Friday, March 31, 2006

Spring Yard Work

Three Hundred Fifth Post: Spring Yard Work

This is day two of my spring work. Today I was arranging bricks in the yard. I got a good deal on some castle blocks and stacked then in the yard. But one thing also happened today as it does every spring: It started to rain. I think the forecast has it raining all this week except Sunday. So I’ll have to work around it to get my spring projects done.

One benefit of yard work other than the job it does is exercise. No other way can someone exercise all the different muscles and all while being occupied with completing a task. The exercise is so subtle the worker doesn’t pay as much attention to the effort as they would on a treadmill or other piece of exercise equipment.

It is harder to stay in shape. However, now food manufactures are now producing healthier foods. It is long over due. If someone doesn’t watch what they eat, the choices in most of foods wasn’t health. Exercise was definitely a factor, but what can you do considering most food choices were unhealthy?

I’ll share my exercise routine. I walk on the treadmill ever other day for 20 to 30 minutes averaging 3.1 mph. It may not seem that fast but a steady pace over time really gets the body working. So far that is the extent of my exercise. I sometimes do pushups or lift dumbbells. I am going to add an exercise bike to have more resistance and work different muscle fibers.

I am no expert at exercise, but I used to be in pretty good shape. When you read a magazine like “Men’s Fitness” you see those men who have the cut bodies and are really in shape. Once you read the article, they claim to work out only 20 minutes 3 to 5 times a week. That is true. A little exercise goes a long way. Another way to workout faster is to work the muscle till muscle failure. It is a fast way to finish a workout and really work the body.

But until the rain stops so I can work on my projects... May the Creative Force be with You

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Spring weather is finally here

Three Hundred Fourth Post: Spring weather is finally here

Today was the first complete day of nice weather. Spring is finally here and with it comes spring cleaning. I spent the day cleaning out my shed. I made just enough room in order to fill it up again. I put a great big couch in there. Now you can’t move when you open the doors of the shed. The fun part was getting the couch from my room through the front door. It is the exact same size of the door. So you lift and turn it at the same time. Now my back is a little sore. But if you are interested in buying a couch the price is cheep. LOL Only kidding. The couch is $65. However, shipping is $350.

I use a free service that scans your website and finds broken links. But what if the service were expanded to keep a log and time line of files on your website. This would be useful to show when a file or page was on your site and a small way to have a time line for the Internet. It would be a time line only for a selected web pages, but its usefulness would be proven if the date and time of a file had to be proven. If the service is checking links and scanning website like a spider, collecting that log of the site map would be easy. In fact, this service may already be doing just that. I guess with spring cleaning we do some dusting on our websites and get rid of some “spider-webs.”

Also don’t forget about participation on Constructor’s Corner. It has been a few weeks since I updated it, but I do have some projects in development. I have been busy working on some things. Some of those things relate to the website and others don’t. Right now my room is a wreck, because I had to move everything to get the couch out. Right now the main thing Constructor’s Corner needs is some participation. So until we debate the latest news on the message board... May the Creative Force be with You

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Rule of Four

Three Hundred Third Post: Rule of Four

In the book “Calculus: Concepts and Contexts,” by James Stewart he calls attention to the Rule of Four when looking at math problems. That is why there are 4 electric violins on the cover. It is supposed to represent four ways of looking at the same problem. This is a good text to learn from and pertains to the “Arched Doorway” problem on Constructor’s Corner. You may have noticed that there are now four ways to solve for this problem. (One on

But you may be asking yourself: Yes that’s very nice, but do I really need all four? And the answer is simply: Of course, we need four. Four is greater than one. More power “awl oh” as Tim Allan would say on “Tool Time.” More power yeah! Not just more power more mathematical power! Geek power!

More seriously, if the same problem can be written more than one way, there may be patterns or similarities that can be applied to other problems that are solved using one of the same methods. So if you are using the Pythagorean Theorem to solve for the segment and that segment and radius can also be described using a parabola, you now have an new way of explaining other circles using a parabola. It can be hard to find useful similarities, but their there. (That is what we need to do on the message board or Math Wiki on Constructor’s Corner.)

There has to be a way to relate an linear equation to the “Arched Doorway” problem. I have some hunches, but really haven’t worked on it yet completely. So if you have any hunches feel free to post them on the message board. But until then... May the Creative Force be with You

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Cubes and Puzzles

Three Hundred Second Post: Cubes and Puzzles

Recently new interest has been sparked in the Rubix’s Cube. There have been record setting times in solving it. The solution is on the Net if a person wanted to see how it works. I never looked at the solution. It is just by chance I happen to own a Rubix’s Cube. No I can’t solve it either. But think about it has there been a puzzle game that was as widely communicated and attempted by as many people since the Cube? I know there are puzzles and popular math problems with no solutions, but have any reached as many people? A Rubix’s Cube was complex, but so easy to use even a child could attempt it. Perhaps that is why people are rediscovering it. However the fun of working on an unknown solution is gone.

Maybe the video game Tetris was as big as the Cube. Maybe that is the new medium for puzzles. There have been many great puzzle games. With everyone owning a computer it would only make sense that video games are the proper way to distribute puzzles and thinking games. That is another trend with learning and video games.

So do you have the next idea for a puzzle or puzzle game? It just reiterates that play is a serious activity for learning and creativity. I am not going to look up the solution to the Cube yet. I want to do it the hard way, because that is the way to learn. You know part of the interest in the Cube is not just the pattern of realigning the colors, it is the way the individual cubes are connected and turn. That is also a hunch of something to notice when realigning the colors.

