12 July 2011

Behold, Some Code!

Since my life reboot, my leet code skillz have gone to whole new levels. Here's a representation of the kinds of things I've been doing for the past three months:

s = 1; %blort-cell counter
interpnum = cell(1,6);
for t = {East_u, North_v, Vert_w, VelError, Mag, DIR}
    blort = t{1};
    k = 1; %within blort-cell counter
    for i = 1:length(SerYear)
        badeast = find(isnan(blort(i,:)));
        for j = 1:length(badeast)
            m = badeast(j);
            while isnan(blort(i, m))
                if m > 1
                    m = m - 1;
            n = badeast(j);
            while isnan(blort(i, n))
                if n < SerBins(end)
                    n = n + 1;
            interpnum{s}(k, 1) = i;
            interpnum{s}(k, 2) = badeast(j);
            if n - m < 5 && ~isnan(blort(i, m)) && ~isnan(blort(i, n))
                interpnum{s}(k, 3) = interp1([m n], [blort(i, m) blort(i, n)], badeast(j));
            elseif n - m < 5 && isnan(blort(i, m)) && ~isnan(blort(i, n))
                interpnum{s}(k, 3) = blort(i, n);
            elseif n - m < 5 && ~isnan(blort(i, m)) && isnan(blort(i, n))
                interpnum{s}(k, 3) = blort(i, m);
                interpnum{s}(k, 3) = NaN;
            k = k + 1;
        clear badeast j m n
    clear i blort k
    s = s+1;
badeast = interpnum{1};
badnorth = interpnum{2};
badvert = interpnum{3};
baderr = interpnum{4};
badmag = interpnum{5};
baddir = interpnum{6};
clear s t interpnum

It looks at a big block of numbers, one row at a time, and interpolates for any missing values - assuming that there are no more than four missing in a row (in the row). It does this for six individual same-sized blocks.

It's in Matlab. There might actually be a simpler way to do this, but if so I don't know about it. (Obviously.) The fun part is: it only took me two days to work all that out. Leet skillz progress! :D

20 May 2011

Things Learned from a Gulf of Mexico Science Conference


The preliminary results are in on the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

There basically wasn't any hugely negative impact to wildlife in the immediate aftermath of last summer's oil spill. Some stuff died because the oil was toxic, but other stuff stepped right up because the oil was food. A lot of stuff that looked like it ought to be affected ... wasn't. The stuff that was knocked down recovered within a few months after they capped it. In short, some short-term changes in ecological composition occurred, but no overall increases or decreases of anything.

Also, commercially important fish had an outstanding year due to the lack of commercial fishing.

This is not to say that the Gulf ate the oil and is just fine now. Although there weren't immediate effects, the oil is still there and will likely have longer-term chronic effects. Some fisheries might not collapse until a couple years later, depending on how long the life cycles work for the seafood involved.


The next time I find myself on the job market, all I really have to do is show up to a science conference and talk to people about what I can do with their CTD data. Voila, jobs will magically appear! Send out resumes? Phhht.

16 May 2011

New Chapters Begin, Old Chapters End

In mid-2008, my friend Robert talked me into signing up at eHow to write articles. He was making some serious pocket money and thought I could too.

Two years, ten months, and 44 articles later, I have $478.57 more than I did before. Some articles made a lot - one of them over $130. Others made diddly squat. In the process, I learned all sorts of things about freelance writing for content sites. Most importantly:

  • A whole lot of people make living-level wages doing it, for example this guy. Over at Demand Studios, the people who qualify to write the $30 medical/health articles, and who can crank out 10 of them per day, 6 days per week, from home while watching their toddlers, and without having to do any of the pitching/rejection of traditional freelancing, those people have it pretty good.
  • I'm never going to be one of them. In the end, I'm just not that fast.

    So, what's next? Who knows. I sure know lots more about SEO than I did before. But not enough about any actual topic to write a good-sized website of my own. My friend Robert keeps trying to talk me into making one about something marine biology related, but I've long since passed into the "I know enough to know I don't know anything" phase about that.

    In the meantime, Bright Hub is reeling but still standing after the Google Panda smackdown, most of my extant articles are now there (including several of the eHow refugees I had to move in the past ten days), so maybe I'll just watch what happens for a while...
  • 14 May 2011

    A Tall Shorebird

    Coastal Alabama has a lot of birds of all kinds. Here's one I saw yesterday morning:

    It's a great blue heron. Very common over most of North America. This one let us get real close. There were four of us out there talking, and it just stood there, so I took a picture. :)

    08 May 2011

    Newest Toy

    When the apartment management first told me about my new apartment, they said it wouldn't have any washer/dryer connections. But after I moved down here, they neglected to tell me that there were washer/dryer connections after all - and they especially didn't mention it was going to cost me an extra $10 per month.

