Archive for the ‘Tech and Life’ Category

Interesting observation when you look at the angle increments on a circle, equally divided down to the smallest integer intervals (45° apart):

0°, (Twelve o clock), 45° (1.30), 90° (3.00), 135°, 180°, 225°, 270°, 315° and 360° – all the digits of these divisions add up to exactly 9.

And when you multiply 9 by anything, the digits of the answer also add up to 9, (except multiples of 11 x 9, which have to be divided twice, as in:  11 x 9 = 99 -> 9+9 = 18 -> 1 + 8 = 9).  or 22 x 9 = 189, 1 + 8 + 9 = 18, 1 + 8 = 9).

I plugged some randomly high numbers into a calculator to test the theory beyond what I can do in my head, and here’s what I got:

9 x 103 = 1107. 1 + 1 + 0 + 7 = 9.

9 x 358 = 3222.  3 + 2 + 2 + 2 = 9.

9 x 774456 = 6970104.  6+9+7+0+1+0+4 = 27.  2+7 = 9.

9 x 1155 = 10395.  1 + 0 + 3 + 9 + 5 = 18.  1 + 8 = 9.  Incidentally, 1155 is 105 x 11: another multiplication of 11.

Going in the other direction, 9 is 3 squared.  In binary, 3 is written as 11.

Something I’ve been pondering lately is how our species love puzzles of all kinds, (from crosswords to Sudoku, Connect 4, jigsaws, chess, cryptograms, you name it.) But so many of the general populous of puzzle solvers are terrified or oblivious to the fact that learning to write computer programs comes from the exact same place & passion. If you hunger for mental challenges, putting pieces together, figuring your way through a maze or connecting dots for fun, then you could apply this pastime & hunger to something that will have so much leverage in your life, it’s phenomenal. Learning how computers work, and then how to expand this understanding to make them do more, was by far the most powerful thing I ever directed my hunger towards. I went from being terrified of touching Excel (because it did things I didn’t understand) to learning how to get under the hood, break down the walls and limits and make that one program do virtually whatever I wanted it to do. But getting there was just another puzzle and series of basic steps, to which I applied my crossword-brain.

I took some classes and have a ton of books about everything and anything; I learned several languages from C to php to VB to VBA to whatever. But to this day, the most important 2 things in my entire learning arsenal were:

1. A basic class on how computers work, which essentially said: “they are dumb”. They follow steps, and only when told to do so. They don’t make assumptions, and they need explicit instructions, or they can’t do anything.

2. A language-independent class on the fundamentals of programming. It taught me how to drop my assumptions, think in smaller and smaller terms about how things come to be, how to forget what I thought I knew, and then how to reconstruct my knowledge whilst paying attention to the things we tend to overlook, due to their simplicity. “Otto the Robot” was the most important puzzle I ever solved, and this was before I allowed myself to even consider what a development environment was.

When you make a program which automates and simplifies someone’s life, they look at you like you’re an alchemist. You just turned lead into gold, you just wove magic out of thin air. The inevitable next question is: “How can I learn to do THAT?”

The unfortunate answer is, “by becoming obsessed, dedicated, single-minded and applying hundreds and thousands of hours into wanting to do it, never accepting no for an answer, never accepting that something is beyond you, and by so much patience and self-forgiveness that nothing will beat you into submission, no matter how hard it tries.” (We make it look easy so folks often assume it is.)

For the first time in my life, my twisted obsessive personality worked in my favor, because I HATE not knowing things, I hate when something won’t work when it should, and I especially can’t accept this when I know that every single thing is made of a system of steps and checks.

Bottom line: If you like puzzles, then learn how computers work, and apply that passion towards making the world a better and more efficient place. Contrary to popular belief, there is no magic involved.


So Monday morning I’m operating on ~2 hours of sleep, and after work I have school.  Yay.

But that’s OK, because I’m invincible.  Cannot be vinced.  And I have a lockable car with reclining seats, for those rare lunchtime naps…

I noticed yesterday that through my Johnson & Wales network, I have a subscription to – this is crazy cool!

Since this discovery, I have listed about twenty video courses I want to take, and already watched about six hours’ of material.  Free learning is the best, especially for the subjects that aren’t that typically supported, without spending $$$ on classroom learning.   Good stuff too, really well-made from what I can tell.

So next week, I will be an expert in:


If you want any help with anything at all in the known Universe, let me know.  But no earlier than Friday, or my knowledge may contain gaps.


Alligator Sex:  You can control the gender of unborn alligators by altering the temperature at which you incubate the eggs.  Incubate at 33° C (91.4° F), and you get 100% males.  Incubate at 30° C (86°F), and you get 100% females.  Human Body Temperature is 37° C / 98.6° F

Reptiles vs. Mammals:  The Yellow-Bellied Three-Toed Skink Lizard in Australia lays eggs.  The exact same species, 200 miles away in New South Wales, gives birth to live young.  This is definitely caused by a reptile dysfunction.

