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Makers at the Trivia Bee

October 31, 2014 by Steven D. Brewer

For years, Alisa has been participating in the Amherst Educational Foundation Trivia Bee. This year, it occurred to me early enough that I could put together a team for Makers at Amherst Media. I realized that, given everything else going on in my life, I probably shouldn't. But I did. First, I sent an email, got a couple of replies. Then I sent another. I followed up with people and hatched a plan to get everyone a lilypad and have the team members wear light-up hats with Makers at Amherst Media t-shirts. I think it took about 12 emails altogether to get everyone on the same page. But we fielded a 4-person team for the trivia bee, with everyone wearing a Makers t-shirt and a light-up hat. With a little nudge to get everyone to recognize that the hats had been programmed by the kids, the team won the Best Costume prize.

They didn't win their round of trivia, but the questions were hard. I mean *really* hard. But it was nice just to participate -- to actually do something -- and to get our name out there. And I was very satisfied just to have my idea come together and happen.

Esperanto-only Haiku

October 25, 2014 by Steven D. Brewer

For several years, I've been writing my haiku primarily in Esperanto, but posting them with English translation. I write haiku principally for myself -- the reaction that other people might have to them has always been secondary for me. I started writing them in Esperanto because it gave me a chance to stretch my linguistic abilities in Esperanto. I continue writing them because I've come to appreciate the opportunity to reflect thoughtfully on nature and my experience. I shared them in both Esperanto and English because... Well... I guess I imagined that authors of English-language haiku might express interest in my haiku. But I haven't seen that.

I have had positive comments about having both English and Esperanto in my books -- mainly from people interested who were learning Esperanto. But the recent review of senokulvitre got me to question the value of posting bilingually. The quality is almost always uneven: haiku often turn on the particular way you can render something in language and really don't translate well. You can translate the words, but you can rarely translate the haiku. So, as an experiment, I've quit trying to translate my haiku into English.

No complaints so far...

Living Museum of Dead Computers

October 24, 2014 by Steven D. Brewer

Many years ago, I began to accumulate old computer hardware that was lying around or being discarded from Morrill Science Center at UMass Amherst. I think my first real acquisition was when someone threw out a PDP-11. It was just sitting on the Geosciences loading dock. This was probably in 1998 or 1999. It was a whole rack with a nice plastic sign with the old DEC lettering. The PDP-11 itself was just something like a 2U box with some huge 4U floppy drives below it. Someone had pasted on a little paper sign on it that said, "Please GOD, Keep it Running!" I rescued the PDP-11 and the little plastic sign and tucked them into the back of the BCRC. Then, little by little, other things began to arrive.

I contributed my Powerbook 100, which was one of the first real laptops. I found some old Model 100 TRS-80s someone was throwing out and rescued them. Al Woodhull contributed a Model 15 teletype and a DECScope. Tom Hoogendyk added an early Macintosh. Brett Longworth had rescued a NeXT Cube. Joe Kunkel had an old Apple II. Willie Bemis added an original IBM PC. Someone found an old adding machine. Chris Woodcock contributed a wafer of 386 microprocessors. Little by little, the collection grew.

George Drake contributed a lot of stuff. He had a block of old core memory and some big old hard-drives. Someone mentioned that George had actually *made* computers -- in particular, word processors -- that many people in the department had used prior to IBM PCs. I was able to get a keyboard (in a wood case), but all of the CPUs had already been lost -- a great loss to history.

I think it was Sean Werle It was Rodger Gwiazdowski who added an old cracked slate tablet, like kids in the 1800s used for lessons, that he had inscribed with the words "Your new information technology may become obsolete." I also found some old Leroy Lettering Guides, which John Roberts had left behind.

All this stuff had been just hanging around in the old BCRC, but without a real place for it. When we began making plans for the new BCRC, I pleaded for a display case where the stuff could actually be seen and appreciated. The display case finally came in and I'm now trying to move stuff in.

