Archive for the ‘crazy ideas’ Category

How to Find Old Friends

June 11, 2007

I figured I should advertise this, since it’s worked well for me.

You’ve got a bunch of people you’d like to get back in touch with. You lost them when you moved or dropped out of an organization or had your cell phone stolen. Whatever. You were friends, and now they’re gone. How can you find them?

For convenience (and amusement), let’s name your friend Frisky Whiskers. You might be inclined to google “Frisky Whiskers”. However, this won’t yield good results, at least not for your objective. Frisky probably doesn’t have his own website. If he does, it’s probably on myspace, where he used some clever handle like cooldood2004 (I just made that up. I haven’t checked if the person exists or is named Frisky Whiskers.). You also have to try to pick out which results actually refer to the Frisky Whiskers that you know.

Now, if you’ve got a long list of people to look for, this is a fair amount of work. Picking those results is not easy when you haven’t talked to Frisky in a long time, since you just don’t know enough about him anymore. Luckily, you know somebody who does, or at least you did.

Here’s the idea. You make a website that contains your list of names. Then, and this is important, you make sure your name is in the title of the website. When Frisky googles himself, as everyone (I assume) does from time to time, he’ll see your name, recognize it, and check out your website.

If things go according to plan, Frisky will contact you. If not, well, at least you’ve got his IP address.

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An Engineering Challenge

May 14, 2007

The trouble with one hour breaks during the school day is that you can’t accomplish anything significant. By the time you’ve finished walking back from class, checking your e-mail, eating lunch, and so on, you have twenty minutes to do something before you have to leave again. And the past two quarters, I’ve had 13 and 11 one hour breaks per week.

Rubber Band on DVD

Naturally, I started finding things to do. My latest diversion is a DVD I found in one of my classrooms. In an effort to improve its rolling ability, I decided to wrap a rubber band around its edge. In theory, this would increase traction and angular momentum, as well as just add weight in general.

However, this turns out to be harder than it sounds. After several days, I finally accomplished my task, but the result, unfortunately, was not particularly stable. Even that was with a fairly wide rubber band. Nevertheless, it was a nontrivial exercise in engineering, and I encourage anybody who leans that way to give it a try.

So, here’s the challenge. Without the aid of another person, adhesives, fasteners, etc., wrap a rubber band around the edge of a CD or DVD, so that it stays without being held in place. There is a reliable way to do it, and it’s certainly not brute force. Just keep in mind that, although the problem is difficult, it’s not impossible, and I have pictures to prove it.

P.S. If you’re wondering why the DVD looks that way, it’s because I put it in the microwave.