Sunday, April 30, 2006

Contest Starting in May

Three Hundred Thirty Fifth Post: Contest Starting in May

Alright so I don’t have all the details ready, but as of May 1, 2006, I am going to have a contest. Now I probably should put some time into the rules, but I think it is better I just test this and see how it works. Stay posted to Constructor’s Corner for details.

Today I was just farting around. I set up the scroll saw. I changed blades without really paying attention to the blade. The one I put in had pins on both sides. So I spent some time looking at the bottom lock trying to figure out how the pins fit in. I turned the tensions knob and the bottom holder didn’t appear to open. The instructions in the manual were vague and didn’t show a picture of the bottom lock. After a while I kept looking at the top lock and noticed the bottom was the same just upside down. I unscrewed the tension. It opened just enough for the blade to push through. Then all that had to be done was pull the blade up locking the pins in the V- notch. This notch can’t be seen from the top and the bottom view is also blocked.

The point is a simple thing like this can really seem simple once you know the technique, but it can slow you work down. That is why you take your car to get fixed it cost a lot even if it takes 5 minutes. I have heard the story that we are paying for what the person knows not what they did. Changing the scroll saw blade takes less than 30 seconds. That is once you know the proper technique. Remember that someone has had to think through this technique just as you had to learn it. They did all that hard work when the machine was being designed. So doing something simple is tied into invention. The goal is to think like the designer.

Well until you enter my contest... May the Creative Force be with You

Saturday, April 29, 2006

16 Tons

Three Hundred Thirty Fourth Post: 16 Tons

Well we finished moving the rest of the dirt today. We were working at a rate of 1 ton per hour. Spring is the time for these projects. I just got room in my shed today. I am going to get the scroll saw working.

I have thought about a contest on Constructor’s Corner for a while. I wanted it to be something simple but meaningful. I haven’t abandoned my idea, but contests take a lot of effort and planning.

As you can tell, I’ve been busy all day and don’t have much to Blog about. But until then... May the Creative Force be with You

Friday, April 28, 2006

A Mole Hill

Three Hundred Thirty Third Post: A Mole Hill

In the book “Business and Legal Forms for Graphic Designer,” a method of calculating cost is shown. Basically the cost to run the business for the month is divided into the number of working hours. That gives the amount of money charged to break even. That is then multiplied by the percent of profit, usually 20% (0.20) to get the amount to bill the customer. It sounds complicated then it really is. The hard part is that every job is different and pay might not be steady. Another thing to note is that when the costs to make the product and profit are figured in the price charged becomes high. In the books example they took $7000 to run the business and divided that by 160 working hours per month. The minimum hourly rate is $43.75. After 20% profit it became $52.50. That seems like a lot of money. That artist must produce good work. But if you are working from your home computer some of the costs would be lessened.

Well after putting in a French drain last week. We decided we need to get some topsoil and fill in spots around the house. We also planted some grass seed. I had 10 ton of dirt delivered. The hard part was spreading the dirt from one huge pile to the areas around the house that needed it. Note that we were using shovels and a wheel barrel. We moved over half in one day. However I think I ordered too much dirt. I guess you can say a made a mountain out of a mole hill. Having the dirt delivered was nice, but I did not take into consideration the effort required to move and spread it. On the bright side it was easy to shovel and is quality soil.

Tomorrow’s project is finish moving the soil. But until then... May the Creative Force be with You

Thursday, April 27, 2006

The Heat is On

Three Hundred Thirty Second Post: The Heat is On

Let me start by saying that I think that HP makes the best notebooks and desktop computers there are. However on notebooks the processors are large and I have had mine 2 laptops repaired 3 times for heat. However sometimes it is a software problem or conflict that causes the computer to reboot. I have heard that dell is better. But I would never buy a Dell especially after they got rid of the commercial with the guy who says, “Dude... Your getting a Dell.” (LOL) The other notebooks are meant for battery life and to be light weight. They don’t have nearly enough power that the HP would have.

As for Dell a friend gave me a notebook they had that just stopped working. I took it apart to fix it. (Yah right) Maybe I took it apart just to have fun. I thought if I took out the battery and reset the Bios on the motherboard it may just work. The thing was difficult to get a part. Now it really doesn’t go pack together. No luck fixing it, though.

Well I am just browsing through rules of practice and forms for graphic artist. I know in the last 10 years computers have turned everyone into a graphic artist. However, there still may be a need that is unseen or overlooked. I think I have some new ideas to add. But you’ve got to know how to implement those ideas. That’s were the research comes in.