Space Wealth:  Almost every single asteroid contains more precious metals and minerals than we have on earth in its entirety; enough to eradicate world hunger forever.  This stands to reason, as the earth itself kind of exists in space, so all the rocks came from there.  James Cameron is planning to tap that ass-teroid.

Japanese Suicide Rituals are still Alive and Kicking:  Ritual Public Suicide by Disembowelment (Seppuku) is still customary and highly honored by some people in Japan.  This is an awful and gruesome act which many folks screw up due to the intensity of the pain.  Very often, a highly esteemed and trusted companion is standing by to complete the rite with a sword, ready to behead the victim.  This backup plan is also routinely botched, and at that point, the whole stage probably resembles Monty Python at their darkest & best.

Hero or Zero?  In the first ever public appearance of Superman (1933, created by Jerry Siegel), Supey was a bald, telepathic super-villain intent on taking over the world.  The appearance was in a sci-fi story called “The Reign of the Super Man”.  Siegel died in 1996, aged 81.

Recursive Naming:  The acronym PHP (in the computer scripting language context) is recursive, meaning that the first P in PHP stands for “PHP”.  The H is “Hypertext” and the second P is “Preprocessor”.  I don’t know how this occurred up front, before there was a name to name it after, but I suspect lies were involved.

Going Viral:  The word “Meme” is a meme, and the term “Going Viral” has gone viral.  Meme stems from the study of memetics, name termed by Richard Dawkins in “The Selfish Gene” – a concept theorizing that information exists and behaves in a manner similar to bacteria and viruses, in that it self-perpetuates, grows, evolves, adapts to threats and spreads among people, in a seemingly natural and self-sustaining effort to grow stronger.  Religion could be considered among the most powerful of memes, whose spread and behavior have transformed a hypothetical and far-fetched series of unknowable ideas into what millions now consider to be facts, irrespective of plausibility.

Bees and Crows:  Crows do not fly in a straight line, unless they are over the ocean.  “As the crow flies” comes from the old practice of taking a crow on board sailing ships.  If the ship became lost or disoriented, they would go up to the Crow’s Nest and release the bird, which would then fly in the direction of the nearest piece of land.  When navigating over land, Crows (as with homing pigeons) often follow man-made roads to aid them.  Additionally, a bee-line is technically a zig-zag.  Next time you decide to beeline for the exit at 4.30, you should probably consider going straight, as you’ll get there faster.

Cows and Moons:  Despite long-held beliefs, it is almost universally accepted that a cow never, in fact, jumped over the moon.


Posted: February 18, 2011 in Life, Philosophy, Tech, Tech and Life, Writing
Tags: , , ,

OK, making my first post to WordPress by email – this is a good start in simplifying while simultaneously enriching my life. (sarc.)

This blog will chronicle my tamperings with php and other web app development, as well as general day to day exciteries and confounderlings. The goal is to have a web app (basically) functioning within the next 45 days, and then fully prettied up and ready for beta test in the next 90. By the end of 2011 I want a commercially viable subscriber service ready to launch on a mostly-unsuspecting public. The idea itself is solid, so the only challenge is making the tech-side function as well.

Next step is figuring out how to network through WP, and find other interesting people who may assist and enliven this trip. But, it does allow me to connect this to my Facebook and Twitter accounts, which is good because I don’t want to maintain them all separately. If it works out, then this blog will be my window to the world. If not, it will then become just another pile of dust on the island of half-heartedly created and cold-heartedly abandoned accounts.

Peace out.

OK, seeing as I’m on a postathon while my wife is recovering from surgery three feet away, I figured I may as well splain.
My mission is to create said site and simultaneously learn a few new things along the way, and then sooner or later try it out on the sort-of-public. I wonder if the WordPress publicize feature works with LiveJournal? My focus has a habit of wandering, so I’ll try and stay basically on track. But shit man, either Dustin Hoffman’s nose is huge or it’s regular-sized and his head is tiny. So many things in this life are disproportionate like that. Meanwhile, I might as well amass legions of followers and friends along the way, whose expertise I can tap into and whose geekthusiasm for building stuff just to see it built will keep me going even when it feels like it’s all pain for no gain, prospective gain, or even slightly potential gain. But right now it feels like the world is my (really chewy and a bit gristly) oyster.

For this mission, my toolbox includes:

— Dell Inspiron laptop. Pretty cool.

— php & MySQL – I am new to both, but have some background in C so syntactically it is not too much of a leap.

— WAMP server (Windows, Apache, MySQL & php) – to build locally without having to rent webspace during development.

— Bluefish editor – excellent & free, with great support for php, html, MySQL, Javascript and all kinds of other good stuff.

— Nvu (WYSIWYG & html site building software – open source DreamWeaver copycat without quite as much awesomeness but a big fat ZERO price tag. Worth looking at.) Building something using WYSIWYG and then dissecting the code is a really good way to learn anything. That is partly how I learned VBA in Excel – by recording macros and watching the code develop. Although John Walkenback’s books and overzealous & optimistic attempts to wrestle with work-related problems using VBA are mostly to blame.