Monday, December 31, 2012

3D printing

I've heard of this technology for a while, but never really pay much attention to it. However, two items which related to this topic that I came across recently kinda get me thinking about this topic a bit more. The first one is a news about some people worried that criminals may use 3D printing technology to make firearms privately. The second item is, yes TED again!, I saw a clip about 3D printing, a walkthrough of a bunch of positive things that this technology can bring to us in various areas, including manufacturing, architecture, medical implants, etc.

Certainly, same as many technologies before, it is a case of double-edged sword. It depends on who got a hand on the technology. Unlike, guns which can serve the purpose of protection and deterrence, it is by means of causing harm nonetheless. 3D-printing itself is a marvelous technology. As it become more affordable and portable, the possibility has no ceiling. However, based on what I saw in the TED talk, to make 3D printing into practical use, there requires few components:

1. The 3D printer itself - I believe there will be different sizes and complexities. In terms of quality, there shouldn't be too big a difference.
2. The Software program for the 3D printer - It is to run the 3D printer, basically, it offers some viewing and some simple manipulation functions to modify a design.
3. The virtual product code - It didn't mention too much in the TED talk. It is basically the code of  a completed virtual product after being designed.
4. The Software program that design the product - I think it is more or less the CAD that most industrial designers are using these days. I don't know too much about this, I'm wondering if there is any related programs that can help to 'test' the CAD designed products.
5. Raw materials - that's what being put into the 3D printer to really make the final physical product.

What I saw from TED talk is that, basically the 3D printer makes the product layer by layer, somehow like making one MRI scan after another, stack them up, and 'glue' them together somehow in correct order. By doing this way, many complicated designs can come true, particularly that I found impressive is potential medical use of making a 'lung' and a 'heart'. As we all know, human organs are very complicated, based on what I saw, I think it they have achieved to make it only up to a certain level of details, not down to blood vessels level or downwards. That's why the current model is basically building a 'shell' with proper room for really tissues to grow on, and may use that somehow for implant. At this stage, lung or heart transplant is still out of question, but some partial bone fragment replacement is certainly workable. However, I think this technology will further advance, and a fully replication of internal organ is foreseeable. But, the tricky part will be #5, what inorganic raw material can be used to replace organic tissue. That's gonna be a Nobel Price answer.

Going back to the 5 points that I listed above, I think #1, 2 will hardly be regulated. #1 and 2 come together, what drive them will be market force. #3 will be like songs, with internet these days, it can be pirated, sold legally or illegally. It will be hard to keep track on. Certainly, it is possible to check the author of those codes, there might be a regulatory body internationally for 'authors' to register for copyright and intellectual property right protection. But, that's about it.

#5 is a tricky one. Some raw materials can be controlled or checked, particularly for some rare metals or materials. It is just plastic or common metals, then, regulators will be out of luck. #4 is another tricky part, many people can learn and know how to use CAD. But, the most important part is second part of how to 'Test' the product to ensure they can do what they suppose to do, that's the key part. I'm not sure if that can be regulated neither. But, it is actually the most essential part of the product cycle. Let's use the case of making gun as an example. A gun has many parts and they can be made of different materials. Let's put the bullet part aside, even if the dimensions of the parts are 100% right. How can they ensure the materials together withstand the firing motion without accidents IF somehow the maker of the product doesn't have 100% pure and correct raw materials for usage? It has to come down to actual making and testing, it can't be done by a computer program. CAD is available, and user can make anything with it. But, the computer program for product testing is another sorry. Each program must be tailor made, and it involves not just computer specialty, but many other specialized knowledge as well. So, without the testing program, actual product testing must be done instead, and the safety of it will be particularly a great concern.

What I've mentioned above suggested no solution to control anything, but what I've come across in the news and TED really got me thinking and I just shared what I thought with you.

Friday, December 28, 2012

My electricity appliances and gadgets at home

Well, as the so-called 'end of the world' didn't happen. Life got back to normal. During that period running up to 12-21-2012, many stories were told by various media. One of them is about the impact of high dose of solar flare on earth. Of course, many bad things would have happened, like skin cancer, knocking down of satellites which would make our mobile phones into bricks, etc. Certainly, thank God, such things didn't happen this time. However, that hasn't stopped me to think further on another mentioned sidetrack impact would be the effect on our electricity power plants.

