When You Want to Stop Using Beta OS X

Pro Tip - if you find yourself once having opted in to using a beta version of OS X, and you no longer want to, but you can't seem to convince App Store's Update section of this fact, here is what you do:

1. open terminal and type: sudo softwareupdate --clear-catalog

2. now attempt to update through App Store and you'll no longer see beta versions but the current version of OS X.

Reading Stack

A book stack worth reading is a book stack worth sharing. Here is the current stack on my desk right now:

Mastery by Robert Greene, Tools of Titans by Tim Ferriss, Think Simple by Ken Segall, Uncertainty in Games by Greg Costikyan, Creativity, Inc. by Ed Catmull, Pre-suasion by Robert Cialdini.

At the top of the stack and in progress right now: INFLUENCE by Robert Cialdini - fascinating book on the science of behavior, with lots of studies, anecdotes, and captivating material.

Pure Speculation: Suspect News About Apple

My healthy skepticism of "insider" news stories was validated and increased during my time at Nike. While there, I watched writers invent stories that were nothing more than lazy speculation, and I knew it based on my own direct knowledge of the actual matter - the product I worked on (FuelBand) and the people I worked with (FuelBand teams.)

I’ve long suspected and observed the same tendency with news media in general. And especially with Apple-related news stories it seems the amount of bad journalism is astounding.

Take this story from Financial Times today on how the departure from Apple of Yoky Matsuoka is "a blow to Tim Cook." What?! No evident source, even unnamed, substantiates the stupid byline. No substance. Pure clickbait. You don't have to be inside Apple to know what this is when you see it - bad reporting that reeks of speculative desperation. Publications should categorize this stuff under a section called Stupid-Lazy Speculation.

hello again... macintosh?

No. I don’t think that’s what’s happening. Tomorrow's hello again mystery will be revealed around 10am. The title seems to hint at the  original Macintosh ‘hello' ad from 1984, or perhaps back to 'say hello to iMac’ ad from 1998.

A certainty is the new MacBook Pro will be introduced. Anyone making a living using this tool has been looking forward to this for years. The touch strip is a sure bet. What about processor and battery power?

Many wonder if Apple will update the Mac Pro - that black garbage-can-looking computer. Frankly, this bad boy had two things working against it for me - despite the awesome concept of being a mac made in America. First, its price range was relatively high. Second, it looks just like the garbage can I owned at the same time it was announced.

Is hello again a reintroduction of the iMac. Is the iMac now touch screen and stylus ready? Is there a fancy zero-gravity hinge now? Microsoft has certainly upped their game and obviously aimed (this would have been planned years ago) right at the Pro users - and based on their Surface Studio, it might just work depending on what Apple unveils - or not - tomorrow.

How about machines that the VR hardware folks can target? I blame Facebook's purchase of oculus rift for this more than anything. Boo Facebook. But will Apple deliver on this front - the horsepower to compete with PCs again?

I can’t help but wonder if the 'hello again’ theme is actually much about Apple TV? Will the Apple TV just be renamed to the mac? There is no ‘mac' currently. But this doesn’t sit right for me - the Apple TV is certainly not the macintosh’s spiritual offspring in any sense is it? The only way it could be is if it got a voice, and perhaps some eyes and moved around - sorta like Wall-E. Wall-E was a mac, you know. But the TV isn’t, is it?

But, there does seem to be the possibility that under the shade of the ‘hello again’ umbrella is a full refresh of all the mac machines. All the desktop/table/lap/surfacetop devices - we meet them all again.

I wonder if the Siri Remote will be redesigned?

Will there be a culling of the MacBook air? A refresh of all the laptop lines into a streamlined culled set of simply MacBook and MacBook Pro. Will the pro take on the form factor of the air? Will there be new colors? New materials? Screenshot leaks don’t seem to indicate this - but then again, these could have been planted images to achieve a particular expectation and reaction.

Will any of the macOS machines include touch screen capability and stylus capabilities?

