About Anything

The personal blog of Al Stevens. Focus is overrated.

Archive for May, 2009

Friday’s reads

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Strong developer opinions, including “PHP is Crap“, and discussion about PHP, MySQL, PostgreSQL. [Julian Andres Klode on his blog]

Today, I’m trying to grok Twine

So, today’s reads include some old articles.

A high level overview of Twine, at the time it was announced, by an investor. [Peter Rip on EarlyStasgeVC October 19, 2007 ]

Twine first impressions summarized from various blog posts right after its public announcement. [Richard McMannus on Thinking Space October 21, 2007]

Written by Al Stevens

May 15th, 2009 at 2:09 pm

Wednesday’s reads

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A summary of the  March 10th Union Square Ventures put on a conference called Hacking Education with the theme of re-imagining how education should look in a web 2.0 world.
From the summary: “If the transition from the current high touch, but high cost, learning environment to an efficient peer produced learning network is as abrupt and brutal as the transition we are witnessing in the music and newspaper industry, the social consequences are likely to be a lot more severe. [Brad Burnham on unionsquareventures.com]

A brief piece on the difficulty of explaining authority. [on ACRLog]

Written by Al Stevens

May 13th, 2009 at 4:59 pm

Tuesday’s reads

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Another demonstration that false memories can be easily induced. Students who had been told that they loved asparagus as children come to believe it to be true and rated themselves as significantly more likely to order it in a restaurant compared to before the false memory was induced. [Dave Munger in Cognitive Daily reporting on an article in Experimental Psychology]

An exuberant person account of the space shuttle launch. [Julianne on Discover's Cosmic Variance]

It’s always fun to review the current state of Star-Trek technologies. Nine of them, from Phasers (good progress) to Deflector Shields (no progress) are reviewed here. [Charles Q. Choi on LiveScience]

Written by Al Stevens

May 12th, 2009 at 1:10 pm

Monday’s reads

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How to become a digital nomad. The solution is to digitize everything.  [Mike Elgan in Computerworld]

Human population density does affect animal populations, in this case, fish. [Christopher Stallings in PLoS One]

A little comic relief. The Creation Wiki entry for the Flying Spaghetti Monster may not be the funniest page on the Internet, but it’s pretty funny. And I wasn’t even aware that there was a Creation Wiki. [Sean in Discover Magazine]

More comments on Elsevier’s six fake journals. [Barbara Fister on ACRLog]

A simple conclusion: Culling impedes the evolution of avian host resistance against influenza. [Eunha Shim in PLoS One]

Written by Al Stevens

May 11th, 2009 at 1:09 pm

Growing Shitakes — Success

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I’m embarrassed to write that I completely dropped the ball on my shitake story. Questions sent by a couple of readers reminded me that I’d left the poor mushrooms warm and moist in their humidity tent.

Shitakes growing from the side of the log

Shitakes grwing from the side of the log

Happily the story turned out well, in fact very well.

Within a week, small brown nodules started to poke out of the mycelium covered block. From that point on, it was a bit like watching a time-laps movie. The buds grew rapidly and quickly took on the characteristic mushroom shape as the cap opened up,  looking first like a conical hat and then spreading out like an umbrella.

Most grew out of the sides of the block, pressing against the humidity tent (aka plastic bag). The instructions warned that this could distort their shapes, so I adjusted the bag — I mean tent — daily to provide room.

When the first couple reached what looked to me like the prime eating stage, I pulled out the kitchen shears, clipped them off where they emerged from the log, walked the five-feet to the cutting board, removed the stem, sliced them up an dropped them into a saucepan of EVOO and garlic. Five minutes later, I was enjoying the freshest and tastiest shitakes I’d ever had.

Sliced and cooked with EVOO and garlic

Sliced and cooked with EVOO and garlic

My earlier forays with home agricultural have always resulted in a sudden oversupply of whatever I was growing, often at the same time that the neighbors were trying to give us their excess. While it’s hard to have too many tomatoes, it’s easy to have too many zucchinis. Thankfully, my shitakes cooperated remarkably well. I was able to harvest a couple of plump  mushrooms every 2-3 days for about two weeks.

