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reblog – Rob Brogan

September 2, 2015Comments are off for this post.

Combustion is reverse photosynthesis

This is an excerpt from WaitButWhy, a super interesting and mind-boggling well-done blog about things that matter and others that are just plain... interesting. Please check out the site and particularly, this series about Elon Musk, Tesla, and Space Exploration!

Anyway, it may sound silly but I have always wondered: what is fire really? I know it's just super-heated gas, but this is the best description I've ever heard. It also serves the double purpose of explaining carbon emissions in dead simple terms:

"When a plant grows, it makes its own food through photosynthesis. At its most oversimplified, during photosynthesis, the plant takes CO2 from the air [Interesting that we all think plants grow up from the ground, when in fact the stuff of the plant—carbon—actually comes from the air] and absorbs light energy from the sun to split the CO2 into carbon (C) and oxygen (O2). The plant keeps the carbon and emits the oxygen as a waste product. The sun’s light energy stays in the plant as chemical energy the plant can use.

"So wood is essentially a block of carbon and stored chemical energy.

"When you burn a log, all you’re doing is reversing the photosynthesis. Normally, oxygen in the air just bounces off carbon molecules in wood—that’s why trees aren’t constantly on fire. But when an oxygen molecule gets moving fast enough and smashes into a log’s carbon molecule, they snap together and the oxygen and carbon are reunited again as CO2. This snapping releases chemical energy, which knocks into other nearby oxygen molecules, causing them to get going fast—and if they get going fast enough, they’ll snap together with another of the log’s carbon molecules, which releases more chemical energy. This causes a chain reaction, and the log is now on fire. So a log burning is the process of the carbon in the log combining with oxygen in the air and floating off as CO2."

By Tim Urban


December 2, 2014Comments are off for this post.

Most interesting (recent) read

I haven't posted here much, and that's basically because I'm lazy. I'm still here, though!

Quickly now, I'd like to share an article that - in my opinion - has a lot of meat, and all of it is interesting, if you're a designer.

Chinese Mobile App UI Trends

By Dan Grover

Some highlights include:
Chinese culture doesn't make a big deal of meeting strangers nearby through social apps.
CAPTCHA utilized on login screens (not just signup flows).
People really do use QR codes!
Moments – Just scroll to this part. I really dig the philosophy.

July 7, 2014Comments are off for this post.

Beckoning Cat Temple

This might be something unique to see (out of endless uniqueness) in Japan. Pulled from an article, but follow the link at the end if you want to see all the pictures.

"The Maneki Neko, or “Beckoning Cat”, is one of Japan’s most iconic images. Thought to bring luck and prosperity to its owner, these cats are frequently found outside businesses and within homes. And in the neighborhood of Setagaya, we found the Gotoku-ji temple, where the Maneki Neko plays a starring role."

June 30, 2014Comments are off for this post.

Your “personal stock”

I don't necessarily agree with everything said in the following, but I stumbled upon this question in Quora, which was by pure chance that I didn't instantly delete the newsletter from my email, and found it refreshingly plain, yet (mostly) accurate. My reservations are on the part of social performance and skills of entertaining - i.e. playing the guitar - but I get the main idea. I suppose some of these aren't interesting to me, but they would apply to someone far more successful than I. Either way... just sharing:

Q: What can I start doing now that will help me a lot in about five years?
I will appreciate any suggestion. You might want to know that I'm 23 years old and currently a physics student with large desire for progress, not only in my profession but also in all aspects of life.
A: Want to see your personal stock double or more in five years? Here's the prescription.
We are all evaluated and judged in social and work settings all the time and usually in a brief instant. We are not judged on education. We are not judged on grades. We are not judged on IQ.

We are judged on skills, pretty much solely. People prefer the company of those who are physically handy and socially adept. Competence counts. In fact, people with high IQ or lots of schooling but low skill levels can be judged quite negatively.

  • Can you change a flat tire or swap out a dead car battery?
  • Can you pick up a guitar and entertain a room?
  • Are you handy at crafts?

Even more important are the social skills, particularly...

  • Are you an excellent listener?
  • Can you instantly make people at ease in your presence?
  • Can you control the atmosphere in a room, making it light or serious as appropriate?
  • Do you have moral courage? Are you willing to say and do the necessary in any circumstance rather than shrink back?

Other social skills are important...

  • Can you speak from the heart?
  • Are you free from glib, gratuitous, offensive and non-productive remarks?
  • Can you compete when necessary, collaborate when necessary?

The social graces are also important...

  • Can you dance? play the piano? sing? tell rousing stories? etc.

There are bonus points for gender cross-over skills. When a woman can...

  • Use common tools competently.
  • Not shrink in the company of males.
  • Roll up her sleeves and do hard physical work when necessary.

Or a man can...

  • Comfort an upset child.
  • Cook, sew, do laundry.
  • Feel at home in the company of women.

Such cross-over skills indicate androgyny, or high skills across the masculine and feminine range. The highest slots in society are usually home to the androgynous.

