Thursday, August 11, 2016

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

5 steps to make your backyard a parking lot

Here are instructions for how you can turn your entire backyard into a huge parking lot in just 5 easy steps. Steps 1-4 are absolutely required, step 5 depends on what neighborhood you live in.
  1. Don't think of the children
  2. Don't care about urban runoff pushing pollution into the rivers, lowering the water table and enhancing droughts
  3. Don't care about the heat island effect that will roast you in the summer
  4. Pour cement into your yard and keep on pouring until every square inch of grass is covered
  5. Look like a complete jerk compared to your urban gardening neighbors

Sunday, June 05, 2016

Alternate resume updates

The website I used to call my "Alternate Resume" just got three projects added to it that I'm really proud of.

The first is a way to see heart rates visually in real time using a laser and assorted junk. To learn more follow this link to the DIY Ballistocardiogram Bed. This was done with friends Brian and Sima.

Photo of the key setup

This is what the heart rate looks like on the wall

This is what the signal looks like (using open CV)

The second is a neat way of seeing and photographing stresses in plastic containers. The images are really cool, follow this link to see more birefringence effects in plastic.

The third is just one new story in a lifetime of playing in the snow. There is a video and a bunch of GIFs and you can read about how it came to be over here

As always, feel free to share what you like and feel free to comment and question if you have any!

Monday, May 16, 2016

Racial Bias in 911 Operator

I recently had a few experiences calling 911 which I would like to share, though I won't name any of the cities involved (it wasn't Denver).

One caveat here is that apparently 911 centers are not as well funded as they should really be.

The most recent was when I saw an unattended backpack. First I called the non-emergency number, but they just transferred me to 911. I'm going to paraphrase here:

911: "911, what is your emergency?"
me: "I have found a suspicious backpack"
911: "Where is it located?"
me: [give the exact location]
911: "what does it look like"
me: "A black Jansport backpack"
me: "it looks exactly like the backpack on the 'if you see something say something' posters"
[It really was a splitting image of the backpack on the poster barely 200 ft. away.]
911: "do you know whats inside of it?"
me: "I don't know, I didn't touch it"

911: "are there any wires coming out of it or anything"

me: "I don't see anything coming out of it, just a backpack"
911: "Okay, an unattended  backpack, with no wires coming out ... so what is suspicious about it?"

The tone of voice made it sound like they weren't going to do anything about it.

I once noticed a shop-lift occur, and chased the getaway vehicle on my bike, taking photos. I called 911 right away, and part of my conversation included:

911: "do you know what race the person was"
me: "I can't be sure what race they were, I only saw them from the back, and on a dark street"

911: "were they black or Hispanic?"

STOP RIGHT THERE, the moment they ask the question this way, it introduces a huge bias in the data collected. Despite my conscious attention to think independently, at that moment I couldn't help but imagine the thief as black or Hispanic.

I read the license plate out to the operator and described the car, but surprisingly the operator said they had no capacity for me to actually send them the photos. Thanks John Oliver and the last week tonight team for raising these issues. Hoping we can get more public support for 911 centers!

Sunday, May 08, 2016

Awesome construction photos

Construction in Boston is booming right now. Here is a collection of photos I've taken over the past few months.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Don't flush your hopes and dreams down this toilet

I've been in back in England for about a week now, and I've discovered a major problem facing modern British society. The issue is that the sewage systems in British buildings are not sufficiently robust to provide for the extensive sewige-based disposal needs of the British public. See for yourself in these toilet signs below:

Saturday, March 26, 2016

IBQ Exclusive Cancer Insurance for Ladies

While I'm on a middle eastern theme (talking about SA import commodity restrictions), I recently discovered that:
Not really sure what else to say so I'll just include some screenshots including this very popular – stock photo:

And here are the benefits including that sweet free cancer insurance. Just what women want from their banking institution.

And the link with handy custom url 'ladiesbanking'

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Truth in advertising

After searching far and wide in Home Depot, asking multiple salespeople for help, and finally finding them at the bottom of a shelf in a random aisle, I agree completely with the descriptive label on these drawers: