 series, a recent version of Opera, or (I believe) the current Safari on a system with the Ogg Vorbis Quicktime component installed. There is also the usual embedded Flash®-based mp3 player and direct download links for both versions.

Somebody please let me know if I’m making a fool of myself here… Anyway, here are the show notes:
Continue reading Stir-Fried Random Ep 02:Sex, Violence, and Cinnamon Bears, y’all!

Stir-Fried Random: Alferbeetagama!

(Update 20081104T1050: added a minimal embedded flash-based player at the bottom of the post, if you’re willing to settle for mp3 quality and want to listen from your web browser…)
(Update again 20081126: I wish I had realized before that the stupid thing was autoplaying despite explicitly including “autoplay=false” in the parameters. I’ve removed the embedded player again until I find a way to prevent autoplaying. Sorry about anyone that was annoyed by this.)

I was going to post this last night, but there appears to have been another bout of database connection errors again at my ISP (“host blocked due to too many connection errors”). I’m guessing either someone is DOS’ing the database server or one of the other users had some very badly behaved custom code running. They’ve got it fixed now, so here we go…

After staying up too (insert profanity here) late again despite having to get up extra-early this morning to vote before work…here’s the first real episode of Stir-Fried Random. Still only about 10 minutes long – I’d like to make it longer, but it’ll still probably take a few episodes of building up to it. An actual shiny new <audio> tag is included for those with bleeding-edge browsers that support it (let me know if it works – hypothetically the 3.1 Beeta[sic] version of Firefox and I believe the most recent Opera support this.). Otherwise, direct-download is available below the show notes:
Continue reading Stir-Fried Random: Alferbeetagama!

The “Stir-Fried Random” podcast, et al

Almost time for the first real episode of “Stir-Fried Random”. It’s still a bit short (about 10 minutes or so is what it looks like I’ll have) but the sound quality is a bit improved. It’s not all frivolous, either – there’s high culture (Opera) and science (the first of my Microbiology Microlectures) in it.

I was also plotting to intermittently post what I’m thinking of as “Book-And-Record” audio files, each associated with a single picture (embedded as “album art” as well as likely in the blog post presenting it) saying something about subject of the picture…

Continue reading The “Stir-Fried Random” podcast, et al

I was going to call it “Oxygen Sucks”…

I mentioned I’ve been “working” (playing) with recording audio during my commute to and from work, in hopes of turning the audio into a regular podcast. I was originally going to call it “Oxygen Sucks”, which is why today’s attached/enclosed audio (only about 7 minutes long) refers to itself as such…

Officially, though, I think “Stir-Fried Random” is a better name, so I’ll go with that henceforth. The first real episode is under way already, so I could put it up as early as the next few days. Today’s episode is in mp3 format, though starting next episode I’d like to offer both mp3 and Ogg Vorbis, at least, the latter format having better audio quality at the same bitrate (and being Legally Free for use). As a bonus, I gather Firefox 3.1 should offer native playback support for it, too…

I’d appreciate commentary on the content (even if you don’t listen but merely want to comment on the show notes) and audio quality. No login needed, anonymous comments allowed.

Show notes may be found below This Direct-Download link for the audio

Continue reading I was going to call it “Oxygen Sucks”…

Possible audio show, and “ask me anything!”…

You may be wondering where I’ve been. (If not, in order to spare my fragile little ego, please pretend that you were. Thank you.) Well, mostly I’ve been in my car driving to and from my spiffy new job.

This hasn’t left me with much time to blog lately, which annoys me a bit. On the other hand, the commute is long enough that I run out of netcasts to listen to during the week, leaving me with driving time back and forth during which I could conceivably be doing something productive.

Continue reading Possible audio show, and “ask me anything!”…

Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day…

…but teach a man to fish, and he’ll sit in a boat and drink beer all day.

-== We interrupt this blog post to bring you this important announcement: Happy Birthday, Dad!==-

(His birthday was actually yesterday, but this week of school has been grinding me pretty hard and I’d forgotten all about it. He must be so proud – his son can handle a couple of semesters of biochemistry, complex microbial science, working with dangerous chemicals in a lab…but doesn’t seem to know how to use a simple calendar…I am filled with shame.)

