July 30, 2003

Procreating multiple times

ScienceDaily News Release: Role Reversal: Male Gets Easy Ride In Insect Courtship As a male, how does free transport, free food and, as a bonus for your hard work, unlimited sex with your chosen female partner sound? Since my last post was about males, sex, and dying, I thought this post was an apt followup. Have you ever met a couple and thought, "what does she see in him, he's such a freeloader?" If you're a water bug, the chances in meeting these couples are high. Instead of being able to get busy just once in life, it appears that the male Zeus water bug (Phoreticovelia disparata) gets unlimited sex and a lot more. Who'da thunk that the mating habits of insects were so similar to humans?

Posted by johnvu at 05:32 PM | Comments (0)

July 29, 2003

Procreating once

The Scientist :: Frontlines | Wham, Bam, Now I'll Die, Ma'am, Jul. 28, 2003. Have you ever met some people and thought to yourself, "and you have kids?" Some guys should only have the chance to procreate once, if at all. If they happened to be spiders, it's quite possible. The male Argiope aurantia spider literally dies after copulation, and stays "in the female" when he's dying and dead -- a unique way to prevent the female from receiving sperm from other males, "turning themselves into whole-body mating plugs." That's one f**ked up way of leaving this world -- pun intended.

Posted by johnvu at 11:32 AM | Comments (0)

July 24, 2003

Alcohol on campus

Study of Colleges Critical of Antidrinking Drives. Is it surprising that antidrinking campaigns don't work on college kids? The media frenzy behind MTV Spring Break and the like easily drown out the alternative messages touted by the antidrinking crowd. There's really only one other experiment to try to reduce drinking in college kids -- have MTV show less of it in their shows. I don't care if that's not "real TV" anymore, it's a vicious cycle, do something at least.

Posted by johnvu at 02:42 PM | Comments (0)

July 22, 2003

Origin of HIV

USATODAY.com - Tracking evolution of HIV-1 yields clues. Interesting article, now, I'll have to get the Science paper to read. Synopsis: humans infected by a virus that jumped from chimps; chimps were infected due to a recombination of two separate viruses from two types of monkeys. I wonder what additional information will be gleaned from the Science paper.

Posted by johnvu at 11:46 PM | Comments (0)

Taco Bell...yum.

WIN GAS ! ! !. I was eating at the bell for dinner last night (insert joke here) and came upon this contest (follow link above). Couldn't help but think, "Don't I already get gas after eating at Taco Bell?" Why couldn't they have chosen a better prize item? I guess they may be trying to let their customers know they have a sense of humor.

I know I've been slow to post lately on my blog, not much happening, typical summer I guess. Been working on behind-the-scenes stuff at home and work. My cousin's website for his clinic had some retouching done by moi. Check out the appointment page, I wrote a PHP script for that appointment calendar -- nice huh? Improvement advice is appreciated if you have any.

Posted by johnvu at 11:39 AM | Comments (0)

July 17, 2003

Men's health, slashdot, and more

I've just submitted a story to slashdot, we'll see if it gets accepted. I've been getting my submissions rejected a lot lately. But this time, I wonder if things will be different. The topic of discussion is men's health and prostate cancer. Below is the full text of my submission. It may sound funny at first, but really, it could be an important finding.

Let's not kid ourselves: the major demographic of slashdot readers happen to be male. Men's health is a rarely talked about topic at slashdot (sadly, since so many read it). Here's a "pick-me-up" for you guys. According to new research discussed in the article, the more times you masturbate, the lower your likelihood to develop prostate cancer. Graham Giles who headed the research says: "The more you flush the ducts out, the less there is to hang around and damage the cells that line them." Interestingly, the most noticeable effect occurred in those individuals who were most "active" in their twenties. Please spread the word, lest you males miss your window of opportunity.

Posted by johnvu at 05:01 PM | Comments (0)

July 13, 2003

Check me out in mozilla or Netscape

How to make a simple CSS dropdown menu : evolt.org, Code. I remembered some time ago, I had surfed to a page that had pop-up boxes containing extra information for data in a list. Actually, I believe it was a MT blog site that had links to other blogs and if I hovered over the blog's link, a box popped up that contained links to the latest entries of that blog. I was quite envious. I needed to do this with my blog and my blogroll, in particular. So if you're running mozilla or Netscape (or a browser with CSS2 capabilities that aren't messed up, i.e. IE will NOT work for you), go ahead and hover over the links in my blogroll on the left (under the heading "Fellow Bloggers") and you will see what I mean.