It's wonderful that it finally has a home where people can see it. There's still a lot of work to get it curated and make some signage so people can understand what they're looking it. But it gives me a real thrill every time I walk by it. Thanks to everyone who's helped make it possible!

Dua Tago de Aŭtuna Renkontiĝo

October 13, 2014 by Steven D. Brewer

En la frua mateno, mi ofertis mian programeron: "Ni Verku Hajkojn!" Jam delonge, mi kutimas organizi rondon por kune verki hajkojn aŭ rengaojn ĉe kongresoj. Mi ofertis ĝin je la oka matene, ĉar mi emas verki hajkojn frue, kiam la mateno ŝajnas freŝa. Estis belega aŭtuna tago kaj mi renkontiĝis en Sproulo, kiu estas bela ligne-ornamita ĉambro kun fajro en alta loko kun multaj fenestroj kiuj kaj donas lumon kaj enkadrigas la belegan pejzaĝon de Lago Georgo. Venis kvin partoprenantoj kiuj pacience aŭskultis dum mi rakontis pri hajkoj kaj post kune verkis serion da hajkoj dum duonhoro. Poste, ni laŭtlegis niajn hajkojn. Tre bele! El miaj hajkoj, mi plej ŝatis tiun ĉi:

Je la 9a, Bill Maxey prelegis pri La Bona Lingvo. Bill dum multaj jaroj, malmulte povis partopreni la Esperanto-komunumon, sed ĉijare iris al NASK kaj nun al ARE. Ni ĉiuj feliĉas vidi lin denove kaj tre ĝuis lian programeron.

Mi partoprenis la Oratoran Konkurson organizita de Zdravka. Mi prelegis pri kial oni lernas Esperanton. Mi prilaboras eseon pri tio nun kaj estis bone esplori la ideojn. Tri aŭ kvar sekvaj prelegoj menciis aŭ respondis al eroj el mia prelegeto, do mi sentis ke ĝi almenaŭ iomete trafis.

Post la tagmanĝo kaj la grupa foto, Francisko Lorrain prelegis pri la Ora Nombro. Mi devas konfesi ke la vetero kaj la horo lasis min preskaŭ dorma kaj tuj poste mi revenis al mia ĉambro por dormeti dum la "libertempo". Mi ankaŭ finfine faris la hejmtaskojn por miaj studentoj kiujn mi ne povis fari dum la semajno.

La kultura vespero estis aparte bunta ĉijare, kun Steven Smith, la ge-sinjoroj Alexander, kaj multaj aliaj partoprenantoj. La esperantistaro estas mirinde talenta muzike kaj kulture. Kia plezuro estas aparteni al tiu ĉi grupo.

Aŭtuna Rekontiĝo Komenciĝas

October 12, 2014 by Steven D. Brewer

Mi vojaĝis sola ĉimatene al Silver Bay por la Aŭtuna Renkontiĝo. Survoje, la komenco estis malseka, sed la pluvo ĉesis ĉe Albanio kaj mi alvenis bonorde sufiĉe frue por tagmanĝi ĉe Silver Bay.

Ĉijare, Normando volis eltiri sin el la organizado — aŭ almenaŭ ne estu la ĉeforganizanto. Tomaso traktis la kontrakton kun Silver Bay, Julie organizis la junularan domon, kaj mi prizorgis la programon. Sed ni konvinkis lin oferti la bonvenigajn rimarkojn ĉe la komenco.

Multaj homoj parolis pri la pasinta jaro en Esperantujo: vizitoj al la UK, NASK, kaj diversaj aliaj Esperanto-aranĝoj tra la mondo. Ŝajnis ke neniu partoprenis la usonan landan kongreson. Mi menciis mian viziton al la Esperanto Klubo de Orient-Centra Ilinojo kaj transdonis ties salutojn.

La nombro de partoprenantoj, kiu antaŭ jaroj kutimis atingi 50, nun svebas proksimume je 40. Lunde, ni diskutos la venontan jaron kaj unu temo devos esti kiel allogi pli da homoj, ĉar de la nombro falas sub 40, la prezoj kaj aranĝoj fariĝas malpli favoraj.

