I’m often taken in by restoration and conservation stories. Recently, the thoughtful machine learning algorithms at YouTube suggested to me a set of videos related to Alec Steele and company’s efforts to install an industrial power hammer in their steelwork shop.
This is industrial equipment at a scale with which I have no experience. Yet, the sheer joy and curiosity exhibited by this crew as they work to address practical, physical, and design issues with making this equipment functional is glorious.
The Machine Stops, a story ahead of its time being published in 1909, foretells of a society in which individuals are almost completely physically isolated from one another in an underground enclave where communication is achieved only with technology and all life’s necessities are attended to by a vast, unseen network of tubes.
What happens when, as always must happen, the machine stops?
A good, dear friend recently inspired a journey into the world of radios, speakers, and design. I love nothing more than being challenged to consider deeply a topic that’s otherwise new to me and through that to broaden my understanding of what I value and enjoy.
The first computing device I remember using was The Little Professor (1976). Designed like a calculator, the Little professor worked backward: it presented unsolved equations the user then needed to solve. Many years later, future-me would see a Little Professor in a computing exhibit at London’s Science Museum and wish that past-me could have known.
My first programmable computer was the Timex-Sinclair 1000 (1982) with 2K of RAM. I don’t remember what—other than the low price of $99—spurred my mother to buy this for me. It was connected to a Radio Shack audio cassette recorder for data storage and the family’s TV in the living room via an RF converter switch for video output.
“Now, Therefore THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY proclaims THIS UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS as a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations, to the end that every individual and every organ of society, keeping this Declaration constantly in mind, shall strive by teaching and education to promote respect for these rights and freedoms and by progressive measures, national and international, to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance, both among the peoples of Member States themselves and among the peoples of territories under their jurisdiction.”
“Both students and instructors perceive standard-error statistics as a confusing collection of specialized tools. To improve student learning, instructors long for a reduction in the number of topics needed to support statistical thinking. This book is a roadmap for instructors who wish to simplify inference while continuing to teach using traditional tools.”
“I hope that this little book can help instructors see that statistical inference can be handled as one topic among the many needed for modern statistics. Inference, important though it be, does not need to be such a sprawling set of methods and details taking up so much of the introductory course that other essential topics get neglected.”
I like this recent GOTO conference talk about the role of linguistics in understanding the language of coding. It touches upon many issues I’ve noted over the years as well as newer-to-me issues in non-English programming.
“This Voyager spacecraft was constructed by the United States of America. We are a community of 240 million human beings among the more than 4 billion who inhabit the planet Earth. We human beings are still divided into nation states, but these states are rapidly becoming a single global civilization.
“We cast this message into the cosmos. It is likely to survive a billion years into our future, when our civilization is profoundly altered and the surface of the Earth may be vastly changed. Of the 200 billion stars in the Milky Way galaxy, some–perhaps many–may have inhabited planets and spacefaring civilizations. If one such civilization intercepts Voyager and can understand these recorded contents, here is our message:
“This is a present from a small distant world, a token of our sounds, our science, our images, our music, our thoughts, and our feelings. We are attempting to survive our time so we may live into yours. We hope someday, having solved the problems we face, to join a community of galactic civilizations. This record represents our hope and our determination, and our good will in a vast and awesome universe.“
Jimmy Carter President of the United States of America Statement on the launch of NASA’s Voyager I, 1977
Here, Charlie speaks to an issue that’s near to my heart and that too many people have forever gotten far too wrong: sex & consent. He speaks well and he speaks honestly. I commend you, lend an ear.
In this age of people doing awful things to one another and yet somehow justifying it to themselves, consent is fundamental. As humans, we should be able to discuss it and manifest it in meaningful ways.
The goal of issuer is to provide a simple issue tracker, hosted on your local file system, for those users who don’t want to or are disallowed from using cloud-based code repositories.
Online code repositories often provide an issue tracker to allow developers, reviewers, and users to report bugs, submit feature requests, and so on. However, many developers either choose to work offline or work on enterprise networks where use of cloud services may be prohibited.
issuer is an Add-in for use in RStudio’s desktop IDE. It works entirely locally with no requirement for a cloud service or even a network connection.
As an educator who advises students working on theses and dissertations, there’s a standard question I ask—I refer to it as “the PhD question”: So what? It’s a shorthand to challenge students to consider the question: If everything you’ve just said is shown to be true, what will that mean for changes in our understanding of the world or how we engage with it?
I found myself using So what? again recently at ICER 2019, a community of education researchers that values openness and community building. I heard myself saying it, and I realized I didn’t like the tone of it at all. So what? is confrontational. It’s a conversation stopper, not a starter. It’s a blockade, not an invitation. Yes, I learned it from my graduate advisors way back when, and I think it’s time to put it to bed.
I like to standardize the column names of data I’m reading into R so that I don’t have to match column names from one dataset that has an i.d. column and another that has an id column or maybe an ID column. Keep it simple: lower case with a single underscore separator between words.
I help a few of dozen users install RStudio and learn R regularly. Whenever I need to install RStudio on a new machine, I have to think a bit about the configuration options I’ve tweaked. Invariably, I miss a checkbox that leaves me with slightly different RStudio behavior on each system. This post includes screenshots of my currently preferred standard RStudio configuration and custom keyboard shortcuts for RStudio 1.3, MacOS.