Without electricity, our life as city dweller will be turned upside down into nomad in no time. First of all, we can't live in highrises without elevator. Tap water will be out of services. So, just the problem of residence, food and water will simply send most civilized people into chaos. Some people would suggest that the best way for us will perhaps to move to suburb or rural area where it is possible to grow things or house few chickens, or move to coastal area where fishing is possible. Certainly, that's just prelim  thoughts without really thinking through, cuz most of us will die of starvation before our chicks grow and our tomato trees bearing fruits. Instead, trying to get fuels to run small power generator and to recharge batteries will most likely be better options instead. At least, that would get our fridge running and get the stove burning somehow.....

I think I might have carried too far away. Actually, that somehow has made me to account for what items in my home that would use electricity. After I looked around in my home, I think the following would be more or less the complete list:

Panasonic LCD TV
Sony Home Sound System
Philips DVD player
Unknown brand cable box
Apple TV
Mitsubishi Fridge
Tefal Oven
Panasonic small Oven
Siemens Water Heater
Siemens Kitchen Stove Fan
Philips Brander
Panasonic Rice Cooker
Panasonic Electric Pot
HP Desktop
Philips Monitor
Apple iPhones
Apple iPods
Apple iPad
Sony NEX 5N Camera
Canon Camera
Panasonic Camcorder
Zanussi Washing Machine
Nuk Baby bottle cleaner
Whirlpool dehumidifier
Boneco humidifier
Braun Shaver
Panasonic Blow Dryer
Unknown brand Paper Shredder
Canon Scanner
HP Laser Printer
Asus Router
Philips Wireless Phone
Braun Electric Toothbrush
Unknown brand lamps
Akai Heater
Delonhi Heater
Panasonic Electric Fans
Philips Vacuum Cleaner 
Fujitsu Laptop
Asus Netbook

When I recount the appliances above, I got myself sidetracked a little bit for their brands. I know that many of these appliances were probably made in China. But I can't help but realizing that none of them are coming from Chinese brands. I'm not surprising that happen. Cuz, from my point of view, products that made in China with Chinese brands are different from those with foreign brands. It has more to do with my trust of foreign brands' QC than that of Chinese brands. I think foreign companies are more conscious of the reputation of their brands, given their longer history and their widen market coverage globally. If they make poor products, the impact is much higher. On the contrary, Chinese brands have less concern for being younger companies which are still trying to build their reputation. Also, their market is still primary in China. Thus, even though the QC of both Chinese and domestic brands may be the same, based on some 'black sheeps' incidences before, I would still opt for foreign brands, particularly on things running on power. I don't wanna get a house fire because of poor works inside the pretty shells of those appliances. 

I don't think I'm too brand-conscious in my appliance purchasing. Price is still a major factor, but it is not the ultimate determination factor. Durability and safety are also important. After looking at that list, I can't help but also think what if I don't have them, would my life really be that different? If I've to pick or choose some of them, what would be my choices? That would go back to how they affect my livelihood. The more I think of it, the more I find that would be quite interesting.

Friday, December 21, 2012

TED talks

I think I'm a late comer to the table to share what TED is all about. No, I'm not talking about the bear movie. I'm talking about the 'fountain' of knowledge and inspiration of geeks. The TED talk site composes of thousands of video clips of intellectuals of different streams talking to audiences with powerpoint on all sorts of interesting topics that geeks would love.

I heard of TED about 6 months ago but didn't really seek it out till last week. I downloaded a bunch of them via Podcast on my iPhone, mostly about technology, science, society and culture, and started watching few of them. Wow! what I've missed all these months!!! These talks are just great, they are not as long as those on iTunes U, but they are equally educational, inspiring and interesting.