So until I know basic business laws... May the Creative Force be with You

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Steeler’s Songs

Three Hundred Thirty First Post: Steeler’s Songs

I am downloading all the Steeler’s songs. A little late, but the site was so busy during the season that the downloads were shut down. It would be hard to write, but a good Steelers song would get your band noticed in Pittsburgh.

I cancelled the website . However should still own the domain name. I haven’t found an easy way to transfer the domain. It is something I am researching right now. It seems that it is easy to register your domain with a web host, but registering the domain yourself is difficult.

Does anyone here know what advantages and which one is better between Windows and Unix based server? I prefer the Unix because it has proven to be reliable and there are just so many free open source programs that are designed for it. But I’m sure that Windows servers have many advantages of their own. And they complete Bill Gates plan to take over the Internet which he outlined in his 1995 book, “The Road Ahead.” (LOL)

If you know anything about domain names post it on the message board, but in the meantime... May the Creative Force be with You

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

LaTeX Installations

Three Hundred Thirtieth Post: LaTeX Installations

The good news is that TeX and LateX, software that lets the user format special characters such as math formulas, is free. The bad news is it is difficult to install, even on Windows. For some reason you install TeX and its complimenting packages. Then you find certain files and run a program on them. You then move certain newly created files and run the program on them. Its overly complex. There are software packages that have both the interface and program installed, but the price is over $200. I’m going to get it and when I do, I will make my web page look pretty.

Well I read in the paper that there is a new donut that is fortified with vitamins and has no trans fat. A good tasting donut that is good for you doesn’t sound possible. In some ways it is true, but the donut still has as many calories as a regular donut. But if a donut is all you are going to eat (say for breakfast) a nutrition bar or vitamin donut may be better than nothing.

One thing to notice is that it has no trans fat. If it didn’t have to be in the food, why did manufactures start putting it there? We eat enough in the U.S. that we definitely don’t need it. It would be ideal for nations where food is not plentiful. It would give them extra needed calories. That is why MRE.(meals ready to eat) are loaded with calories. The calories are required for work.

Got to go. I’m craving a donut. Too bad Dunkin Donuts is out of business. But in the meantime... May the Creative Force be with You

Monday, April 24, 2006


Three Hundred Twenty Ninth Post: Electronics

I have been studying electronics lately. There are books and sites dedicated to reverse engineering the X-box. Quite an expensive way to learn, isn’t it? I guess it is much cheaper than a computer. And with new systems coming out, it is a bit dated. However prices should be lowering and it still is a great learning tool, especially if your game system would just be put into your next garage sale.

But what impresses me is how these guys solder and de-solder chips on the X-box’s motherboard. My experience with soldering is that the gun melts the solder instantly. Soldering on the circuit board would be challenging.

There are mod chips for all the system. One thing about the Playstation 2 is that it has standard USB drives. I still have to search the web to see if anyone still does anything with the Sega Dreamcast. There are tons of Roms for the Dreamcast and I believe it has Linux. I have read that the Dreamcast uses a common chip. It is the same chip the Gameboys use only with a 3D processor.

I’ve read in PC magazine that in Windows Vista games will directly communicate with the processor and graphics card. It increases efficiency 30% to 40%. I wonder how long it will take PC’s to catch up to the X-box 360. It is too soon to make correct predictions.

Well until I ramble on... May the Creative Force be with You

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Questions in Notes

Three Hundred Twenty Eighth Post: Questions in Notes

I have tried to install LaTeX on my computer. It is free, but is like installing a Linux program. I have to really read the book because I can’t get it installed. I first saw Latex used on . There it is integrated into the message board. Latex is used to format math equations. You know, the ones you can’t type into the keyboard. The syntax or wording of the problems is straightforward as long as you have a good reference. I have to get this installed because it will make Constructor’s Corner look more professional. More importantly it will make the equations easier to read.

In school we take notes, but it isn’t until college that we are taught the proper way to create a notebook. In elementary and high school you just copy a long list of notes from the board. The format, neatness, and numbering are stressed. In college a notebook is different. It is a collection of all your work. It contains problems, notes, and recorded data. It is neat and organized, but it is more important to gather the correct and useful information. You can paste things too and draw in the notebook. Something that wouldn’t be tolerated in high school. But the one main difference is that facts put into the notebook can be wrong. That is something that is avoided before. But the point being that you can learn from your mistakes.

