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It’s been a month since the last blog post and with good cause, as life decided to shift gears with the forward momentum of engine failure.  Luckily, I have pushed my own car before.

Due to the famous entropy based method known as ‘re-org’, I have been given the new opportunity of re-evaluating future options.  In other words, as I walk down the street with a cardboard box in my hands, I’m hoping to take this chance to improve.  Improve myself, my skill set and try to find a better position (Note: This double entendre has been brought to you by chess).
To give it some depth, it was fourteen years of service and I admit, that I had originally planned around the idea of retiring there.  So, ouch.  However, as someone who has played games on a competitive level, bad blows and ‘BM’ happens.  You clear your mind and look forward for the next challenge.  It is funny though, one doesn’t normally question the wisdom of the kings until you realize, “Hey, wait a second.  This decision is negatively impacting me.  You’re pulling a ‘SURPRISE MUTHERFUCKER”??  Oh SON OF A…”

Now just to be honest, a thousand jokes and barbs did pass through my mind and I pondered about what jokes I would write about in self centered retort; its quite true that comedy comes from tragedy.  However, I think I’ll save those for another time.

As for TED Talks, there is something about them that I should point out.

I love dessert at the end of a nice meal.  A cheesecake, a creme brulee, or even a ice cream run to Dairy Queen.  However, it is something that stands out as unique to the rest of the meal.  It’s a treat.

The Ted Talks aren’t the main course to a person’s day.  They are a dessert.

An eight and a half hour job, on the other hand, is a meal that is missing something that the Ted Talks do provide in sustenance.  Now this is just an opinion and like all opinions, it is subject to change in the future but I admit I had a hard time wanting to watch a TT when there’s so many other things to be done.  (I like to keep myself busy)

So let’s start with a feel good.

 

No comments this time, no attempt to be witty or to play armchair critic and no need to delve into research.  It certainly stands well on its own.

Now that’s something we all want.

Looking for work and share,

ED

 
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Posted by on August 23, 2014 in In General.., TED Talks

 
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This is one of those Talks that bring a smile to my face just by reading the link’s title.  I know immediately that whatever is going to happen, it’ll most likely be something that is outside of the box of typical delivery.  And how it howled.

Now the natural move after hearing poetry is to attempt poetry, so I’m going to digress from writing canine prose.

And is it me, or are these dogs just.. fucking depressing?  If I had a dog, I’d be running towards it in tears and vowing to never let it go again.  Unfortunately, I don’t have a dog so I’m simply left with the contemplation. (And Doge.  Much Wow.)

I’ve met quite a few dogs in my day and they weren’t these stoic beasts of philosophical naval gazing which spend their time contemplating the remorse of mortality.  These dogs were had trouble finding a piece of dropped chicken, especially if you were pointing at it.

Yet wouldn’t that be a thing, if dogs did think on these things?  Why would a dog be so observant of their own innate nature?

If saying hello required sniffing butts, maybe I would be contemplating my death.  Perspective IS everything.

Now its rather peculiar to see poems from the dog’s perspective, as poems are normally written in the vein of observation.  My favorite ‘dog poem’ is written by Dorothy Parker.  (Somewhere lost on the internet I wrote an incredibly long piece on her life and work.  I’m certain I’ve mentioned her last year in one of these EdTalksTed entries but no time to confirm!  On to finding a poem.)

As a quick aside, she wrote many poems about her dogs.  I’m under the impression that Collins may also be a poet whose muse is of the four legged variety.   I’m envious of this.  I’ve seen inspiration walk up and punch an average person in the face and they turn into lost maniac who doesn’t know where to project their energy in a proper manner.  Collins has revealed two poems both entertaining but also endearing enough to contemplate.

Those poor depressed doggies.  Although nowadays I believe there are prescription drugs for dogs who are depressed.

(I’m not sure how this copy/paste is going to turn out but I’m on a schedule this evening)

“To My Dog”

By Dorothy Parker

I often wonder why on earth

You rate yourself so highly;

A shameless parasite, from birth

You’ve lived the life of Reilly.

No claims to fame distinguish you’

Your talents are not many;

You’re constantly unfaithful to

Your better self – if any.

Yet you believe, with faith profound,

The world revolves around you;

May I point out, it staggered ‘round

For centuries without you?

In beauty, you’re convinced you lead,

While others only follow.

You think you look like Wallace Reid,

Or, at the least, Apollo.

The fatal charms with which you’re blest,

You fancy, spell perfection;

The notion, may I not suggest,

Is open to correction?

An alien streak your tail betrays;

Your ears aren’t what they would be;

Your mother was – forgive the phrase –

No better than she should be.

