28 Feb

TED Is Far From Useless

Short intro: It’s good to be back and blogging, sorry about the delay, but hey it took a long time to get stuff working again. So no more excuses onto the business of the day.

Umair Haque, today wrote a blog post about TED. TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) for those of you who haven’t heard of it is a conference organized around the idea of bringing together some of the world’s smartest people to solve generally global issues and problems. The conference is organized around a series of lectures in which people are invited to speak upon their idea that more often than not seeks to change the world. So the conference is pretty ambitious in both scope and goal.

Umair argues in his piece that TED is intellectually bankrupt. His main argument is that the conference is simply that a bunch of talk with no real action occurring.

The problem is simple. The underlying assumption is that we can help solve the world’s big problems by putting a bunch of interesting people in a room and talking about stuff. … In fact, exactly the opposite is true. The way we can solve the world’s problems by involving the people who are suffering as an essential part of a living, evolving solution.

Personally this argument does make a lot of sense and on the one hand I do find myself being swayed by what Umair is saying, that number one no action is occurring and that the conference is simply an intellectual exercise.

Unfortunately I don’t think Umair is viewing the conference in it’s full light. While it is certainly true that no direct actions may occur because of TED. TED is a springboard for a lot of intelligent and good ideas to solve a host of difficult problems. The conference provides a platform for these people to present their ideas to a wide range of people who may never hear them otherwise. This includes a great many people who do have the influence to create actions based on these ideas. Action needs ideas, undirected, unthinking action doesn’t do any good to anybody.

Also, I would argue while you do have to involve those people who will be effected by any changes at the same time it can be diffcult for people who are directly involved in whatever the problem is to be able to first create a plan to solve the problem and to see which plan is the most logical to solve the problem

TED also isn’t just pie in the sky ideas, it includes a realm of talks that discuss breakthroughs occuring in research labs around the world that will change the world and results from the real world that have changed some aspect of the world.

P.S. TED 2008 is currently going on, and I highly recommend everyone go and watch some of the videos on their site and realize just how smart some of these people are.

02 Jan

Resolutions for the New Year

For me heading to see my family for my vacation is not a vacation. I don’t get any real work done and I don’t really relax in any sense of the word. Owing to that and seeing as how school starts back up in a week, I’m going to do a light and more than likely dull post tonight – my resolutions for the new year. As per this article in New York Times, resolution need to be engineered in such a way as to both make them viable and specific goal.

My general goals are to learn to organize time better, work better at classes, improve my performance at my new job, blog consistently, write more programs on my own time, and try to cut my current debt load.

The organizing time better is more to try and get back on the bandwagon of reading again. In high school I used to read multiple books in a week and since starting college this has gone further and further down, to where I am lucky to read a book a month. The working better at classes seems to be already benefiting from my change in jobs, with my grades and time able to devote to classes improving substantially since starting at the T-STEM Center. Blogging has both been something that I enjoy doing and something that I actually do sporadicly at best. I wish to do it consistently to both gain the practice writing, promote my online presence, and further edify myself. The writing programs and improving performance at my current job can hopefully be tied together to write web applications to both expand my horizons and help at work where I am mainly dealing with web development. The cutting my current debt load is of course always a good thing and a pretty general one that probably 90% of the public also tries to do.

So to quantify my goals:

  1. Read 1 book a week

  2. Within 3 months buy my own domain and website hosting

  3. Within 3 months of domain being purchased, move blog to this website

  4. Blog every weekday – 1 post most weekends regarding the status of the Library program

  5. Push out Version 1.0 of my Library program by mid-summer

  6. 15% of income to savings/retirement accounts

  7. 10% of income to debt elimination (minimum)

  8. Have a 3.75 or higher GPA for this semester – basically only allowed 1 B

    To make this goal reachable:

    1. Consistently redo notes from classes

    2. Take practice tests

    3. Do not finish homework the night before it is due

    4. Plan CS projects

Here is hoping I can improve myself in the new year.

24 Dec

Newest Project

I thought with the lack of news going on this week, I would provide some info onto what I am currently working on. I have decided to create a library organization software, both to fulfill a need in my life and to experiment with some new technologies for myself. The eventual goal is to create a piece of software that allows you to add items such as books and dvds to a database that stores all the information associated with the item and even where it is located. I would like to make the collection easily searched so I can find exactly what I am looking for and if I own the item. I’m currently above 500 books with more being added every month and it has started becoming a hassle knowing if I own an item or not. This problem has been growing and pushed off to the side for several years now. I am finally getting the time to address it and I’ll address it the way that I know the best, with software.

I’ve been planning and writing some of the preliminary code for this library software for several weeks now and have a pretty good idea of where I want this to go and what I hope to learn along the way.

I’m initially going to write this as a desktop app in Java. I would like to eventually port/rewrite it into a web app along with an Open Social and Facebook integrated widget. I am also doing this because I want to release something that is FOSS, and hopefully solve this problem that was on Slashdot awhile back but without the cost associated with the solutions given.

I’ll hopefully be working on this and blogging about it every week or so to keep everybody updated. I will be releasing it to the public and the community when I hit a version that is runnable as well as fully understand the licensing and other work that I may have to do to keep it an open source project. Also I don’t currently have a name for this project and would appreciate any and all suggestions.