But until we can all solve the Rubix’s Cube in 30 seconds... May the Creative Force be with You

Monday, March 27, 2006

Camilla no I want Camilla

Three Hundred First Post: Camilla no I want Camilla

I was looking to buy a couch or chair for reading and relaxing. I looked at Lay-Z-Boy and found a Camilla style chair that I liked very much. The only problem is that it is to short for me to lay down in. So I decided to try other stores. I did a web search for Camilla. As you may have guessed the search came up with Prince Charles’ wife, Camilla. LoL. **A bunch of Jay Leno jokes here.**

Still it is hard to find a couch that is wide enough to lay across and still conserve space in the room. Who is designing these things anyway? That is questioned when an average man 68 to 72 inches can’t fit in the couch. And you have to find the one you want because they cost so much. Although it is worth it to get it delivered. When I moved my families living room couch with my brother-in-law it must have weighed 400 lbs without the backs. It bowed in the middle also. For some reason they built a long heavy couch which is impossible to lift and they left out a middle support.

Another thing I am looking for over the net is Windows XP profiles. A friend told me a great way to speed up you games and save resources it to have different profiles such as a regular one and one for games. Must be like making a boot disk in the old days. I have to explore this further.

I am also glad Windows Vista was delayed until sometime 2007. XP has proven itself to be a great OS. It is defiantly the best Windows ever. But there is a question of what advantages Vista offers other than a new look, some widgets, and code changes we won’t even see. Also why 2 versions? One being 64 bit and the other 32. If I am going to upgrade all my software I want the latest 64 bit or dual core processor technology to be taken advantage of. However I think if Vista remains 32 bit and the programs still run on XP there will be no hurry to upgrade.

So until Microsoft makes us upgrade... May the Creative Force be with You

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Half Life Headaches

Three Hundredth Post: Half Life Headaches

I installed Half Life 2 just to find you have to be online when completing levels. My game crashes as the second area loads. It may be an issue with the firewall, but making players be online is uncalled for. I was just learning the story and admiring the graphics when it crashes. Another reason for crashing could be my graphics card. It is integrated graphics. I think it is 32 meg card.

This reminds me of when I first started on the computer. Playing a game was impossible. There were settings for music, sound effects, graphics, IRQ settings, and DMA channels. I’m glad we still don’t have to deal with those, but as more and more software and games only allow 2 installs and require to authorize over the Web, there is new issues. That is why when you get your computer running the way you want with all the programs installed your use a program like Norton Ghost to back up your entire hard drive.

One FPS that I have been waiting for is Prey. It is about a Native American heritage guy who takes on a role of a hero although he doesn’t want it. It is a one person game, but it adds elements such as changing gravity (walls become floors), out of body experience, and portals that are rooms of their own. This is just a summary of what I read in PC Gamer. I have been waiting for this game for months.

I’m still tinkering with the math, but not too hard. I’ve got to figure out how to use my new calculator. I also want to study a few sections of linear algebra every day. This is my 300th post. Topics are getting harder. I think I covered every way to try to be more creative. (LoL) I got to be sure that I’m not repeating the same topics. If I hadn’t decided to post every day, I would have lost a lot of great ideas. Often I wouldn’t come up with an idea until I started writing it. It was sort of a writing exercise and a way to add something new to the site each day. I’m not finished yet. If you have any feedback leave it on the message board as always.

But until I reach post 365... May the Creative Force be with You

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Half Life 2

Two Hundred Ninety Ninth Post: Half Life 2

I finally went out and purchased Half Life 2. I just got it installed now. The thing I don’t like is that the game has 1 person play but still makes you be connected to the Internet to play. I guess Valve, the company that produces Half Life, wants to protect their product. But it is just an inconvenience. But the game is supposed to be that good.

I am still tinkering with some extra math hunches. A circle is one of the best forms to but a curve in, but if it couldn’t be put in that form why determine how much the curve differs from the circle. Maybe it will even be called circulus or curvculus (as compared to calculus). Not a very easy thing to do, but once done, it would be one useful tool. I don’t know what kind of work has been done on this, but I bet it is worth exploring.

The message board needs something everyone can discuss. I am thinking of putting some drawings and you could put yours too. My drawings are not very good and often difficult to determine what they are. I thought I would post some drawings and the community could talk about what they are supposed to be. If that doesn’t work I’ll post (or you can post) debate topics.

I didn’t forget about the Wiki. Before it can be made we need some content, some organization, and most importantly participation. That is what the “hunches” part of Constructor’s Corner is all about. It is a sample of what would be contained on the Wiki.

So until we have more participation and a wiki to focus our efforts... May the Creative Force be with You

Friday, March 24, 2006

10% Smarter than the Equipment

Two Hundred Ninety Eighth Post: 10% Smarter than the Equipment

I’m still browsing through the book “Experiments in Modern Physics.” I just don’t see anyone being able to easily set up the experiment with the lack of detail the book has. It does offer a deeper understanding for the subject. Which is something a young student would be looking for. But this book is difficult.

There is also on more obstacle for the amateur scientist. That is there is a lot of equipment that without a properly equipped lab, the amateur would have difficulty obtaining else they are very dedicated and advanced.

In the Army there is a saying and that is when you are using or learning to use a new piece of equipment “you should be 10% smarter than the equipment.” But for an amateur scientist equipment is expensive and requires a lot to work to use and maintain. If the amateur was studying math or even electronics the equipment is readily available. Cutting edge physics requires some complicated devices.

That is why I mainly study mathematics. Not just because I find it fun, but with a few books and a calculator, and maybe but not always necessary, a computer meaningful discoveries and little theories can be made. Electronics and software is another area which equipment is easily obtained. Everyone has a computer and only some cheap, if not free, software is required to program. For electronics a trip to RadioShack will lead to the beginnings of many projects. So for the scientific amateurs, some disciplines are easy to study than other areas. It would be interesting to know how equipment has effected discoveries. It is probably to complex to figure out on a large scale. But is the affect of the amateur has on discoveries as great as it was during the earlier discoveries of the world. Also the amateur is also a learning process. We all start out there. So even if a discovery wasn’t made a foundation to build a career on might be.

