Thursday, June 30, 2005

5 Man Submarine

Thirtieth Post: 5 Man Submarine

In the book “The New Adventures of The Mad Scientists’ Club,” by Bertrand R. Brinley, the group tries to purchase a submarine to explore their local lake of Mammoth Falls. This leads the reader to think, “Can I use a submarine to explore my local river or lake?”

It would be great to travel up or down the river secretly below the surface of the water. Difficulties would arise traveling against the current, turning the vessel, and in areas where the water is not deep enough.

Trying to explore the local lake would present its own challenges. The ship would have to avoid what lies on the bottom of the lake such as trees and rocks.

Perhaps the best place for a stealthy, miniature sub is to deliver soldiers to a coast battle such as in WWII. Imagine a ship that you can’t see until it surfaces on shore. It could then eject an armored pod in which the soldiers are positioned within. The pod could hold extra weapons and maybe serve as a battle station with high powered weapons.

There are many possibilities. It is fun to make your own. The idea starts with a simple, interesting story in a book and then transformed to fit a new application. That is exactly why children should be reading books such as “The Mad Scientists’ Club.”

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Trying to Make a Comic Strip

Twenty Ninth Post: Trying to Make a Comic Strip

People read comics every day in the newspaper. The jokes are funny and the cartoon characters are cute. But has that reader ever tried to make a comic (let alone a complete strip) by themselves?

The point is making comics and comic strips is very difficult. Not only does the creator have to know how to draw and draw the same characters in different poses, they must convey a complete message using only so many frames of graphics and text. And then comes the hardest part: it has to make sense and be funny.

How do you start? You start be drawing. Then you come up with a little idea or theme which is going to be the main idea. Take funny things from life or little jokes and create a funny situation for the characters.

I am by no means an expert. I have tried to draw a couple of comic strips. You’ll be surprised how difficult that it is to come up with original and funny characters. How did Scott Adams (Dilbert) and Bill Watterson (Calvin and Hobbes) do it?

I have several little comic book ideas. I need to complete them and post them to my website. I will update the blog accordingly.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Secret Technology Societies

Twenty Eighth Post: Secret Technology Societies

Ever wonder why it took until the mid 1990's for the Internet to be released to the public and used commercially? Just how advanced is America in technology at the current date? There is no way for the average person to tell what technology is currently available. The average person just goes to the store and is satisfied purchasing the latest electrical gadget or computer.

But hasn’t GPS been available for years then finally released to the public? The average person sees the GPS in the store and is amazed at how fast technology has advanced. Other times it seems that technology is far behind. Why is the world so dependent on fossil fuels? Shouldn’t a better method have been invented in the last 50 years?

Often, the average person does not see a need for better technology until they are inconvenienced by a lack of “advanced technology.” Almost everyone has been on a camping trip and was short batteries. The radio would not play and the only light was by a fire. Here one wonders how we ever advanced in technology compared to the days of primitive societies.

The point is how technologically advanced is the world. Has the government saved higher technologies for themselves? Do secret technological societies exist that control when technology is introduced?

These are the questions that should be ask. Even asking these questions for fun. It makes great stories for comics and science fiction tales. What controls technology?

I think it is fun to ask these questions. I have been trying to write a story that deals with these issues. It can be found at:

Monday, June 27, 2005

Artist of the Century

Twenty Seventh Post: Artist of the Century

If a person where asked who was the greatest artist of the 20th century, what would be their answer. It could be Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali, or maybe a pop artist like Warhol. All are distinguished and created some great works. But one artist stands out above all artists.

That artist is one who not only made great paintings and established his own technique, but also taught his techniques to thousands of other people so they could also enjoy art. Even so, Picasso is debated to be the best. But it just isn’t so.

So who is the undisputed, greatest artist of that century? Who is the one who made art easy enough so everyone could enjoy it. The answer simply is Bob Ross.

