Tuesday, June 29, 2010

My Hobby: Collecting Hobbies

I have come to the realization that there is a hazard inherent in possessing a broad range of interests. I have a tendency to accumulate hobbies and projects. This can be problematic for someone with the attention span of a gnat. Something (usually stumbled upon serendipitously) grabs my interest, I throw myself into it with zeal for a while, researching it, cobbling together just enough resources to get my feet wet, then.... Ooh, shiney!  Something else captures my attention.

Rinse, repeat....

And so it goes. Over time, my home fills with the detritus of unfinished projects, a mishmash of half-finished wonders and curiosities. (There's another hobby of mine: finding opportunities to use the word "detritus." It tickles me to say it. Detritus! Hehe.) And, all along, I think to myself "I'll get around to finishing that...someday." Consequently, I've become somewhat notorious for starting projects and not finishing them. The rare occasion when I DO finish a project is therefore truly cause for celebration.

So, as an aid to myself in organizing and prioritizing these hobbies and projects, and to give others a bit of insight into my interests, I present my hitherto unknown "List of Hobbies and Projects," complete with annotations regarding their current status. Enjoy.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Ooh, toys....

Meet Chumby, a digital picture frame/internet appliance with a 3.5 touchscreen display. Essentially an ARM device running Linux, it was designed by its creator, Andrew "bunny" Huang, to be hackable, and he even encourages creative uses of the device. It is even available in kit form. Some have even tinkered with connecting it to Arduino devices, an idea which has sent my mind reeling with ideas, including using this combination as the controlling mechanism for a small CNC router that I've been wanting to build for quite some time.

Now, at just over a c-note, the Chumby packs in a lot of value, but doesn't offer much in the way of screen real estate. That's where the just-announced Insignia Infocast comes in. Available exclusively through Best Buy, the Infocast is basically a scaled-up Chumby with an 8" display. And Mr. Huang has provided details on the Infocast for would-be hackers.  Ooh, the possibilities....

UPDATE: Arduino and Chumby procured. Let the fun begin...

Friday, June 18, 2010

Of Bees and Spherical Chickens

In tackling problems in science and engineering, a vital tool in the problem-solving arsenal is making assumptions which simplify the calculations by ignoring or minimizing the contributions of factors which have little or no impact on the outcome. Examples of such simplifying assumptions include ignoring friction and air resistance, or, in the case of particle physics, ignoring the effects of gravity. So pervasive is the use of such simplifying assumptions, that it has spawned a joke which eventually made its way into an episode of CBS' "The Big Bang Theory." (Finally, a series about My People!) This practice of simplification even became fodder for an xkcd comic.