And… how am I going to hasten contextual assistance in Xcode without my escape key?!!! (MacBook Pro leaked images appear to show missing esc)

What is the Hello Again really all about tomorrow? Is Apple just toying around with its heritage for some trivial ad word play. Or is the gravity implied really merited & congruent with the substance of the event to which ‘hello again’ supposedly alludes?

That introduction - that ‘hello' - we all saw in 1984 with the introduction of the Macintosh was only a seed. What’s come from it is worth every ounce of anticipation we have. This is especially true for all those who make a living utilizing these marvelous creative machines - these macs, which many of us look forward to welcoming into our lives yet again.

See, I Told You So

At times we are compelled to tell off our skeptics after the fact. In this case the fact is a whopper that proves what should have been obvious back in February when Apple was being pressured by the FBI to build a tool to bypass iOS security measures.

In February I said:

Say the tool gets created. The tool is a digital file that will live on a computer system run by the government - the same institution whose agencies are constantly being broken into and plundered. It must be understood that if the tool is created, it will get into the hands of our enemies...


It's only a few months later now and the NSA has been hacked, digital tools stolen, and leaked on the internet:

NSA Hacking Tools Released Online - Washington Post
Who Hacked the NSA? - Popular Mechanics
Snowden docs prove NSA hack is real - Business Insider
Shadow Brokers claim to have hacked the NSA - NPR

The heart of the matter is not whether the NSA was hacked. What matters is that private digital tools have fallen into the wrong hands. Driving the point further home - those hands are now selling to the highest bidder. And because this story is public now, it is worth saying this again:

See, I told you so.

This could have been the iOS hack tool, had it been created as requested by the FBI. The pilfering of hacking tools is inevitable. It's why Tim Cook likened the creation of an iOS bypass tool to cancer. You don’t take chances with cancer. It spreads. 

As equally disturbing to me as the idea of the tool, is the FBI's demand in and of itself. The FBI lacks authority to require what they demanded. And so they engaged in a publicity battle to pressure Apple into behavior that was ultimately irresponsible (because as has been shown by the NSA hack - they wouldn't have been able to contain it) that would ultimately jeopardize the security and real safety of the hundreds of millions of iOS users.

It calls to mind Frederic Bastiat: 

We must remember that law is force, and that, consequently, the proper functions of the law cannot lawfully extend beyond the proper functions of force.

Programming On iPad Pro 'Is A Toy'?

If my wwdc16 wish is granted and Apple releases code for iPad, the "...is a toy" trope will resurface with vim, vigor, and heck, even verve.

If Steven Sinofsky's article doesn't cause pause regarding the status-quo reflex of the "... Is a toy" mentality, you might as well knuckle-drag yourself back to the typewriter and continue producing serious software.

Meanwhile, the puck moves on.

Apple's Pre-WWDC News

News from Apple leadership out prior to WWDC next week because, according to John Gruber (Daring Fireball), Phil Schiller told him, "We've got a bunch of App Store/developer-related announcements for WWDC next week, but frankly, we've got a busy enough keynote that we decided we're not going to cover those in the keynote."

The news shared so far:

- App Review process overhaul (most apps approved in 24 hours to 48 hours)
- App subscription model being added
- Ads being added to the App Store search results
- Enhanced share and search functionality to the App Store
- macOS is the new name for the operating system formerly known as OS X. (This appears to be an unintentional leak from some text spotted on the apple developer site)

via:
Daring Fireball, LoopInsider, and all the other Apple/Tech community sites

An Apple Keynote Imagined

 

"Oh, and one more thing..."

Steve Jobs made this the most anticipated phrase at Apple announcements. This year, let's imagine a one-more-thing moment that has nothing to do with Apple Music - or Drake (parody alert.) Apple's world-wide developer conference is five days away, so, this is how I imagine Apple's next "one more thing" -- Take it away Tim...
 

INT. BILL GRAHAM CIVIC AUDITORIUM STAGE - DAY

The Keynote speaker deliberately walks the stage, focusing intently on Apple's largest ever developer gathering (7000 seats.) The crowd hangs on every carefully crafted word of the closing message.

