Monday, February 28, 2011

One Thing Is Certain

Austrian information sign 8a - motorwayImage via Wikipedia

One thing is certain. You can never be certain about your certainty. We act. One can ponder all day or make an impulsive decision, either way one must act. For action is all that we have. Even if you chose not to act, you have made an action. Nobody is truly certain that their choice is the correct one. You will undoubtedly doubt yourself. Thus is the paradox of life.

Life is chaotic. Life is simple. Life is sweet. Life is a fickle mistress. It can be coddled, cosseted, and protected only to miss the point. Life is to be lived. The roads are never easy. Life is dark. Life is scary. Life is uncertain. The paths we find ourselves on are never set stone. The choices and our actions are truly our own. Your life is yours. You navigate the way you see fit.

Everyone has to walk this road on their own. We amass a following, love of another, we bond relationships with people along the way. This is what weaves such an intricate story into each of our lives. For they are all unique, rich of information many never get to know. The ideas, thoughts, experiences, and emotions that forge the fiber of our being are the things that propel us down this path.

Where we end up is unknown. The effect we have is unknown. Don’t lose sight of what really matters. As we go racing toward our goals we inevitably miss portions of what we can never have again. Time.
Just a caution as I find myself all too often caught up in the frantic pace of my own mind. Never taking the time to enjoy the moment, always contemplating what I have no real control over at that particular moment, missing out on time that I can never recreate or regain.

Still… keep focused, just be more aware. I really need to heed some of my own ranting inspired advice. Self-realization is a fleeting thing though. A brief moment of clarity, then it’s make to the all to consuming madness of it all. Ha!      

As Always… Knock Hard… Life is Deaf…
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What is your vision of the future?

Photo of Unimate, the first production robot, ...Image via Wikipedia

My vision is probably a bit different than most. I suffer from a unique character flaw, one that I’m happy to possess; that I believe nothing is impossible. It is no secret that automation is my one true engineering love. While people fear that robots are going to take their jobs from them, I see a possibility to do tasking with a robot that the replaced user could control to carry out intricate tasking with a human operator who is assisted with the electro-mechanical assistance of a robot where they would have once stood all the while from the comfort of their home office.  Huge sentence put the point is made. Robot = bad and then oh wait… not so bad…

I believe that automation holds a unique key for us, the key to do more than we can naturally do, while still using the mental capacity of its human operator. This way we can make changes on the fly, do visual inspections, reduce work time injury, and the list goes on and on. The human error factor tends to hurt quality in repetitive operations, but without it more obstacles are usually encountered. Process flaws, rapid change implementation, creativity for process improvement, and overall versatility to name a few. Industrial robotics has been around for a while and robotic assistance is provided in many environments already. The improvement part is always up for grabs however.

User controls stations that can carry out multiple tasks from the operators control is a nice thought. One that could be stationary (or moveable with docking capabilities) would be great for many tasks that operate on lines. This would be more a machine with the employee onboard, or robotic with the pilot in the office or at home. It replaces some jobs, this is true, but allows for everything a company would need. Think about 24/7/365 availability with operators running shifts or even preprogrammed controls to operate menial tasks on its own.

Exoskeletons are another interesting take. Military applications, industrial applications, and general civilian applications present themselves with the versatility an exoskeleton could provide. From heavy equipment, heavy armament, to large capacity capabilities exoskeletons could provide massive support to operations in need. Imagine a firefighter exoskeleton that can navigate burning buildings with multiple options for firefighting and rescue operations. Tactical uses are apparently obvious, and other hazardous environment operations could be assisted with the strength and capabilities of an exoskeleton could provide.

Just random thoughts here that I hope one day I can tackle. The technology is already here, the price tags always seem too high, the need is apparent, and I hate having to wait for my chance to partake in something so awesome. Before you go screaming SKYNET just remember that A.I. is programmed by people. Until the machine is allowed, mean the creator gives it the ability to do so; it won’t be able to overthrow us. That’s the great thing about machines; we control them not the other way around. This is just my two cents.

Either way technology is rapidly advancing. Technology literally seems to travel at the speed of light. We can try to resist it, but the temptation of an easier way is a hard one to resist. We have real problems in store for us in the future. Our struggling power infrastructure throughout the world, rampant capitalism that will keep you shelling out money to stay on the grid, and an economic structure that impedes creativity more than allowing it will be a tough task to handle for sure. Everyone has their vision of the future. What role do you have in it?