So why don’t we teach such techniques earlier? Well the college notebook is to promote thinking through and analyzing problems. The other notebook is more memory based learning. It is still important to learn some things this way, but there is one thing that should be stressed. And that is when the student records a note from a book they should think of how it relates to what they are learning. Simply put, they should write questions not just answers. The point is not to remember facts for a test. Instead it is to learn to comprehend what you read and form ideas and compare experiences. The student should be thinking through the information not memorizing it. But in the U.S. we don’t do this until higher levels of education.

I have a collection of questions that I have been keeping since I have been trying to learn about electricity. I hope to compile them and share them. These questions lead to more. It isn’t to you explore the question that you learn and are applying the knowledge you learned. Kids are always complaining, “When am I ever going to use that?” It the lesson was thought provoking they would never ask that question.

So until the proper way to keep a notebook is taught... May the Creative Force be with You

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Deal or No Deal

Three Hundred Twenty Seventh Post: Deal or No Deal

Yesterday one location of the local banks was giving out piggy banks for applying for a credit card. I really didn’t care about the card but wanted the piggy. We called our local bank to see if the pigs were available. The teller replied that they were giving away umbrellas. We said we were introduced in the card but wanted a piggy. After some time the teller finally gave in and said, “Alright you can have a piggy.” We got one of three piggy’s left.

Sounds like a lot of trouble for a piggy bank. We were making jokes about it. Something like having a million dollar deal, but not giving in. “That’s a good offer, but the deal is off unless we get a piggy.” “Deliver the million dollars not in a briefcase, instead put into a piggy bank.”

I wonder if a small investment in piggy banks gets hundreds of credit card applications. It’s like grade school when you get a sticker under your lunch tray and get a popsicle. The prize is not large, but the demand is high. And it is a whole lot of fun to win.

So until we find joy in one of the small prizes... May the Creative Force be with You

Friday, April 21, 2006

MakeShift Solutions

Three Hundred Twenty Sixth Post: MakeShift Solutions

I updated Constructor’s Corner with a small update today. The most interesting thing was my MakeShift 05 solution. I am anticipating reading the winning entries. I solved it the only way I knew how. Let me know what you think about it on the message board.

My next math tinkering will be with ciphers, the ones seen on the puzzle page of the newspaper. From that you may know what my next project is, but we’ll have to wait and see. I have little knowledge of encryption. However, I do know that using greater than 128 bit encryption was at one time technically against the law. (I did not check that fact, but if I can remember reading it.)

Also on my projects is learning the basics of copyright and patents. Copyright is especially important for anyone using the web. We read it all the time while clicking “yes” to install software, but many of us are unaware of the laws. Myself included.

Not much to blog about today. But until next time... May the Creative Force be with You

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Diggin Ditches

Three Hundred Twenty Fifth Post: Diggin Ditches

Well today I took on the task of digging a French drain behind the house. A simple task, or is it? It was only 70 ft long and ½ foot deep. I calculated the depth for a slope of 2 degrees and a length of 50 ft (the rest would be level). I strung a line to dig straight and made the string the same height of what the depth would be from the ground. I did this by beginning at ½ a foot on the start pole and 2ft + ½ ft on the end.

Well it seems I made it more complicated than it actually is. We ended up just judging the slope by digging. But we went to the home store and got some cheap, interlocking pipe. We covered the pipe with a sock and put gravel on top. That was it, but it took 8 hours including the trip to the store and get gravel. Not bad for digging the ditch by hand.

This is just one of those projects similar to what you find in Popular Mechanics which shows for a little bit of work, you can really improve your home and yard. Some might even call this project relaxing. (Maybe not the digging hard ground part.) But there are some handy men and handy women that take pride in their work. Fixing the car, painting the house, or woodworking are their past times.

There is sort of a science to it: Little children play. It is very serious stuff, because they are learning about the world and have fun doing it. Meanwhile while at an adult age we call it work. (I mean the things that are work that you like to do.) And this work is very important it betters our homes and lives. So in that time period change when play turns into work, both have deeper meanings in our lives.

Until I dig a trench for the electric... May the Creative Force be with You

Wednesday, April 19, 2006


Three Hundred Twenty Fourth Post: Sweepstakes

Does any one every win those sweepstakes? I mean the ones were you find a special cookie or get a code from a bottle top. The even decreased the chances of winning by assuming the winning code will never be entered. And if someone wins do we ever hear about it?

