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?
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
Today’s batch of blog-based Stir-Fried Random includes another interactive map of a lake-spanking expedition, a very brief musing on search engines, and a return to “intentional food microbiology” discussion. To preview: you can get pizza without ever getting out of the water on Lake Conroe, “spanking” is amusingly popular for search engines, and no, there is not normally any yeast in ice cream, but perhaps there could be. Read on, please…
Continue reading Aqua-pedestrianism and Ice Cream Yeast
Lake Conroe has been persistently naughty. Since nobody else seemed to be taking responsibility for its misbehavior, we took matters into our own hands yesterday and gave it a good spanking. I paddled it until I got blisters.
I think this will need to be done much more often, since I don’t think the lake has learned its lesson yet. On the other hand, I learned a few – interactive photo-map and details below…
Continue reading Lake-spanking map and pictures
Sorry about having another brief bout of blogstipation. We’ve finally managed to close on a house and now we’re probationary Texans (y’all). I’ve been spending the last week+ driving back to SE Idaho (by way of Best Friends, since we now have room to hire a second dog to hopefully keep Cornelia the Laser Dog company. I’ve got to lug 3 cats (and one goldfish in a small fish tank) a distance of 1600 miles or so starting in about 6-8 hours. Wish me (good) luck.
After the weekend, I should have some time to get back to the real posts. The Mountain Dew Wine was virtually unfermented when I returned, even after sitting there 10 days, but since I’ve gotten back it’s started going. Still slowly – the bubbler spits out 3-5 bubbles ever 40 seconds or so – but it’s going. It’ll be interesting to see what I end up with. I wanted to do 2-3 posts on the effects of benzoic acid on yeasts (that’s the preservative in Mountain Dew®), and I would swear I had one or two others in mind. Oh, yes, and an update on getting a Magellan GPS replacement that can actually be used – they seem to have located a slightly lower-end model eXplorist that they can send me. I sent them back their “walled garden”-based Triton 500, so the replacement unit ought to show up next week, I think. Their service has been pretty good, at least.
Well, the good news is that after calling their support line and trying the three-button-reset ritual that I hadn’t known about, my Magellan eXplorist 600 is still completely dead. They did not give me any hassle about replacing the unit, they just gave me an RMA number. My dead eXplorist was sent to their “Repair” center in Fort Worth, TX this afternoon. A replacement should arrive in about a week to a week-and-a-half.
The bad news is that Magellan has discontinued the $350 eXplorist 600 (and the rest of the eXplorist line) and insists that they can only offer their newer $250 Triton 500 as a replacement. I’ll withhold judgement on whether to be ticked off at the $100 of retail value that is being lost here until I see the specifications. It looks at first glance that the basic capabilities really are pretty much the same, so it may turn out okay…except for the most important feature by far, which I originally chose the eXplorist for in the first place: documented data formats.
The Triton series GPS’s appear to use a bizarre, undocumented file format, completely different from the documented format of the Meridian and eXplorist models. This means that as of right now, a Magellan Triton owner is not permitted to work with their OWN DATA without going through a proprietary, Microsoft-Windows-only GUI package, which ironically apparently uses GPSBabel to do file conversion. GPSBabel doesn’t support the Triton formats since there is no information available on how to read and write them yet. Since I have no Microsoft Windows machines anywhere, this means the shiny new Triton 500 (which I – seriously – can’t stop thinking of now as the “Magellan Vista”) will be nothing more than a highway map that requires batteries unless their proprietary “VantagePoint” software will run under WINE.
I’m hoping that they’ve merely been busy and will soon get around to adding this units specifications to their “Interface Solutions” information. This is where the openly-published file format (and communication protocol) specifications which were highly (and rightfully) praised by the GPSBabel project are made available for the now-abandoned Meridian and eXplorist units. If the GPS data I work so hard to obtain remains locked inside the proprietary format, only accessible at the whims of Magellan and Microsoft, I’m going to be extremely peeved. If, on the other hand, GPSBabel soon gets the information necessary to add support for the Magellan Triton line, the only serious complaint I have with all this will go away. Honestly, if I can at least get enough documentation to write my own simple waypoint, track, and route reader for their Triton files I’ll be happy.
I think a real, old-fashioned letter, printed on dead tree and everything, mailed to their corporate HQ is called for…
Anybody out there have any experience dealing with Magellan corporation? I’d like to think they want to do the right thing…
A couple of months ago I traded up from my Garmen etrex Legend to a Magellan eXplorist 600. I wanted to get away from Garmin due to a couple of irritating limitations that they seem to cling to (like losing your timestamps if you save an individual track, lack of SD card support, and dropping NMEA data support “to support [their] software” [see the review in Make #1]). So far, I’ve been pretty pleased with the shiny new Magellan. Though their software (as usual) only works on Microsoft Windows, I didn’t buy it for the software, and GPSBabel handles the data conversion of the files just fine.
