Sunday, December 23, 2012

Early Christmas

So another Christmas is coming soon apparently, but it seems like some of it happened to me already! First I  got a diploma from the minister of education for representing my country, then the game I'm developing got first success and started to sell and just now, I got an email that I'll get a free Leap Motion dev-kit!

Which got me very excited! When I saw the video-presentation of the device first, I was quite impressed. I think it has huge potential to become the future of controlling our computers and devices. I guess it won't entirely replace keyboard (mouse maybe), but it will open so many new options and ways to interact with the computers with a mere swing of your hand.

And it's going to be just $70! I decided to definitely get at least a piece for developing and playing with, but since they also had form for developers, where they could get a free early dev-kit if they show them existing work and tell them about their idea for an app utilizing the device, I thought it wouldn't hurt to try and filled it out.

To my surprise, a few days ago I got a mail that they accepted it and they're going to send me a free dev-kit! ^^ I'm very happy and can't wait until it arrives, because I got even many more ideas for things I would do with it and I hope I'll make people from Leap Motion happy too, for giving me this opportunity, for which I'm very grateful. Once I have the Leap Motion prototype at home, I'll start playing with it and surely post some videos of my creations with it as well!


Anyway, the diploma thing is quite nice event, although these kinds of events always make me quite nervous for some reason, plus I find it a bit ridiculous to essentially receive an award for an award (I was invited because of the grand award I got at Intel ISEF 2012 in Computer Science with my invention - new and alternative processor architecture and programming language), but as someone mentioned (I can't remember who it was - sorry!) the award system tends to feed on itself. But hey, at least I got a nice book full of pictures of floofy animals in addition to the diploma! ^^



Saturday, December 1, 2012

My game OverLight finally released on Desura! With 50% off


Great news! My game just got released on sale on Desura for alphafunding! With 50% off during the alpha, so you can get it now while it's cheap(er)! There's also free version if you like, but it lacks some features (it's always an older version than the current paid alpha).
I'm very happy and excited, because it's my first indie title and first thing to be released by the new company/creative-studio that I'm founding and finally after long work, it's out there! ^^ But there's still a lot of work to be done, adding features and levels to the game and finishing it up, but if you want to support development, you can get it now, or even suggest your own features!
OverLight is an indie casual arcade/puzzle themed game for Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, Android and iOS devices. The basic principle is to redirect lasers beams by strategically breaking glass blocks (for which you lose points), so that two beams go through the same block, make it overheat and blow up, for which you receive points.
You can get it here: 
Desura Digital Distribution
Check out also its official homepage: http://overlightgame.com
Or the official Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/OverLightGame
Here's the official trailer:

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Self-Education – the one most useful skill you could ever have


No matter what kind of work you do, whether it’s programming, hardware design, biology, chemistry, archaeology or anything else you could think of, there’s one skill that you'll need if you want to be very successful in each one of them – self-education.



So, what self-education actually is you might ask? Why do I need it? How do I acquire it? What’s it good for? Self-education allows you to be able to find information about whatever you need, process and utilize that information. It gives you power to understand anything you want and do whatever you want, assuming you give it enough time.


Everything I do myself, whether it’s designing games, programming languages, various kinds of tools or experiments, digital logic or even my own processors, I do thanks to the self-education, because I taught these skills myself. Self-education is a skill that allows you to learn other skills. I even left university because it wasn’t giving anything to me, because I could learn things there at my own, faster, better and without having to hassle with petty school projects that are thrown away after grading, in other words, it was a waste of time for me. 

Self-education vs School 

You might wonder… what good are schools then? What’s the difference between self-education and formal school? Actually, even if you’re attending some kind of school, you’re still self-educating yourself, because you can say that self-education is basically the only education there is.

“Self-education is, I firmly believe, the only kind of education there is.” - Isaac Asimov

What school can give you is a door, a gateway to the realm of information and knowledge, but they can’t force you to go through it, you have to do it yourself. Surely, they’ll somehow try, by requiring you to finish various exams and tests so you don’t get fired, but that’s not very good, because if you cram it into your head just to pass the test, you’re very unlikely to remember most of it later.

Education shouldn’t be forced, because then it’s not really an education. Self-education stems from curiosity, a desire to understand how things work whether it’s a toy a simple bacteria or the whole universe. Good school will try to awaken that spark of curiosity in you, so you can start your own journey on educating yourself and exploring whatever interests you.

“Knowledge which is acquired under compulsion obtains no hold on the mind.” - Plato

If your approach is that you go to a school, sit back and wait till they force all the information into your head, you won’t do very well. Sometimes I hear “You need xyz school for this and that”, but that’s completely wrong. You don’t need “a school”, you need the knowledge and skills to do some work and school can only help to guide you to get these, but you’re always learning it yourself. I myself didn’t need a school to guide me and provide me access to the information, so I left it, but if you need guidance and access to specific resources, then by all means, go/stay at the school and self-educate yourself in its environment.

Basically, what a good school should do, is to teach you how to self-educate yourself, because by finishing (or leaving) the school, education doesn’t end for you or more precisely, it shouldn’t. If you think that everything you remember from the school will suffice you for the rest of your life, then you might be right, but you won’t get very far. The world constantly develops and changes, you need to tackle new problems, even these that have nobody tackled before and for that, you’ll have to learn stuff you weren’t taught at the school. Life is about constant learning and exploring, so education should be integral part of it, not a separate task that you finish and forget.

“You can’t teach anybody anything, only make them realize the answers are already inside them.” – Galileo Galilei 

What is an education? 

