Having the opportunity to pick a class slightly outside of my main curriculum, I signed-up for an eight-week pluridisciplinary session on bioinformatics in genetics. I had my first lecture on Friday.

What I’ve learned so far:

  1. This particular area of bioinfo (applying advanced AI algorithms to genetic research) is absolutely fascinating. With its mixing of cutting-edge results in biology, mathematics, physics and AI, it’s tough not being sucked in by the way they all combine into truly sci-fiesque results.
  2. About 3 month away from graduating into a field I have planned to pursue my researches in, I am suddenly starting to wonder about a switch in research paths. Yes: yet another existential academic crisis. Just what I needed now.
  3. During the introductory part on gene decoding patterns, when asked about information entropy in gene sequences, the lecturer: “Oh, it varies a lot between life forms. Viruses, for instance, have an extremely high entropy: lots of genes are coded using both directions of the helix”.
  4. What this means in layman’s term: viruses’ use compression in their genetic code… Yes, your flu virus may come in its own zip archive, just like your e-mail viruses!
  5. “Viruses are amazing things”, she concluded with an earnest look of admiration on her face (maniacal laughter did not follow, however).
  6. Yes, there is something ever so slightly chilling about hearing a respected biotech researcher uttering such phrases.
  7. I think I want to go into bioinformatics.
  8. Viruses are, like, totally cool.

My not-so-great hosting company having unilaterally decided to move the cluster my account resides on. This website, and all other websites on my account, as well as email and everything else, will be out of reach for about 8 hours starting at 10pm PST.

This sucks, unfortunately there isn’t much I can do (not like DH bothered offering any temporary hosting elsewhere: just a very helpful “going down tonight, deal with it” announcement).

Back in 24 hours.

You know those “time-capsules” you buried in your backyard as a kid? The ones you unearthed the following week, upon realizing it was your favourite GI Joe’s action figure you put in that box (and cynical, anti-imperialist, you-of-twenty-years-from-then would probably discard it with a sneer, anyway)…

Well, I got my time-capsule back two weeks ago. Seventy kilos of it, to be exact. It wasn’t buried in my parents garden (I’m pretty sure my mum wouldn’t had let me dig a hole that size), but sitting in a storage facility for the past 15 years, whence I was kindly asked to come pick it up for good, last month.

Half is stuff that I should have binned, long before I even embarked on my current regime of bi-yearly intercontinental moves. The other half, I probably cared for, but decided wouldn’t fit in with the furniture of a decrepit London warehouse. At any rate, I have already started working my way through, slimming it down to a box and half, which, according to current life principles, will also have to go before next Spring (OK, maybe I’ll keep some of the books).

But before I complete my last round of recycling/discarding, I felt I could document some of those memorabilia, if not for their historical value, at least for the sake of providing a few laughs at the expense of the hopelessly dorky 11-year old I was. Yes, I know this might come as a bit of a shock to you, dear reader, but I wasn’t always this shiny beacon of elegance and hipster good-taste that I have matured into over the years. To tell the truth, only one thing comes to mind when contemplating some of the evidence: how the hell didn’t I get beaten up more often as a kid?

Sure, I could just play it cute and show you all those wacky serious adult books I read back then and marvel with mock-disapproval at little young prodigy Dave’s precocious readings (yes, I read all those Nietzsche’s books when I was 12, no I didn’t understand half of it, but it sure pissed the hell out of my grandmother and that was good enough for me)…

But when I say dorky, trust me I mean it. And it is with no secret pride whatsoever that I present you with:

So you have decided to learn Japanese? Perhaps you have even signed up for this year’s JLPT and parted with their robber baron’s fees in some foolish hope that it will motivate you for the month-and-a-half revision time that is left until then (oh wait, that’s me. never mind).

Now, there are many ways you could go about harvesting the Web’s boundless resources to help you in that quest.

You could for example do aerobics while watching awkward multicultural multilingual 80’s lesbian action:

Or you could sign into your Facebook account and add my latest online realization.

Kanji Box will fulfill your most secret kanji fantasies: it does absolutely everything, short of showing up for the test for you (gory details here). To top it all, it will let you compete against your friends: nothing like a bit of competition to get you worked up on the kanji skills (cue uplifting karate training montage).

[for all Facebook-haters out there: I feel you. I am not myself overly smitten with the concept. But I must admit Facebook sucks marginally less than its competitors, and its 3rd party API took most of the drag out of developing Kanji Box’ multi-user features… so do not expect a standalone version too soon, sorry]

Because Big in Japan is so 1995, I am proud to announce that I am now also officially Big in Estonia. Secondary to my being featured in this month’s issue of arvutimaailm, a computer magazine so big in Estonia, it doesn’t even bother putting its content on the internets.

The article is signed by Elver Loho and features, as far as I can tell, some collected ramblings of mine on miscellaneous items of computer security and spam, as well as a scarily huge photograph, that must by now adorn the wall of every single Russian mafia hitman east of the Volga. My command of Estonian being unfortunately very low, I can only assume the article bears no reference to my habit of drinking a bowl of fresh kitten blood every night before sleep. I will try and post the PDF here, but need to make sure it’s ok first (and also get the final version, as I only have a working layout).

Which reminds me there’s been lately a couple articles, newspaper columns and books bearing mention of my name and/or one of my miscellaneous ongoing evil plans. Unfortunately, I have been pretty bad at collecting clippings for my mom’s trophy wall and haven’t really kept count, but I still wanted to recommend Maria Langer’s book, since she was so kind as to send me a personal copy (long, very long ago now… sorry Maria…).