TIM COOK

"...and we've shown you some amazing things we think are really cool. We can't wait to see what you do with them."

"But you know, there is actually ...one more thing. Two years ago we announced the Swift programming language; This year we're thrilled to share with you it's perfect compliment:

 code

 code for macOS - a breakthrough reimagined IDE focusing first on Swift for full-scale software development.

"We think it's really cool, and we can't wait to see what you do with it."
 

"Oh, and there's one more one more thing..."

 code for iPad

"Develop apps directly from your iPad Pro with professional software tools designed to change the way you write great software at any scale. You've got a screaming processor, a touch-screen with amazing resolution, a great keyboard, outstanding battery-life, and the iPad Pro is a breeze to take wherever you are - just touch, code, and go.

Your project assets and files can be generated both locally and remotely, and are backed up and managed in the cloud and integrated into a continuous deployment solution (via Apple, your own mac server, or through other third parties of your choice.)

You compile and run apps right on the device, as well as remotely.

An integrated touch-based app design and asset production & management app suite affords you enhanced ability to literally conceive, compose, and build your UI/UX from start to finish, right on your iPad. It also supports importing external assets."

"We think  code is really cool, and can't wait to see what you do with it."
 

FADE OUT:

...and cut.

WWDC 2016 can't come soon enough. I've been waiting years for the ability to do real development directly on my iPad. Now that the iPad Pro is a real thing (four years after I predicted and mocked it up in 2011) I'm holding out hope for code. Even a tap of the puck in that direction with a Swift Playground App for iPad Pro would be great. 

 

Swift Shortcut: ??

Before the ?? operator was added to Swift, you would use a ternary conditional operator and forced unwrapping to assign a default value if the expected value is nil.

let bossMonster = (monster != nil monster! : defaultMonster) 
// this code says that if monster is not nil then force unwrap monster to get its value, otherwise use defaultMonster

?? provides a shortcut to the above.

let bossMonster = monster ?? defaultMonster

Short and simple! The ?? is known as the nil coalescing operator.

Dedicated to the ideals, dreams, and hard facts that created America

“To all who come to this happy place: Welcome. Disneyland is your land. Here, age relives fond memories of the past, and here youth may savor the challenge and promise of the future. Disneyland is dedicated to the ideals, the dreams, and the hard facts that have created America, with the hope that it will be a source of joy and inspiration to all the world.”

- Walt Disney, July 17th 1955

Today marks the 60 year anniversary of the opening of Walt Disney's now world famous (and world changing) theme park, Disneyland.

The event was filmed (video). Ronald Reagan introduced Walt at the dedication (@ minute 12:18 in clip), who then read his dedication speech. Also notable were three military chaplains present to represent the Protestant, Catholic, and Jewish faiths. Following the dedication speech a prayer was offered, the governor spoke, bells tolled, a flag was also dedicated and raised. 

Chaplain:

I have known walt disney for many years and have long been aware of the spiritual motivation in the heart of this man who has dreamed Disneyland into being. Let us join with him then in dedicating these wonder filled acres to those things near to his heart and our hearts: to understanding and good will among men; laughter for children; memories for the mature; and aspiration for young people everywhere. And beyond the creeds that would divide us, let us unite in a silent prayer that this and every worthy endeavor may prosper at God's hand. Let us bow in prayer. <Silent moment, Walt, dignitaries, and attendees bow heads> Amen.

Governor Goodwin Knight: 

Today is a wonderful day as all of America is proud as we open Disneyland. This is a wondrous community with all of the charm of the old world and all of the progress and ingenuity of the new world. Yes this is a wonderful place for children and grown ups alike. There are replicas of every town and city in America. Stores, libraries, schools, just like your home town. All built by American labor and American capital under the belief that this is a God fearing and a God loving country and as we dedicate this flag now we do it with the knowledge that we are the fortunate ones to be Americans and that we extend to everyone everywhere the great ideals of Americanism, brotherhood, and peace on earth, goodwill towards men.