Of course it is Bob Ross, and not any other artist. It is the way he paints. His paintings look as though he had spent hours on them, when it actually took only minutes. His technique has a low learning curve and emphasizes fun and enjoyment of work.

His critics would state this is why his artwork lacks artistic merit. But this is where they are exactly wrong. Bob Ross teaches a technique the makes it easy to create great pictures, but he emphasizes using the imagination and “creating your own world.” His critics assume that just because and artist of average talent can easily create a masterpiece, that they are cheating. But this statement proves itself wrong. Other then plagiarism, how can you cheat at art? The artist uses Ross’s technique to create a unique picture which they had to decide “how their world would look.”

Ross’s artwork is impressive, but it is not just the final artwork but the manner it was created. Bob Ross would create a sky with a cloud. He made no mistakes only “happy accidents.” These accidents is what makes the technique so fun. Making a mistake does not destroy the work it only makes it a learning process. And sometimes a “happy accident” occurs that makes the work look better by making it look like it was intended.

Bob Moves from the sky to the mountains and then to his favorite part the trees. He will paint one tree, but that isn’t enough because that "tree is lonely and needs a friend." From the trees to the “happy little” bushes. Then the water is painted. Finally it is a “bravery test.” Ross then paints a large tree to complete the scene.

Ross’s videos are great. They can teach an ordinary person to be an artist. The are fun to watch just to see Ross create his little world. This is what makes Ross the greatest artist of the 20th century.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Learning about Art

Twenty Sixth Post: Learning about Art

This essay originates from a question that was ask at an art forum ( The question is if art was a subject that could be taught and if an art student went to a school would they learn anything that they could not teach themselves. The following is my opinion based on my short experience with art and schools. (Note I was not an art major.)

The first point about learning art is the debate of rather it is learned or talent. One can argue that an artist is born with his abilities and only learns techniques. That does not hold to be a true statement. The same statement could be said of anything that is studied or learned. Talent is seen as a person learns to use the knowledge of the subject they are performing.

The second point is a person learning and gaining skill as they learn their trade. An artist will gain skills as they learn their trade. They will receive guidance and techniques from instructors who have encountered the same problems.

Just as a race car driver learns to operate the brakes and steering of the car, an art student learns as their brush hits the canvas. The difference is that the person with the brush doesn’t have to follow a set form. The artist is free to use there creativity and imagination. Imagination is complex and really hard to teach. There are techniques and lessons that can guide it, but the special part is that a person develops there own style. And that is what art is all about. It is not just about creating a great painting. It is about expressing the imagination and the artist using their own unique style.

But the question is whether art can be taught. I believe it can. Don’t confuse the artistic decisions of the brush and the artist making the decision on how the painting is going to look with the artist teaching himself. To some extent people teach themselves to do many things. There are other factors such as learning techniques, an instructors guidance, an introduction to the art media, and a critic of the art.

It is possible to learn a lot at a self study. The artist would still be expressing themselves and get better through practice, but the structure of school and interaction with other artists would be invaluable. Though it is possible to learn art as a self study, it would limit the artist from the vast world of art.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Reading About Einstein

Twenty Fifth Post: Reading About Einstein

I have recently read two chapters of “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Understanding Einstein.” Now I know enough to talk about Einstein as if I were a complete idiot. LOL Only kidding. The book is excellent and reveals many truths about Einstein, his discoveries, and his personality.

The book simplifies theories and is easy to understand, but the reader is still able to learn a lot. But I just don’t want to review the book, I want to ask the question of why it takes so long for students to learn about the true Einstein and his theories.

