Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Wanderers 2005.8.16

Today's presenters, Sam Lanahan and LaJean, unveiled Sam's so far unnamed invention, a building system based on a meshwork of tensile and compressive elements. The several Made in China plastic prototypes (plus the welded metal one) provided interesting visuals, plus LaJean's slides were distributed as bound color hand-outs. We failed to solve the projector puzzle (the mouse cursor froze every time we connected it to the PowerBook).

We used the occasion to stream video (with audio) to/from Terry, vacationing with family on the Oregon coast. Both ends used Apple laptops running iChat, with vidcams connected by firewire. Down the road we plan to host multiple real time clients, funds permitting. Don and I agree our setup was too obtrusive; we'll try a different arrangement at our next opportunity (maybe shoot from the side office, putting the computer on Terry's desk?).

Does Sam's invention have commercial (.com) or military (.mil) applications? Might NGOs use it in emergency relief situations (.org)? Possibly. David Feinstein's earlier remark, that it's a solution in search of a problem, seems on target. However David Ulmer felt it'd be of immediate relevance as a teaching tool and encouraged Sam to make it available to universities (.edu).

I enjoyed catching up with Julian after so long -- he's been very busy with his hemoglobin sculpture, nearly finished. He's hoping to meet up with Kenneth Snelson this fall. Sam, a long time student of tensegrity, would like to meet Ken as well.

Other threads:

I watched Cinderella Man at the Bagdad last night; Russell Crowe goes back to playing a gladiator, after playing a mathematician in between (link: a spoof with no Netflix listing -- sigh). What's more hypocritical than an adult who decries violent video games and then pays to watch this barbaric sport, wherein the injuries are real? Million Dollar Baby was just as depressing. NBC's The Contender: pure exploitation.

I'm enjoying Agile Web Development with Rails, purchased at OSCON. Powell's sold a ton of 'em, thanks to Ruby's high profile at this conference. Unfortunately, none of my ISPs currently support the Ruby on Rails option.