So are we still 10% smarter than are equipment? Maintaining and understanding the tools is part of the job, but with equipment and processes so elaborate how can one be sure they are using and reading the equipment correctly. Note that with many experiments the scientist (amateur or professional) may have not designed the experiment. So even the easier, classic experiments it becomes harder to have a total understanding of the experiment. So in some cases it might be that the scientist is watching a specific part of the experiment comparing results, but not knowing enough about the experiment to note other significant variables.

To tell the truth when reading the experiments in the book “Experiments in Modern Physics,” I only have a brief understanding of what is supposed to be measured. If the book didn’t give descriptions of the results, I would have no clue as to what was going on. And I am just reading the experiments. I don’t have the equipment. And if I did have the equipment, I don’t think I would be 10% smarter.

But until physics equipment becomes as standard as electronic equipment... May the Creative Force be with You

Thursday, March 23, 2006

It’s All Relative in Physics

Two Hundred Ninety Seventh Post: It’s All Relative in Physics

I have purchased a book about a year or more ago called “Experiments in Modern Physics” by Melissinos and Napolitano. I read the reviews and it said it was a terrific book for undergraduates. To put it simple, they must mean a physics major because this book is difficult to understand. I know before I bought the book the subject itself can be difficult and in inexperienced student may be overwhelmed.

Now it lets me know how some people who view the math problems on Constructor’s Corner can see the equation and not having a math background may not fully understand the equations. The thing to remember is that this is normal. When learning something new and reading a source from someone who has a great knowledge of the subject, the material may be put into an advanced way. Remember even though the material is difficult, how it is presented also determines how it is going to be understood. Some math books are vague and expect the reader to understand how a problem is simplified. Others are simple explaining every step.

What do you do when you don’t understand. Simple you read the entire section. The more understanding you get the better. If you stop reading you don’t learn anything. Part of the fun of a science is that it can’t be mastered overnight. It adds prestige to the position.

I often imagine how a great scientist an Einstein or Edison would learn and approach a difficult subject. Note that we only know their accomplishments and not how they thought them through. But one advantage they had was they lived at a time where there was not assessments of intelligence or standardize tests. How does this help? Well as I imagine it Einstein or Edison would be intrigued by the though or invention without considerations of not being smart enough or thinking a task was too difficult. And books at the time where more difficult to understand because they weren’t broken down for the average reader. If either had stopped the World would have lost a lot of good knowledge.

I think a lot of education in high school and elementary schools have students take assessment test after assessment test. It is a test of rather the schools are meeting standards. But there is a lot wrong in my humble opinion. First if you want to identify the gifted students, let them use their gifts in the classroom. Secondly you are going to identify the students who tested poorly, but is that necessary if you aren’t going to teach them problem solving techniques that they can understand and still be challenged.

The entire problem in school is that the entire class moves at the same pace. How come in one of the most creative classes such as art, a teacher gives everyone the same instruction and gives a certain amount of time for the students to work then the students go pack to the table and begin working at their own pace? Why do we only do this in art?

Well on Constructor’s Corner I was going to work on video training models in math. I hit one problem though. That is the fact that I can’t teach. Well at least not very well. I played back one of the videos I made and the lecture was there, but my speaking was too hard to follow. I mean comprehension wise, and not difficulty. I am going to keep trying and hopefully cover the fundamentals of the math I post on Constructor’s Corner.

But until the principals realize that every class should be taught like art... May the Creative Force be with You

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Tie Down Ratchet

Two Hundred Ninety Sixth Post: Tie Down Ratchet

I was tying down a dryer yesterday to my truck. I have many tie downs I keep in the backseat, but there was one I had just bought but never used. It has a ratchet buckle to tighten the strap. I set it aside and used the other tie downs. Well I was playing with it this morning without reading the instructions and wound it too many times that it jammed.

How do you fix a ratchet that is jammed? The only way is to completely take it apart. But luckily for me it is the simplest design. It is an amazing design of a turning motion and locking gears. I took out the pin on one side and than the other side. I bent the handle to take it off. All that remains on both sides is a washer, a toothed gear, two bolts that are separated down the middle by the toothed gear, and 2 stops that are spring loaded. Sounds more complicated than it really is but it was easy enough to reassemble after I removed the strap. The only thing that was difficult during the reassembly was bending the handle back so that the locking pin locked each side in.

But the thing to note here is the design. If I had to, I now could reverse engineer the main parts. That is with the exception of the handles. How the handles lock that turn the gear are the main parts of the ratchet. So now it is not just a matter of finding out how to use the tool, but can we find how it works and produce it?

This is a question that is ask by companies reviewing a competitors products, WWII scientist working with German technology, software users, and just about anyone how wants to learn (on a smaller scale of course). So if you acquired some technology from the future, as in many science fiction stories, could you find out how to use it, let alone, reproduce it? This is where all the stuff that makes sci-fi stories interesting factors in. You could study it, but is there any advantage to knowing this information? Should it not be discovered the way it was originally and is its knowledge dangerous? The answers to this question lie in the Star Trek episodes. Well maybe not exact answers, but they present the problem as an idea that is open to thought.

So until you apply your knowledge of Star Trek to what should and should not be reverse engineered... May the Creative Force be with You

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Calculators and Game Boys

Two Hundred Ninety Fifth Post: Calculators and Game Boys

I was debating myself whether to get a Nintendo DS which costs $130 and also get the new Tetris DS which cost another $30. I never liked Tetris as a kid because I never took the time to play it. It wasn’t until I saw the original, black and white Game Boy that I saw it was one of the best games around. It is simple yet effective. It has the best replay value of any game. But is the new game as good as the original? And is it worth spending $160? I still can’t decide. All I know is the game is fun.

