Minors and Certificates
Minor in Music Technology Certificate in Engineering Design
Interests and Hobbies
Video games (Teamfortress 2, Binding of Isaac, Lots and lots of indie games) Rock Climbing Learning how to do stuff
Of the four applications, this was by far my favorite. It could have been the presentation, though. I felt that the presentation was cool because it went from the high level problem, to animations on how it would work and then the
The Mother of All Demos
In "The Mother of All Demos" Douglas C. Engelbart shows off the mouse and cursor for the first time. He also shows off the keyboard and a screen. In the video you can see examples of early version of collapsible windows; He displays a set of paragraphs separated into individual items. They extend off the screen but he desires to see all the items at once. He pushes a couple of buttons and the paragraphs contract into one line items. Using his left hand he pressed a couple of piano key liked buttons that do things like copy/paste, minimize, etc. These would later become function keys. You can also see rudimentary versions of graphical UI such as the cursor. I was most impressed with this. Text based command line computing was very common at the time but the use of a mouse added another level of UI. Just displaying something on the screen that wasn't a standard letter or symbol is impressive. I may not have recognized the importance of the tool if I were there. The examples he shows seem trivial. A shopping list is a cool idea but useless if you cannot print the list onto a piece of paper to take with you to the market. Although, I may have been impressed with the cursor and realized that it made the computer more accessible to normal people.
The Spread of Knowledge
In this talk about the PSU RepRap Project and open-source creation, Professor Richard Doyle talks about how "The Mother of All Demos" was received. People assumed it was a hoax. He draws a parallel between this and the practices of early astronomers. Because people did not understand the work they assumed it was "magic" of some sort. Later, the Royal Society decided that they would make their information available to all in an accessible way in order to avoid this. He also describes a situation where people take ownership of genes. Later, a medical group discovers some cure that uses multiple genes at different times. The group goes to each gene owner an discusses using that gene. They negotiate but it rarely gets resolved. Now, progress has been hurt by ownership. These too arguments provide compelling reasons why intellectual property should be shared. The first one describes a situation where the entire populations knowledge grows. A positive for sharing information. The second example shows one where knowledge growth is stunted by intellectual property. A negative for withhold information. A serious issue with the RepRap project is the dissemination of information in a relate-able way. Abstraction is the term used by Professor Doyle. If you look at the RepRap wiki you will see loads of technical text, part files, and jargon. Look at the main page. The first item is what RepRap is: "RepRap is humanity's first general-purpose self-replicating manufacturing machine." The fog index shows the readability of a piece of writing. An understandable piece has a fog index of around 8. If you are over 13 then it is generally considered "unreadable". As a reference, Hemmingway's fog index is around 2.5, this paragraph is around 10. That first line is 23.20. A good way to better share our knowledge is to distill it. Describe process in such a way that some one who is not a native speaker can understand it. That would be a good start.
The beautiful piece was a hard one for me. It isn't that there are not a lot of beautiful pieces. Math art just bores me and there is a lot of math art on thingiverse. I like this ZigZag Vase by BenitoSanduci because it is a simplistic design. In a real world application, such as a house, it is elegant without being overstated. It is interesting to look at, which is the most important part to me.
These glasses are the most balling thing I have seen in a while, but not because the glasses are particularly awesome. The concept of printable glasses is incredible. Preventable blindness (Poor eyesight that could be corrected with eyeglasses) is a major problem in the world. One of the reasons for this is lack of access to inexpensive eye wear.
I don't know if I really even need to talk about this one. It is a miniature Santa Claus in the style of a lawn ornament. It is a particularly bad lawn ornament at that.
Caddyrack - its a pun. Automatic funny points. This appeals to me. I feel like this could be in three of the five categories: beautiful, funny, and useful.
This thing scares me. It is very creepy. It is like a little boys head but in a really weird expression. and it only got the front of the head so it looks misshapen.
Recently I had a small Casio keyboard. It could only play two notes at once but it had an impressive number of programs available to play. I specifically use the word had because I took it apart and now I don't have it. I see myself as a tinkerer. I may not be a mechanically inclined tinkerer, I don't know how many things I have taken apart or put back together. I generally stick to the programming and electrical work. I learned html on my own and I often go into little "let's learn java" phases. I do enjoy the short feedback loop that tinkering provides, which is, I think, the appeal most people see in it.
Sometimes I don't see myself as a tinkerer because one of my friends puts my tinkering to shame. His name is Miles Frain and a year or two ago he created a device that connects to an etch-a-sketch and allows him to control it with his mouse. He then connected it to his smartphone and now he can use his smart phone to control it. Whenever a loop is created, it takes the area of the loop by integrating about the curve. It was impressive to say the least. He has done other things since and I am jealous of his DIY abilities.
I think the dumb companies try to reel tinkering in but the smart ones know what's up. IDEO, for instance, is built on tinker-time. I watched a shortfilm called the deep dive about IDEO. As part of their design process they spend some time (maybe a week or a day depending on the scale of the job) just messing around and coming up with ideas. Google has built in tinker-time and Valve has a policy that is 100% tinker-time. The company I worked for over the summer encouraged prototypes and small creations as long as it didn't interfere with your responsibilities and has two departments devoted to tinkering. The company I worked for is certainly not a very good example of these "smart" companies that allow tinkering but it just goes to show that a lot of innovative companies are at least including it in their business model. I think the article is fairly pessimistic about what companies are doing. There are definitely a lot of companies that are not thinking straight when it comes to tinkering or modding (in terms of programming).
"...preserving the habitat of the tinkerer is one of the few time-proven ways we as a nation can get back on track." This statement is presented at the end of an article for the salon titled "The Tinkerers: How Corporations Kill Creativity". I agree with this sentiment. This country is about freedom to do what you want to do. Tinkering is incredibly connected to this sentiment. The idea of explore the frontier of electronics and finding what works and what doesn't work is similar to exploring the west and finding oil and gold. Large companies are okay with exploiting the earth and the land for money but not okay with exploiting their things for innovation, self fulfillment and enjoyment.
Charlie Rose interviews David Kelley. David Kelley is the founder of IDEO. In this interview he describes his method of creation through empathy. Try to understand the person using it. When IDEO was first created it wasn't very successful until they hired Jane Fulton Suri, a psychologist. From there they really took off. IDEO is one of the most successful design companies and definitely the most prolific. They got that way by treating people as people, not as malleable consumers. He also takes a deep look at each aspect of the product. At one point he talks about having a discussion with Steve Jobs about a single screw. This commitment to each aspect of the device in question allows him to challenge each decision and truly come up with the best possible solution.
At the end of the video David is working on a Printrbot. I thought it was interesting that he was using a commercial product instead of building one from scratch on his own. Then again, maybe he is, it is hard to tell in the interview.
The RepRap 3D printers are a user device. They are an output device and as a result it needs to serve a human being. If this project is to truly become as widespread as a 2D printer then it needs to be intuitive and user friendly, even to some one who doesn't know anything about 3D printing. Additionally, part of the iterative design method that we use is based on improving previous designs. If we question each part of this design then maybe we can come up with something better.