One can but feel your gaiety

Is somewhat over-hearty;

You take it on yourself to be

The life of every party.

In bearing, while no doubt sincere,

You’re frankly too informal.

And mentally, I sometimes fear,

You’re slightly under normal.

The least attention turns your brain,

Repressions slip their tether;

Pray spare your friends the nervous strain

And pull yourself together!

You take no thought for others’ good

In all your daily dealings,

I ask you, as a mother would,

Where are your finer feelings?

I think I’ve seldom run across

A life so far from lawful;

Your manners are a total loss,

Your morals, something awful.

Perhaps you’ll ask, as many do,

What I endure your thrall for?

‘Twas ever thus – it’s such as you

That women always fall for.

 

Wow.  On revisiting this poem it sure sounds like Parker could have used the some drugs of her own.  (Just kidding, she found her own quite easily.)  Her biting wit was also her trademark.

As for the doggie drugs, I wasn’t kidding.

http://www.1800petmeds.com/Fluoxetine-prod10489.html

For more reading, check out:

http://www.billy-collins.com/  (Just to make the comment, it has an old school appeal on this website.  It reminds me of the internet’s younger days)

More Poetry and information on Dorothy Parker can be found on this interesting blogspot: http://ibdorothyparker.blogspot.ca/p/poetry.html

Poetry, someday I will understand you.  For now, I’ll continue to appreciate (and write bad jokes).

Pet your dog and share,

ED

 
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Posted by on July 17, 2014 in Uncategorized

 
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http://www.ted.com/talks/jeremy_kasdin_the_flower_shaped_starshade_that_might_help_us_detect_earth_like_planets

What’s the next big discovery?  For some, it is the belief that humanity will come into open contact with an extraterrestial civilization.

How?  Who knows!  There are many ways our cultures could intersect, from transmissions being caught by SETI (a long shot), intelligent life forms encountering Voyager 1 (really long shot), and alien hunting here on Earth (Uhh.. interpretation of data matters here…).

And soon this:

 

Why Earth-like planets?  Using the assumption that our planet’s characteristics is a good indicator of life (see Humans), its a best guess scenario.

Now I’m all for aliens landing on my doorstep however I should note the impact of this phenomenon covers a pretty wide scope.  From an entertainment perspective aliens arriving means a massive global shift, primarily in the form of massive violence or economic and government infrastructures tumbling into chaos.  Finding aliens means no more money based economy!  New technologies!  Alien Oculus Rift games!  Life as we know it would be forever changed at a core level.

And some alternate takes on aliens are:

In other words, a useless vagabond that might eat your cat.

So on one side of the coin, having contact with aliens means a next leveling of humanity’s understanding of the universe.  The other side is (hopefully) making a new friend you can go on camping trips with.

(And unless that alien landed with a big suitcase of money, chances are it’d have no impact on my day to day.  I’d still go to work, put my pants on one leg at a time and possibly be watching the alien version of TED talks.  Ok, so there’s some impact)

The technology Kasdin refers to in his talk is such a commonly used technology that the use of such an invention is pretty ingenious.  Personally I have lifted a hand to block out the sun plenty of times so my natural reaction was ‘build a football field sized blocker?  Why not just add a little arm with a hand at the end of it that blocks out the sun and gives the finger to other drive by telescopes?

The reason is given in the talk, and I’m guessing that it is due to the amount of light vs the fact you’re in freaking outer space.  That and there MUST be a very functional reason to have the flower petal starshade otherwise we would be aiming to use another planetary object as a blocker.

(Note:  I am also ‘too hopeful’ in that regard, in terms that we could use one of the planets in our solar system / telescope needs to be on a space probe / and a really good space internet signal.  After a quick search, I have learned that this is indeed used today, in a method called Transit Detection.  A problem I did not cover, is while in deep space the probability of an exoplanet being an intermediary requires winning a lottery of sorts)

This talk also is a bit enlightening about telescopes themselves.  I always thought that modern telescopes were taking in details on a massive spectrum (beyond the visible) where requiring a photography trick like open shade angling wasn’t necessary.  I’m just open guessing here so it could very well be the ‘blinding effect’ of so much additional light could be doing that across the entire scale.

Open Shade (effectively how we use this technique with cameras) can be learned more about here: http://photographersconnection.com/just-what-exactly-is-open-shade/

So let’s see what we can find on modern star telescopes, petal shaped shades and what not.

FIrst off, NASA provides some additional information on there site

http://planetquest.jpl.nasa.gov/video/15

To summarize… watch the TED Talk.  (Seriously, he covers all the bases)

On the other hand, I cannot find the specs of the telescope or clear mathematical papers regarding the starshade.

