Taming the Photo Monster in 5 Steps

These days, almost everybody deals with something I like to call “The Photo Monster.” Most people have a fairly decent digital camera in their pocket wherever they go. We are taking pictures and shooting video all day, every day, and with each new phone upgrade, the size of our image files increases. As a result, our digital photo libraries are taking up more and more gigabytes (or in my case, terabytes) on our hard drives. For most people, the pile of unorganized photos is a beast on their computer, with tentacles spreading across folders and drives, without a hint of organization.

This is the Photo Monster. He is sleeping, waiting to be awoken when a child graduates from high school and needs a slideshow for their open house. What might have been a pleasant trip down memory lane becomes weeks of headaches and late nights.

Keeping one’s photo library clean, manageable, and navigable is worth the effort, but taming the monster can be difficult, and only the most dedicated can truly conquer it. While I can’t solve your photo organization problems for you, I can give you a few tips that will set you on the smoothest path to victory. Read more on Taming the Photo Monster in 5 Steps…

Biology in All of its Complexity

In the wake of the recent debate about vaccines and whether we keep our children “too clean” (hand sanitizer, removing all dust and allergens) or not “clean enough” (5 second rule, dust once a week), I thought it might be helpful to share a recent Econ Talk that I listened to titled Velasquez-Manoff on Autoimmune Disease, Parasites, and Complexity.

I thought it did a wonderful job of illustrating the differences between microbes and parasites versus viruses. Moreover, Velasques-Manoff astutely recognizes the complexity of human biology and cites examples illustrating that complexity and how unpredictable it can be. Read more on Biology in All of its Complexity…

Grade School Math – I’m Doing It Wrong?

It might come as a surprise to many of the readers of this blog that the way you learned to multiply and divide in elementary school isn’t necessarily the way students are learning it today. I know it came as quite a shock to me when my son told me, while I was trying to help with some simple multiplication problems, that I was “doing it wrong.”

So I am writing this post as a service to those readers whose children have not yet reached the elementary school grades when multiplication and division are taught. I will introduce and explain two of the techniques that are currently being used to teach multiplication and division in elementary schools: Lattice Multiplication and Partial Quotient Division (also known as Chunking). Read more on Grade School Math – I’m Doing It Wrong?…

Product Review: Nest Protect

In 2011, Nest Labs released their first product called Nest, a learning thermostat. The reviews were good, and Nest Labs was congratulated as being the first company to innovate on a product were little to no innovation has recently existed. In 2013 they did it again, releasing the Nest Protect, a smart, wireless-connected smoke and carbon dioxide detector.

Upon hearing of the Nest Protect, I ordered for my house immediately. My house, built in 1900, is not wired for inter-connected smoke detectors. Nor did it have working smoke detectors on every floor and in the bedrooms, which is the recommended home configuration. Nest Protects are not cheap, they’ll run you around $130 a piece. However when pricing out the labor costs of wiring my old house for smoke detectors, the $130 price tag started looking better and better.

Once installed, the Protects have a few new features beyond what a normal smoke detector provides.

Read more on Product Review: Nest Protect…

For the Love of Math

My background is in workplace design and architecture, and my skills tend toward the visual, spatial, and intuitive. I haven’t always held a love of math, and I struggled with its abstractions in school. But I’ve always had this intuition about its beauty.

Like many people, I browse the news at breakfast, and one recent morning the article How to Fall in Love with Math caught my attention.  While I was sipping my coffee, I read the article from author and mathematician Manil Suri.  I was drawn in by his examples of math’s broad appeal and he prompted me to “contemplate the elegance of infinity” instead of obsessing about my to-do list. Read more on For the Love of Math…

Jawbone UP Review

Six months ago, I received my first UP wrist band, by Jawbone. UP is worn daily and keeps track of your movements as well as your sleeping patterns. Over the last six months, I’ve had the chance to give the band a true test.

Generally speaking, the UP band is a great product. It’s comfortable to wear and has a unique look compared to similar products. The iPhone app is very user friendly, and many of the features I wanted have been added in updates.

Here are my thoughts on the UP’s main functions. Read more on Jawbone UP Review…

Access Travel Documents Offline with Evernote

The following is a quick description of how Evernote can be utilized to gather all of your information and paperwork before a vacation and access it offline. It’s quick and painless!

Here’s a glimpse of my Evernote Notebook that I’ll have offline access to, as seen on my iPad (click for a larger version). You can see it includes driving direction, ferry schedule, etc.

This is a camping trip in a remote part of Michigan — cell service will likely be sketchy. Because this information is stored directly on my iPad, there is no worry about connectivity, and everything loads especially fast.

These are my essential travel documents:

  • Driving directions
  • Tickets
  • Schedules
  • Tour maps
  • Reservation emails
  • “Touristy” stuff – interesting articles, restaurant lists, blogger recommendations, etc.

Read more on Access Travel Documents Offline with Evernote…

Econ Talk: Bernstein on Communication, Power, and Masters of the Word

I recently listened to an EconTalk on media and communication throughout history entitled, “Bernstein on Communication, Power, and Masters of the Word.”

I thought the podcast did a wonderful job of synthesizing the etymology of written language and the evolution of communication and language throughout history. Not too surprisingly — at least to me — that evolution hinged on the ease-of-access to the masses; where it went from a centrally controlled medium to almost entirely distributed.

I spent the time marking my favorite parts of the podcast below and made notes on each part. Enjoy!

Read more on Econ Talk: Bernstein on Communication, Power, and Masters of the Word…