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Thread: Knowledgeries

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    Quick! To the Volcano! High House Moon Eyreplenh's Avatar
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    Lightbulb Knowledgeries

    So, you know, I've noticed that a few of us are (back) in schools of various types, whilst yet others work in science-laden professions where they are bound to read something interesting. So I thought we could share. It could be by just linking some paper you found interesting, or by writing up summaries or interesting angles of whatever you are doing yourself.

    The reason I want to do it is because this last couple of months I've been functioning sort of like a tutor to a couple of my fellow students. Don't know exactly why, but it worked out good for all of us. They were good at putting in the effort, I was good at understanding, and as they forced me to be there and putting down the effort I was able to force some understanding on them, and all three of us put down quite good exams just now.

    What I realized was that to understand something yourself is one thing, to be able to share that understanding demands a whole other level and approach -and I learned tons from it. So if you're reading anything, preparing or whatever, write it up for the rest of us to read. I guarantee you will learn a lot from the experience

    Hell, these days I'm so curious about things I dare you to write about something not interesting enough! I just bought a book about punctuation!
    High Marshal of Decadence


    And all I loved, I loved alone

  2. #2
    Quick! To the Volcano! High House Moon Eyreplenh's Avatar
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    Default Making choices

    Tell me, have you recently looked in the mirror and asked yourself, am I a maximizer or a satisficer? Unless you're a real nut, chances are you haven't. Who stands before the mirror asking themselves things (apart from fundamental existential questions like does my butt look exceptionally dashing in these pants and I wonder how far I can shoot the puss from this acne)?

    Anyway, maybe you should. I'm reading this book by Barry Schwartz called The Paradox of Choice, a somewhat lightweight book when it comes the actual mechanics of making choices, but that on the other hand has excellent readability and connection to real life. The basic point he is trying to make is that when it comes to choices, maybe it is true that more is less.

    At the start of the book he makes a couple of points about shopping that I am sure most people can relate to. For instance, how many types of cookies and crackers do your local supermarket offer? Or maybe even how many supermarkets can you reasonably choose from? (He doesn't make a point of the number of supermarkets, I just felt like including it since I just read somewhere else that there are now more shopping centers than high-schools in the US) His supermarket had 87. And 136 options for snack-bars and chocolates. A random mens clothing store he visited offered over twenty different washes, cuts and fits for jeans. And then you haven't even started considering the brands.

    Now, he says, clearly having options is beneficial to us. It has been proven lots of times, choices make life less suppressing and increase our well-being. But at what point does it become too much?

    When he went shopping for jeans he walked away with a pair that made him look really good, feel really good and that fit really good. But he soon found out he'd spent over two hours making what used to be a five minute transaction, and that made him feel really bad. Ever been in that situation? If not with jeans, then maybe with something else? After having spent so much time deciding between jeans he also felt quite bad that he hadn't tried the last three kinds. Or what about the store down the street that is known for low prices? Maybe he could have done an even better deal. If you ever act and feel like this, chances are you are a maximizer. And that is good, right, since you'll constantly be making the best deals. Or?

    In theory this sounds good, and also it does not sound to good to be a satisficer. Schwartz characterize this as making the choices that are good enough. Good enough? Doesn't that sound like settling for something not quite good enough?

    Not at all, postulates mister Schwartz. A satisficer can have very high standards for what is good enough. But when he or she finds something that is good enough, that will be the end of the search. There is no constant worry that there might be a better deal somewhere else. No anguish to discover another store had the sweater at a 20% discount, no horror at seeing someone else with a sweater with a slightly better cut. And this, ladies and gentlemen, small things like this have quite large effects on our life. For instance, studies show that maximizers score higher on feelings of regret, and lower on current life contentment and job happiness. Also, even though a maximizer might have gotten a better deal than anyone but the luckiest satisficer, he feels substantially less happy about the decision. There might be something better out there.

    Okay, so if you accept this, you probably agree that almost a hundred types of cookies is not a necessity in every store. But what about the producers and grocers? The ones making the money in our shopping habits maybe has a different view. But should they? In a clever study involving jam, researchers manipulated a jam-tasting in stores around the US. In the first one, six types of jam where displayed with an option for a free taste. In the other, 24 types. What happened was that people typically sampled as many jams in both conditions, something that maybe is a little bit surprising, but that might have more to do with social conventions and actual appetite for jam than with any effect of the number of choices. The interesting bit was that in the first condition, 30% of those that sampled the jam actually bought a jar. Only 2% of those presented 24 types did the same. In addition to this, amongst the buyers the ones from the six-types condition were significantly happier with their decision and their jam than in the 24-option condition. Pretty hefty numbers if you ask me!