What I mean is: why in basic physics, only general things about Einstein and relativity are taught. Basically in college you would have to be a physics major to learn anything detailed about him. I know his theories are difficult to understand and complete courses are dedicated to try to begin to understand the implications of relativity and a unified theory of physics, but it would be nice to have a basic course on Einstein even in high school. Some course that would make a more involved study of Einstein easier to understand.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Study of Classic Experiments

Twenty Fourth Post: Study of Classic Experiments

I read about an experiment in the book “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Understanding Einstein.” The experiment was the first to detect nuclear fission. It was performed by two German scientist: Otto Hahn and Fritz Strassman in Berlin. The experiment was based on a experiment previously performed by a group of Italian scientist lead by Enrico Fermi. The difference of the experiment was that the German team found that the fission reaction produced high amounts of energy.1

My interest is not that of who conducted what experiment. Instead, I wish too learn the steps of the experiment and the results. This experiment deals with radioactive elements and fission. Both of which sound dangerous. But what I want is the information on how to conduct many classic experiments throughout history and modern times. Maybe an electrical experiment by Tesla or to read Einstein’s notes. Basically I want a book that is a collection of experiments that explains the details of the experiment and how it was performed.

If there was a book of classic and modern experiments, the student, who is just learning to conduct experiments, could read and see some of the great scientists' methods used to make new discoveries.

I can’t find a book like this on Amazon. If I did some searching, I maybe could find the experiments explained the way I want, but this would require hours of research. What I want is a simple book that explains many of the all time experiments.


1. “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Understanding Einstein,” Moring, Alpha Books, 2000 page 283

Thursday, June 23, 2005

The Messy Computer Room

Twenty Third Post: The Messy Computer Room

It starts with a desk. Then a computer is placed on that desk. The computer and the 700 wires that go with it. Now there is a mess. It is called the computer room mess.

CDs are placed on the floor. Software and books cover the shelves. There are big piles of projects on the floor which have to be stepped over to get to the desk’s chair. But wait, what is this? The chair is covered in software, books, and CDs. So the books are thrown to the floor adding another project pile.

Finally there is a place to sit, but for some reason there is no room to move the mouse and the chair can’t move around the floor. You reach for your software disk on the desk and can’t find it. Where is it in all this mess. It is time to clean.

So cable ties are put on the computer wires and the software is organized in a drawer. The projects are written on a list and moved to a cleared space on the shelf. The books are put on the shelf. The whole project takes a couple of hours, but the room is somewhat cleaner. That is, until the next project.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Promoting a Web Site

Twenty Second Post: Promoting a Web Site

There are many ways to promote a website. The webmaster can use banners or links and advertise on other sites. He could use spam, but that might not lead to the desired result. Most web promotion guides have the webmaster add meta tags and submit to search engines. Some methods cost money and some are free, but there is clearly no easy way to promote a website.

This is where marketing comes in. The webmaster must find his target audience. He must find a way to advertise to them and let him know his website exists. He can post in forums if he is allowed. He can make graphics that will be exchanged over the web that have his URL on. This is no easy task.

Once the web master gets the hits on his site, he must update with new content to keep visitors coming back. He must also get the visitors to look at the entire site. As seen, this too is no easy task.

My website: averages around 1000 visitors a month. That may not sound like a lot but it took me a while to get that many visits. I am continuously looking for free ways to promote my site.

As my former Commander said to a group of us soldiers: “Look at the ways people get there information. Look at the way you get your information. (the newspapers, the radio, the mail, tv, etc.) It is something that you see every day and don’t notice. But those are the methods which people will receive there information.” These words might not be the exact words since it was awhile ago, but the idea is there. Today the Internet adds a new dimension in reaching people and distributing information, and the webmaster must use marketing.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Story Time: Land Navigation

Twenty First Post: Story Time: Land Navigation

One time I was doing land navigation at Camp Dawson with my buddy Layman. We had already found the water point and were moving on to our first point. Layman relied more on land marks and I preferred the compass.

There we were shooting the azimuths and keeping our pace count. We reached an area full of brush. We still figured we had a little more distance to go, but all of the sudden there was a cliff about a hundred feet heigh.

