Monthly Archives: February 2010

ExploreTree update

ExploreTree, a processing program I’ve made for displaying and browsing tree data structures, has been rewritten and features have been added. New features include:

  • Two modes of drawing: “slanted” and “radial” (see pics below)
  • Two methods of avoiding overlapping node names: “nudge” and “hide”
  • Dotted lines indicating more of the tree lies beyond an outer node
  • Dynamic tree depth: adjusts depth so that there is never more than N nodes visible

Old features still there are:

  • Search for organism & path highlighting
  • Click to move to a node
  • Forward and backwards movement with arrow keys
  • Font adjustment & tree depth adjustment
  • Right-clicking on a node (or control-click for Macs) opens up the corresponding Wikipedia page

The main version of the tree, a manually created tree I’ve made, is on the main site Here is an image of it as a “slanted” tree with “nudged” nodes, near “rose” (to which the path is highlighted):

The original version of the program had no ability to display branching distances, but the new version does. You can see this when the it’s used to display a tree downloaded from Interactive Tree of Life website. Here is an image of this as a “radial” tree with overlapping nodes “hidden”, within Metazoa (aka. “animals”) and the path highlighted to Homo sapiens (aka. “human”):

In addition to the new features, part of the motivation for this update was that I can envision a lot of adaptations of this program for specific uses. The original version’s code was all entangled, making it extremely difficult to modify. This re-write has attempted to modularize the code a fair amount. At the very least this will make it easier for me to create spin-off programs from it in the future. Maybe a version that can read in “GEDCOM” genealogical data to make family trees — the age of the parent at birth can be used to determine branch lengths!

Internet-empowered self diagnosis

People often note how the internet enables hypochondria, by allowing you to see a multitude of conditions — some exceedingly rare — that happen to match your symptoms. But if you don’t abuse it I think it’s actually quite helpful.

I did a lot of walking today and this evening I noticed my left foot had a sore spot. I described it to Chris (verbatim, this is cut-and-paste from chat): “around my toes, on the left foot like… the joint where the knuckles are on the hand, around my third and fourth toes”.

I kept poking at it, wondering if it was bruised inside, trying to remember if I’d stumbled and banged it earlier in the day. So I tried the net….

It turns out this is an spot-on description of the localization of Morton’s Neuroma — weird scary name, but really a very common foot problem. My case is quite mild, I’ll take it easy and let the irritated nerve & inflammation relax. It can be caused by bad arch support — I’ve been told before that I should use arch-support inserts, so I should get a pair for these shoes.