Information Wants to be Free


It’s amazing how much high-value information is available today for free.  I used to be a huge bibliophile with science and techbooks covering most of my Palo Alto apartment save for servers and monitors.  Back in the day good tech books would run about $30-40 apiece and O’Reilly the most common publisher in my collection.

Packt Publishers is one of my favorite technical publishers now and a great example of how once-expensive technical knowledge is approaching free.  Packt gives away electronic versions of one of it’s technical titles everyday on their website.  This week the free books are themed around Machine Learning.

In addition, there are countless well-written and professionally edited-like quality tech publications available for free.  This starts with open-source projects like the mozilla developer network and W3 Schools (covering topics like HTML, CSS, JavaScript) to private and/or open source initiatives like R, Python or AngularJS.  You can even find gamified tech and coding support at sites like StackOverflow and StackExchange.


It seems an alien world, but not so long ago information (especially specialized vocational information) was jealously guarded and hidden from outsiders.  To learn how to become an artists or craftsman would require apprenticing yourself for years to a master in exchange for learning trade secrets typically working your way up from apprentice, craftsman, journeyman, master and eventually grandmaster.  Artists and craftsmen would also organize into gilds to bring order to trade (for taxation), protect their knowledge from outsiders and economically leverage their monopoly on.




Instead of paying $10-60k/yr at college like today, young apprentices would be bound to work for their masters for generally 7-9 years.  Benjamin Franklin ran away from his apprenticeship at his brother’s print shop under unusual circumstances.

The trend towards more quality free technical information favors the intellectual and curious over this more historically important accidents of birth and family connections  – at least in technology and for the rank and file workers.





Good Luck to St. Vincents and Knox Bots at Dublin Tournament Tomorrow

Two local FLL teams will compete tomorrow in the Dublin FLL District Tournament:  the St. Vincent’s and the SPI Spot’s FLL teams.



Dublin Robotics hosts and sponsors the tournament as well as sponsors teams at the FLL, FTC and FRC levels.   Gambier GigaFlops had a good experience last year on our run to the State Championship at Wayne State University.  Dublin is a great school district with some of the strongest academics in central Ohio.

Good luck tomorrow and let’s hope one or both of our local teams bring some hardware home and advance to represent at the State Championship.

LEGOLAND Hotel at Lake Wales, FL

This was our third trip to LEGOLAND Florida and our first stay at the new LEGOLAND HOTEL which just opened this past summer.   It bills itself as the first hotel built from the ground up for kids (not adults) with a 5 gazillion star rating.

Legoland_hotelRolling up to LEGOLAND HOTEL

legoland_hotel_bedNote the dragonfly made of LEGOs on the wall (one of many in our room)

legoland_hotel_brick_pitsPits of countless LEGO bricks throughout the lobby

lego_hotel_poolLarge foam LEGO bricks in the pool


legoland_hotel_disco_elevatorDisco party begins when the elevator doors close


legoland_hotel_nightNight time at LEGOLAND HOTEL

Data Science, and the $180,000 connection


Although we didn’t use the formal term “Data Science” much this past year while developing our Research Project, that is basically the core of what we were doing.

  • We studied a variety of business, economic and strategic opportunities around waste disposal for our FLL Trash Treck Research Project.  We explored 4 in depth before deciding upon from everything including elevator pitches, competitive analysis, to economic and technological viability and quantitative real-world impact.
  • We had an intensive tech summer camp immediately after school finished starting June 1st that explored a wide vareity of technologies we have available at our disposal including user engagment and motivational psychology, interface design, mobile app development, and a vareity of game programming (MIT Scratch, Roblox, JavaScript, etc).
  • We use research to collect data, normalize it and create simple mathematical models to compare apples to oranges and quantify various choices for any given ecological decision point.


Although I wrote a number of posts that cite data science, I only wrote one post that actually defined data science way back on June 9th for Day 7 of our Tech Summer Camp.  Data Science is one of the hottest fields in the high-end of our knowledge economy.  The average salary for a data scientist is $119,000 vs the average salary of a programmer at $65,000. Here is some good advice on a careers in data science.

This FLL season I purposely structured a program that would not only teach you a wide vareity of the many components involved in Data Science, but also used those components to help you identify and craft a FLL Trash Treck Research Project. incorporated all these elements to realize an entrepreneurial web service that could potentially address a fundamental shortcoming in our thinking and acting on the waste creation and disposal problem. allows people to more accurately weigh alternatives to make better consumer decisions based on data instead of emotion, habit and common misperceptions.

Our data science approach to is not unique to Computer Science.  It has long been the mainstays of fields like engineering, manufacturing and finance where data science helps engineer better solutions, produce more reliable products at lower cost and identify more profit while containing risks.  More recently data science is being used in more grey areas of human endeavor such as:

The list is long and your future opportunities are great data science.  I hope you gained a unique insight into the fields of data science via our FLL Research Project this year.  No doubt, many of the technologies, skills and insights we explored together this year you will encounter in your future education and careers.