Dragon Gliders

dragon_glider_h dragon_glider_a Henry, Owen, and I were a little lost for something to do and so we decided to make some wire models. Owen was more interested in using the wire along with a metal rod and a battery to create a magnet which he succeeded at. I don't have a picture, unfortunately. I tried thinking about how to create wire dragons and so got out the Dragonology book. What caught my eye was a glider and so Henry and I made the "dragon gliders" in the photographs. This project requires only wire, twigs, paper, glue, tape, scissors, pruning sheers, a tree, and about 45 minutes of time. (Mom supplied the wire. It is great being married to an artist because for almost any craft project it is very likely she has the materials.)

We walked alone in together time

David Acher's blog had a link to this amazing and scary image editing algorithm. The final sequence of the video might be title "We walked alone in together time."

Furoshiki

"Ms Yuriko Koike, Minister of the Environment, has created the "Mottainai Furoshiki" as a symbol of Japanese culture to reduce waste. Furoshiki is a Japanese traditional wrapping cloth which is used repeatedly in a stylish way. (The utilization of this "Mottainai Furoshiki" will contribute to reducing household waste from plastic bags.) The Minister presented the "Mottainai Furoshiki" at the Senior Officials Meeting on the 3R Initiative held in Tokyo, Japan on March 6-8, 2006" (source)

I just don't expect anything like this to come from Dirk Kempthorne, Secretary of the Interior or Samuel W. Bodman, Secretary of Energy. I can't even remember a time when I have heard either of their names in the news. Given the turmoil in US politics right now, perhaps this is good news.

Interaction through detailed printed pages

The Summagraphics SummaSketch II Graphic tablet came today. I have a vague idea for a board game augmented by software with the only interaction being through detailed printed pages. Since I know next to nothing about board game design I am starting with the software and hardware. Hopefully, I will soon learn more about broad game design and embedded systems.

Update: I have no idea where the tablet has disappeared too. Sigh.

From each, according to his ability; to each, according to his need.

Henry & Owen have been helping me look for work. Their suggestions are sincerely given and show how equivalent all work is for children. The two suggestions I like most are waiter at Blue Bird (a local not-so-greasy greasy-spoon) and cashier at Belmont (our favorite local market).

I was a teenager in England during the 1970s and so saw the tail-end of Britain's efforts at socialism. The Labour government and the unions were at war with each other and the people of Britain suffered. The government held firm on wages (sometimes threatening de-nationalization) and the unions hit back with strikes and the hated "sympathy" strikes. So, while my experiences of socialism were not positive, I never blamed the movement but instead the poor execution of it by the new powerful elite, former blue collar works, occupying both government and unions. So, Henry's & Owen's suggestions reminded me of Marx's words "From each, according to his ability; to each, according to his need." Too bad it didn't work out.

Will Code for Money...

I am no longer at Tazz Networks and so am looking for new work. If you know of opportunities please forward the information to andrewgilmartin at yahoo.com. If you want to know more about my skills please see my resume.

Wikipedia needs MAPA

I have been thinking about Wikipedia a bit more than usual recently. Even at "the pond" where Chris and I go with the kids to swim and relax with friends there have been Wikipedia discussions. Thank goodness that I actually pay attention to Geoffrey Bilder's trust del.icio.us links and so I had something to contribute. On the drive home yesterday I was thinking again about Wikipedia and wikis in general and it occurred to me that they need MAPA [*1][*2].

MAPA is a system for mapping web sites. The mapped pages are hierarchically displayed using orthographic projection and presented using progressive disclosure. That is, MAPA does not try to show everything but instead shows mapped pages around a focal mapped page and you refocus the map by selecting any other focal mapped page. The orthographic projection's two and half dimensions reduce obscuring the map when further annotating or adorning the presentation of the map and mapped pages. This is the visual side of MAPA.

What was equally important to MAPA's success as a map was that it discovered the content's natural hierarchy using David Durand's "organizer". Where the discovery was not quite right, hints could be given to the organizer to re-arrange the hierarchy. What was truly magical was that often only a handful of hints were necessary to map sites as big as ibm.com and javasoft.com (aka java.sun.com). And this is where I think MAPA could really help the Wikipedia. Even if you don't believe knowledge can be strictly organized hierarchically, having some hierarchy would greatly aid anyone orienting themselves within the Wikipedia content after having just jumped there from a Google search result.

[*1] "MAPA: a system for inducing and visualizing hierarchy in websites" http://www.kahnplus.com/download/pdf/mapaht98.pdf
[*2] "Applications of Isometric Projection for Visualizing Web Sites" http://www.dynamicdiagrams.com/all_pdfs/idj_10_3.pdf