Common Book 25 | Supplements

I’ve been experimenting with various supplements over the last few months in order t identify a formulation which would enhance my thinking process as well as my focus.

There are dozens of different products out there and many use the same formulation of  components in differing amounts. The research I’ve done has been mixed in terms of identifying a definitively superior product.

Bottles_lgAt this stage I have a product call Qualia which comes in a does ration of 1-2. The second pill in this formulation is ridiculously large and hard to swallow, the product claims to manufacture lucid dreams and I have yet to experience this.

Another product i’m currently experimenting with is Focus Factor “Brain and Vision’ which I’m getting good results from.

So far, I’ve tried about six to eight different brands and some have worked initially and shown little effect after consistent use and others haven’t worked at all. Expense doesn’t seem to be a distinction of quality either as I’ve purchased products from $10.00 to $100.00 and there’s no clear winner.

This is one of those cases where I’d like to be sold something rather than using every single product on the market.

focus-factor-bv-120_mediumAnother possibility is that I’m not able to feel the effects of the supplements because I’m already operating at an optimal capacity- but I doubt it.

 

Common Book 24 | Atom.io

I’ve been working with this development environment call atom.io which was developed and released by Github and I LOVE it.

When I first became aware of it, I didn’t think much of it, I tend to stick with the tools that I see my peers using, especially with development. It’s a weird conceit and definitely rooted in insecurity. I say this because the more confident I am about my skills in a given area the less likely I care what other people are doing or thinking.

UnknownBut at any rate,  I noticed one of my associates in the programmers club was using the application and I started toying around with it.

I find that I can program and compile in this application without the need to download eclipse to netbeans as a supporting compiler, very convenient. The look and feel of the interface is nice and the color scheme is visually pleasing. There are a load of plug in for the interface (Atom Beautify is the most popular at the moment).

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The layout is really versatile and well structured, the interface components are unobtrusive but fully packed with goodies.

I can jump from Python to C++ to C# to Ruby without missing a beat. So, I’m going to delete some of the other applications and use atom exclusively until I can identify any limitations or bugs.

Granted, the application isn’t all of the sudden going to make me a better or more prolific developer– but it’s a start.

Common Book 23 | Canon ‘L’ Series Lens

I recently received an advertisement in my email inbox for a highly discounted high end lens which I’ve been wanting to purchase for a couple of years now. It’s the Canon 70-200 L IS 2.8.

The L, I believe stands for ‘luxury’, I believe as they are the most expensive in the entire line. The ‘IS’ stands for Image Stabilization’ which his an important feature for a zoom lens as it reduces the shake which gets exaggerated the more you zoom without a tripod. The 70-200mm costs about $1800.00 new, but a good used one could be purchased for $1200.00 to $1400.00 dollars.

The offer I received came from a reputable dealer whom I’d done business with before for two lenses which cost between $500.00 and $600.00.

The 70-200mm that was being offered at $1299.00 was immaculate and came with a warranty. This was a ‘loyal customer’ discount and I was so ready to pounce on it. I have the money and I know I’ll get a couple grand back in taxes and I have another $3600.00 coming from my employer in the form of tuition reimbursement.

Still…

70_200L_ISI don’t need the lens– I just want it. I have a tendency to covet fancy toys and I’m trying to get out of that habit. Even though I can afford the lens I can find other things to spend that money on. Like my investment portfolio of perhaps pay down some outstanding debt. Maybe buy a car, although I’m not too sure about that as I’ve been making due well enough without one.

Hopefully the lens will be sold if I find that I can’t help myself and attempt to follow up on that promotion.

Goodness, I’m so easy to manipulate.

Common Book 22 | Robotics Starter Kit

I’ve just recently purchased a new robotics starter kit on eBay. It’s produced by RadioShack and is part of their ‘Starting with Stem’ line of kits.

What I found particularly interesting about this kit is that it’s versatile enough to create various iterations of mobile, functional devices. It’s my intention to develop a large scale model of my own design that is a culmination of all of the things that I’ll learn from existing kits and algorithms that I find on various sites.

The models that I can develop are as follows: Bulldozer Robot, Drilling Robot, Line-Following Robot, Walking Robot, Surveillance Robot, Catapult Robot, Boxer Robot, Street Sweeper Robot, Clamping Arm Robot, Spotlight Robot.

I’ll construct many of these iterations, but I’m particularly interested in the surveillance robot and the line following robot because those are the most difficult, I suspect, due to the need for responsiveness element.