The price would also be justified if I start programming games on the Game Boy. There are many sites that show you how to port your code to the Game Boy. But is there a way to program for the DS using a Game Boy Advance Flash memory card? In other words, is the equipment to port to the DS affordable?

I got my calculator today. It is a TI-89 Titanium. There is one problem though. The screen is pixilated and hard to read. There are so many functions I haven’t found out how to adjust the screen. The function I think is the most valuable is the 30 operation memory. How often have you typed something into a calculator that when you were finished the method of your math steps were forgotten? That doesn’t happen to me often because I learned about this pitfall in school, but the memory is still appreciated. I learned the hard way to think through the steps and write them down.

But until they sell Tetris for calculators... May the Creative Force be with You

Monday, March 20, 2006

Vex Robot

Two Hundred Ninety Fourth Post: Vex Robot

Well I finally finished building my Vex robot today. It took me three months. I don’t know why it took so long. I was just busy on other projects. But on the Vex website there is different design contests. The most current one is to have the robot throw a baseball at least 5 feet.

When working with robots things that are assumed about movement are found to be complex movements with robots. The first thought that comes to mind is to build a catapult or some sort of launcher. That would be ideal but in the contest a person is not allowed to touch the baseball and that includes loading the baseball. So right now, the movement of lifting a baseball has become a complex task.

I admit I see no easy way to build a robot that throws a baseball given just the basic robot kit pieces. However, I could be making the simple more complicated than it really is. A bet it has a simple solution and it will be a simple solution that wins.

The Vex robot system is great for young scientist. Of course even us big kids can enjoy it. So until we build the next unmanned, space robot... May the Creative Force be with You

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Manga Studio vs. Flash

Two Hundred Ninety Third Post: Manga Studio vs. Flash

I recently purchased Manga Studio. I really haven’t put it to the test. If I had to choose between it and buying another, slightly more expensive program, I would choose Flash. Photoshop and Paint Shop Pro are were an artist or designer should start. They are essential. But when creating graphics Flash is possibly one of the most complete programs. It combines graphics and animation. It depends on what type of art is being performed.

But consider vector graphics. Vector graphics are scalable, line art. Think about old fashion clip art. If I were going to design a comic book I could use Flash or Manga Studio. Flash is simply the more powerful program. But Manga Studio has its advantages. It is intended primarily for comics. It can add textures, word balloons, and easily format a page and series of pages. So if your passion is to produce comic books (mostly manga), then Manga Studio may be your program. The entry level program starts at $50. But if you can afford it choose Flash. It has animation options. Your pages can be store in different frames for viewing. I have seen coloring in Flash at .

Speaking of drawing, I like the drawings of Popular Mechanics. I recently bought their car care manual and the drawings are good. These drawings are enhanced with computer textures and tones. But nothing compares to the drawings of 30 years ago or more. In my imagination a 100 years ago being an artist would be like being a thinker such as Leonardo Davinci. You would be exploring uncharted ideas. There was no internet and America was mostly farms and factory work. The industrial revolution is on. Planes are new and you are assigned to draw a diagram that explains how to build your own flying machine.

Ok a hundred years later, here we are. The passion of drawing hasn’t changed, but the amount of time to complete the drawing has. We are in a fast pasted world and graphics need to be created just as fast. In graphic design graphics are mass produced. Only in comics, engineering graphics, and how to books do we see the graphics that take hours to draw. But once you see one of these drawings it captures the imagination. A lot of work, patience, and skill has been put into one of these drawings. It’s not an easy thing to do. Sometimes it is nice to shut down the mass production graphic machines and just draw.

So until you develop your drawings for hours... May the Creative Force be with You

Saturday, March 18, 2006


Two Hundred Ninety Second Post: Networking

In the April 11th PC Magazine they convert an older, spare PC into a backup server. Admittedly I haven’t really read the entire article, but they appear to be adding more hard drives to a 1.0 GHz PC. These are great learning steps, but wouldn’t an external hard drive be more appropriate? The article does list an external hard drive as an alternative.

Heck, I can’t get my wireless network to work. Finding a use for that old PC would be nice though. My wireless network doesn’t go to the next room. I still have to get that fixed. However if I were to build a server, I would build a BBS or network over the Internet. Just think if you had an old fashion bulletin board system. You could start a network around the local community. Having a web site is easier and more common, but HTML and other Internet technologies could still be used on the BBS. It is more of a fun project, but but would be good for the community. I would like to see something like that in Make or PC Magazine. Just something to think about.

Another thing on my wish list is a Jay Leno car show. When he retires in 4 years, he be free to host another show. And combining comedy with hands on car experience would be a hit. He already does a Popular Mechanics article.

I have some more math on the way within the next week. I working on some ideas now. Don’t forget to vote on the math journal. We need some more participation.

But until you vote... May the Creative Force be with You

Friday, March 17, 2006

Cast Away

Two Hundred Ninety First Post: Cast Away

I just watched the movie “Cast Away.” It’s a very good movie. I highly recommend it. It would be hard to write a story with one man stranded on an island. But this movie does it and makes it meaningful and interesting. It could be compared to a silent film.

Well the MakeShift 05 entry winners are in. I didn’t win, but I did get honorable mention. The competition was strong this time. The person who one actually had experience of water and irrigation living in Egypt. You can see the entries at:

I watched the reality show “American Inventor” yesterday (03-16-06). The inventions are not really groundbreaking, but there were a few that showed ingenuity. The tech side of the invention isn’t really shown in detail. All you see is a demonstration of the invention. The thing to note is how good and marketable the invention is. A lot of the inventions are junk. However junk or not there is a lot of money and resources it takes to “launch” an invention. These people are selling their houses and spending there savings just trying to get the invention noticed.

