Category: Technology


Some of my friends and family aren’t really familiar with what I do as a profession. I usually just say that I’m an IT person if someone asks. Occasionally, I’ll say that I’m a telephony manager and what that entails. It’s not that I think they won’t understand; it’s just that I’m not really good at explaining it.

For the past 8 years, I’ve been responsible for our company’s phone systems. From 2000-2005, I worked on an Avaya (formerly Lucent, formerly AT&T, as you can tell by the outdated signage on one of the cabinets) phone switch.

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It was installed in 1995, and uses aging but solid technology. This particular model is an Avaya Definity G3R PBX (Private Branch Exchange). A PBX system is responsible for taking incoming phone calls and routing them to various systems, such as desk phones, voice mail boxes and IVRs (Interactive Voice Response systems, the automated “press 1 for customer service” systems that everyone just loves to use).

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In 2005, our company was purchased by a Utah-based corporation, and they were using a newer technology from Nortel. Avaya has newer technology, too; we just never upgraded. But there was no use in having two different systems, so we upgraded to the newer Nortel system, a Meridian CS1000M:

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Since moving from one huge system to another is never a speedy process, we’ve had both the Avaya and Nortel PBXs up and running since 2005.

A couple of months ago, I finally moved the last bit of data off the Avaya system and shut it down. It was a cathartic moment. After we shut the system down, we moved the two refrigerator-sized cabinets out of our data room:

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and began the arduous process of ripping out the miles of cabling underneath the floor

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Yesterday, we managed to uproot most of the cabling:

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Talk about dirty.


Step 1: Stick your hand in dirt.

Step 2: Take a picture of your hand lying on the ground and holding a business card, and use your favorite image editing software to remove the business card text.

Dirty Business Card Hand

Step 3: Add Halloween party details to the now-blank business card. Adjust perspective of text to match that of the business card.

It's a Halloween party in Europe!

Step 4: Take another picture of your hand with more dirt on it because in the first picture, it wasn’t dirty enough.

More dirt!

Step 5: Use aforementioned image editing software to add the dirt from the second picture to the original picture.

Step 6: Reduce image to greyscale.

Step 7: Add noise to the image to simulate film grain.

Step 8: Lower brightness and increase contrast to taste.

Step 9: Erase thumb with clone tool and add torn flesh and “bone”

Step 10: Add blood splatter and dirt to business card.

Step 11: Finalize party details and simmer for 30 minutes.

Voila!


I first heard about Miracle Fruit a couple of years ago, but haven’t been able to find any here in the US until now.

Thinkgeek.com sells Miracle Fruit tablets, but they’re currently sold out. I managed to get my order while they were still in stock.

Miracle Fruit, is the name given to the fruit of a small West African plant called Synsepalum dulcificum. The fruit itself is red and about the size of a coffee bean. The fruit’s flesh contains an active glycoprotein called “miraculin” that bonds to the taste buds on your tongue and, through currently unknown means, causes bitter and sour foods to taste sweet. This effect has to be experienced to be fully appreciated.

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I received my Miracle Fruit Tablets yesterday, and after dinner, I popped a half-tablet into my mouth and let it dissolve.

The first thing I tried was pure lemon juice — I only drank a small amount, since lemon juice has a high acid content — and it was like drinking lemonade.

Next, I tried a piece of frozen broccoli (mostly thawed). It was like eating fresh garden peas right from the pod.

Mustard, sour cream, cream cheese and vinegar all tasted sweet to some degree.

I’m going to have to experiment more with this stuff. The affect only lasts for about 45 minute to an hour for a half-tablet, which is nice for experimentation purposes; Since the taste of some foods can be negatively altered (so I’ve heard), prolonged affects would be kind of annoying.

In reading articles online about miracle fruit “parties”, I’ve noted various accounts of how different foods’ flavors are changed. I’m skeptical about some claims, incuding how Guiness tastes like chocolate milk, or a hamburger tastes like a doughnut. But I’m willing to experiment — all in the name of science, of course.

It’s an interesting phenomenon, for sure. And if it can make broccoli taste better, I’m sold.