A flyover and parade ended the dedication ceremonies. The following day the doors were opened to the general public (though much of the park was still under development.)

The pace of the building of Disneyland is remarkable. For a variety of reasons, including our abundant regulations and red-tape bureaucracy, it would be nearly impossible to accomplish such a feat today, and it would be exceedingly more costly. The land was undeveloped in 1953. Opening day was in July 1955. The cost was $17 million (today that is probably over $150 mil. in 2015 dollars.)

Remember, Disneyland is more than the place. Even if the park itself and company were to disappear overnight - it is a way of thinking and the spirit to which the place was dedicated: the ideals, dreams, and hard facts that created America.

"Disneyland will never be completed. It will continue to grow as long as there is imagination left in the world." - Walt Disney

 

References:

Read the Biography recommended by those that knew him best, including Walt's daughter: Walt Disney, An American Original.

Disneyland Opening July 17 1955
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JuzrZET-3Ew

The Walt Disney Family Museum
http://www.waltdisney.org

Zip-a-dee-doo-dah, zip-a-dee-ay,
My, oh my, what a wonderful day!
Plenty of sunshine, headin’ my way,
Zip-a-dee-doo-dah, zip-a-dee-ay!

Ray Gilbert, © 1945 Walt Disney Music Company.

http://thehistoryofdisney.blogspot.com

iOS Debugging Skills

In the film Taken, Liam Neeson has a particular set of skills. Using said skills, Neeson deftly resolves his one major blocker (a kidnapped daughter). In like manner - minus the mayhem - a software developer's debugging skills pay off in the field - thus, the worthy developer will value what enhances his debugging powers.

Dancing in the Debugger covers potent debugging skills for the LLDB command line; the good stuff appears about 3/4 into the article.

To summarize: Have you ever wanted to pause your running iOS app in Xcode to manipulate and better understand all the visual elements on screen, or conveniently change variable values and see results without stopping, recompiling, and running the app again?

Chisel is the Bruce-Lee's-nun-chucks-compliment to your LLDB bug-fu. Some fine Facebook folk are sharing their commonly used LLDB debugging commands in the form of python scripts so that you can type (in the LLDB debugger command line)...

pviews” 

instead of 

"po [[[UIApplication sharedApplication] keyWindow] recursiveDescription]” 

...to see your app’s current UI hierarchical tree print to the console! 

BOOM!

Or, let’s say I have just run the above command and printed this big hierarchical list of UI elements. Instead of sorting through this big dump of objects for a UISegmentedControl I can just type...

(lldbfv segmented
0x7fd72ac3ba90 UISegmentedControl

Now just grab that address and go to town…

e id $mySegmentedControl = (id)0x7fd72ac3ba90

That just created the convenience variable $mySegmentedControl. Here is the current control:


Let's change a color...

(lldbe (void)[$mySegmentedControl setBackgroundColor:(UIColor *)[UIColor redColor]]
(lldbcaflush

...the background color changed to red without even resuming in the debugger!



A single tear runs down your cheek. Try it out! Just read the article and install Chisel - you’ll be glad you did.

By the way, to grab those controller images just above, all I did was type:
(lldbvisualize $mySegmentedControl
The Preview app opens up showing your snapshot of the object. BOOM!

Write The Code: Swift and the Xcode Playgrounds & WWDC

*

This week Apple surprised everyone by introducing Swift - a brand new programming language for Cocoa and Cocoa Touch - along with a tool called Playgrounds, which lets you to explore your code through realtime feedback, without having to build and run the app. These were the most unexpected WWDC reveals I've seen in 4 years of attendance and many more years of observation.

Months ago I was watching a video by Bret Victor, formerly of Apple, promoting paradigm changing ideas on programming with visual and realtime feedback.

When Apple introduced the Xcode Playgrounds feature, I thought I saw Brett Victor's signature all over it. Chris Lattner, who started working on the Swift language in 2010, put the puzzle pieces in place for me - his homepage states that the Xcode Playgrounds feature was heavily influenced by Brett Victor's ideas (among others). Lattner also explains that a personal passion of his is to make programming more interactive and approachable.