That isn’t to say there aren’t a lot of good contest out there, but the good ones usually are based on merit, some skill such as drawing, puzzles, etc. In 2005 there was a book called A Treasure’s Trove by Michael Stadther. He placed token in trees that could be redeemed for prizes totaling $1,000,000. Well the contest is over, but there is a follow up book containing the solutions and the winters stories.

In the June 06 PC Gamer on page 24 is the description of a puzzle game that takes place over the internet. Sounds like fun. It would be nice to find the clues. And half the fun is participating in the game while it is going on, instead of waiting for the solutions.

But until I accidently eat the winning Chips-Ahoy cookie... May the Creative Force be with You

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

More Deer

Three Hundred Twenty Third Post: More Deer

There is a whole family of deer behind my house. They’ve been there 3 days now and are in no hurry to move on. I can get close to them, but would still need a zoom lense for a picture.

A learned that Tetris, the video game, was available for the Palm and Pocket PC. I don’t see why there aren’t more classic 8-bit and 16-bit titles converted. Bundle them at $30 for 30 games. Now that isn’t going to happen, but what about Rom’s for the Palm. There are books on programming for the Palm, but these things are involved and take some time to read through. But if a good programmer tried, they’d probably cram it in, in one week.

Did you know there were 2 versions of Tetris for the original 8-bit. One was made by Tengen (I did not look that up so it may be wrong) and the other licensed by Nintendo. The Tengen game had awesome graphics and great sounds. It was also a collector item during its time. People would steal it from the rental place and pay the fee. I remember reading that it selling for $300 to $400.

Well until I update the site... May the Creative Force be with You

Monday, April 17, 2006

Doe a Deer

Three Hundred Twenty Second Post: Doe a Deer

For the second day in a row I have seen 4 to 5 deer withing 50 yards. They are up in the field behind the house. I don’t have a telescopic lens or else I would have had some great shots. The deer just relax and lie there with their ears flapping. Meanwhile 2 are eating the nice, just turned green grass. Deer are a common site, but having them close and not run once you are seen, is not.

Well, today I used my workbench to cut some boards. The bench opens in the middle to hold boards, but for some reason it doesn’t work. The thing is junk. I can’t get it to hold a 2 X 4. It also inclines 90 degrees like a drafting board would. How do you saw at an upward angle? Oh well, that must have been why it was on sale at Big Lots.

Oh, an update on Constructor’s Corner is overdue. I should be posting some small things soon. I really don’t have any projects to show at this time. However I do have a picture and my MakeShift 05 solution.

Soon until I figure out how to use the workbench... May the Creative Force be with You

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Selling a Domain Name

Three Hundred Twenty First Post: Selling a Domain Name

I have 3 domain names. The cost to register is $30 each. The domain name is short and descriptive, but I have no use for it. It is . It is nice name, so I decided to check what domain names are sold on E-bay. Sellers are selling junk email names, but no one seems to be buying. I don’t blame them.

That is part of the reason domain names come with a fee. Not only does it support the system, it stops squatters from buying up all the cool names. For example Make magazine had to settle for , because was taken but not used.

On another note, I exercised using a recumbent cycle as I surfed the web today. These things seem to give little resistance, but after a short time has passed you feel it in your legs. Setting it were I could do something else like watch tv or surf the web made the time fly. I also use a treadmill for 20 to 30 minutes and it gets so boring. I know this is nothing new. Gyms have tv’s all over the place. On the bike typing was difficult. If there was a stand above the legs to put a laptop that would be sweet.

Anyway, I am wasting power. I need one of those bikes with a generator built in. DC motors can act as generators. With a little transmission, the gears could turn the generator.

Until you pedal faster than the windmill turns... May the Creative Force be with You

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Lab Access

Three Hundred Twentieth Post: Lab Access

You know the schools have pretty good lab equipment. Most of which an undergraduate couldn’t afford and without the class would not have access to. Other than being a graduate student or lab assistant usually is no way to get access to the equipment. That is why if safety regulations permit, students should be able to sign out lab equipment. It would be similar to signing for a library book or logging onto a computer. The type of equipment is only different, such as electrical, physics, and chemistry equipment.

What is the benefit? For science and technology students it would give them greater experience conducting experiments and they could work on design projects or additional projects to broaden their learning. Everything in lab is structured and serious. Students never get to “play” and have fun like classic inventors did.