If you want to educate yourself, you have to understand what an actual education is. Many people think that learning is trying to remember as much stuff as possible, so you memorize a lot of facts, so you can then write them down on a test. But that’s useless unless you’re trying to win a “Who wants to be a millionaire” or a similar show.

Education is about getting an understanding of given topic, getting some overview of it and learning how to work with information and use it for something. Don’t try to cram your head with as many facts you can, because that will only slow you down, plus you’ll go insane from the amount of facts there is.

Memorizing facts is not very useful (unless they’re required often, but you’re bound to remember these naturally) and let me give you a nice example of why. When I was at the high school, we had a programming class. I haven’t learned anything there, since I already learned the topic beyond the scope of the school even before I started the high school, but my classmates were new to this. Whenever we were writing a test, which involved writing some simple program to do a specific task (something, that they never did before, but was very similar to what they practiced), teachers not only didn’t care to check if students don’t have cheat sheets, they explicitly stated they can have everything – their notes, the materials they gave them, programming books, whatever they want.

“It is possible to store the mind with a million facts and still be entirely uneducated.” – Alec Bourne

Despite all this a bunch of students always got an F or D. Very bad grades. But why? They had all the facts available to them, so they should score perfect right?

No.

This test required them to use these facts to create something new a new simple program that will do a specific task and for that, they had to have understanding of the facts, which they lacked. Understanding is not something you can simply read out of books, you have to learn it yourself and understanding of how to work with the facts is what you really need, because it allows you to apply the facts and make something new, use them somehow. That’s what true education is.

You can always look up facts somewhere, in books, in documentations, on the internet. If you’re programming, you’ll have to work with the language documentation and function library and look up what you need. What do you actually need is to know what to look for and how to utilize it, how to make the little pieces a part of your large project. If you’re a mathematician, you can work with reference books with equations, if you’re a chemist, you’ll work with chemical tables. The facts are there, written down and you don’t need to carry them in your head all the time. So instead learn how to use them. 

How to understand? 

There are two simple requirements for being able to acquire this true understanding of matters: curiosity and creativity.

You should pursue something that naturally interesting to you, play with it, experiment with it. Like programming? Then find some programming language and write various programs with it, try out various features, just try to make things. Or is it electronics? Then make some circuits, devices and toys. Chemistry? Do some chemical experiments or get wild and make illustrated encyclopedia of organic compounds. Or a calendar. Maybe even a funny poster. Is it biology for you? Study some organisms, whether it’s a tiny bacteria or large creatures, observe their behavior and write it down  and make a study out of it.

Make fun of learning and most importantly – use the information you look up, use it for playing, experimenting or making new things, don’t hesitate to get creative and crazy with it, as long as it’s fun as long as it fulfills you, it’s great. You can even connect learning of multiple fields! Want to learn chemistry and like programming? Then you can try to write a program that will solve chemical reactions for example! Or simulate behavior of some organisms for biology. Just be creative.

“School by Play” – John Amos Comenius

However, don’t expect immediate results. Having trouble at the beginning is normal, but if you keep up the effort it will change over time. The process is quite gradual, so most of the time you won’t even notice it. However from time to time, try to look back at what you did 6 months ago, or even a few years and progress will become apparent.

Simply set yourself some goals, some things you want to create or some things you want to understand. They can be small or they can be big and take a few years to complete, in which case it’s a good idea to break it into many smaller parts and focus on these individually. If you have some goal you’re trying to achieve, something you want to create then all the learning is natural. You don’t study things because you have to pass some kind of test, instead you study it because you need to use the knowledge and skills to achieve your goal, so you learn on the path towards completing your idea.

Also most importantly, you’ll learn to utilize the information and knowledge by doing this. You’ll learn how to work with information, how to research and find it and use it as building blocks of something new and that’s how you self-educate yourself.

“The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination.” – Albert Einstein

And one last thing: Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Mistakes are opportunities to improve, they’re natural and everyone does them, even if they might claim they do not. A lot of people perceive mistakes as something negative, but assuming you learn from them and realize why something cannot be done this way and seek some other way, they’re positive. So whenever someone points a mistake in something you do or make be happy and learn from it. I myself did a lot of mistakes to get where I am now and I will continue making and constantly improve upon them.


“Mistakes are pillars of improvement.” – Tomáš ‘Frooxius’ Mariančík (meeee! :D)

So I wish you a lot of fun while learning, lots of crazy ideas and I hope this article helped you at least a little. Thanks for reading and if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Peek into my mind

Foreword: I’m often thinking about so many things, little ones and large ones, even big complex questions yet surprisingly simple and abstract, my thoughts are racing way faster than you could even read the following words, where I tried to capture some of my thought processes into a written form and share them with you, so you get a small preview of what’s going on in my head, although it might be a bit difficult to follow, as text is very linear form, meaning I have to talk about things one after another, while in head, I can think about multiple things at once.

I’ve got a question: Do you sometimes get detached from yourself?

Do you realize how ridiculous everyday behavior might seem, how ridiculous it is even to think of a concept of ridiculous in the conceptual realm where these feelings and emotions and concepts have no sense, where they’re just a specific responses of our brains to certain data. Or how meaningless... That everything is essentially meaningless, there's no concept of good or bad, that's all that we, locked inside of our minds, think of, because of the particular arrangement of certain amount of mass, we are able to think about things and conceptualize them, but that's just one particular way of representing information, which seems to make sense to us for some reason, which makes us feel in a certain way, but it's just a response of the neural network that forms our brain to particular stimuli, even the one accumulated over time in form of memories and various learned behavior and associations…

Doesn't it just feel weird?