Morgaŭ estas plena tago kiu komeniĝos per mia programero "Ni Verku Hajkojn". Mi simple invitas homojn sidi kun mi dum horo por verki hajkojn: Tute simpla plezuro.

Comments on Faculty Senate Panel on UMass Network Infrastructure

October 10, 2014 by Steven D. Brewer

From the point of view of the College of Natural Sciences, the network infrastructure that connects our buildings together, and provides the "on-ramp" to the internet, is critical to providing effective support for teaching and research. The College and its departments were early leaders in making difficult investments to build and provision network resources — and to hire dedicated staff to support them. Even before there *was* an OIT, we were pulling network cable and linking computers together. In several older buildings, we still maintain our own cable plant, which we've upgraded from thick wire to thin wire to twisted pair -- from 10 megabit shared to 100 meg to gigabit full duplex. And we've run our own fiber backbone at higher speeds in a number of places to alleviate bottlenecks.

Bottlenecks happen when there's more data coming into a segment than will fit. When that happens, the network becomes unstable, as packets are lost, time out, and need to be re-transmitted. It isn't just that the network slows down, but rather that connections get dropped altogether and fail.

As new buildings have come on-line, like the ISB and the LSL, we've been working toward forging a partnership with OIT that will enable us to contribute to the design of the building infrastructure and to use it effectively to support our research and teaching laboratories so that our students and faculty can be productive and access the services they need.

However, our speedy internal networks and shiny new buildings are connected together with a campus core infrastructure that is increasingly showing its age. When our servers and clients were all in the same building, this was less of a concern. But as we move toward a future where our departments are spread across multiple buildings, the interconnections become increasingly critical. Here are a couple of examples:

Currently, to provide teaching lab computing support between Morrill and the ISB, we maintain separate servers in each building and replicate 311 gigabytes of lab computer software images between the two buildings. That way, we can synchronize data between buildings only when necessary and all of the client computers in each building have a local connection to a server to perform nightly updates. It's been an effective workaround, but it can't scale.

In our Bioimaging class, students using 9 fluorescent microscopes routinely collect 2.8 megabyte images every few seconds for minutes -- or hours -- to study cell growth, division, or other processes. When we were all in one place, we could architect our local infrastructure to provide the support that was needed. But increasingly, we want our students to be able to access and work with their data anywhere. Try copying one of these "stacks" of images over your wireless connection and watch what happens.

We're moving toward an age of "Big Data". Students and faculty with ever faster computers can generate and work with vast quantities of data. To work with big data, you need to be able to get it, copy it, manipulate it, and move it around in real time -- from anywhere. To be a destination of choice, we will want our students and faculty to be able to play in this field. We support building the network infrastructure we need to make sure that UMass Amherst will remain a destination of choice going forward.

Makers at Amherst Media Makerspace at NERDSummit

September 15, 2014 by Steven D. Brewer

Makers at Amherst Media ran a Makerspace on the last day of the NERDSummit. I came up with a simple plan for the event: I suggested we get some old, broken remotes, recover the IR LEDs, and try program an Arduino to control some device, like a TV. Christine did most of the heavy lifting to get everything ready: she organized the kits and went to the Comcast office to get some broken remotes. I brought a few from my office.

If a lot of people had come, it probably wouldn't have worked well, but we just had a few people at first. More trickled in later and the room seemed comfortably busy the whole time, but I had a lot of time to play with the activity to see if it could be made to work.

In the end, I couldn't quite make it work. I didn't have a device to bring with me to control, so I tried to control the data projector that was in the room. But it was an NEC projector and it seems that NEC devices can be problematic to control: they have very long control sequences and aren't well documented. But I was able to get the IR LED out and confirm that it worked.

It was kind of creepy to not be able to see the LED with the naked eye, but yet see that it was shining when you looked at it through the camera.