Swift is available right now in Xcode 6. It's an exciting time, for one, because Apple is totally invested in Swift, and in making things better for developers at a time when our developer community, in many ways, thought they already had it pretty good.

*As is often true with Apple, in hindsight things seem obvious. Before the WWDC Keynote, nobody expected a new language. The time leading up to WWDC always feeds speculation around what secret message lies hidden in the conference's branding imagery and tag line. With Swift's announcement, "Write the code" obviously becomes all the more clever.

The Science And Art Of Things That Move

I watched this fascinating talk on bionics given at TED by Hugh Herr who heads the Biomechatronics research group at MIT Media Lab.

Now I'm wanting some spring jumping stilts. Strap on a pair and you'll be running 20 mph and jumping over objects 6 feet high.


Robotics Unlimited's OutRunner remote controlled running robot gets 20 mph as well. Just remember, robots that run can chase.

Robots that can chase call to mind perhaps one of the coolest of all - Boston Dynamic's Cheetah will overtake you and your jumping stilts by at least 9 mph.

Syd Mead's illustration of huge robot dogs visualizes a future with very large running robots.
"Running of the Six Drgxx"
Swedish House Mafia's Greyhound video appears to have been inspired by Mead's well known illustration - these mechanical hounds appear much smaller than the 120 foot tall "drgxx."

Ray Bradbury's mechanical hounds were punishers programmed to enforce societal rules by violence, having been outfitted with poison-injecting four inch steel needles projecting from the snout.
glenn kim's depiction of Brandbury's mechanical hounds

Cross breeding various weapon systems with any one of today's real-world autonomous robots conjures up some mighty fearsome combinations:

Imagine the Boston Dynamics Cheetah saddled with an MK19 grenade machine gun

Something very similar (though fitted on a track-based robot) has been around since at least 2005 in the Talon robot with a Metal Storm grenade machine gun.

How about a Modular Advanced Armed Robotic System plopped on top of a Big Dog?


While we're at it, might as well integrate TrackingPoint style precision firepower technology into something like Atlas





For as much destructive potential as this stuff has, the productive potential of autonomous moving robots is at least as awesome!

Flight Assembled Architecture
Quadrotor drones are building a tower of bricks!
For a thought experiement, scale the size of these machines up or down to extremes and imagine what could happen! Apply the concept to space and underwater.

Speaking of extreme scale robots, the people that brought us Siri (and a ton more - SRI International) are working on Magnetically Actuated Micro-robots - watch them construct nano-tube structures:

Seeing these micro robots actuated by novel means of locomotion brings to mind another robot called Cubli, which achieves locomotion through a combination of jumping up, balancing, and controlled falling.

A conceptual cousin to Cubli is our favorite ball of commercially available robo-sweetness Sphero

To be continued...

Top Innovator of 2013


Who did Fast Company name Top Innovator of 2013?

Nike.

“Apple is up there with Nike, Disney, Coke, and Sony. But even the best brands require care and investment if they are to retain its energy and vitality. To me, marketing is about values. The Apple brand has clearly suffered from neglect in this area in the past few years. We need to bring it back but not by speaking about speed and feeds, not about pros and cons or why we are better than windows. Nike never talks about the price they instead honor great athletes. That is who they are and what they are about." -- Steve Jobs

Good Todd's Notable Quoteables

Once upon a time I worked at a financial services company on a software team with another Todd. Before long we came to be known as Good Todd and Bad Todd. I had a collection of quotes I liked and posted for myself and team-members to keep in mind and glean insights from - I especially appreciated the quote-digs against over-abstraction, "lasagna-code", and Alan Kay dissing C++.

