Thursday, December 27, 2007

Ecospot Winners Announced

Reciently the Alliance for Climate Protection announced there Ecospot winners. These are short spots (suitable for advertising) that were solicited in a contest. There were quite a few entries.

First Place: The Sky is Falling

Second Place: Are You Game

Third Place: I did Noth'n

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Thinking about a living Christmas tree for next year

So for the past 12 years, Margaret and I have had a artificial Chirstmas tree. I always thought that this is the best way to go. Rather than cut trees use them and then chip them up. I just can't get into the disposable pattern of a cut tree.

I do miss the feeling of the real tree though and a friend of ours did a living Christmas tree this year in their home. But the question of "What do you do with it?" always comes up. Well I have been reading at about living Christmas trees. They suggest just giving it to the local park department or landscaper and letting them have it to plant.

It occured that this is a great gift for the environment. I pay for the nursery to grow a tree and then by giving the tree away will likely add another tree to the earth to help combat climate change. I plan to establish the recipient before I purchase the tree.

Bic Crystal ballpoint pen

It was brought to my attention by my friend Rob Gardner that the Bic Crystal ballpoint pen is a superior product. If you do not believe me, read the reviews yourself.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

What have I been up to.

Those who are following my activities will notice a lack of blog postings lately.  So here is a quick summary of what I have been up to.


1)       Worked as a judge for the First LEGO League.  I thought that this might help with networking local support for but it did not amount to much.  It did make me better understand the challenge and I was thinking of running a team for for next year.

2)       I am not working much on web site.  I am lobbying the project supporters to change the name to Extreme Standardization, Interconnect, and Integration.  People seem to get that name better.  So I intend an entire web site rework and re-launch of the project at the beginning of the year.

3)       I have been spending much of my free time working on the Ultimate Resource for Leaders which is the new web site.  This project is to launch at the start of next year.  I am hoping to leverage this community to help me in re-launching the concept.

4)       Christmas is near and that means more projects with for presents.  Can’t describe them here, someone might get a clue as to what will be coming under the tree this year.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Sears is a good citizen for supporting our military

Lauren Spangler-Young sent me this one. It appears to be a chain letter.


The letter reads:


I know I needed this reminder since Sears isn't always my first choice. Amazing when you think of how long the war has lasted and they haven't withdrawn from their commitment. Could we each buy at least one thing at Sears this year?


How does Sears treat its employees who are called up for military duty? By law, they are required to hold their jobs open and available, but nothing more. Usually, people take a big pay cut and lose benefits as a result of being called up.


Sears is voluntarily paying the difference in salaries and maintaining all benefits, including medical insurance and bonus programs, for all called up reservist employees for up to two years.


I submit that Sears is an exemplary corporate citizen and should be recognized for its contribution. I suggest we all shop at Sears, and be sure to find a manager to tell them why we are there so the company gets the positive reinforcement it well deserves.


Adrienne Espinosa wrote:

Decided to check this before I sent it forward. So I sent the following e-mail to the Sears Customer Service Department:


I received this e-mail and I would like to know if it is true. If it is, the Internet may have just become one very good source of advertisement for your company. I know I would go out of my way to buy products from Sears instead of another store for a like item, even if it's cheaper at that store.



This is their answer to my e-mail:


Dear Customer:


Thank you for contacting Sears. The information is factual. We appreciate your positive feedback.


Sears regards service to our country as one of greatest sacrifices our young men and women can make. We are happy to do our part to lessen the burden they bear at this time.


Bill Thorn

Sears Customer Care




Adrienne Espinosa also wrote:


It's verified! By at:



Friday, November 16, 2007

SBP submitted as idea for PRI Consumed

Yesterday I submitted the idea as one of the ideas for the American Public Media Consumed website. I noticed that they changed the title of my idea and gave it a feasibility rating of 20%.  I think that only reflects how stuck our culture is in the current value chain.  For I indent for the project to go forward.  They did leave the web link in though.  Nice of them.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

UK Police Advert

Mike Duffy from the UK sent me this one.




Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Work on new website has begun

There is a new System Big Play web site under construction at  Since quite a bit of time had been spent gathering materials for various grant proposals, the web site is a natural consequence.  Material is slowly migrating from draft form on my computer to on the web.  I hope to have a newsletter out soon.




Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Lab School Homecomming Parade Float Pictures

Kathy Mroczko took some wonderful pictures of the Lab School homecoming parade float.  They can be found at


Looking for Green Technology Inventions

Thank you Andrea Schweitzer for sending me this one.

The Science Channel is producing a television series on "green technology
inventions", and they have asked the DaVinci Institute to serve as the
go-between to find these inventors.

They will be filming in Colorado between Oct 22nd and Nov 14th. They will
finish up the day before the Colorado Inventor Showcase

If you have a "green technology invention "that you would like the Science
Channel to consider,
please contact Thomas Frey at the DiVinci Institute at 303-666-4133 and he
will make the introduction.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Medieval Tech Support

As a geek and a medievalist, I enjoyed this.

Monday, October 1, 2007

System Big Play to go for Buckminster Fuller Design Challenge

The System Big Play Project will be submitting a proposal for the Buckminster Fuller Design Challenge.  The challenge will give a $100,000 cash award to a project that will help lead humanity to sustainability upon this earth.


The Buckminster Fuller Challenge seeks submissions of design science solutions within a broad range of human endeavor that exemplify the trimtab principle. Trimtabs demonstrate how small amounts of energy and resources precisely applied at the right time and place can produce maximum advantageous change.

Solutions should be:

·         Comprehensive — a clear demonstration of holistic systems thinking.

·         Anticipatory — projectively tracking critical trends and needs; identifying and assessing long term consequences of proposed solutions.

·         Ecologically responsible — reflective and supportive of nature's underlying processes, patterns and principles.

·         Verifiable — able to withstand rigorous empirical testing.

·         Replicable — capable of being readily undertaken by others.