On the plate with a few olives and yellow tomato

On the plate with a few olives and yellow tomato

Once the crop was done, I set the log in a dry spot and let it go dormant. Two months later, now an old hand at the process, I soaked the log and set up the humidity tent. Two weeks later, I had another crop, pretty much like the first one. We had a family gathering planned, so this time I let them grow and was able to harves about a dozen large mushrooms all at once. It was a little tricky, because the ones that had emerged the earliest were showing signs of shriveling. They were still delicious.

The log is now drying out. I’m anxious to try another crop in warmer weather, which is only a few weeks away. The first two crops may have suffered because our kitchen drops into the mid 50′s (F) at night. If what I read is correct, a warmer environment should result in faster growth and larger mushrooms.

Prior posts on this blog about growing shitakes are at: Growing Shitakes — RTFM, Growing Shitakes — The Humidity Tent and Growing Shitakes.

Written by Al Stevens

May 9th, 2009 at 3:27 pm

Posted in Edible Things

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Friday’s reads

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Alexis Wichowski reviews the evolution of folksonomies, concluding that may be flawed, but they are the best means known to track what is happening with the non–mainstream of the information environment.

Josh Pasek, et. al. find on careful analysis that there is no correlation between grades and Facebook use.

Written by Al Stevens

May 8th, 2009 at 2:21 pm

Thursday’s reads

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The Society for Neuroscience has announced an initiative to get it’s members to contribute to Wikipedia in order to promote public education about neuroscience. The initiative is summarized in Neuroscience Quarterly.

Seed Magazine interviews Alison Gopnik who suggests that children are like the R&D department of the human species.

Andrew Maynard writes how C. P. Snow’s essay of 50 years ago on “two cultures” has formed a smokescreen that masks living in a world divided into the rich and the poor, where science and technology are increasingly able to bridge this divide, but don’t.

Written by Al Stevens

May 7th, 2009 at 9:27 am

Wednesday’s reads

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Marshall Kirkpatrick  sees Firefox as a Facebook challenger. If the two technologies converge, Firefox will start with a lead.

Richard Bernstein argues that US immigrants continue to  make astounding contributions by creating new technologies and new companies.

Evgeny Morozov takes on Tim O’Reilly and argues that we don’t need to reinvent the book for the web age.

Written by Al Stevens

May 6th, 2009 at 7:58 am

Tuesday’s reads

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Peter E. Murray has posted a summary of the American Library Association’s legal brief of concerns about the Google  book settlement. The brief itself, in pdf, is here.

StevenB picks up on J. J. Abrams Magic of Mystery article in Wired and suggests that understanding the “spoiler generation” can lead academic librarians to help students find the joy of experiencing the process of discovery.

Julianne in Cosmic Variance describes two interview styles, one that looks like a way to find talent and the other a way to overlook it.

Written by Al Stevens

May 5th, 2009 at 5:18 pm

Monday’s reads

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What was Merck thinking? And Elsevier? Bob Grant reports on how Merck paid Elsevier to publish a fake peer-reviewed journal that reported favorably on Merck products.

Summer Johnson’s comments on Merck’s fake journal in the biothects.net blog. He points out “These kinds of endeavors are not possible without help.”

Anne-Marie Deitering comments on Merck’s fake journal in her info-feteshist blog. She argues that ultimate control is passing away from scholars’ and researchers’ professional societies and into the hands of corporate entities.

Christopher Dawson reviews Nature’s Scitable, concluding that he content is accessible, deep, relevant, and understandable.

Doc Searls wonders if Google’s lack of progress on basic search is because of advertising.

Sajid Surve reviews experiements done by Stanley Milgram and Jerry Burger and concludes, sadly, that when presented with a perceived authority figure, the majority of people will override their moral compass in favor of obedience.

Neil Schlager’s piece arguing that the fundamental problem with  reference publishing is discoverability.

Jason Fell summarizes three paid content strategies that work.

Written by Al Stevens

May 4th, 2009 at 11:38 am