Sunday, April 25, 2010

I've now owned my Vaio P-Series for six months or so, and I'm about done with it.

It's an *excellent* handbag computer. It has, in spades, one of the major qualities that I sought whilst choosing it, which is that it's sized for any bag. I never leave home without it, and it never burdens me down. It has built-in 3G. Even better, it attracts admiration from the peanut gallery whenever I pull it out.

Unfortunately, all the upsides end at the point of turning the thing on. The screen is small, and the resolution is tight enough to make my eyes bleed. Browser windows have to be zoomed in several steps to be comfortably legible at a normal distance (and why doesn't Chrome let you adjust the default zoom level, hmm?), and while the laptop is light enough to hold up with one hand much closer to your eyes, who wants to do that? I've found myself invariably hunching forward when using this device. This is not good.

Even the thing that I expected to be a killer feature - rotating the screen sideways so as to read RSS feeds in full-1600-pixel-length glory - fails miserably on two counts. The first (minor and probably trivially correctable) count is that Win 7 has lost the easy screen rotation keyboard shortcut that Vista had, and you now have to grub through control panels.

But far, far, far worse is that the vertical viewing angle on the LCD is so narrow that when you attempt to use it in portrait form at any reasonable distance (so that the font-size doesn't obviate the whole point of the exercise), only one of your eyes can clearly see the screen at a time! Shortly thereafter the headaches start.

So let's leave aside the thing being netbook-slow and the irritating clit mouse; and give it credit for an amazingly good keyboard for the size, and surprising battery life; and simply state for the record that although I'm going to keep the tinyvaio, as soon as I find something that is similarly handbag-able, it's history.

And no, that doesn't mean an iPad.


Saturday, March 27, 2010

10am: the designated meeting time. Noisebridge is empty. Camera battery on table with a plaintive note requesting someone to find a charger. I find the charger in the adjacent box.

10.27am: Chris arrives with a tiny video camera that arrived overnight for the launch. Nils and Ariel have also showed up in the meantime.

10.47am: donut run. Everybody is here. Assembly and final checks begin. Progress hampered by Saturday morning cartoons playing on the projector and PyCon preparations going on around.

11.27am: vox mode on ham radio working; we think both beacons should be visible. Setting up radio end-to-end test. In parallel, payload has been stencilled, trial assembly under way for final weighing. Cast up to 9 people, with at least three more to join on location.

11.47am: my updates are coming with creepy regularity. Still at Noisebridge; assembly of the multipart, multiplane payload is proving more challenging than expected. No APRS beacons have made it out yet, though this may be due to the poor radio permeability of the building.

12.00pm: the PyCon attendees are being very tolerant of our bellowing back and forth across the room while they're trying to run talks. I'm alternating between shushing people and hiding behind the nearest pillar. Final weight comes in at 4 lbs 5 oz; sadly the stabilizing arms can't take the weight without bowing alarmingly. Rapid replanning of support structure ensues. Still haven't tested the radio gear.

12.21pm: packing up for departure. Drift trajectory estimate looks reasonable for our Alpha launch site.

12.56pm: all three cars on the road, connecting inverters and chargers in the car to top up batteries en route.

1.26pm: stuck in traffic near Livermore. So glamorous.

2pm: arrived at the California Qanat Aqueduct site, waiting for traffic-scattered posse. Made a foursquare location.

2.29pm: wind is blowing in an unfortunate direction. Condoms Meteorological

2.45pm: checking confirms that all the local airfields are reporting winds blowing north or north-east. Ozzy uses his pilot contacts to confirm that high-level winds are still blowing towards the east, so we only need to worry about the lowest 15,000 feet of ascent and descent. We decide to get another 10-15 miles east/south-east before launching.

2.59pm: confusion ensues due to phones redirecting to voicemail and partially meshed radio contact between vehicles - cavalcade count now up to 5, and uncertainty if all heads found seats.

3.02pm - interlude: we're running very late, once again, and although none of the reasons are exactly the same as they were last time, the general problem is that too many individual tasks are still being tweaked, refined (or in some cases started) in the few days before launch. We're deadline driven, but not very good at planning back from the deadline.

4pm: we spot an airstrip on our way south, and decide to try our luck. After a long and frustrating wait while attempts to contact the airstrip owner via friends of friends are made, the BATF (Bar of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms) point out that since they have permission to shoot automatic weapons at the airstrip, they feel entitled to grant us permission to launch a balloon. It's on.