Figure out the skills you'd like to possess. Take classes. Read books. Practice every day. Push yourself. Build on your strengths and eliminate your weaknesses. It's fun, a great way to make friends, and your stock will rise quickly.

May 14, 2014Comments are off for this post.

Suggested Reading

Project Management, Design

I'm starting to get interested in project management. No, I don't ever want to leave my role as an Interaction Designer, but the more invested I am in a design projected, the more value I see for excellent management. Here are a few links that stirred up my interest:

Climbing Mount Enterprise

By Ken Norton on Medium
What Google’s first enterprise product manager can teach us about product roadmaps

Measure twice, cut once

By Rick Klau on Medium
What you remove is as important as what you add


By Dan Edwards on Medium
200+ sites, apps & books that I recommend any designer should check out.

Longer reads

It might be an ironic thing to add to a list of links, but the following article is very valuable to the Philosophy of Tech that I'm just beginning to discover. It's very much in line with this book I need to pick back up. Lastly, I found this updated perspective on Autism to be fascinating.

As We May Yet Think

By Andy Wilkinson on Medium
The amount of information we consume has exploded: but are we taking the time to digest it?

The boy whose brain could unlock autism

By Maia Szalavitz for Matter on Medium
Autism changed Henry Markram’s family. Now his Intense World theory could transform our understanding of the condition.
— Also as a free: ePubKindleAudiobook

April 29, 2014Comments are off for this post.

Stellar GIF

stellar gif

February 13, 2014Comments are off for this post.

Twitter Thursday

And now for a completely subjective selection of interesting tweets in the last week

This is a bit ironic, because it goes against my personal goal of writing and sharing more of my self and I've head such disdain for the overly recycled web lately. One fun thing about having my own website is that I have the option to not care at all - winkyface.

Either way, I hope you enjoyed the next 5 seconds of scrolling!

January 30, 2014Comments are off for this post.

Make time

"Don’t say you don’t have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein."
Life’s Little Instruction Book, compiled by H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Making Time for Side Projects

By Rachel Andrews on An A List Apart
Rachel Andrews shares some tactics for finding time to dedicate to additional projects, and the motivation to actually work on them.

December 7, 2013Comments are off for this post.

UX Myth #22

UX MythsSource: UX Myths

When you copy, you don’t know the reasons behind a design, you’re not responding directly to your customer needs, you’re devaluing your own data.
Joshua Porter, Copycat Design

I will admit having looked to Amazon, and other high-traffic sites as a point of authority on certain design patterns. If I might not know where to start - with a product page, for example - then I begin with a reference, but remain en garde about what I choose to carry over to a wireframe. I always try to take a slice of design that I suspect is effective and boil it down; deducing what it is that works about a page element that catches my eye. I make it a point of practice to audit other designs of the same category and see what is repeated among the most effective. Typically the point I eventually arrive at is a "best practice" or slight variation. This may be a roundabout approach to design discovery, when you could just research best practices alone, but I feel this circumspect method gives me more context of how a certain "best practice" can take form, and eventually feel more confident about its use in my own design.

I know that's a really long way to say that I actually do research, instead of steal, but I think it's important to say that you shouldn't avert yours eyes per se from some sites with the longevity of Amazon. A huge user base will let them get away with poor design decisions, but it also means that the same large group of users have also been exposed to certain design patterns several times. Some designers want only to innovate, and I can understand that desire to leave your mark and constantly improve, but I'm of the Steve Krug camp that believes some innovation to be good, but different for the sake of different will leave users confused.

You'll likely shoot yourself in the foot if you just pull something straight out of an Amazon or Facebook, but look at the design and ask yourself "why is this better than this?"

December 5, 2013Comments are off for this post.

Why is glass transparent?

Never stop asking why or how. It's difficult to remain curious about the seemingly obvious. The philosopher in me gets so inspired to see someone asking and trying to address a question that is so fundamental, many don't bother to investigate. This one is a bit more concrete than what you would consider philosophical, but it's still cool.

December 3, 2013Comments are off for this post.

GIF 365

Upping the ante on the popular 365 photos project idea, comes this amazing stream of a animated GIFs by designer Yimbo Escarrega. He's almost done, too!

I'm starting the year with a project that I liked by Golpeavisa, which is to create something daily, a sketch, an illustration, a photo, or in my case, an animated GIF.
Here I'll be posting daily the GIFs as they come out and at the end of each month a video with the animations of this month... hopefully I make it to 365.

"Estoy empezando el año con un proyecto que me gustó de los Golpeavisa, que es crear diariamente cualquier cosa, un scketch, una ilustración, una foto o en mi caso un GIF animado.
Aquí voy a ir poniendo diariamente los GIF que vaya sacando y a final de cada mes un video con las animaciones de ese mes… ojalá llegue a los 365." —Yimbo

November 25, 2013Comments are off for this post.

A Rare Look At The Tunnels Under San Francisco

The idea that there was something literally deeper to explore beneath the white-bread suburbia we lived in utterly captivated my 12-year-old mind.

A Rare Look At The Tunnels Under San Francisco

Photo Essay on: The Bold Italic