November 9th, 2003


The Joys of High Technology

Despite all the years I've been watching the curves going up, computer and network speed still occasionally surprise me.

I just downloaded Cotgrave's 1611 French/English dictionary. 111 Megabytes. Just a few years ago, downloading something that large would have been inconceivable; now, it took just a few minutes. Somewhere along the line, Comcast must have upgraded our pipe, because I just cracked 200KB/sec, which is faster than was theoretically possible when this cable line was first laid...

Important Accomplishments at Work

And while I think of it: I'm terribly proud of what I finished this week at work. Oh, not the server engine -- we can talk about that later, once I can talk about the product. No, I mean my K'Nex set.

This was my Christmas present from msmemory last year: the Trampoline Tower, the largest (at least tallest) single item that K'Nex makes. It's a huge Rube Goldberg device, taller than I am. It has six balls, and IIRC six different pathways for them to go down, with flip-flops deciding which way the ball goes each time. There are two trampolines, various things that clack and spin, and a whole lot of track. There's an elevator running from the bottom to the top, driven off of a power cord. And there's a cute little spinning K'Nex flag on top.

I've spent the entire year building this thing, next to the rear entrance to our office; everyone has been watching as it has slowly come together, section by section. (There are 139 separate sections in the instructions.) I finally completed the elevator on Thursday morning, and did the first demos; it did a fine job of distracting folks from deadline pressure for a few minutes.

I've promised to leave it up for at least a week, so the company kids can get a chance to come see it. Afterwards, I'm going to dismantle it, and start to noodle. I've built three large K'Nex kits now, so I have a fair idea of how it works. Time to start coming up with strange devices of my own. I have no idea what my cube is going to look like in a year's time...