4.20pm: ...or is it? The helium cylinder turns out to have been less than half-full. Perhaps a leaky valve that vented gas over the past month? We have the balloon at approximately neutral buoyancy. So... if we remove the skirt from the balloon, we might be able to cobble together a light enough payload to lift, by duct-taping together a G1, radio and camera. Drama!

4.48pm: Snatching victory from the jaws of defeat, Blake returns from a foraging expedition with a 73 cu ft cylinder of helium, acquired from a local party balloon filling place. The balloon has lift - next we assemble the entire payload string and see how much excess lift we have. If not enough, we'll have to shave the payload down.

5.09pm: And I thought we launched late last time :P Balloon is filled with all the helium we can get. Electronics are all on, text messages with GPS co-ordinates are coming in; both APRS beacons are being received. Last zip-ties being attached now.

5.24pm: Not enough lift. Luckily, the heaviest camera doesn't work with the lithium batteries that we bought anyway, so we can remove that. The balloon skirt is also being removed. In worse news, after the first few SMSes, the Android fell silent.

5.57pm: Heartache and angst as people's favourite projects are ruthlessly culled to reduce weight. Stand-by Android with old SMS code resurrected in the hope that it will send reliably.

6.53pm: not enough lift to clear the trees with even the most minimal payload. We scrub, clean up, and retire to the nearest hotel for food and consolatory champagne.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Friday night before launch, and once again we start from having no working radio beacons. But unlike last time, we have some seriously impressive looking Sputnik-like payload. One of the major worries from the previous launch was the internal temperature, reported at -21C at one point.

This time, we have a solid block of styrofoam with voids carved into it for individual pieces of equipment, some of which are further wrapped in aluminized mylar for additional insulation; some of which have active heating internally in the form of a power resistor across a 9V battery.

We're optimistic.

Similarly exciting, although we're flying the same APRS tracker as last time, we also have new APRS softmodem code for the Android, meaning that it will alternate transmitting position updates from its internal GPS with the known-working tracker.

That's assuming that we can make it work together sensibly by 10am tomorrow, of course.

Other than that, we have extra cameras, including an IR experiment, and random updated bits and pieces. We may even manage to charge the batteries this time.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Declaring a week's advance notice of a balloon launch to the edge of space when we hadn't even bought most of the equipment, let alone built it, was probably an act of pique, if not madness. Remarkable how well it worked out, though - just look at the pictures!

The plan was simple: a ham radio broadcasting an APRS position beacon, a GPS that was known to work at high altitudes, a camera hacked for time-lapse photography, and an Android cellphone that we'd program to scream out its own GPS co-ordinates via SMS whenever it caught a glimpse of a cellphone network.

We were buoyed by the unexpected help from all three members of another Space Balloon Project, one of whom Christie had met in line for the checkout at a Ham Radio Outlet, who then showed up at the fateful meeting when the timeline was decided. They'd done it before in style, and even - very bravely! - volunteered their camera and parachute (a donation from for the experiment.

So the work began.

12 hours before our planned launch, Icarus, as Andrew's phone-home code for the Android had been dubbed, was working beautifully. Everything else was a shambles.

The APRS beacon seemed to be sending, but it wasn't being received by either our own radios or the public repeaters. Our receiving radios couldn't pick up either our own or any other APRS beacons. The weather forecast for the Central Valley was miserable, and the FAA says you can't launch balloons into more than 50% cloud coverage. We hadn't worked out how to pack the payload safely, nor how to rig it and the parachute to the balloon. Not even the known-working camera was working!

But by 3am of the launch day, the electronics seemed to be functional, and since we had an extra tank of helium and two spare balloons, there was enough of a margin for error to make the rest of it up as we went along.

On arriving in a largely overcast Central Valley in the early afternoon, I rechecked the FAA regulations and found that the 50% cloud cover restriction didn't apply to payloads as light as ours, so our initial gas station rendezvous point instantly turned into our first launch location.

The gas station was well equipped with many things that we'd forgotten to bring, including miniature weather balloons for testing before the real launch (available in packs of 3, with optional lubrication). The staff were also related to the people who owned the adjacent field, and told us that although they weren't giving us permission to enter, they also weren't going to call the police immediately. We were committed.

