Posts in Category: Site Announcements

Dusting Off the Covers

Posted Dec 8th, 2008 at 9:53 pm in Life in General, Site Announcements | Comments Off

I want to start using this site again. But instead of providing commentary on the culture wars surrounding evolution, I’m going to simply provide commentary on me. I’m going to use this site as a place to post write-ups and pictures from my various travels.

Hmmm. That sounds familiar.  Perhaps because I wrote almost exactly the same thing on March 29, 2007. I’ll quote myself.

Why did I stop blogging?

The short and sweet answer is that I suddenly got tired of it. It felt more like a chore than it did fun. As the amount of time I poured into school skyrocketed (and so did the amount of writing for school), it was hard to enjoy blogging.

I’m also completely done with these eternal debates about evolution and creationism. At least online anyway. Like the above comments shows, the number of people who froth at the mouth and show up to leave comments far outweighs those interested in learning how science works. We live in the age of Google. In 30 seconds you can get more information about a subject than you can read in 30 days. An understanding of evolution and how it works is not lacking because of a lack of information. Therefore, I’m much more interested in having real conversions with people, face to face, who actually want to learn how things work, not just argue. The time I’ve spent at church talking with people about it on a number of occasions is just so much more fulfilling than blogging about it.

I also face the problem of being a fairly good but extremely slow writer. One story in particular illustrates this better than anything. Not long after we got married, my wife was working on this very lengthy paper for a class. She called me in to ask for help with wording a single sentence. I spent 30 minutes and finally came up with wording that we both liked. So out of 10 pages, I wrote one sentence. When she got the paper back (with a good grade of course), the professor had underline that single sentence and written in the margins, “Nicely worded!” (I’ll smile about that for the rest of my life). But the problem you see is that I can’t spend that long writing a post to Ocellated. There’s not enough hours in the day.

So what’s different this time?

Nothing if I don’t keep posting. But after amassing lots of good pictures, having many excellent adventures, and a likely move within the year to start a doctorate, I really would enjoy a place to share these experiences.

A really cool new way to view pictures

One last word before I put up new pictures. You can now view pictures in the photo gallery using Cooliris. Never heard of it? Follow that link for a flash animation of how it works. It’s a free FireFox plugin (you’re using FireFox, right?) that allows you to view images from the web in a very compelling way. I often use it to search for images with Google and now it works with my own photo gallery.

Once you install Cooliris, visit any of my albums or pictures in the photo gallery and then launch the program. I recommend clicking on the first image to enlarge it, and then using the down arrow to go through the images one by one. This way, you can see the image titles with the images. (You can also view the images full screen or as a slide show, but the title disappear.)

To make the experience even better in Cooliris, I’m going to start uploading larger images in the albums. These larger images will only be visible when in Coolirs, and while you can still view older albums with this tool, the pictures get stretched and may look a little grainy.

Finally, if you’re on a slow connection, you might want to view images just on the website (and not with Cooliris) so they’ll download quickly.

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Getting Back in the Swing of Things

Posted Mar 29th, 2007 at 11:12 am in Evolution, Photography, Science, Site Announcements | 7 Comments

It’s been too long, hasn’t it? I’ve got friends asking me to write again, friends that are hilariously cajoling me into writing again, and absolute nutjobs that leave the craziest comments on old posts.

This latter comment is especially hilarious for it’s illiterate ramblings against evolution, repetition of the belief that no one is required to pay income taxes, and then a sudden divergence into the necessity of vitamins and seed eating to prevent cancer. The list of seeds we should eat are apple, peach, and apricot seeds, which as any good biologist can tell you are filled with cyanide. If you’re skipping the fruit and going straight for the seeds, it doesn’t take but a handful at once to provide a lethal dose. But hey, you don’t get cancer! I especially liked the National Cancer Institute’s description of a drug name Laetrile based on these seed products. “Laetrile has shown little anticancer effect in laboratory studies, animal studies, or human studies. The side effects of laetrile are like the symptoms of cyanide poisoning.”