Although I wasn't able to control the projector, I did find a lot of supporting code and documentation and I think with a few modifications, this activity could work really well with student. I need to find a small TV or maybe an old video camera that can work with a remote that uses a simple, well-documented protocol. Then, I think, the activity would be a great one to use with kids: the electronics are dead simple and the programming is relatively simple, conceptually. At the same time, it demonstrates recovering components from old devices, requires doing a lot of web research and reverse engineering something. And, in the end, who doesn't want to learn how to secretly control something at a distance: "No, Mom. I'm not touching the remote. I don't know why the TV keeps switching to My Little Pony."

In the end, the Makerspace was not a huge draw, but 20-25 people cycled through at one time or another. A few stayed the whole time, learning to program the Arduino. Some just watched, others came to chat. Many people were excited about the idea of building the Makerspace in the new Amherst Media building. It was a good fit with the event and worked out very well.

NERDSummit: Toward Building an Inclusive Community

September 14, 2014 by Steven D. Brewer

This is the weekend of NERDSummit. What started as Western Mass Drupal Camp has grown up and become the New England Regional Developer's Summit. And what a transformation it's undergone.

At times the growth has been uncomfortable. The camp started when Kelly Albrecht said, "We should do a camp" and I said, "I think I can get us a place." We started with creating an event for what we perceived as our community: our colleagues and co-workers.

During our second year, I looked around and realized that our steering committee was almost entirely white male. And all our keynote speakers were white men. During the third year, I began trying to recruit more women to join the steering committee. I challenged Johanna Bates, who had objected to the graphical theme of the website (which prominently featured a white male) to help us find a female keynote speaker.

Around the same time, Kelly recognized that the Drupal community was just one part of an increasingly integrated web development community and began to propose a conference that could welcome people from across the entire community.

The first NERDSummit focused attention on women in technology. With outstanding keynotes by Susan Buck and Ashe Dryden, and a panel on women in technology (among other events). We've begun a discussion about how to change the culture, decrease barriers to entry, and recognize that creating an environment by-and-for the majority, may not serve minorities well or at all.

I was rather shocked during the panel discussion to hear what now sound to me like tired tropes emerge from the audience: defensiveness, "not all men", and "this isn't an IT issue". It was like lancing a boil: hard, painful, and ugly.

We're learning. I'm learning. And I'm grateful to my colleagues who've brought us so far.

Humphrey feble laŭdas la belartajn konkursaĵojn

August 31, 2014 by Steven D. Brewer

Mi legis la artikolon de Humphrey Tonkin en la Esperanto-revuo de septembro 2014: Ĉu Kalocsay kaj Auld aprobus? Diri la veron, mi serĉis laŭdajn vortojn pri mia eseo (kaj genio, kompreneble). Tion mi ne trovis, tamen. Anstataŭe, mi trovis du-paĝan plendon pri la hontinda stato de literaturo en Esperantujo.

Li mencias nek min nek mian eseon, tamen aludas multon, ekz.

la nuna jaro estis iom plata: kelkaj bonaj konkursaĵoj alvenis kaj premiiĝis, sed nenio mondskua.

kaj

kiom da homoj fakte studis la tradicion de eseverkado en Esperanto antaŭ ol sidiĝi por krei majstroverkon en tiu ĝenro?

kaj

ne ĉiuj niaj plej bonaj verkistoj aŭtomate turnas sin al ni proponante konkursaĵojn.

kaj

Se temas pri la du premiitaj [eseoj], regis unuanimeco inter la juĝantoj pri ilia [duaranga] merito. Sekve la tasko ĉi-jare estis facila – kvankam oni rajtus malfeliĉi, ke niaj verkistoj ne prezentis al la juĝantaro pli larĝan kaj profundan defion...

En la angla, oni diras damning with faint praise kaj mi kredas ke tiu artikolo ofertas inter la plej feblaj laŭdoj de l' historio.