It was not difficult to implement at all. I used magpieRSS to fetch the titles of the blog's latest entries and followed the CSS trick outlined in the link above to evolt.org. Did a few hacks here and there of course -- such as CSS tricks to create a popup box layered over the current text in the page rather than pushing the text aside (hint: position: absolute), added a border to the box, and changed the margin and width. Rather than taking the time to show you exactly how I did it, you're welcome to peek in my page source and my CSS source to figure out what I did and below I'll post my PHP script that handles RSS feeds on my site (i.e. the links on the left panel of the main page of my site).

The magpierss hack was taken from an entry at linuxathome.

The nice thing about my hack is that I'm using the free service at blogrolling.com to maintain my blog links AND the URL of the RSS feed for each blog. Hint: instead of typing in a blog description, I pasted the URL to the RSS file of the site. My PHP code was a little buggy, so I had to make sure that at least something was typed in the description at blogroll, even for those blogs that did not have an RSS feed. I don't have the time to make this entry any clearer in terms of how to implement this in your site, but I welcome comments and will try to answer them for those of you stuck in trying to get this done on your site. Again, the nice thing about this setup is that as I add new blogs to my blogroll, I can instantly add the blog's RSS feed (by putting the URL of the RSS file in the description field at blogrolling.com) to show its latest entries on my blog's frontpage.

Here is my PHP script that handles the feeds: require_once 'rss_fetch.inc'; error_reporting(E_ERROR); define('MAGPIE_CACHE_ON', 1); define('MAGPIE_CACHE_DIR', '/dir/to/magpieRSS/cache/'); define('MAGPIE_CONDITIONAL_GET_ON', 1); define('MAGPIE_CACHE_AGE', 10800); // Set the number of headlines per site $total = 20; // Initialize our sites $url[0] = 'http://www.newsisfree.com/HPE/xml/feeds/87/2087.xml'; $url[1] = 'http://www.medscape.com/cx/rssfeeds/Hiv-Aids.xml'; $url[2] = 'http://nodalpoint.org/module.php?mod=node&op=feed'; $url[3] = 'http://snowdeal.org/syndication/informatics.rdf'; $url[4] = 'http://rpc.blogrolling.com/rss.php?r=21ed2660ff64bad6c7d9ddbb8a9704a6'; $url[5] = 'http://www.blogshares.com/rss.php?feed=portfolio&user=6562'; // Fetch the XML for each one $count = 0; foreach($url as $thisURL) { if ($rss[$count] = fetch_rss($thisURL)) { $count++; }// else { // echo "<div class=\"side\">An error occured while accessing " . $thisURL . "</div>"; // } } // Print out the data for each one foreach ($rss as $thisRSS) { // Display the site's name echo "<div class=\"sidetitle\">" . $thisRSS->channel['title'] . "</div>\n<div class=\"side\">\n<ul id=\"nav\">\n"; // Limit to $total entries $items = array_slice($thisRSS->items, 0, $total); foreach ($items as $item ) { $title = str_replace('&','&amp;',$item[title]); $linkURL = str_replace('&','&amp;',$item[link]); $date = $item[pubDate]; $description = $item[description]; $descrss = substr($item[description], 0, 5); // If we have no title, use the first 30 characters of the description if ($title == "") { $title = substr(strip_tags($description), 0, 30) . "..."; } // If we have no link, use the site's link if ($linkURL == "") { $linkURL = $thisRSS->channel['link']; } // Add this headline to our variable echo "<li><a href=\"$linkURL\">$title</a><br />"; if ($descrss == "http:") { $subrss = fetch_rss($description); echo "\n <ul>\n"; foreach ($subrss->items as $rssitem) { $subrsshref = $rssitem['link']; if ($rssitem['title'] == "") { $subrsstitle = substr(strip_tags($rssitem['description']), 0, 20) . "..."; } else { $subrsstitle = $rssitem['title']; } echo " <li><a href=$subrsshref>$subrsstitle</a></li>\n"; } echo " </ul>\n</li>\n"; $descrss = ""; //if the next description is blank, this variable will not reset } else { echo "</li>\n"; } } echo "</ul>\n</div>\n\n"; }
Posted by johnvu at 05:07 PM | Comments (3)

July 12, 2003

Uh oh. I'm a goner.

Sci Tech News - from ABC News Online 10/07/2003 Marriage may tame genius. I read upon this topic while reading slashdot. Apparently, I'm doomed before I even got started! If you read the article, you'll see what I mean. But in all honesty, the high I get when I've accomplished something scientifically does not come close to matching the joy I feel when I nap next to my son, play with him, take a walk with him, or just seeing his face. Some may view the topic raised by this article in a negative light, I see it otherwise. Maybe I'm just making excuses for my slow growth to scientific competency; however, I challenge you to wait until you are married and have children before you pass judgement.