We couldn’t figure out how we had reached the river when it was supposed to be many meters away. We were wasting too much time on our first point, and if we couldn’t find our first point there would be no reference to find the others.

We couldn’t figure it out, so we decided to find a way around the cliff. A short distance to the right of the cliff led us to an area that was flat and grassy. And this is where Layman found out the point was in this grassy flat area. He found it on the map, and when we went to the point, it was directly in front of the cliff. You just couldn’t see it from the cliff.

Layman figured out by the contour of the ground that there was a depression and a flat area between the hills. Although it doesn’t sound that exciting reading it from a page, when you do land navigation yourself, you find yourself on a little adventure.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Local Computer Knowledge

Twentieth Post: Local Computer Knowledge

What if there was a website with all the accessories such as a message board which topic was all about the local computer information in your area. Simply stated, it is a web site about the local computer knowledge.

It could contain selling and trading information, times that local groups gather, computer tips and tricks, advertise local computer businesses, etc. The possibilities are there. A person could meet new friends and get more contacts. It is a chance to share knowledge and find out what kind of computer activities are happening locally.

I tried to start such a group once. I used an MSN forum. MSN deleted my group. (That happens a lot on MSN.) To start such a group it would take a lot of knowledge of message boards and it would require a lot of maintenance. The moderator would have to advertise the site to the local community, but as soon as word spread the site would be popular.

So it is a good idea. Maybe it is an idea that someone can make happen. It is a simple idea, but the main theme is there. It is all about people meeting and sharing ideas.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Making Comic Books

Nineteenth Post: Making Comic Books

Comic books are like science experiments and video games. Once you read or play with one, you want to make your own. With video games it is a simple decision. You play one then decide you want to make your own version. Comics are the same. You read one and see the art and story and then you start doing some drawings.

There are numerous ways to create the comic book. (Note, none that I am an expert with.) There is the original pencil drawings, the inking, and the coloring and printing. But let’s say the comic book is finished, how does someone distribute their comic. This is assuming this is a low budget, amateur attempt to capture some sort of audience.

You basically have three options: photocopy, computer website, or both. Photocopying comics is nothing new. Before the Internet, people use to print out their own comic books and magazines and then sell them for a low price through the mail. There is just something intriguing to see you hard work in print.

The web is another place to put your work. The only trouble is getting your target audience to your site and having them read your comic. If the work is discovered, people will come to the site. One example that I have seen of an online comic is They have excellent art work and have published it to the web.

So it is possible to create and distribute your own comic. It is just a lot of work to get lots of people to see the value of your work. But if you goal is to have fun and experiment how far the comic book can go, it is just a fun and rewarding project.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

How I draw

Eighteenth Post 06-18-05: How I draw

First let me start out be saying that I am not really that good of drawer. I just like to draw though. And sometimes I can turn out a good drawing. Let me share some tips that I have learned along the way.

When you first learn about drawing, you, the artist, draw from life. The artist learns how things look from different positions and how to create the impression that a 2D space (the drawing) appears as 3D.

This is a lot of fun. Someone from the class models and you draw them from how they appear from your seat. You learn anatomy and how the body forms poses.

Once you learn drawing from life the fun begins. It is time to learn drawing from the imagination. Think of a picture in your mind and try to focus on its shapes, contour, and what position it is viewed from. Now make a basic sketch of it while it is still in memory. Keep the sketch basic and concentrate on the basic shape.

Once you have a good vision your mind and a quick sketch. Start to draw the larger drawing. Start by laying out the basic shape and add some shading. Here you can use reference pictures. (All art teachers emphasize reference.) Using the reference, compare your drawing’s shape and view. Note the shading and details. The details are where you need reference because it is difficult to visualize these complex elements. So finish your drawing using reference pictures for comparison.

After I finish my drawings if I am not happy with them, I trace over them with tracing paper. It helps me if I left something out, the perspective is wrong, or my proportions are off. Drawing is all about proportions. If the contour isn’t exact and the proportions are right, the drawing still should look decent. But when the proportions are off the whole drawing is incorrect.