On a different idea, there are some sites on how to program for the Game Boy Advance. They state that because Nintendo uses standard electrical components it is easy to program. Of course, Nintendo doesn’t make it easy for the programmer. So why not switch to a platform that allows programming and although it doesn’t have the graphics power of a Nintendo DS, has a wide range of applications? That would be the Palm OS. Just a thought for the amateur programmer.

Well until we build our own labs, like Peter Parker... May the Creative Force be with You

Happy Easter Everyone!

Friday, April 14, 2006

Better Batteries

Three Hundred Nineteenth Post: Better Batteries

The first thing missing out in the woods is power. The closest source of power is the vehicle. Besides that you are left with batteries. Well in the Army we used batteries during training and they were far from being perfected.

First you may wonder why we would need such large sources of power. Well today computers are more and more important with information. But for my unit we used them for radio equipment and loud speakers. The 35 F, a Psychological Operations soldier, has to carry a huge loud speaker on the back of there rucksack. It adds another 50 lb to the gear. Heavier batteries equal more weight.

In the original GPS’s, the battery would explode if put in backwards. (I am reading about batteries learned how they can be dangerous.) The GPS could have been fixed if the battery only fit in one way. Instead it fit both ways, and you have to read the markings on the battery.

If you could find a better battery you would fill a huge need. I once heard that Nikola Tesla, supposedly had a way to deliver electricity wirelessly. That is if you believe the story. But we already got that. It is called lightning. (*LOL) How could the energy possibly be maintained like radio waves and not flow through the first conductor?

Until we change the Energizer Bunny’s batteries... May the Creative Force be with You

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Macgyer technology upgrade

Three Hundred Eighteenth Post: Macgyer technology upgrade

Studying electronics today and realized that this is the stuff it takes to be like Macgyver. Someone who is familiar with the show may comment that Macgyver never really used computers every episode. It was more about gadgets and gadgetry. However the Phoenix Foundation always used computers. The once did a computer aging image of a women to see what see would look like about 10 years after the photograph. And while Macgyver and his show was before everyone had access to a computer, Macgyver still used electricity and electronics.

In one episode Macgyver took a cell phone and hooked it to the electronic locks of the car. He made a switch that when he called the cell phone, it looked the car doors. As for computers, Macgyver once went on an archeological hunt and discovered a punch card, mechanized computer created by a past civilization. So it is true that Macgyver used computers. Imagine what he could do with today’s technology.

There was also the question if Richard Dean Anderson, the actor who played Macgyver, actually knew about the things he built. In a couple interviews, he has said that he did not know the technical stuff. This is where I believe he is in a little fib.

Although he may not have the vast knowledge of all the disciplines of physics, mechanics, chemistry, and gadgetry, he Macgyver would never be believable if he did not have some, greater than average understanding of the subject. Anderson just portrayed Macgyver as an expert. This wouldn’t be possible if he wasn’t good with gadgetry. But he’ll probably never admit it.

But until someone writes Macgyver Y2K... May the Creative Force be with You

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Math Ciphers

Three Hundred Seventeenth Post: Math Ciphers

The news paper often have math ciphers. For example, the letters of the alphabet are arranged around a shape, such as a circle or wheel. Now from my standpoint of never studying cryptology, if the cracker knows what shape was used and also knows which part of the key is matched to the shape, the code would be easy to crack. That is especially true with computers. That is why the key, the solution to the cipher, needs to remain secret. Ok, so I need to study more, but there is something about these ciphers that interests me. I do have a couple ideas, but nothing that has been developed yet.

I seen in the May 2006 issue of Popular Mechanics that a huge particle accelerator will be finished this year. It is in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. Now or is it just me or is working with these trillions of particles described by Maxwell’s Demon. I think I read about this in Stanislaw Lem’s book the Cyberiad. In the story they build a fact creator for a PhD. Pirate. Yes it does give information, but... read it and find out.

Also on page 19 of PM is a picture of robotic handles. Humans can’t be near the accelerator because of radiation. I have seen these hands before. In fact, Dr. Octopus got them fused to his body in an experimental accident.

So until Dr. Octopus goes to work at the particle accelerator... May the Creative Force be with You

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Animation Teams

Three Hundred Sixteenth Post: Animation Teams

I saw a competition at . They have a cool idea about forming a team and working on a tight schedule. The deadline for entry is 04-13-06. I don’t know how many participate. I don’t have an animation team of my own and won’t be entering.