This is a trend in any trade. In the March magazine of “Computer Graphics World,” the creator of the 8 minute computer graphic film “Bug Bytes” spent $4500 to create this movie. And getting the word out about the film is also difficult in a sea of films.

So in both inventions and films not to mention other disciplines such as art, the passion must be strong, because of the effort and money that must be devoted to the project. The key words are passion and devotion.

So until you spend $5000 on your next great invention patent... May the Creative Force be with You

Thursday, March 16, 2006


Two Hundred Ninetieth Post: Calculators

I need to buy a better calculator. My old, standard, graphing calculator is 11 years old. I have a $10 one but it is not as user friendly where you can see your work like a graphing calculator. On my Palm I have the PowerOne graphing calculator, but that wouldn’t be permitted on tests. I want to get a new one with features. Texas Instruments has one that sort of has a mini OS. It upgrades the software without buying an entirely new calculator. That with the ability to plug into the computer is what makes it so powerful.

But think back to the days when the calculator was actually in many ways more powerful and useful then a personal computer. It must be the touch sensitive screen that caused PDA’s longer to be developed. That with expense and battery life could be a reason. Think about it. The ideas is there. There is a processor crunching numbers inside a calculator. Why was it so long for the PDA to be invented. Calculators use to have limited memory, but they still could hold kilobytes of memory. That is enough to hold address, numbers, and programs.

Still the calculator, though combined in PDA’s, is built around the same design of only crunching numbers and graphing. Some scientific features have been added but the function has remained the same. I guess the calculator has remained the same because it is a tool for the academic world. A student can’t use a device that could store notes or cheats for a test.

We are lucky in class when we are allowed to use the calculator. In one of my math classes the instructor said a calculator wasn’t required. It is just a conveyance we have gotten use to. I think looking up trigonometric values on a chart would increase the meaning instead of just hitting the sin or cos value on a calculator. But the graphic function allows comparison of data and little hypothesis (hunches) to be tested. Sure the math is still possible without the tools, but the tools add a new dimension.

So until we type cheats into our calculators for the test... May the Creative Force be with You

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Wiki Search

Two Hundred Eighty Ninth Post: Wiki Search

I have continued my search for a Wiki. There are free hosted ones, but there is always the chance of getting deleted. Also, there are free software, the same that powers Wikipedia. I am having trouble with the install. I’ve got the files installed on Uniwakka but it runs too slow. Wikipedia loads fast, so Uniwakka must have some settings conflicting. I am not an experienced programmer and for the features I want, I would not be able to easily customize it. However, I have found a paid host that I think is the best. The only problem is the price.

It would be the same software that powers Wikipedia. I need the hosted, because I am on dial-up and don’t have the option of backing up the Wiki. With everyone creating pages it, it is just fast, more reliable to go with a hosted wiki. However the Wiki costs. I have choosen because of the capabilities and familiar interface of the same software that powers Wikipedia. However at $180 a year it is pricey. So if I attempt this project I must be sure that people will participate.

Here is the list I used when choosing:

There are also other issues such as the credit for what work. Also if we are working as a group what concepts and work on problems should stay within the group until we are ready to publish our work.

Those are advanced topics though. We need to get some ideas and participation first. Those questions will take care of themselves. The more participation and ideas we have the better. Though it could involve into something bigger, the wiki wouldn’t be professional. That is unless the group decided it should be.

However, before I can do this I need to subscribe to the wiki. If you have any name ideas email them to me. But until we solve the next theorem together... May the Creative Force be with You

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Using Calculus

Two Hundred Eighty Eighth Post: Using Calculus

How often during the day do you use higher mathematics such as calculus? Probably not a whole lot unless your job or hobbies require it. That is not saying calculus doesn’t have many uses from accounting to physics, but it isn’t a math like algebra that is used daily. You use algebra without knowing it from the grocery store bill to video games. Video games being programmed with formulas of higher math such as calculus. The banks are figuring their profits and interest with calculus. Mathematicians are working with math functions. And engineers are designing something that needs some “calculated-curves.”

So calculus is there even if it goes unnoticed. If you never studied it, you may think you do not need it. But there is one concept in math: the more useful and easy to use the more valuable it becomes. The more we can discover and simplify new ideas in higher mathematics the closer the math evolves into a useable form that everyone values. So when you find yourself studying math of any kind ask yourself what is the application of this theory and is there any way the fundamental ideas can be simplified.

There is no doubt calculus is difficult, but the basics of it if presented in the right way could be understood by most anyone. The same is true of anything that has to be learned. If the key concepts are put in an organized form it is easier to learn. Recall textbooks you have learned from. They all took a massive amount of information and organized it into a structure that was easier to learn.

In the U.S. we are used to the teacher doing the hard work determining what to study and explaining the basics to use. When studying math in college the majority of work is the student’s to study. Here is a “real word” experience where the key terms aren’t highlighted. It takes some ingenuity, but anyone can learn to think critically. It just takes some practice.

So until you have to think like Macgyver... May the Creative Force be with You

Monday, March 13, 2006

Still more arched doorway

Two Hundred Eighty Seventh Post: Still more arched doorway

I have found another way to estimate or arrive at a value for the arched doorway without knowing the radius. It will be explained in the second page of the mathematical hunches on Constructor’s Corner. I have to type it up and that will take a day or two. But stay posted it works and is definitely worth reading.

I was looking at values of comic books today. I have an Amazing Spiderman 361 which is the first issue Carnage was introduced. It is worth $38 to $75 depending on the grade. I don’t know what the grade is, but it makes it worth more. I am guessing it is the condition.

I don’t collect comics for money anyways. I just read an article in Wizard magazine that back in the old days of comics they didn’t even save most of their original work. Nobody considered the value.