·         Achievable — likely to be implemented successfully and broadly adopted. “

The System Big Play Project is uniquely qualified to meet this challenge.


There is an extremely tight schedule to fulfill this goal.  The deadline for entry is October 30th.  I am quickly assembly a team.  We will be seeking the help of The Colorado Nonprofit Association to get started quickly.  Grant writing has already begun amongst those people who already expect to be part of the team.  If anyone is interested in learning more please call me at (970) 484-4577.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Networking 101: Name Tags and More

This evening I was at the Green Drinks here in Fort Collins.  Now the Green Drinks group in Fort Collins seems to be heavily dominated by Green Builders.  I think Green Builders are great and they are promoting a new way sustainable living.  But as they talk of big development projects or wealthy people who can afford their products, I think “Aren’t we missing the point a bit here?”  Should we not be building less, reusing more, building more compact, living smaller?  I just need to realize those are my values and not necessarily others. 


Where was I?  Oh yea, I was in a networking delema!  How can I find the Environmental Activists here amoungst all these Green Builders.  First off, I arrived just late enough that there were no more name badges.  This put me at a serious networking disadvantage.  Then I went on a hunt to find other activists.  I scanned each persons name tag to see what they were up to.  Some people had there own corporate plastic name tags that were really easy to read with their company logos.  This made me realize how I should have brought my reusable name tag along.  Others had written in thin pen on their adhesive name tags and I struggled to read them.  And some wrote large and clear and just put very catchy things like “Be Green” under their names.  It was this last group of people that usually caught my attention.  The learning: catchy name tag = attention.


This evening when I got home, I had the latest newsletter from (Cindy Rold and Donna Feldman).  I wished I had read it before I left.  It was a great refresher in becoming a better at networking.  This month’s newsletter featured an article from the Mark Hiatt, President of Just Networking and Colorado Business Leads.  In it he talks about his FOREST™ program that stands for Family, Origin (place-of), Recreation, Entertainment, Special interests, Talents (what are you good at doing) as the great fall back point when conversation gets dry.  It made me realize how much more networking practice I could use.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

New Noonshiners Toastmaster Web Site

I am happy to announce that the Fort Collins Noonshiners Toastmaster Group has a new web site.  You can visit it at We are looking for new members!  Improving your skills in public speaking can benefit you in work and play.  Consider joining in the fun.


Monday, September 24, 2007 supports random acts of kindness.

Patrick V. emailed me to let me know that he had gotten his Pay it Forward group going to support random acts of kindness. It is Please check it out.

I also need to appologize to patrick form my ealier posting that exposed his email on the web. Hope the spam level is not too high!

Friday, September 21, 2007

Is a lost cause?

I am reminded by Laura Butler that reciently had a meeting at River Rock Cohousing. My question is simply “Is it a lost cause?”

Seems that few Coloradoans have read the Colorado College State of the Rockies Climate Change Report. Those who have, realize that even under good conditions we are likely to see an April 1st snow pack decrease of 50% in the next 75 years. The good news is that overall precipitation should be about the same. Simply said this means that there will be more rain and less snow. The climate change trend is for more precipitation in the fall and less in the spring. So overall you can expect more runoff in the fall when the growing season has ended and more drought in the spring supported by poor snow pack.

The question now becomes how to create a strategy to maintain water supplies moving towards the future. Colorado already has a problem with population growth. It will become even more difficult to meet this growth as supplies in spring and summer start to shrink. It is clear that the goal of conservation that has been promoted by and the Western Resource Advocates must be embraced! At the same time, it would be prudent to start planning for the future.

I suspect that part of the future of Colorado living through climate change will be the construction of new dams. The planning for these projects must be thought out carefully. Commissioning a new dam causes a loss of interest in conservation programs. At the same time with the near arrival of peak oil as well as expected future carbon taxes, the construction of dams will likely increase sharply in the next 25 years. From a financial situation, sooner is better. I support the guidelines the Western Resource Advocates have laid out for such a projects in the future.

I encourage everyone to read the Colorado College State of the Rockies Climate Change Report. It highlights the fact that almost all other environmental efforts are deeply impacted by this one major environmental crisis.

Feel free to leave your comments and feedback.

My blog is stale

Why has my blog gone stale.

1.       Margaret went to CTI Leadership for a week and I was a single parent.

2.       As a single parent the time for work was cut back and I have been spending this week actually catching up on my work for CoCreate.

3.       I have been doing a lot for


I have a lot to say and I will make some efforts to keep stuff fresh.


Thursday, September 6, 2007

Great Weird Al Yankovick Concert Last Friday

I along with my son Will along with his friends Beau and Ryan along with Ryan's father Micheal went to see Weird Al Yankovick in concert last Friday. It was a great show with no intermission because he uses videos between sets to give himself time to rest and change costumes. It was pretty PG13 on the material. I don't think it scared any of the nine year olds who were with us. He did play "The Saga Begins" along with "Yoda" which really made Will's day. Will is a big Star Wars fan. In addition he did do "White and Nerdy" which is my personal theme song. It was interesting to here, because he slowed the tempo in order to get all the words out. I have tried to sing that song, and it is very difficult to sing at the speed of the production version. Here is another nerdy video for your entertainment.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

On the Effectiveness of Aluminium Foil Helmets

Ray Frush sent me this one. I, in my unparinoid way, was unaware that of the aluminum helmet craze. This MIT study by Ali Rahimi, Ben Recht, Jason Taylor, and Noah Vawter had some interesting concusions.


Among a fringe community of paranoids, aluminum helmets serve as the protective measure of choice against invasive radio signals. We investigate the efficacy of three aluminum helmet designs on a sample group of four individuals. Using a $250,000 network analyser, we find that although on average all helmets attenuate invasive radio frequencies in either directions (either emanating from an outside source, or emanating from the cranium of the subject), certain frequencies are in fact greatly amplified. These amplified frequencies coincide with radio bands reserved for government use according to the Federal Communication Commission (FCC). Statistical evidence suggests the use of helmets may in fact enhance the government's invasive abilities. We speculate that the government may in fact have started the helmet craze for this reason.
Read the whole study ...

