Coping: Personal “Hints & Kinks”

Making is great fun.  But, one of the hardest choices we’ve set up for ourselves is what to make.  Each choice seems to have its own  set of hints & kinks that make the pursuit pleasurable…yet it’s hard to find all the little hints collected in one place.

My first encounter with Hints and Kinks was in the ham radio journal QST.  Don’t run off – I’m just saying that ham radio is a fairly complicated sport.  so much so that Hints and Kinks is now updated about annually.  In 1954, it was on Volume 5…to give you an idea how deep the topics run.

Robotics  and both the Pi and Arduino crowds will no doubt get Hints and Kinks for robots going – if they aren’t already.

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There more traditional sports – hunting and fishing, to name a couple – already have huge compendiums of hints.  Why, just the hints and secrets to reloading (at the match level) could fill several books.

Same with fishing, too:  Depending on fish, sunlight intensity, time of day, moon cycles, wind, bugs, jet skis…why there have to be a million hints on just selecting the right fishing spot.

Medicine is loaded with “differential diagnosis mapping” as expert systems come along, but what we don’t have yet is the “Expert System Shell” software product we could all sure use.

Let me describe this idea for you:

You know how there are basically six types of software, right?  Word processing, spreadsheet, communications, databases, graphics, and games comes most things, though a few insist utilities should be a seventh category.

What we don’t have is this thing I’d call the 8th Wonder of the World – let’s call it 8WotW for short – which would be a standardized, free, expert system.

Imagine it like a resident version of Wikipedia that lives on your phone or desktop.  Except instead of looking up just a single topic, you would first select the information domain first.  Then, you would be able to navigate (in menu-tree fashion) to the specific data that you’re looking for.

I’d call this an expert system shell.  But unlike most – generally compiled by knowledge engineers, you’d be able to jump right to the heart of Babel of any topic in half a dozen clicks…maybe more, but follow along here.

Let’s say I want to paint.  I have the basic concept of painting in my head.  So I open this new software product (8WotW) and I select a Domain of Doing.

That would be Art.

Then under all the different forms of art (music, ceramics, carving, modeling (like model railroads and dioramas, right?) we come to Painting.

Next choice I have is Paint Type.  Hmmm…Elaine’s acrylics are sitting out…so I click on this.

Now I come to the Process section.  It offers me processes for Layout, Design, Paint Mixing, Order of Work (workflow), Brushes, and on like that.

Having never done a painting before, I whip through the Layout – make some mental notes, glance at design…but then I find exactly what I didn’t know:  Painting (oil or acrylics) is generally done from background to foreground.


This is what I have been doing wrong.  I had previously painted in no particular order and didn’t have a clue what I was doing.

Pressing the “HK” (hints and kinks) icon, I discover that the back to front is only done with layering materials.  If you are doing pencils, gels, charcoals, then you art in foreground and then sketch in background…

Point is, there is all this useful knowledge out there, why hasn’t anyone figured out this 8WotW so that instead of going through a million data entries and clicks (search Google, search Bing, search YouTube, search Vimeo, search Yahoo Groups, search….yada yada yada…) we don’t have this open source 8WotW idea out there and then have open-source publishing of “modules” of content?

Let’s say I’m out in the shop.  I get into a woodworking project and come up with a question.  I don’t want to get all over the board and waste an hour on the computer.  All I wanted to know was a question about sanding sealers prior to painting.

I would jump right to what I’m  doing:  Wood>Projects>furniture>finishing> sanding and hit the HK (hints and kinks) button.

Ideally, this would pop up with the world’s current state of the art in sanding sealers which could then be searched using any of the standard domains outlined in The Millennial’s Missing Manual.  I might be finishing wood in a house, something which might contact food, rolling stock like a car, a wooden phone stand in communications, and so forth.

And while at it, please give me the choices prioritized by cost (you might have selected time, but that would get you into lacquers and such and we don’t like volatiles around the shop because they might limit investigations into welding, casting, or electronics where sparks might show up…

The idea is that Wikipedia is a great fact-base and sure, the HTML links in each (most) articles work, but for general MAKING of things, why not a knowledge framework and then accessible online specialties like woodworking, auto repair (by make?), boating (power or sail), art, and on and on?

The tools are in the works.  I’ve mentioned this a number of times in past years on the side of the house because it will be the basis for the widespread use of what I envision as A.I.-Lite.

That a look at the Disciple project at George Mason University, which we have covered before: They have it called  “Knowledge Engineering: Building Cognitive Assistants for Evidence-based Reasoning.   And yes, you can download the code.

I would recommend a book, first: Knowledge Engineering: Building Cognitive Assistants for Evidence-based Reasoning will set you back $78-bucks and I don’t know how far it will go toward what we’re talking about here.

But the HUGE INNOVATION step that people miss when talking about A.I. is we will shortly have the capability to take something like the Disciple code, cobble up a consumer front end for it (8WotW) and use a small fraction of its intelligence to building useful knowledge on the fly.

And that, my friend, is where MAKING takes a leap.  Because when we figure out how to deploy the A.I.-Lite against problems like the perfect Creator outcomes we’re after as Makers on weekends, it will then give us a path to using such A.I.-Lite tools to do things like learn and automate our stock-trading concepts.

And that, my friend, is where the evolution of Hints and Kinks from the ham radio people, could be leading us as knowledge engineering moves of the white board and into the living room.

Write when you get rich,

1 thought on “Coping: Personal “Hints & Kinks””

  1. No comments by anyone? Huh. As Jordan Harbanger over at Art of Charm would say – I’m gonna build social capital by sharing.

    1st – “free” books. Some on AI (or if you want to call it a new buzz-term BI ‘Business Intelligence’)

    2nd – Some of the faster ARM based boards out there. More flexible than the Raspberry PI and the PADI may have more going for it than the Arduino, depending on your application.

    What they have coming down the pipe

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