Yes, it’s been too long since I’ve blogged.

Why did I stop blogging?

The short and sweet answer is that I suddenly got tired of it. It felt more like a chore than it did fun. As the amount of time I poured into school skyrocketed (and so did the amount of writing for school), it was hard to enjoy blogging.

I’m also completely done with these eternal debates about evolution and creationism. At least online anyway. Like the above comments shows, the number of people who froth at the mouth and show up to leave comments far outweighs those interested in learning how science works. We live in the age of Google. In 30 seconds you can get more information about a subject than you can read in 30 days. An understanding of evolution and how it works is not lacking because of a lack of information. Therefore, I’m much more interested in having real conversions with people, face to face, who actually want to learn how things work, not just argue. The time I’ve spent at church talking with people about it on a number of occasions is just so much more fulfilling than blogging about it.

I also face the problem of being a fairly good but extremely slow writer. One story in particular illustrates this better than anything. Not long after we got married, my wife was working on this very lengthy paper for a class. She called me in to ask for help with wording a single sentence. I spent 30 minutes and finally came up with wording that we both liked. So out of 10 pages, I wrote one sentence. When she got the paper back (with a good grade of course), the professor had underline that single sentence and written in the margins, “Nicely worded!” (I’ll smile about that for the rest of my life). But the problem you see is that I can’t spend that long writing a post to Ocellated. There’s not enough hours in the day.

So What Comes Next?

I didn’t want to post again until I really knew what I wanted to say. I think where I am right now is that I would love to post about science. There’s just too many cool little things that I learn to not share them with anyone. And I have fun whenever I can taking pictures, so there’s no better medium than the web for sharing the fruits of that labor.

I promise nothing. I certainly won’t be posting every day. Maybe once a week. Maybe once a month. We’ll just have to see how it goes. But I’d definitely like to get back to talking about science, birds in particular, and I’ve got a few papers that are worth sharing due to their general “cool factor.”

I can’t just leave you with nothing

So for all three of you still checking the blog, I’ll leave you with a few pictures. I have been busy working at photography when I have the time, and I’ve posted many of these quite some time ago, but never wrote a post announcing them. Here’s a list of the recent galleries. Some of the pictures are of course better than others.

The trip to Marfa, TX (which is in deep southwest TX north of Big Bend National Park, was probably one of the most enjoyable though. I managed to get a couple of incredible pictures of a juvenile Red-tailed Hawk.

juvenile Red-tailed Hawk

juvenile Red-tailed Hawk

There’s more in that album too. And speaking of pictures, I’ve got lots more to process from recent trips which I’ll be posting shortly.

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Rethinking the Photo Gallery on Ocellated

Posted Sep 16th, 2006 at 10:25 am in Photography, Site Announcements | 1 Comment

Believe me or not, one of the hardest things about running a website (or more specifically in my case a multi-faceted blog / photo gallery) is not learning how to use the software that creates the content but rather deciding how to organize that content.

The blog has taken care of itself. WordPress is a sufficiently awesome tool to organize everything into categories. I was feeling a bit stifled however by the photo gallery. It wasn’t the software’s fault though, I just needed a place to put increasingly different types of pictures, and I wanted to better highlight certain pictures without having them buried deep within an album.

So, I’ve now taken to organizing content into the following main albums.

