A Relatively Brief History of Time(keeping)

As many developers know, working with timestamps can be pretty terrible. But things weren’t always this way… They were worse. Clocks, and more specifically coordinated clocks are a modern invention. Getting the whole world to agree to a single, computer-friendly timekeeping system has been a pretty bumpy road. Read more on A Relatively Brief History of Time(keeping)…

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.

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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…

Technology Has Become Mundane, and that’s Amazing

Last night, I took a picture of what I made for dinner. It wasn’t anything spectacular — a salad, some grilled chicken, and a glass of Left Hand Milk Stout. Yesterday, someone brought their new puppy into the office. A large chunk of the office spent an appreciable amount of time looking at this puppy through the LCD screen on their phone. I, myself, snapped several pictures.

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Winter Bike Commuting

I’ve been commuting to work on a bicycle year-round in Grand Rapids, Michigan since 2005. I’m lucky to work at a place that’s so supportive of bike commuting, enabling me to ride in year-round for the past 8 years.

Winter riding, in particular, is what I find most enjoyable. No one should feel that snow, ice, or sub-freezing temps are insurmountable barriers for winter riding. Every morning I check the temp and see a sub-32F reading I think, “YES! No rain!”

The following are a few tips I’ve learned which will hopefully help and encourage you if you’re curious about trying a winter commute.

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