Friday, April 20, 2018

Hide Glue

Hide Glue

Hide Glue

Hide Glue: Furniture found in the tombs of Egyptian Pharaohs shows that hide glue has been used as an adhesive for over 3500 years. Until the invention of Aliphatic resin glues in the early 20th century, hide glue was the standard adhesive for producing furniture, musical instruments and many other products.

Original formula hide glue is still produced today and remains the choice of professional craftspeople for repair and restoration of antique furniture, clocks, musical instruments and numerous other high-quality applications.

Much has been written about the virtues of hide glue in clock case repair and restoration. Craig Burgess of NAWCC chapter 124 has an excellent dissertation on the advantages of hide glue in his message-board posting Hide Glue 101 .
A special thanks to Craig for taking the time to review this presentation and offer his suggestions for additions,
clarifications and corrections.

Some of the key advantages noted for hide glue include:

  - Hide glue is a reversible process. Glued joints can be disassembled without damage to the base wood and
    glue residue can be completely removed from wood pores. This is particularly important in restoration work
    where you (or someone 100 years from now) may need to disassemble a wood joint or remove a section of
    veneer. This is a simple process with hide glue that just isn't possible with modern glues.

  - Hot hide glue quickly assumes a "tack". This greatly speeds assembly and eliminates much of the need for
    clamping and pressing. Two wood pieces can be brushed with hide glue, held tightly together for a short
    while and the glue will quickly take over.

  - Newly applied hide glue is compatible with existing (old) hide glue. This is very important in restoration
    work where new and old elements are often used side by side.

  -  Compatible with wood stains. When modern glue touches raw wood, the pores are filled and the glue
     cannot be removed. As a result, wood stains cannot penetrate evenly. This is the reason for "blotchy"
     inconsistent stain finish often seen on wood projects assembled with modern glue.
     Hide glue, on the other hand, is water soluble and can be completely removed using a damp cloth or
     toothbrush. Once the hide glue is removed, wood stain will penetrate the wood uniformly.

The following presentation illustrates the basics for getting set up and started in the use of traditional hot hide glue.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

M.O.S.A.I.C. LS |

LED TILE system

I invest in slope, not y-intercept – Bolt Blog

I invest in slope, not y-intercept – Bolt Blog

I invest in slope, not y-intercept

The best investors are more interested in how you think than what you know.

When I tell people Bolt invests in pre-product, pre-revenue companies, I often get a bewildered response: "But how do you know what to invest in?" That's a great question, and one I ask myself quite often.

Bolt continues to seek founders earlier and earlier in their journey, often when their eventual companies are better described as ideas. We can't invest in product-market fit because there is no product. We can't invest in a de-risked customer acquisition funnel because there are no customers. So, in what — or really whom — are we investing?

A year after joining Bolt, I asked Ben why he hired me. No MBA, no two years of management consulting, no engineering degree. He answered point-blank and without hesitation, "I hire for slope, not y-intercept."

For those of you who missed that particular algebra lesson, here's what has to say on the subject:

I've learned a lot about investing since then. You know, the kinds of things you can list on a proper resume: P&L statements, cap tables, and fund modeling; how to run a diligence process, negotiate deals, and manage board meetings. But the collective force of all those spreadsheets and all that paperwork cowers in the face of Ben's simple lesson that night. It's about slope, not y-intercept.

In a startup context, the metaphoric y-intercept describes the point at which you are meeting someone on their knowledge-collecting journey. To use gardening as an example: a person muddling their way through cultivating a garden for the first time has a low y-intercept. An expert who has been gardening for twenty years and could teach a course on grafting avocados has a high y-intercept. Slope describes the rate at which the person is growing their knowledge base and skills. If one wanted to pluck an ideal person to invest in from the proverbial pumpkin patch, that rare combination of a high y-intercept and steep slope would certainly be ideal, but these humans are few and far between. Of course, there are businesses where a lack of in-depth knowledge and profound domain-expertise is irreplaceable. For these industries, you'd be hard-pressed to raise money based on enthusiasm and high-speed learning alone.

Evaluating Slope

It's relatively easy to assess y-intercept from a LinkedIn profile. Educational degrees and work experience relevant to the field in which you are starting your company often show that. The slope question is most interesting to me because it's tougher to judge. I believe many investors over-index on accomplishment and under-index on potential. That leaves us with the complex algorithm of judgement to identify a founder's slope. So, how do we do that?

