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Weekly Review #30: Penny farthings, Nick Woodman, and Don Norman

I emailed a random guy on about riding a penny farthing, and the guy goes out of his way to meet me on Saturday and show me how to ride his treasured  $900 bike (made by Ridable Replicas)! What a generous guy; he works at the Navy but in his spare time fiddles with penny farthings, hang-gliding, and Steampunk. Turns out penny farthings (or high wheelers, or boneshakers) were the second generation of velocipedes (or bicycles, as they’re called now), and were the first with pedals. They’re direct drive just like fixies – the wheel is so big because then you can go farther with each push. Makes going up or down hills super scary.

Met up with an alum from UCSD who has since started SparkAerial, a premium quadcopter UAV filming company. It’s a far cry from those little Phantom DJI’s – he does super high quality shoots, and is focusing on developing the software that allows others to use such drones rather than getting out there himself and flying them himself. Nice and scalable.

I saw GoPro founder Nick Woodman speak at a UCSD Alumni this week – he was a great example of a super passionate goofy guy who just wouldn’t give up. I liked what he said about passions as nothing more than compulsions to do certain things – “we all have them, but it’s up to you to figure out why. Pursuing your passions is just being you to the fullest”. He added “Everything you need to succeed is already out there – you just have to scrap it together.” He filmed the whole talk with his own little Hero3 – I wonder who does his editing……

My team Geisel Park won UXSD’s Design Competition this week! Great fun and a good chance to connect with fellow hustlers – one of the judges was the legendary Don Norman, who wrote The Design of Everyday Things. I was unfamiliar with him, but since we won a copy I have since done some research – really like his idea that there’s not such thing as human error, just machine error. We should design machines that cater to the user, not the other way around. is a good resource that fins you copyright free Flickr images.

Kim Brook’s The Day I Left My Son in the Car is a harrowing long read. It made the libertarian in me bristle and growl in anger. Damn you, American tendency to prosecute and litigate!

Peter Gray fights for the right to play as an education at a LEGO conference, summed in PsychologyToday. He notes that the defining facet of play is the fact that nobody forces you to do it – that you can stop whenever you want but continue because you do it for fun. Such an attitude could be applied to education – he highlights a Danish school that lets students explore activities that interest them, rather then forcing material on them. Sounds like a more structured version of unschooling – though provoking!

This hilarious video of street soccer champion Sean Garnier dressing up as an old man and destroying some French youths in a street game is worth a watch, for the deception or just for his crazy moves.

Paul Graham on the Maker’s Schedule versus the Manager’s Schedule – the latter divides time in 90 minute blocks, while the former needs long stretches of uninterrupted focus time. Mix the two the mutual detriment at your own peril.

David of Raptitude has an interesting essay that ties together the rise of agriculture with monogomy and the notion of ownership. Early apes had promiscuous sex with the whole tribe, to cement interpersonal bonds, but when you need to figure our who is going to inherit your farm, you better make sure your kids are your own. A novel thought.