Saturday, August 27, 2005

How curiosity yields great (if odd) results

Worried about the math and science abilities of the next generation? Let's get back their curiosity. While I loved the new "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory," the mark of our age is on it: sarcasm. Don't get me wrong, I'm a snarky commenter extraordinaire, but sarcasm is killing the "mystery" of the universe. We lose our wide-eyed wonder all too soon in this modern world.

So I'm relieved when I see people doing this:
Making a hamster-tracking system.

He had a simple question: how much time does my hamster spend on his treadmill? And in the true Da Vincian spirit he set up a methodology, and created whatever technology he needed to answer the puzzle.

Here are some sites to provoke thought, or...
Wikipedia, an online encyclopedia
The Straight Dope, fixing ignorance since 1973
listen to a different perspective
try some social software
build something cool
find out how much is inside

Podcast coming before too long folks!

Saturday, August 20, 2005

A little more about me before we continue...

OK, why would you keep reading/listening? Believe me, I'm no real "expert," just a curious dude exploring the universe. Gentleman scientist, armchair director, and general commentator... Do I create?

Hell yes! Here's my story in a nutshell:

I had the great fortune to see a college university growing up, because they were both finishing up graduate degrees while I was young. Around my 6th birthday my parents had steady jobs working in the chemical industry. This was a pretty good town too, as the BIG company paid lotsa taxes, so we had an excellent public school system. I grew up with summer camps in the woods, Space Camp a couple of times (won the Right Stuff award once), debate, theater, science, foreign language, the whole nine yards. I took a correspondence school class in Electronic Music Technology, and pioneered the use of the computer for publishing our annual. Very techy, but I also liked to draw, play music, and have fun with my friends...

In college I kinda did the "tune in, turn on, drop out" thing, although I never dropped out of school. I went from computer engineering to journalism to english. Forgive my grammar. I went to a very large university, and was exposed to several lifetimes worth of experiences. I also travelled a bit, to Europe and South America, where I have relatives. Good times, great oldies. It was working in the music library where I discovered the creation of the World Wide Web. In fact, I began using Mosaic when it was only a month old! I had used the internet in middle school and high school, but the web was a bold new frontier (duh).

Continuing my stint as a Renaissance Man, I went to film school after getting my B.A. in English (creative writing). My freshman film was the most ambitious fx-based movie ever done at the time. It was also pretty silly (sort of Ed Wood meets the X-Files). By the time I'd gradutated from film school I had a passion for animation (3d and 2d), writing, cinematography, graphic design, and something more... I kept up with technology, but didn't stay ahead. The best thing was that I got started working with video on the web, which led me to my move back to my old college town (well, that an my future wife).

When I came back to my old stomping ground I realized pretty quickly that film production here is nill, and the video waters are just sorta mind-numbing. Don't get me wrong, I worked with some amazing people-- but they were drinking a different kool-aid. No one seemed to get the tech angle I was proposing. Some of the elbows I rubbed could have done what Mark Cuban did, they just lacked the "vision" thing. Oh well, that can wait.

So I tired of the video production scene, and moved on to new challenges. For a brief while I worked on everything from construction crews to websites to databases. Then I landed my "dream job" teaching. I make good money, have a decent environment, and great hours. It keeps me and my family sane and well-fed. Mission accomplished. I only wish I had this training when I went off to film school!

Now that I've hit that famous plataeu, I feel like it's time to move on to other challenges. Thus, I turn inward. Time to improve my little monkey brain! Thus, the Da Vinci Notebooks. And the other blogs... No, I don't make movies any more, and what I did do aren't worth revisiting (same with the TV shows). I'm most proud of my latest accomplishments: teaching, writing, and raising 2 amazing kids.

Enough about me. Let's get on with it!

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Hi Everybody! plus, a quick tip

Well, I had no idea anyone was still around... Thanks for the comments. Seriously, those things drive me to blog more (and leave my family in the dust... just kidding honey!).

So my time's loss is your gain. I am going to try and get even more goodies on this blog. Creative toys, techniques, tips, tricks, honest & useful workflows, the whole shebango...

And there might even be a podcast coming! By popular request I will be resuming podcasting, even if it is on a sporadic basis. The good thing is, I'll make sure to try and get it in iTunes, so it'll be that much easier to get updates... More news as this develops.

Now for the quick tip:

Over at the Design Weblog David Chartier has a great little post about a cool design blog & series called Be Aware (link goes to number 2 in the 3 parts available).

And thanks for your support.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

The root cause of creativity?

I believe it's curiosity. Nuture it, encourage it in children. Without it, you're just another worker bee.

Now, to develop your creative chops, check this site out for dozens of different creative techniques (brainstorming is on there):

Creativity Techniques

Hats off to Darren Chan over at the Design Weblog for finding this one.