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Daniel Jalkut just tweeted that he had some stickers to give away featuring logos from his fantastic software company, Red Sweater Software. I decided it was a good time to tell people about his great work.

I thought I would take a moment to suggest that anyone that writes a blog on a Mac shoud be using his fantastic MarsEdit (App Store Link) text editor/blogging swiss army knife. His software has recently made its way onto the Mac App Store. This is one of my two favorite third party OSX applications, the other being Scrivener.

I am somebody who likes to have software that is as simple yet as flexible as possible. I want to not have to think about what am doing while I am doing it. MarsEdit allows you to write your blog without having to think about the process. You just write, edit, and publish.

The program has good media management so adding photos is very easy. Quite often I do have to tweak settings from the WordPress side just to make things look right but for the most part this program makes it possible to write and post with minimal stress. I love taking my laptop on the road, writing, and having my posts be ready to go whenever the internet is available.

MarsEdit makes it so you can post to multiple blogs (I use it for 4) with ease. I am sure the program does way more than I use it for but I have been so happy with what I does I have not needed to mess with it. It just works.

To top it all off, Daniel is (as far as I can tell) a quality guy. I have written him over email and twitter and he has responded quickly, professionally, and warmly. He is in my mind a great example of quality customer service.

If you do any blogging on a Mac, have any appreciation for great software, or want to help out an amazing small business, buy any of his stuff. He has several products including a crossword application, an ear training aid, as well as several other cool applications. Check them out. Worth every penny.

I recently upgraded my camera. I don’t have it yet, but the entire process has gotten me thinking about lots of things.

I bought a Nikon D90 from B&H Photo in New York City. These guys are champions of the photo business. I hear from one of my professors (and corroborated by Wikipedia) that it is owned and staffed by Hasidic Jews. I really want to visit sometime. Supposedly they serve over 11,000 people a day. If anyone is ever looking for a camera their website is the place to go.

My new camera is sitting on a truck in Ohio. I think it is amazing that by going to the UPS website and typing in a string of numbers you can see exactly where your purchase is. 5 years ago this was a novelty- I first experienced it when I bought my first computer and watched the FedEx webpage notify me when my 12″ iBook left the Foxconn factory in China, now it is expected, it is a right as a consumer. As soon as we press the big shiny PayPal button we expect the DHL elves to immediately move our box of goodies. The idea of the limbo of shipping is fascinating- when we shell out our hard earned money to someone we will never meet, see, talk too, the product becomes ours. It then seems to float through the ether to magically appear one day on your doorstep. The infrastructure and manpower is amazing. If anyone is up for a good read, Thomas L. Freidman wrote on the subject in The World is Flat. The impact that shipping and logistics companies have had on our world is immeasurable.   The thought is actually kind of scary- pay some guy $10 to carry your expensive purchase across the country. It is amazing anything gets anywhere.

In the mean time I have put my old camera up on Craigslist. If anyone hangs around me long enough they will know I have a love-hate relationship with Craigslist. It is Ebay for lazy people. The website is awesome, except when you are looking for anything specific. It is impossible to find anything unless you are looking for a generic old pickup truck or a trans am with an eagle painted on the hood sitting on blocks in some guy’s backyard.  I have been waiting patiently for months to see a D90 show up like I just bought. No. Such. Luck. But several months ago I found my dream drumset on there. I did have to drive three hours to get it, but I found it at a great price. You never know what you are going to find. Checking Craigslist can become a second hobby. If you are prone to being easily distracted, do not look at the missed connections section. So very funny and sad at the same time.

Almost as fun is selling things. There seem to be hordes of people A.) asking stupid questions about what you are selling or B.) asking stupid questions with no intention of buying. It can be frustrating, especially when you have something that is priced reasonably and described accurately. When you have written a price and stated in clear writing- “It is in functioning condition- works well” and you have three-score emails asking- “Does it work? I don’t want to pay you for it, will you take pocket lint?” It makes one very angry. Post with caution.

Today Apple released the newest version of the Mac Mini.

This computer has always been underrated in terms of power and value. After looking at the unboxing gallery at Engadget I think this thing may be the best designed computer out of Cupertino to date. The thing is absolutely gorgeous.

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This is the first part of a series of posts I will be doing over the course of the summer cataloging the progress of my work researching the control of soybean aphids (Aphis glycines).

Soybean aphids are pretty crazy little dudes that like to suck soybean plants dry and can cause farmers to lose up to 70% of their yield. That is a lot of money lost to this little green bug. The United Soybean Board collects a small amount of money from each grower through the Soybean Checkoff program, a little “soy tax” if you will. This money is referred to as “Checkoff dollars” and is spent on research to figure out ways of improving farmer’s incomes and yield. These funds create the North Central Soybean Research Program (NCSRP). This is the program, in combination with the Michigan Soybean Board, that funds my research.

My research looks at ways of controlling these aphids through conservation biological control and host plant resistance (HPR). Hopefully this will help the bottom lines for farmers and will lead to more sustainable soybean production.