One thing with an animation team is that it needs a good leader. Artists want what they contributed to be used and are protective of the work. There is also the factor of who gets credit. This is true of most any team, not just artist. However, it can be hard to organize a group.

On another note, I have come across an interesting graph while studying. It is called a hysteresis loop. It is used with electricity and magnetism. The benefit of it is how the shape and position of the loop give all different types of properties the electric or magnetic being graphed. I have never studied electricity in great detail and was never introduced to this. But this is the most interesting part I have come across. This thing is worth the time to google.

Everyone knows Magneto on the X-men. He is one of my favorite villains. (Behind Dr. Doom of course.) But he once said on the cartoon when someone was near electricity, “Have you forgotten how close magnetism and electricity are related?” But how did he ever magnetize Wolverine Adamantium skeleton. Is Adamantium a ferrous metal or iron composite? It seemed that Magneto could magnetize anything. From what I learned it would be more plausible to put a magnetic field around Wolverine and cause an electric current to build in his conductive, Adamantium skeleton structure? Huh? I guess the old way is best.

But until we discover the secrets behind electricity and magnetism... May the Creative Force be with You

Monday, April 10, 2006

Fools Gold

Three Hundred Fifteenth Post: Fools Gold

Me and my dad were outside tonight and the light from the garage was shining on the lawn. If you look at the lawn from the right angle there is all kinds of sparkling, glitter-like fragments. Upon further inspection, we found the glitter is coming from a sandstone like rock. This material could be the reason we couldn’t get premium grade grass to grow. The salesman said it would grow in the shade. We spread it and took care of it, but it hasn’t really covered the ground in thick patches.

We’ll I’m not a geologist. I can’t tell what the fragments and speckles are. They are not magnet, so they could be metal deposits or just a shiny mineral. They are so small I don’t know what test could be used on them.

This reminds me of when I was in grade school in the fifth grade. The sixth grade class was given an essay test. The scenario was you are on a secluded island and you have discovered what you think to be a valuable rock. What do you do? The answer given by most of the students was to dig a big piece and fly around the world with it and collect their money. They then wrote how they would sell the rocks and collect their millions. One student and only one student wrote that he would test the rock through simple test he had learned in science class. The popular answer, though absurd, is what you think a young student would write. However the one student got the idea behind the essay.

A simple experiment with magnets or testing the soil in the backyard can really provide a good foundation of scientific experience for younger students. When your older and have learned the basics you realize how far the basics you learned in experimenting or theory prepared you for college and beyond.

But until I test to see what the mineral is... May the Creative Force be with You

Sunday, April 09, 2006

The Best Electronics Book

Three Hundred Fourteenth Post: The Best Electronics Book

I was reading some information on basic electricity. It seems that you have to do so much reading before you can get some hands-on learning. You could take something apart because everything mostly has electronic components. However, the chances are you wouldn’t understand what you see. Secondly it could be dangerous. Taking apart an old television without discharging capacitors would give you and electric shock. Basically anything that plugs in to the wall could be dangerous.

So to get our hands dirty we could use a breadboard or one of those toy electronic kits. But is there any project books that summarize the key learning points? Well RadioShack has an excellent electronics lab. It is good for older children to adults. But I have come across one book that describes the basic electronic components will building projects.

That book is the Pocket Scientist book “Fun with Electronics.” It is from 1983 but nothing introduces young learner to electronics in this way. It has projects such as a crystal radio to an alarm for the bedroom door. This alarm consist of 2 magnets that when separated cause an alarm to go off.

I loved the book as a child even though I couldn’t due the experiments. My friend was more interested in the book than I was. He went to RadioShack for the components only to find the board to solder the components to was too expensive. Still this book had illustrations that intrigued the imagination. It is still available on Web bookstores. I am thinking about buying a copy because most books written for older student’s don’t give the hands on until the lab work. This book teaches in a hands on way and gives you a feel for what the basic components do.

But until we learn studying 1980 technology... May the Creative Force be with You

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Immigration and Politics

Three Hundred Thirteenth Post: Immigration and Politics

Right now the big topic is immigration. I have been listening to the talk radio shows and most all of them are against it. They say it is against national security and against our immigration laws. I agree. I am not against immigration. America is all about following dreams, but it must be handled properly.