On to crude guesswork!

Kasdin mentions that the starshade is required to be of a certain size down to the exact millimeter, which implies a scaling of some kind is in play.  What I mean is use of a frequency based algorithm, where say, the petal blocker is rotating at a measured rotation and the resulting block on/block off data can be used to generate the pictures. (His pictures, were crude computer generated images and I’d have to venture that this telescope is doing the same).

Of course, like I said, all crude guesswork.  Another option is that due to the spacing of each petal being exact, it pleases Photog the PIctureator and he shall bless the telescope with pretty dot images from around the universe.

In looking up telescopes, I stumbled across Astrophotography.  Aka a hobby enthusiasts night passion that has so many subsections it rivals model trains.  I was familiar with the idea but I have never delved into very much.  There is an overwhelming amount of stuff that this blog is way too narrow to contain.  Long story short, long term exposure pictures of the night sky via technology assisted cameras.

And the camera they put on spaceprobes?  Cheap disposable cameras.  They buy them in bulk on those wedding planner sites. To save bucks.

Ok, not true.  However, the answers are beyond complicated as there are multiple cameras with various purposes.  Looking at the image of famous ‘Pale Blue Dot’, it was taken with Voyager’s narrow-angle camera (1500 mm focal length).

Voyager’s cameras: http://physics.stackexchange.com/questions/25005/cameras-in-voyager-probes

Voyager itself (just generally interesting but a lot of stuff to read): http://voyager.jpl.nasa.gov/news/factsheet.html

History of the Pale Blue Dot: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pale_Blue_Dot

(Just to mention it, I started this around 6pm and now it’s 1am and my eyes have become crossed)

I’m starting to see why Kasdin ended his talk in such an abrupt manner, the details involved are so lengthy that the simple ‘sexy science’ version is much more digestible.

It is a very humbling experience to know that there is so much information out there and all you have to do is look up at night sky to get it.

(Psst aliens, can I get a briefcase of money?)

Get some shade and share,

ED

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on July 2, 2014 in Uncategorized

 
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Brené Brown: The power of vulnerability

Vulnerability is a topic that has become all too common in today’s society.  We are vulnerable to things both within and beyond our control; from economic turns, job instability, technological insecurities and most of all, our own emotional nuances.

We are privy to see the changes of the world around us as it happens but does that make us more or less self aware of our own progress?  Does that make us forget that we can be vulnerable?

Brene Brown says it better than me here:

Now the real meat of the talk is around the nine minute mark but before going into it, I need to admit something.

I was in the mood for red velvet cake and this thing served chocolate brownies.  But what’s wrong with chocolate brownies?

Nothing, nothing at all.  With a glass of milk in hand, I can scarf down a dozen brownies and still be ready for more.  However in this case, I had to watch it a few times before the message properly uploaded into my small brain.  (I’m not even certain if it did or not.)  The reason why I simply wasn’t ‘connecting’ with the talk is simply due to what I believe, is a difference in personality.

The opening sequence of about the incredibly terrible event planner (but.. researchers are cool!) followed by the joke kicker of ‘no such thing’ made parts of my brain go “Lies!  Falsehood!  An introductory story trying to manipulate the viewer!” and suddenly that doubt took over.  As I digested the video, I was trying to extract what was story and what other elements were staged in the manner many speakers often utilize.  Jokes transformed into ‘Audience, laugh now’ cues, and I was left feeling rather unsatisfied at the end.

And if I was just watching this with friends, that might have been the conclusion.  However, I nerded it out and watched it a number of times that might be considered socially unacceptable.

So many questions continued during this time.  How does accepting vulnerability cause a breakdown?  Is “If you cannot measure it, it does not exist” a quotation?  How do I believe “I’m enough”?

The quote is available online, and unfortunately due to the nature of it, it is mentioned by a few sources.  Some people mention this phrase to induce discussions around philosophy, statistical analysis quotes it as a variable, and a company advertises that THEY can measure it, etc etc.  However, the most ‘bookish’ looking quote seems to be this.

“If I spoke to Rodman in those terms, saying that my grandparents’ lives seem to me organic and ours what? hydroponic? he would ask in derision what I meant. Define my terms. How do you measure the organic residue of a man or a generation? This is all metaphor. If you can’t measure it, it doesn’t exist.”
Wallace Stegner, Angle of Repose

As for the breakdown, it reminded me that the trait of needing control, preservation of self perceived social identity/ego and such could very well be more commonplace.  And with that, I am reminded of individuals who DO live for control and how something like this, is outside of the bento box.