Here are a few from the current collection of Good Todd's Noteable Quoteables...
“The most effective debugging tool is still careful thought, coupled with judiciously placed print statements.” - Brian Kernighan 
“Premature optimization is the root of all evil (or at least most of it) in programming” - Donald Knuth
“First make it run, then make it run fast.” - Brian Kernighan  

“...innovation comes from people meeting up in the hallways or calling each other at 10:30 at night with a new idea... And it comes from saying no to 1,000 things to make sure we don't get on the wrong track or try to do too much. We're always thinking about new markets we could enter, but it's only by saying no that you can concentrate on the things that are really important.” - Steve Jobs
“Everyone knows that debugging is twice as hard as writing a program in the first place. So if you're as clever as you can be when you write it, how will you ever debug it?” - Brian Kernighan
“Interface matters to me more than anything else, and it always has. I just never realized that... People change the world by using things. The focus must be on the "using", not the "thing.” - Brett Victor
“I invented the term ‘Object-Oriented’, and I can tell you I did not have C++ in mind.” - Alan Kay
“First, solve the problem. Then, write the code.” - John Johnson
“Do you not realize I have had diarrhea since Easters?” - Senor Ramon, Nacho Libre
“I don’t want to get paid to lose. I wanna WIN!” - Nacho, Nacho Librepage1image14928
“Adding manpower to a late software project makes it later” - Fred Brooks
“However little television you watch, watch less.” - David McCullough
“Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things. And the reason they were able to do that was that they’ve had more experiences or they have thought more about their experiences than other people.” - Steve Jobs
“The public should always be wondering how it is possible to give so much for the money.” - Henry Ford
“Brevity is the soul of wit.” - Shakespeare
“In the one and only true way, the object-oriented version of ‘spaghetti code’ is, of course, ‘lasagna code’. (Too many layers).” - Robert Waltman 
“Measuring programming progress by lines of code is like measuring aircraft building progress by weight.” - Bill Gates
“Don’t study the idea to death, with experts and committees. Get on with it and see if it works.” - Ken Iverson
“...A lot of people in our industry haven’t had very diverse experiences. So they don’t have enough dots to connect, and they end up with very linear solutions without a broad perspective on the problem. The broader one’s understanding of the human experience, the better design we will have.” - Steve Jobs
“There is a level of abstraction beyond which people don’t want to go. Take a good look at what you want to do, and try to come up with the long-term lazy way, not the short-term lazy way.” - Larry Wall
“All problems in computer science can be solved by another level of indirection.” - Butler Lampson
“...but that usually will create another problem.” - David Wheeler
“All problems in computer science can be solved by another level of indirection...Except for the problem of too many layers of indirection.” - David Wheeler
“Indeed, indirection and layering add space and time overhead, and can obstruct the code's comprehensibility...the effect that indirection has on the comprehensibility of our code is a very important concern, because over the last 50 years...the ability of humans to understand code hasn't improved much. Therefore...be especially wary when introducing layering to handle some vague, unspecified requirements we imagine might crop up in the future rather than today's concrete needs.- Beautiful Code ch. 17
“Layers are for cake, not for software.” - Bart Smaalders
“...sometimes you get a little feeling. And this is not an idea; it's just a feeling. It's like an odor of perfume. But the fun thing is that little feeling can actually lead you to look in the past in different places than you normally do, and you can bring those up to that feeling. And once you do that, that feeling starts expanding into a vision, and the vision expands into an actual idea...”
“Some of the most creative people I know actually operate this way. This is where those ideas come from that are not just incremental to the present. They come out of vague, even muscular sensations, that you have to go chasing to find out what they are. If you try to get the idea too early, it can only be in terms of the present.” - Allen Kaypage3image17976 page3image18136 page3image18296
“A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.” - Steve Jobs
“That’s been one of my mantras -- focus and simplicity. Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.” - Steve Jobs
“If you think C++ is not overly complicated, just what is a protected abstact virtual base pure virtual private destructor and when was the last time you needed one?” - Tom Cargill
“Simplicity is prerequisite for reliability.” - Edsger W. Dijkstra
“Complexity kills. It sucks the life out of developers, it makes products difficult to plan, build and test, it introduces security challenges and it causes end-user and administrator frustration.” - Ray Ozzie
“Hofstadter's Law: It always takes longer than you expect, even when you take into account Hofstadter's Law.” - Douglass Hofstadter
“If we'd asked the customers what they wanted, they would have said ‘faster horses’” - Henry Ford
“When I am working on a problem I never think about beauty. I think only how to solve the problem. But when I have finished, if the solution is not beautiful, I know it is wrong.” - Buckminster Fuller
“For a sucessful technology, honesty must take precedence over public relations for nature cannot be fooled.” - Richard Feynman
“The most important single aspect of software development is to be clear about what you are trying to build.” - Bjarne Stroustrup
“I object to doing things that computers can do.” - Olin Shivers
“Complexity has nothing to do with intelligence, simplicity does.” - Larry Bossidy
“It is not that uncommon for the cost of an abstraction to outweigh the benefit it delivers. Kill one today!” - John Carmack
“Premature optimization, that's like a sneeze. Premature abstraction is like ebola; it makes my eyes bleed.” - Christer Ericson
“So much complexity in software comes from trying to make one thing do two things.” - Ryan Singer