So, naturally, now that I’ve just started blogging with the track data I’ve been recording with it, it has died on me. Yesterday – worked fine. Today – won’t turn on or respond in any way.
The good news is that I DID register the thing online at Magellan corporation’s website, and it’s supposed to have a 1-year warranty. Support’s only available Monday-Friday, though, so I’ll have to wait until Monday to see a response to my support query. Wish me luck. I’ll post updates in case anyone is interested in how Magellan responds.
In other news, “BigC” followed up on my previous queries about digital microscopes and Linux, saying that the manufacturer is now offering a Linux-compatible version of their AM311S model (the Linux-compatible one is the “AMU311S”) by special-order. Only goes up to 200X magnification, though, so it’s not real useful for my microbiological purposes. I can’t say the manufacturer of these digital scopes is impressing me much, but BigC certainly seems to be going out of their way to give good service.
There’ll be at least one other post later today – I wanted to get some more “classic” microbiology papers blogged before the day was up. Kirby-Bauer or Schaeffer-Fulton?…
Time to take the special-needs kitty to the vet for boarding and gas up Flagella (yes, I named my car Flagella) and hit the road. By popular (i.e. more than zero people) demand, here’s my route (again, RSS readers will need to come to the website to see the map). Wish me (good) luck.
ID to TX [height=480;width=560]
No single topics to dominate a post today. I’m in a hurry (as usual lately) and have very little time. Tomorrow morning I’m back on the 1600-mile route back to Southeast Texas, hopefully to sign the closing paperwork on the house we’re trying to buy.
My Mountain Dew® Wine appears to be still sitting there after several hours. Either the benzoic acid is still inhibiting the fermentation (in which case it’ll go REALLY slowly) or the yeast is just in shock or something. We’ll see how it looks in the morning. I’ll leave it for a week or so anyway to see how it does. Meanwhile I’ll refrigerate the other batch of yeast culture until I get back. If I have to develop my own strain of “Mountain Dew Yeast” I will, dagnabbit!
I did get a chance to go for a quick walk in the Big Room on the way back from some errands yesterday, so it gives me an excuse to play with the wordpress map plugin again (RSS feed readers: the map doesn’t get inserted there. Please check out the interactive map at the blog’s website here.) Comments on the map (or anything else, really – I DID say “Open Thread” after all) are encouraged – what do you think? I’d like to do some audio content for points on a map at some point, too. Maybe some video.
Lava Rock Walk [height=560;width=560]
If anyone’s bored enough to want to see how I get from Southeast Idaho to Southeast Texas, I can post a map of that tomorrow, too…
After spotting the company’s mention in Jeff Sparrow’s “Wildbrews“, I’ve been wanting to visit Bristol Brewing Company, particularly since they may be the only such brewery using local yeasts and bacteria that they isolated themselves from their local environment.
Since we’re moving from Southeastern Idaho to Southeastern Texas, I’ve been going back and forth between the two location. It just so happens that along with New Belgium Brewing Company, Bristol Brewing is actually right along a convenient route between the two locations. (Let’s see if I can figure out how to work the Google Maps plugin):
How’s that look? How does it work? (Those of you reading this on the RSS feed: The interactive map only appears on the website, it would seem. Please check it out here.) I made the KML file myself…
Bristol Brewing is a cozy little brewpub, and the people there are encouragingly helpful. They were in the middle of bottling, so there were no tours. Also, there were not currently any of the skull-‘n-bones beers available. However, I did get an educational series of tastes of their current brews on tap (thank you to the employee I spent most of the time talking to whose name I’ve embarrassingly forgotten, but who I believe was Tad Davis judging from the photos on the web site). I also lucked out and their microbiologist, Ken Andrews, happened to be there. I asked about their native Colorado brewing flora. Turns out Bristol Brewing isn’t quite as bold as I originally thought. They’re still doing their primary fermentation with “normal” brewing yeasts. What they’ve done is inoculated some wine barrels with the locally-isolated yeasts and bacteria, and they use the barrels for a secondary fermentation and aging instead. Much safer if you have to worry about having a drinkable product at the end, and of course it makes me feel like more of a crazed rebel for wanting to isolate my own local bugs for the main fermentation. So, a great visit overall.
Incidentally, it seems they’ll be tapping a new Skull-‘n-Bones brew in a couple of weeks, at 5pm on Tuesday, May 27th (2008). It sounds like they’ll probably have some available for a few days before it all disappears, so I’m hoping my return to Texas can be timed such that I can swing by and at least get a taste.