    Right around the same time, someone mentioned how they'd just bought a small portable washer. Just like a regular-sized washer, they said, but smaller! Possibly small enough that even I can move it by myself! (This is a plus because I'm a firm believer in only having furniture and appliances that I can personally move by myself.)

    And so, after some shopping around I bought:

    It's a Haier pulsator portable washer. It turns out that I can lift the thing, but just in case I can't it comes with wheels. It's also a lot more roomy on the inside than it looks because it doesn't have that big column thingy up the middle. It's also cute. Cuteness is key when it comes to wanting to do laundry. :)

    30 April 2011

    Life is Grand Again

    Part of my view into work:

    Yes, I think in terms of workplace, I've definitely traded up. :)

    Also, in the hopes that I really am about to resurrect this blog, a picture of a cat:

    Specifically, it's this cat. I got back in touch with his owner, who sent me a more recent picture. Ten years later he's doing well and looks the same. :)

    09 April 2011

    From GA to AL via IN


    I loved my work and my boss, I liked most of my coworkers, and I had come to hate my workplace.


    I'm doing the same work that I still love, so far I like my boss and coworkers, and I love my workplace.

    All in all, despite two very strange years in between, I think I've traded up. :)

    28 January 2011

    An Idea for Modern Education

    Step One

    Do a traditional lecture on the topic.

    Step Two

    Assign standard homework. But for each question, ask where and how students arrived at their answers.

    You can hope all you want that students will learn the material by attending your lectures, reading things you've assigned them to read, and getting a broad background on the topic from which they can draw to answer specific questions. But this is a day and age where they will just copy/paste the entire question into a search engine (including any misspellings). And there are lots and lots of people on the Internet who will happily write a direct answer to it if enough students input the exact same one. Yay for SEO longtails and ad revenue share.

    Step Three

    Do a second lecture about all the online sources on the topic that students have found. "This one is right because..." "This one is wrong about..."

    In this way, not only do they still learn the actual material, they also get some insight into evaluating sources on their own. And you learn where all the cheat sources are without having to look yourself. Win-win? :)

    Note: I have no education background whatsoever except as a student.

    01 January 2011

    2010 Retrospective

    In January, I was still receiving unemployment money while sending out job applications and receiving rejections. I was in the middle of sorting through nearly two decades' worth of life's paperwork detritus and preparing for a move, whenever that might be. I was waffling about where I wanted to go with content-site freelance writing. It passed the time while I waited for the next part of my path to magically appear, but was it worthwhile to do? Was I in or out on the challenge Bright Hub laid out for me with their new standards? Could any of this possibly make me a living?

    In March, my friends with the seafood market invited me to move into their house and (more or less) join their family.

    In April, eHow's WCP shut down, Demand Studios invited me in in its place, Bright Hub was really starting to grow on me, and all signs pointed to Go on the freelance writing.

    In May, I moved from Savannah to Indiana. Then I spent the next five weeks in Taiwan, two weeks in Hong Kong, and half a week in San Francisco. I went places, saw longlost relatives, and met new people (including my niece). It was both a vacation and a form of imprisonment as I couldn't go anywhere or do anything without other people's approval.

    In July, I finally completed my move to Bloomington. Bright Hub promoted me to Senior Writer (so I met and surpassed the challenge of their standards). Between them and Demand, I started making about half the money I needed to go back to living independently.

    In September, I got a job: to go out on boats in the Gulf of Mexico in support of NOAA's oil spill damage assessment. I went on three cruises before fall sampling shut down for the winter.

    In December, after weeks of no word from the cruise people, I began wondering whether I'd done such a terrible job that I would never hear from them again. Even though I know there's nothing going on until spring sampling begins. Writing continued in the meantime to pass the time.

    And now we're back to January. I'm still living in someone else's house. Nearly all my stuff is packed away in storage. I'm doing really well at Bright Hub, and Bright Hub is doing extremely well on the searchable internet.

    Where am I going next? Well, if all goes according to plan, I'll be working a lot of cruises in the spring and summer, and writing in between - both for Bright Hub and fiction. If all doesn't go that well, Demand Studios is still there as the backup plan. Will my finances become stable enough to move back out to a place of my own? I think that's the goal for 2011. I guess we'll see what happens from here.