Create Or Die


Creation is in our DNA. Humans are makers. We explore. We play. We discover. We build. We create. We invent. Yet too often we lose it, we change:
“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.” - Pablo Picasso
The fact is this creative spirit can be snuffed out almost as soon as it begins. It can be programmed or educated right out of us. The precious flame of curiosity and discovery sparking our creativity can be extinguished almost without a second thought.

SCHOOL MISTRESS
What about you, Truman?
                          
TRUMAN
I want to be an explorer
...like Magellan.

SCHOOL MISTRESS
(slightly condescending)
I'm afraid no one's going to pay you do that, Truman.  You might have to find something a little more practical.
(glancing to a pulldown wall map behind her head)
Besides, you're too late.  There's really nothing left to explore.

The class roars with laughter as the crestfallen Truman takes his seat. 

-- The Truman Show, Screenplay by Andrew M. Niccol

Despite the soul-crushing assault on the little Leonardos and Magellans in all of us, we live in a time of unparalleled personal creative capacity. The information, the opportunities for learning and doing, and the resources available to even the most common of us would astonish history's most eminent figures.

What an exciting time to be alive!

You can view world-class lectures and courseware from MIT, Stanford, Harvard, Berkley, Carnegie Mellon, and a hundred more institutions, all for free.

Explore the world, the solar system, and galaxies on your computer.

You can explore Math, Physics, Chemistry, now Computer Science, and much more at Khan Academy

You can use Khan Academy to review concepts & form the mathematical bridge you need while taking courses like 6.002: Circuits and Electronics from MITx at edX, again, all for free.

You can build an autonomous multi-rotor drone, a space balloon, or an automated sentry gun using low-cost components along with a simple Arduino "prototyping platform" and free software.

You can fabricate toys, objects, or almost anything you can imagine right on your desktop using 3D additive printing machines.

You can prototype your own circuits on a breadboard or with software, hone it, and then have it printed as a one-off or mass produced.

You can launch a startup business or project that previously would have required big money, connections, and resources, just by having a great idea, the ability to execute, and sharing it with others. If people like it, they fund it, and you might do something like this (raised $10 million).

You can build your own Rally Fighter in 6 days (of course you'll need $75,000).

You can build applications, program whatever you can imagine, and maybe even change the world

The surface has barely been scratched. Truman's teacher was wrong. There is much more left to explore.

Drone Days of Yore

What do you do when you break your drone? When mine bit it hard, the central cross cracked rendering it uncontrollable. Parrot offers a replacement central cross component for $25. So, like the cheapskate I am, I disassembled the drone, fired up the hot glue gun, and went to work.

She never did fly as true again. Now she lays around reliving her glory days under the hot sun. Soon after the hot glue repair I took her back up. The wind was gusty; The pilot was fearless (and poorer for it.) She took to the cement hard and would never fly again... or would she?