Saturday, June 23, 2012

Interesting post I came across...

For those of you out there (or at least a few that follow this blog or by some miracle find it in the vastness of cyberspace) that don't read on Reddit and don't understand how we got into the mess that we're in economically right now, HERE is one of the best posts I have seen explaining the theory of Money as Debt (some of the links in the thread are good too...).  Feel free to discuss.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Lessons Learned

So I've built a case study with Siemens based on my use of their CAD software and done two webinars for the same thing.  Lessons learned:

1.) Becoming a "name" is actually kind of fun.  Not in a "I'm the greatest" way, but it means that people come to you for advice more.  I love giving advice and trying to help in areas I actually know something about.
2.) Webinars are NOT a very good way to sell something.  The internet has gotten the world connected in a way that no one ever thought possible, but we have sacrificed some intangible understanding that accompanies face-to-face communication to get there.
3.) Getting people with little or no technical background to report technical things accurately is REALLY hard.  I had an article about me in Moldmaking Magazine based off the case study recently.  They botched it significantly, but in their defense, they really don't understand anything other than toolmaking well.  Again, a face-to-face interview would have gotten the job done right.

Not sure if all this is something I'd do again or not.  I'd definitely have to make a better accounting of the time investment prior to committing.  Still, if you don't do it, it's hard to understand all that.


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Published...sort of

So I have been working with new CAD (Computer Aided Drafting) software at work. We are transitioning from Dassault's SolidWorks to Siemens PLM's SolidEdge. LOVE the new software. They asked to do a case study on our transition and I did. What I didn't know was that they'd tell the whole world about it. I have now been quoted by an industry professional on his blog. SolidWorks guru Matt Lombard discusses some of the statements in my case study here. The original link to the case study is here. And to top it all off, I will be giving a portion of a webinar on the 6th of December. Fun times...

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Musings on memories and history...

I've been thinking about this for the last day. I feel like I need to say something but don't know what. I obviously (or maybe not) did not know Steve Jobs. I am also not an Apple Guy. I'm a PC and probably always will be (although I dabble with various and sundry Linux distros from time to time). I have an iPhone for work. If I didn't need a data phone there, I probably would not have one. I do not own an iPad or an iPod or anything else starting with an 'i' (other than the phone and I don't "own" it either).

With all that being said, Steve Jobs (along with Steve "the Woz" Wozniak) have done more for the personal computing industry than anyone except Bill Gates and it's probably a tie there. I still remember in Middle School in Johnsburg, IL programming Basic on an Apple IIe in Computer Club. Writing security software on Macintoshes and Power PC's in High School for our computer lab. I never owned an Apple, but some of my fondest computer memories involve them. The Steve's gave me that. For that, I am truly grateful. My current level of technological interest stems (in part) from their inventions, from their drive, from their ingenuity.

I still don't recommend Apple computers for multiple reasons. I do, however, pay my respects to one of the greatest marketing geniuses and businessmen in the history of the world. May he rest in peace in that great hackerspace in the sky. I know that in His infinite wisdom, a place can be found for an inventive spirit such as Steve Jobs.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

On Hacking Charities

Saw an interview (video here) today that struck a chord with me. This is an interview by Space Rogue, the correspondent at Hacker News Network of Johnny Long of Hackers for Charity at the Hacker Conference SchmooCon in Washington DC. Once again, I am amazed at the effect that one person (or a small group of people) can have to affect the lives of those less-fortunate than them.

Much like the Khan Academy, these guys are trying to make a difference. Every time I see this, I want so badly to find a cause and have the freedom to devote my energies to it. It is an incredible inspiration, in contrast to all the bad press that the hacker community gets of late, to see people not giving in to the stereotype cast by the few.

That attitude is a difficult one to maintain in the face of such negativity but it is truly a testament to the mettle of these men and others like them that they persevere.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

The coolest idea I have seen in ages...

I just posted about my problem with coming up with original, relevant ideas. Here's one:

1.) Quit Job
2.) Buy decent computer and video recording equipment
3.) Convert closet to recording studio
4.) Make short videos to post on the internet for free giving tutorials on thousands of math, science, etc... topics.


Crap, it's already been done. Check out Salman Khan's Khan Academy. I can't even imagine what it would be like to be a professional philanthropist like that. Nerve wracking to get started, I'm sure, but think about all the people you could help chase their dreams of gaining new knowledge.

I keep thinking about the laptops for kids program where they sent tough laptops to third world countries to help schools there prepare kids better to enter a world of technology. How cool would it be to have them take lessons from the Khan academy to balance what I can only imagine has to be a difficulty finding qualified teaching staff. The videos are even short enough to keep within an attention span like mine.

Kudos, Salman. You're a hero in my book. Would that more people got involved in projects like that.

Venture into software development

As a part of a project I am working on for my job, I needed to develop a methodology for easily estimating injection molded cycle times for plastic parts. I wrote the code to do it in Visual FoxPro 9. Once I was done, I had several ideas for improving it and was in the mood to test drive Visual C# 2010. I did so and have decided to release the result as open source. I have uploaded the software to SourceForge, here. Feel free to browse, download and play. Let me know if you like it and what you find. For me, it was an interesting project that actually had a real-world use. That is one of my biggest problems. I don't have any issues with tackling big (or in this case small) problems as they come up. I have a hard time defining original, relevant problems to tackle. That's one of the skills that I would like to acquire.

Eric Raymond defined the thrust of the hacker mentality in his excellent paper on How to be a Hacker. I can identify with much of the paper (not all of it, but most). What I have a hard time with is the "usefulness" of the projects. I don't want to do another tic-tac-toe game or an RSS feed generator. I want to do something that actually has a need to be done because the problem needs a solution. I DO understand the need for a learning curve, but I've always been one to just jump into the deep end of the pool and learn by breaking. ESPECIALLY when it comes to computers (just ask my Mom what happened with her first computer that had a CD-ROM - I was fixing what I did for a solid week). I've learned more from breaking and then trying to fix things than I ever have out of books and classes. That being said, finding a challenge that grabs my fancy is more-than-occasionally difficult.

Need to find a better method of doing that...