Russell's Blog

New. Improved. Stays crunchy in milk.

Premises regrettably lacks belfry, cave

Posted by Russell on September 18, 2009 at 1:25 a.m.
I was going out to the garden to wash off the cat-litter-scooper this evening, and I noticed a tiny bat clinging to my screen door. It was hanging out about knee level, and I was worried my cats would take an interest in it. So, I tried to shoo it away, but it just chirped at me and clung onto the screen harder.

I thought maybe it was hurt (or worse, sick), so I captured it in a plastic bowl to observe. It didn't do anything to evade capture, and allowed itself to be sort of gently scooped up by the edge of the bowl. It walked around a little and chirped, but didn't do try to escape.

Since it didn't seem to be interested in flying around the apartment, I transferred it to the lid of the bowl, where it allowed itself to be photographed. I put a bead of water near its nose, which it prodded a little but didn't seem to drink.

I brought it outside again to see if I could get it to fly away. I held the lid out over a soft patch of ground and lowered it quickly, it spread its wings but didn't fly. I tried a few more times, and got it to fly as far as the fence. Finally, some tapping on the fence convinced it to flap away.

Does anyone know if this is normal behavior for this kind of bat?

Rooted phone

Posted by Russell on September 12, 2009 at 4:05 a.m.
I finally got fed up with the pathetic official Android release from T-Mobile, and rooted my G1 and installed the CyanogenMod firmware. Cyanogen feels about twice as responsive as Cupcake! It's like a whole new device.

Also, the tethering app is awesome. It turns your G1 into a WiFi base station and routes traffic from WiFi to 3G. Since I'm still waiting for broadband at my new apartment, it's a lifesaver.

I suppose tethering (and rooting the phone) technically violates T-Mobile's TOS, but I'm convinced that T-Mobile will allow both sooner or later. It's just too awsome, and it would help them sell more contracts.

It's kind of difficult to abuse tethering anyway; it sucks down the battery very quickly, and the latency is significant. It's the sort of thing you'd only use in a pinch. Those happen to be the situations where a little benevolence or selfishness from a big company can shape a customer's opinion forever. T-Mobile seems to be more sensitive to that kind of thing than the other networks. I know they've got their reasons for banning tethering apps, but I think they could be convinced to change their minds. (You can download various petitions from the Android Marketplace.)

Openness is where Google and T-Mobile could really go after the unwholesome, anticompetitive and un-American AT&T/iPhone alliance. The open nature of Android is a step in the right direction, but T-Mobile needs to get its legal department on the Open Access bandwagon if it wants to press the advantage.

After all, if some random people on the internet can roll better firmware for the G1 than their in-house developers, isn't it a strategic business advantage to let them?

The nocturnal velocity of cats

Posted by Russell on September 12, 2009 at 2:09 a.m.
I've been trying and failimg to get to sleep. The average interval of cat bombardment, and the mean momentum of the incident cat field has been unusually high. It took me a while to realize that this was related to the weather; it is lightly sprinkling. My cats have never seen rain.

That's a sobering thought in two ways. On one hand, they are old enough to have very well developed personalities, and yet are younger than the Obama administration by several months. On the other hand, it's been that long since it rained.

A busy month

Posted by Russell on September 09, 2009 at 8:06 p.m.
This summer has turned out a bit like a chocolate bar in the sun; everything started out nice and neat, but everything ended up squished into the bottom of the wrapper.

Right now, I'm working with Andrey Kislyuk on our little piece of the DARPA FunBio project. We're in the middle of a two-week code sprint, so I'll save that for a later post.

I also moved to a new apartment, and that didn't go nearly as smoothly as it could have. The guy we subleased from was in the process of buying a house, and the loan underwriter decided to yank back the money after he'd closed escrow (or was in escrow, or something). Evidently they wanted a sworn affidavit from the gardener that he was contracted to take care of the grounds. Anyway, the upshot was that instead of a nice leisurely move, he got stuck in the apartment for three weeks longer than he expected, and I was homeless for a week. Fortunately, one of the staff scientists in our lab was generous enough to let me stay at his apartment. Neil and Buzz got to learn about stairs, which they evidently adore.

Over Labor Day weekend, I went with Srijak and some of his friends from San Diego on a day hike at Lassen Volcanic National Park. I've always loved California, but it's nice to be reminded from time to time exactly why I love this place so much.

Because it's awesome.