In terms of self identity, I’m pretty certain I advertise the negative aspects of being a researcher.  People look at me and naturally and go “Fuck.  Boring and irrelevant, you are.”  <Insert a bunch of angry reactions here.>  In any case, sometimes I can break that barrier and sometimes its only a shrug and moving on.

And this leads to the meat I had mentioned earlier.  Brown explains ‘To stop controlling and predicting’… maybe not in sciences because that’s.. kind of important.  Rather, in the control and predicting of our human interactions.  Stop using NLP or Jedi Mind tricks to get people to clean the bathroom, just be who you are.  A bathroom cleaner.

Er.. I mean, just be who you are.  A person.

Now being a person is not enough, because our reality is one of a shared experience.  So… try to be nice?

Clearly, I have more research to do.

Share a Ted Talk,

ED

 
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Posted by on June 5, 2014 in Uncategorized

 
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TED staff: It’s TED, the Musical

First, a quick aside.

This is my third attempt this week at quickly writing up a EdTalksTed, the prior two were wasted efforts where I passed out on my keyboard.  It’s a dangerous thing, this passing out, for the amount of drool that escapes my lips would be more than enough to cause a serious shortage.

And so I’ve discovered the method for resetting one’s sleeping hours.  It’s called getting SICK. 

Initially it was simply changing my alarm to wake up me up earlier and earlier each morning (trying to force a tired response in the evening) yet that only amounted in getting a new habit of slapping the alarm faster.  That or unplugging my phone and throwing it across the room.  However, after a couple months, and a few days of alternating weather climate and soon I was shivering under the sheets.  

It’d be during these two days of illness did my habit change, from being able to stay up till dawn to the reverse, passing out after my first yawn.  (I could also say the removal of compounding factors such as work, caffeine and being a hermit counts, but let’s count the one big rock only this time.)

As for last week, it was Show Time!  And this time was Alexander Showcase Theater’s production of Edwin Drood.  A musical mystery where the audience picks the killer!  So in essence, it’s a game for the players (actors) where they need to be ready to perform a different ending each night.  A very ambitious endeavor to say the least.

Their video probably says it better.

 

And so I decided after this run, to Exercise my brain and watch a Ted Talk!  (Mental note: If I were to ever do a Ted Talk now, it’d be how I use Ted Talks to exercise my brain)

However, after logging onto the website, I immediately encountered this gem.

TED, The Musical!?!!

Wow, it’s really well done.  And it lists several names worth checking!

It references Ted Talks by: Brené Brown, Ken Robinson, Reggie Watts, Jill Bolte Taylor, Amy Cuddy, Liz Gilbert, Hans Rosling, Bill Gates

And this is my favorite kind of entertainment, the kind that’s “edutainment”.  (Where lessons are forcibly shoved down the throats of the audience. I was addicted to this thing before I could talk, back when I watched the Wonderful Stories of Professor Kitzel in the early hours of the day.

On second pass, wow is this dated.. and.. egads, is this why I’m addicted to TedTalks?

Don’t get sick but share.

ED

(Man, this entry was way more blog than usual.  Sorry folks!)

 
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Posted by on May 14, 2014 in Uncategorized

 
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The Expert

 

(Rumor has it the author of this blog waited a week specifically to post on April 1st, but that’s just personal conjecture.  Don’t ask me, I only press keys on a keyboard.)

WARNING: The language in this entry will contain some swear words as if it was designed by a pirate.  (“Swears like a pirate” is an out of date saying anyways, today it’s more like swears like they’re describing their internet provider.  Or possibly commenting on someone famous.  Think Justin Bieber.  Begin swearing now.)

Clearly, today’s short was meant to be a TED Talk.  Not only is the structure of the concept spot on for regular joes but it uses the appropriate lingo of expertise.  The dialogue placed in it has all the big buzz words, words like ‘expert’, ‘geometry’ and ‘red’.  The only thing missing is an audience and some theme music at the start of it. 

SCIENCE, Fuck ya!

This video, 97.3% of meetings out there, my… life.., all appears to be close parallels of the same story (one caveat mind you, I’m not important enough to be invited to meetings). 

Luckily, the work gets handed down in the familiar gifting tradition started in times of slavery.  The benefit of this pass the work along method is that everyone gets to see the madness of what is known as post planning.  It’s the equivalent of ‘Hey!  Surprise muthafucker, all these people who get paid more than you, are now waiting on you to do the work.  Now Work!  You faceless nerd!”

Ironically, the poor ‘Expert’ in this video is treated better than some actual experts out there.  If you meet an actual expert in the wild, please treat them like all languages are secondary and that they must have some kind of mental handicap in order for them to be where they are today.

