A list of projects that are currently underway, as well as future project ideas.
by Eric Armstrong
Eric Armstrong is an accomplished author and software designer who dreams of publishing his books, selling his inventions, and one day owning an orchard. This writeup describes projects that are in various stages of completion. Some are close to finished. Others are merely concepts. The projects fall into the following categories:
This graph is a nearly-complete depiction of some major project dependencies, where an arrow from book one to book two means that the first book has a reference to the second.
Golf push-cart seat. Saw someone who rigged up a folding stool on the front of his golf bag. When he wanted to sit down, he lowered the seat, using the slanted bag for a back rest. Heck of an idea. That's an invention just waiting to be sold.
Bicycle golf club holder(s). A way to attach clubs to your bicycle, so you can get some exercise on your way to and from the driving range. Stays out of your way when you're pedaling, and doesn't get in the way when you get on and off the bike. Accessory: A small bag that fits on a rear bike rack to hold practice balls, tees, and other items needed for putting and chipping drills. (See treelight.com/golf for drills.)
Eric Armstrong holds a black belt in martial arts awarded by Grandmaster Tae Yun Kim, founder of the art of Jung Su Won. The focus on inner power training and core muscles of the body led him to develop of variety of training aids:
Isometric Abdominal Exerciser: A unit that will flatten the stomach and build abdominal strength.
Abdominal Bench: A unit that builds power and strength in the body's muscular core.
Core Twisting Bench: I built a prototype out of old rowing machine parts. (It needs to be part of the abdominal bench to be really effective.)
G.I. Jane Bench: A unit for doing those impressive, upside-down abdominal exercises featured in the movie. I built one prototype and eventually donated it to the martial arts studio I was training at. (The exercise looks extremely difficult--but it turns out to be pretty darn easy. In fact, it's nowhere close to the best abdominal exercise to do. But it's good for variety, and it's fun to show off.)
Upper Back Exerciser: Use gravity and your body weight to build the upper back muscles so important to posture, and develop your core musculature, at the same time. (Basically, the "Australian pullups" you can do with the Perfect Pullup bar, only attached to a unit that doesn't have to be drilled into the doorway.)
Mandolin-controlled synthesizer. (Concept only) Mandolin provides an easily fingered, easily played musical interface--but the short sustain and high-pitched timbre can give it a "plinky" sound. String-instrument controllers exist for Midi synthesizers, so a string instrument can be used to control the synth, rather than a keyboard. Why not package a solid-body mandolin with a synth that gives it the sustain/decay and tonal characteristics of a guitar? A note would be decay at the rate of a guitar strintg, until a new input was received on the same string.
Eric Armstrong has been investigating nutrition since he was high school, and has been an active participant in sports since graduation college. He publishes articles on health, nutrition, and fitness at treelight.com/health, and articles on health and politics at citizensAdvisory.org.
Get to Your Ideal Weight, and Shape: A diary I've been keeping for quite a while now, showing what worked and what didn't, with sidebars on exercise, nutrition, and other things I've found out along the way. A work in progress. (I still need to lose some 20 lbs around the midsection, in order to be a stellar example of the principles I espouse. It's turning out to be astonishingly difficult though, even with my devoted attentiuon. I do look a lot younger than my years--but I'm a perfectionist, and need to be able to impress people without having to tell them how old I am!)
How to Use Trekking Poles: A book that shows people how to use their trekking poles efficiently. Can be sold through outdoors stores, rather than using noraml publishing channels. Complete, except for pictures.
Guide to Trail Running: A book that tells people how to tackle the trails in style. Can be sold through running stores, rather than using normal publishing channels. Nearly complete.
Magnetic-Resistance Training: An exercise and fitness book to go with the Magnetic-Resistance Trainer fitness system (see inventions). Mostly complete. Photos need to be retaken. Existing photos need to be used for the "before" pictures.
Building a Powerful Core for Looks and Performance: A book on abdominal exercise that was based on the abdominal bench idea. Basically complete.
Creating a Flat Stomach: A shorter book the explains the daily forces that work against a flat stomach and explain how to flatten it again, focusing on isometric exercises. Basically complete.
Power Training: Principles of heavy resistance weight training, why you want it, and what exercises to do. Mostly complete.
Healthy Eating for People Who Don't Cook (without eating raw): Based in part on articles published at treelight.com/health, this book focuses on showing people how to eat healthy when they have little time or interest in cooking. Much of this book has been written. It could be completed in 2 or 3 months. (But much of it is also being folded into the weight loss book, as I go along.)
The Poisoning of America: A subset of the politics and health book below that shows people the substances they must avoid in the American food supply, if they want to stay healthy (and thin)--and which places the blame for the corruption of the food supply squarely on the shoulders of the major food-producing corporations. This is a shorter book that could be completed in 2 to 4 months.
Politics and Health: A systems-theoretic look at the way our political systems, corporations, and financial systems have been interacting, with the result that America now has the fatest children on earth, and is facing the most severe health crisis in history. After five months of research, the book is about halfway written. It will take another nine months to complete, should I ever find the time to get back to it.
Products and explanatory articles: Short articles like "Why You Want a Rebounder" that accompany a rebounding unit that is offered for sale (drop shipped by the manufacturer).