We now return you to your regularly scheduled blog post:

This here critter is our resident fish. “He” is a classic specimen of real, old-fashioned, Honest-to-Aquaman Carassius auratus auratus – the Goldfish. And not one of those poor mutant freaks who can barely swim, either. No this here fish was rescued from the overcrowded “feeder goldfish” tank of a local Wal-Mart®. Handsome, ain’t he? I had a tough time getting even this good of a picture – every time I get near the tank he swims back and forth in front of me frantically, perhaps worshipping me as the magical fishfood god. He’s been here for about three years now, so I think he’s having a much longer life than most of them.

I’ve had no time to get into it, but part of the reason for having a fish is that I have a casual interest in aquaculture. That is, while I don’t currently have any intention of becoming a professional full-scale fish-farmer, the subject is interesting and, I think, very important in the near future. Once we figure out where we’re going to end up living next year and get settled in somewhere, I have considered trying to do the aquaculture equivalent of a backyard garden, though.

I think aquaculture is going to become extremely important in the relatively near future, as we run into the combination of overfishing of natural stocks, water shortages, contamination of natural waters with pollutants that build up in naturally-existing populations of fish, and the overall effects of climate change. I think understanding how to raise healthy and nutritious aquatic food without wasting water or causing environmental problems is going to be a useful set of knowledge to have. (There, see, not only do I love kittens and puppies and want to make the world a better place, but I’m also interested in Sustainable Environmental Practices™. While feeding the hungry. [Uphill. In the snow. With no shoes…]).

You may be wondering what interest an ex-professional-computer-nerd microbiologist would have in tending a pond full of eukaryotes. Well, aside from the obvious “Hey, I can have more than one interest, you know”, there actually is a lot of microbiological activity involved in the natural processes of the fishes’ homes. Plus, of course, the aforementioned beer doesn’t ferment and bottle itself, you know.

Since one of my interests in this context is water conservation, my main interest is in figuring out how to maintain a healthy “closed” system. In an aquaculture context, a “closed” system is one that you don’t normally add substantial amounts of water to. (An example of an “open” system might include raising fish in pens floating in a natural lake, or having a constant stream of fresh ground or river water pumping through your tanks). This poses certain problems, since you have to feed the fish, and this adds an ever-increasing load of potentially uneaten fishfood and especially of eaten fishfood – that is, fish wastes.

Fishfood being digested by either fish or bacteria ends up adding ammonia to the water, which is poisonous to the fish (and crawdads and whatever else is in there). Also excreted is carbon dioxide, which makes the water more acidic, and unused food also dumps sulfur and phosphorous into the system.

If you’ve ever had a fishtank, you may know about the ammonia. Certain kinds of Oxygen-using bacteria can actually get some of their biochemical energy from turning reduced nitrogen into oxidized nitrogen, ultimately turning the ammonia (NH3) into much less poisonous nitrate (NO3). These bacteria tend to colonize the tank’s filter, where they do their thing using the oxygen in the water that flows through. Even nitrate is dangerous if it builds up too much, though. In an aquarium, they usually recommend just taking out some of the tank’s water and replacing it with fresh water every week or two to get rid of the build-up. I’d show you pictures of the bacteria, but I still can’t afford a decent microscope. (sniffle.)

Anyway, I want to build a denitrification column one of these days. There are bacteria that can “breathe” nitrate in place of oxygen, and in the process they can reduce the nitrate back down to plain old harmless nitrogen gas, which just bubbles out of the water. If you build a long, tall tube full of something like gravel that bacteria can grow on, and then pump the water through it slowly, oxygen-breathing bacteria near the bottom of the tube rapidly use up the oxygen in the water, leaving the nitrate. With no oxygen further up the tube, bacteria that can breathe the nitrate instead can grow like crazy, and exhale the extra nitrogen out of the system.

That’s one way of avoiding the need to use up as much fresh water as you’d need if you relied only on replacing the water to get rid of the nitrate.

I’ll save the sulfur and phosphorous parts for another day. Meanwhile, I think the next podcast or two will deal with MRSA, since it’s been in the news so much lately. I normally find the neglected non-medical microbiology more interesting, but the biochemistry and genetics involved with Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (not to mention S. aureus itself) is pretty interesting, and I find the media discussions of it unsatisfying.

Stay tuned…

#1 on Google!

Over on’s The World’s Fair, the author has started an amusing meme.

It goes like this: the challenge is to find 5 sets of search terms for which your own blog or site is the #1 hit on a Google search. Note that it is acceptable to quote specific phrases but of course it’s more impressive if you don’t. Here are 8 that (as I type this) for which this blog is the #1 hit (links go to the blog address that is the hit):

There was at least one other which I’m having trouble remembering at the moment. Perhaps I’ll update later if I remember what it was.