Because, SCIENCE!  Fuck ya! 

Just look at the agreeing comments on the video, this video speaks so much truth that you can use it to calibrate all future meetings to be as productive.

What makes everyone so blind to the expert’s confusion?

It’s due to the requirements of their own positions.  Never forget the unspoken privileges of position.  Gossip around in an office is considered a ‘bad’ thing.  Gossiping about people behind their backs, is very bad.  But gossip in a manager’s office, that’s called due diligence of good leadership.

And it is in that perspective, that the bloody red line can be drawn with a blue and green marker.

Of course, if you happen to be in management then all of this is just jokes.  (The video is pure fictional nonsense of course)

For the rest of us, share.

ED

PS> Is it just me is or there an increasingly number of ‘Random Science innovation’ links being passed around with ‘Fuck Ya!’ comments like they’ve discovered some new kind of porn.  When did we become a bunch of horny robot bonobo monkeys that beat off to technology news?  What the fuck man.

Oh and a Happy April Fools day, a day to remind us to not take life too seriously.  Science!

 
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Posted by on April 1, 2014 in Uncategorized

 
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Legos for grownups – Hillel Cooperman

Just came back from an amazing vacation, where I was able to get away, sleep in, eat amazing food and most of all, first hand witness the marvelous evolution of GottaCon in Victoria BC.  (www.gottacon.com

This year it had a major transformation from being a great Canadian gaming convention into one GREAT Canadian gaming convention.  Attendance numbers doubled, enthusiasm was at an all time high and it has received recognition by not only big gaming companies but also, the city itself.  GottaCon is pushing the boundaries of what it means to build community.

(And every time, I am always extremely happy to write something for the con book each year.)

During this week away, I took the time to see Lego: The Movie!  (with Mary, this year’s winner of the Settlers of Catan tournament, a title I will win back next year!)

And therefore, Lego.

There’s not much to say except, WOW, LEGO!!! 

Cooperman brings up two very good points, that Lego is 8-12 and in the same talk, it is embraced by some very serious adults who have placed some very serious time into their hobby.

Isn’t Lego a child’s toy?  Yet, somehow, it isn’t.

And it brings up the evolution of how one’s approach to a topic changes the typical “paradigm” of acceptance.  Anyone who has every sat on the couch with an idea would know, that the world of tomorrow would be a very different place if we opened up to the possibility.

Lego, builds blocky sculptures if you stick with the starter kit.

Art, builds incredibly detailed works of Lego can exist when you move beyond the structured limitations of the starter kit.

Now take for instance, the concept of customer service for products that are wired into the internet 24 hours a day.  The starter kit is the idea of

customer -> something bad -> customer gets frustrated -> customer researches numbers to call -> customer calls in -> customer explains ‘something bad’ to someone -> etc etc

How about if we take out the structured limitations, take away the requirement of calling in?  What if the call was the ‘other way’ around?  However in order to create that kind of feedback loop, the company would need to manage backwards the happy customers as well.  That’s not just customer service anymore, that’s community management.  (Although to keep it realistic, each community they would look after would probably be very small)

Community managers isn’t a new concept, anyone who beta tests a product will usually be ushered into an online forum run by these individuals.  However it is in this constant feedback where not only complaints are addressed but it also fosters the growth of new ideas with the product, where to target improvements and individual voices may rise up to become additional supporting experts.  A problem that affects a large group can be identified and broadcast immediately instead of a clanging of repetition.  (Although in some cases, that is preferred)

It’s a weird stretch to use Lego as a metaphor for building change, but the toy does lend itself to the idea.

Obviously, Lego in becoming Art requires some drastic changes in mindset.  For instance, a particular art build may require 2,500 of the same piece.  For most people, this task would be impossible.  Likewise, evolving customer service agents to become recognized community managers, would also require equally proportionate changes in methods of contact, training and general attitude.

Although it is rare when I personally contact a support line, the usual tone is the moment I’m off the line they are going to be moving as quickly as possible to take the next call.  (And sometimes I reminded of this when I hear that all lines are full answering calls)

I don’t mean to specifically aim at customer service as the new Lego, it was just the first one to come to mind.

This would apply to any product, service or function where there is a divide between identifying oneself as a user versus simply liking it.

“I like Lego.”  vs  “I am a Master Builder of Lego.”

“I like instant noodles” vs “I am a chef of the noodles instante!”

It is that cultivation of mindset that requires the extra, the extra millions of blocks, superior drafting / design technologies and dedication.

It’s worth it.  It’s all Lego.

I also love the movie.

Dream.  Build.  Share.

– ED

 

 
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Posted by on March 10, 2014 in Uncategorized