Drawing from life is fun, but there is something intriguing about drawing from the imagination. It doesn’t mean the artist doesn’t use reference. It just means he uses mental images to create something new.

Friday, June 17, 2005

The meaning of HOOAH!

Seventeenth Post 06-17-05: The meaning of HOOAH!

In the Army, they use the word HOOAH! But what does it mean? One sodier’s web site defines HOOAH! as:(who-a) adj. (slang used by soldiers) Referring to or meaning anything and everything except "no".1

I believe that HOOAH! origination a way to describe an awesome and intense event or feeling. And you are not supposed to use it in every sentence. HOOAH!, that, HOOAH!

But if the soldier is one who uses HOOAH! all the time, the word can have multiple meanings. It can mean yes, good, ok, roger, and all the other basic meanings. But I have used HOOAH! to answer a yes or no question that had to be answered, with “hooah!,” and my answer was accepted. Later my Sargent commented on my remark. He said that the question had to answered yes or no and I just replied hooah! and they excepted my answer. He said that he wasn’t even sure what that means.

Some soldiers use HOOAH! in every sentence they use. It is just a catchy phrase. But they must learn to limit the phrase for special occasions.


Thursday, June 16, 2005

Making Emblems or Symbols

Sixteenth Post 06-16-05: Making Emblems or Symbols

Creating a symbol or emblem representing something such as a group of people, business, sports team, etc, is a more difficult task then one might expect from first impressions. The artist must create an emblem putting emotions, thoughts, and actions into a graphic symbol. Creating an emblem that represents and defines the tangible object by using pictures that are intangible.

This may sound like gibberish, but creating a symbol that conveys a meaning that is simple is a difficult task. The symbol has to stand out while not being to difficult to draw or reproduce. The emblem should contain a meaning of some element of what it represents and be unique enough to be remembered.

So where should the artist begin to construct the emblem? First make a list of the name, numbers, things the object being symbolized does, ect and decide which of these are the most important. Then once the list is complete write down what the things on the list make you, the artist, think of or feel. But don’t forget the simple. It is easy to modify text or numbers with simple elements. Another commonly used symbol are animals. Think of your favorite sports team symbols. Think of simple geometry designs such as a well known business.

This is the hard part. You, the artist, must decide which symbols, picture, or elements to use. Look back on what the names made you, the artist, feel or think and try to combine them into one, unified, simple design.

Here is my attempt at a symbol:

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Computers and Art

Fifteenth Post 06-15-05: Computers and Art

Computer art is well known. It is relatively a young art forum and has taken some time to gain acceptance. Still some traditional artist still don’t appreciate the use of computers and art.

But let’s explore what it takes to make art in the graphics shop, and explore what a computer can and cannot do. Computers can combine clip art and photos, but it is the artist job to decide the placement of the photos and other elements. The artist must know how to use the computer, but without artistic placement of the elements the meaning of the final picture is lost.

Then there are times when the proper pictures are not available. Times that the clip art just doesn’t fit the message the picture is trying to convey. This is when the artist must create an original drawing or painting. The computer has programs to create original work, just as if it were a collection of art tools. Also original drawings can be scanned into the computer.

The computer also makes it easier to print the work. Printing is often difficult with art. Sometimes complex art such as enhance photographs can not be printed, because they are too complex. Simpler line art must be used.

When learning computer graphics, basic traditional art is usually taught first. That is because the tools of the computer programs are based on traditional art and traditional art skills are needed to create art. Also the computer adds thing to art that didn’t exist before like computer animation, game design, and 3D art. Each of these is build on traditional art, but adds a new dimension that isn’t possible without a computer.