When I look at those TED speakers, I see the 'cream' of our human races. Since most of them are Americans or Brits (at least what I've seen so far), their existence just another proof that the U.S. or the West in general, still have an upper hand than the rest of the world in terms of education or simply human intellectual advancement. One of my funny afterthoughts is that, if the end of the world is really coming and if we do have time to prepare, like building an ark as in the movie 2012, these TED speakers got to be on the ark. They deserve to live for the protection or maintenance of our human intelligence and advancement for future.

Anyway, I'm not gonna drill down into all the TED talks that I've watched so far, but few of them are just amazing. I saw a talk which is about bio mimicry. It illustrated 12 different approaches being adopted by different scientists in the development of more 'green', self-sustaining and enriching model of technology which aim to use our limited earth resources for the good of our population growth and development. Namely, getting inspiration from biology, creatures of our nature, to do things the 'natural' way - achieving results and cut down wastes in the meantime. Another one is 5 minutes talk hosted by a survivor of a plane crash who reminded us what is really important to us as a human, like just do things we should do, and don't wait, and be a good parent. They sound simple, but many truths are just simple but feel people really take them into their heart. Another inspirational one is by a computer programmer to set out doing a new thing for 30 days. He was not talking about something extremely difficult, but something that's doable, like writing a book, take a picture everyday, etc. I'm not sure if I will do that myself for real, but at least, it got me thinking, which is valuable enough for now.

I enjoy TED very much and it is exactly what I need these days - to be inspired. Thanks TED, thanks those speakers, and thanks internet! Rock on!!!!

Thursday, December 20, 2012


Well, unless you live in a hole, for reason one way or the other, you will know what 2012-12-21 is all about. For this topic, I did somehow blogged about it before. So, I'm not gonna say too much about it, cuz not much new things to add.

For me, it will just be another day. I will wake up, go to work, and go home with my family. Certainly, I will check out the web throughout the day to see how silly some people will behave tomorrow. Then, I will go out to have dinner with my family in a restaurant near my home. That's my plan.

Besides the nuts and the opportunists who still believe that tomorrow is the end of the world, many people say that tomorrow is simply a beginning of a new era. Well, you can pretty much say that any day. Perhaps, it would best fit to the Mayans who certainly would need a new calender. For the rest of us, we still will enjoy the fruits of our hard labor from the past, and shoulder the consequence of our wrong doings in the past. Meanwhile, we are also doing things that will affect our future. That's karma! So, with such continuity, there is no such thing as a new beginning. We are not iPhones which have the 'reset' button. Thus, just do as we do everyday, work hard, do self-reflection to see what can do better next time, and that's it.

Wish you all to have a 'normal' tomorrow! That's what I except to have. Cheers!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Yamaha U1

I finally sold the Yamaha Arius SDP 161 (that I bought last August) on Yahoo Auction last week at a 60+% discount to a young couple who play in a band after they took a hand-on test of the digital piano at our home. Why the rush? Because of the tight turnaround of delivery of a second-hand Yamaha U1 in two days after the digital cousin was out of the door.

The second-hand piano actually is in a very good condition. It costs as much as 3 times of the digital cousin that I shouldn't have purchased last year. I sold at a loss which should be preventable. I thought that my home couldn't fit an upright piano, so I went for the digital one. But, upon the recommendation of my son's piano tutor, I went for the U1 per my son's need and found out stupidly that it would fit my home after I got rid of 2 pieces of furniture in our living room. So, $$$ just gone!

Nonetheless, since my son loves playing music, and it is worthy for his hobby and growth. Furthermore, I did some research on the web and find out that the resale/retain value of an U1 is really great. So, it shouldn't be a big loss in the long run as long as the piano can be kept in good condition. That's exactly what I'm worrying right now. My older son who plays the piano wouldn't be the biggest concern except that he may play the piano with his hands wet or dirty. That's still preventable. But, the problem is my tot son who just love to pick up things (like his toys) to throw at things (may well be the piano since it is a huge and easy target). All I can say is that, I cross my fingers and touch wood everyday!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Sandy Hook

Not again, but it did.

Another mass killing happened in the States. Sandy Hook Elementary School, a place which was unknown to most of the country, let alone the world before Dec 14, became other bloody chapter of American history. A lunatic fired more than 100 rounds of ammunition to innocent adults and children that end with 26 death, excluding the gunman's mom and himself who killed himself.

