Virtual new caster – What will it mean for ‘the news’?

When I saw this report of the China state news agency Xinhua introducing AI anchors. I had to comment on it. Chinese viewers saw a simulation of a regular Xinhua news anchor named Qiu Hao. There were examples of the simulation speaking Chinese as well as English. I can see how this would be a very efficient way to produce a news program in a number of languages, but it does edge into the uncanny valley. The simulation is not perfect but self-driving cars were viewed as unlikely at the turn of this century.

I do worry a bit about what effect this will have on the current “opinion as news” trend that seems to be taking over many news outlets. I don’t know about you but I am seeing more and more opinion and less facts presented to enable me to make up my own mind about events.

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National Cyber Strategy of the United States of America

securityIn case you’ve not heard about it, the White House released the PDF – National Cyber Strategy of the United States of America.

I’ve not read through the whole thing, the intro starts out with

America’s prosperity and security depend on how we respond to the opportunities and challenges in cyberspace. Critical infrastructure, national defense, and the daily lives of Americans rely on computer-driven and interconnected information technologies. As all facets of American life have become more dependent on a secure cyberspace, new vulnerabilities have been revealed and new threats continue to emerge.

Looks like a document worth understanding.

It defines four pillars for a national approach to cyber-security:

  1. Protect the American People, the Homeland, and the American Way of Life
  2. Promote American Prosperity
  3. Preserve Peace through Strength
  4. Advance American Influence

It will be interesting to see how the impacts of actions along these lies will be measured and felt — something technologists should watch.

Crafting a Cantilevered Wine Holder

You’ve likely seen these around:IMG_20180822_070319596

Cantilevered wine holders are a decorative way to display a bottle. We were doing a fund-raising activity, so I made a number of these and decided to document in detail the process to build the wine holder. Only a few bottles were killed during the creation of this document

If you make one, let me know. If you see anything you’d do differently, I’d like to hear about that too.

Life lessons learned

listenThe other day I was asked a question: If you were to tell a group of students what key takeaways you would have to share, what would they be?

I thought for a moment and replied:

1)      Listen – You’ll never learn unless you listen to what’s being said and going on around you. The answer is not always ‘yes’ and that’s one of the reasons iterative development is so prevalent. The more you listen, internalize and appreciate, the greater opportunity to understand even more.

2)      Continue to sharpen the sword – Today, the word is ever changing. Everyone needs to keep learning and improving. There are always new areas to explore and skills to develop. Besides, it keep life interesting too.

3)      Leaders must have followers – If you want o be a be a leader, you need to cultivate your network. One great way to have support, is to first support others. The concept of the servant leader can be critical. Closely related to being a leader, is the need to always have an opinion. It may not always be right, but you will never be able to validate your perspective unless you actually state it – and then listen to other’s perspective. It is better to hop on and help steer, rather than to stand-in-the-way of progress.

That was a quick, stream of consciousness perspective. I’d be interested in your view of lessons learned about self-development you’d share with others.

Laser scribing for Woodworking

Recently, I’ve started a new area of experimentation – laser scribing inserts for woodworkers. Below are a few examples of my initial efforts:

IMG_20180810_051946406These are one inch wooden slugs that have been laser scribed with an image and some text.  My neighbor and I invested in this device together and in order to get our investment back, we’re planning to charge $1.50 per wooden coin for those using an existing design. If someone wants their own graphic, they can send it to me. It will be an additional $15 (one time) for me to set it up. If they want exclusive use of that graphic, it will be $20.

Embedding a wooden coin like this into the back of a project can really set it off and show the pride in your work.

It has been a crazy month

Since the last time I blogged, I have become a board member and performing the role of Advanced Training Director of the Sun City Hilton Head Woodworking and Modelmakers Guild. These are volunteer positions, but that doesn’t mean they don’t keep me busy.

There are over 800 members of the guild. We are in the process of rolling out Eventbrite to manage the scheduling of our training classes. By my best estimate (just for Advanced Training), there are approximately 140 training sessions, across 45 classes and 25 unique topics, before the end of the year. It’s a pretty active group.

A simple, collapsible, decorative wood bowl

Since I’ve moved to Sun City Hilton Head, I’ve done a great deal more woodworking than I have every done before. I’ve modeled most of these efforts in SketchUp or Microsoft 3D Builder before tackling anything too difficult.

The following are a couple of simple designs I’ve created for those getting started in woodworking. They look interesting, without being too complicated.

One is a Pineapple shaped bowl and the other is a bowl shaped like a Pumpkin. Both use the same technique to use a single piece of wood (about an inch thick) to form the handle and a spiral cut piece that can be expanded to form a bowl. When made properly, the piece can me laid flat or expanded into a bowl. Pegs can be used to attach the handle to the bowl.

Here is the Pineapple:

pineapple bowl

I’ve found it works best to print the design on an 11×17 piece of paper. Tape it to the board. Cut out the design with a scroll saw or sabre saw. Then align the parts and determine where the holes need to be cut for the pegs, so the handle can fully extend and expand the bowl. You may need to cut the handle down to fit.

Here is the Pumpkin (I am going to try this one on an 8 1/2 x 11 sheet of paper):

pumpkin bowl

Here is what an Apple bowl looks like fully extended – my wife got that when she was teaching and it inspired me to create the other designs.

Apple bowl