I always want to see a company's operating plan. Many founders we invest in have never made an operating plan before, let alone managed a company to one. Plus, as I've stated, the company is still usually an idea, so the plan is going to be constructed on assumptions, rather than reality.

An operating plan tells me a lot about how you're conceptually planning to run the business. When looking at a plan, I am more interested in the general trends of the plan and how the numbers relate to one another than the specific digits sitting in individual cells of the spreadsheet. Are you optimizing around a couple of key full-timers or planning to lean heavily on consultants? Do you think it will take three months or three years to ship your product? Are you planning to run lean or ramp to a high burn quickly? How much cushion have you left to raise your next round of capital?

While working with a young team on a recent investment at Bolt, I received an ops plan that was difficult to parse. We did a quick call, and I mentioned a couple of big-bucket things for them to re-work. They listened, they got to work, and a week later, we had a new ops plan to work through. It was night and day from the first revision, but still a long cry from an A+ plan. Another round of feedback later, and they were coming back for more. While the current version still isn't an A+ plan, the earnestness and speed with which the team processed the input and iterated on the plan is a sign of steep slope. This is a configuration with which I am always excited to work.

Customer-driven insights are another great sign of steep slope. If you're still an undergrad, it stands to reason that it's tough to have ten years of in-market experience. Ten years ago, you were busy being awkward at a middle school dance, not running growth marketing for the hottest startups in Silicon Valley. Great founders, however, test assumptions early and often.

When I start peeling back the assumptions around product, words like "when we interviewed thirty potential users" resonate more strongly than "because I read it in a report." When I start to poke at customer acquisition numbers, referencing the dry marketing campaign you ran last month (however imperfect) is a stronger indicator than quoting industry averages you read in a blog post. Slope is, first and foremost, about doing.

I've seen a lot of advisors encourage founders to be over-prepared before pitching VCs. While I agree it's important to know your numbers, I think this advice can create a lot of anxiety. If you don't have an answer to an investors question, be transparent. Seek to understand why the question is important in the first place, and commit to finding the answer after the meeting. Engage in the conversation; don't scramble for the answer.

The best investors are more interested in how you think than what you know.

Kate (@katepmcandrew) is an Senior Associate at Bolt, a pre-seed and seed VC firm investing at the intersection of hardware and software.

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  • Sent from my iPad

    Sunday, April 8, 2018

    Close Grain: Limor Fried Is My New Hero

    Close Grain: Limor Fried Is My New Hero

    Limor Fried Is My New Hero

    I'm cross-posting this to both my woodworking blog and my software engineering blog (under the LearnToCode label), because even though there's no woodworking in it, this is all about building stuff, so it bridges the worlds. It's the maker ethos.

    I admit to instant and total nerd-crush. Limor Fried, who goes by the name Ladyada online (for Lady Ada Lovelace, The First Programmer) is the founder of Adafruit.

    Adafruit is a small electronics manufacturing company in Manhattan, NY, that focuses on teaching electronics to makers of all ages. You can read about them here.

    Electronics is another of those hobbies that I wanted to pursue as a teenager, but never could due to lack of funds. Fortunately I've advanced beyond that impecunious stage of life, and seeing this has fired instant obsession (hence the shopping list below!).

    I'm familiar with that feeling of obsession settling on my shoulders. It propelled me into hand tool woodworking, turning into a book. It propelled me into violinmaking. It propelled me into boatbuilding.

    Each time, the pattern is the same. I buy a bunch of books, watch a bunch of videos, dig through a bunch of blogs and forums, then buy a bunch of tools and start playing. Last year it propelled me into small engine repair and oxy-acetylene welding after I found Taryl Dactyl (yes, blog posts will be forthcoming).

    Now, in my copious free time (that's a joke, son), I'll finally be realizing that dream to get my hands dirty with electronics.

    I owe this to Matt Pandina, whom we recently hired at work. It quickly turned out that Matt is a maker and likes sharing information. He has some nice stuff on Google Groups under the moniker artcfox (in fact, one of his articles was coincidentally the answer to the embedded systems programming problem I use when interviewing candidates!).

    He made a comment about how Adafruit is doing manufacturing in Manhattan, and I asked, "Who's Adafruit?". That was all it took. Thanks, Matt!