Laura Johnson an employee from Agilent says: "It's always good to see how real customers are using Agilent instruments."

Saturday, September 1, 2007


People in my network have directed me several LEGO SERIOUS PLAY articles in the last few days. Marketing efforts by Robert Rasmussen and the LEGO Group seem to be putting LEGO SERIOUS PLAY in the news lately. Here are some articles:

Lego training helps workers boost creativity
Atlanta Journal Constitution, USA - Aug 27, 2007

Play while you work
Canadian HR Reporter,
Canada - Aug 30, 2007

DCF rebuilds with Legos
Palm Beach Post, United States - Aug 23, 2007

I had a wonderful conversation with Robert last Wednesday and was very impressed with the depth of his knowledge on collaboration, team building, and idea synthesis. I encourage anyone who is not familiar with his program LEGO SERIOUS PLAY to check it out at

Friday, August 31, 2007

Kids ride a zip line to school

Kids ride a zip line to go to school. Click and goto the video.

Jeff Thompson sent me this link. As a parent this scares me quite a bit, but the kids doing it seem to be enjoying it. Watch the video.

Advice on preventing Identity Theft

Today I received an email from Ellen Richey containing a letter that was supposedly sent from a company attorney to employees to help them prevent identity theft.  This may be true.  If so the attorney simply sent the recommendations from The Consumer Law Group web site FAQ.  It has some good advice, you can find it on the web at

Bicycle Crash

I was riding to work yesterday morning and the right pedal of my Dahon Speed D7 sheared off. The metal post for the pedal broke off.  This happened when I was in 7th gear going fast and hit a hill and then stood up on the pedals.  The pedal snapped and I went down.  Luckily I was helmeted and suffered only road rash and a light headache.  I work with a bunch of Mechanical Engineers ( and after examining the broken pedal they concluded that the part had a manufacturing flaw.  I would hope so, since the bike has only been used for three months and I only weigh about 130lbs.  When I was filling out my warranty form online (thought it would be prudent to be in the system before I show up at the bike shop today), I noticed that there was a small sticker down by the serial number that said “Assembled with parts made in the U.S. and China”.  Makes me wonder if this part was not suffering from what is now becoming the “China” syndrome of poorly manufactured products.  I will keep readers up to date as I find out more.

I still like the bike a lot, just not sure I trust it.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Object Oriented Design (OOD) Patterns: The Retriever Pattern

I find myself using this pattern quite a bit in my Java coding for CoCreate and I decided to name it the “Retriever Pattern”. Now it might have another name but, I have not seen it published anywhere. The retriever pattern is an optimistic getter. Here is how it works.


- Given a reference to a data source.

- Get the data and cache it locally.

- When asked for the data, check to see if the data can be retrieved again.

- If not return the local cached value.


- The object providing the data is out of scope.

- The database result has gone out of scope.

- The object providing the data is synchronized and you may deadlock.


- A retriever is not as reliable as a listener. If a data value has been updated, the update will not be seen until the data next retrieval.

- A retriever will not update once the source data object goes out of scope. From that point forward it is static.


Using a retriever there is no need to worry about objects going out of scope in the middle of a presentation of the data. I have found this very useful in web services when creating a soap response from database data. I can reliably close out the database connection, and perform other business logic, prior to assembling the soap response object. The soap response object can be assembled as if the original database object was still in scope.

The same business objects can then be used in a fat client where the underlying data objects will not go out of scope. This simplifies coding and encourages reuse of the same business logic in the fat client as well as the web services.

Sample: A simple Java Retriever class that uses a week reference. I use these a lot to keep our systems at CoCreate from having garbage collection issues. All the JavaDoc and sample files can be found at

package org.davegraham.retriever;

* Used in a Sample of the Retriever pattern. Consider this your persistent storage class.
* See source file.
* @author
* @version 1.0
* @since JDK 1.5
public class PersistentDataStorage {
private static String mockDatabaseStore;

* Used to read the value from the persistent data storage area.
* @return The current value stored in the storage area
public static String read() {
return mockDatabaseStore;

* Used to write data into the persistent data storage area.
* @param value The value to store in the storage area
public static void write(final String value) {
mockDatabaseStore = value;

package org.davegraham.retriever;

* A sample business object bean for understanding the OOD Retriever Pattern.
* See source file.
* @author
* @version 1.0
* @since JDK 1.5
public class BusinessObject {

* Constructor and initializer for the sample business object.
* @param value The value to initialize the business object
public BusinessObject(final String value) {

* A getter to obtain the value as used by the business object.
* @return a string value from the business object
public String getValue() {

* A setter to set a new value into the business object
* @param value the new String value for the busines object
public void setValue(final String value) {

package org.davegraham.retriever;

import java.lang.ref.WeakReference;

* A sample class that implements the OOD Retriever Pattern for
* a weakly referenced object.
* This retriever pattern object is constructed around a BusinessObject
* in such a way that the BusinessObject may go out of scope
* and the retriever will continue to return "reasonable"
* results about the value within the BusinessObject.
* See source file.
* @author dgraham
* @version 1.0
* @since JDK 1.5
public class Retriever {

private final WeakReference weakReference;
private String cachedValue;

* Constructs a retriever pattern object around a BusinessObject.
* @param businessObject The busines object from which to retrieve data
public Retriever(final BusinessObject businessObject) {
weakReference = new WeakReference(businessObject);
cachedValue = businessObject.getValue();

* Returns either the current value or the last known value
* that was contained in the BusinessObject. This is the
* retriever pattern at work.
* @return the retrieved value
public String getValue() {
BusinessObject strongReference = weakReference.get();
String result;
if ( strongReference == null ) {
result = cachedValue;
} else {
result = strongReference.getValue();
cachedValue = result;
return result;