More problems soon showed up - the radios hadn't taken a charge overnight, and were dangerously low on battery. The ground station battery failed altogether after receiving a single APRS packet. Our attempt to use expandable foam to hold the components in place in the cooler also failed, leaving us with a soggy mass in a plastic bag with no rigidity. We broke the attachment points on the cooler.

Nonetheless, after jury-rigging a gas regulator out of high-school chemistry supplies (inexplicably present in Christie's van), we started to fill the balloon. We turned on all the electronics, confirmed that we were receiving both SMS position updates every minute from Icarus and APRS position updates (via Brian's APRS-capable radio) every 30 seconds, and then, with the balloon almost completely filled and yearning to fly, we proceeded to debate the best way to attach the payload, parachute and balloon together. After filling our quota of rope burns, we were ready to fly - and launch we did, complete with countdown!

Partying ensued, while we watched the balloon soar skywards at a furious pace, and was soon lost in the clouds. The ebullience muted a little when we discovered that the APRS data wasn't being seen by any of the area digipeaters, although Brian's radio was still receiving updates. Only one further position SMS was received after the balloon was released, and then Icarus fell silent. After a few minutes, the APRS beacon failed as well. The balloon was lost.

We cleaned up the site in a more somber mood, with the burners automatically falling into a line to scour for discarded trash, and decided to drive down to Los Banos, about 50 miles south, in the hope of being closer to the vicinity of any eventual landing. Almost an hour after launch, when halfway to our destination a single APRS packet appeared on the digipeaters, which told us we'd achieved our mission by ascending to 60,901 feet, but also spelled out the doom to which we'd sent our faithful electronic payload.

The automatic beacon reports not only GPS position, but also the temperature inside the cooler and input battery voltage. That single packet - the only one that APRS digipeaters received for the whole flight - told us that the temperature was critically low, at -21C - water vapour would have condensed onto the electronics and frozen, and the internal chemistry in the batteries would have slowed to the point of failure. We had a 9V lithium battery for power, and the tracker (which also powered the GPS) required a 6.8V minimum to maintain its internal voltage. The reported voltage was only 6.7V - and the balloon was still climbing.

We continued south, with each car's occupants adding to their own ever-growing list of flaws with our process and equipment, desperately hoping for another update from the balloon, but to no avail.

Eventually we arrived at a Denny's, and stopped. The sun was setting, and temperature falling quickly. We plugged in the depleted battery to charge in the hope that another working radio might help find a signal, and sat down to start listing all of the things that we'd need to fix for the next attempt. Just as the waitress came by to take our order, my phone beeped.

Icarus, amazingly, had survived our abysmal failure at providing environmental isolation, and reacquired a wireless signal. Its first SMS told us that the payload was plummeting through 5,500 feet, and less than 20 miles away. With rushed apologies to the staff, we tore outside and back into the cars, as Icarus kept us updated every minute with its slowing descent and final resting place.

Half an hour later, in pitch darkness, we were deep inside a goose farm, most of the team standing watch for farmers with shotguns while the intrepid few bravely ventured forth through fertile fields, ankle-deep mud, and throngs of potentially man-eating fowl to successfully retrieve the payload - in pristine condition.

So many things went wrong - the effort that we put into the APRS side vastly outweighed the results. The camera failed partway down due to ice melting inside the electronics. Nothing inside the cooler was secured, and only luck kept us out of turbulence sufficient to have components damage one another. But Icarus was a blinding success, and the sensor data, photographs and video that we captured are just amazing. Accelerometer readings indicate a peak altitude somewhere between 67,000 and 70,000 feet.

We'll work out the insulation, and the APRS gear. Icarus will soon be in the Android Marketplace for others to use. Later, we'll send up solar panels, model rockets and radiation detectors, control balloon altitude to steer across countries and oceans with prevailing winds, and descend to a specific spot with a UAV.

But right now we have another full tank of helium.

Next launch is mid-March.

Photos from Andrew, Christie, and Mikolaj; join the spacebridge mailing list to help out with future adventures. Also available is raw sensor data from the GPS, accelerometer and magnetometer on the G1, 180MB of photos taken by the camera (including the image above), and the KML track for use in Google Earth. The complete video taken by the downwards facing camera is also available.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

I've been inspired, with all due humility, to write a modest introduction to the Bible, and I need your help to do the project justice. Only a week remains before the deadline!

