Sunday, August 26, 2007

Making the Rounds

Bybee Lake, North Portland

Thank you Larry, for cuing me about this Portland Century event, this year a fundraiser for Hands On Portland (a former DWA bookkeeping client), with catering provided by Madison's Grill (yummy salmon).

We took off around 9 AM over the Hawthorne to the Springwater Corridor, which took us to Gresham by way of Sellwood. Then surface streets to Marine Drive in Troutdale, and a loop back around Bybee Lake, then back to downtown by way of the University of Portland and the Broadway Bridge.

The finishing line, like the starting line, was in the PSU park blocks.

About 50 miles all told.

Our party: Larry, Gordon, Suzanne and myself, later joined by Brian with the way cool bike with radio controlled gears.

Larry is a pilot in training, and organizational consultant. Gordon helps support people who prefer cash to credit cards for phone bills and such. Both Larry's and Gordon's kids tend to speak more than just English.

Suzanne has a lot of street cred in NGO world, including in Sri Lanka.

Larry and Suzanne were my ride mates for this year's Bridge Pedal as well, along with Larry's wife Chris. Great seeing Gordon again.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Summarizing Synergetics

2*P*F**2 + 2 (in Python) is a bridge twixt lexical and graphical, with the multiplicative coefficient symbolizing the duality of concave/convex, and the additive two symbolizing axial spinnability. P controls details of shape, is a product of primes. F is a relative time-sizing parameter, with its 2nd power denoting surface area, pixel density or whatever.

The M/P is part of an "above/below the line" motif, as is 4D/4D++. In each case, "above" is outside of time the way XYZ is, before we add a time variable. "Below" is the realm of Heraclitus, always changing (full of energy). U (Universe) is a synergy of both.

There's a tension between fourness and fiveness, with the former symbolizing both open-mindedness (cuboctahedron) and a closed system (tetrahedron), the latter a self-centered rationality in rebellion (icosahedron). Something like that i.e. we don't actively defend against Jungian type readings, the way some of the more literal-minded self-disciplines do.

There's an "energy has shape" theme in that the E from Einstein's famous energy equation is fed into the eternal shape mix-master, adding whatever Eulerian topological qualities to this Gibbsian stew (or brew). Translated: energy comes in patterns with their own timeless integrity.

Friday, August 24, 2007

OLPC Videos

I've been sampling the OLPC clips on YouTube and have learned quite a bit, about the Sugar interface, about the difficulty of doing text in Pygame (15:11).

But as I remarked on Synergeo earlier today (35203):
OLPC is a little bit complicated because curriculum vectors are through cyberspace, not hardware per se. The web on an XO looks much the same as the web on anything else. Same Mozilla browser. And so in a lot of ways, doesn't care if it's an XO or a ~XO. We share ~M! either way.
The ~M! meme has to do with our efforts to escape from the "traditional math" vortex, as apparently there's a "no Fuller allowed" rule in there... so why stay?

Escape velocity seems attainable. Going back to the bad old days would be hard.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

More for the Queue

Math Forum:

Re: Problem solving with technology - TRE Study
Posted: Aug 23, 2007 1:09 PM

A traditional dynamic is students seek the endorsement, blessing, of some teacher who has a track record with other teachers and/or admissions departments. "This teacher isn't lying" is the reputation a teacher would like, about his or her students. So there's a quality control aspect to it: a teacher becomes known by the caliber of his or her students.

A factory floor approach to education tends to render this process somewhat more anonymous, in that teachers think they have ways to fade into the woodwork and not have reputations as individuals, but only as schools, as faculties. They hide behind state certification or whatever.

I think with the Internet we're moving back to an age where teachers are individually tracked and judged. You either have an impressive portfolio, and lots of stellar students claiming you as their teacher, or you don't. Publication still matters, but that's interpreted more broadly, given cyber-space and multimedia.

Many of tomorrow's teachers will begin their careers on YouTube. We see that already.

In the case of the gnu math stuff I write about, we have relatively few teachers over 30, though I think that's changing as we recruit more people from NASA and like that.


Math Forum:

Re: More Prototyping (gnu math thread)
Posted: Aug 23, 2007 12:56 PM

A lot of this gnu math stuff works backward from what we anticipate will remain important technologies just beneath the surface in many scientific and engineering applications, namely tcp/ip and sql.

At the college level, we expect decision points leading to pure math of the type Adrian endorses. Until then, K-12 has a "keeping doors open" design, which means we have technical careers more generally in view. This low level numeracy training is not about becoming a math professor any more than teachers of the English sequences expect only professors of that discipline to emerge from the ranks of its test takers.

