Monday, March 14, 2016

Happy Practical Pi Day

Vi Hart has pretty well convinced us here at Digital Diner that Tau Day is much more worthy of celebration that Pi Day, however, I must admit that this year's Pi Day rant is quite good.  After all, 3.1416 is much closer to Pi than 3.1415, so why were people so much more excited about 3/14/15 than 3/14/16?  Today is Practical Pi Day... and so, despite the overhyped nature a Pi, we still believe that most any cause for celebration is good.
In fact, maybe we are looking at this all wrong.  Maybe for Pi Day we should be limiting our selves to a mere half circle's worth of pie each rather than Tau Day (6/28) when we binge on an entire pie.  So, while gluttony is fun and all, it may be better for us to stick to our demi-pie today?  Nah.. that doesn't make sense... just eat as much as you want.

However you celebrate, have a great day!

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Happy 2016!

Happy New Year dear Digital Diner readers!

Since it was a gorgeous day yesterday, we took our newly registered quadcopters out to the coast for a little photography and thought that we would share the resulting video with you.  Take a look and enjoy the scenic California coast on a gorgeous January day.

We wish you all a prosperous and fulfilling 2016!

Thursday, November 5, 2015

I'm so very glad to see that the future has arrived...

Finally!  An automated breakfast system that is right for my home!

Yeah... that is kinda how I figured the future might be.  Or maybe even like this.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Thursday, December 18, 2014

My Favorite Tools?

The right tool makes so much difference.  Sometimes things I've been stuck for hours on a problem... until I find just the right tool... and voila!  As good as done.  Sometimes, just the thought of the right tool can make you want to... well... sing!  Enjoy the video.

I just kinda liked this, so I thought I'd share.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Is agriculture the new high tech?

Tribe Awesome - now they are movie stars too

Kirsten Dirksen is a filmmaker living in Spain who makes some really great films about interesting things people are doing to change the world.  Our own Tribe Awesome was fortunate to get her attention and she has just released a short film about them and their work.  She visited them here at Digital Diner over the summer and spent a little time with the kids talking about their work to create new ways to grow plants. The results are the 15 minutes of YouTube brilliance below.  While it may be difficult to mess up with such compelling stars :-), Kirsten weaves together a really nice story just from spending an afternoon with the kids and letting them talk.  Please find 15 minutes to give it a look.

Just a few key points that the kids bring up, which I really love:
  • California is in a serious drought.  80% of our water goes to agriculture.  The techniques Tribe Awesome uses take as little as 2% of the water that traditional agriculture takes.
  • Aeroponic plants grow much faster than traditional plants.
  • When you control the nutrients you control the lifecycle of the plants.  You can promote blooming at just the right time to produce fruit when you want it
  • Weeds don't grow in these buckets because there is nowhere for them to take root.
Great job Kirsten and congrats Tribe Awesome!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Interesting use for a drone

Here at Digital Diner, we love our quadcopter.  It's just so darned much fun to play with.  Still, drones are getting such a bad name these days, its hard to say what the future of this amazing technology will be.  That is why, I'm really pleased to see a positive use of the technology that really makes good sense.  I don't know how realistic this is, but I think the scenario is very interesting.

Imagine that you are walking through the city when your friend collapses from an apparent heart attack.  What do you do?  Well, first you dial the emergency number to get help.  As it stands now, they talk will you through the process of doing CPR on the victim while you wait for an ambulance to wind its way through traffic.  This can be quite a daunting task to someone who is watching a friend or family member suffer.   What if, instead, a drone could fly to your location much faster and give you instructions and tools that could save your companion's life?  Check out the video and see what you think.

Full story from TU Delft

Via Neatorama

Geeky pumpkin carving contest

Pumpkins with lasers!  Now we're talking!

Tis the season for the pumpkin carving contest.  Of course, we at Digital Diner think that the best way to observe traditions is often to geek them out a bit.  NASA agrees with us, and when the folks at JPL have a pumpkin carving contest, they go all in.  Check out the video below to see what I mean.  Woohoo!  Lasers!

via LaughingSquid
Thanks Todd

Thursday, October 30, 2014

The Lab Notebook - a questionnaire

The lab notebook

Ah, the good old fashion lab notebook.  At the beginning of the semester it was the picture of order with its sharp corners and that new paper smell - blank, empty and ready to accept all my new ideas.  By the end of the semester, it was dogeared, stained with some combinations of chemicals and pizza grease and full of the realizations and insights that made me who I am now.  When I was in school it was an elemental tool in the pursuit of scientific truth.  Experimentation without a lab notebook was unthinkable.  It was elemental for anyone considering a technical field.

The thing is that was then; before computers and tablets and smartphones and sensors were everywhere... back when math was hard because you had to do the calculations yourself - by hand.  Now we have tools that have profoundly changed the way that we approach science and technology.  Computers record and graph data for us.  Tablets and phones are in our pockets at all times to record notes and even take pictures.  With all these changes, what has become of the venerable lab notebook?  Is it still a staple?  Is it gone completely?  Has it evolved?

We at Digital Diner have decided that we would like to find out what you think of the role of the good old lab notebook.  If you are in a scientific or technical field, we'd love it if you would take just a few minutes (probably < 10 min) to fill out our questionnaire and also to ask your friends to do the same.  It would be a huge help for us in our pursuit knowledge and an understanding of the state of the lab notebook.

Pass it on - Please ask your friends to fill out the questionnaire too... 
It's quick.  It's easy.  It's for the good of citizen science!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Commercialism and Art

You've probably had a conversation with a friend at one time or another about a band that went something like this:

"I liked their old stuff better... before they got discovered."
"Yeah, they used to be great, but now they are all pop... they really sold out."

I always wondered about that term "selling out."  It is like we as a culture have decided that coolness is lost when something gets too popular.  It is cool to like things before they get popular, but rather than just reveling in saying "I told you they were great!" we insist on saying that once they get popular they aren't as cool any more.  It isn't just art.  Yes kids, even Microsoft was cool until they got big.  Apple and Google are reaching that point now.  We seem to always want to root for the underdog.  We want to support those who have a clear mission... not about making money, but about changing the world.  If they get too big and successful, we question that mission.  Art is corrupted by money.  Commercial interests dilute art.... or so we believe.

Sekou Andrews

Yesterday I was at the Quickbooks Connect conference (which was surprisingly good).  It started off on an incredible note, which is why I decided to tell all of you.  The lights went down and the pre-music faded and a face appeared on the large screen.  It said "it starts with poetry."  The face belonged to a fellow named Sekou Andrews.  What followed was an amazing performance by Sekou of a poem about how people follow their passions and find an entrepreneurial spirit and courage and make things happen and create a web of connected, like-minded souls who together make a difference in the world.  It was poetry about small business.  And it was amazingly great.  Who'd a thunk it?  He is one of the most engaging and energetic speakers I've ever seen.  It was like an incredible slam poetry reading that was beautiful and insightful and thought provoking and... it was about small business.  It was an amazing work of art about the beauty of commmerce.  The thing is, it was amazingly great and powerful and intense and inspirational.  It was as moving as any poetry reading I've heard in years... and it was about... business.... and it was cool.  How did he do that?  That isn't supposed to work is it?   I was there and I have no idea.  But, it was amazing enough that I thought I should introduce you to Mr Sekou Andrews with the video below doing his thing that a he calls Poetic Voice.  Watch and enjoy.

...and to Sekou Andrews, yes you are awesome (and we are sort of experts on awesome).  Thanks for the performance.