  • Trips — a place to put up albums for trips (near or far) that I take. This album is essentially just how the whole gallery was working before. All the old albums with their pictures have been placed into here.
  • The Scrapbook — This is a place to put up individual, good quality pictures that I’ve taken recently, which are worth sharing. I’ll be putting up a few good shots here and there on the blog, and every time I do, I’ll throw them in the Scrapbook. I’m also going to share more pictures when I’m too busy to blog.
  • Nature — This album is further broken up into three subalbums — Birds, Butterflies, and Dragonflies. The idea here is to put up a photographic list of all the birds, butterflies, or dragonfly species I’ve managed to get shots of. A few of these pictures are good, most are simply decent, and I’m sure a few are wretched. Birds in particular have a number of species but too many poor quality shots. My old camera wasn’t really meant for bird photography… I will be swapping out pictures with better ones as I get them, and I’ll add pictures as I get shots of new species. I simply wanted a place to showcase some of the diversity of life, in the groups that I’m interested in. In the future, if I get enough material, I might even add other groups.
  • The Bruce — I’m sure this needs little explanation. It’s an album to put pictures of the world’s coolest cat, all in one convenient place. When Friday cat blogging occurs, Bruce’s pictures will get included in this album.
  • Some of my best — This album will showcase some of my favorite pictures, period. Currently the album contains a group of shots that I put up when I originally created the photo gallery. I will be removing some of these pictures and adding others. As the list grows, I aim to keep it around 100 pictures, and things may come and go as I get better shots or change my mind.

Finally, because of its design, the photo album can hold pictures that are slightly wider than the blog. So any time you see a picture I’ve taken on the blog, you can click on it and get taken through to the album to see a bigger version. (The only exception would be portrait pictures, which may sometimes appear in the same size in both the blog and the album).

I hope you enjoy these changes. You can definitely expect to see a few more pictures on Ocellated.

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Pimp My Blog

Posted Jul 13th, 2006 at 12:51 pm in Site Announcements | 4 Comments

Okay. The updates have been installed and things seem to be working. Firstly, there’s a strong chance that if you’ve visited this site recently, that you’re browser has cached files used to display the site — files that have now changed. If things on the main site or in the photogallery look wrong, refresh your browser. (Usually F5 on Windows computers.)

You’ll notice some minor changes to the site. I’ve installed a few bells and whistles. Why? Because I can!

Quotes

Random Quotes now display in the sidebar. If you know of any good quotes, particularly about science or religion, I’d love to hear them. If I like them, I’ll gladly add them to the list.

Books

I now have a spiffy list of books I’m reading, plan on reading, or have just read. This spiffy list links to Amazon. If you’ve learned about a book from me or were persuaded by a review I wrote, please order the book by clicking through from my site to Amazon. I get a very small percentage, and while I could care less about the money (no this isn’t my backup plan if grad school goes south), it would be really cool to earn a free book once in a blue moon.

Pictures

The photo gallery has been updated to a newer version (no real difference in the functionality from the old). I have, however, integrated it’s look with the design of the rest of the site. About time. I’d always meant to and never gotten around to it.

Tags

Finally, I’m going to start using Technorati tags at the end of my posts. I’ve formatted them quite obscurely and inconspicuously so they shouldn’t be an eyesore. Technorati is a popular blog search service. The tags act like keywords and (supposedly) help drive traffic to a site. We’ll see.

If you notice anything that’s broken, doesn’t look right (remember to refresh your browser first), etc., please let me know. I’ve tested everything as best I can, and feel confident that it’s all working, but there’s always a chance… (And if anybody’s using a Mac, I’d especially like to know if something’s wrong, as I haven’t tested it on a Mac).

Update: I squished a minor bug that could cause some Windows Internet Explorer users to see a glitch. Refreshing your browser once again will solve the problem. Hopefully this is the last of the problems.

Update 2: After watching my wife access the site, I realized that for anybody who arrives at this page via an RSS feed, you won’t see the quotes or the book list. I’ve put these only on the homepage, as I didn’t want the length of the pages to get unwieldy.

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Standby for Progress

Posted Jul 13th, 2006 at 10:25 am in Site Announcements | Comments Off

I’m taking the picture gallery down momentarily to apply some updates. I’ll also be adding some functionality to the main site as well. This should be brief, but if you see a hiccup on the site, it should be back to normal soon. I’ll post when I’m done.

A New Comment Policy

Posted Jun 14th, 2006 at 5:07 pm in Site Announcements | Comments Off

I hate what I’m having to do, but I’ve put up a comment policy. It’s a short set of guidelines that I think are mostly common sense, but you know what they say about common sense these days — it’s not so common.