Many say that Americans will work any job as long as it has a competitive wage. But I don’t see the immigration as a threat to jobs. In fact it might actually be securing them. I would much rather see legal immigrants working in America than see jobs outsourced to another country. At least with immigration, American workers have a chance to compete for the job. More jobs would be lost through outsourcing. And outsourcing doesn’t help the foreign countries any. The common public is working for less rage. It is much like when America became industrialized before their were laws. (Read the book “The Jungle.”)

So outsourcing is more dangerous than immigration ever will be. This is especially true if attempts are made to out source engineering and technical jobs.

So this is a topic of much debate and maybe it will be in Constructor’s Corner message board. But until then... May the Creative Force be with You

Friday, April 07, 2006

Hacker Comics

Three Hundred Twelfth Post: Hacker Comics

Imagine the standard comic book. It is a graphic story with a plot and characters. Mostly in comic books there is action or fight scenes. But what if you tried to do a comic on hacking. The idea isn’t new. So one asks: why haven’t I seen this type of story. The thing is that the story is just to hard to put into a long comic. That combined with the fact the story would be to difficult to develop and chances are it wouldn’t be understood.

Even in movies it is still difficult to make a good story. And the story would have little to do with the actual hacking of the computer. So in order to get immersed into a great story one must read both fiction stories (such as Tom Clancy) and study non fiction books for the technical side.

Sounds like a lot of work. Maybe it is the best way to learn since there is no simple solution. Is there a simple solution? Maybe the best format for something like this is a video game. All the elements are there: the action, the imaginary world, and an easy way to present the information. It is in many formats. The only drawback would be the difficulty of putting all the elements together. It would be a lot of work and planning. This idea is not new. There is a new trend of making education games and simulation.

I don’t know of a game dedicated to hacking. It would be hard to design. For now it is just easier to read books and tinker with the actual art of hacking. But there is an opportunity to fill this creative experience need by designing the perfect game is open.

But until Tom Clancy turns “Net Force” into a video game... May the Creative Force be with You

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Cipher Key

Three Hundred Eleventh Post: Cipher Key

I have a new interest in cryptography. I just keep hearing about these books: Angels and Demons and The Da Vinci Code. I’m studying electricity now so I haven’t really done much work with crypto.

I once had the program “Norton Your Eyes Only” for Windows 98. It gave the permission control and user profiles 98 lacked. It also allowed the user to encrypt their files. I remember some of the different types such as PGP and Blow fish. I also learned that an encryption of 128 bit was against the law.

Now I can only guess how these things work from the math I have learned. Maybe they use matrices or maybe their a series. But maybe just maybe a simple encryption can provide more difficult to crack than an intense computer processing.

Before I have posted a link to a free cryptography book that was legally free for download. If you know anything about cryptography please post something on the message board of Constructor’s Corner. I am interested in sharing ideas, but don’t want to reveal my ideas yet. I don’t even know if they make sense in cryptography. Just imagine if the community at Constructor’s Corner discovered the next encryption trend. ---- I didn’t say it was easy. I just said it maybe possible.

So until we crack some codes... May the Creative Force be with You

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Listening to Buzz Tv

Three Hundred Tenth Post: Listening to Buzz Tv

I am listening to 3dbuzz radio as I Blog. I am anticipating the 3D Max Fundamentals. I chose Max over Maya because I am more familiar with it. I am just trying to work through a brain fart. I have been studying math for a while and don’t feel like doing more math tonight. I need a break to clear my mind. Sounds like Buzz is offering preview, downloadable content in 2 weeks for 3DS Max. Sounds interesting, but I need broadband.

Yesterday I was explaining fractions to a young kid who is still learning them. They don’t teach that a fraction is just a division problem. I didn’t learn that until 10th grade. Also they should introduce fractions on the number line. Learning to use a ruler is just a skill that no one teaches until drafting class.

It seems like after you work on math for a good many hours, the calculate even fights with you. You can’t find the buttons or it rounds off the number without prompting you. Anyway I need a study break and work on other things tonight.

Till I see you at the message board... May the Creative Force be with You

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Message Board

Three Hundred Ninth Post: Message Board

I made some changes to the message board of Constructor’s Corner yesterday, 04-03-06. I deleted some spam. I had to change the guest account. You can still register instantly, but you should not be able to post as a guest. I also added a debate topic. And I allowed avatars to be used.