Posted by johnvu at 12:04 AM | Comments (2)

July 09, 2003

Open standards and software for bibliographies and cataloging

Open bibliographic and cataloging standards and software. Sadly, one of the drawbacks of being a scientist and having the conviction to use open source software is that bibliography managing software are lacking in features. Come time to write, the scientist spends quite of bit of time resorting to mundane tasks in dealing with bibliographies -- tasks that were already streamlined by software in the MS world. The open-source bibliographic world is moving along, however. John Lee and Bruce D'Arcus have written a fairly comprehensive summary of software most actively being developed to help us move away from proprietary methods and to open the doors (quite literally) to exponentially better solutions. Read the list to learn more about how these developers are working towards dealing with the current problems. Excerpt: This list provides a quick overview of the landscape of open-source bibliographic software; both where is has been, but more importantly, where it may yet go.

Posted by johnvu at 11:45 AM | Comments (0)

July 08, 2003

Have you heard the joke about two elephants...

No condom, so elephant sex logo criticised - smh.com.au. Too funny not to share. Excerpt: Thai community groups wanted to use a logo featuring two elephants having sex for next year's World AIDS conference in Bangkok but the plan was criticised by health authorities because the bull was not using a condom. And in more tragic news: Man with false leg electrocuted after urinating near pole. Both news are from Thailand. In all seriousness, news like this sound so outrageous, but in countries like Thailand and Vietnam, crazier incidents happen that are not even reported.

Posted by johnvu at 11:20 AM | Comments (0)

July 07, 2003

Write your representative in support of a new bill

Support the Public Access to Science Act. I got this story at Salon.com from snowdeal.org. To quote the article:

On June 26, Rep. Martin Sabo, a Minnesota Democrat, introduced the Public Access to Science Act, a bill intended to rectify the situation. The act would amend U.S. copyright law to deny copyright protection to all "scientific work substantially funded by the federal government." Since the U.S. government is the world's largest sponsor of scientific research -- the White House asked for more than $57 billion for science in 2003 -- Sabo's bill would have profound implications for scientific publishing. If passed, it would instantly put a huge swath of newly published research into the public domain, upending the journals' pay-for-access business models.

More information about the repercussions of introducing this bill can be found at GenomeWeb and Snowdeal.

Posted by johnvu at 11:33 AM | Comments (0)

July 06, 2003

My illness

The Lure of Data: Is It Addictive?. I got this story from slashdot.

"My name is John. And I am a data-holic."

I'll be the first to admit it: I am an information fiend! Scouring http://news.google.com has become a daily task, in addition to trolling slashdot.org and a bunch of other blogs and science news. I will also admit that I own a laptop (with a wireless card), a PDA (that I barely use, however), a cell phone (around 4 years old I think?). If I was to diagnose myself, I think I do suffer from pseudo-Attention Deficit Disorder. I hate idleness. Most of the time though, my idle time is spent in front of the monitor. What am I to do? I'm spiralling out of control, it's becoming a vicious cycle. Help!

Posted by johnvu at 07:23 PM | Comments (0)

July 04, 2003

My laptop just got cheaper

SOTEC - 1.2GHz Notebook - SN3120X-01. $850 before rebate. $200 worth of rebates (and I got all of my rebates back!). I did have a noisy fan problem (which was common among users), but the tech support handled it well, and turnaround for the repair was quick. Lots of tips from users are available at a user forum. Some people have been able to upgrade with 512MB of memory and there are even tips floating around about how to fix the noisy fan problem yourself, in case you're inclined to do it yourself rather than sending it in for repairs. I can't say enough good things about this laptop. It's so light compared to the Pentium 133 Toshiba Satellite clunker that I was carrying around before. Take a look at the specs, they're not too shabby. It doesn't have firewire ports, but a PCMCIA card should handle that capability for you if you wanted.

If you're looking for a little more power, I'd suggest looking at the newer model, which has the same exact specs, except it has a faster processor and larger hard drive -- the $200 in rebates are also available for that unit. Buy now if you really want it, because the large $150 rebate expires tomorrow! I've spoiled my wife with this laptop. She now refuses to use any other computer, complaining that even the desktop is too slow.

Posted by johnvu at 12:30 PM | Comments (0)

July 02, 2003

Grad Student Help

Science's Next Wave / For Grad Students. I found this helpful page while reading The GrantDoctor. Looks like a compilation of helpful articles for the grad student. I apologize for those of you who cannot get access to the page due to subscription restrictions, but I'm accessing the page currently through a proxy that is completely transparent and so I do not know if a subscription is absolutely needed to view the page.

Posted by johnvu at 01:14 PM | Comments (0)