Brand new online University started by two Stanford Professors

Posted by | Education, Entrepreneurship, The Big Picture | No Comments

Taught by Professor David Evans and Professor Sebastian Thrun, two high-level subjects in “Building a Search Engine” and “Programming a Robotic Car” appear to offer outcomes based education, free, and online for all!

Rather than ramble on, I’ve cut and pasted the FAQ from their site here: (I hope Google doesn’t anti-SEO me for this!)

FAQ From http://www.udacity.com/

Is there a fee to take the course?
Nope, no fees. All of our classes are offered entirely free of cost.

Can you enroll in both classes?
Yes! Keep in mind CS101 is intended for students with no previous programming background, while CS373 assumes students have prior programming experience.

When do classes start?
February 20th, 2012.

When do I have to be online to watch the lectures?
The lectures are posted each week for you to view at your convenience.

How is the class formatted?
Both classes are broken into 6 week-long units and seventh week that wraps up the course and has a final exam. Each unit contains multiple lecture segments with interactive quizzes built in. There will be one homework assignment which will include programming problems each week. There will be approximately 50 minutes of lecture videos.

How long will enrollment be open?
Enrollment will be open until the first homework assignment, February 28th.

Will the courses be offered again? When?
The courses will be offered again starting April 16, 2012.

Which programming language will be used?
Python will be used in both CS101 and CS373. If you are taking CS101, don’t worry if you don’t know what a programming language is yet. If you are taking CS373, you should either already know Python, or have enough experience with another language to be confident you can pick up what you need on your own.

Will there be closed captioning?
Yes, the videos will have captions in English. We’re also working to support other languages in future.

Will you be offering other classes?
Yes! We will be announcing more courses soon.

What will I get for completing the classes?
Students who complete a course will also receive a certificate signed by the instructors.

Is Udacity affiliated with Stanford and/or Google?
No. Udacity is an independent company.

Can I audit the course?

Dr David Rock – Fantastic Google Talk on the Brain

Posted by | Entrepreneurship, Optimising The Brain, Personal | No Comments

It’s been a while since my last post, that is due primarily to some changes in my personal life, including a change to a leadership role in a new internet company. While researching some leadership theory, I came across this brilliant talk by Dr David Rock. It’s an hour long, so I hope you can set time aside to have a look. It is well worth it!

A Kinect hack worth blogging about!

Posted by | Entrepreneurship | No Comments

Ok wow. Kinect and Microsoft Research just impressed me a lot! I have been imagining that dynamic 3d mapping was possible for a few years now, and it turns out the KinectFusion team have been working on this for a while! Not only is it dynamic and 3d, but they can do in real time, as this video amply demonstrates.

Warning: The following video will cause you to feel a warm smattering sensation as your brains pressurise, explode and then fall into wet clumps on your lap. They actually had to reduce the quality to 240p just to reduce the intensity of the nerdgasm that will follow.

I found out about this on TechCrunch

Another project begins…

Posted by | 6 axis CNC / robot prototype, Entrepreneurship | No Comments


This one has been in the “still dreaming” phase for about a year, but a few parts are finally starting to arrive, so I thought I’d share a photo.
These parts are going to become a prototype of a 6 axis milling machine/general manufacturing robot which I intend to launch one day as a low cost/open source alternative to the current expensive commercial offerings.
Up next, a video of these being tested – Keep your eyes open!

Open Source hardware – The start of something big?

Posted by | Entrepreneurship, Personal, Sustainability, The Big Picture | One Comment

Imagine a future where anyone in the world could build their own everyday items… along with the plans for a machine to build them out of accessible materials. Every single bit of R&D would be done by someone who was passionate about the subject, and all their work would be documented online daily, available for re-use by anyone. From kids in an struggling African school, to the biggest corporations around the world.

Sound far fetched? It is happening now! hackerspaces.org is an emerging online community of professional and auteur tinkerers, working together to make open source designs for many high tech fields, perhaps the most notable of which is 3D printing. The machine below has been developed by enthusiasts around the world, and can be built for around $1000. A commercial version would be in the order of $30,000. It can print almost any shape in 3D out of plastic.

I am a member of the Melbourne chapter, called hackmelbourne.org. We meet every meet every Tuesday evening in Camberwell.

The power of this collaboration is in it’s scalability. I don’t know where this movement is headed, but I like it!

