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User Journal

Journal: Biology Help Desk: Volume Seven 19

Journal by Samantha Wright

Hey, remember these? I do. Vaguely. But vaguely isn't good enough, so here's another one. Since I've discovered that the secret to understanding machine learning problems well enough to implement them is mostly a matter of strategically procrastinating, it seems only fair that I should run one of these. So before cross-entropy actually starts making sense to me, what would you like to know?

User Journal

Journal: Biology Help Desk: Volume 2n+1, n=2 34

Journal by Samantha Wright

I've gotten a couple of requests now for another one of these, so here one is. Please, bring to me your curiosities and questions about the strange and mysterious biological sciences. I can probably answer (or research answers to) most questions. (Also, if you keep missing these, I've decided I'm going to vaguely hint at them in mysterious ways on Twitter (@rhet0rica) from now on. I guess even Twitter has to have some utility.)

User Journal

Journal: Biology Help Desk: Volume 4 22

Journal by Samantha Wright

Bring me your curiosity! As before, if this expires and you want to ask a question, just slip me a comment (or an e-mail) and I'll put up another one of these. No question is too trivial; no thinly-veiled troll too transparent! (I'm going to regret saying that, I'm sure.)

User Journal

Journal: Biology Help Desk Again 25

Journal by Samantha Wright

I'm really not sure how long these last as comment-on-able, so here's another one. I'll try to be a little more vigilant in making sure there's always a journal open for asking questions.

A little more elucidation: I'm in the fourth year of a combined bioinformatics/medical informatics degree. Most of my semester is from the CS curriculum, but I have gotten through biochemistry, genetics, molecular biology, physiology, and organic chemistry courses. (Mostly in the presence of pre-med students.) I've also taken genomics-specific courses and worked in a molecular biology lab studying C. elegans, and a medical lab studying Autism.

So ask away!

User Journal

Journal: Biology Help Desk 4

Journal by Samantha Wright

Thanks to the power of my silly sig, I've been getting a lot of biology questions lately. Most of these are fun to answer, but occasionally they pop up in totally inappropriate threads just out of the blue. Since Slashdot supports commenting on journal posts, it seemed like the best thing to do would be to make one and encourage people to ask here instead. So do that!

And I really will phrase things as car and computer analogies when possible. Although computer analogies are way more common.

For clarification, I've taken physiology and genetics courses, and can answer most geeky things about the human body and fundamental biology. I don't know much about pharmacology or ecology (because it is very, very, dry), and I am not a doctor. But I'll try to answer those questions, too.

User Journal

Journal: Welcome to 2010

Journal by DG

Out goes the RAZR2 V9

In comes the BlackBerry 9700.

Amazing bit of hardware. Finally lives up to the promise my Palm Lifedrive offered but never quite delivered on.


User Journal

Journal: PayPal Donations... I'll be damned 1

Journal by DG

So a while ago, I wrote a little web based e-book called Autocross To Win (inspired by Carrol Smith's "To Win" series.

You can see it at http://farnorthracing.com/autocross_secrets.html

I wrote it primarily because I wasted a shit-ton of money chasing my own tail and following "conventional wisdom" when it came to race car setup, and discovered a number of things that conventional wisdom got wrong.

It became more important to me just before I left for Afghanistan. I didn't want this information left locked inside my head where it would be lost if I got knocked on the head while in theatre. It seems silly I know, but I wanted to make sure that it wouldn't go for naught if I got killed.

Now I'm back - and I'm unemployed. I've been trying to go back to Afghanistan but there's no open slots and I'm having a lot of trouble prising one open. And it struck me that there's a lot of good info in ATW - enough that it probably makes a good book.

But I also do not regret the impulse that put it online for free. To pull it down so I could charge money for it... that seems dishonest. Information really does want to be free, even the information I wrote myself.

I put some ads on the site, but I'm not a high-exposure site. I'm deep, not broad, and I'm very highly specialized. The ads cover the bandwidth bill and little else.

So yesterday I figured I'd try a tactic that I've seen web cartoonists use - the PayPal "donate" button. I added one to the ATW base template. Small. Unobtrusive. No fanfare or hard sell. No promotion of this on any of the forums I use to announce site updates. Just added it quietly.

And 24 hours later, I have my first donation. Wow, I didn't think that would work.

I'm going to do up a little "thank you" certificate and email those out to donors.

Maybe this is how all content providers will get paid from now on...


User Journal

Journal: MASSIVE farnorthracing.com website update - but IE6?

Journal by DG

So I finally took the time to convert http://farnorthracing.com to CSS instead of tables, and wrote a little perl front-end to allow me to separate content from presentation. Huzzah!

It has been a metric assload of work (with a little bit left) but the results are soooooo worth it.

Just one fly in the ointment - IE6. My nifty-keen layout works great in Firefox and IE8, but fails in IE6 - see http://farnorthracing.com/autocross_secrets2.html for an example.

Any CSS guru-types know why?



Journal: Revamping Far North Racing 2

Journal by DG

So I've decided to do a much-needed revamp of the Far North Racing websites. It looks like my second tour of Afghanistan may be iffy and I may need to get a job. Given that my website work is kinda my portfolio/resume, it's high time I stripped out the 1998-era table-based layout for some proper CSS.

Anyway, feedback encouraged. Lemme know what you think.


"A child is a person who can't understand why someone would give away a perfectly good kitten." -- Doug Larson