* Gets the WeakReference to the BusinessObject.
* Normally this would not be exposed in a retriever pattern.
* It is exposed here to demonstrate in the RetrieverTest unit
* tests that the garbage collector has indeed flushed away
* the BusinessObject reference.
* @return the WeakReference to the BusinesObject
public WeakReference getWeakReference() {
return weakReference;

package org.davegraham.retriever;

import junit.framework.*;
import java.lang.ref.WeakReference;
import org.davegraham.retriever.*;

* These tests demonstrate the advantages and disadvantages of the retriever pattern.
* They exist only as a sample for people to understand the retriever pattern.
* See source file.
* @author
* @version 1.0
* @since JDK 1.5
public class RetrieverTest extends TestCase {

public RetrieverTest(String testName) {

public static Test suite() {
return new TestSuite(RetrieverTest.class);

public static void main(String[] args) {;
* This test demonstrates the basic operation of the retriever pattern.
* It shows that even after the business object has gone out of scope
* the retriever keeps working and returning the last known good value.
public void testBasicOperationOfRetriverPattern() {
BusinessObject businessObject = new BusinessObject("apple");
Retriever retriever = new Retriever(businessObject);
assertEquals( "Initial value incorrect", "apple", retriever.getValue());
assertEquals( "Current value incorrect", "orange", retriever.getValue());
assertEquals( "Current value incorrect", "bannana", retriever.getValue());
businessObject = null;
assertNull( "WeakRefrence should have been cleaned up by garbage collector", retriever.getWeakReference().get());
assertEquals( "Last known value incorrect", "bannana", retriever.getValue());
assertEquals( "Last known value incorrect", "bannana", retriever.getValue());

* This test demonstrates where the retriever pattern fails.
* A retriever is not as strong as a listener so it does not get
* notified of new values. It can only return the last known good value.
* This demonstrates that retrievers are best used in conditions where
* its life time beyond the existence of its source (BusinessObject) is
* not expected to be long.
public void testTheFailureOfTheRetrieverPattern() {
BusinessObject businessObject = new BusinessObject("apple");
Retriever retriever = new Retriever(businessObject);
assertEquals("Initial value incorrect", "apple",;
assertEquals("Initial value incorrect", "apple", retriever.getValue());
assertEquals("Initial value incorrect", "orange",;
assertEquals("Initial value incorrect", "orange", retriever.getValue());
assertEquals("Current value incorrect", "bannana",;
assertEquals("Current value incorrect", "bannana", retriever.getValue());
businessObject = null;
assertNull("WeakRefrence should have been cleaned up by garbage collector", retriever.getWeakReference().get());

// This is the important part! Examine these two lines!
assertEquals("The PersistentDataSorage is the last value set.", "grapes",;
assertEquals("Last known value is not the value in the PersistentDataSorage", "bannana", retriever.getValue());
// A listener pattern can solve this problem. But listeners create there own problems particularly
// when it comes to garbage collection. The retriever pattern is very friendly to out-of-scope problems.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

How to purchase a used car or van at 25% below Blue Book

I stumbled upon this trick just last week and thought I would share it.  I purchased a 2001 Chrysler Town and Country Van that had an average Blue Book value of ~$8750 for $6300, a 28% savings.  Here is the secret:


You want to purchase from a small independent rental car/truck business.  Most franchise rental agencies have special car purchase and sale arrangements with car manufactures and dealers.  They will only keep the vehicle a year or two at most and sell it through their network.  A small independent rental business has more incentive to get the most out of their vehicles.  In our case, the van in question was a 2001, had been used 6 years and had just turned over 100,000 miles.  The 100,000 mile mark seems to key indicator as to why this rental company was ready to let go of the van.


Before you buy, pretend to need to rent.  Go by the local independent car/van rental location, scope out the situation; see if they have any candidates that they many want to turn over in the near future.  In our case, we actually needed to rent a van.  Our old van the AC was broken and this summer we wanted to go on a weekend away with my parents.  We were looking for a cheap rental price and knew that an independent rental business would likely be much cheaper than the franchises.  The first place I called did not have any vans available.  The second place I called, which was primarily known as a U-Haul renter did.


This is important to note: The business we purchased from was primarily known for renting U-Haul equipment.  They also rented pickups and vans along with SUV’s with towing hitches to allow you to rent both a vehicle and a trailer if you wanted.  So don’t discard these types of places from your list of potential sellers.


As it was, we rented the van, drove it for 400 miles that weekend and returned it.  Upon returning it, my wife asked if they were going to sell it anytime soon.  The guy said they had been considering it.  My wife left our name and phone and said we would be interested.


Now this is another curious point.  We had actually rented the van so we had a high degree of confidence as to how it would perform.  I suggest that after isolating a potential sell/buy vehicle (remember ~100,000 miles) that you may want to rent it for a day to see how it performs.


When the business called a month or so later to indicate that they were ready to sell, the owner offered the direct wholesale cost of the vehicle.  I speculate that the reason for this approach is simply that he wants to minimize the effort to move the vehicle on.  This is the value of the vehicle if he were to have sold it into a dealership as a used car.  This value was $6500 for our particular van. Remember the business makes its return on investment on the rental. The end of rental sale is not a particularly large contributor to the overall profit generated by the vehicle.


Not one to purchase a vehicle without having a mechanic inspect it, I asked if we could take it to an inspection.  The answer was yes.  I stopped by and picked up the keys and drove it over to the mechanics.  This is the great think with doing business with an independent car/van rental agency.  He never asked for ID or anything, just gave me the keys and asked about what time I would be back.


The mechanic turned up about ~$950 worth of work that the van needed.  Quite a bit of the work was stuff that would normally be done at 100,000 miles.  I think this is the primarily motivator for independent rental agencies to sell at this point.  The mechanic was also nice enough to work up the average Blue Book value of ~$8750 (this includes the high mileage discount).  He did that with me over at the checkout counter averaging the retail value and trade in value of the van.  He also mentioned that it needed new tires.