And how funny it is, that our brains, which basically represent and house our minds, which are used to read and understand and write these words, which themselves are representations of some internal mental models of various things and concepts and basically just a not very effective transfer medium to describe the internal concept and evoke similar mental concept in others, that our brains are capable of understanding the concept of the way they work themselves on various levels of abstraction, basically a network so complex that it's capable of understanding its own function, but the understanding is nothing more than a particular order of electric signals within the network itself, which might seem just a gibberish to others, everything we do, think, say and perceive could be potentially gibberish, yet it just makes sense to us and we feel it's natural, normal, the only way, but it's not.

And when you think about it, why can't some other models exist some other ways of representing the information and if they did, would they perceive it "internally" the same way we do, although it would be represented in an entirely different way, but the system would be made in a way that it can process and "understand" the information in the given form.

Meaning, could the computer for example have consciousness? And perceive something? How does it perceive it? If you make a picture, which is nothing more than particular data, how will it perceive that? A computer program that processes the image data doesn't have to know or have any understanding of what it actually means, it's just doing some discrete transformations on the data, from one form to another, just a series of impulses and numbers, while our brains contain neural paths that process the visual signals from the eyes, detect movement and objects and make this information available to the other parts of our brain. Are these visual processing parts "dead"? Not part of your consciousness but only a mere filters that transform one form of information into another that for some reason makes sense to the rest of the network? Which parts of the neural network are even responsible for our consciousness? Why do we even have qualia? Doesn't it bother you?

It bothers me often, I can't stop thinking about it, thinking about things that are and that are happening and the processes that are taking place and thinking of them detached from myself, abstracting them and then diving into details of them, of the whole universe or at least our own models of it, the way we perceive it or at least that I perceive it and realize that things are happening in parallel, everything is happening at once, even there where you're not.

Even your own brain is an insanely parallel system with a lot of various parts that are working independently, just sharing information, they're working separately, yet we perceive it as one, because of the information sharing, but where does actually lie the center of our conscious minds? What if you split it? What if you replaced it?

I think I got a little bit carried away with my thoughts (then again that happens quite often with me, as I have extremely difficult time to cease thinking, analyzing, examining, associating and of course observing, all at once, all the time) so I’m sorry for that.

Then again, I don't have to be sorry, do I? That's just one of our specific concepts we use in communication, it seems so silly sometimes. I have no idea why, but everything we do just seems so weird... Even the concept of weird and the words we use to describe it seems just... kinda alien.

I can't stop thinking about all things that are taking place and how they work and realizing what we are and what everything is and knowing how much I'm still missing from this virtual representation model of the universe in my head.

I guess I just gave you a small peek into my mind and what's happening in it. If you wish to see more, don’t hesitate to talk to me.


Helping Science Grow

Recently I had the privilege to spend three days (18 - 20 October 2012) at the event called 2nd Intensive School organized as part of the program called 100 Scientists into (secondary-high) Schools, by the Institute of Information Technology of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic (whoah, that's a lot of "of", isn't it? :3 ). The purpose of this event is to bring young people (high-school age) closer to the science, by showing them that it's not something they should be afraid of and that it's something that they can do themselves.

Many students and well as teachers from nearby (the whole Moravskoslezký region) high schools went to this event to learn something new and meet with some Czech scientists, who presented their research and inventions to inspire them, I myself had two presentations there and it was my pleasure to (hopefully) help to inspire other young people as myself.

The whole event took place at the faculty of Philosophy of the Ostrava University, quite a nice, but old building decorated with sculptures of ancient philosophers and similarly themed carvings on the walls. The whole complex was rather like a maze, so it took me a little while to get my bearings and evoked the memories of the Minotaur from the Greek mythology, which is actually quite fitting if you consider the focus of the faculty.

I already had a presentation at the 1st intensive school in different region before, but that was just half-day event for me. This time, I was there for the whole event, whole three days. First, because I had two presentations this time, the first and the last day and second, because I was making a documentary of the whole thing, so they can use it on their website and also because it's fun.

The whole event started with registration, followed by a lunch. What a nice way to start something - by filling your tummy! Of course, it was followed by the initial presentation, where students were welcomed and introduced to this unconventional educational program and motivated to think out of the box. I had a chance to listen to the whole presentation, although I was sneaking around the room with the camera, trying to get as many shots as possible from various angles, so the documentary video looks good, it was followed by nice presentation about evolutionary algorithms, which actually mentioned a lot of stuff from biology and bunch of other areas as well.

What I found a bit problematic though was the floor, because it creaked terribly when I moved around to change the filming location and I wanted to disturb the presentation as little as possible, but hopefully the sound got lost in the rest of background audience sounds. The breaks between the presentations were also enjoyable, because nice food tables were prepared for everyone, serving fresh fruits and pastry and also students started debating with the presenting scientists. Of course, what was the beauty of the whole event was that the debates weren't only in the breaks between presentations, but also during the presentations themselves. It wasn't one way presentation, the students weren't just passive listeners, they were active and asked questions and talked about the topic with others.

In the evening, there was one last, relatively short presentation about raut etiquette and dinner followed by social event, where students, teachers and organizers introduced themselves shortly and their interests. As the introductions were nearing the end, I started bubbling with slight nervosity but also an excitement, because my introduction was coming up. My introduction was actually a presentation about Self-education, because I recently decided to leave college and continue educating myself, because I've been doing so for a long time already and college was slowing me down, as you could read in my other posts.

But the moment I started talking, I forgot about everything else and just focused on my presentation, which went quite smoothly and was followed by a plethora of questions even an addition from the director of the Institute of Information Technology of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic (phew that's a long name again) who was visiting the event personally. The event ended quite early though, some time around 20:30, although it was already dark, which was quite peculiar, as some of the halls of the faculty we had to walk through to get out were immersed in darkness.

