Quick Thought: alot

The word alot makes my eyes bleed. But it is cognate to awhile, and will probably be accepted as the correct/default spelling over time.

The word lotta, on the other hand, will likely take longer to make it. It’s dialect, and writing ‘lot of’ even well after anyone stops saying it wouldn’t be atypical of English generally.

Published in: on October 4, 2010 at 6:39 pm  Comments (1)  

On Angular Measurement: Part Two

Post two of angular measurement. Note that a ‘slice’ is equal to tau radians. Note that this is the difference between wandering in the wilderness and coming down from the mountain with the Word.  Ah well.

In the last post, we talked degrees and radians. Radians are less arbitrary in some sense, but less intuitive also, at least for most people, and I believe this to be more than just training.


Published in: on June 29, 2010 at 7:21 pm  Leave a Comment  

On Angular Measurement: Part One

Note: this blog post is about nine months old. I have a way of wandering off from a promising subject and getting involved in other things. In any case, as this whole discussion is now obsolete thanks to tau day, I’m publishing this in its raw form. For a proper treatment of the subject, click through the above link.

Our last discussion of standards dealt with the pure numbers of dimension, namely, base and scale. Lets turn our attention to angles.


Published in: on June 29, 2010 at 7:17 pm  Leave a Comment  

RepLab: Machines Making Machines.

Look around you. Look down, past your hands, at the keyboard beneath. Look at the frame of the screen you’re reading this by. You are seeing the products of machines.

Chances are you’re surrounded by them, from the light over your head to the pipes and beams below. You are clothed by the products of machines. Kept warm by them. Transported by them. They cultivate your food, keep it cool, and help you cook it.

Where are these machines? Have you met them? Do you know the humans who tend them? What are their lives like? What would happen to you if they stopped tending those machines, or if the machines stopped running because the oil was gone? (more…)

Published in: on November 28, 2009 at 7:41 pm  Comments (3)  

On Replication


There is a growing interest in self-replicating machines. Beginning with the RepRap project, and now continuing into RepLab, the open source FabLab, there is a serious effort to build machines which can build themselves.

It is a laudable goal. A machine which can make itself can also make an unimaginable variety of other machines, each unique if desired, and promises an era of material abundance and freedom from scarcity. Pursuing that goal, however, has shown the goal itself to be somewhat unclear. This is an attempt to remedy this situation.

Published in: on November 22, 2009 at 10:45 pm  Comments (3)  
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Notes on a 3-d Texture Printer

I saw my first MakerBot last week, at Noisebridge, and I was impressed. The resolution could use some fiddling with but the results are durable and attractive. A few design revisions and they’ve got this one nailed.

It’s a great platform and I want to see it taken to the next level. They’re working on a 3-d scanner, which is key; I’ve been musing about a way to hack the MakerBot platform to make for even more awesome.

So here’s the idea: a texture printer. Takes an ABS 3-d model and puts a texture right onto the surface. This is doable, like could be done in 2010 doable. (more…)

Published in: on October 6, 2009 at 7:42 pm  Comments (1)  

Preferred Numbers

In our last post, we discussed how standards can be somewhat arbitrary. A standard is a single number chosen from a span of values, any of which could be made to work. There’s no special reason, other than history, for a rail gauge of 1425 mm; it could easily be 1400, 1300, 1500, or anything in between.

How do we choose a number, then? Well, there’s a standard way of doing that too. All numbers are created equal, and are an ultimately arbitrary assignment of scale; once that scale is assigned, there are preferred numbers within that scale. How this works is interesting, and provides insight into the nature of standards. (more…)

Published in: on August 25, 2009 at 7:17 pm  Leave a Comment  

Standards are a Good Thing: the Meaning of ISO

I’m interested in our world of things and actions, how decisions we make play out as actual goods and activities in the world. This interaction, and how to steer towards a world of better-designed goods and activities (and what that would mean), is a theme I’ll be returning to in this space.

Right now I’m interested in standards. How they come into existence, when they help us and when they don’t, and on what merits a standard should be judged.


Published in: on August 21, 2009 at 11:27 pm  Leave a Comment