However, it turns out a lot of traditional topics remain key even where tcp/ip and sql are motivating elements. Graph theory, a branch of topology, and spherical geometry (displaced by Newtonian calculus in recent memory), will remain important to many high schoolers, since our network of hosts is GIS/GPS mappable, with databases supplying the storage infrastructure, including DNS lookups.

Specialization comes later, in a liberal arts context, where the faculty are supposedly at the top of their respective games and therefore recruit more effectively, as chief advocates or avatars for their respective disciplines.

Our K-12 students, in the mean time, will have developed their critical thinking skills to a point of not being easily bamboozled ("virtual presidents" metaphor), so that departments that've slipped a bit will have a market-controlled way of measuring the discrepancy, which will presumably goad at least some faculty teams into returning to former glory, whatever that means in that context.

So anyway, we'll still have lots of geometry (with geography a combined topic, as the Egyptians intended), with lots of vector algebra, lots of calculus (though more compressed, by today's languid standards).

I expect O-notation to make a bigger splash, per Knuth's suggestion.

Old text books will still be usable/minable, especially as their copyrights expire and they appear on Google. The most up-to-date frameworks for contextualizing this older content will remain cyber-spatial, as now.

This is what I anticipate in any case. I may be off base in some of the details. Venn Diagrams definitely have a bright future. Data structures, OO... I'm pretty secure in my predictions around Python, as those are already coming true in many contexts.

Gnu math isn't owned and operated by me in a vacuum. I need to pay attention to my geek peers, and I do.

That's why I think I'm safe in saying MVC is here to stay, as a key heuristic, along with SQL and TCP/IP. Authors of strong K-12 alpha-numeracy writing (which includes lots of attention to Unicode) will typically demonstrate mastery over these concepts -- a refreshing change next to most of the wimpy stuff that passes for K-12 math stuff today.


Synergeo (#35179):

Re: Cloud Nines
Posted: Thu Aug 23, 2007 10:55 am

There's a lot of engineering testing on hold while people squander their short little lives on dead end projects for which they won't be remembered, or, if remembered, not fondly.

Reflexes have been slow to catch up with the new realities. But hey, that's the human condition according to Synergetics: slow reflexes (see "lag" in the index)

I enjoy screening the movie Idiocracy for people. Took it to Lithuania, along with Revolution OS and The Jerk starring Steve Martin.


Monday, August 20, 2007

Queued @ Math Forum

[ math-teach turned into a moderated list in the Summer of 2007, so the data structure known as a "queue" became more self evident ]

More Prototyping (gnu math thread)
Posted: Aug 20, 2007 3:05 PM

Per Summer of 2007 developments, we're consolidating around MVC as a useful abstraction. That's Model, View, Controller.

'Model = global climate model' in many a namespace, with a public increasingly wanting to know how the Renaissance in geospatial is going to impact their lives, for good or for ill. Views = ugly, unless you study design principles, such as well captured in Tufte or other masters. Controllers = any Logic amenable to machine execution, which is most of 'em by this time.

In the 8th grade, we associate Algebra and Modeling, using Sims type analogies to explain arrows and boxes, ala MIT's Forrester studies, other simula such as Dom Rosa oft criticizes -- but which we have need of in the adult world, so someone should learn the ropes, no?

Algebra has the advantage of remaining invisible to the naked eye, unlike Polyhedra, which sometimes get confused for the real thing, and so should be relegated to the category of Views perhaps. The "connecting around in all circumferential directions" characteristic pertains even invisibly however.

By 9th grade, we're ready for Vector Algebra, a small tweak to make our set members more graphical. We have closure under addition. It's also easy to adopt various forms of "multiplication", some of which disclose properties of the underlying manifold (field properties).

We're laying a groundwork, in other words. The controller language is whatever comes with the teacher. Some come shrink-wrapped in Perl, others in Ruby. Just because the machinery is discrete doesn't mean we can't model Calculus.

By 10th grade, we're doing Polyhedra, following a lot of the same Euclidean templates as before, with regards to proof by deduction, mathematical induction. We do more with Euclid's Algorithm for the GCD, including extended.

That's because we're aiming to cover RSA by the end of 12th grade, with branch points available in the 13th to cryptography, Internet security, other important careers.

None of this is all that new, minus the headline, which is agreement around MVC as an important design element. That gets us access to such topics as SQL and GIS/GPS in a hurry, meaning back to that geospatial and all those simulations of the global climate that so concern us.

Kids need to be able to track what the adults are focusing on. That's a moving target. One cannot afford to always recycle yesteryear's curriculum, that much is clear.

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Registered: 12/6/04

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Dutch Masters

I took in some Rembrandt and contemporaries yesterday evening, in the company of two doctors and a lawyer, roughly my age, and all fetching women, except Mary is my cousin (our grandmothers were sisters) and the other two are married.