Accommodation was already arranged for everyone and paid from the project's fund (meaning it was free for all participants, as well as everything else) in quite luxurious Imperial Ostrava hotel nearby. What surprised me was how similar was actually the room arrangement to the Marriot hotel in Pittsburgh where I was during the Intel ISEF 2012. After getting things ready for tomorrow (moving the recorded data from the camera to an external harddrive and charging both batteries) I went to sleep.

The feeling of luxury was only exacerbated by the breakfast at the hotel in the morning, with classy personnel and tables full of various food, including my favorite mini-corn. The director of the Institute of IT of the Academy of Sciences actually choose to sit to me at the breakfast and talk a bit more about the self-education topic I started the day before at the even. I felt a little bit awkward as I'm not very good with super-etiquette stuff and I didn't want to come out as some kind of brute, but hopefully it was all fine and not so serious.

During friday, there were four presentations in total, by various Czech scientists. What I liked about the whole thing was that they were picked based on what they did, on something they created and invented, some even brought the inventions with them, which was quite attractive to the students, because they could try it on their own. Because there were always two presentations running at once, in parallel, I had to run back and forth between them to record enough material from both, so I didn't get to hear them whole.

One scientists created a device to measure the speed of brain response to visual stimuli, which the students could try out, another studied the growth of children and showed students how easy they can use data from the parents to determine if the height of the child is deviating from what it should be genetically and if it needs to be treated somehow. Another presentation was about the nanoworld and how very small structures could be mapped and visualized and even showed how students can make their own, large replica of the microscope that uses the same principle from everyday items - piece of lego, magnet, a piece of clay, CD disc and laser pointer, while team of two other scientists talked about a method they developed that could predict a cardiac arrest even years before it actually happens.

The whole day was packed and in the evening, students got time to make their own projects. They were given cartons of paper, colorful markers and other tools and they could start creating. The projects were fictional, quickly made in a few hours, but everyone was very enthusiastic and the atmosphere was great, as students spread around and worked actively on their ideas, although it was already dark outside and it was friday. Once they were done, each team (or a single person) had 3 minutes to present his project before the fictional Grant Agency, which was composed from actual scientists who were presenting their own inventions earlier. Some were good at presenting, some not that good and quite nervous (but they'll learn! That was the whole purpose of it), but most importantly, it was quite a fun and a lot of laugh. It was also quite long, so I got to the hotel around midnight and went to sleep around 2 am, since I needed to prepare my presentation for tomorrow as well as the camera.

Friday started nicely with the 8 projects that the committee picked, interleaved with some jokes, followed by a presentation of one psychologist about conflicts. The last part of the program was the Expo Science, where three people - students, presented their own projects and inventions that already went through the national or  two international science fairs and one of these three projects was of course mine - Weird Processing Unit - changing the way processors and computers work from the ground up.

What slightly surprised me after I finished my presentation was the lack of questions (just one), although that might be caused by the fact that I actually incorporated questions people asked before into the presentation itself, so I probably already answered the most obvious questions that people might've thought of. Once the last presentation ended, every participant got their certificate and went home.

Of course, I stayed a bit longer, to wrap all things up and talk with the organizers a bit more. The sight of the the place being empty again, after crawling with students for a few days was quite interesting, somewhat reminding me of a calmness after a storm. A storm of creativity and science that is. I waited for the rest of the organizers to come back from lunch, packed my stuff and because a lot of food was actually left from the event, I could take some of it (meaning, how much I could fit in my bag) home for others.

Looking back at it, it was very fun event and in the short three days (well two and half) a lot of things happened and I think everyone learned a lot of things there and I'm myself happy that I could contribute to this and share some of my knowledge and passion with other people, in order to help science grow and spread to more young minds.







Wednesday, October 3, 2012

A birthday present from my country?

As you might know (if you lurked on my profile, website or blog), I've already received some prestigious awards for my science efforts and my inventions, both at national and international level (Intel ISEF 2012 in the Pittsburgh), where I represented my country (Czech Republic), which made me pop in the newspapers, radio and TV.

And now I've got another great news! I received an invitation from the government office of the region where I live (it's called Moravskoslezko), inviting me to their office where they want to personally thank me for my achievements and the award I won for my country, by using my brain and imagination to create something new and improve how things work :-)

The interesting part about this is the date of the invitation, which is October 30, which is my birthday. I wonder if it's just a funny coincidence or if that was actually an intentional choice, although it's probably the former, as they're thanking also other young people for their awards and achievements.

So now I have one more thing to look forward to ^^ On the other hand, I find this somewhat weird, like winning an award for a country, or representing a country. It feels like some sort of isolation. I create things for everyone, from anywhere, basically for the whole humanity to enjoy, I didn't make it for my country or any other subset of all the people. It's just that I happened to be born in this country and that I also live here (for now), that's something that I can't choose, that nobody can choose and what should be only considered for awarding are these, that people can achieve intentionally, by putting a lot of work into them.

But that's a topic I want to talk on another day, for now, I just wanted to share the news with you, I'll say how it went after October 30 and for now, I'm just looking forward to this interesting (and probably unintentional) birthday present from my country :-)

Thursday, September 27, 2012

My vision of how the education system should work

This is a continuation of my previous article So… I dropped out of college. And I’m glad that I did, containing my thoughts about how could  the education system be better and how could it work in the future, based on some of the questions/arguments other people presented.