Accelerating Change?

Posted by | Entrepreneurship, Sustainability | No Comments

There are several views out there regarding the concept of accelerating change. The most pressing question for futurists and entrepreneaurs is accelerating towards what? Some suggest the only answer (looking at the trends so far) is that we are headed toward a singularity of some kind. The primary problem with this argument is that is based soley on past trends, whereas the future is by definition, unpredictable. A game changer (like an environmentally triggered social change toward technogical regression for example) could break this model at any time.

Fifteen views of evolution: When plotted on a logarithmic graph, 15 separate lists of key events in history and prehistory show an exponential trend


The graph above represents 15 abstract measures of change, plotted on a logarithmic graph. If this can be considered an accurate and reliable measure of the rate of change in society, then perhaps the key message to take away is that an entrepreneur or company who thrives amongst significant change with be well placed for the coming exciting years!

Greenwashing in the Energy Industry

Posted by | Entrepreneurship, Sustainability | No Comments

In this blog I hope to point out a few organisations who I think present a misleadingly “Green” image. There are remarkable similarities in the imagery used between the sites, and the wording used to explain their purpose. Check out their websites and tell me what you think!

Environmental Clean Technologies” is an Australian company who specialises in reducing the impact of the coal industry on the environment. It allows coal companies to spend money positioning themselves against more traditional sustainable energy alternatives. The truth is that coal can never be truly sustainable simply because it relies on massive amounts of rainforest to be compressed over millennia under the ground, only to be mined and burnt. Clearly this can never compete with a wind turbine or solar panel that collects it’s energy directly from the sun. No coal is clean coal.

The Natural Choice is a brand launched by Jemena Gas Networks Ltd and Natural Gas appliance manufacturers, retailers and installers to promote Natural Gas as an environmentally-friendly, cost-effective and powerful energy choice. This site, www.thenaturalchoice.com.au, was developed to aid with Australians’ decision-making regarding Natural Gas. On the site you can find information about Natural Gas, how to get connected and how to purchase and install Natural Gas appliances.” (from http://www.thenaturalchoice.com.au/UpperContent.aspx?ParentId=25)

Natural gas is actually a fossil fuel just like coal or petrol… in unburnt form it is a much worse greenhouse gas than straight carbon dioxide. Apart from the greenhouse gasses, natural gas sports a lot of other nasties which have to be disposed of somehow. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Natural_Gas#Environmental_effects)

Hydrogen.org.au is an organisation designed to promote hydrogen as a green alternative fuel. To anyone with some physics background, using hydrogen as a replacement for petroleum fuels has never been a realistic idea, especially in the automotive industry. It is simply too volatile, physically hard to contain, and requires too much new infrastructure. Not only that, but commercial hydrogen is currently extracted from crude oil, making the whole exercise futile anyway. The whole fuel chain is tremendously inefficient, even if the hydrogen was produced by renewable energy driving a water based electrolysis process.

I find that when an industry needs a whole organisation dedicated to presenting an environmentally sound image, it is usually for a good reason…

Third Wave – The Organically Grown Company?

Posted by | Entrepreneurship, Sustainability | One Comment

After examining the concept of First, Second and Third Wave corporations in my Organisational Foresight class as Swinburne University, I have come to the conclusion that Third Wave means more than just a completely sustainable corporation. I think it also means “adept at change”. These companies will be more fluid, able to absorb obstacles rather than fight them. This flexibility concept allows a corporation to be sustainable on two levels; From a business perspective, it allows a company to survive very rough changes, that would de-stabilise and possibly destroy even a second wave company. In the context of ecological sustainability, a third wave company can quickly modify its practices to eliminate certain chemicals from its production process, or adapt quickly to changing environmental conditions.

The third wave of companies will be most productive through collaboration, dealing primarily with knowledge transfer. I would cite Wikipedia as an example of the type of organisation that is able to achieve a lot with a little, and provide disproportionate benefits for its size and resource consumption.

Of course a third wave company will be sustainable, but it won’t necessarily be sustainable on its own. If you examine a rainforest, each element of the eco-system is unsustainable in its own right, using up resources and expelling waste. It is only when all the elements of a rainforest are put together that the magic happens, many linear processes combining to close the loop.

I believe that this analogy is close to the concept of a third wave company – sustainability through adaptability and collaboration.

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