[UPDATE: launch page is at]

If you aren't going to watch my angelic inspiration, just know that some guy has run off tens of thousands of copies of Origin of Species with a 50,000 word "Special Introduction" trotting out the religious point of view and blackening Darwin's name, and will be handing them out for free at college campuses on the 150th anniversary of Darwin's original publication - that'd be next week, Thursday the 19th.

This notion of treacherous literary parasitism is inspired, and I strongly feel that there should be a similar option available to those of us with more rational views.

Also, there's a devastating Romanian chick involved.

Although the reference length is an excellent fit for NaNoWriMo, I'm aiming a little lower. The plan is for a different publication model - I'm not intending to run off any bibles containing my preface (although I'd certainly be delighted if somebody else did), but if this can be formatted to be easily printable in any hotel's business center, then people could fold them up and stick them inside the front covers of those bibles that bugger named Gideon's leavin' all over the place, which would be almost as good.

Libraries present similar opportunities, as a more meaningful exercise for the wags who move Bibles to the fiction section under "G" ("J" for the better educated ones).

My secondary thesis is that religious people know best how to write for religious audiences. Accordingly, I've tried to structure and style this in a way that matches the original (making allowances for dramatically reduced length), and I'm hoping to receive lots of joyful email from people who have seen the light as a result.

However, time is running short, and I'm falling way behind. I've just drafted the introduction, but the remaining tasks (in rapidly decreasing order of probability that I'll get to them) include:
  1. proof-reading
  2. basic fact-checking - no need to go overboard, per secondary thesis above I'm aiming for a similar level of selective quoting, misinterpretation, and outright balderdash as the reference work, although I think I've come up way short
  3. reformatting into a multi-column, small-font, single-page sheet (ideally with numbered chapters and verses) for printing
  4. a website name at least as saccharine as "livingwaters" - my placeholder probably doesn't qualify
  5. an actual website - I haven't looked at the livingwaters website, but drawing close inspiration from it would be great (secondary thesis again)
  6. video - pro or con - worthy of the original inspiration of this project
Your help with any of the above would be wonderful. If you can pass on this Good News to others, that'd be even better.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

On Sunday, walking home from Noisebridge, I passed a Home Open sign on 16th. As one does, I wandered inside - real estate porn is irresistible, right? A freshly renovated 6-unit block greeted me, each unit with identical floorplan: 3 bed (sort of), 1 bath. The front-most bedroom is a little questionable - a bit on the small side, and with a bay window onto the street (meaning lots of street noise), it seems better fitted to be a sitting room, but it's arguable either way.

Today I received verbal mortgage pre-approval. Tomorrow... I may put down an offer on one of these apartments (unless you talk me out of it).

Here's why I think this makes sense.

Money is pretty cheap right now. A conforming 5/1 ARM comes in under 4%; 30-year fixed at around 5%. If I get an ARM with a maximally sized conforming loan, I'll be paying ~$1900/month in mortgage. Mortgage insurance, HOA, and property tax will probably add another $600 or thereabouts.

I'm already paying $1650/month rent ($2250/month if you include Mountain View, which I intend to keep if all goes to plan, but could always drop), so it's clearly affordable. But it's more expensive, right? Is it worth it?

Well... maybe it isn't. Leaving aside the tax break on the interest, I have two extra bedrooms and a lifestyle that spends 1-3 months/year away from home, and half of every week sleeping elsewhere the rest of the time. I have no use for a kitchen, and minimal use for living areas. I basically keep an apartment to have somewhere to sleep... and now I'll have two extra bedrooms.

See where I'm going with this? Decent sized bedrooms in this part of town let at close to $1000/month. And, given I'm a part-time resident at best, it might even be workable to slot in a relocating couple or family into the place (which will obviously be unfurnished) at a premium over that again, despite the single bathroom. It might be over-ambitious to aspire to living in SF for free, but this could make it very, very cheap.

Also, I'm willing to take a bet on the real estate market going up from this point. SF hasn't crashed all that badly, but this is the cheapest I've ever seen this size of apartment. And, most important of all, if I commit sufficient cash to the down payment, I can defer the decision on facial surgery for a few more months.

Okay, now shoot me down.

Friday, August 21, 2009

It's a truism that burglary can result in insecurity, fear, even panic whilst in one's own home. I expected not to be particularly susceptible, but it appears I was gravely mistaken.