Ten of thousands of questions why this happened. Theories flied around, those so-called experts of all sorts opened the big hole on their faces to make noise, but nothing concrete have resulted and will happen.

Nice things can be said and repeated million of times, but the innocent lives will never come back (ignoring the case of reincarnation). Would this, regarded as the second worst case of mass-killing by the media/on record, be the catalyst of 'real' change in anti-gun movement in the States?.....I really doubt it.

Yes, the faces of innocent death, particularly those 20 kids' would be a very powerful weapon by the anti-gun force. However, the pro-gun side is just unmovable. The issue is not just about the money they spent on politicians and lobbyists, but the real problem is the deep-root gun culture in the American society/history that may be shaken in a very short term with this tragedy, but people will go back to the way it has been in about a month.

Parents of the death wouldn't want their kids' pictures as weapon for long. Cuz, pro-gun and anti-gun battle is long term. The longer those parents see their deceases' faces in the media, the harder for them to begin their healing which will never end till they join their kids. With national attention got shift to other places, trust me, for NRA and other pro-gun bloodsuckers will give themselves high five and back to normal...until next time.

The Constitutional right to bear arm is too fundamental to American, it will not be changed in peace time, and it will only be strengthened in wartime. So, the lost of lives this time would at best trigger some 'meaningless' change of regulations that would manage the flow/registration of few exclusive type of firearms, and some mere 'discussions' about the relations between arms access and mental patients.

I felt really heart wrenching while watching the video clips of the parents of those young victims. For being a parent myself, it is just really really sad! I really don't know what to say to them, cuz, for them, the loss is everlasting, it is a 'black hole' in their hearts that will never be filled.

May the innocent ones rest in peace and God damned those pro-gun fxxkers!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Great quotations that I read

Unknown:"If you want something you've never had, then you've got to do something you've never done"

Unknown:" If it is important to you, you will find a way. If not, you will find an excuse"

Winston Churchill: “If you are going through hell, keep going”

William Shakespeare:  “Hell is empty, the devils are all here”

Unknown: "You can never wake up someone who is pretending in sleep"

Bonnie Blair: "Winning doesn't always mean being first, Winning means you are doing better than you have done before"

Albert Einstein: "If someone feels that they had never made a mistake in their life, then it means they had never tried a new thing in their life"

Mother Teresa: "If you start judging people, you will be having no time to love them"

Charles: "Never break 4 things in your life: Trust, Promise, Relation and Heart because when they break they don't make noise but pains a lot"

David Allen: "You can do anything, but not everything."

Unknown: "The richest man is not he who has the most, but he who needs the least."

Wayne Gretzky: "You miss 100 percent of the shots you never take."

Lao-Tze: "Watch your thoughts; they become words.
Watch your words; they become actions.
Watch your actions; they become habits.
Watch your habits; they become character.
Watch your character; it becomes your destiny."

John Ruskin: "What we think, or what we know, or what we believe is, in the end, of little consequence. The only consequence is what we do."

Unknown: "Work like you don’t need money, love like you’ve never been hurt, and dance like no one’s watching"

Virgil Garnett Thomson: "Try a thing you haven’t done three times. Once, to get over the fear of doing it. Twice, to learn how to do it. And a third time, to figure out whether you like it or not."

Cullen Hightower: "Laughing at our mistakes can lengthen our own life. Laughing at someone else’s can shorten it."

André Gide: "Believe those who are seeking the truth. Doubt those who find it."

Ellen Parr: "The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity."

Ayn Rand: "You can avoid reality, but you cannot avoid the consequences of avoiding reality."

Albert Einstein: "Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former." 

Martin Luther King Jr.: "Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." 

Thomas Henry Huxley  : "Try to learn something about everything and everything about something." 

Arnold Schwarzenegger: "Everybody pities the weak; jealousy you have to earn." 

Don Quixote: "Facts are the enemy of truth." 

John D. Rockefeller: "A friendship founded on business is better than a business founded on friendship." 