But back to Amazing Spiderman 361, it is were Carnage first appeared. I think that it marks the end of the Spiderman series. Adding another symbiote was not a good idea. Carnage is drawn well, but the way he was implemented didn’t make for good stories. Of course when this issue came out comics were huge. But poor stories and spanning the stories across too many comic books cause readers to lose interest.

There is still a large following for comics. Some like the art and others like the stories. The art is some of the most creative art that covers all aspects. A scene could be drawn in a day that would take months of computer graphics or special effects to create. Comic art is still one of the best ways to tell a story. And some of the plots are classics. The comic books really describe the heros and gave them personalities. The comics have changed for the better. Some allow artist and writer to have rights to the characters. I think that there have been many changes the has helped new characters and a new creative works.

But until you see my comic book collection on sell on E-bay... May the Creative Force be with You

Sunday, March 12, 2006

What to Study

Two Hundred Eighty Sixth Post: What to Study

Well as you have seen in the math problems on Constructor’s Corner, most of the math problems rely only on elementary mathematics. There is a little calculus mixed in as alternate solutions, but the majority of content has used trigonometry or geometry. I believe that there is still many things to be explored in elementary mathematics. After all it is what more advanced mathematics are based on. Some pretty powerful answers can be found in the simplest of math. And things like series and linear algebra have there basis in college algebra.

Only having elementary problems on Constructor’s Corner may change. There will always be content in the basics, but as I move on to study things like linear algebra and dynamics the problems will focus on the things I learn and the questions I have. I have always been puzzled by the related rate, salt tank in calculus. To this day I can’t figure it out. Worse yet is my attempts in dynamics to figure out the instantaneous center of rotation and related rates. The topics are difficult. I do have a lot of work I did on a instantaneous velocity, but a lot of it was just plain wrong.

I have had trouble with these problems back when I was in college. The instructor would lead us through the problem, but I could not master them. I have a text on dynamics that explains the theory well, but has problems which are at a high level of difficulty.

I haven’t stopped learning yet. I am going to master these problems. But first I want to learn linear algebra because of its applications. I really only have dabbled in it, touching the surface. I know some of the basics. One thing that I learn from as a self study is Schaum’s Outlines. They are the cheapest way to get good outlines. It is an easy way to learn. And with new subjects learned, there will be lot’s of mathematical hunches. Hopefully I will have a bunch of new problems for the community of Constructor’s Corner to work on.

So as Constructor’s Corner expand to cover new subjects... May the Creative Force be with You

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Math Questions

Two Hundred Eighty Fifth Post: Math Questions

I have put the start of the Math Hunches on Constructor’s Corner. I know it isn’t a lot yet, but I hope it intrigues your imagination. More is on the way. This is just a simple example how one takes a simple idea or concept and expands upon it to turn it into something meaningful. Often, one feels overwhelmed by the amount of math knowledge available to learn. But it is when you are learning that you ask the best questions. When learning things are ask that aren’t inhibited by pre-learned techniques. It is here when the interest of the subject is at it’s peak. Sometimes the questions may sound like the thinker does not know anything about the subject. However if these ideas are explored, the newbie just may have something other conventional thinkers have missed.

So what do you do? Simple, just keep a notebook handy when you are studying your math. Any odd idea or anything that “sticks out” in your mind and you find interesting write down. Then write a fake formula (you’re probably not going to be able to write a correct formula on the first try) and write down as detailed description as you can. Write things like why you think this is important, how it can possibly be solved, and what use knowing this information will have.

Almost as important as getting the ideas is how they are recorded and organized. You may find it useful to work in chronological order. Date everything. A journal with bound pages is best, but any old notebook will do as long as it is neat, ordered, and maintained. Over time you will see the importance of organization and maintaining a notebook. There is no possible way to remember every tried technique on a math problem. Reading previous entries will remind you of your thoughts at that time and also reading it again will spark new ideas.

That’s the basics on math hunches. But until you have a groundbreaking hunch... May the Creative Force be with You

Friday, March 10, 2006

Black Widow

Two Hundred Eighty Fourth Post: Black Widow

I have seen Black Widow mentioned in comics before, but I never payed any attention to her character and the story behind her. I saw her in the new Ultimate Avengers cartoon and took interest into her character. I researched her a little to find that she is the girl friend of Dare Devil. But the only way to really find out about her is to get a graphic novel on her.

There are some other characters I have interest in such as Joe Kubert’s Tor. I like Tor’s sidekick lizard. I haven’t really seen much of Joe Kubert’s work other than what is in his correspondence courses. Sgt. Rock is another character to watch for.

I have seen Barnes and Noble and looked at their online classes. I was particularly interested in the Gotham Writers workshop. It seems to focus on reading more than writing. Still the Gotham programs still are something to look into.

I have been considering short stories using characters like Black Widow or a fan fiction of Macgyver and his son. But today I am organizing receipts for a friend. But when I take a break I am writing up math notes. I intend to put one on the web so people can see it today, 03-11-06. It is just to get people interested. Some of the stuff works and some of it doesn’t. But here at Constructor’s Corner, “it is all about ideas.” So until I enter more receipts into the spreadsheet... May the Creative Force be with You

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Great Goofs

Two Hundred Eighty Third Post: Great Goofs

Spring means outdoor and shop projects. We took out the scroll saw today. We are starting to think what projects we want to do. But with these home and car projects comes some goofs. “The Family Handy Man” magazine his a section of “Great Goofs.” I sent one in. Here is my entry:

It’s Leaking!

After I had come home from school back when I was in third grade, my dad had been home fixing the toilet. The rubber that held the water pipe that fills the tank had worn out. He was short on cash so he tried to improvise and rig the toilet pipe by using various parts stored in the shed. He had just spent 3 to 4 hours on this improvised solution and was so proud of his work.