This was precipitated by my newest friend Ray, a person whose comments have lately become obnoxious. I want to briefly mention this, on the blog, in the interest of transparency. I do not expect everyone who reads Ocellated to hold the same opinions that I hold. While I wish that they would, I’m a little more realistic than that. What I do expect is a certain level of discourse when someone doesn’t like what I say.

Ray is a young earth creationist. We’ve had one or two friendly arguments. To Ray’s credit, he was respectful. Nice even. No name calling. No threats of fire, hell, and damnation for not sharing his views. He doesn’t understand much biology though, and after trying to civilly have the discussion, I grew tired of the whole thing. There’s no sense in arguing with someone who’s mind is completely made up and who is not willing to learn about the subject they wish to argue. I left a comment saying I was no longer interested in the discussion, and I expected that to be the end of it.

Well, the short and the sweet of it is that Ray has been going back through the old posts, leaving the same argumentative comments elsewhere. A particularly poignant example of what caused the comment policy and me to moderate his comments can be found in my annotated analysis of a creationist textbook. I made a joke that my wife and I were so desperate to find her a job that she was even looking at private schools. Ray’s first comment provides me all the proof I need to see that he’s not even reading my posts before commenting…

It’s not desperation to trust in scientific observation – evolutionists are not doing that. They speculate with dating techniques based
on very doubtful assumptions rather than accept the testimony of the only person who was actually there.

See? This has absolutely nothing to do with the post. This is the kind of thing that I simply won’t ignore. It falls squarely into the realm of an internet troll.

Ray, you’re welcome to keep reading and keep commenting where you think appropriate, but I really don’t see eye to eye with you on, well, anything, so if I don’t seem excited to debate your latest silliness, you’ll understand. However, if what you’re really interested in is arguing with everything I say, feel free to get your own blog and argue away. I’ll even link to it from here, and anybody who wants to read it can. Otherwise, play nice, okay?

Control. Alt. Delete.

Posted May 3rd, 2006 at 8:43 am in Site Announcements | 1 Comment

Wow. Hasn’t this been fun. My host had a harddrive crash on the server, which led to a cascade of fun-ness, which caused the site to go belly up since last afternoon. I’m pretty sure the server looked something like this.

my server?

Things seem to be back up and working. I’ll keep my fingers crossed.

Refresh That Broswer

Posted Mar 22nd, 2006 at 2:02 pm in Site Announcements | Comments Off

Since way too many of my visitors use Internet Explorer (sigh…), I spent a little time improving the design to fix bugs I was noticing in that browser. Occasionally weird gaps would show up as you scrolled. I think I’ve greatly improved this situation, but you may need to refresh your browser to replace the old style sheet file that’s saved in your cache. Or better yet, you could think about having a torrid affair with someone far sexier.

If anybody (not just IE users) notice anything funky with the design, just let me know. Thanks.

Running the Latest and Greatest

Posted Feb 22nd, 2006 at 9:15 am in Site Announcements | Comments Off

I just thought I’d briefly mention, I upgraded Ocellated to the new version of WordPress last night. This also involved upgrading some of the plugins (code that extends functionality) that I use.

The only reason I tell you this is because I want to know if you encounter something that doesn’t work. It’s always a possibly with major changes like this.

To My Poor Readers Using Internet Exploder

Posted Jan 18th, 2006 at 8:56 pm in Site Announcements | Comments Off

My wife informed me that she pulled up the site today from a computer at school using Internet Explorer and noticed that the content was down below the menus… I quickly identified the problem: this picture of the greatest arrogance I’ve ever seen (at least when it comes to science) was set inside a quote and too wide for IE.

My wife and I both use Firefox, and thus I hadn’t noticed the problem. It’s fixed now. Please, by all means, if you notice something like this that doesn’t look right, feel free to contact me and let me know.

And to everybody out there who likes surfing the web, you ought to give Firefox a try as your browser. I bet you’ll like it.