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Don Kirkby
Works at BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS
Attended University of British Columbia
Lives in Vancouver, Canada
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Don Kirkby

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My daughter didn't understand how I could have a T-shirt that Leonard Nimoy signed, so I decided to follow +Scott McCloud's advice and use juxtaposed pictorial and other images in deliberate sequence (a comic) to explain it to her. Spoiler alert: it worked.
Thanks again to all my friends at Zaber for such a thoughtful gift when I left. Even though it's been two years, I still miss you.
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Yes, I thought you turned out better than I did.
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May the fourth be with you, everyone! This was a nice surprise on our way to Chinese school on Saturday. I'm not sure if it's public art or a prank, but it made us laugh. I was also surprised when my daughter said, "Too bad Yoda's lightsaber is the wrong colour." I don't think I could have told you what colour his lightsaber was (green, by the way). Getting trivia schooled by your daughter is a proud parenting moment.
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What happens if you change a fundamental assumption in what seems to be a simple task? You break your brain. +SmarterEveryDay​ has posted another great video, and it doesn't even have any slow motion. A friend welded a custom bike with its handlebars reversed, and Dustin tried to ride it. Before you decide that reversed handlebars are just inherently more difficult, watch the end of the video.
I've experienced some similar brain changes while learning Chinese, but nothing as visible or dramatic.
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I had always thought that North America wasn't bombed during the world wars, but apparently that's not quite right. Japan sent bombs on balloons through the jet stream, and some of them made it across the Pacific. The ones that made it all landed in remote areas, so the Americans were able to keep the whole thing quiet. At least five people died, however, when some children triggered one of the unexploded bombs.
I was particularly surprised to learn that one of the balloons was found recently in the woods about a five hour drive from my home.
The main link is to an episode of RadioLab that tells the story of the Japanese fire balloons, and you can read about the recent find near Lumby, BC here:
npr.org/blogs/npr-history-dept/2015/01/20/375820191
During World War II, something happened that nobody ever talks about. A ;tale of mysterious balloons, children caught up in the winds of war. And the terror of silence.
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I love playing games with kids. My daughter and I were playing Password, and I had to give clues for the word "sweep". I said, "What you do with a broom," and her guess was "fly".
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Martin Fowler posted an interesting description of data lakes. They are like a company's data warehouse, but less structured. The idea is to collect all the raw data possible, and then publish simplified views of certain aspects as "lakeshore data marts". Most people doing planning will use the data marts, but you still have all the raw data available to do deeper investigation and possibly build new data marts.
I think he brushes over the privacy concerns a bit too quickly, you probably want to anonymize the data before it goes in the lake. You just have to balance how useful the information might be for analysis with how sensitive it is. You obviously wouldn't put credit card numbers in there, but how about birth dates and addresses? Depending on what kind of analysis is plausible, you might put them in or some trimmed version like birth year and postal code.
A Data Lake is a store that hold raw data as a source for data scientists to explore ways to gain information. It should not be accessed by end-users or used for system integration.
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Don Kirkby

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The Smithsonian Institution is giving an online course on the history of Superheroes in culture. Stan Lee will be involved. I'll check it out, but I'm terrible at predicting which courses will be interesting.
I'm in the middle of a good course right now: Nand to Tetris. You start with Nand gates and flip flop gates, and build a computer from there. Each week you build a set of components in a simulator, and then use those components to build more complex things in the next week. You go all the way up to writing a game of Tetris on the computer you've built. It's a similar experience to following Euclid's geometry from a small set of axioms.
https://www.coursera.org/course/nand2tetris1
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It took me almost a year, but I've just published a new release of Vograbulary. It's a set of word challenges for your web browser or Android device. There's a new challenge called Bacronyms, but that's not why it took me a year.
When I tried to add the ability to drag the Russian doll words through each other, I found that the libgdx platform I was using just wouldn't support it. I fought with it for a while, tried another platform called PlayN, and finally decided to have separate projects for Android and the web. I do share the same rules and logic code for both projects, and I published a small demo project to show how that works:

https://github.com/donkirkby/webandnative

It's based on what I read about Google's Inbox project, and I summarize some of the other options for writing projects that are portable across mobile and web platforms.

Hopefully, the next release will be in two months, instead of a year. Try it out, and tell me what you think.
Vograbulary : Add new words to a student's vocabulary and make the words stick (grab them).
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+Dan Ariely  and Michael Norton have a couple of interesting suggestions for how to make wealth redistribution more palatable. I hadn't heard of this one before:
"In the domain of inequality, think of leaving tax rates unchanged right now but pegging changes in those rates to changes in inequality. In fact, Yale’s Robert Shiller has proposed that if inequality increases, the rich bear a larger tax burden; as inequality decreases, that burden lessens."
They make the point that most people agree that the ideal wealth distribution would far more even than it currently is, but nobody wants to reduce their own income now.
Rich and poor, left and right, we all agree the world should be more equal. Dan Ariely and Michael Norton have spent the past decade analyzing the data. Now, they tackle what to do next.
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Here's a nicely annotated list of top abstract strategy games, selecting one per year (with a few gaps before 1980). The honourable mentions are also worth reading, I think I‘ll make myself a copy of Robotory.
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Consider also Santorini. Clark Rodeffer introduced me to it at Penguicon. I only played it a couple of times, and that in 2007, but I thought it was a great game. I think you could easily play it with two piecepacks, any flavor (for the tiles -- otherwise, you would only need one).
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Seth Jaffee has some detailed tips for writing clear, readable rules. I like the suggestions for overall layout, and I'm guilty of using too much bold text in my rules. I'm going to try +Sen-Foong Lim​'s suggestion of only using bold the first time the term appears.

These suggestions go well with Mike Selinker's Ten Rules on Writing Rules: http://youtu.be/SshUdUEtIw8
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A boardgame publisher talks about the surprisingly high demand for solitaire variants.
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In his circles
242 people
Have him in circles
434 people
Pinarello FanClub's profile photo
James Mathe's profile photo
Kerri Capperes's profile photo
James Ethan's profile photo
Rodney Sykes's profile photo
michael logan's profile photo
Novita Lawrince's profile photo
George Richardson's profile photo
Kim Deppe's profile photo
Education
  • University of British Columbia
    Physics, 1987 - 1989
  • Computer Science, 1990 - 1992
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coder, board gamer, skeptic, 学中文
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Computer Programmer
Employment
  • BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS
    Computer Programmer, 2014 - present
  • Amazon.com
    Computer Programmer, 2013 - 2014
  • Zaber Technologies
    Computer Programmer, 2008 - 2013
  • Sierra Systems Group, Inc.
    Computer Programmer, 1996 - 2008
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Vancouver, Canada
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