Being the couch potato I am, I was in the living room watching cartoons. Meanwhile my mom and dad went outside to turn on the water. While I was sitting there not paying attention, water had shot it bursts out to the bath room from the toilet to the living room window 20 feet away. I did not notice.

Soon my mom and dad came in and yelled because water was in a steady stream now wetting the curtains. There was nothing else to do but go outside and shut of the water again. That and a trip to the hardware store to get the correct seal for the inlet pipe.

My parents weren’t too happy I didn’t notice the water stream. It reminds me of an old Encyclopedia Brown story where the toilet explodes. I always wondered what caused the toilet in the story to explode. Now my dad had figured it out.

This isn’t my dad’s only goof in plumbing. He hates plumbing. I once heard him yell when testing his work: “darn it, it’s leaking”...then fix it and test it again... “gosh darn it, it is leaking again.” This goes on for a couple hours. He hates it when I laugh, but there is always a goof when he does plumbing.

Well until the toilet explodes... May the Creative Force be with You

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Math Journal Update

Two Hundred Eighty Second Post: Math Journal Update

I am still looking for a good Wiki that has active development and is easy to install. I did get templates to work in Dreamweaver. It is easy just click New–Template and click Modify-Apply to the page you want the template. I did not see this in the book I bought on Dreamweaver. I may have skipped that part, but it is crucial to designing web pages.

I am using this template for the math descriptions of problems and my theories. I was looking back at these theories in my handwritten math journal trying to put it into a readable form. Now I know the importance of these journals. I couldn’t remember this much information and some of the ideas though they don’t work took a lot of imagination. This is the first time I approached a math problem with a journal. Usually I just have a mess of notes. However I had a hunch that I was on to something so I made the journal. It is going to take some time to write it up so be patient.

On another note, I am about to become rich. How, you ask? I was reading “The Family Handy Man,” and found out that they pay $100 per every “Great Goofs” story you give them. The story is about home handy work blunders. I’m sure we all have our share, but if the make a good story they can be turned into cash.

So until you earn enough selling you stories to pay a contractor... May the Creative Force be with You

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Tinkering with Ideas

Two Hundred Eighty First Post: Tinkering with Ideas

I’m working on some math problems now. I now they are not always correct. This is going to be more of scratch work than a solved problem. I want you, the reader, to follow and see what may be some good ideas.

Today I was putting up a porch swing. The main leg’s hole threads were stripped. I thought for sure that we would have to repackage the pieces and return them to the store. But instead we went to the hardware. The options were to find a bolt that would stay, but might not fit right or tap a complete new hole. We were sent to the Auto Parts. The guy there came up with the solution to re-thread the hole with a slightly bigger bolt size. We tried it and it worked.

Not an exciting story but it has a point: There is no easy solution to stripped threads or stripped grips. It is common in furniture bought at the store and assembled. If the furniture is taken apart and resembled many times the bolts and the bolt slots wear. It is a hard problem to solve. The manufactures keep the assemble simple. It is not meant to be moved or made to support unbalanced weight.

I don’t have any clue on how to easily solve the problem of a striped thread. However I thing the problem of a striped bolt head or grip can be solved if there is enough space about the bolt for tools.

Stay posted for more. I will be updating the math scratch work first. But until all the furniture is assembled... May the Creative Force be with You

Monday, March 06, 2006

Range of Comics

Two Hundred Eightieth Post: Range of Comics

Well Constructor’s Corner is slow today. The SQL database is down and my host’s servers seem to be slow. I spent the day learning new techniques for the web. I wanted to learn how to make text highlight when the mouse rolls over it. I think this is done in the CSS style, but I couldn’t get it to work. I noticed that Amazon only has the text highlight feature on the main menu. Everywhere else the just use plain, underlined text. Probably has something to do with being on the web for awhile. The change however subtle, would be a major code change. I don’t know how to do it yet, so I’m using simple underlined links.

The new Avenger’s DVD is in stores. It is worth the money. I watched it and took up a new interest in Captain America and the Black Widow. I don’t want to review it for those who haven’t seen it. There is another comic strip I am interested in and that is “Wordless Workshop.” It is a comic that explains how to do things around the house using only pictures. I saw the newest comic in “The Family Handyman,” but I thought it used to be in Popular Science. I do have an idea for it. (You send in your ideas.) It just needs to be developed more and put into graphic format.

When Constructor’s Corner is running better I should have some more math theories up soon. But until tech support fixes all the bugs... May the Creative Force be with You

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Installing Wiki’s

Two Hundred Seventy Ninth Post: Installing Wiki’s

I spent about 3 hours today uploading Uniwakka to the website. Tech support said they fixed the upload error, however there still seems to be some bugs. Installing the wiki wasn’t that hard once I got it uploaded (I’m using dial-up). So now I have Uniwakka installed, but there is just one problem: it is moving too slow! I don’t know whether it is my host servers or something didn’t install correctly. But it is not usable.

My options are to try another wiki or contact my tech support. Uniwikka is no longer supported. But this brings up a question I have had. I often wondered: “what one is expected to know to be a web designer?” I suppose if you can take the given information and put it into a useable site, you have done what was needed. However, there are just so many technologies and programs to learn. Things like formatting and templates, XTML, CSS, PHP, databases, etc. A person could earn a degree just in web design.

I think traditional art meets a lot of technical knowledge. I believe if you knew the art, the computer programs were just a tool or a means to complete the art so much that the graphic artist should concentrate on fundamental art skills than learning tech skills. But with websites the tech side is a skill of its own. A person can know art, but would be limited by the technology if they did not learn the tech side.