We scooted from the Portland Art Museum gift shop to Old Wives Tales for some sisterly chatter afterwards. I got that Hungarian mushroom soup and the salad bar, ending with Tillamook peppermint ice cream and black coffee.

These Dutch Masters were at the top of their games, as were so many of those in their frames. The Dutch were enjoying some of the highest living standards ever known. Yet the Vanitas near the entrance delivered the punchline about death and taxes. This was a human skull, exquisitely depicted from six angles (placed in different partially overlapping locations (this ain't your grandmother's cubism)), an hourglass in one corner, a burning-in candle in another.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

A Busy Day at the Office

Accessories: Ubuntu Dell on wireless,
toyz, Seattle's Best, OSCON bag

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Wanderers 2007.8.15

We entitled this meeting At the Edge of Chaos, an allusion to a fun book by that name which suggests optimal computing conditions occur in this sweet spot just on the edge of a phase change. A Santa Fe Institute kind of thing.

I arrived over an hour into the action, with the tux droid in my charge. Bill made it flap and spin.

Crunchy also asked to become a Wanderer. We may not be ready to cross that bridge yet.

David Feinstein showed up at our meeting's conclusion, to further discuss computer-assisted decision-making, a dynamic process that in no way leaves everything to automation.

Yes, it might be abused as a crutch, but on the other hand his framework comes with a lot of time-saving built in intelligence, which could be a boon, especially if there's a lot riding on the outcome.

Part of his tool's effectiveness depends on judges understanding the logic behind it and buying in to the process as a result. Deliberate obfuscation is not part of the plan. However, David is still looking for more field testing opportunities, as any good designer would for his prototypes.

Future funding might give judges better hand held devices than text messaging cell phones, but one does what one can, with the resources available.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Cute T-Shirt

:: design by Benny Kohl ::

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

HP V (movie review)

Stormy Harry experiments with the idea he might be a nutter, one likely consequence of doing magic in public.

Moral of the story: with friends like these, it just might be worth it. Harry's in heaven.

Harry Potter for Everyone!


Sunday, August 05, 2007

Show and Tell

I thought I did a pretty good all American classic living room slide show presentation last night, like a travelogue, and with the Ubuntu Dell laptop & Optoma, instead of a slide show projector.

I spun my Beryl cube of desktops, showing Rose Festival, July 4 picnic, Lithuania, Tara's ceremony, me at Reed, teaching at PSU, attending OSCON & Ubuntu conferences.

I also went through my Connecting the Dots presentation [warning: 3.2 meg] in about 5 minutes (an included "lightning talk" as we call 'em).

Yes, it's all about me (grin). Actually I wasn't the only buckaneer in the room. Robin, also a Jay Baldwin fan, helped me sustain a public conversation about hexapents. She's from my "boomer echo" generation.

Also part of this show and tell: controlling Crunchy, who performed without a hitch herself. Earlier I'd been worried about the butt spinner, but then learned in a coffee shop that said spinner is disabled whenever the recharger is plugged in, as a security precaution.

[ I'm concluding that digitalspace's new owners are less competent than the outgoing crew. Like, they're all proud they have level three engineers who can restore broken default behavior, which is for .py files to show their contents when clicked on, as the default icon connotes -- proud they can, but really don't have to. From India maybe? Maybe just seriously overworked. Maybe there's only one level three engineer for every 30,000 customers.


I ended the show with Nelson Mandela talking about the spirit of Ubuntu, a default inclusion on the Ubuntu Linux distro.

The Optoma had more projection duties this morning: slides from Darfur, presented by Paul Barker, regional head of CARE. I'll post some more thoughts in my Control Room on that.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Inner Sanctum (a storyboard)

I hatched this up with some other writers last night: a cartoon in which stereotyped casts of conspirators keep opening a secret door to reveal... a yet more inward conspiracy (yielding room after room as the camera keeps zooming in to the next shocking truth).

In the funnier versions, we'd keep closely encountering these ET-like sanctums, like under the Denver Airport. Then some wizened grey points to a hatch (like in Lost) through which "the real boss" comes into focus: like Meyer Lansky and cronies?

We could play with figure eights, other looping structures.

Poking fun at paranoia (always a dangerous exercise (grin)).

I'm trying on NASA Night Launch, a darker skin for my FireFox web browser -- another manifestation of shifting tastes as I recalibrate my intake (I'm making it crunchier), with expert coaching from a philosopher I know.

Later today: I saw Penn & Teller's Bullshit! episode on Conspiracy Theories at a friend's, the DVD on loan from Multnomah County Library.