Harlequin Shrimp on the hunt for Chocolate Chip Starfish

Pictures replaced by post above.

Today, our Gigawidget award goes to a shrimp.  A Harlequin shrimp to be precise.  All 1.25 inches of him.  This specimen has been in the tank for around 5 months, and “handled” 4 other starfish.  Each without too much trouble.  He has molted twice, in this tank.

Pictures below are taken with an IPhone, the quality sucks, as you see.  Maybe it’s better than no picture at all though…? This picture shows an outing the shrimp took on some macro algae.  It is quiet unusual for the shrimp to be out like this during the day.  He may be hungry…

Pictures replaced in post above.

Yesterday, the largest starfish yet was introduced.  He’s about 4.5 inches in diameter.

5 PM Saturday – In this picture, the starfish is walking the glass.  When he was first placed in the tank, he was placed on the glass.  You can place starfish on the glass by holding them against it for a few seconds, until they stick.  He’s moved around the tank, but never left the sides, and mostly stayed at near the top of the tank.


11 PM Saturday – Starfish is hanging around the top of the tank, on the glass.  If he keeps with this plan, he may make it thru the night.  He looks like the world’s largest starfish in this picture.

6 AM Sunday – The Starfish made it thru the night.  Here, you can see the shrimp, standing on the monti-cap, watching the starfish on the glass.  Our Gigawidget would crawl from coral to coral, watching, angling on his attack.  Occasionally, the Harlequin would wave his front claws around and around like a “battle cry”.  In true form, this gigawidget has risen to the occassion, left his normal caverns, and stands in the open on top of the highest vantage point/coral, intently watching his foe.


9 AM Sunday – Halides came on in the tank, and the shrimp went to his cave.  It seems the shrimp does not like the bright lights.

4 PM Sunday – Starfish continues to wonder around the tank sides.

7 AM Tuesday – Notice I said Tuesday.  The chase continued thru Monday and the early hours of Tuesday morning.  Sometime before 7 AM Tuesday morning, the starfish got close enough to the bottom of the tank, or this fan (picture), that the attack was on.  Our Gigawidget went to work on the shrimp and it didn’t take long.  Soon the shrimp pried the starfish from the fan, flipped him to the bottom of the tank, and began the feast.

Google Quality Score – Guidelines for Quality Raters

Guidelines for Quality RatersThis has post is about Google, the unequivocal king of Gigawidgets.  This post is a first for us.  We’re naming the attached document a Gigawidget.  And with good reason.  Keep reading.

While this document has been floating around the net w/ Black Hat SEO groups for several months, only recently has it started to surface commonly on the net.

While the document is really geared for those working to “rate” quality of sites for SE’s, much good information can be gleaned for webmasters and those constructing meaningful websites.

Special attention should be paid to the sections discussing Spam Labels, Malicious content and Vital pages.  Each of these “tags” will dramatically affect the outcome of your overall Quality Score and thus impact your site/content’s ranking on Search Engines.

The document really speaks for itself, so I’ll stop here and wish you luck you research and site content development.


Split Testing Adwords ads – The easy way

If you’ve done ever run and adwords  campaign, then you know what a pain split testing can be!  I’ve spent many an hour reviewing statistics in campaigns, determining well performing ads and setting reminders to come back and check these ads later, after they’ve gotten some traffic.

While surfing the net several weeks ago, I ran across this site.

Basically, theses guys have put together a code set that makes use of Google generated .xml reports, parses the data, then sends out easy to read text reports to your email every day. How cool is that. The split testing reports are sent textually formatted, but also include a link you can click to view the report, split test status and ad history more graphically.

They’ve set-up some basic color bars to visually show split test group performance and status. Green means Winner Ad found for sure, Blue indicates the Split Test is a dead-heat.  All I have to do is write new ads as contest result in dead heats or winners.  Very easy to use and a snap to set-up.  I configured an entire account with over 500 ads in less than 15 minutes!

This split testing tool makes the Gigiawidget status! Good job guys.

Obfuscation in Code – Gigawidget Modules

When it comes to binary code used to hand out instruction sets to other processors or PROM’s, sometimes a special form of obfuscation is implemented to protect the code or technology being dealt with from being reverse engineered.  This type of obfuscation used in code is called Gigawidget modules.  The purpose of these modules is pure.  They’re build to confuse.  Readable program instructions are fed thru a Gigawidget (obfuscation module) and come out the other side broken.  Not broken in the aspect of not working, but broken such that reverse engineering is difficult for a computer to accomplish and likely impossible for a human.

Early design of these Gigawidgets included techniques such as identifier alias formatting, character shifting or even encryption of some kind.    Advanced Gigawidget technology essentially stays several steps ahead of the reverse path and provides multiple “honey pot” trails off each path.  This type of Gigawidget module is most commonly implemented when the investment is large, or the technology is extremely proprietary (usually go hand in hand anyway I guess).