As I said in the previous article, I prefer self-education and I learn basically everything myself. The problem with self-education might be that verifying knowledge is crucial in some areas, where mistakes could cost lives or could do a serious damage, however what I'm mostly objecting to is that there's basically only one official way of doing it and that it's quite fragmented, differing in quality and restricted mostly to these who join such school. I think that should change in all areas, although medicine, high-voltage and such would still require some formal verification that you're really capable of performing a surgery for example, but the way you obtain the necessary knowledge should be more open and free.

Because in the end, it all comes to educating yourself, you can even educate yourself on advanced level. You can do the same with applying the knowledge, you don't need a college for that. I used what I learned myself to create new things - applied it, myself, without anyone's help, in fact, I consider learning how to apply the knowledge to be a part of education, so I don't talk about it distinctively, as it's one and the same thing for me. Gathering knowledge - memorizing some facts is kinda useless if you can't utilize them, in fact, I don't even consider that an education.

I still think that there's a lot that should be changed in the formal education, because there are many things wrong with it, more options should be given to people and they should educate themselves just for the education itself, to better themselves, not because they "must" to get a degree... And like I said in the post, degree itself is quite imperfect way of measuring education, it's more of an ability to pass certain tests, of varying quality. And for such education, quality materials should be prepared and shared with anyone, everywhere.


I do not argue that everything can be learned solely by yourself without access to proper equipment and opportunities that school provides. For example I don't think anyone could learn surgery at home or work in a laboratory with very expensive equipment and for these purposes, he/she would have to get involved with certain programme.

I'm also not arguing that college is not good for everyone or that it's bad generally (though there are some things about the college system that I find bad generally, even for these who need it), as not all people are able to be self taught and need to be motivated by other means than their own curiosity and also require some guidance in their studies.

What I'm arguing though is that it shouldn't be the only option out there and that a simple degree shouldn't be used as a measure of skills and abilities, but rather the skills and abilities themselves should be the official measures of that, that would the employers consider, no matter how you actually obtained them. I'm not saying that everything about college is bad, just that some things could be changed and education system should be more transparent, free and open. I think it should be restructured.

To give a more specific example, for example in computing, you could present your own software creations to your potential employer, whether you made them on your own using abilities you learned yourself or if you went to some educational course where they would help you with the studies (give you lectures, discuss it with you, help you with problems and give you direction about what and how you should learn). In case of surgeons, you could do the same - either you could learn the theory on your own or go to an educational course where they would help you with it (that portion doesn't really matter, as long as you obtain the necessary skills, understanding of the matter and knowledge).

Now for the practical surgery, you would need to actually do some supervised work in some educational facilities, as part of some programme (maybe a bit similar to the college, but you wouldn't collect any points and credits and such, you would collect only the knowledge and skills and work on projects to show that you understand it) where they would teach you that and then, in case you perform some surgery under supervision your performance would be recorded and stored and then used basically as presentation of your skills. When someone would hire you, they would look at how many supervised surgeries you performed and how well did you do and use that information to decide whether you're good or not, instead of just looking at some degree.

That way, you could also obtain various combination of skills from various fields. And the materials for education should be prepared and made freely and publicly available for anyone, anytime. So you could access them if you want to learn about it yourself, no matter if you're pursuing career in that field or just satisfying your curiosity. In fact, these educational courses would use the same materials, but would prepare a structured programme for the students to help them guide through the materials and teachers who would help answer any questions, solve any problems and present the materials in case the student can't understand them him/herself.

As for the motivation, it would be actually completing some project, some goal, some tangible piece of work that would the employers require to hire in certain area. Once you would pick one (or think of one of your own), you would need to actually obtain some knowledge, skills and understanding in order to complete it, so you would either learn them on your own or sign up for an educational course. I want an emphasis on the learning, self-improving and more reliable presentation of your abilities, rather than bureaucracy around it.

I understand that this is large and complex topic and many aspects need to be thought through, but I believe that this system could work better than the current one in most aspects and benefit everyone.

Friday, September 21, 2012

So… I dropped out of college. And I’m glad that I did


Last few weeks were a bit hectic and interleaved with many thoughts about unknown and unsure future, because I decided to drop out of the university. Yes, decided. I didn’t drop out because it was too difficult for me, quite the opposite really. The exercises and project I did were scored perfect, even got an extra point, didn’t have any trouble with the material. So why would I drop out if I was handling it okay?

The answer is: because it was frustrating the hell out of me. I spent a lot of time working on school projects, travelling around, worrying about things, without really gaining anything that I didn’t already gain myself before or couldn’t gain on my own. I’m a chronic self-educated person, I love to learn and find out how things work, because I’m extremely curious about everything, how everything works and what are the reasons behind it.

So if I love learning, why on Earth (also Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and even Pluto, although it’s not a planet anymore) would I leave college? Well… because it was slowing me down and annoying me. I can learn things myself. I’ve been doing it basically since my early childhood, by myself. I took various devices apart and used the parts to make my own “inventions”, I drew various machines, and I’ve read so many books when I was just a little kid.

However all the “official stuff” at college is just annoying, I don’t need it, I don’t like it, but I have to do it if I want to pass officially and get a degree. I have to do pointless projects that are thrown away after scoring them, I have to study stuff I already taught myself before, go to some exercises at predetermined times and spent a lot of time wandering from one place to another. Instead, I want to learn things I want and need how I want and use the newly gained skills on my own projects and ideas that are actually useful to me and/or others.