News from tonight's discoveries - the intruders took one of the hard drives out of my computer. Not too fussed, since that, too, contained an encrypted filesystem, as did the laptop. But it's interesting. Drives don't have a lot of resale potential. Their only real value is the information they contain. And since they unplugged it while the machine was on, I know from the affronted system logs exactly when they were there - 2:36am Tuesday morning.

I took that to mean that they'd had time to hunt around for things at leisure. I'm not sure if that's still true - on the one hand, an empty home at that hour is a reasonable indication of a night away. On the other, that's also prime Goths-returning-from-Death-Guild time. On the gripping hand, nobody said there was only one visit.

At any rate, that sharpened my fears about the absent spare motorbike key. They'd pulled out the folder containing the bike's paperwork and left it on the bed, and when I looked inside, right on top was a rental receipt for the parking space. So they had the key and the location. My stress levels soared at about this point.

It isn't that I'm particularly attached to the motorbike (although I am), more that I was pretty confident in being able to shake off the losses to that point. But if the bike vanishes as well, I'll be very, very upset.

Then I realized that another, older laptop had also gone missing - this one without an encrypted filesystem. Oops. So between that and their rifling through paperwork, they definitely know who I am, meaning that they've very possible read this blog entry.

And here's my real problem - my post-burglary security discomfort is running smack into my ostentatiously public lifestyle choices. I've (cowardly) disabled GPS tracking for the night, to at least let me sleep without fretting about the bike vanishing even from this top-secret safe-house (shh!). I'm tempted to lock down Twitter and Facebook streams, stop advertising my residences quite so publically, and generally go stealth(-ier). But (leaving aside the manic over-reaction) I can't honestly imagine it making a difference - I'm still only going to be home at best 50% of the time, and it's vastly more likely that somebody will stumble onto the opportunity for mischief purely based on those odds than through any act of malicious stalking.

The better solution is housemates of a less nomadic persuasion. Which is an idea that I've flirted with more than once, but it's hard to imagine finding ones compatible with my current rampaging and regurgitating co-residents. But given just how stressed I feel tonight, there seems to be only one option. When I get back from NYC, the cats and I will have to part ways.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

There's this thing I do, when particularly tired, and switching between riding the shuttle and bike home, that occasionally results in me leaving my house keys at work. Last time, this sent me off to Noisebridge to learn to pick locks (with some small success). So this time, having realized on the walk home from the shuttle that I'd (a) left my keys behind again, and (b) had a set of picks with me this time, I was bubbling with enthusiasm to try out my recently acquired mad skillz.

Unfortunately, the door was already unlocked when I arrived (not that I didn't spend a couple of minutes poking before realizing this), and the apartment in minor disarray. All told, about $1500 worth of electronics had vanished, the laundry hamper, and a large tent bag. I'm a little puzzled as to why they needed so much storage space, but maybe I haven't discovered all the absences yet.

The miscreants were very polite about it, though. They even left me a $20 on the bed, presumably in case I wanted to get pizza (my fridge stays pretty empty). There was probably $100-$200 in cash that they would have found lying around, but it's still a nice thought. There was minimal trashing - drawers pulled out, furniture moved, but they left my passport alone (which is probably the single most important thing there), art untouched (although I'm suddenly wondering if my Money Series painting is still there - I'm sure it would gladden Anthony White's heart to hear that his work had been the subject of an art heist), and, most importantly, the cats in fine spirits.

I can just imagine the burglars trying to keep the cats out of the bags as they were piling things in. "Are we going somewhere? You're taking me with you, right? Meow?"

I'm feeling remarkably unfussed about the whole thing (although I did have some evil thoughts after the lights went out). It's partly that I had a credit card stolen many years back of which I was exceedingly fond (the last 8 digits of the number were 0000 9999), and I took to bed for two weeks in a black depression over having to cancel it. I figure that's probably my lifetime allowance of fugue over petty crime all used up.

A friend who came over to keep me company was even chastizing me for updating Twitter instead of immediately calling banks - which I did do immediately thereafter, since they'd collected several checkbooks along the way, leaving the rest on the bed (again, considerate). So now I've called all the various banks and changed account numbers (although they didn't actually take the credit cards that were lying around), and put a freeze on my Equinix credit file ($10 fee, although you have to get through the hard sell of the $15/month credit file monitoring service, and the backup selll of the $12/month service to find that out). And now we'll find out how this whole identity theft thing plays out.