New BCRC

August 22, 2014 by Steven D. Brewer

The construction for the new BCRC is approaching completion. Walls, ceilings, floor, furniture, doors, windows, locks -- it's all there. There are really just details that need to get finished: the shades need to be installed, some blackboards didn't come in yet, a few faceplates to network boxes are missing, etc.

One other delay is the big display cases that will house the Living Museum of Dead Computers. They haven't come in. I really hope they can be in before the beginning of the semester, but that's looking doubtful.

It's been amazing to watch the demolition of the old space followed by installation of services, framing, walls, furniture, and everything. It's going to be a wonderful space for students: bright, airy, and welcoming.

Today, we had the final inspection and got the certificate of occupancy. Next week, we'll start installing the computers and monitors. It's going to be awesome.

I can't wait for the students to see it.

Dua Premio en Belartaj Konkursoj

August 7, 2014 by Steven D. Brewer

Mi ĝojis eklerni ke mi gajnis premion por eseo en la Belartaj Konkursoj de UEA. Estas la unua fojo ke mi partoprenis la konkurson. Mi kelkfoje antaŭe intencis partopreni, sed ne havis manuskripton preta je la ĝusta momento.

Mi devas danki al Philip Brewer kaj Istvan Ertl kiuj legis la malneton kaj provizis al mi multajn utilajn ĝustigojn pri gramatiko, stilo, kaj lingvouzo.

Tiu ĉi eseo estas unu el serio de hajbunoj kiujn mi verkas pri la pionira valo kie mi loĝas. Du el ili oni jam eldonis ĉe Beletra Almanako. En BA 8 estis Patro kaj Filo ĉe Sukerpanmonto kaj en en BA 18 estis Spuroj sub Franc-Reĝa Ponto. Ambaŭ pritaksas vizitoj al lokaj vidindaĵoj kaj siaj priskribo kaj historio.

En tiu ĉi lasta eseo, Morto… kaj Vivo en Amherst, Masaĉuseco, mi vizitas la domon de Emily Dickinson kaj tradukas iom el ŝia poezio. Mi interesiĝis pri ŝia poezio antaŭ kelkaj jaroj kaj strebas konservi la ritmon de ŝiaj verkoj. Estas malfacile, ĉar la akcento volas fali sur la lasta silabo, kiu en Esperanto estas kutime malofta.

Mi intencas verki kelkajn pliajn hajbunojn pri la pionira valo kaj finfine ekhavi sufiĉajn por libro. Mi jam havas ideojn por kelkaj pliaj.

Mi devas konfesi, tamen, ke tiun ĉi mi verkis en momento kiam mi estis ankoraŭ tre aktiva pri Esperanto. Ekde la malbona sperto kiun mi havis en la usona movado antaŭ kelkaj jaroj, mi nun malofte Esperantumas kaj apenaŭ verkas Esperante. Mi dubas iomete ĉu mi povos verki ion kiu indus gajni ĉijare. Sed la tempon kiun mi antaŭe dediĉis al Esperanto, mi nun uzas por aliaj aferoj: mia posteno, Faristaj aferoj, esploro pri herpestoj, ktp. Oni ne ĉion povas fari.

Gajni premion, tamen — eĉ duan premion kiun mi dividas kun alia homo — estas kuraĝige. Eble mi trovos pli da tempo dum la venontaj monatoj por verki Esperant-lingve denove. Eble…

Failing to balance field work and vacation

August 3, 2014 by Steven D. Brewer

I realized that this marks the 10th year I've been coming to St. Croix to do field work with Buzz. We came the first time in 2004 and fell in love with the place. I haven't been able to come back every year, but I've come back when I could.

I also realized that, while the first time I came, it seemed exotic and foreign, that now, although it doesn't feel like home, I feel very much at home here. I hardly notice when I have to drive on the left or remark on the palm and flamboyant trees.

We've generally fallen into a relaxed routine: a leisurely early morning, running the traps around 10, a quick swim, then lunch, then process the animals (collect observations and insert RFID tags under the skin), then release the mongoose, and come back for a relaxing afternoon and evening.