As Always… Knock Hard… Life is Deaf…
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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Nerd Update

Personal digital assistant
Image via Wikipedia

Check out the resources section for your fill on nerdy topics. Recent additions have been in electrical engineering, free Autodesk software for students, web design, writing, music, etc. If you have a site or even sites you would like to share please let me know. I'd like to have a useful archive at our disposal here.

Remember to check, Resonate.TV, Engineering For Change, ReCareered blog, and the ever funny Hyperbole and a Half blog. That will have to do for now. I'll be back with some articles of interest to me soon enough. Until then this will have to suffice.

As Always... Knock Hard... Life is Deaf...
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Sunday, February 6, 2011

Super Bowl Time

CREAM OF WHEAT, BOYS PLAYING FOOTBALLImage by George Eastman House via Flickr

What entices people so much about the Super Bowl? Is it the chess match of strategy between the defense and offense? Is it the spectacular plays or hard hits? Perhaps it’s the struggle of the players themselves. There are plenty of stories generated during Super Week. The heart and soul of entire cities meet for a clash of the titans. Redemption of a quarterback and the true rise of a certain star are set to unfold. A certain pride is put into the fandom. Steelworkers throughout Pittsburg are clamoring for another championship. The Packers have a fandom deeply rooted throughout the citizens of Green Bay. Speed, strength, strategy, and a little luck will dictate the end. Football is chess match my friends. It’s not just guys playing a game out there. It is a mental war played out by each sides cast of characters. A strong running game, spectacular passing attach, strong defensives, and wily cornerbacks will have to work in unison to pull off what is sure to be a widely watched event.  

With the impeding disagreement between the players union and the NFL owners, this could be the last game we will get to see for quite a while. I believe both sides will come to an agreement before the beginning of the next season, as it would be foolish to leave money sitting when nobody is watching, and football will resume. This impending doom and gloom however serves a great backdrop for soaring ratings during this Super Bowl. Just think about the staggering numbers and money made from sells from television ads and sponsors.

Football is a business founded on a deeply enjoyed game. Entertainment is great business and the stories that accompany them are real. We can relate to the drama both on and off the field. The drama on the field is what sells the most. It is what the NFL sells. Blowouts don’t keep the seats filled, but then again once the tickets are sold does it really matter? Drugs, crime, sex, alcohol, injury and other problems seem to follow players. This makes the players lovable or despised, but either way you can relate in some form or fashion.

Unique fact about current football: 40% of NFL fans are now women. That’s right, women. Which means football night is now enjoyed by everyone! Awesome right? Yes it is! Especially for the business end of the NFL. Which points to why there should be no fretting over if there will be football next year. If you find yourself wondering what it could be like though, watch the movie The Replacements. It’s not great, but proves the point that it may not be the same people but the drama of football will still live on.

Now enjoy the game, the entertainment, and remember that greed may cause some of the distractions but will also serve why it is guaranteed to resume next year. So grab some pizza, some snacks, a couple of drinks, and prepare for a showdown between these two teams on the sports grandest stage. Let’s hope the commercials are good as well.

As Always… Knock Hard… Life is Deaf…
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This World Makes No Sense

The Knight's DreamImage via Wikipedia

That’s right, and you know it. Life has its moments of grand clarity, blurry doses, trembling excitement, and dismal accords that mix together oh so well. This mixture, this human concoction, is where we live. The highs and lows of life are normal. There is no soma holiday; there is no everlasting state of suspended grace. If this was true, it would never feel real. It would feel like a dream, which means that your brain is stuck in a delta wave pattern. You would be sleeping, never awake nor alert enough to notice the subtle changes going on around you. Dreams are great, but alas they are not real.

You know the joke about someone pinching you to make sure you’re not dreaming; both from a too good to be true dream or a freaking heart racing nightmare? Well I’ve been pinching for a while now, and it seems all too clear that I’m not dreaming. Things are often scary, tough, and make no sense. It feels as if I must be dreaming, but I know otherwise. It hurts when I pinch, I can feel it. Just as I can feel the disgust, the anxiety, the happiness from trivial gains, and the anger at even more trivial losses.