One interesting note on Code Gigawidget Modules with respect to .net.  The platform Microsoft has put together makes tremendous use of meta data inside it’s framework.  Or we humans do I should say.  As this use of Meta Data is essentially required for this framework to be multi-linqual, multi-cultural and multi-billion dollar profit center for Microsoft, they’ve established a large pool of “easy to read” code.  e.g.  weak Gigawidget module.  The result is a fairly easy reverse engineering path to follow.  Well documented with all that meta data.  Perhaps we shouldn’t try to run the DOD on .net after all.

Gigawidget Synonyms

Well, I figured I’d take just a second to list some of the common synonyms for Gigawidget.  Here we go…


Doodad and variants doohickey and doomaflobber

Gismo and Gizmo (either spelling is actually correct)

Thingamabob and the variant Thigamajig

Whatchamacallit and the rarely used Whatchamathingaflobber

As always, Send ‘em if you got’em.



Microcontroller for my Reef Tank and Big Green Egg

With the progressive cost reduction in manufacturing and efficiencies in production, we have options for controlling things around the house that just were not available 10 years ago.  For instance, did your Dad have a MicroLogix 1500 PLC connected to his BBQ grill?  Did your brother have a SLC 500 Programmable Logic Controller connected to his Reef Tank.  Of course not!  If he did, he was ahead of his time.

What’s even better is that today’s breed of PLC can even be found with Ethernet controllers onboard.  Ohh the options!  With a little bit of ladder logic programming, a couple of relays and whahhllaahh, you have control of your gigawidget using your standard Ethernet network in the house (or remote).

Today, thanks to online auctions, old equipment outlets and the like, you can pick up PLC’s for pennies on the dollar.  I’ve seen some of the MicroLogix controllers going for 75-100$ in the last few weeks.  That’s just cheap enough, that I’m going to order a couple and see what can be done.

For those that would rather buy and use, check out these two fully baked products.

First, for complete control of your Reef Tank, the Neptune Systems controller is a well matured product.  Featuring extendable high voltage (110VAC) controllable outlets, a variety of probe connections and all sorts of if/then type logic, the options are literally endless for systems control.  Price ~ $500 with all accouterments.

Second, for complete control of your Big Green Egg BBQ grill, have a look at the Stoker controller module. This beauty comes network ready and has a variety of functions for remote alert and control of your burning Pig, or Cow.  It won’t work with Squirrels btw.  Price ~ $275 loaded.

While both of these products are nicely bundled, and offer most all the functions you could want/need, they are still well outside of price ranges most folks are interested in paying.  For this reason, I feel there is a real opportunity for development of some basic options developed around the GNU protocol.  Hence, my work has begun.  If you have special interest in being a part of this, drop me a line (or 1000) with your ideas or code and let’s see what we can contribute to the public domain of PLC control sets.


Moon Lights on Reef tank

Moon-Lights-for-Reef-TankI want to thank everyone who has sent contributions for the new site.  We will post coverage of your projects in the weeks to come.  Now on to the Moonlights.

As I work most of the day, I’m not around to see me tank w/ the lights on.  I could adjust the times to run later in the day, but due to the fact that the tank sits in proximity of windows, I have chosen to  time the lighting schedule with daylight peering into the room.

With that, I started looking around at MoonLights.  Realizing that, unlike Halides and T5 type fixtures, the LED s for moon lights only required soldier connection and no socket, I was off to Radio Shack for all the parts.  Quick note for those of you who may not know, Radio Shack carries a very small assortment of electrical components in addtion to Cell Phones, TV’s and Direct TV recievers.

My parts list included

25′ – of 18/2 AWG wire (speaker wire) – $2.00

4 – 470nm 27maH 3.7V LED – $12.00

1 – 3.7-12V power supply – $Free

1 – 600 ohm resistor – $1.54

I started out by cutting my wire long enough run the length of the canopy, then added 3′ to each end for side routing and LED placement flexibility.  Next I made 2″ loops at every location I wanted a LED and placed a cable tie to hold the loop.  Next I cut the loops, striped the wire, twisted and tinned each set of wire again (effectively reconnecting the wire I just cut).  Next I trimmed and tinned both ends of the wire for the 4th LED connection at the far end, and the power supply connection.

Connecting the LED’s was made easy as all the wire connections were now tinned and ready.  I first connected the power supply and resistor.  The resistor was placed in-line on the positive side.  The resistor is required to balance the circuit and not overdrive the LED’s.  Now that the circuit is powered, I tested orientation on the LED’s, connecting one leg to each wire to check polarity.  As the LED is a diode, you’ve got to orientate the current correctly (+ to -) or it won’t light.  Once that was confirmed, I noted the orientation visually (you can tell by looking that the LED pins in the center of the bulb), nnplugged the power supply, and connected all the LED’s to the wire with a touch of soldier.  Circuit complete.