Biological control relies on the principal that in the environment exist biological entities that work to control and provide resistance to the personal and population growth of every living organism on the planet, being plant, bacteria, insect, anything. These forces help to control populations and create an equilibrium, gravitating towards the carrying capacity of an ecosystem. The steriotypical example of the wolves and the moose in Isle Royale is often used to show how one organism effects the population of another. In the case of soybean aphids, the forces that help to lower the populations of aphids are not present in the United States as they are in the aphid’s native lands in Asia.

Several types of biological control exist, such as classical biological control, where we go back to the foreign lands and find the natural enemies that prey on the the aphids. This is being attempted, but is historically not entirely successful, for many reasons. The natural enemies can be fickle and can have a difficult time adapting to new environs. natural enemies can also do too well, as is the case of the Asian Multicolored lady beetle. This is the lady beetle that little old ladies are always complaining about as they invade homes in the fall. Releasing anything into the environment is always a little scary.

There are other types of biological control, such as inundative biological control, but I will not get into those.

My research is with conservation biological control. This relies of figuring out ways of attracting natural enemies that are already in the environment to problem areas by creating amenable conditions for these organisms to feed, aestivate, live, breed, etc… My specific work looks at how variety selection effects the suites of predators that inhabit them.

These varieties are bred and are selected to be resistant to aphids. This is called host plant resistance. The varieties I am investigated have been developed to have lower populations of aphids. I am looking to see how these differences in population effect natural enemy populations.

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I will be executing 4 separate studies this summer, literally taking me from one end of the state to another. I have plots in Montcalm county and just north of Frankenmuth as well as plots I have on the campus research farm. I am planning on collecting aphids from one tip of the lower peninsula to the other. This means at some point I shall have to drive the length of our great state and crawl around in farmer’s fields looking for soybean aphids. I have all but one of my studies planted and am hoping to have it completed early this next week. After that he next two weeks consist of watching my plants grow and waiting for aphids to fly in.

It should be exciting, I am hoping to be done next May and am looking at many options, ranging from going directly to my PhD. or even the Peace Corps. I also reserve the right to just work at the local Apple Store.

I kid.

I intend to put updates here and let people know how things are going, this also serves as a little measuring stick for me to use to watch my progress and see where this all goes.

P.S.- Check out this info on Cereal Leaf Beetle, a rarely problematic insect that is become an annoyance

to many farmers this summer. It is a fascinating insect and it as been fun helping growers and extension agents figure out how to handle it.

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(Image courtesy of dantheman12 of gizmodo commenting fame.)

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Adobe just posted a open letter to Apple saying they want the internet to be free again. They want Apple to stop trying to overthrow the internet by getting rid of all the Flash.

Flash is what all the crappy games on the internet and what most YouTube videos are played through. Flash is the de facto standard for interactive content on the internet. Apple is trying to push this technology aside to move toward HTML 5. HTML 5 is the next step in internet coding language and in all honesty can probably do just as much as Flash.

Flash is a great program and has been responsible for a majority of the growth that has happened on the internet in the past five years. Just look at YouTube, Hulu, etc… But just because something is ubiquitous and was once helpful does not mean it should never be abandoned. If that was the case we would still be riding around in trains and tying up horses when we go into Sears. Technology changes. Flash is in many cases the cause of poor performance and security breaches on computers, both Macs and PCs. It has served its purpose and has lived longer and done more than any technology could ever be wanted to. But it is time to move on.

Adobe is getting mad because their product is being rejected by Apple. The iPhone and the iPad do not allow one to watch videos or play these games unless you use another video player, optimized to play the video in an HTML 5 appropriate manner.  Many websites are changing over to HTML 5 or creating flash-free versions because they want their websites to be usable on these devices. (Oh, and P.S… Currently no mobile OS officially supports Flash. Apple gets targeted because Steve Jobs is the only one gutsy enough to say that is on purpose.)

Adobe claims that Apple is inhibiting the freedom of the internet by not supporting Flash.

To use HTML 5, all anybody needs to do is use the correct tags and language in the website and encode media in the proper formats.

Cost- $0.00

To develop a Flash element for your website- you need to buy Adobe’s software.

Cost- $660.99

Which one is more “free”?

The Adobe family is complaining that nobody is coming to play in their pool and that the city pool is getting more people. Some parents will only let their kids swim in the city pool. It is cheaper, cleaner, and they like being able to watch their own kids. They don’t want their kid’s being watched by somebody else.

 

What does the Adobe family do? They write a letter to those parents telling them they are hurt and that they are restricting their kid’s freedom and fun ability. If they wanted their kids to be free and have fun, they would bring them over to the Adobe family pool.

 

Here is the solution-

Clean up your pool and stop charging 660.99 for kids to swim in it.

Adobe. It’s that simple.

I don’t know if this is comforting or terrifying.
Just think what is possible when these cameras are everywhere.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/8561367.stm

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