It is still relatively easy to create a site. Utilizing the latest techniques is where the tech side comes into play. For me I started simple and still use a basic design for my sites. However when I want to use a different technique or try installing a wiki, it is a learning experience. It takes a lot of reading and tinkering. It is also hard to learn the techniques overnight. But once it is done at posted on the web that is where the hard work is reflected.

But until we all become webmasters and have are own web design business... May the Creative Force be with You

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Spring is Near

Two Hundred Seventy Eighth Post: Spring is Near

Well it is still cold here in Pennsylvania. But spring is on the way. I prefer spring and fall to summer and winter because of the hot humid days of summer and the cold days of winter. It has been a mild winter however. But this is the time when outside work is about to begin.

Unless you had a heated garage or shop, the main thing you did outside was shoveling snow. Spring marks the beginning of getting ready for warm weather and finally getting outdoors. It is the time for outdoor projects. All the magazines are filled with articles from “The Family Handyman” to “Popular Mechanics.”

I have a few projects that I want to share. I am going to attempt building a picnic bench. It is a simple one from a pattern book. I also want to build a track for may train. I have a lot of projects, but I have a few computer projects to finish first. My web host is having technical problems. I can’t upload any new content. However the content that is there can still be viewed. Go figure.

One question with all the projects is: Do you prefer projects after the aid of modern technology such as the Net and software programs, or would you prefer growing up before (or wanting to grow up before) the modern technology? If you grew up before the Internet and video games you probably remember going outside to play and doing stuff like making little cabins, climbing trees, and exploring the woods. You would fix your bicycle and going to the library was fun.

What about the stereotype of today’s youth with the Internet and video games. They have all the information at their disposal but are content to spend hours playing video games. (I myself spent hours a day playing video games as a kid.) Should the kids today be forced to go outside and play.

I grew up in the middle of the technology. As my Drill Sargents would say my generation is the “Nintendo Generation.” I think I would know a lot more computer stuff now if I had been introduced to it at a younger age. However, I would have missed out on other activities and learning experiences.

So what do you think? But until Microsoft finishes taking over the world... May the Creative Force be with You

Friday, March 03, 2006

Creative Assignment

Two Hundred Seventy Seventh Post: Creative Assignment

At the school here I saw the 5th grade class got an assignment to do a math booklet. Just a simple book of folded paper. Each to be written as it was one of those historic findings from the past. Their assignment is to create their own math shape or reinvent a fake history of how a shape was discovered. Then they must find a use for this shape in today’s world.

Sounds like a fun assignment. And it makes you wonder how did those basic shapes ever get invented. They go back beyond recorded history. How long would it take to rediscover them if they hadn’t been learned in elementary school? Some are common sense such as a circle. But if you study a circle you know that it has some powerful and complex formulas. Is it the formula that created the shape or the shape that was discovered that just by coincidence that those formulas exist? After all, we found the formulas to fit the shape. Or did we? I think there is much more to it than that.

Until the mystery is revealed... May the Creative Force be with You

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Math Error

Two Hundred Seventy Sixth Post: Math Error

I know that quite a few visitors have probably seen the “parabola circle key” problem I put on the website 02-15-06. And if you followed a long and know I little bit about math, you may see some errors in how the problem works.

The logic is there. It seems like a creative way to approach the problem and there is much to be left to the thought. However, it still needs some major tweaking. When I start the math journal I will list the steps I took to solve the “arched doorway problem” and the “parabola circle key” problem. I will list the ideas that worked along with those that didn’t. Why? Because math is as much about the idea as it is the result.

The parabola problem has served it purpose even though we are not done with it. It got the visitors to Constructor’s Corner thinking. Presenting a math problem which is new and documented enough that every visitor to Constructor’s Corner can work on it. But we are far from finished. I would like to see as much participation as possible.

I have tried many attempts at a solution to the arch doorway problem until something worked. Originally if I could have solved it while as was taking a trigonometry class at college, I would have got an automatic A. The teacher, himself, was puzzled how to solve the problem not using calculus if no radius was given. I had good hunches back then, but lacked time to solve the problem before the final exam. I choose to study for the exam as opposed to working on a problem that had proven difficult if not impossible by elementary mathematics.

But if there is one thing I learned from that trig class is the art of approaching in depth math problems. Sure we learned all the theories and proofs. But trig is more about the application and discovery. That is why I never gave up on finding a solution. And it will probably led me to many more.

But until we fix the parabola key... May the Creative Force be with You

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Rolling Ruler

Two Hundred Seventy Fifth Post: Rolling Ruler

I was reading select chapters from “Graphics for Engineers” by James H. Earle and on page 422 there is a pictorial drawing of handwheel assembly for an orbit workshop. This thing was meant for space! All I get to see is a small 3" by 2" drawing? This book is pretty good. I like how the book starts describing the design process in the first 5 chapters. You usual start with the basics such as the tools and never get to the fun stuff. However the only drawback of the book is that it is to condensed. Something is explain and is interesting but there isn’t much in depth description.

But speaking of orbital workshop tools, I am reminded of a tool I used to use in math class. It was called the “rolling ruler.” I was a cool math student because I had the best ruler in the class. They were advertised on tv and cost $12 to $20 dollars. I got mine for $1 at Big Lots, a closeout store. The rolling ruler can be found at:

Although it was visually stunning. I did not no how to use it. It was supposed to do everything including drawing circles. I never practiced or read the instruction book and eventually my ruler broke because it was so bulking carrying it from class to class.

I looked it up and Staedtler still makes one for $5. Drawing tools are just like hand tools. You can invent a drawing tool that draws everything, but in the end it usually doesn’t improve upon the basics like a compass. Even if the invention is proven useful, you would have to have a good reason for someone to learn how to use it. Of course that doesn’t mean a pair of vice grips aren’t invented once in a while. Still drawing tools tend to remain simple and intuitive.

So until we figure out how to actually use this rolling ruler... May the Creative Force be with You