The computer is just a tool. It enhances art. It also adds another dimension to art, such as 3D and animation. The computer is not about cheating while creating art and does not complete the art work for the artist. It is about using new tools to create art.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Finding a Domain Name

Fourteenth Post 06-14-05: Finding a Domain Name

The Net is so vast that finding a domain name for a website is a hard task. It is just like getting an email address or screen name, the one you want is taken. There are just so many websites, all the common names are taken. You have to be creative to think of a name that is easy to type and easy to remember.

And when you surf the web to see what names are used, you see a lone web page with the name you want and all it has is one page with links. I don’t know of any good method of choosing a web site name, you just have to be inventive.

I chose which was the first website I designed. The name is long and hard to type, but once you learn to type it, it is easy to remember. My second site It is another long address, but the two words are easy to remember. I wanted to maintain the letters c and c for the start of the words.

Even though it is difficult to think of a domain name, using a registered domain name is still easier to remember than a sub-domain listed under another website such as a free web host.

For a third site, I tried the name teknowledgy and it was taken. After 20 tries we finally came up with That is a pretty creative domain name. Try the sites for yourself and see what you think.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Norton Ghost is good

Thirteenth Post 06-13-05: Norton Ghost is good

The motherboard to my laptop recently had to be replaced. But to be sure it was the motherboard, I had to do a complete restore of the hard drive. This means all my files and programs had to be erased. Something that would take weeks to reinstall.

Fortunately, I had recently backed up my complete hard drive with Norton Ghost. The only thing I had to do was install Norton Ghost, hit restore, and follow the restore wizard’s instructions. I had 30 gigabit of information to restore. It only took around 35 minutes. That’s 1 gigabit a minute!

This was the Norton Ghost 2003 edition, and it works fantastically. If you, the reader, has a lot of files, they should be back up on disk or separate disk. And to restore programs and files without taking weeks to install them individually, that is where Norton Ghost should be used.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Macgyver Part 2

Twelfth Post 06-12-05: Macgyver Part 2

If you remember the show "Macgyver" you will understand what I am writing about. A while back I found a site about Macgyver. That’s not the interesting by itself, because there are a lot of sites dedicated to Macgyver.

The thing that makes this site standout is its content. It contains scripts written by fans that were never produced. Unfortunately I have lost the link. But I recall one story that stood out from all the rest.

The story was a crossover between "Macgyver" and "Highlander." Highlander deals with human immortals living on Earth that fight with swords. Well if you remember Macgyver then you remember his arch nemesis Murdock.

Murdock and Macgver always had a battle of wits which always ended in Murdock blowing up or falling off a mountain. But some how Murdock always survived to fight another day. This is where are fan fiction stories come in. In the story Murdock was an immortal like the rest of the Highlanders. So the story explained why Murdock survived and added an interesting element to the "Macgyver" series.

The site also contained scripts with Magyver and his son. It was a great site and I hope I can rediscover the link.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Macgyver’s Soft Spot

Eleventh Post 06-11-05: Macgyver’s Soft Spot

Many remember the 1980's show "Macgyver." Macgyver, the main character utilized the objects from his surrounding to form gadgets to defeat the bad guys. He used a Swiss Army Knife and Duct Tape as tools while making his gadgets.

However, there was one episode that Macgyver was almost defeated by his arch nemesis, Murdock. Murdock realized that Macgyver’s swiss army knife, though capable of many tasks, could not turn bolts.

Luckily Macgyer realized that if he used paper clips and a plastic tie he could make a contraption that would turn with a screw driver. And thus, he saved himself.

This isn’t the end of the episode though. An inventor was watching the show and saw that the swiss army knife couldn’t turn bolts. He knew that Macgyver needed a pair of pliers that could also fit in his pocket. With this idea the Leatherman multi tool pliers were made. lol.

The last 3 paragraphs was just a joke. But you can see that there is some points of interest and was done to show how the Macgyver show sparks the inventive side of the imagination.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Junk Collection

Tenth Post 06-10-05: Junk Collection

Everyone has junk somewhere around the house. It could be in the garage, attic, kitchen drawer, or shed. Where ever it is, there probably is a large pile of it. It stuff that was going to be thrown away, but most have some sort of use.

