Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Giant Single Cells

I've been fascinated by something I read a couple of days back. Most cells are microscopic, the largest bacteria is a little under a millimetre in length and the largest amoebozoa (amoeba and similar protists) gets to about 3 millimetres and all is well with the world. These large bacteria and amoebozoa face difficulties with life as giant cells and many of them resort to having a large number of copies of their DNA (In the case of protists multiple nucleoli) in the cell. The giant bacteria can have 100,000 to 200,000 copies of its DNA.

Gromia sphaerica approaches three large cup corals growing on a half-buried sea urchin ( few days back I read about a recent discovery, an even larger protoist named Gromia sphaerica There's a nicer photo of it on the Discovery web site. This is one weird looking beast, and I'd so like to know more about it.

But wait, there's more. It seems that gromia leaves trails as it crosses the sea floor ... trails that are identical to the pre-Cambrian trace fossils which were previously taken as evidence there were multicellular animals before the Cambrian explosion.

I remember being fascinated when I was much younger by the question "what's the largest cell" ... and the answer was "An ostrich egg", which it was, if in a fugacious way. Only now the answer isn't so simple. Sure an ostrich egg is a lot bigger than gromia, but it turns out there are even bigger candidates. Some seaweeds are made up of giant single cells Caulerpa can be up to three metres long, and it's all one cell! Sir Arthur Eddington was right when he said "Not only is the universe stranger than we imagine, it is stranger than we can imagine." and it isn't just the universe, there's enough here at home to baffle and amaze.

Photo credit

Tessa's Graduation

Tessa's school NSIA had its graduation ceremony today and we attended. It's been about 6 weeks since the end of lessons and Tessa's been working as the baker at an Ellerslie cafe (which foolishly doesn't have a web-site) in the meanwhile. She's been really looking forward to the graduation.

We got there about 90 minutes before it was due to start and Tessa had a great time catching up with her classmates. She also showed me around the school and introduced me to several of the staff. Being an adult student, Tessa is more the age group of the staff than the students and with the NSIA's emphasis on foreign students was also only one of three (or possibly 4, I'm not sure about the heritage of the Brazilian student) Caucasians in the graduating class.

Each member of the class was called up in order, by name, except for Tessa. When the presiding tutor called her he said a few extra words about how good and how helpful she had been.

Afterwards the school put on a lunch and there was a chance to say goodbyes.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Submitting sites to reciprocal directories

If you've tried getting your domains listed in reciprocal internet directories, you've probably noticed that it's getting a lot harder to get accepted than it used to be. What's more, it's going to get harder to get into any directory that vets submissions.

I own several directories and I'm getting so badly spammed by directory submission services that I've had to get a lot tougher.

The problems they present me with are that they completely ignore the submission guidelines and they attempt to trick me out of my reciprocal link. They do this by either having a links page that isn't linked to from the rest of the site or sometimes just trying to claim an existing link as their reciprocal ... in one case they had the cheek to claim a link on one of my own sites.

It's the reciprocal links that make my directories worthwhile and if they can't even be bothered supplying that I'm not interested in helping them out.

These spam submissions have increased my workload to the point where I have become quite brutal about deleting them. I used to try and help out submissions that almost made the grade, but now if I don't find exactly what I'm looking for I'm likely to just toss the submission. I know this is harsh, but that's the reality of a very marginal businesses, here just isn't a margin to support any more detailed examination. Occasionally I spot a really good site that almost makes the grade and I'll still email them to try and clear it up, but I'll only email once.

I'm sure other directory owners are finding themselves with much the same problem as I have and you can look for them taking a tough line. Sorry, but it's a matter of survival.

If you want to get your site listed in directories:

  • Read the guidelines ... if your site doesn't fit, move along to the next directory. There's thousands of them out there, you'll just save yourself time.
  • Create the required back-link. Put it on a page that's in your site map. If the directory requires some special condition for the back-link, either follow it or move along. It isn't worth your effort to try a submission that doesn't fit.
  • Describe your site in a real sentence or two. Have a look at the directory you are submitting to, if it's of any value, it will have real sentences, not just strings of keywords. I always slightly reword submissions to avoid duplicate content, but I like to have a sentence to start with. Other directories will simply incorporate your text, as long as it's real English.
  • Give a real email address that you actually monitor. It's possible that the directory owner might try and contact you, if you don't respond to the email your submission is history.
  • Now, and only now, submit.