The Big Think

September 29, 2014

Senna Plans

Filed under: Hobbies — jasony @ 10:11 pm

Screen shot 2014-09-29 at 11.08.26 PM.jpg

September 24, 2014

The Camp Counselor vs. the Intern

Filed under: Business,Education — jasony @ 8:29 pm

The Camp Counselor vs. the Intern:

“But the clinching argument came from my daughter’s impassioned defense of camp counselors, and her outrage that someone glancing at résumés would believe that a 20-year-old who fetches coffee at Google is more impressive than one who spends days and nights nurturing, teaching, organizing, comforting and inspiring…

“What I do there matters.”

September 19, 2014

Haters Beware

Filed under: Computing,Science,Space,Technology — jasony @ 9:17 am

NVIDIA’s new GPU proves moon landing truthers wrong:

“‘It turns out there is a lot of information about the astronomical bodies floating out there in space,’ he explains. ‘Starting with the sun. The sun itself is 128,500 lux — that’s lumens per square meter – but it turns out the moon is a crappy reflector of light.’ Daly discovered that the moon is only 12-percent reflective, and absorbs most of the sunlight hitting it. On the other hand, 12-percent of 128,500 lux is quite a lot. ‘It’s the equivalent to ten 100-watt lightbulbs per square meter of light bouncing off the moon.’ More than enough make Aldrin visible under the lander’s shadow.

While this exercise showed that the moon was reflective enough to highlight Aldrin, something was still wrong. Daly noticed that the astronaut’s side wasn’t lit the same in NVIDIA’s simulation as it was in NASA’s photograph, but he wasn’t sure why. ‘A couple of people really into the moon landing told me, ‘by the way, you should take into account Neil Armstrong and the light coming off of him.’ At first I was like, yeah, whatever — the sun is doing all the work — something the size of a guy in a space suit isn’t going to contribute much light.’ He quickly learned his assumption was wrong: the material on the outside of the astronaut’s suits is 85-percent reflective. ‘Sure enough, we put him in there, adjusted the reflectivity of his suit, put him in the position where the camera would be… and it contributed another 10% or so of light to the side of Buzz Aldrin.'”

Pretty neat pics at the link

September 16, 2014

Druids vs Engineers

Filed under: Technology — jasony @ 9:19 am

Edge.org:

“There are two kinds of fools: one who says this is old and therefore good, and the other who says this is new and therefore better. The argument between the two is as old as humanity itself, but technology’s relentless exponential advance has made the divide deeper and more contentious than ever. My greatest fear is that this divide will frustrate the sensible application of technological innovation in the service of solving humankind’s greatest challenges.

The two camps forming this divide need a name, and ‘Druids’ and ‘Engineers’ will do. Druids argue that we must slow down and reverse the damage and disruption wrought by two centuries of industrialization. ‘Engineers’ advocate the opposite: we can overcome our current problems only with the heroic application of technological innovation. Druids argue for a return to the past, Engineers urge us to flee into the future.

September 12, 2014

Growth Mindset

Filed under: Education — jasony @ 8:24 am

The Learning Myth: Why I’ll Never Tell My Son He’s Smart | Khan Academy:

“My 5-year-­old son has just started reading. Every night, we lie on his bed and he reads a short book to me. Inevitably, he’ll hit a word that he has trouble with: last night the word was ‘gratefully.’ He eventually got it after a fairly painful minute. He then said, ‘Dad, aren’t you glad how I struggled with that word? I think I could feel my brain growing.’ I smiled: my son was now verbalizing the tell­-tale signs of a ‘growth­ mindset.’ But this wasn’t by accident. Recently, I put into practice research I had been reading about for the past few years: I decided to praise my son not when he succeeded at things he was already good at, but when he persevered with things that he found difficult. I stressed to him that by struggling, your brain grows. Between the deep body of research on the field of learning mindsets and this personal experience with my son, I am more convinced than ever that mindsets toward learning could matter more than anything else we teach.

Researchers have known for some time that the brain is like a muscle; that the more you use it, the more it grows. They’ve found that neural connections form and deepen most when we make mistakes doing difficult tasks rather than repeatedly having success with easy ones.

What this means is that our intelligence is not fixed, and the best way that we can grow our intelligence is to embrace tasks where we might struggle and fail.”

