Project updates

A quick status check on some of the irons I have in the fire.

  • The brackish tank is doing well. I’ve managed to persuade the archerfish to take Arowana Sticks in addition to crickets, so feeding is a lot easier. The scat will eat anything, but loves the sticks too. With summer and increased insolation, I’ve had some trouble with green water (single cell algae free-floating in the water column) – increasing the frequency of water changes has helped and I’m awaiting the delivery of  some Corbicula fluminea. I’m hoping that filter feeders in the tank will consume the last of the free algae. I’m growing out some black mangroves (Avicennia germinans) that Hydrophyte sent me (along with some other aquatic/emergent plants in an awesome care package) – not sure yet how I’m going to integrate the blackies into the brackish tank, but I have time to ponder while the mangroves embiggen.
  • Plants in the African stream tank have gotten over transplant shock. All the Anubias are sending out new roots, the Bollbitis are fiddleheading and the Java moss is sending out new growth as well.
  • The frog rack is fully populated. I moved my new banded leucs out of their quarantine tank into the middle level viv. They are quite shy; I’m hoping they get bolder as they get used to their new home and as the tank grows in and provides more cover.
  • The Mediated Toybee Tile project keeps simmering. Adhesive testing is pretty much done, though we may want to run some additional tests with this stuff (or just use it, give how nicely plain ol’ 5-minute stuff performed). I need to touch base with JY and CT and talk next steps as regards tile fabrication.

Ephemeral project – over and done with – baking with cherries from my little tree.

Cell phone III – E71x first impressions

Another cell phone jump – this time, only a little ahead of schedule. An interesting side note – did you know that cell  phones and cell phone batteries have cunning little patches that indicate if the device has been immersed in – just to pick a random liquid – water? They do! I once again resisted the siren call of the iPhone – two things are holding me back. First is the whole Apple=control freak thing.  I don’t want my first interaction w/ the phone to be jail-breaking it – I have absolutely nothing against cracking the darn thing open, but if that’s the first thing you need to do, something’s wrong. The second barrier is more important – cost. The monthly bill for those little candy bars is significantly higher that for any other smart phone and that’s before AT&T reveal the additional $$s you’ll need to pay for tethering (you can tether now, I’m told – see point 1: jail-breaking). And there’s the additional $$s for text messages and I’m sure there are other charges that I’m not paying attention to. I’d also looked at the G1/Dream but purchase price (how quickly we get used to carrier-subsidized prices) and concerns about functionality on a ‘foreign’ network put me off.

I ended up with a phone I’ve been eyeing for a couple months – the Nokia E71x. It runs the Symbian S60 OS – an oldy but goody with a lot of software written for it. Hardware-wise, it’s got a 3G cell radio, 802.11 b/g (WiFi), a GPS, a hardware keyboard (something I’ve found I prefer) and a decent screen. The front panel size is on par with most landscape-screen-above-chiclet-keyboard devices I’ve seen, but it is a lot thinner. A couple pictures with my work Blackberry for comparison:

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Speaking of hardware keyboards – notice the PC Keyboard in the top photo? It’s an IBM Model M – at least 11 years old and still clacking away in bomb-proof style.

First impressions of the new phone are very favorable. Battery life isn’t great, but it never is on a smartphone. I think if I could stop asking the phone to jump through hoops all day long (ooh! shiny! as applied to software) it might last a little longer between charges, too. It comes preloaded with a ton of AT&T bloatware, but as soon as my new micro-SD card arrives, I plan on using the instructions here to get rid of most of it. Things the phone will do for me (some out of the box, some with additional software):

  • make phone calls. Quality and reception are very good – my office is a cell phone torture test area and the new phone makes and receives calls. Win.
  • tether to my Nokia N810 (and presumably other bits of hardware – haven’t tried that yet).
  • run a full Twitter client. I’m using Twittix – had some trouble installing the demo of the other contender – Gravity – so Twittix wins by default.
  • scan barcodes. See this demo over at Mediated Toynbee to get a sense of what’s going on.
  • check email. I can see both my gmail account and my super-seekr1t personal account using Nokia Messaging.
  • see where I am. I’m using Google Maps rather than the preloaded (and not free) AT&T/Telenav mapping app. I’m also trying to load Nokia Maps – no luck so far. If I need turn-by-turn naviagtion, I’ll use my N810 – better screen and free navigation app.
  • set up an ad-hoc wireless network. Saving the best for last – I installed JoikuSpot Premium. JoikuSpot turns the phone into a wireless access point with a cell uplink – I fire up the application and a new wireless network appears. If you connect your computer (or iTouch or N810 or…) to the network, the phone gives you access to the internet via it’s cell connection. Big win.

I still have some tweaking and tuning to do but so far – big thumbs up.

Hydroaeroplane – Patent #1,307,318

On a recent tour of an incredible basement and barn collection, I was shown this – a patent model constructed around 1918, in support of a patent for a flying sub.

Further objects of the invention are to provide a hydro-aeroplane which admits of the wings or supporting planes being readily moved into and locked in operative position when the craft is to be used as an airship, or to be swung rearwardly into an out of the way position against the hull of the craft when the device is to be operated as a marine vessel, which provides effective means for propelling the craft through the water as well as through the air, which may be equipped with torpedo tubes and used for the discharge of torpedoes while submerged, and which is at all times under the perfect control of the operators. *

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Irwin Allen, you’ve got nothing on Mr. Hans Christian Petersen of Ludington, Michigan – though your creation is much swoopier.

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For more on the history of patent models there’s this story from the NYT and the history page at the Rothschild Petersen Patent Model Museum (the Museum will soon be added to Atlas Obscura by yr humble correspondent). And yes, that’s an Isetta in the background.