Thursday, March 11, 2004

Last night I downloaded my first iTunes song, "This Love" by Maroon 5. Thanks Pepsi, for the free tunes. I guess I don’t score points for being a music snob. I haven’t listened to the college music station is months, so I’ve been a little out of the loop on the music snobbery scene as well. I’ve been spending most of my radio listening time with NPR or the classical station.

My continued tinkering with Mozilla Thunderbird and Calendar is becoming less tinkering and more regular use. I set up the mail reader as an IMAP client so that I can read my mail from the different lab computers and at home and they’ll all still be in sync wherever I go. Of course the easy way would have been just to use the MSU Webmail application, but that would simply be too easy. Plus I get better options when it comes to spam filtering and mail writing than if I used the Webmail application. I’ve got Calendar set up so that it will sync up with my remotely stored calendar file and update it if I change it. A poor man’s calendar server indeed, but it meets my needs. I wish when my calendar was downloaded the events that are marked private would only appear as "private event." Oh well. Maybe we’ll see something like that eventually.

I’ve also decided I’d like to write a suggested research project. I’ve started to assemble some literature on the use of Surface Enhanced Laser Desorption Ionization - Time of Flight (SELDI-TOF, a good acronym) mass spectrometry for the characterization of biological samples. I know it sounds complicated, but take my word for it, it’s not as complicated as the name makes it sound. I just don’t want to go into too much detail here, primarily because it would bore most people, and secondly I’d like to get it puzzled and planned before I take the wraps off it. There is also the normal paranoia that one doesn’t want to reveal too much about a any project that may have potential application outside of the purely academic pursuit of knowledge.

Secondarily I’ve also started fiddling with a calendar for lab equipment that can be accessed over the web. The Genomics facility at MSU uses a web-based calendar for people to sign up for time on one of the more valuable pieces of equipment (a real-time PCR machine), and in passing Dr. Roth mentioned that possibility that down the line the Food Safety & Toxicology Center may want to apply for a grant for which tracking the use of departmental property would be desirable. I naturally thought the technical approach would be superior to paper logs, but as usual it’s more of an undertaking than most would care to go through. Basically I need to learn to setup a web server, and from there I can add the calendaring application (it’s predesigned). First I want to learn how to set it up safely though, as I don’t want to open any of the lab computers up to any greater security holes than already exist (all of them are Windows computers).

Along those lines I did one thing to remedy the situation. It won’t sound like much, but I finally managed to set the computers up so that they will automatically download and install the most current virus definitions every night. Normally one could just use something like Norton Antivirus’ LiveUpdate, but either the lab computers don’t have a current subscription, or LiveUpdate is broken. Either way, people had to manually download the definitions and install them, which led to intermittent updates. I used a batch file from Symantec’s website and then puzzled and experimented until I had it set up to run without trouble around 4AM every day. It’s a small thing, but those are the kind of puzzles I like to solve. --------------------------------------CMN

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