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Books & Articles I wrote.

Monday, February 27, 2006


What Shape Are A German Shepherd's Ears?

I have followed Stephen Kosslyn's work at Harvard for some times since reading "What Shape Are A German Shepherd's Ears?"

After watching the story on Kim Peek tonight, i then discovered Daniel Tammet who is...

"able to articulate his experience, describing his mathematical calculations in
terms of shape-form, visualizations, and emotionally sensitive reactions (a
particular fondness for pi) rather than by traditional methodical processes".

This possibility brings together some of the books i have read over the last few years and even some of the things i have written the past few days.

I am NO expert in this area, let it be said, so this is only my thoughts. However, i wonder whether the uncouncious processes we have described in Blink ARE actually these visualizations (as i blogged earlier today) and whether it is our concious thought process that breaks the picture. Do Savants have acces to the same conciousness level we do (that is a question btw) - or do they have some way of seeing their subconcious mind at work and seeing this visualization that we miss - we try to understand it when we CAN'T... at least in normal methodical language.

This is something that i get more interested in by the day

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Kim Peek, Rain Man

I just watched one of the most amazing and touching programs i have seen. For those who say they don't watch TV, this is something you missed!

I was about Kim Peek on Channel Fives, Extraordinary People and was give the same title as the film made about him, notably Rain Man. He is a savnt, though and not simply autistic - there is a difference i am reading about, mostly in that savants display an extraordinary ental abilities in some area - Kim Peek however, does this in many areas.

He was described as a Human Google and throughout the program proved it - but Google doesn't know facts the way he does, it knows words and sentences - he knows actual answers. In that sense he is closer to a real Semantic Web.

Yet finds it impossible to understand reasoning and what people are thinking. He doesn't undestand metaphors and takes them literally.

What was amazing however, is how much his father has looked after him for 54 years - the majority of that on his own.

What amazed me is that someone can actualy remember this much data in their head. It clearly shows that there is a whole lot going on in our brains we really haven't begun to understand yet!

Richard Wawro is in fact a Savant living here in Scotland - here is his site.

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Simon Gladwell blog

Just finished reading Blink. Simon Gladwell finally has a blog. Thank God as i hate email. Loose conversation is much easier.

My theory based on this and other reading? I believe we may have a multi-dimensional mind that uses collections of attributes (some of what don't have a meaning in english) and together they represent a picture we can see. Not a graphical picture like "can you describe what he looked like" - yeah, i think we have that too - but a picture that lets our brains sort through chaos and guide us in the right direction (if only to be distorted by our concious thinking!). How else would you be able to relate quasi chaotic software code, to the things you want it to do, to where it is placed to what the end user expects to see and use. I don't think this can be modelled using traditional tools as the best results i have been getting is when i just imagine what i want my software to do and what other people see. I only wish i could put it into words! Something like :

successful software = experience (what you have learned in the past)
+ imagination (what you and your customers *see* and often fail to model/document/say)
+ chaos (various nodes all pointing towards the solution but not yet related, except in imagination?)
+ instinct (your gut feel creating the chaos above, but working toward the picture in your imagination, all based on sub-concous experiences)

Well, it's my start at a guess anyway!

Getting a book or two from Paul Ekman now - he explains how to decode facial expressions and know what people are thinking using the Facial Action Coding System . Sounds kinda eerie, yet would be exceptionally handy as an entrepreneur. I never know whether my pitches, chats and so on are working - and what parts are(n't) working, so this would be great.

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DataBinding tips in .Net 2.0

Couple of things to watch when using databinding in .Net 2.0 (one actually applied to .Net 1.1 and i'd forgotten).

1. OnItemCreated doesn't fire if you are populating data from ViewState.

So if you are in a master/detail scenario whereby a second DetailsView (for example) is populated after you click an item in the parent GridView (for example), then if you are using the OnItemCreated event, you will find it will be executed as soon as the DetailsView is written, but after clicking on items in the GridView, the OnItemCreated event will not be processed.

So, if you have a DropDownList and want to set it to the value of the child item that has been selected, you cannot put the selection code into the OnItemCreated event as it will only select the initial value on the first databind and not on subsequent binds for each click! You need to move that code into the OnItemBound() event and hey presto, everything works great.

2. You can't use multiple ControlParameters in an ObjectDataSource when referring to a GridView.

This really is a pain and i can only assume there is some great reason behind it (which i am trying to discover). In short, the binding will actually only use the FIRST ControlParameter you refer to on both occassions - very odd indeed. To solve this issue, just use Parameter types and do something like the following in the code behind:

protected void GridView1_Select(object sender, EventArgs e)
GridView gv = (GridView)sender;
if (gv.SelectedRow != null)
ucContactListDetail.SelectParameters["UserID"].DefaultValue = gv.SelectedRow.Cells[0].Text;
ucContactListDetail.SelectParameters["ContactID"].DefaultValue = gv.SelectedRow.Cells[1].Text;

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