What do you do with this junk? Do you just throw it out? And the answer is absolutely not. Never throw any of you junk away, because once you have thrown it away you will find an application where you need it.

Why not through the junk away? The answer is simple based on the theory that: all junk has some sort of practical use. You just have to find it. It is like putting together a piece of art. The junk may be nothing by itself, but if you combine it with another piece of junk you have something new and functional. The pieces go together to form a whole which in turn completes the pieces of "a puzzle of the imagination."

Basically you just need to think of a use for you junk. Old outdated computers aren’t junk. They still have a powerful processor which can be removed. Or you can use a multi-meter to tinker with the circuit boards. The processor can be dipped in gold and made into a necklace or you can save the microprocessor and use it on a electronic design.

Motors have many uses and gears are always fun to play with. If you can’t think of a use for your junk, take it apart and tinker with it. You will be surprised on how much you learn about how the think was made and you can apply it towards your own designs.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

MAKE a discovery

Ninth Post 06-09-05: MAKE a discovery

I just discovered the quarterly magazine "MAKE". MAKE is filled with hands on projects ranging from simple to involved projects. I have just skimmed through the book and read a few articles, but I must say that it is quite impressive.

The projects are similar to a college design project. They remind me of the "Popular Mechanics" from the 1960's and earlier, because they have fully explained projects which are on the cutting edge of design. Note that in the earlier 1900's popular mechanics included designs on how to make a flying machine.

The first issue does not tell you how to make an airplane, but it does tell you how to make a kite that has a camera. It also has a five in one network cable, camera stabilizer, magnetic card stripe reader, etc.

So check it out. You can find it where I did at You can still order issue one and issue two is going to have some "Star Wars" in it. So may the Creative Force be with you.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Mathematical Fibs

Eight Post 06-08-05: Mathematical Fibs

My third grade teacher once told us a mathematical fib. She told us that you couldn’t divide a smaller number by a larger number. When I ask her why you couldn’t do it, she replied that "You just can’t divide a smaller number by a larger number." Of course this was a "mathematical fib." When you divide a smaller number by a larger number you just get a number less than one.

In a later grade I learned this. The third grade teacher just didn’t want to confuse us. But maybe there are other things in math class that children can understand better than we thought.

Things like adding left to right instead of right to left. Or learning about proportions when learning fractions. Kids learn the greatest common factor and least common multiple to help them with fractions. But what if at the same time they were introduced with basic number theories. Maybe teach a little basic geometry.

There is many things that kids would understand. And once they are challenged and given interesting math problems, they will excel in math.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Is wifi junk?

Seventh Post 06-07-05: Is wifi junk?

Wifi is supposed to be great. You surf from where ever you want. There are hot spots so that you can surf away from the connection.

But I have had no luck with wifi. I can’t even surf in the next room let alone down the street. They have hackers that track wifi connections. I bet that they couldn’t detect mine. I have the receiver in the same room as the computer and still don’t get a signal of a 100%. So I bought an antenna that has a range of ten miles with direct line of site. It is junk too. I was at a hotel with wifi and it didn’t work either.

I saw in a magazine that one alternative to areas that didn’t have broadband was to place relays along the telephone poles to spread the signal across the town. Sounds like a pretty good idea, but can wifi get the job done?

Monday, June 06, 2005

Old Stories

Sixth Post 06-06-05: Old Stories

Remember those old stories that we used to read as a child. I mean those stories we read when we were young readers. The stories we grew up reading.

Most of those stories are still in print today. I grew up reading "The Box Car Children," and Judy Blume’s books, "Encyclopedia Brown," etc. But the one book that still interests me today is "The Mad Scientists’ Club," by Bertrand R. Brinley.