Other products I recommend: Kettlebell, clubbells, GyroSwing club, Matzie club, and others listed at astore.amazon.com.treelight. That site is nice, but:...(a) I can't put links in the description to take people to articles. (b) From an article, I can only send the reader to a general page, not a specific product. (c) When they put the item in a shopping cart, they cannot easily continue browsing (the system sends them back to the store entrance, instead of the aisle they were on).
eBooks/print-on-demand: The titles in the previous section.
As a trained software designer, Eric Armstrong has been building software programs since he graduated college, back at the dawn of time, before PCs.
The DITA standard has tremendous capabilities for component-based documentation. But installations that employ it need a variety of tools to ensure quality. Oddly, as yet virtually none of exist outside of insanely expensive CMS systems.
Link Checking. Are all references to images and topic components valid?
Link Management. When a file or directory changes name or location, find and fix all affected references both inside the file, and in external files.
Topic Search. Search for text in title strings, in metadata fields, or in particular tags. Search for particular tags or attributes. And, of course, general text search.
Intelligent Spellchecking Tool. Now that books and other documents are starting to be maintained in XML, the time is truly ripe for an intelligent spellchecker. Take code examples. They have completely different spell checking rules than regular text. When an error is found when comparing to one dictionary, the alternative dictionary needs to be checked as well. If it's found, the error-correction dialog should get an additional option: Change Tag. Similarly, the code-only dictionary could be applied to names that are all capitals, begin with a capital in the middle of a sentence, have capitals mixed in, or have a mixture of letters and numbers, The program can be pattern-based and rule-driven, so writers can check their work against the company style guide. (For example, "allows...to => lets ...", so "allows you to" or "allows them to" becomes "lets you", etc.) Such rules are terrific when a company changes its product name--you add the name change to the rules, and you know that every document you edit from then on will have that name checked--it's one less thing you have to remember.
Bilogical Nutrition Model. Capture nutritional and biological information
in a systems
model that represents the human body, in order to predict and diagnose
the impact of nutrients and toxins. The idea is to help make it possible
to reason backwards from observed symptoms to probable causes, identify
potential remedies, and compare the results created by a treatment
to verify the original assumptions. When done, it should be possible for
doctor or patient to identify the causes of chronic, long terrm problems
that result from a environmental toxins, dietary toxins, and "operational"
nutritient deficiencies (present
in the diet, but not absorbed, or not present in the quantities needed
due to other factors)--or from a combination of those factors.
For more, see http://treelight.com/health/nutritional_systems_model.ods
Business Relationship Model. Use the same kind of modeling software to track the relationships (and time delays) in investment sectors. For example: Housing prices and average income increases demand for sugar and coffee (more lattes), which produces gains in transportation, which produces gains in ship building and trucking, which requires more steel, etc. With each effect occuring after some amount of time. Those effects, in combination with others, could make it possible to indicate an industry that is about to become "hot" or "cold" (for example, multiple relationhships consipiring to raise or lower the demand for transportation). The trick, of course, is to keep the model accurate over time, as things change. (For example, high fructose corn syrup reduced the demand for sugar, but increased the demand for weight loss programs, "diet" pills, and artificial sweeteners.) But the reward for doing so it the possibility of investing in sectors that are primed for growth.
Music Teaching Software: Based in part on articles published at treelight.com/music, this program makes it easy for a person to break a tune down into smaller parts, and play them at a comfortable speed. It even includes graphics to show the fingering on a variety of instruments. (The core pieces are written. Several months work remain to complete the program, however.)
Backup Utility: There is still a need for a really good backup utility that will intelligently synchronize stored data to a backup disk. (This program exists only as a concept and a design.)
Scheduling Utility: A utility that makes it easy to add yearly, monthly, and weekly tasks and anniversaries, so you can check and print your calendar. (This program exists only as a concept and a design.)
Voting Advice: Based on the article, Taking the Money Out of Politics, published at citizensAdvisory.org, this server-side software makes it possible for a person to identify groups and individuals they trust and get their recommendations when it's time to vote. Tracking the numbers of people who give their trust makes it possible to measure the amount of influence that a group or organization has, in ways that make coalition-building a feasible reality. Further, since groups that have been around the longest will have the most traction, recently-formed groups with great names like "Democratic Citizens for a Democratic Democracy" will tend to have little impact--especially when they're a front for those with less-than-altrusitic goals in mind. In other words, money spent on advertising to influence elections will come to count for less than the recommendations of respected advisors. (Exists in concept form only.)
Movie/Book Advice: Based in part on the Voting Advice concept, this server software makes it possible to find books and movies that others who match your profile also like. In other words, you're recommendations will be from people who tend to like the same things you do. The service is free to users, with the money being made when people purchase books, DVDs, music CDs, and movie tickets through the site. (Exists in concept form only.)
Dating Advice: Based on the Movie/Book Advice concept, the idea is to find a date for a movie who is likely to enjoy it as much as you do, whose list of movies seen and books read is similar to yours. So not only are going out with someone you have something in common with, you also get a list of movies, books, and musical groups you can talk about.
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