Today I finished a business card for a friend. I made 2 choices. I drew the first one and it really didn’t fit. On the other I used clip art from Corel Draw version 4. The second one was the clear choice. Sometimes you like the art that you made, but sometimes when the design just isn’t right you have to choose the clip art. Ironically the clip art takes 5 minutes to make instead of hours drawing. However, a business card is simple and should be kept as such.

Occasionally I have a friend who needs graphics or computer input and I do it as a favor. I am just wondering if I could expand my graphic work. I have considered this before, but it is just the challenge of finding work.

So until you hire me to make graphics... May the Creative Force be with You

Monday, April 03, 2006

Survey Says

Three Hundred Eighth Post: Survey Says

Watching the news, there are a bunch of absurd studies. (I heard about another absurd on today. I didn’t include what it was because it is highly debatable. Maybe you can guess what it is.) You see a study and ask yourself, “Why did they spend years studying something so obvious or could be answered using simple methods.” The study may not seem of any use. Just another statistic that was a waste of money. Or it was completely wrong.

The average person who has never conducted these surveys (myself included) doesn’t know how the study was conducted or what the results even mean. We hear something like drinking coffee will stain your teeth. A study conducted by Crest Toothpaste says that brushing your teeth with Crest removes 51% of the stain on the majority of people. This one makes sense: Brushing your teeth removes stains. But why is the effort concentrated on simple, common sense or insignificant data?

In my opinion (and little theory) is that the research is harder than it seems. We have people going together to find something. Somehow they each get assigned tasks and they put to much effort in things that really only of small importance. And not all studies produce ground breaking results.

Sort of like writing a research paper. You need answers. Researching and getting results is a tricky thing. So the student looks to other facts that relate to the paper that they did find. And thus, there is the useless data.

Once on his radio show Theoretical Physicist, Michio Kaku, was discussing why a particle accelerator only costing a mere hundreds of thousands wasn’t funded, yet millions of dollars were wasted on space projects that didn’t find anything. He gave an example of sending frogs into space to see how they mate.

You can put some absurd or unnecessary studies you heard on the message board... But until then... May the Creative Force be with You

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Intellectual Property

Three Hundred Seventh Post: Intellectual Property

Well I still have to update the message board. However anyone can start a thread. Today I was designing a simple business card for a friend. The topic was exotic animals, so I turned to the Web for some reference pictures and to get ideas. With search engines having the ability to search for pictures virtually anything can be found. I found pictures of lizards and frogs.

Here is the dilemma. I could just use any picture I find Photoshop it and put it on the business card in less than a minute. I could do that, but I shouldn’t since it isn’t my artwork and I don’t own the pictures. Even for something as simple as a business card, the designer isn’t supposed to use art without permission or isn’t royalty free. So I could easily take the art, but I didn’t. Even if it is only a business card, I have to treat it like it is a professional piece of art.

I have seen a topic on this recently on . Artist have been posting their work on the Web and having it stolen. It makes the artist limit what they put on the Web. But there is some responsibility on the artist to realize the Web is vast and by sharing their work there is always a chance of it being stolen.

I place some interesting things on Constructor’s Corner. It may not be the best stuff of the web. However it is original unless otherwise stated. I figure someone may develop something new from my work. But that is the point and what I was intending to do. Copyright and patents have lots or debates and arguments. In fact it would be a good discussion for the message board. So until I see you at the board... May the Creative Force be with You

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Slow Day

Three Hundred Sixth Post: Slow Day

I took a 3 hour nap today. It was probably from doing all the work yesterday. Anyways when I got up I was out of ideas. Well not completely out of ideas. I just didn’t have anything I felt like working on. One thing that I do have to work on is the message board. We need some topics of discussion in there. I also have to go through and delete some of the web bot messages. Constructor’s Corner has been quite fortunate not to have large amounts of spam. These messages can be overlooked.

It may take me a few days, but I want to create some topics. Once people start posting, the topics will create themselves and there should be a wide range of discussion. I will work on the message board and then see if a Wiki is needed.

Being out of ideas is the time one needs to work the hardest to get them back. It is sort of like putting off a research paper until a few days before it is due. You may be tired and out of ideas, but you have to push on because you have no choice but to finish the paper or fail. So the motivation is there. Then you discover how much easier the paper would have been if you had worked on it over the entire period of time. You also realize how much better you could have made the paper. Next time, if you learned your lesson you work on it earlier. If not, you will use the deadline as motivation to finish your paper once again.

But until you post a thread on the message board... May the Creative Force be with You