And that’s the reason why I dropped out. I don’t need the college, I don’t want it. What I need is knowledge and skills and I can get this on my own, in fact, I’ve already gathered many, so I’m able to work on various projects and turn many of my ideas into reality. I’ve simply chosen an alternative way to learn and satisfy my curiosity – on my own and this way makes me much happier, makes me feel much more free, comfortable and relaxed. I can finally work on my ideas in peace, instead of stressing out all the time, which is rather detrimental to everything.

So I’ve started a company, well still am in process of starting it and working on the first starter project, getting it ready to release and hopefully succeed. I know for sure that I’ll try to push and keep turning my ideas into reality, one after another (and maybe even in different order) no matter what, because I’m fueled by my passion for creating things and curiosity, not only about existing things, but also about how will the next crazy idea I get turn out.

Some people try to stop me, try to tell me to finish the college, because I need college, because everybody needs college. I think that’s wrong way of thinking though. You don’t need the college to be good. You need knowledge, understanding and skills and college just might be a way of obtaining them and if you’re happy with how it works, then by all means, go to the college, but if you want to pursue alternative way of education… well why not? There will be always naysayers, but your life and future is in your hands, not theirs.

The only problem is that having a degree is still basically the only official way of indicating that you’re educated and some employers or even regular people might look down at you if you don’t have one. But I think that there should be changes to this system, I would actually go as far as saying that the current system is quite wrong.

I find the whole idea of a title before the name indicating the knowledge and skills of the person quite silly. It’s just a few letters, meaning that the person passed through some exams. Of course, there are many great and really smart people, who even have multiple degrees and really deserve them and do awesome things, but there are also the opposites, people with degrees who are simply put still quite dumb. You can have two people, one with a degree and one without, where the one without is way more skilled and creative than the one with. It’s not really a guarantee of a smart and skilled person it just means they managed to pass some exams.

What really matters is the actual skill of the person and his/her work, it’s the actual knowledge and understanding of things that matters and that’s what we should focus at. Do you think that people with many degrees who work on awesome projects wouldn’t be able to work on these projects without the degrees? They would, they would still be the same people with same talents, skills and knowledge.

I believe that the true measure of someone’s education is his own work, showcase of what he/she did and is capable of doing, rather than passing some unified test, by specifically studying for it. Even remembering as many facts as possible is not really the way to do things, unless you want to win “Who wants to be a millionaire” or similar. What counts is the ability to use the information to make something new or to analyze something or just use that information somehow, but knowing it by memory is not very useful. There’s always certain level of memorized information, which differs in various areas, but it should come naturally, instead of pushing it to your head.

However, current system doesn’t really favor self-education and alternative ways of learning and studying. I managed to make my own processor architecture and programming languages and quite an unique ones, even collected a few prestigious science awards for them, while still being a high school student, because I learned how to do it on my own and figured out many things myself too and there are many people who got a computer science degree and still aren’t capable of doing anything like that, so what does that tell you about the degree as a measure? It certainly puts things in perspective.

There are some more open employers though, who rather want to see examples of person’s work in order to hire him, although it’s not a guarantee that they’ll accept you solely on your achievements. I’ve got quite simpler situation since I’m starting my own company to pursue my creative interests, but some other people might not want to do this and are stuck with the official system.

Also there’s one last big issue with the official system which comes to my mind: highly differing quality of schools and lecture and study materials. There are multiple schools teaching essentially the same field even in my little country, yet their quality and requirements differ a lot. While one university is tons of work to get through, the other one is basically a breeze, yet you get the same degree from both of them. Is that fair? What does this tell you about the meaning of a degree?

These are all the reasons why I don’t like the way education system works and why it should be changed. There should be more focus on the actual skills and understanding and work of the people. Ideally I imagine that people would cooperate on making lectures, articles and other materials for others, they would do it once and properly, instead of doing it many times separately with varying quality.

Also the materials should be available to everyone, anytime. Are you just curious how white cells work? Or do you need to understand better operation of microprocessors for one of your ideas for a project? Are you 25? 50? 12? 80? White? Black? Green? Doesn’t matter, it’s for everyone, everywhere, anytime. Little kids should be led to be curious about things, how they work, so they would learn themselves. If they would struggle with this, a guidelines and program could be prepared using these free and public materials to aid them with learning and providing the essentials, similarly to the current system, but there should be more freedom, the program shouldn’t be enforced, instead students should pursue their own inventive projects and ideas, for which they would need to gather information from these sources.

And their projects and work would be their official “degree”. If they’re active and creative, it would show and employers would be more than interested in them. If they keep copying others, as some do in school now, just to get a degree, it would be apparent too, as it’s not so easy to cheat this system. Students wouldn’t be stressed all the time. Instead they could relax and enjoy the learning with clear mind. And by student, I don’t mean someone enrolled in particular university, I mean everyone.

Everyone could learn things for their own life, without having to enroll anywhere, it’s the age of computers and internet and it allows just that. It might’ve been difficult to do something like this years ago, but now it’s not, so why not? Wouldn’t you give such system a chance? After all, we should learn from our mistakes and constantly improve things for better, instead of stagnating and keeping them old and how they used to be. If there’s a chance to make things better, we should grab it, instead of sticking with the old ways.

I know that I want to support such system, but I’m currently at the beginning, at the beginning of my own company and there’s a lot of work to do, but I have what’s the most dearest to me – my mind, my ideas and passion to change and create things. And now that I dropped out of college, I’m free to do that.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Fictional character with the largest fan base in the world – god


Many people around the globe believe many things, things that are true, but also things that are known to be false. Some even believe figments of other people’s imaginations, which give base to many large religions. However, if a person wants to be almost certain about some fact, whether something exists, or happens, they should follow the scientific method, which proves occurrence or existence of someone’s figment of imagination (albeit it’s usually heavily based on rational thinking and known facts) using experimentation. Someone makes a hypothesis, that something probably will happen given specific conditions and experiment (or series of them) either proves this assertion to be correct within a certain extent, wrong or sometimes inconclusive.