The final deal: Armed with the knowledge from the mechanic I counter offered.  He would not give credit to the mechanical maintenance, but did concede some of the cost for new tiers and the final price was $6300. The final value was 72% of the average blue book value.


My suggestion is simply look for that 100,000 mile candidate at your local independent auto/van/truck rental business.  Rent it for a test drive.  Indicate that you have interest in a purchase.  Have it inspected. Leverage the information you have. Then do the deal.


One last note:  The van has 104,000 miles on it. My friend Arne has a van with 104,000 miles he is thinking of selling.  It is a KIA, a van that is in a lower price category.  It is a 1997 van while the one from the rental business is a 2001.  This indicates that the rental vehicle managed to put on miles 66% faster than the family owned van.  The take away is that the body condition of the rental van is much better than the family owned van.  Six years of regular vacuuming compared with ten years of children and dogs (cracked windshield, broke radio, stains in carpet and seats).  If I am going to purchase a van at the 104,000 mile use point, the x-rental van seems to be a great deal.

Monday, August 27, 2007

How did Al Gore appear at the Tokyo and New York Live Earth Concerts without a lot of CO2 from Air Travel?

Al Gore who was the host of the Live Aid concerts appeared upon the stage at the Tokyo concert as well as the New York concert. How did he do it without a flight half way around the world that would have produced large amounts of CO2? Holography! The holographic image of Al Gore was projected onto the stage at the Tokyo concert. The image appeared to the audience to be in 3D and he was able to speak and make hand gestures and directly address the audience. The technique used by Musion Eyeliner to create there holography is a technology that I believe will become more and more cost effective with time. Read about it at their web site. It continues to emphasize a point I believe is rapidly becoming reality. You do not need to be a world traveler to be a world citizen. The future continues to show that worldwide collaboration will not require the energy needed for travel. How much money are companies unnecessarily spending on travel? How much are they contributing to Global Warming?

Friday, August 24, 2007

Did Sputnik launch your dreams -- or your career?

Today I filled out American Public Media’s survey entitled “Did Sputnik launch your dreams -- or your career?”  Although I was not born yet, it very much effected my path in life.  Here is what I had to say.


What story can you tell, if any, that embodies Sputnik's effect?


Only that in 1972, I was 5, my father and I went out and looked at the full moon from our front porch and told me that right then there were men walking on the moon.  I never forgot that.  The whole thing was triggered by Sputnik


What in your career and life can you trace back to the Sputnik launch?


In 1985, I went to Florida Institute of Technology to study the Space Sciences.  In 1990, I started work as a contractor for NASA.  I am a product of the Space Age.


In your experience and observations, what are the specific, lasting effects of Sputnik (cultural, technological, etc.)?


The whole modern Science Fiction genre got it start during that time of the space race.  Young people like myself were fired up with visions of colonies on the Moon and Mars.  In many ways, those of us of the X-generation that grew up in the wake of the space race feel that the government ripped us off.  There was some serious failure to carry through to the next level.  Now that we are older and have our own money, some of us are saying "to hell with the government" and now you see the fledgling new space craft and space travel private industry.  I think if you were to interview many of the players in this new private race to space you would find them disillusioned by a lack of government follow through on the dream of bringing humans to space.


How would you compare/contrast America's response to Sputnik and its response to today's threats of global terrorism, a rising China, or global warming?


Modern US society is one of entitlement.  There is no such thing as sacrifice in our cultural system.  I see this in the unwillingness for others to kick in cash(taxes) to support the war.  Even though I disagree with the war, I think only a small percentage of Americans are actually sacrificing for it.  I think our managers (not leaders - there is no leadership in the White House) are content to not force the point in fear of losing more support.


Back to the question at hand.  I think we need a mobilization on the Global Warming thing.  Where are the leaders?  Can America change course to one that involves sacrifice?  The space race was a great technical accomplishment.  I think WW2 was a better example of a people coming together to achieve something large.


The rise of China is of little worry to me.  I know that they will be the next world super power.  The US will take a back seat with Russia and the EU.  The reason this is coming about is simply because they are willing to lead.  The US is unwilling to lead the world.  It has turned in on itself.  Always concerned with the “best interest of the US”, we will never lead the world again until we can really engage with interests outside of the US.


As for global terrorism:  The US approach is to smother the fire in coal.  Until we stop feeding weapons to unstable areas thinking that will stabilize it. Until we stop treating others as second class people.  Until we stop trying to impose the "Right" way of doing things.  People will continue to resent us.  Only fighting poverty, creating economic opportunity, ending hunger, encouraging human rights, and acknowledging of the great contributions of other cultures, will we get some traction in the world.  Could we start such a project on the scale of the space race?  I would hope so.


Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Black backgrounds on web pages?

Lauren Spangler-Young sent me a email about Blackle.

The email claimed:

"This is something we should all implement....

If Google had a black screen, taking in account the huge number of page views, according to calculations, 750 mega watts/hour per year would be saved.

In response Google created a black version of its search engine, called Blackle, with the exact same functions as the white version, but obviously with lower energy consumption:

Spread the word... use"

There is some infomration in Wikipedia.

"The principle behind Blackle is based on the fact that the display of different colors consumes different amounts of energy on computer monitors.[3] The creators of Blackle cite the US Department of Energy’s Energy Star information page which states that a monitor displaying white uses 74 watts, while a monitor displaying black uses 59 watts. [4] They also cite a 2002 study from Roberson, who tested a variety of CRT and LCD monitors and found that an all black screen consumed less energy than an all white screen on all of them.[3] ..."