While these types of models are not designed to scale due to weight distribution and limited energy requirements. For instance , a small robot can be sustained on a small amount of energy wheres a larger robot wit the same design would collapse under its own weight, but this is just a design issue that can be resolved without too much sweat.

The ultimate iteration of this project is to create a highly versatile, track-driven robot with the ability to navigate a room. Once I’ve realized that small ambition I think that will open up a few invisible doors.

If not, I’ll go on to create a bipedal robot, which is here most difficult type of locomotion but the most exciting because it mimics human behavior.

 

Exciting times.

 

Common Book 21 | American Genius

I had been doing some research on J. Robert Oppenheimer and I came across a National Geographic series called,’Oppenheimer vs. Heisenberg.

The series delves into some of the ideas I touched on in my previous post. I found it difficult to reconcile Oppenheimer’s lamentation of the creation of the atomic bomb with his actual work in its development.

While I’m cautious about biopics as they can be notoriously inaccurate and as we absorbed cinema in a passive manner, it tends to stay with you.

But I’ll watch the series with a cautious optimism and hope that they do the memory of these important men justice.

National Geographic also has an American Genius series called Edison versus Tesla which I’m putting on my ‘to watch’ list as well. Nikola Tesla was a fascinating and brilliant inventor and a perennial inspiration.

What’s particularly interesting about these men (Oppenheimer, Tesla) is that they were both naive about the world and what their work would mean to humanity.

Common Book 20 | Robert Oppenheimer

I’ve been reading the book ‘American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer’ written by Kai Bird and Martin J. Sherwin.

J. Robert Oppenheimer, American Prometheus
J. Robert Oppenheimer, American Prometheus

While I haven’t finished the book, I find it to be an incredibly fascinating read. It’s always interesting to learn about the people who have defined the course of human history and their journey to prominence. Oppenheimer or “Oppie” as he is referred to was a very mixed bag; not at all the man one would imagine was a key developer of the atomic bomb which killed so many people.

Oppenheimer, it seems, from his personal writings and the testimony of those that knew him was not at all a bloodthirsty or malevolent person. Oppenheimer almost comes across as rather naive when it comes to the ramifications of his work, as if he hadn’t really anticipate the consequences or.. the application of the lethal forces he helped unleash.

While I want to withhold judgement about the man as much as I can, after all, if it wasn’t him, it would have been someone else. It’s hard to sympathize with the petty intrigues and political gamesmanship when so many lives were snuffed out in direct connection to the mans work.

I’m still not sure where we place Oppenheimer in terms of western history. At times he’s revered, at times he’s vilified. It’s almost as if we have this dual understanding of who he was. we revere the innovation but the application fills us with shame- or at least stoic accountability.

As I mentioned earlier, I haven’t read the book in it’s entirety but I’m really enjoying what I’ve read thus far and I hope that I can come away with a better understanding of the reality of who Oppenheimer was and come away with a clearer understanding of what he meant to the nation.

Common Book 19 | Blade Runner

I’ve just come back from viewing the film Blade Runner 2049.

I was familiar with the original and I watched it again before going to see the new one. Although I knew that the film wasn’t designed to be a linear sequel but something that could stand on its own, I wanted to recall the tone and themes from the first installment in order make a clear comparison of how well each was handled.

I thought ht that the sequel did a good job of honoring the tone of the original but still attempting to offer something new. Bladerunner 2049 was a bleak film with a strong visual style that was understated in that it didn’t seek to draw attention to itself unduly.

Ridley Scott, the director of the original is known for his use of practical effects and Bladerunner 2049 Director Denis Villeneuve seemed to honor this approach with imagery that felt very solid and dimensional.

The storyline was well conceived and while it wasn’t an uplifting film it does pose some interesting questions about how we define our selves and give our lives meaning.

Ryan Gosling’s acting was very strong and he really had a presence that established the movies it’s narrative voice.

In one scene  in the film the monitors of Gosling (who is a replicant) are giving him a baseline test, which is essentially a test which determines if he is slipping mentally and the test uses a few lines from Nabakov’s A Pale Fire which I purchased recently after watching the film.

The poetry in the book is very interesting and I’m still not quite sure to wrap my head around it but it certainly broadens a persons perspective on narrative voice and authorship.blade-runner-2049-soundtrack-artwork

While Bladerunner 2049 was not a huge commercial success (most good films aren’t)  I think that it will have legs over time, it’s such a contemplative and layered film. Highly recommended.

Common Book 18 | FLC email

Over the last few weeks I’ve heard several rumblings from various professors about the level of enrollment at the college.

This came to a height after the school distributed the questionnaire asking students if changing the name of the school would be a good idea.