Question asked by many believers is, how science can prove that god doesn’t exist. It didn’t prove non-existence of god, therefore he does exist. This claim is however logical fallacy, it’s not rational. Does this mean that he doesn’t exist? No. It means neither one of these, because it’s practically impossible to prove non-existence of anything. There’s always possibility that something might exist or occur somewhere, but until the existence is proved, we can’t say for sure, it’s all just a speculation, a figment of someone’s imagination with no confirmation whatsoever.

Basically any experiment can prove that something exists or happens most of the times given specific conditions. Imagine an experiment, which proves hypothesis that when a potato changes to an elephant, the sky turns red. But imagine there’s another variable that we don’t know of, which changes the outcome in very small number of cases, like one in a billion experiments, turning the sky purple instead, when the potato imagines an exact model of a purple BMW just shortly prior the change, . But we do only a hundred, all having the outcome that potato changing to an elephant always turns the sky red. It proved that potato changing into an elephant does change sky to red at least most of the time.

Now imagine that we are unaware of this another variable, which would change the outcome. Can we say for sure that potato changing into an elephant always turns sky red? To an extent yes. It’s doubtful that we can claim anything to be absolutely true all the time and I’ll show you why in a little bit, but within a certain constrained range of situations, the assertion is true.

Now, someone will claim that in some cases the potato changing into an elephant might turn sky purple instead of red, given some additional condition. Since you, as a reader, are an external observer that already knows that this is true since you read about this fictional universe and how it works (since I as an author decide how it works and tell you about it), but do  the people living in this fictional universe know? No, they only speculate about that at this point. However, they might perform experiments to test if it is true, given the condition, but since it’s very rare for a potato to think about a certain model of a purple BMW and all potatoes refuse to listen to silly human commands (even if it’s for the science!), many experiments will be inconclusive, not proving that it’s true. But do they prove that it’s not true, that such situation doesn’t exist? No, we as external observers know it is true. Imagine that they get lucky, after doing billions and billions of experiments and they actually find out, that when a potato imagined a certain model of purple BMW, the sky indeed turned purple when the potato changed to an elephant.

Now they know that it’s true also, since they finally proved it in experiment – it happened according to the prediction. However, imagine that someone claims that sky will instead rain fish, when the potato imagines three wooden sticks and two pieces of a string arranged in a specific pattern on a 3x3 grid. I, as an author of this say that it won’t happen, but I also say that potatoes won’t ever imagine this, unless I tell them to. Then people in this fictional universe can keep doing an experiment, over and over again, without the potato ever imagining the aforementioned configuration, so they’ll never know whether this assertion is true or not. They can’t say that it’s not true (even though it’s really not, a fish raining from the sky? Pfff, who would believe that!), because using the same logic, they could say that sky won’t turn people based on the billion minus one experiments they did, before it was proven to actually be true. So how are they supposed to distinguish the two? How are they going to prove that something doesn’t happen, when a situation in which it’s supposed to happen never occurs during any of the experiments? And what if there are other underlying variables they don’t know of?
Similarly, we cannot claim that something doesn’t exist with absolute certainty, because there might be scenario or place where it actually does. We might be either not be aware of some existing variables that cause the changes or it might be simply impossible for us to study that part of the universe, which we inhabit and which laws of physics govern us, we would have to be objective independent observers outside of this universe, not affected by any part of it and be able to observe and measure every last bit of it. Then we could say anything objectively about it, but the objectivity would be only in the scope of this universe we’re not part of, but because we would inhabit another, enclosed one, which might affect us similarly and prevent us from measuring and studying it objectively from within.

In order for us to prove that god doesn’t exist, we would have to perform experiments accounting for every single scenario, every single variable that might change the outcome, to determine that his existence doesn’t affect any of them. We would actually have to form an exact hypothesis, how the existence of god even affects our universe and how can we definitely prove it. In what form and where is he even located? 

Assuming that he’s not actually part of our universe (which is the most likely situation) and only served as an original creator (designer) with no intervention afterwards, then it’s basically impossible to prove his existence, since it doesn’t affect any aspect of our universe. However if he does intervene, then we can test for such interventions. If we in fact do measure these, we can be certain that the interventions do exist, but their source must be apparent as well, otherwise their attribution to some sentient creator will be again just an unproven figment of someone’s imagination. We cannot attribute results of some experiment to anything arbitrary, it must prove the connection as well, in this case the connection between apparent intervention and an existence of a sentient being.

However, what if we don’t prove it? We do one experiment after another, but nothing happens. Does that mean he doesn’t exist? No. Does it mean he does exist? Again, No. It’s something that’s impossible to prove, you cannot prove the non-existence of something, unless you are an external observer with a total access to every last bit of the subsystem you’re proving something for. However, does this make it logical to believe there is any god? The answer is no.