Identity theft has been one of my bugbears since moving the US. All the other bugbears were demolished in short order - TSA have never confiscated my laptop or strip-searched me, all my interactions with the medical system have been smooth and trouble-free, I have yet to be shot at by drug-crazed juvenile gang members - so we'll see how this one goes. I expect it to be entirely uneventful. However, the one concern that I do have is that they took the spare key to the iTriumph and left its paperwork on the bed. I'm not sure that there was any documentation of where its parked while in the city, but it's the one thing weighing on me. Now that I'm back at work, I might go downstairs to check that its still here...

Friday, July 10, 2009

I think it's time to stop pretending that I'll ever have time to maintain a blog again. Finding an hour spare to pen something thoughtful yet witty is an impossible dream, and there are many higher priority things to blow such hypothetical intervals on (like reading a book, dammit).

Journey to the End of the Night was fantastic. I don't have time to chase down a link. Toorcamp was ridiculous in so many ways, but also a great weekend. Again, no time to link, let alone to properly write up the amazing levels of dysfunction and bastardry perpetrated by Levitate on Toorcamp's organizers. I just drove a spotlight for a real Grand Guignol show. I don't even know what that means.

I might just about manage to annotate photos as I upload them (well, maybe not the dozens of through-the-window shots of Columbia Gorge that my fellow passenger snapped once I pointed out the camera to him), but that runs into the problem of authoritative sources - some things are better tracked on Facebook, but I trust Flickr more (guaranteed unlimited quota also helps). And it's hard to find time to upload photos anyway. I was excited to see that the new Eye-Fi support ad-hoc networks, so I could theoretically have it pair with my Android phone and insta-matically start uploading as soon as I snap photos, but then it becomes necessary to filter them at some later post-upload point, when I've only just gotten to the stage of deleting crap photos as I take them rather than spewing them all over the Internet.

Of course, I could just revert to dumping streams of consciousness onto the blogosphere. Verbal diarrhoea much?

Friday, July 03, 2009

(Posted after a week sitting in draft, delayed due to the fact that 400 hackers can't keep up a single Internet link in the desert)

Toorcamp, 10 hours in. So far I've held down the Noisebridge dome in a dust devil to keep it from flying away, mocked and jeered other people's tents, carpets, bags and clothes as they've sailed off into the sky, helped carry an unconscious person to safety, and been blackmailed into moshing to some completely forgettable bands - the owner of the missile silo site has diverse business interests, it seems, including producing some bands who were trotted in here at short notice to perform after Toorcamp confirmed they'd have hundreds of people showing up - access to the silo was then made conditional on us making a good showing for the music video. Breach of contract? Perhaps.

The other interesting thing is that there's a clever wind generator thingy which is supposed to be running all the concert electrics (did I mention diverse business interests?), but has in fact been idle while diesel generators roar in the background. Do you suppose they'll mention that in the concert DVD? Or will they claim it as a success for their green energy technology? I'll take bets.

What else? Oh yes; physical assaults by the owner's security people on those who were unenthusiastic about the blackmail, rumours of human defecation in the silo, bears, dust, stupid human politics all 'round, and the usual consequences of gathering hundreds of people in a bizarre location on a whim.

Needless to say, I'm having a great time. I suspect we aren't going to get access to the silo after all, given this evening's shenanigans (ask me about the inflatability of condoms sometime), which rather negates the main point of driving for 15 hours to get here. But seeing sunrise over Oregon mountains and fields was just about worth it all on its own.

Monday, June 08, 2009

TMS is just an excuse for MRI.

Some months back a friend mentioned that he was participating in a TMS study. This was vaguely interesting. Then he said that it was done in an MRI machine and that he'd received copies of the data. This suddenly became very interesting. And so I promptly forgot about it for months.

But, in the end, the stars aligned, and last week I once again found myself in the close embrace of a giant donut-shaped machine, and now I can proudly present my brain on hydrogen.

Not only does this pander to my ongoing quest for self-documentation, but it might also, in the light of recent studies, be particularly interesting for this brain (also, I'm very glad to discover that there aren't previously undetected massive voids in there, either. Hypochondria, tick). I'm told FSLView can make volumetric measurements, but I haven't made much headway (heh, heh, ahem) with that yet, though it sure does make pretty fly-throughs.
New days call for new blogs, and a change of location is as good as a change of author, n'est ce pas?