Jimmy Durante: "Be nice to people on your way up because you meet them on your way down." 

Samuel Johnson: "The true measure of a man is how he treats someone who can do him absolutely no good." 

Arthur Schopenhauer: "All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident." 

Antoine de Saint Exupery: "Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away." 

Jimi Hendrix: "Knowledge speaks, but wisdom listens." 

Maya Angelou : "I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel." 

Aristotle Onassis: "The secret of success is to know something nobody else knows." 

W.B. Prescott: "In any contest between power and patience, bet on patience."

John F. Kennedy: "Forgive your enemies, but never forget their names." 

Mae West: "When choosing between two evils, I always like to try the one I've never tried before." 

Thomas Jones : "Friends may come and go, but enemies accumulate."

Mark Twain: "I have never let my schooling interfere with my education." 

Abba Eban: "A consensus means that everyone agrees to say collectively what no one believes individually."

Wilson Mizner: "Copy from one, it's plagiarism; copy from two, it's research." 

Sun Tzu: "Opportunities multiply as they are seized." 

Alan Kay: " The best way to predict the future is to invent it." 

Benjamin Franklin: "Well done is better than well said." 

Sir Winston Churchill: "Sometimes it is not enough that we do our best; we must do what is required." 

Henry David Thoreau: "The man who goes alone can start today; but he who travels with another must wait till that other is ready." 

Sir Winston Churchill : "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty." 

Frank Lloyd Wright: "The truth is more important than the facts." 

Joan Baez: "You don't get to choose how you're going to die. Or when. You can only decide how you're going to live. Now."

General George S. Patton: "It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died. Rather we should thank God that such men lived."  

George Owell: "Those who control the past control the future. Those who control the present control the past."

Unknown: ""This is the beginning of a new day. You have been given this day to use as you will. You can waste it or use it for good. What you do today is important because you are exchanging a day of your life for it. When tomorrow comes, this day will be gone forever; in its place is something that you have left behind...let it be something good." 

Unknown: "...This is a story about four people named Everybody, Somebody, Anybody, and Nobody. There was an important job to be done and Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it. Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it. Somebody got angry about that, because it was Everybody's job. Everybody thought Anybody could do it, but Nobody realized that Everybody wouldn't do it. It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could have."

Unknown: "Your heart understands what your head cannot yet conceive; trust your heart." 

Unknown: "He who has never made a mistake has never made a discovery." 

Unknown: "A peacock who sits on his tail is just another turkey."   

Monday, December 10, 2012

My thought on blogging

Just out of the blue, I found out that I've more than 600 posts all these years. It is not a lot comparing with some other bloggers that I check out their posts daily. It is very obvious that I've not posted as much as before. It is due to many reasons that I'm not gonna list them out, cuz for readers, whether I've new post or not is the point, why I don't post is not important. Honestly, whether my posts are being 'read' is still being doubted by myself in spite of the function in that showed me how many time my posts are clicked. Anyway, the bottomline is that I'm going through a tough time right now in terms of being a blogger, but what matter is that I've NO intention to stop blogging any time soon.

I find blogging is still a great 'relieve' of my thoughts. Yes, I can do that on Facebook, Twitter, etc. But, that's a bit different. I put more thoughts in my blog that Facebook posting. Also, the audiences are different, and the purpose are different. Facebook to me is more like a 'banner' or social board that interact with others. Twitter is even more hunch thoughts that many people would regard some of their twits. However, blog is for people really wanna take time to put their thoughts together to come up with something that you would invite people to 'peek' at those thoughts rather than jump into their 'sandbox' and to have active 'exchange'.

Looking at the links the bloggers on my site, some of them have not been updated for months if not years. I guess that they must have given up blogging altogether. That's their choice, just like users of ICQ, MSN, etc. Technology and media comes and go, but the idea of thought-sharing will never go away as long as we are human.

I will try to better organize my time, so I can squeeze more time to blog in the coming year. Well, our world is not gonna end in 11 days. 2012-12-21 is just a new beginning if you believe it. Actually, as I blogged before, any day can be a new beginning for anybody as long as he/she wants it.

Cheers and will be back soon!