Excellent stuff. I’m definitely a believer in praising students for their tenacity, patience, and ability to learn, and not for any sort of innate “smartness” that we may observe. I confess that my autodidactic polymathishness constantly struggles with the frustrating process of getting the old brain matter to learn something new (electronics and programming is really stretching me right now). It’s encouraging to see that effort does bear fruit, even when that fruit is slow-growing.

September 8, 2014

Life Here in the Future

Filed under: Technology — jasony @ 8:12 am

Brain-to-brain ‘telepathic’ communication achieved for first time:

“For the first time, scientists have been able to send a simple mental message from one person to another without any contact between the two, thousands of miles apart in India and France.
Research led by experts at Harvard University shows technology can be used to transmit information from one person’s brain to another’s even, as in this case, if they are thousands of miles away.”

September 5, 2014

Mere Happiness

Filed under: Uncategorized — jasony @ 9:57 am

The Osteen Predicament — Mere Happiness Cannot Bear the Weight of the Gospel:

“Victoria Osteen’s comments fit naturally within the worldview and message she and her husband have carefully cultivated. The divine-human relationship is just turned upside down, and God’s greatest desire is said to be our happiness. But what is happiness? It is a word that cannot bear much weight. As writers from C. S. Lewis to the Apostle Paul have made clear, happiness is no substitute for joy. Happiness, in the smiling version assured in the Age of Osteen, doesn’t last, cannot satisfy, and often is not even real.”

Good article.

Math is Hard

Filed under: Maker,Technology — jasony @ 7:16 am

New 3D printer concept looks amazing, and is a great step forward in the increasing competition/brainspace of 3D printing.

This one basically takes the old idea of a 3D printer, complete with rigid frame, comples drive mechanism, anti-backlash programming, platform levlelling, etc, and gets rid of most of it. Hook two stepper motors together with a platform, stick an extruder on top, and load some (extremely complex) interpolation software and you’ve got yourself a 3D printer. More accurate and reliable than the breakdown-prone MakerBots. This looks to be the next generation in the 3D printer space. Very cool.

September 2, 2014

A Workman Worth His Hire

Filed under: Business,Woodworking — jasony @ 10:06 am

A response to some work that was going to be referred to me.

No offense, and a sincere thanks for thinking of me, but my experience with most people is that they’re not willing to pay hourly rate plus materials that most accomplished woodworkers (with money invested in equipment) need to charge to make a living (hence why I’m not making a living woodworking!).

Most peoples’ expectations of price for custom woodworking comes from the fact that they can go to the furniture store and pick up, say, an entertainment center for around a grand-and-a-half for a decent one. However, “decent” means that it’s cheap particle board with a nice looking laminate on top (which means its value is only skin deep). If they’re lucky it’ll last a decade or until the first major move. But, hey, appearances are what most people go on. 🙂

Meanwhile I spent 9 months and 200 hours building our solid quartersawn red oak entertainment center with ebony inlays and custom stained glass. The materials alone (unfinished, unplaned, pretty much just a hunk of tree) cost me almost twice what a Fry’s entertainment center would cost. And that’s before hardware like hand-hammered brass latches and handles. Several coats of hand-rubbed, custom tinted coloration and shellac, hand cut glass, etc. It’s an heirloom piece that will be around for at least a century or two as long as it’s not mistreated.

When I asked the employee at the woodworking store what he’d consider a good price for the piece (and thinking he might say $4,000-$5000), he responded by saying that something like this would probably go for the mid-teens. As in around $15,000. I’m really proud of that.

So yeah, most people probably don’t want to pay for that sort of workmanship.

I’ve had a few people who understand hand work and heirloom quality contact me and I’ve done pieces for them. They’ve been thrilled. But then again they’re the kind of people who have an “art budget”. 🙂

Renovations and around-the-house kind of stuff is still charged at plumbers rates. In my experience, though, most folks are looking for someone who would be willing to charge minimum wage and also include the materials in that. It’s depressing.

And also the reason that most custom woodworking shops either cater to the wealthy socio-economic market (who understand the value of super high quality) or go out of business. You’ll rarely meet a woodworker competing downmarket who is happy with their situation.

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