Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Evil Clown Opera and Back Alley Ghosts

A GarageBand composition that turned out to have a Halloween theme :)

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Sink + Laser Pointer

Messing around at home with a laser pointer.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Restore an Old Marker with a Drill and Rubber Band

I needed to get more out of an old marker and thought, "if only I had a centrifuge", I do, a drill.

CAUTION!! This can dump ink into the cap and drip everywhere when you take it off. Take my word for it. Alcohol for clean up works.

GarageBand Experiments 2

Here is part two of some GarageBand original compositions.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Garage Band Experiments

I made these original compositions with GarageBand on a Mac by laying down tracks with an external Midi keyboard. All the backgrounds are from the Internet. These are just the first 5 of 9. The others will be posted soon.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Time Lapse Experiments

I took these using my old iPhone.

I made these by:
1. running GorillaCam on my iPhone taking one pic every 10 seconds for a few hours
2. download to iPhoto and export using "Sequence" option. This saves photos as cloud-1.jpg, cloud-2.jpg, ... .
3. running ffmpeg to stitch all the images into a video feed. The command is:

nice ffmpeg -r 10 -b 4000000 -i cloud-pics/cloud-%d.jpg sunset.mp4

-r 10 is frame rate of 10 frames a second
-v 4000000 is a bitrate of 4Mb
-i cloud-pics/cloud-%d.jpg just says this is the input %d gets replaced by a counter that starts at 1.

I installed ffmpeg using Mac Ports but its possible to get the source and build. There are lots of examples on Google.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Apollonian Circles

I am a geometry nut. I used to make stuff like this all the time. I love the complexity of how these circles interfere and seem 3D.

Initial set of circles with 90 degree separation (4 sets)

Same but thicker lines

60 degree separation (6 sets)

My source code for these is in java and will print direct to a printer. I'll send it to anyone that is interested.

Some interesting reading:

Source Code for above
Apollonian Circles (Wikipedia)
Apollonian Circles( Google Images )
A Tisket, a Tasket, an Apollonian Gasket

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Bluring the Line Between Investor, Customer, and Buisness

Most businesses are built on the idea of "build it and they will come". I'd like to propose the opposite, a "find people that want it and it will get built" model.

Fractional Effort

The Nasa budget is $7 billion a year.
$7 billion a year / 300 million people = $23.33 a year per person
$23.33 / 12 months = $1.94 a month
$1.94 / 30 days = $0.06 a day

How many 7 billion dollar projects could be created for $0.06 a day ? How many problems could be solved if you could break them up into $0.06 worth of effort ?


How do you get critical mass behind something that needs to be done ? Suppose you could:
  1. Get allot of people to say what they want and how much it would be worth to them.
  2. Group people that want the same or similar things
  3. People post solutions or ideas to problems that have allot of money behind them.
  4. People with the problem "invest" in people solving the problem.
  5. The investment return could be stock or a discount off the first purchase.
If there are millions with a problem, the investment would be pocket change.


Not all businesses have immediate solutions to peoples problems. Maybe you need a prototype, proof on concept, scaled down test, etc. People contribute to make it happen and move things down the pipeline from risky far out idea to proven techniques that are ready to go.

Think how this would be radically different from a market where only things that are known to return a profit get built. Collecting and concentrating micro-investment from customers gets people that really really want something to take allot of risk and push to the edge of whats possible. What if a million people put in $10 to build and design an open source iPad ?

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Idea Economy

The Flow of The Network

Here is the problem. You have ideas, people, and time. How do you route ideas to people in the least time ?

A solution is to:
- organize all the ideas so they are browsable, searchable, linkable, and commentable.
- allow people to express how important the idea is so that it is seen by more people
- allow people to directly route ideas to people they know
- create an idea economy

An Idea Economy

How it works:
- You have an idea or you hear of one.
- You decide how much you would pay groups of friends to read the idea. Some you might pay more, some less.
- You decide how much you are asking friends to pay you back if they like the idea.
- Your friends read the ideas that pay the most first and payback the ideas they like.
- You see who liked the idea. You group people by what ideas they pay for and use this to set how much you promote your ideas to those groups.
- You use your profits to promote ideas further.

Small World Networks

A small world network is one where the average number of connections between any two nodes is low. This is the "6 degrees of separation" between you and everybody on the planet idea. So you can imagine that the idea economy way of passing the same idea from person to person might route it to that one person that really really needs to know it.

Not Just Ideas

So maybe its not an idea but a problem, a wiki, or a top 10 list. Everyone gets paid to participate and contributes funds to pay for people's participation. X amount for every problem solution and Y for every solution that works. X for every item added to a top 10 list. Y for voting for an item. Z for any item that makes it into the top 10.

Gourmet Spam

What if you could answer a question and everyone out there could pay you to read their ad, or idea or whatever. Maybe you have a separate inbox for it all. It would let all the information about you out there get info to you. Maybe you assume an anonymous identity and people pay you to answer questions. Are you going to buy a house in the next 6 months ? Are you looking for a better job ? Maybe you have a really specific question you want people to answer. You only pay people in city X to answer. And its really not spam. Spam is free to send. Someone could set up their inbox to only accept messages that are pay to read. Spammers would be forced to send to a narrow audience. Someone might set a question/ad adrift like a message in a bottle among everyone that answered a question with a specific answer in hopes someone might pick it up.