    Interestingly, I recently read an article in the grocery-store monthly paper (don't ask me why I do this) and there was a feature about some of the biggest companies delivering goods to most of the chains. They were doing some heavy cutting in their development divisions. Creating and marketing new products simply weren't profitable, something the stores felt were bad because it limited the choices they were able to offer their customers. (Now, a large reason for these cuts in development, is the store-chains own fault, because they are very quick to create similar and cheaper variants of these new products, but I am a firm believer of that emerging phenomenons can be a part of more than one pattern)

    Umm, yes, I think that was what I wanted to say for now about choices. I am also reading a book about game strategy and one about judgment and decision making, so I warn ye, there might be more! I will, however, include a few things one should keep in mind to decrease the chance of being screwed over by salespeople and fancy stores when you're out shopping.

    Know that you don't know yourself. Predicting what you would want in the future is extremely difficult. Studies show that if people have to shop groceries for the next three weeks, they choose a large variety of things because they predict they will tire of the same things over time. People told to shop for one week at a time generally bought more of the same things over and over. What this can lead to is that you don't buy your favorite, the X, but choose Ys and Zs that go on to clutter the innermost corners of your shelves.

    Stores deliberately makes informed decisions hard. Displayed next to eachother on shelves are usually different types of the same brand of product, for instance family pack versus single pack of Brand A, whilst Brand B, the more economical choice, is all the way over at the other end of the shelf. This might not matter so much, one might argue, but shit add up!

    Ignore your friends. A survey of new car buyers showed that they gave more credence to personal accounts from friends or vivid stories than to statistically compiled facts about the cars. Your one friend does not know more than 3500 strangers! You guys, this is hardly rational!

    Beware of anchors. Rolex does not sell a lot of their top model watches priced at $30 000 -but the existence of these models makes it a lot more sensible for us to spend $2000 or $4000 on one of their cheaper ones -when you probably could have got a functional one for $50. An example from the world of electronics; a top end store offered an automatic bread maker for $279. Some time later they introduced a DeLuxe version for $429. They hardly sold any of these at all -but the sale of the cheaper one doubled!

    Apply some critical thought to discounts. My usual grocery store recently heavily advertised a fifty percent discount for two months for all their diapers. If I had been a dad concerned with these things, should I be happy? Or be frustrated, ashamed and angry because up until now I have been paying a price that is double of what the producer and store obviously can live with?
    High Marshal of Decadence


    And all I loved, I loved alone

  3. #3
    major major major major dark fuschia's Avatar
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    Default Re: Knowledgeries

    I like this idea EP I liked your post too, especially the anecdote about the breadmaker. It's tricky for me, because alot of the stuff I am working on is confidential I can't even discuss it with my technical friends. It sometimes makes me sad. Maybe I can talk about some aspects here sometimes though, because there are certainly some theoretical studies I have trouble with and I bet you are right. I bet trying to explain them to you guys would help me with my own understanding.

    Upon your ideas about satisfier and maximisers... I think I used to be much more of a maximiser, but slowly I have become a satisfiser. For instance I used to only buy clothes if they were on sale. It was hard work! Especially because I lvoe clothes. Now I only buy clothes if I like them an awful lot. This means I often pay ludicrous ammounts for clothes which would have horrified me in the past... for instance I got a $50 T-shirt the other day, in the past I would never have paid more than $15 for a t-shirt.This begane to happen because I finally got a good proffessional job, and I thought it would be nice to spoil myself a few times. However then I realised a funny thing after doing this for a while, I did some sums and realised that even though I was paying full price, and going into much more expensive stores than usual, I wasn't really spending any more on clothes than in the past. I think I am now so much more satisifed with my clothes I spend alot less time searching for and paying for new ones.

    I do however spend more money on groceries these days due to my satisfiser effect, this is because I now get most of my needs from convenience stores instead of supermarkets now. I decided somewhere along the line I would rather spend more by getting stuff when I need it instead of going into supermarkets which can be a bit of an ordeal. I think this does lead to me spending more though. But I am happier for it

    The things about discounts has always bothered me too...

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    major major major major dark fuschia's Avatar
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    Default Re: Knowledgeries

    Here's What REALLY Happens When You Catch A Shark With A Body Inside

    http://www.businessinsider.com/shark...immons-2010-10

    Click on the link within the article for graphic pictures.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Knowledgeries

    This is a hard one for me...

    As an industrial engineer, my tasks are plenty: designing tools, making technical drawings of such tools and other stuff (often in 3D), develloping new processes, making work instructions, leading a couple of specialised teams (environmental work groups, "best practise teams", core product teams), guiding the passage of new proto types through my department, implementing managers' wet dreams (kaizen, lean manufacturing, takt time, efficiency improvements) and first line support in case the shit hits the fan.

    This I do for the plant in Belgium, but also in support of our plants in India and China.

    My "expertise", however, is coatings. It used to be decorative coatings for the automobile sector, currently it's corrosion protective coatings for wind turbines (the gearboxes, at least). It's not that interesting, certainly not to me. I doubt it'll give you new insights, but I'll throw in a few factoids:

    from the wind industry:

    - a wind turbine with a gearbox works as follows: the gearbox only has one ratio, defined by our customer. The tower itself has engines in it to turn the blades and tower into or out of the wind to achieve a certain amount of rotations per minute (usualy about 16rpm). The torque of these rotations is transformed over several steps to a much higher amount of rotations per minute, which turns the generator to end up with 50Hz or 60Hz, depending on the grid. There are also gearless wind turbines which work with HUGE generators that can do that by themselves.