When I was a kid at the school library, this was the book that was hard to get. And with stories of UFOs, sea monsters, and submarines, it isn’t hard to see why it was one of the more exciting titles to choose from.

The book is written for young adults, but it is suitable for all ages. The stories are well written. They use some science facts and combine it will an adventurous plot to form a story that is exciting and has a hard to predict ending. I highly recommend the series of books. More information can be found at .

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Old Style 3D

Fifth Post 06-05-05: Old Style 3D

All the game systems and computer video games have 3D graphics in some aspect of the game. But when did it start?

3D graphics on the computer are from the mid to early 1990's (I didn’t look up the exact time period). That is when programs such as 3D Studio Max were introduced and games like Quake were made.

But what about the software that was ahead of the times? The most affordable early 3d program was Turbo Cad 3D Version 1. It came out in 1995 and had easy features that allowed the user to produce some good 3D meshes. I bought it packaged with Turbo Cad version 3 for around $100.

Turbo Cad version 3 wasn’t that impressive, but this stand alone 3D program is. It had sample models of a dragon, the original Star Ship Enterprise, etc. It made 3D text and files that could be converted into AutoCad format.

Now IMSI the company that makes Turbo Cad has integrated the 3D program into Turbo Cad. The closest thing that compares to TC 3D Version 1 is IMSI’s DesignCAD 3DMAX.

But I am still interested in the TC 3D Version1. It runs on Win XP even though it was designed for Windows 3.1. It doesn’t rotate the objects in real time, but it still builds the model and gets the job done.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Ultimate Graphics job

Fourth Post 06-04-05: Ultimate Graphics job

When I was in my MOS training (job training) in the Army Reserves, we were learning to make basic graphics both with hand tools and the computer. I was a 25M or "multimedia illustrator." Sounds fancy, but it just means graphic artist.

If you were to ask any of the course instructors what artistic job they would want to do, they would reply special effects for movies. They were all excellent artist and would have made good special effects artist.

But this was back in 1997 when computer graphics (3D effects) were still relatively young. I bet none of my instructors wanted a job in the game industry then (or knew much about them), but today with all the 3D graphics, concept art, animation, and video put into video games it would be a great alternative to the movie industry. And most likely easier to get a job position.

Special effects in movies is a dream position. But if given the alternative of working in the game industry, that is a position I would love to have.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Motherboards Crashing

Third Post 06-03-05: Motherboards Crashing

I own two laptop computers. One a 2.0 MHz Celeron and the other a 3.2 MHz. Both are HP and not moved much. But both have had their motherboard replaced. HP makes some of the best computer, especially laptops, but both had to be repaired. HP had excellent service and fixed them within a weeks time.

And it’s not just HP. A friend’s Dell laptop was recently scrapped due to its motherboard. The problem is these laptops are running to hot. Laptops generally run hot, but it seems a lot of motherboards are crashing.

The thing to note here is to always buy the three year warranty or else you will have a broken laptop to use as a bookend.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Video Games Summer Session

Second Post 06-02-05

Schools are all out for the summer. But what better way to learn than to play video games. Well not just playing them; making them. To make a game requires a knowledge of art, design, math, programming, and most importantly imagination.

Many of the newer game titles have the tools included allowing the user to mod the game. The "Unreal Tournament" series is one. is the place to go for such information.

I’m writing this little note because I am learning the basics of game design. I realize that it takes a skilled team of game creators about 2 years to make a game. But the thing about game design is that it offers ways to be creative no matter what level of skill you have. (If you think about it, there could be courses of various game design elements developed for any grade, 1 through 12.)

I am learning the "Torque" game engine now. I will report back on ease of use and how well it allows you to create games. Now it seems there is a lot of documentation to read and a scripting language to learn.

My goal is to develop a playable game. I have a few ideas, but need more knowledge of programming and 3d modeling. I will update "Constructors Corner" with the things a make and learn. With any luck it will lead to some good designs and thing to tinker with.