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Category Archives: Experiment

serversman logoTurn your iPhone into a web server using ServersMan’s CyberDuck application. Uses 3G or WiFi.

serversman dashboard wifi Caption: CyberDuck here seen serving over a WiFi connection.

Why would you want to set your iPhone up as a web server? Good question. I’ll try to address that in my conclusion. It would seem more useful to be able to edit and administer a web server remotely with your iPhone: The server remains up when you use your iPhone for other tasks. When the iPhone is the web server you’ll need another computer to edit the files on it and you lose the iPhone’s primary functions as a smart phone. But I’ll show you how to do it anyway. Read More »


the-lone-ranger-dvdI recently reduced the number of movies in my NetFlix queue to twenty-one titles, only seven of which are currently released. I did this because I have been waiting on those titles for many weeks, some for months.

The hypothesis is that people with shorter lists might be getting shipments from what little they wanted while folk like me with longer lists, mine was near one hundred, were being made to wait for popular titles — since we have alternative choices from further down in our lists which they ship instead.

If they couldn’t ship me a disc I was expecting Netflix to do one of two things, probably both. Tell me to add more titles to my list and/or put shipments on hold until a title I wanted came into stock. They did neither. Read More »

paperwhitesLast year I confirmed that after a week-long foot bath in fresh water, bulbs grown in a mix of 7:1 water:alcohol (80 proof, 40% by volume) grow to maturity, shorter but stronger, bloom almost as big and are equally long lasting. This overcomes the problem of growing them indoors, in water, where they grow tall and lanky, eventually falling over. That was true for Amaryllis. At the office this year I’m experimenting with paperwhite narcissus — which usually need bracing in their pots, typically shored up with bamboo scaffolding or bound in a broad bow.

Caption: A bowl of paperwhites grown at home: Short and sweet. Read More »

An interesting opportunity presented itself at yesterday’s outing to the Long Island Fall Festival at Hecksher Park, Huntington. The Central Presbyterian Church of Huntington Village handed out sealed half-pint bottles of Poland Spring water with a packet of religious material hung off the neck. A rather savvy inducement to engage, I thought, when other vendors were selling drinks at a profitable premium. Read More »

This is a geek project, to recover a few major parts from a scrap PC to make a clamp on cooler to chill a highly caffeinated beverage. The aim is to take a canned drink at room temperature and cool it in less than 5 minutes to a crisp, refreshing 8 degrees Celsius. Read More »

The amaryllis bulb experiments having come to a successful conclusion at the office, a colleague gifted me a trio of hyacinth bulbs — which are currently sprouting in water, suspended on glass chips. I know this sounds pessimistic, but I’ve grown hyacinth before and never succeeded in raising anything but deformed or stunted flower heads* — all without the benefit of alcohol, not for the plants anyway.

With such low expectations of them blooming well I’ve prepared another experiment to see me through to the summer — freshwater biospheres in old preserving jars.

bioshpere 1 bioshpere 2

The biosphere picture above (one of two I started out with) is four months old at the time of this edit. The project was started in February 2008 and remains sealed. In June 2008 the snails have prevailed, even multiplied, but the ghost shrimp died off within the first two months.

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Suggested reading: Amaryllis on Alcohol Revisited | The Amaryllis Experiment: Part I (introduction) | The Amaryllis Experiment: Part II (the movie)

These footnotes to the amaryllis series provides some additional anecdotal information to round out the experiment …

Amaryllis leaves fall over

Why bother with alcohol? Because amaryllis grown indoors, especially in water, often grow tall and fall over. Here the leaves of the water fed bulb fall down and had to be tied back up. At various times in the time lapse movie seen in an earlier post you’ll notice that the water fed bulb was rearranged to stand upright.

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UPDATE 10/23/2009: I’ll be repeating the experiment with a slightly more diluted alcohol to see how much bigger I can grow the bulbs before they fall over! Watch for updates in November and December of 2009 in a follow up post: Amaryllis on Alcohol: Revisited …

This frame grab pretty much sums up the experiment’s results: The alcohol fed bulb on the left is shorter and has smaller blooms compared with the water fed bulb on the right. Blooms from each bulb lasted equally long.

Comparitive bloom size

Watch the time lapse movie* comparing the growth of an alcohol fed bulb (left) with a water fed bulb (right)…

Read More »

UPDATE 10/23/2009: I’ll be repeating the experiment with a slightly more diluted alcohol to see how much bigger I can grow the bulbs before they fall over! Watch for updates in November and December of 2009 in a follow up post: Amaryllis on Alcohol: Revisited …

I’ve been growing a pair of amaryllis bulbs as an experiment. One bulb has been drinking water, as it aught to. The other has been taking a tipple of vodka.

The hypothesis is that the height of alcohol fed amaryllis bulbs will be shorter — but that the blooms will be of equal size and last as long as water fed bulbs.

I’ll be wrapping up that experiment and posting the results — which includes time lapse video and a growth chart/graph. Links to the research on paperwhite narcissis that prompted me to do this experiment follow below the photographs.

UPDATE: I have a new experiment going in 2009 using lower dilutions of isopropyl alcohol to optimise growth without going leggy on the foliage. Amaryllis on Alcohol: Revisited.

amaryllis alcohol vs water

ABOVE: These are the amaryllis I’m growing at the office which feature in the time lapse movie you’ll see in an upcoming post.

amaryllis in alcohol

ABOVE: This short little fellow was fed a 7:1 water:alcohol mix from day one and remained alarmingly short, so when the flower head was near fully formed, but not opening, we switched back to 100% water and were rewarded with this diminutive display.

The Amaryllis Experiment: Part II (the movie)
The Amaryllis Experiment: Part III (footnotes)

FOLLOW UP: Repeating the water vs alcohol experiment on paperwhite narcissus.

Suggested reading: Amaryllis on Alcohol Revisited | Cornell’s Research Newsletter Using Alcohol to Reduce Growth of Paperwhite Narcissus dated February 2006 | Easy to Grow Bulbs article Pickling your Paperwhites