The Citicism Section says:

"The creators of Blackle have been criticised for lack of clarity regarding the type, size and manufacturer of monitor that the power usage claims refer to.[4] One critic, a technology journalist who reviews computer hardware, tested 4 cathode ray tube (CRT) monitors and 23 liquid crystal display (LCD) monitors, and found that power was saved by the CRT monitors, but was less than that claimed by the blog post that inspired Blackle. The LCD monitors tested showed increased power use in the majority of cases, although some of the larger (24 inch) monitors did use less power displaying a black screen.[1][5] Despite these concerns, the environmental impact of Blackle is also uncertain, as the 750 MW hours of energy that the original blog[6] claims could be conserved if Google used a black background amounts to about 5 billionths of the total energy consumed annually worldwide."

Appears that black may save some energy, but I would suggest replacing CRT monitors with LCD will save more energy.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Giant LEGO Person floats up on Dutch resort beach

Thank you Mary Pat Aukema for sending me this story.
A giant LEGO "Minifig" floated up on the beach at the Dutch resort of Zandvoort. Some construction workers fished it out and now it has been installed in front of the drink stand they were constructing. The LEGO person has the words "NO MORE REAL THAN YOU" printed on the front of it's torso and the name "EGG LEONARD" and the number "9" on the back. A quick video available at Reuters.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Letter to Barack Obama

I sent this letter to Barack Obama today.  I seem to have come to the conclusion that he is America’s best bet at this point.


Dear Barack Obama:

The formula for a wining campaign:

Assemble a “Dream Team” cabinet now and run the Team.

The job of president is so big, that the president has a cabinet to help him with policies and decisions.  His choices say a lot about his leadership style.  Gorge W. Bush has surrounded himself with a few power brokers and a bunch of yes men.  America can see that!  And we do not want it.

My suggestion is simple.  Build a “dream team” of the best of the best right now.  For example: Bring in an expert on security to be your Secretary of Homeland Security after the election.  Put that person on the campaign trail and build American confidence in a vote for you is a vote for good security.  Then find an expert for Secretary Commerce, think big, perhaps invite Alan Greenspan.  There is a name that Americans will get behind.  Keep doing that until you have an unstoppable team.

Be diverse in your selection; remember America is fed up with Yes Men in the administration. We want competent people who can debate the merits of Government Programs.  Dare to cross party lines.  I would suggest bringing back Collin Powel.  A person who many of us Americans believe has a great deal of integrity and got screwed by the Bush administration.

The goal: Create a group of leaders who are diverse enough to have broad appeal and determined to lead this country forward (most Americans feel stagnated).  Have this group assembled early in the election cycle and put them on the road as surrogate candidates.  Build America’s confidence in each area of expertise so that even if they are not sure if you personally have a plan, they believe that you have surrounded yourself with great individuals who can work out a plan.   A plan that is balanced and fair that has had the input of diverse opinions.

I like your campaign and believe your relative youth in the system allows you to break norms.  No one has ever tried to run a full executive team for President before.  I think the first person who does will dominate the election cycle and forever change how US Presidents get elected.

Who am I? I am Dave Graham an individual who has a personal interest in the study of leadership.  I have many more ideas around this concept; let me know if you are going to pick it up.  Please feel free to call me at (970) 484-4577. I am happy to talk with your campaign staff. 

Dave Graham




Monday, August 6, 2007

Live Edge Electronic Design Competition

My friend Gregg Osterhout sent me a link to the live-edge electronic design competition. Thanks Gregg! He knows that I am looking for examples of design competitions and open source design projects as I continue to work on the System Big Play project. This competition seems to be more design to generate traffic to a group of affiliated online electronic parts vendors. I like the sentiment though. It is a great marketing ploy which has the kind of value appeal that will likely get people to participate. Check it out on the web site

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

The Darjeeling Limited

Producer Wes Anderson is the nephew of Jim Hunter who is a team member of mine at CoCreate. He showed us the trailer of Wes' latest project, The Darjeeling Limited. It looks like it will be a fun film. Great job Wes!

Monday, July 30, 2007

Great week for Creative Sword Play

The week of July 23rd to July 27th was a fantastic week for the kids at the Creative Sword PLAY Samurai Camp. Between working at CoCreate (early in the week), the arrival of my Sisters family on Tuesday of the week, going out to the mountains with them, and the arrival of my parents on Friday, I have been rather busy. I did help out with camp from time to time durring all these activities and it seemed that everyone was having fun.

Check out the coloradoan article that came out about the Camp.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Readers Cove Harry Potter Party

Would like to thank The Readers Cove for a most excellent Harry Potter party on Friday night. The activities were quite fun particularly the hour long professional magic show. You gave away some great prizes. For those of you reading this who were not there. Door prizes included reproduction wands of Harry, Hermione, and Ron's from the movies, as well as a reproduction "time turner". There were also loads of other door prizes.

The professional magician was quite a treat, including birds appearing and disappearing, rope tricks, card tricks, but also swords. It was a great way to pass the time.

For those of you who were there, you can check out pictures on my flickr account.

If you are local to Fort Collins, stop by The Readers Cove, an excellent establishment.

Appreciating All Things

On Wednesday morning while riding to work, I was taken by all the beautiful bindweed flowers that were along the Power Line Trail in Fort Collins. As a gardener and home owner I have spent hours removing this noxious weed from garden beds and landscaping. It has the nasty habit of winding itself around and choking off other plants.

I have created much happiness in my life by adjusting my frame of reference to one of appreciation. Therefor as I was riding along, I paused to capture a picture, on my phone of the beauty of noxious weeds.

Monday, July 16, 2007

25 North Magazine Climate Project Article

I just got a copy of an arcticle about my Climate Project presentations that was in the 25 North Magazine. Check out the PDF copy here.

Overall it is not a great article. I should mension that Kyle who wrote it is an unpaid intern at the Coloradoan. He makes my presentation sound dull, which I would strongly disagree with. His biggest failure was not to print any contact information for those who might want to schedule presentations.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

System Big Play

An Open Source Hardware Design and Manufacturing Project

How Many LEGO System Blocks go to the Landfill?

