Toby dressed as the ‘Repair Wizard’ at Mac PCx on Halloween 2013
My high school senior is chomping at the bit ready to move on after 14 years of classroom education. He’s going to high school part time and working part time at a computer store diagnosing and repairing computers. His past resume includes volunteering at Free Geek where he learned to take apart and put together computers, then trained others to do so. As a high school sophomore he took computer classes in C++ and other programming languages. He’s currently studying on his own to get CompTA+ certified, and through a school class learning to write code and design his own website. He’s been saving up his work money and when he turns 18 plans to purchase professional design software and begin his own software company on the side.
As a parent, I’m getting bombarded at all sides by society telling me my son MUST get a college degree or he’ll never get a living wage job. My son tells me “I know what I want – to work with computers and design computer software. Why spend 4+ more years in a classroom and be thousands of dollars in debt before I do what I want?”
He’s got a point there.
He says a company should pay to train him in what else they might need because he’s a fast and motivated learner. He also said that computer technology is growing /changing so fast that what he’d learn in a classroom would be practically obsolete by the time he got out of college, so taking courses now and building on those courses as he works makes more sense than spending his money/time on PE 101 and introduction to Lit classes. He is studying and problem solving on his own to be on the cutting edge, and expects to be paid for his work (he feels he’s already done the internship route and proved himself). He is calm about this. He is focused. I’m the one freaking out inside. I’ve heard my whole life “Everyone needs a college education to get a good job”…yet many people in their 20’s (as well as older adults) who have expensive university educations are looking for work that pays a living wage.
My child has his own vision. I trust my son and support his wisdom. And if in a few years he decides that a college education would be beneficial to him, he’ll have the money saved up, or the contacts made, to create a path where he doesn’t have debt. That’s pretty amazing planning/thinking for a 17 year old.
Using free internet plans, your local 3D printer, and less than $10 for materials you can make your own hand prosthetics (what currently cost $20,000 ready-made). Here’s what curiosity, collaboration, and a little love can do.
Do you hate it when you go to the doctor and they need to draw blood or give you a shot but they can’t find a vein? Searching for a vein (and multiple pokes of needles) may be a thing of the past with this new invention by Evena Medical that allows cardiovascular imaging through special glasses called Eyes On. Learn more about Eyes On “see through your skin” glasses in this video.
GoldieBlox is a toy company that believes girls deserve more choices than dolls and princesses. They support that girls will build the future — literally.
Founder Debbie Sterling is a Stanford engineer who decided last year that girls need more choices than the pink aisle has to offer. She developed GoldieBlox, an interactive book series + construction set starring Goldie, the kid inventor who loves to build. Find more information about Goldie Blox here – and watch this fantastic video as well.
Rare earth elements are an integral part of many of today’s electronic devices, serving as magnets, catalysts and superconductors. Recently, scientists discovered that some of these pricy minerals can be reclaimed from industrial wastewater instead of being mined from the earth.
Researchers from the Chinese Academy of Sciences knew that a nanomaterial known as nano-magnesium hydroxide (nano-Mg(OH)2) could remove some metals and dyes from wastewater, but that rare earth elements in wastewater tend to be diluted and thus difficult to remove in a practical, inexpensive fashion.
After studying the manner in which nano-Mg(OH)2 works, the scientists proceeded to produce flower-shaped nanoparticles of the material. In lab tests that replicated real-world conditions, these particles were able to capture over 85 percent of the rare earth elements diluted in water samples. By subsequently adjusting the pH, it was possible to then separate the captured minerals from the nano-Mg(OH)2.
“Recycling REEs from wastewater not only saves rare earth resources and protects the environment, but also brings considerable economic benefits,” the team stated in a paper on the research, which was recently published in the journal ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces.
This do-it-yourself furniture design can be downloaded for local manufacture, and is the start of a very cool idea. In it’s current rendition, there’s a fair amount of wood waste, but what if future furniture designed created less waste because it was square instead of round? I like that the pieces fit together in such a way that you don’t need other tools. I like that you can use whatever is your favorite local material, and give local business a leg up, instead of manufacturing in far away countries and then $hipping the products to you. Maybe this software and technology could be used to create components for my Build-a-Building idea?