While my first reaction was that this effort to identify the failings and unappealing aspects of FLC by student inquiry struck me as a desperate attempt to find an answer that (to me ) seemed obvious, I thought that the questions themselves were a testament to the stupidity of the committee who decided to send this email blast out.

There are a few issues here. First, in order to identify what a group of people think about an issue, you never lead with your hypothesis. Asking if a name change would be beneficial biases any of the responses received.

Some might say that presenting the question helps clarify or focus the types of responses received. But I would argue that only authentic uninfluenced opinions matter. As long as there is a sufficient pool of student responses, some truth will be gleaned from the data.

Another issue is alumni donations. I overheard the President of the college talking about this directly. I can’t help but to see the iron in this kind of complaint as the reason alumni donations are low is because non of the alumni are making enough money to support the college through donations.

The reason they’re not making any money is because the college didn’t equip  them with the skills necessary to do so. Worse, the college acceptance rate is so high that their can’t possibly be any meaningful student vetting. I can attest to that based on my experience in the school thus far. There are a lot of unambitious, directionless idiots who, if they graduate, won’t do anything with their degree. But even if they wanted to, the school offers too many worthless degrees in areas that have little or no market value.

The degree of accountability on the campus is low, and the professors push their political agendas in lieu of actually teaching the things they were hired to teach.

I could mention 100 things that FLC needs to do differently in order to thrive but the people who make the decisions about the future direction of the school aren’t willing to set aside their ego  long enough to have it matter.

Common Book 17 | Game of Thrones

 

The Game of Thrones, based on the book series,'A Song of Ice and Fire' by George R.R. Martin
The Game of Thrones, based on the book series,’A Song of Ice and Fire’ by George R.R. Martin

I’ve just recently watch the most recent season of Game of Thrones, the HBO series based on the book series ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’ by George R.R. Martin.

The series as a whole has been one of the most enjoyable television series I’ve ever watched. The first few season of the series was very well done and had the source material to draw from and it really excelled in many ways.

The last season however has marked a distinct trend over the last three seasons that has become too distinct to ignore. The quality of the writing and the resolution of several storylines have been handled rather poorly and this is the result of the fact that the show has surpassed the storylines of the books.

If someone had asked me if I thought ht that there would be a marked decline in the quality of the show after the last season in which the show runners could source the book material, I would have said no simply because the producers have had the opportunity to learn enough about George’s style to do a reasonable mimicry.

But that hasn’t been the case, it seems that the energy and enthusiasm for the show has ran its course and the uninspired dialogue and expedient resolutions to storylines have stood out like a sore thumb.

I shouldn’t complain too loudly, as I’ve gotten far more value out of the series than I’ve paid into it. Further, I’ve become a better author as a result of reading the books more than a dozen times. It’s just a bit disappointing because a show of such impact and widespread appeal shouldn’t end in an anticlimactic way, but that appears to be what things are moving towards…

On the bright side, I think that it bodes well for the future in terms on television based entertainment. The format that HBO constructed for this series was perfect. A story of this magnitude couldn’t be conveyed in a film or even a series of films, it need the serial format. Many authors are shopping their work to On-Demand content providers like Netflix who can create an entire series and release it altogether on their platform, which gives the audience total control of the viewing experience.

Common Book 16| Youtube

Before I begin criticizing the platform, I have to confess that I’m an addict. I don’t own a television so I use youtube as my primary entertainment platform. I subscribe to several channels ranging from cinema to programming to political trends.

I’m so spoiled by the format that I find it difficult to take in any media that I can’t control by pausing or manipulating in some way.

youtubelogoIt has come to my attention that the revenue model that many channels which I subscribed to has been changed in order (presumably) t allow advertisers to determine the types of channels that their ads appear in.

For example, if a channel has politically charged material that is unpopular with certain types of advertisers then that ad won’t appear on those channels and the revenue stream is throttled. The creators of these channels have taken issue with the changes, especially those that made a handsome sum of money off of their youtube channels.

While I think it’s perfectly reasonable that advertisers be allowed to control what types of channels their ads appear on, my of the channel creators swore this as a type of soft censorship that youtube has instituted to discourage the growth of channels with controversial content, like channels which promote white supremacy, naziism, anti-feminism etc.

What’s interesting is that the creators of many of these types of channels press sale determination and superiority yet they cry fowl when youtube exercises their right to adjust the ad revenue model on their site, crybabies.

On the other hand, the types of widely enjoyed original content that is created by ‘unprofessionals’ is the life’s blood of youtube and to disregard the interests and business interests of their partners is unethical.

Maybe youtube creators need a Union.

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