  • The ones that are vacuumed up
  • The ones stepped on and broken
  • The ones chewed by the dog

LEGO System Blocks are too useful as a creative toy to throw away.

What if the world were made in out of a System of parts like the LEGO System?

That would be System Big Play.

Today, when it is time to reconfigure the built environment the result is demolition.

Items that could be reused are not. It is too difficult to disassemble them or they are too cheap in manufacturing to be reused.

The future can be different.

System Big Play: An Open Source Hardware Design and Manufacturing Project

The Vision

The Stake

The current life cycle of most materials used in the world is:

manufacture -> specialized purpose -> use -> disposal or recycling

The new model that this project proposes to create is:

manufacture -> generic purpose -> specialized assembly -> use -> disassembly -> generic purpose -> repurposed specialized assembly -> use -> disassembly -> generic purpose …

The System Big Play project exists to drive this paradigm change on how materials are used worldwide. By calling upon the wisdom and power of a worldwide community of people, the System Big Play Project will promote resource reusability. By providing free designs for generic purpose interlocking parts, it increases the opportunities for businesses to manufacture interlocking these generic interlocking parts. By restricting the use of these items to non-military applications it will promote a peaceful world.

Desired Outcomes

  1. A large community of design contributors
    1. An international and multilingual internet community with tools to support the development of part design
    2. Thousands of designs that are freely available via the Internet
  2. A large community of design manufactures
    1. Many smaller manufactures worldwide, creating generic parts
    2. Assembly manufactures who create valued end use products
  3. An agreed upon set of standards for interlocking generic parts
    1. A standards system with multiple levels
    2. A certification body
    3. Ongoing review and update of the standards and certification criteria
  4. The acceptance in the market place of products created using standardized generic parts
    1. Demonstration of the products in the market place
    2. Measureable increase in the use of generic parts in the market place
  5. The development of repurposing programs world wide
    1. Creation of businesses that disassemble used items into generic parts for repurposing
    2. Development of tools to assess the quality and condition of repurposed parts
    3. Creation of recycling programs and guidelines for parts deemed too damaged for further use
  6. A measurable reduction in the rate of consumption of natural resources for creation of material goods within the world

Desired Impacts

  1. Excite engineers about the possibilities of contributing to world resource reduction
  2. Elicit hope within people of impoverished economies about small manufacturing development
  3. Bring happiness to millions by providing quality of life improvements
  4. Reduce the apparent size of the world by encouraging international cooperation and multilingual communication.

The Theory

The Collaborative Community

These changes, among others, are ushering us toward a world where knowledge, power, and productive capability will be more dispersed than at any time in our history—a world where value creation will be fast, fluid, and persistently disruptive. A world where only the connected will survive. A power shift is underway, and a tough new business rule is emerging: Harness the new collaboration or perish. Those who fail to grasp this will find themselves ever more isolated—cut off from the networks that are sharing, adapting, and updating knowledge to create value.

Don Tapscott and Anthony D. Williams, Wikinomics–How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything

The System Big Play project is about creating a collaborative community that can create technologies and create innovative ideas. The project is about the people who will create and share the technology.

It is the intention of this project to be part of the major paradigm shift that the authors have outlined. This project is expected to be a “Big Play” against the established norms of product lifecycle and to help usher in the era that they have predicted.

The Right People

The executives who ignited the transformations from good to great did not first figure out where to drive the bus and then get people to take it there. No, they first got the right people on the bus (and the wrong people off the bus) and then figured out where to drive it. They said, in essence, “Look, I don’t really know where we should take this bus. But I know this much: If we get the right people on the bus, the right people in the right seats, and the wrong people off the bus, then we’ll figure out how to take it someplace great.”

Jim Collins, Good to Great

The System Big Play project seeks to find those people who are passionate about the concept and believe in working on world changing activity. The organization will also seek to fill key positions with competent leaders.


The case for diversity is actually a hard nosed one – it can radically improve your collective wisdom.

James Surowiecki, The Collaborative Landscape

The community must have a high international content. This will improve the range of ideas, the number of uses found, and bring about world wide acceptance of the technology.

Peace Promoting

"I like to believe that people in the long run are going to do more to promote peace than our governments. Indeed, I think that people want peace so much that one of these days governments had better get out of the way and let them have it."

Dwight D. Eisenhower, 34th President of the United States of America

In James Surowiecki’s “The Wisdom of Crowds”, he discusses the danger of a crowd divided and how that will destroy information sharing. The purpose of this project is to create a world community of contributors to a new technology that will greatly help humans and the environment we live in. Individuals will not contribute to this goal if they feel their contributions may be used against them. Therefore the project will seek to protect the technologies created by its community from use in military applications.

Artistic Creativity and Play

We take this observation one step further by suggesting that knowledge work, which adds value in large part because of its capacity for innovation, can and often should be structured as artists structure their work. Managers should look to collaborative artists rather than to more traditional management models if they want to create economic value in this new century.

Rob Austin and Lee Devin, Artful Making: What Managers Need to Know About How Artists Work

The project seeks to create a community environment where individuals can express their creative and artistic passions. Individuals are to be acknowledged and celebrated for their contributions. The community is expected to be a place of fun, play (make that big play) and innovation.

What next

Summer 2007

Finding the Right People - Focus on find the correct people for the board of directors of a 501c(3) nonprofit organization to manage the development of the community.

Building the place to play - the current plan is to build out a joomba content managment system as the base for the online community. If you are interested in helping with this project please contact Dave Graham at +1-(970) 484-4577.

More about System Big Play

System Big Play: A History

In the fall of 2005, my son, Will, joined the LEGO Robotics Club at the Lab School for Creative Learning where he was in the second grade. At the age of seven, he was too young to be on the competition team. Instead, he was part of a second group of students who were introduced to the basic concepts of robotics and programming.

