2015/02/21

Is dopamine what makes me write this blog?

I have so few readers, why do I carry on with this blog? My best so far is 60 readers in a single day:



Is it a tiny amount of dopamine which gives me pleasure as I see that I did better today than yesterday?

An experiment in the 1950s showed that rats contained in a cage continually pressed a lever which resulted in a them getting a dose of dopamine. Pushing the lever closed an external electronic circuit which stimulated electrodes embedded in the rat's brain, and this caused the dopamine release. The rat preferred pressing the lever to exercising, eating, or even sex.


But I heard about this on a radio program and it occurred to me that even a doubling from 7 to 14 readers may provoke a tiny release of pleasure giving chemicals in my brain. So I write yet another blog post in the (unconscious?) hope of getting another dopamine release the following day.

I mean to say, I could be doing more ambitious things. I could (slowly) write the greatest English language comic novel. Or I could try at least. Or I could create all that art I dream of based on electronics, stepper motors, microphones and lights. I could.

Or I could simply write another blog post.

2015/02/15

How to break the ice at job interviews.

I was taught this trick by my good friend Neil C. of Bath, UK.

Here's how to prepare for the interview. Get a piece of white tissue paper and tear it up into many small pieces:

Now put the pieces in a loose bunch into your pocket, or handbag.

Things may be a bit tense during the interview, even though all parties are smiling at each other. These are fake smiles. You need to put your interviewer/s at his/her/their ease. That way they will feel comfortable with you. And you'll definitely get the job, if you just follow the following instructions...

There will come a moment in which they say, maybe with a fake smile: "And, so, have you got any questions for us?"

Here is your chance. Surreptitiously put your hand into your pocket or handbag and close the loose bunch of tissue fragments into your fist A loose fist:


Take you hand out of the pocket or handbag without drawing attention to it. Now you say:

"Well, actually I do have a question..."

They say: "Yes, please go ahead."

You ask: "Is it possible to have oral sex with a chicken?"

Now, they may be surprised at your question. If there are two or more interviewers then look from one to another as if expecting a reply. But don't wait too long. Maybe 5 or 10 seconds.

Now for the good part. Bringing your loosely clenched fist up to your mouth say "Impossible!". Then cough (hard) through your fist and it will appear as if feathers have just come flying out of your mouth!


(You first should try this at home alone, and then on friends, without any warning, to get the timing and technique just right.)

Oh joy! Your interviewers will be rolling around on the floor. Laughing. ROFL!

Once the hilarity has subsided all you have to do is ask what sort of company car you're going to get and how many weeks of holdays each year you're entitled to.

2015/02/10

There are at least three advantages to having Alzheimer's

There are at least three advantages to having Alzheimer's:

  1. You can hide your own Easter eggs.
  2. You get to meet new people every day.
  3. You can hide your own Easter eggs.

(John Cooper Clark)

2015/02/01

Lithophanes, I can only learn by experience.

I don't know what it is, but people tell me that I need to do this or that and I nod my head and go on doing things my way. Then eventually, I learn that they were right all along. For example...

After the initial panic, when I thoughtI had paid for a non functioning 3D printer, I got to use the really quite good 600 Euro XYZPrinting Da Vinci V1.

Right, the demo has worked, time to do a lithophane. There's tons of stuff on lithophanes on the net, but basically they were ceramic objects with images etched onto them. They were initially made by French craftsmen more than 150 years ago. You view the lithophane backlit (presumably with a candle or oil lamp). The light is behind (or inside) the object. Where the craftsman leaves a lot of material the image appears dark. And where he scrapes away much of the material the image appears light.



Here's an example of an old lithophane.





3D printers are ideal for creating lithophanes because if you use slightly translucent white plastic (and my program PhotoToMesh) to create the STL files you can do things like this:



Or this:





So, how was my own first attempt at using my own software at making a lithophane? Well. Errr....






The problem was that it was too thin, about 1mm, and the printer cannot accurately differentiate the levels to print enough. I should have listened to my friends and I should have examined their photos more. So I had another go:





Better, but still not enough depth. You can see the contour lines around the shoulder of the cat. Again there was not enough vertical space for the printer to lay down many different layers, even though I'd set the layer depth to be 0.1mm. I needed to give the printer more depth to work in. But, of course, I didn't, I just made it bigger:





Finally I upped the total thickness to 4.4 (from 3.4) which gave more scope for contrast. So the light areas (where there is little material) are 0.9mm thick and the dark areas are 4.4mm thick. The lithophane above is the one on the left in the photo below:





When back lit you can see that the deeper thicker lithophane has more contrast between light and dark:





In other words, on the main PhotoToMesh screen:



By the way, if you are thinking of getting a 3D Printer be ready to live with the smell of burnt plastic and the quite loud continuous whine of stepper motors, and the anxiety of wondering if the 5 hour print will finish, and if it finishes will it come out well?