This year, a couple of opportunities presented themselves that Buzz couldn't pass up. As a result, we've been going out to refuge at 6 and then driving out to the east end and generally spending the entire day and more doing science.

Yesterday was additionally exciting with the passage of Tropical Storm Bertha just to the west of the island. This created even more work, as we needed to close all the traps. We got a lot of rain and strong winds, but nothing damaging. Power was out briefly and we couldn't go onto the refuge until late in the day.

Don't get me wrong: I love science and I love field work. But all things in moderation. This afternoon, I've bowed out of the trip to the east end to relax, catch up on various things, and cook up some chili.

Another Tedious Rant on HTML-Styled Email

June 26, 2014 by Steven D. Brewer

Our college is moving toward using the now-common practice of sending HTML-styled email as newsletters from Departments to keep alumni and others up-to-date on current events. I expressed resignation about this practice and was asked to clarify what I was objecting to. Here's what I wrote:

It's the idea of sending html formatted email. This has become a common practice and companies like MailChimp and ConstantContact encourage people to do this because you can collect metrics: they put web-bugs and create fake links in the email that you can use to estimate how many people opened the email or clicked on links, which is very persuasive to people looking for ways to measure the impact of communications. But a primary way people get compromised is by getting an email that *looks* like it came from your bank or retailer -- or college/university -- that has links that install malware or lead you to disclose your login information. These links are easier to detect if you're making a decision based on the URL, but email programs like Outlook or Mail.app (especially the versions on the iPhone and iPad) make it difficult or impossible to inspect URLs before clicking on them. And they load URLs (for graphics and stylesheets and web-bugs) that disclose information even if you just open the email.

When people ask me about security, I always tell people to set their email client not to look at html email and not to click on links unless they've looked carefully at the URL and made sure it's going where they think it is. So, for example, when I get an email with a link that claims it's going to "The College of Natural Sciences", but is actually:
http://www.alumniconnections.com/links/link.cgi?l=5605708&h=260505&e=UMS-20140422160344
I don't click on that link. It's probably OK -- it is from the CNS newsletter in April. But if I click on it, I'll disclose information that perhaps I don't want to disclose. And I don't know anything about "alumniconnections.com". If I want to go to a page at CNS, I'll go to the CNS site and find it, thank you very much.

Sorry for the long answer. As I say, this has simply become an accepted practice in marketing -- and I expect they have the metrics to show it works. :-/ But from a security standpoint, it's a disaster. It gives malicious entities a style sheet for how to make an email that *looks* like it was sent from the institution. And it trains your end-users to click on insecure links in email. And so, although these techniques may work for you, they will also work for the bad guys too.

Making progress on our Makerspace

June 22, 2014 by Steven D. Brewer

Since the launch of Makers at Amherst Media, we've been trying to maintain momentum. I continued Friday meetings at Amherst Media and we continued to get the word out and to seek funding. Late in the spring, we were notified we had received a Public Service Endowment Grant. This led to our project being cited in a letter to President Obama from the Chancellor on the occasion of the National Day of Making and subsequently appearing in the materials distributed by the White House after the event.

Jim Lescault suggested launching a new cable access program to commemorate the Day of Making and, going forward, provide a way to highlight and celebrate events in our Makerspace. So, with Nick Ring as Director, we shot our first episode which started running on Wednesday. And now I need to come up with ideas for more episodes going forward.

We're hoping to run a couple of workshops yet this summer and then more through the fall. Things are starting to come together and I'm hopeful that we've hit the right moment to catch the cresting wave of interest and support for building a Makerspace. I've been trying to encourage everyone to envision what we would build if resources were no object. Here's my idea:

We should build a co-working/business incubator space with a big common workspace, as a Makerspace which we could use for workshops and drop-ins. Attached would be a set of carrels, cubes, and small offices which entrepreneurs could lease to launch small business ventures. We could provide a spectrum of resources for everything from the casual hobbyist to the serious entrepreneur. I see this fitting perfectly into the new Amherst Media building.