Faith has very little to do with logic and rational thought. It’s faith that something does exist, even though there’s no evidence to prove it. Somebody comes up with some fictional idea that doesn’t get proven and others start believing it, without using a rational thought for this. It’s just a speculation. It makes just much of a sense as believing that Darth Vader really does exist. He’s just a fictional character, yet some might claim that he exists somewhere out there and how are you going to disprove them? Check every single planet in the whole universe? Or I can claim that our universe was created by the extensive smell of pope’s socks, which caused the floating strawberries in some metaspace to collide in the smelly terror, making the collided, smelly strawberry blob de facto the god. How are you going to prove it’s not like that? That it doesn’t exist? It’s another fictional thought and just as worth believing as any of the large (or smaller) religions, it just has next-to-none fan base.
Faith has nothing to do with the science. We can make whatever assertions we want, about existence of preposterous scenarios, whatever insane bits our imaginations can come up with and claim that they are legitimate and true. They might be, but they’re not unless proven so. The correct, rational way is to prove the existence of something, instead of the non-existence, because otherwise it’s just a speculation with varying levels of insanity. Therefore believing in a god is not rational, it’s just a belief in some fictional character, because he’s nothing more than that, until proven otherwise, at least to a scientifically based person.

The most important part of science is that it makes sense and that it works, because anything that goes in has to be proven true, it’s filtered, so any preposterous figments of someone’s mind are prevented from entering the world of the facts. If they remain in speculations, that’s fine, everyone is entitled to them, but they should realize what they are – just a product of an imagination. Asserting that it’s true is just wrong, illogical and not scientific, not a thing a modern person should believe. Facts from science are solid and it’s possible to build on them, create new technologies and solutions, as opposed to building on something that probably doesn’t even exist: something like that will crumble very quickly.

However, many people are irrational to an extent and they come up with these fictional ideas, self-suggestions that help them feel better and possibly get through bad times, but everything they build upon is just a figment of imagination, so whenever someone challenges that, they might get very defensive and even more irrational, protecting the weary base they have built and based upon, so it doesn’t crumble under their feet. These are usually people that are heavily based upon the religion, it’s their whole life, and they’re obsessed with it, so every sign if it being just an unsupported fiction is like a huge earthquake.

On the other hand more rational religious people don’t base their lives solely on the beliefs, it’s an addition, one of many parts, so they are generally more tolerant and peaceful and that’s fine. Science still leaves unexplained matters for us to ponder about (though they might get eventually filled and explained rationally), imagine and guess what they might be, but that’s all it is: an opinion, an imagination, with no proof proving or denying it. It’s not rational, but people are not always purely rational, so unless they push it as the only truth (or actually certain truth) and they are tolerant and peaceful to other opinions, everything is fine, but it should never be pushed as something it’s not: a rational idea.

So what’s rational? Science has a very interesting thing for it, called Occam’s’ Razor and simply put, it says that the most probable explanation is the most simple one. Therefore since there’s no proof for existence of any form of god (at least not yet), the most rational assumption is that there’s none. You could think of various insane explanations, that the world was created by a clown with five arms by burping a diamond tulips at giggling crocodile, or perhaps by some kind of sentient cloud raining down a lemonade full of despair, but Occam’s Razor cuts all these crazy ideas away, because they’re not logical, they’re not rational, at least, until there’s a solid evidence for them.

And as there’s no solid evidence to prove god’s existence, he’ll remain a figment of imagination, a fictional character that people made up ages ago and that gained a really large fan base over the centuries. And that’s all there’s to it.

Yaay! Won 4th Grand Award at Intel ISEF 2012! ^^


This is me doing science >:3 Me and my 10-core 2DWPU processor

Hello :D  Recently spent one week in Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania at Intel ISEF - international (though 50 % of people there are from USA and the other half are "guests") science fair for young students with high school projects, where I presented my own project I created during high school - my experimental processor architectures (I'm trying to change the way processors work and the way we write programs for them), especially 2DWPU.

Intel ISEF is the biggest scientific event of its kind, the smartest people from the whole world get there. I represented my country (Czech republic) with my research project in Computer Science, against dozens of other projects in this category and managed to even get fourth grand award! ^^' This award and the whole Intel ISEF is a huge milestone for me, so I hope you don't mind I'm sharing it :3

Which means cash prize, but it's also a ticket to basically any prestigious university around the world and also shows, that Weird Processing Units caught interest of some people (not as much as some cancer research, that's always a big hit, but we can't all research  cancer, can we *giggles in a somewhat silly way*) :3 And most importantly I got a lot of experience and it was a wonderful week which I'm never gonna forget and it only solidified me with my resolve to do more things and more projects for the future, because as Intel's futurist Brian David Johnson said there, future is what WE make it and he knows it's gonna be awesome, because we (Intel ISEF finalists) will be making it, future scientists and engineers. And I already got a lot of plans (and some had to be pushed away), which I'll reveal in time, so keep tuned  (you can watch for them on my personal website)

There's also swarm of press wanting to do interviews and such with me, so I'm a bit overwhelmed, here's one article about it, it's in Czech though, so use Google Translator or something.
http://www.lidovky.cz/cesky-student-ziskal-v-pittsburghu-oceneni-za-cip-fsi-/ln_veda.asp?c=A120518_195341_ln_veda_ape

Also here's an interview with me in the TV (and there's going to be another one next week), though it's in Czech as well, but... well I guess good enough for demonstration ^^'




Here's a video documentary from the whole Intel ISEF!
Express version here:


And here's a photo of photos of me in the newspapers... PHOTOCEPTION! >:3


And here's a complete photo gallery :3
https://plus.google.com/u/0/photos/113272404114690327796/albums/5745353641591298289

Monday, June 25, 2012

Welcome

Hi, my name is Tomáš Mariančík, but I prefer my nickname Frooxius, at least here on the internet. I intend to use this blog as a medium for my thoughts and also news from various projects I'm working on. You can see my many projects on my personal website, the link is in the sidebar.

I'm interested in many creative areas, like (computer) science, game-design, programming, writing, amateur film, drawing (digitally) or photography. You can find more about these on my website as well.