As a kid I was a LEGO fan. I had a large collection of LEGO System bricks when I was a kid and had since gifted them to my son. I had known that LEGO and robotics had been developing for some time and working with Will and the Robotics Club allowed me to appreciate how far the technology had developed.

Much of the time during the club meetings, I found myself puzzling out new concept with the robotics kits. You must understand that I am a Mechanical Engineer by training, a Software Engineer by career, and I am a pattern thinker. I excel in pattern games like the LEGO System. One day I was at the Robotics club and I was thinking, “I could make a such-and-such robot that could help around the house.” Then there was the simple problem that the LEGO parts were just too small and weak to really get the job done. That is when I thought, “What if the LEGO were made of aluminum and scaled up by a factor of two or four.” Thus was born an idea, that at the time I called “LEGO Big Play.”

That fall I was starting into the Coaches Training Institute Leadership program. A 10 month leadership program I affectionately call “Enlightenment Boot Camp.” Our first assignment: Due a presentation in front of an audience and see how you show up as a leader.

My first presentation idea was falling apart. It was a project to modernize the web technology at the Lab School. The school is run by a committee and it is very difficult to get a committee to act in any timely manor. The result was I thought, for my project, I would pitch the idea of scaling up LEGO to a group of my techno friends.

I started to put together the presentation and it mutated as I worked on it. What started off as a robot building system concept changed into a redefine the product lifecycle presentation.

At that point something strange happened. This is often the case in these situations. My wife Margaret asked me to make her web site more like that of Carol Ross’ web site. Carol Ross runs Ross and Associates an executive coaching group. My wife also a life coach had met Carol through one of the many coaching trainings or other activities she was involved in. As I was looking over the Ross and Associates web site, I discovered that one of the associates was Robert Rasmussen.

As I read Rasmussen’s bio I was fascinated. He was an executive coach and currently involved in a program called LEGO Serious Play where he used LEGO System blocks as the medium through which he coached executive teams through various exercises. Between 1998 and 2003 he led the LEGO Group team that developed the LEGO Mindstorm Robotic program.

I thought “I need to talk with this guy.” So I emailed him, using my tenuous connection to Carol Ross and explained that I was in a leadership program needed to do a presentation and would like his feedback on what he thought of it. He agreed and we set a time.

After the presentation, he was intrigued. I learned quite a bit about what LEGO had tried in its labs. I also learned that the LEGO Group was consolidating to focus on the toy market. They would not be likely to entertain such ideas. We left that meeting with the decision to stay in touch and talk again.

I made the presentation to my techno friends. They thought it was pretty cool, but what now?

In January of 2006, Robert Rasmussen and I talked again. I was still pitching the large vision. He requested more specific on how it be brought to market. We talked a great deal on what were the market barriers. The number one barrier seemed to be: You need a large enough mix of parts before the whole system becomes useful. He said come back when you have a workable plan.

I actually did come up with two workable plans. The first was to approach the Military (particularly DARPA) in an effort to sell them on the reusability. I even had written a proposal with very specific time line and R&D goals. I just could not pursue the plan though because it was not in alignment with my values.

The second workable plan I had was in the area of tile mosaics. The plan there was a web site that would allow people to upload images, specify the size of the tile area and have a LEGO like tile kit of their image sent to them. It would have backing boards and snap on tiles. Although I thought this would be workable, it was more of a “toy” like application rather than the hard core real world I wanted to bring the technology into.

Over the next 18 months, I was searching for ideas. It was easy to find ways to apply the technology once it existed. I could do calculations that showed that offsetting onsite labor in construction with automated manufacturing at a factory (embodied in higher cost construction material) could be profitable. Add additional cost savings of much lower construction waste and use of the system could be a great advantage to the construction industry.

I played with ideas like reusable electrical components and what that could mean for the development of custom consumer electronics. Imagine going to a website like Dell Computer and saying I would like a 1200 W microwave, with clock, a kitchen fan, convection system, female voice, and FM stereo radio.

The problem continued to be, how to cross the canyon. How to get from the point of having no parts in the System to having a system of generic reusable parts with enough parts to start making some of these business models works.

In the spring of 2007, I was having a conversation with my good friend Dan Bihn. I was complaining that I was stuck with this idea. I really believed it could be a reality, I just could not find a good business proposition to get it started. He said “Make it an open source project.” I was stunned. Give my idea away? I envisioned this technology playing itself out as the next HP with me as the CEO, and he had just asked me to kiss that dream goodbye. The more we talked about the concept the more it made sense. It still took me a while to re-adjust to this new approach.

Finally, I decided to move forward with the open source concept. I started researching the net. Were there similar projects? Were there open source hardware licenses out there? What I found was that the ham radio people had attempted to standardize an open source hardware license. Other than that there was very little in the way of open source hardware to be found and none of it outside of electronics. The term “hardware” on the internet is synonymous with computer electronics. When you dig into mechanical engineering there is not much to speak of on the internet. The closest project to speak of is the Society for Sustainable Mobility. This open source ground vehicle is remarkable in its pioneering use of the internet.

I further was inspired that I was on the right track when in the summer of 2007 I picked up a copy of Wikinomics by Don Tapscott and Anthony D. Williams. They gave me words to describe what I was trying to achieve. My plan at the time of this writing is to create a pre-competitive collaborative community for the development of a system of highly generic easy to assemble reusable parts.

I have changed the name to “System Big Play” because I realized that the system would not likely in the end look like the LEGO System and to move it away from the LEGO trademarked name. I kept the Big Play because I want people to be creative and imaginative with the System. I also think it is a big play into the existing paradigm by which we make our material world. It is a big play into the global economic system.

The rest of the history has yet to be written. These days I am evangelizing. I am also drawing together the people and infrastructure to support the community. When that is complete the focus will be on a marketing campaign.

If you want to be part of the action, please contact me directly at or call me at (970) 484-4577.