In the Age of YouTube, it’s becoming pretty much standard practice for up-and-coming musicians to post videos of their jam sessions or live performances online. And while the affordability of HD video cameras/phones may mean that the visuals in those videos look nice, music is first and foremost an auditory art-form. That’s why Sony is introducing a new musical-performance-specific camcorder, known appropriately enough as the HDR-MV1 Music Video Recorder.
The MV-1 records audio in either uncompressed Linear PCM or internet-friendly AAC format, via a tunable 120-degree X-Y stereo microphone. Recording levels can be manually controlled, and a line-in port allows for direct feeds. Audio quality is monitored either via user-supplied headphones, or using the camera’s built-in speaker.
Video is captured by a wide-angle 120-degree lens – to ensure that all band members get in the shot – at a resolution of either 1080p or 750p (both at 30 fps). A back-illuminated Exmor R CMOS sensor is claimed to capture sharp images even in dimly-lit clubs, and the option of manual exposure control will keep the iris from closing down every time a stage light comes on.
Footage is recorded to a Micro SD card or a Memory Stick Micro, in MPEG-4 AVC/H.264 format. Shots are monitored or reviewed using a 2.7-inch LCD screen, which can also be used to check and adjust audio input levels. Additionally, the camera can be remotely operated using a Wi-Fi-enabled mobile device – this could come in particularly handy in cramped venues, where a videographer would be in peoples’ way if they stayed with the camera.
The user’s mobile device can also be utilized to post footage online, via Sony’s free PlayMemories Mobile app.
The Sony HDR-MV1 Music Video Recorder will be available as of December, at a price of US$299.99. Footage shot with it can be seen (and heard) below.
With electricity becoming more expensive, here’s a way to save resources and get free lighting. The Moser Lamp, invented by Alfredo Moser, is simply a clean empty plastic bottle filled with water and a little bleach. Using the natural science of refraction, the lamp puts out the energy of a 40-60 watt bulb depending on how strong the sun is. In areas where power outages are common and in areas of poverty, Moser Lamps are becoming a great way to provide light to homes cheaply and efficiently.
How much energy do Moser Lamps save? Since plastic bottles are recycled/up-cycled from local communities, there’s no energy needed to gather, manufacture, or ship new bottles, whereas it takes 0.45 kg of CO2 to manufacture one incandescent bulb. Plus, a 50-watt light bulb running for 14 yours a day for a year has a carbon footprint of nearly 200kg of CO2…whereas Moser lamps emit no CO2 at all! Even in first world countries, this would be a fun idea for playhouses, garden sheds, pump houses, etc.
Having your own website, analytics, social media, etc. is a great resource if you’re looking to start your own business. With wordpress.org, not only can you get a website free, but the e-commerce plug in is free, so you can make money off your site immediately as well.
If you’ve got more time than money at the moment, why not download a few free themes and play around with them? There’s plenty of youtube videos on how to create your own customized website with these free tools. This is a great resource not only for current business owners looking to upgrade their sites, but also a resource for hard working people who just happen to be at the moment unemployed or underemployed. This free technology helps level the playing field by bringing more people back into the game.
Not only is this a great energy saving practical idea for a light bulb, IT’S IN THE SHAPE OF THE ENTERPRISE! Here’s the whole article from Gizmag:
Not long ago, we took a look at Cree’s new LED light bulbs. At US$12.97 a pop, the 60-watt-equivalent model sounded like a pretty good deal. If NliteN’s disk-shaped 2D-Lite reaches production, however, it could make the Cree product look downright expensive. Initially slated to sell for $10, the dimmable 60-watt-equivalent “800 lumen-class” bulb is planned to drop to $6 by 2015, and to $3 by 2017.
Despite its rather unique appearance, the 2D-Lite has the same profile as a much more power-hungry and short-lived standard incandescent bulb, and Continue reading →
Here’s a great Labor Day story: Pat McConlogue, a NYC programmer and entrepreneur, offered Leo, a homeless man, either $100 or the chance to learn how to code. Leo chose learning to code. After only a few days of tutoring, Leo now has a facebook page and wants to design a website or an app featuring social environmental change so others can make small changes for the greater good. Leo is concerned about greenhouse gases and deforestation, and wants the U.S. to lead by example to create a better world – and Leo wants to play a part.
