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That Was Dumb, or the Dangers of Not Packratting

So, there's this instrument. We have a bunch of samples going into the instrument, and we pull data out which tells us whether it is worth it to run the samples on the next, more expensive instrument. So, it's for quality assurance.

I do several things with this thing. I have an interface that collects all the information about group of samples (what goes in which lane, etc.) which we import after the sample is run to connect name, ID numbers and all sorts of metadata with each sample. Right now, there's a comment section, and I put together a CSV table of the metadata in there. The database table I created is set to be all the data fields that the instrument software takes, which means I create the comment on Submit. And it means I don't save all the metadata independently.

This, I am finding out, is stupid.

Because I also code stuff handling the output. Before, I simply used Sikuli to automate the export of the XML, but now I'm handling exported graphs and putting them into our lab notebook, and I'm looking at having to deconstruct the comments in order to get the information I need.

Knuth was right. Premature optimization is the root of all evil.


Oh, That Was Clever! (WebDev)

I write this in Blogger, and there's a helpful icon I can press to upload an image.

I run a wiki for the lab. That wiki does not have a helpful "upload an image" button. I've long seen that as a failing.

Turns out, my users found a work-around.

We use CKEditor as our interface because it would be cruel to force others to understand wiki markup, and because you can copy rows and columns from Excel and it turns them into tables.

Guess what else you can do?

You can create things in Word, copy them, and paste them into CKEditor, which saves them as data URLs.

On the good side, you can get your images onto the wiki.

On the bad side, it blows the top off the page size limits, which are put there for your protection.

I'm seriously going to have to find a solution to this, because this is seriously causing problems. But, honestly, once I got what was going on, I laughed out loud.


Making the RCA Media Player Usable
This is an RCA Wi-Fi Streaming Media Player. I got it when I got a Sony HDTV for the bedroom.

I have two comments on that purchase:

The remote for this RCA player is utter crap. And two HDMI ports will not be enough.

Tekzilla has pointed me to the solution to the second problem. You can now get HDMI switches that auto-switch, which means, for example, you have the cable box on port 1, the Blu-Ray player on 2 and the RCA Faux-ku on 3. You generally keep the DVR-having cable box on and the other two off, so, when you turn on the Blu-Ray, it auto-switches to that, and switches back when done. I need one. But that's not the point today.

The point today is that the remote for the RCA Streaming Media Player is crap. And the button battery it comes with is weak. But, thankfully for me, I can program my Logitech Harmony 200 remote to talk to it. And, while it is not the best of the Harmony line — I got the low-powered one as a test and preview for the bedroom before I got a better one for the living room — it is quite a lot better than the one that came with.

Honestly, I wish I had gone with a Roku, but I didn't. I'm reasonably happy with the unit (Pandora and Netflix work fine, Hulu less so). But the first issue with this device is now rectified.

Big Three for Sept 10-15

  • TEDx - I have an idea for replacing the scroller images (which make Purdue look like a concentration camp) with images (and links to the associated videos) from last year's event. Also, seeing if we can do PHP on the server.
  • FFH, or Just For Me - develop a small web app using something like Google Places and the HTML5 Location API to tell me what restaurants are close. 
  • Self - When I found that my tendons are weird, leading to flat feet and bunions and foot pain, I stopped running (except for a 5K, which I mostly walked). I half-heartedly decided that I would do five push-ups and five sit-ups every day. The push-ups stopped after the first day -- low upper-body strength meets 240+ weight -- and after doing MWF last week, I could feel the muscles aching for days after. So, I think I'll go with MWF. Which means I have to remember to do some sit-ups when I get home today. 
Additional to-do: Remember to get this done on Friday. I was in a weird mood for no good reason that day.