The Moon Lights were installed along the inside of the canopy in locations where they would not impede access to the tank or come in contect with water.  Having the flexibility to move them around and/or add more is a nice convenience.  And the total price was about  $15.00.

Now, the tank has a cool blue/white ambience in the evenings.  I’ve added a timer for these lights only, and moved the circulations fans to the Actinic Light timer.  Around 9:00 each evening, the tank lights go out, fans stop and within 45 minutes the moon lights come on  provide the final setting of the day.

Cheap Moonlights for my Reef tank,



A side benefit to the moonlight addition is that I now have the enhanced possibility of  creating a suitable condition in which the corals in my tank can spawn.  Typically, coral spawning occurs in/around March April time period after a full moon.  Eggs and sperm are released by the coral and float about until fertilized and grounded for development into an adult.

As corals contain cryptochromes, proteins which respond to or are sensitive to light, they can in effect see!  It has been documented that these cryptochromes are especially receptive to blue light or light at/near the 470 nano meter wavelength.

Looks like it’s time to get out the PIC programmer and build a little program with relay interface to present variable moon phases to the tank.  I know something like this is currently available with the AC and AC JR controllers, but I think I can put something together for about 1/100th of the cost of those units.  Will keep you posted…


Mini Refugium

Well, more of the tank saga.  Yesterday I completed my mini refugium.  First, for those that don’t know, let me explain what a refugium is supposed to do.  Basically, it’s a separate tank tied to the main display tank that houses macro algae(if you want) and micro-organisms that help break down nitrates and phosphates.

Not having alot of space, and wanting to ease into the whole refugium thing, I’ve taken a fairly simple approach.  BTW, this approach has also been very cheap.  I’m in for 11 dollars total!

Parts list include;

1 Gallon trash can from Dollar Store 1$

1 Breeder box from LFS 6$

1 Carbon Activated Filter pad pack from LFS 5$

7lbs of crushed coral from a friend who bought a 25lb back and didn’t use all of it Free$

First, I took the can and cut it to be 1″ shorter than the walls of my sump bin.  Next, I cut for slots in the corners of the 1 Gallon garbage can which fit to the “floater” ends of the breeder box.  Test fit these slots a couple of times during the cutting to make sure it will sit all the way down in the can.  Next, I took the filter plate that’s supposed to sit vertically in the breeder box and used it as a template for cutting a piece of the carbon activated foam.  Place this piece in the bottom of the breeder box, and place the filter plate on top of the foam.  This provides a porous bottom to the box which the water will flow thru, to enter the 1 Gallon can.  This part is complete now.

Next, I marked the can at 4″.  This will be the top of my sand bed in the can.  Next, I marked the can at my water line, when the can is sitting in the sump bin.  Then I drilled 4 3/8″ holes around the can at 1″ below the sump water line.  These wholes let water out into the sump, from the overflow box drain.

Next, clean the sand well, and place in the can.  Simple enough huh.

Next, install the breeder box on top of the can, and install the can in the sump.  Place the drain pipe into the breeder box and ensure the drain pipe lays in the breeder box w/ at least 1/2″ clearance from the bottom.  Start up return pump and confirm flow and drain.

That’s it!  An 11$ refugium.  Pretty cheap gigawidget!

I don’t have lights on the refugium, so I won’t be growing any macro algae at this time.  I may add them at a later date if I decide I want to spend the money powering them.  We’ll see.

How to use NoIndex, NoFollow and robots.txt with SE’s

Today, The GWI will award Google, Inc. the Gigawidget award. While I’ve been following Google’s development of search engine techniques over the yearI’ve been reading about how to use various meta and robots.txt files in correctly. What I’ve learned is that today, due to abuse and the desire for advanced “results”, these “commands” don’t mean what they used to. I guess that’s a good thing, as surfers demands aren’t what they used to be either.

Update, I had written this post and figured on adding to it, but due to the wealth of info on the net covering this topic, by comments would simply be repetitious.  I will abstain.

OverFlow Gigawidget

Well, as I said in an earlier post, I got a new tank.  It’s a 95G Reef tank, and it came with alot of new components.  One of which is an OverFlow Box.  This little guy sits on the back of the tank, half in and half out.  Basically, it drains water out of the main tank, which is then siphoned into the box on the back side of the tank.  This box then drains underneath into the sump.  What I discovered about the overflow box is that if you pull on the drain tube, it will come loose from the overflow box and drain the tank onto your floor!  How’s that for a gigawidget!  If you’re not into reef tanks, you’re probably not getting the humor here…

More to come