    - the main advantage of a gearbox wind turbine is the lower weight. If you know that for the new 6MW wind turbine we're working for, the nacelle (the house on top of the tower that holds the rotors) weighs over 700 metric tonnes and has to be lifted about 120m (often at sea), you don't want to know what the gearless option weighs.


    painting:

    I wanted to give hints for decorative painting (how to get 17 different colours out of 1 pint of paint etcetera) and then some on corrosion protection, but I'll keep it general. I'll try to explain two small things, one interesting, one practical:

    Thixotropy: some materials are thixotropic. This means that their viscosity drops when you apply kinetic energy to them. Read: shake it and it flows. The best known example of this is ketchup in a glass bottle. Open the bottle fresh from the shelve and it won't flow out, shake the bottle before opening and it'll flow like a liquid. This also applies to some types of paint (painting is half a science and half witch craft, this belongs to both piles in my book).

    And now for something you might find use for one day:
    the most important bit at painting is surface preparation and the most important bit of surface preparation is obtaining a good surface tension.

    Ever noticed how water can stand up in a droplet on some plastics, but spreads out completely on other surfaces? All to do with surface tension.
    Since water is usualy the same, the difference is found in the surface the water is lying on. Professional industrial painters usualy have different bottles of testing inks with different surface tensions of themselves to find out what the surface tension of the substrate is. Well, since most paints you'll be using are water based, you could do a simple test with a water drop. If the water stands in a drop... chances are, your paint is going to jump off of the suface before you can begin to doubt the colour you picked.

    Now, how can the surface tension of a surface be influenced?:

    - SILICONES: this is a taboo word in the paint industry. If I held a grudge at my last job, about $50 worth of silicones would have sufficed to scrap all production lines. Barring some rare exceptions, most paints won't stick on silicones. Worse still, silicones transfer easily and get airborne. An open jar of a product containing silicones in one end of a room will contaminate a substrate at the other side of the room in a matter of minutes, causing spots where the paint will flow away.
    There are classified black lists with deodorants, shower gels, hair gels and other products people aren't allowed to use when working for the painting industry because they contain silicones. Also, certain dental works will cause this effect (found out after some major Scrap Scene Investigation)

    - grease/oil: always degrease a surface you have to paint. I don't know how much of a captain obvious I am at stating this, but it is paramount to have a clean surface.

    - if you do insist on painting certain plastics, polypropylene is a demon for this, ye ol' blowtorch will do wonders. It'll open up the pores in the polypropylene and give a much better surface tension. Most flexible bumper parts are made out of polypropylene. When it has been painted by a buffoon, it'll look alright untill it gets a deep scratch or dent due to pebbles and other fun stuff on the road. Next time you wash your car the paint will fly off of that part in one piece, if the wind didn't do the job for you yet.

    Something that might spoil your taste in cars:
    With metallic paints there is this thing called flop. This is a term that indicates that the paint has different colour under different angles. This isn't that "fancy" colour changing paint I'm talking about (makes me sick, personally), but every metallics paint has this. The metallic particles will reflect light differently under different angles. Sometimes idiots paint cars. When you are standing next to the car and look straight at it, it might look completely the same colour. Move to the front of the car (but still next to the car) and look again. If the idiots painted the car, you'll see a big difference in shade between the doors and the rest of the car.

    Oh, and clouds: when the idiots painted too wet or too dry and caused a disruption in the patern of the metallic particles, causing dark areas. This is not normal. Still a perfectly good car though .

    Anyway, I'll post this before I keep going.
    "When I think I might die without seeing a hundredth of all there is to see it makes me feel," he paused, then added, "well, humble, I suppose."
    " And very angry, of course."

  6. #6
    High Roller High House Moon Dregs's Avatar
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    Default Re: Knowledgeries

    Quote Originally Posted by Corvus Corax View Post
    - grease/oil: always degrease a surface you have to paint. I don't know how much of a captain obvious I am at stating this, but it is paramount to have a clean surface.
    This includes mould. A lesson the previous owner of my house could have learnt.

    Quote Originally Posted by Corvus Corax View Post
    This is a term that indicates that the paint has different colour under different angles.
    I wonder if this is why white cars hold their resale value?
    (I told you it was a mistake to let me have a signature.)

  7. #7

    Default Re: Knowledgeries

    Quote Originally Posted by Dregs View Post
    I wonder if this is why white cars hold their resale value?
    Not really. Resale value has more to do with the local culture. One thing I noticed when I was in Oz was the huge proportion of white cars over there, compared to europe, the states or Canada. This has to do with the climate (reflecting the sun and all that).

    I can imagine a red car chalking up in a matter of months down there.

    Too drunk for other factoids now.
    "When I think I might die without seeing a hundredth of all there is to see it makes me feel," he paused, then added, "well, humble, I suppose."
    " And very angry, of course."

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