Friday, October 25, 2013

Visualizing 1 Million

vlogbrothers put out a neat youtube video today about our poor comprehension of big numbers.

Here's my way of visualizing 1 million.  This image is 1000 pixels * 1000 pixels. It has a dot every other pixel so has 500 x 500 = 250,000 dots.

By printing this scaled to fit on a single US letter page, most modern office printers should be able to print at a resolution such that individual dots are just visible.  Print 4 pages, and stitch together and voila... 1 million dots:

Friday, October 18, 2013


After I did this slide I felt it needed a bit more explanation.

I had the idea about a week ago and it went through a few phases of evolution and the day I finally drew it I was actually really sick so I don't think I got a chance to illustrate my ideas that well.

Here's a breakdown of it:

It's 3 plots showing the % of maximum possible life time accomplishment at any given stage of life.

The purple plot is the actual maximum you could possibly have achieve during your life thus far at each age. I kind of have the idea that most people have the most productive potential from their mid-twenties onward due to experience, but maybe this view is outdated and of course we all know there are exceptions.

The green plot is of what you believe you can achieve during your life at any given age. I realize this is probably the least obvious of the graphs and it's addition might actually be confusing the whole joke. The point I wanted to illustrate here is that 4 is a key age, when what you believe is possible tends to infinity. This happens because your awareness of potential in the universe grows faster than your awareness of limitation. My son is four and a half now... I can vouch for this.

The final red plot is just a simple straight line showing that we underachieve. The main joke of the slide is of course that the formula for the typical low potential plot is much simpler than the maximum potential one. 

There is also the second joke of the whole concept of coming up with what are all essentially simple mathematical formulas to predict lifetime accomplishment (perceived or otherwise) is itself a gross oversimplification.

Anyway, for anyone concerned I'm feeling much better after a couple of days of rest.

FooPlot is the cool free web tool I use for graphing stuff.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Tilley Lamp

When I was a kid, my dad owned a Tilley Lamp exactly like this one. We'd take it on every camping trip and I was always fascinated by it. Everything about it seemed magical, and when at maximum pressure, the mantel can be amazingly bright. It could almost light up a whole field if needed... I will ask him if he still has it.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

How to make a REAL bow and arrow for kids!


  1. Stick
  2. Brass coat hook + 2 small hangers
  3. String
  4. Elastic bands
  1. Stick (cane/bamboo)
  2. Metal screw for weight
  3. Cork (to place over screw and make child safe)
  4. REAL PEACOCK FEATHER (semiplume) for fletching!

1) Arrange thus and apply to child (in this case my son, Miran):

2) Use iPhone to take amazingly-timed picture.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

New Site

Launching my new site tomorrow. Excited, but I'm a bit nervous that I now have to keep updating it. I'll find a way.

Friday, August 2, 2013


Just started using Amazon EC2 for a project at work and discovered that the servers in the cloud are faster than our local ones. Also - the view from the kitchen in my office:
Are clouds allowed to be that pretty?