If people get paid for the information they share, they will invest more in what they share and create economies of social interaction that scale and self organize beyond the simple barter economy of friendships.

Talking with the Whole World

Every so often I have one of those ideas that shakes you up a bit. You realize something fundamental. For me its the insight that the best solutions and meaningful ways of living are about talking, listening, and new ideas. Those three simple things can do so much. And from one point of view they are what makes us so revolutionary relative to all the other living things. So here is the case.

Apes in the Storm of Change

While watching a Nova presentation on Human origins I found out that Africa, particularly the rift valley, was a very varied place weather wise around the time that humans branched off from apes. You'd have floods, droughts that would last a decade or two, nice weather, and then repeat. So if you were a lion or a gazelle the whole ecosystem was getting rebooted every few years. No rain, grass dies, gazelles die, lions die, or move on. It rains grass grows, but no gazelles or lions. The ecosystem had opportunities caused by inconsistent weather. Or seen another way, grass can't evolve into gazelles, and gazelles into lions in a decade. But in comes a clever ape who figures out how to foridge for plants in a drought, hunt antelopes when they are around, and pass this info on to offspring. You have a opportunity for better communication between parent, offspring, and random people leading to better survival. How to hunt, what plants are safe to eat, etc. Human culture adapted 1000x faster than static gene-programmed animals. Changing culture is like installing new software on the same old hardware.

This starts to explain allot. Why do people like completely made up stories, particularly ones with hero's who learn how to overcome some evil foe ? Why do people enjoy hanging around and talking ? Why do children want to learn from their parents ? Why do fashions change ?

The Environment

So culture adapts to its "environment", but nobody really sets up the environment. Cultures will exist to the extent that they are allowed to exist. If we allow oppressive governments we might get oppressive governments. If you allow unfair and exploitative practices you will get unfair and exploitative practices.

A while back Carl Sagan's Cosmos series talked about ancient Greek culture, Leucippus (theory of atoms) Democritus (democracy and many other things). Greek culture was a result of the mixing of cultures that traded in the Mediterranean. A child growing up might hear about many religions and many leaders and governments. There was no "that's just the way it is kid". There were lots of answers to the same question. The result is the foundation of western society, a culture that can survive the chaos of cultural collisions.


I really think most people do not see the vast expanse of information that is out there.
- What do you know ?
- What do other people know ?
- What % of what you don't know would revolutionize your thinking ?
- How much effort would you put toward searching for something really great ?

Somewhere in the mountains there is some monk pondering the questions of life and he might find something really great. He might tell a few other monks, and they might tell some friends but maybe it stopped there. The idea never hit the tipping point of finding the people that would take the idea and spread it. The monks got old and died and the idea went with them. So much of culture is just what survived. What got passed on, written down, or told at some party to entertain the guests. Everything else is gone, extinct.

Making Culture

So how do you make a kick ass culture. Some possibilities:
- have allot of people spend allot of time listening and reading. You might call this education, but maybe its something you really love.
- have allot of people talking and writing about what they think, hopefully some of which is original and creative.
- create an economy where doing the first two are valued and the people that do it best are recognized and can make a living at it and even the smallest and least valued participation can find an audience and learn.

If you were a kick ass idea how would you get recognized?
- find the people most likely to listen
- let the people who love the idea promote it to people they think would like it
- get saved in an organized way somewhere so that people can find you again and never get lost

Its worth noting that big professional corporate marketer types know all about culture and try to shape it to their benefit. Its every marketer's dream to create a cult following that makes your product an essential part of a happy life, even if its all a sham. But this is another topic.


Its worth saying that not all of culture is great. You have the junk-food-equivalent of conversation, and sensational stories. But I'd hope that people would find the balance when given lots of choices.

The Internet

So what happens when:
- millions of people talk
- millions of people listen
- software filters it, makes it searchable, lets people promote it to friends, and creates an economy where it has value.
- lots of people find cool stuff that they then participate in, creating grass roots institutions and businesses of passionate people
- this iterates for a while

What happens ? ... culture like the world has never seen happens.

Friday, April 02, 2010

No Trash

Every time I see a trash can I am reminded of this idea. If you look at what goes into the trash, its mostly packaging, boxes, containers, etc. and mostly for food. One afternoon when I was describing my solution to a friend, he said, oh ya, they do that on islands. Turns out islanders don’t have allot of space for landfills and they have to haul away all their garbage, which gets expensive. Their solution, grocery stores ship goods in reusable containers. Yaaa !!! I so love this idea. No more taking out the trash. Imagine this. A crate that stacks like milk crates and all the containers fit in the crates nicely so as to not get damaged. Big, small containers they all stack into a standard crate. You add some wheels and every time you go to the store you take your crates of containers and wheel them in. The grocery washes and puts them back on the shelf. Maybe you have them delivered and picked up. It all works just like it does now, except no trash.

Maybe you are a restaurant owner, who at the end of the day has some extra food that he can’t sell. Instead of chucking it in the trash he puts it in containers and sends it to the local grocery to sell. He gets to promote his food and not waste it (more trash) and the containers are reusable.