    I was tickled to read Fried's favorite quote in the Entrepreneur Magazine article about her:
    "We are what we celebrate." —entrepreneur and inventor Dean Kamen.
    Kamen is one of my other heroes. She whose hero is my hero is my hero!

    I managed to score his autograph at the 2015 MassMEDIC conference. I was at the 2015 Embedded Systems Conference (ESC Boston), which was being held concurrently at the Boston Convention Center.

    When I saw Kamen listed as keynote speaker, I scooted down early and got a chance to talk to him and tell him I wanted to work for him (he probably gets a lot of stalker geeks like that!). Came close the following year, but logistics didn't work out.

    Electronics Learning Resources

    On the business side, Adafruit sells kits, parts, tools, and books. That's pretty cool (along with being able to pull off a manufacturing operation in Manhattan). But what's truly spectacular about them is their online learning resources.

    Fried is a big proponent of open source, sharing the knowledge. So the Adafruit website is chock full of information. There's also an extensive YouTube channel.

    You'll also finds lots of cross-pollination with others in the maker community. There are magazines, blogs, and videos by the score, by independent makers like Matt, and by larger organizations.

    I've just barely begun to scratch the surface. This is great, because I know how to program embedded systems, but I don't know much about the components that go into them and connect to them. It's the combination of hardware and software that really makes something work.

    Pretty much everything I know about digital electronics I owe to Forrest P. Mims 35 years ago. Now, after that brief hiatus, I can take the next step.

    Basic Electronics Lab Skills

    Among the resources is a series of very accessible quick guides and videos by Collin Cunningham. Of particular interest to the electronics beginner such as myself is this set of basic electronics lab skills (you can scan through all these quickly for quick grok of the big picture by setting the speed in the YouTube window settings (the gear icon) to 2x, then come back and watch at normal speed for a second pass):
    • Soldering and Desoldering: how to solder components together properly, and how to pull them apart for salvage and rework.
    • Surface Mount Soldering: how to solder surface-mount components.
    • Multimeters: how to use a meter for basic measurements.
    • Oscilloscopes: how to use an oscilloscope for advanced measurements and waveforms.
    • Hand Tools: the basic hand tools used for assembling and disassembling electronics.
    • Schematics: how to read schematics (no, they're not Greek!).
    • Breadboards and Perfboards: how to combine the parts on a schematic into a functioning circuit.
    • Ohm's Law: understanding the relationship between voltage, current, and resistance.
    Once you have these skills, you are unleashed. Just like hand tool woodworking, it takes a little investment in tools and equipment, and a little time practicing with them.

    These form the basis of the shopping list below. And of course they lead to lots of other interesting videos, like Collin's videos on the basics of various components:
    Shopping List

    These are the tools, equipment, supplies, and books to do the work. With the exception of the oscilloscope, these are all links to the Adafruit shopping pages. Prices as of April 8, 2018.

    Tools and equipment:

    Consumable supplies:


    Total cost: $1017.20 for everything (I ordered 2 spools leaded solder and 1 leaded Chip Quik, no lead-free items), with free shipping from both Adafruit and Amazon. Plus they threw in a free half-size breadboard and a Circuit Playground Express.

    That's a bit of an investment, but the really nice thing is that this is a curated list from the Adafruit site. It should get you (and me!) a long way.

    Sent from my iPad

    Bad Axe Tool Works - Maintenance

    Saturday, March 10, 2018

    A War on Reading – The Pequod Workshop

    We can't cede education as merely job training. It's not just an instrument for some other goal. It is worthwhile simply because the world is more worthwhile when we care about thought, about stories, about the meanings in the world around us. Education doesn't have to turn a profit—it is what we spend our society's profits on. It's the point of all that wealth and leisure. That was part of the wisdom of Pericles, of Charlemagne, of the Renaissance. It was part of the wisdom of the long tradition of American public education, and the Morrill Act, and the Fulbright program, and the GI Bill. But it is wisdom one whole political party seems to have turned its back on, deciding that the academy is simply a haven for "liberal elites" if it is anything at all beyond the school mascots and stadium skyboxes. That it should be paid for by the students, and that it is merely a consumer product.

    If we are headed into a new Dark Age, as it certainly feels it is while I'm so besieged, there may be nothing I can individually do. But those Greek and Roman classics I still read and love survived down to today by only the most fragile thread. So I hope we can find a way to save something.