Politics and business go hand in hand. So does marketing, friendships, organizations (even the nonprofits), social issues, and just about anything else one could imagine. The often thought separation from work and personal life only exist in one’s mind. Everywhere you turn is a ticking time bomb. Driving down the road you have to worry about the mental state of the other drivers. We even give TV shows to degenerate losers, people who make horrible decisions, those that chase the coattails of the social elite, and even those who spend their husband’s money. Where is the character in that? We send all the wrong messages to people, and then wonder why in the hell we are in the predicament that we currently find ourselves in.

I have some quick questions for you. Is it more important to gain social standing or an education? Are trends a way of life? Is it acceptable to live off the system? Is tolerance a choice? Why do political parties hold the keys to government offices? Why do we laugh at those you run independent? Why does rent cost more than owning a house? Is profiling wrong? Are stereotypes unfair because of the negative light or the fact that they are often times true?

I shall stop there. This provides sufficient fuel to start the cogs to turn and points of view to burn. The haves and have nots are what it boils down too. The only commonality I ever see these days is greed. I’m really no different, but at least I realize this. I’ve been called an idealist, as if that is a bad thing, but I suppose it’s true. I’m just curious as how you make sense of the world. Are you willing to stereotype yourself or admit that it’s a complex problem compounded by the natural enemies of the human condition. I see greed, personal integrity issues, and tongue in cheek necessity these days. Play one against another or keep them just happy enough to play ball.

As Always… Knock Hard… Life is Deaf…
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Thursday, February 3, 2011

Okay Let's Talk

Knock OutImage by Severin Sadjina via Flickr

A few things are on my mind as of late. I've had a ton on my plate recently and am happy to say that things seem to be settling down now somewhat. With that being said, it seems more apparent now than ever before, that sanity or the lack of has taken complete control. 

For starters people love to put others down. Elitism of the nth degree, which I seem to suffer from as well, has reared its ugly head once again. I can’t tolerate those who see it a necessary task to belittle someone for no other reason than to stroke his or her ego. Educational elitism is the topic I’d like to discuss real quick.
Colleges are like a rash (they are everywhere), and those that buy into the hype that their institution always has, is, and will be the best program in the world are sadly mistaken. I’m sure the best CEO’s all went to Ivy League colleges’ right? Wrong! They are highly recognized institutions of learning, but the standard in which attending merely grants the graduate infinite wisdom is erroneous. The same goes in engineering (MIT and Georgia Tech), music (Berkley and MI), law or medical (Harvard) and the list goes on… I’m sure you get my point. For a baseline remember that JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, Morgan Stanley, and Goldman Sachs… fun stuff right? Bright leaders, great pedigrees, highly touted credentials, and still epic failure.  

What really matters is what the person can actually do. I’m amazed that the hiring process in many technical fields comes from an extremely simple test, or just verbally. Performance and achievements speak bounds. What really matters comes to the unseen, character driven qualities a person brings to the table. It takes passion for the field a person is in, the integrity to do what is right, and enough common sense to not do something tragically retarded like get greedy or sloppy.  It’s a lifelong endeavor and it defines the person you really are.

So when people decided to jump on students at a particular college and mock their attempt to pursue their dreams, I’m compelled to get offended for that person. It takes a certain drive to learn something, and there are several different ways to do just that. Some people learn from academia through the traditional process of scouring countless pages till their eyes bleed. Others learn more from the hands on approach. Well welcome to the difference of tech schools and colleges. Both produce intelligent people; however, the best is up to the candidate.

People have their own paths, views, strengths, and weaknesses. Financial reasons often dictate a person’s choice of school, but those reasons have nothing to do on their abilities. The typical sports fan approach of school greatness is based on fandom, and shouldn’t hold much more power than that. To belittle someone’s goals, no matter how lofty, is merely a foolhardy closed mindlessness that shows poor self-control and profound soft skill incompetence. That should be enough for me to let this obscure offender to wallow in disgust, but I’m just not that big of a man. The greatest thing to come from it is an often unseen catalyst that will hopefully propel the insulted person to do more than the insulter.

I’ll end this rant here for now. I hope you all share my views on this. If you don’t, that really sucks for you. Education is individual, personal, and lifelong. Never make it personal (in a negative nature) or you will find yourself staring down a five finger death punch. 

As Always… Knock Hard… Life is Deaf…
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