June , 2012
As it turns out, a low to medium level of background noise can actually improve your creative thinking! This article from The Atlantic explains.
May , 2012
November , 2011
A recent article explains the change to California law, which now requires kids to be in a booster seat until they are 8 years old or 4’9″ tall, whichever comes first. Previously, the cutoff was 6 years old or 60 lbs, whichever came first.
Making the criterion be height rather than weight makes a lot of sense, because how the seat belt hits a child depends more on height than on weight. For a seat belt to work properly, restrain the passenger, and prevent injuries, the shoulder belt should go across the chest, and the lap belt go across the pelvic bones. If the shoulder belt goes across the neck, or if the lap belt hits the soft tissue of the abdomen, the belt itself can cause injuries. And while safety and crash engineers have put a lot of thought and work into making all the safety features in a vehicle work for many sizes of people, it’s a tough challenge to make something work for children as well as, for example, a beefy football player.
I expect this to be another in the series of changes that have been reducing death and injury in automobiles.
October , 2011
This time of year, I always remember Matt Kahn’s design class (that I took back in mumble mumble year at Stanford). He always had a special class where we carved pumpkins. It had to respect the original folk art and be some kind of a face, though he also showed us a slide show of previous pumpkins and faces of humans and animals to get us started.
Article about the pumpkin carving class: http://articles.sfgate.com/2008-10-31/bay-area/17138809_1_bob-s-pumpkin-farm-annual-pumpkin-folk-art
Article about Matt Kahn’s career in general: http://www.paloaltoonline.com/weekly/story.php?story_id=13036
Pictures from the pumpkins from 2009: http://godutchbaby.blogspot.com/2009/10/stanford-pumpkin-art-2009.html
What are you going to carve?
October , 2011
So one of the ways I don’t fit in that well in Silicon Valley is that I’m not crazy for whatever the latest gadget is. Mostly when I hear about them I just think, “Why would I want to clutter my life with that?”. But I recently read about these electronic glasses and thought that they sound actually useful.
The article touts them as useful for people who have multiple pairs of glasses or currently wear bifocals or progressive lenses. But really, they could be useful for almost anyone who wears glasses. Personally, I find that when looking at something quite far away, like a sign a block away, I often end up pushing my glasses very tightly to my nose to get a slightly stronger effective prescription. I’ll bet many of us could use the ability to change our prescription if this new device becomes just a little less expensive.
May , 2011
So Magnus Larsson gave this TED talk entitled “Turning Dunes into Architecture”. His idea is to build a giant wall across Africa, to halt or at least slow down the desertification process that is happening there. The idea is to use bacteria that bond with the sand to make it hard, something like adobe.
It’s such a very cool idea, both useful and beautiful, and I wish I had some skills or knowledge that would be useful to such a project. But unfortunately I have a feeling that, as the saying goes, “technology is easy, politics is hard” and that the things that would stop such a project are political and social.