Pat has gotten a lot of flack for offering to help a homeless man. I think a lot of people with new ideas get flack (to start with), and I’m happy to say that Pat went through with his idea, even though naysayers were trashing him.
Pat and Leo’s story encourages me not to give up on my ideas, even if others say they won’t work or aren’t good enough. Because how do you know it won’t work until you give it a go?
How might your small ideas and what you have to offer help give someone a leg up or begin positive change in the world?
This idea was the thesis project of Syracuse University Industrial Design graduate Amanda Savitsky. Measuring cups and bowls that are numbered, different colors, and different shapes, so those with autism spectrum disorders (and those just who like artsy cool measuring tools) can more easily follow recipe instructions. The Match Prep Cooking System design teaches linear left to right layout and employs workstations that create structure and routine, two powerful ways to encourage learning for people with autism. There’s even an iPad app that takes cooking preparation tasks and breaks them down into small steps – basically an online cookbook to complement these measuring tools. It doesn’t look like this idea has been manufactured yet, but this video shows the concept in use.
Blurring the line between pets and plants, Dean Sauer and Andy Bass of Yonder Biology in San Diego have come up with the Dino Pet: a living, bioluminescent night light/pet. This little dinosaur-shaped food grade plastic toy is filled with tiny creatures called Dinoflagellates, saltwater, and nutrients. When the toy is set in light (sunlight, another lamp in the room), it absorbs the light. Then when you shake up the water, the sea creatures release the stored light.
This invention complicates the whole pet/plant paradigm. You have to feed the Dinoflagellates to keep them alive, so it’s like a pet. Yet it’s a sea plant. I guess it’s kind of like a fish, in that it lives in salt water and needs nutrients to survive. But yet it also is like a plant in that it uses photosynthesis to create light. So it’s a pet that creates light. How cool is that? Yes, this would be a fun biology project for kids, but geeky adults Continue reading →
Here’s a tarp that can be set up that provides a hassle-free way to collect pure drinking water when camping. The surface can be used not only as a backpacking tarp to add weather protection for your hammock, but it also has a rainwater retention system made up of rain gutters and a suspension system to siphon water out towards the four corners where bottles are attached. When the bottles are full, they pull down the tarp, providing even better protection for the people below. The fabric includes both waterproofing and a heat reflective coating, so if it’s cold and stormy, the tarp can be set up with the reflective side on the bottom, and the dark rain retention side on the top to collect water. If it’s warm and sunny, the tarp can be set up with the reflective side out to help shed some of the heat from the sun. The total system is now available through Kammok.
French Bio Chemist Pierre Calleja discovered that Micro Algae eats CO2 – i.e. car exhaust – and then uses that energy power to create light. This technology was recently tested in a parking lot to clean air – it can capture and filter one ton of CO2 per year – and used the pollution as an energy source to create light. This technology is currently being used to light and filter the air in an underground parking garage, but this would work great in urban areas, and revolutionize cityscapes.
This body heat powered flashlight was invented by Canadian 10th grader Ann Makosinski. Using no batteries, electricity, or cranking, just the difference between her warm hand on metal and the colder air flowing through a hollow plastic tube, the heat energy difference (thermoelectric effect) lights up the LED bulbs.
Ms. Makosinski is a finalist this year in the worldwide Google Science Fair. Take a look at her simple and practical flashlight design.
When I moved into my first apartment, one of the first things I did was get a carpet cleaning demonstration. I mean, what a great way to get your carpets cleaned for free, right? Well, I fell in love with the vacuum, a brand known as a Rainbow. First I vacuumed the floor a bit with my traditional old vacuum. Then the salesman vacuumed over the part I just did with the Rainbow. Tons of dirt came out! Plus, the air in the room smelled so fresh and clean after the rainbow, because it not only sucks up the dirt on the floor, but dust in the air, Continue reading →
Voice Talent and co-owner of the Hughes/Taylor audio production company.
Encouraging thought leaders (those with innovative and sometimes odd, simple, practical ideas) through Better Ideas Now.
Creating Free fashion, frugal fun through Swap Positive.