I've pitching this idea and trying to persuade people that this is possible. We're not there yet, but we're "Making" progress. We can do this.

Observations of a Balanced Aquarium

June 21, 2014 by Steven D. Brewer

A couple of months ago, I described my idea to have students create balanced aquaria and since then I've set one up and have been collecting observations so I have some idea about what to expect if I have students do it. It's been fascinating.

I initially went up to Pelham to start building my aquarium. There's a wonderful little vernal pond I know up there -- almost more of a vernal puddle. It just a depression full of wet leaves with lots of copepods and other interesting critters. I figured it might be a good place to get the decomposer part of the ecosystem. There's also a reservoir that I thought I might be able to find some nice filamentous algae in. But I had forgotten that up there, the water is practically just rain water and the reservoir is basically oligotrophic. I could see a few newts, but no algae at all.

I drove next to Podick Cole Santuary, which is surrounded by agricultural fields and has a beaver pond (with attendant swamps and marshes). I found some nice scummy floating filamentous algae and scooped it up.

I had constructed the apparatus, filled it Poland Spring water, then I added some leaves and water from the vernal pool and some water and scum from the beaver marsh, sealed up the top, and I was in business:

I observed copepods and ostracods immediately. There were some collembola on the water surface. I think there was a big planarian, although I couldn't get a good look at it: It might have been a small leach. After a few days, I saw a small dragonfly nymph.

The data are complicated and interesting. The program I'm using to collect the data is pretty minimal: eventually I want to have something set up that will send all the data to a server that aggregate and summarize everything. But for the moment I'm just collecting it over the serial monitor of the Galileo.

At first I thought the big spikes in CO2 were happening at night due to biological activity and when they stopped it was because the copepods had died. But I saw that there were still some copepods, although it was clear that there were fewer. As I caught more glimpses of the nymph (who seems bigger) it now seems more likely he's been eating them. But at first, I didn't have reliable time-stamps on the data and, once I did, I found that the big spikes were happening during the day and the variation was correlated with something else: warm sunny days. When the sun shines in, it warms up the aquarium, which reduces the solubility of gas in water and drives the CO2 in the atmosphere, where it gets measured.

Around this time, I also noticed something new: snails. At first they were tiny -- smaller than sesame seeds. They would move around on the inside clearing off the algae and aufwuchs growing on the inside of the bottle. And they grew as well: now they're peppercorn or caper-sized. (Note to self: encourage your students to actually measure things they observe, rather than to simply use cooking analogies). As they grew, they became more efficient at hoovering up all of the algae. And then the CO2 really began to spike.

The spikes of CO2 got higher and higher and higher. I began needing a log axis to plot the data. I showed them to Phil who asked "What does it mean to have more than a million parts-per-million?" Good question, I thought. I did some investigating it turns out that the sensor is really only valid between 400 and 10,000 ppm. So it's not clear what those spikes mean -- if anything. Probably, I should simply truncate the data at 10,000.

The newest excitement has been seeing a slime mold (or molds) active. I recognized it immediately as some kind of slime mold, confirmed by @Genevieve.

It moved around, but also seemed to split up and then rejoin again. I shot a few time-lapse sequences (not really good enough quality to share), but which confirmed that it was moving around in real-time.

I had seen only a very small number of copepods in recent days: almost none. But then on Thursday or Friday, I noticed a vast number of really tiny copepods. There must have been a big hatch of eggs. I also noticed the slime mold looking like it was growing fruiting structures:

It's been a fascinating natural history project -- for me anyway. And I think my students will enjoy it too. I've gained a lot of insight regarding the additional tools and resources we might want to put in place to make the project really work well. I've realized that it might be really helpful to have quantitative light sensors in front of and behind the aquarium to measure optical loss. It might be hard to calibrate that, however. Having a temperature sensor seems pretty critical. Those are cheap. I also want to look into making adaptors to use cell phones as microscopes: if you could just press those up to the bottle to take pictures it might be really helpful for collecting imagery and trying to identify what we're seeing inside.

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