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Robot Building for Beginners by David Cook, a Book Review

Robot Building for Beginners by David Cook

Robot Building for Beginners by David Cook serves, as to be expected, as a beginner’s guide to building a small working robot. In this case, the robot’s body is mainly constructed from a sandwich container, so the robot is named Sandwich. Its intended usage is to follow a line. I purchased and read this book in an effort to understand more about my colleagues and work at my employer, Neuron Robotics. It did not disappoint.

Do It!

Robot Building
Neuron Robotics (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In order to construct Sandwich, Cook walks the reader through various aspects of not only robot building and design, but also basic electrical engineering concepts. While the book is certainly no substitute for even one semester of Electrical Engineering, it does help to bring some understanding to a layman like me. In the interests of full disclosure, I majored in Philosophy in college. However, my father and father-in-law are both engineers, and my husband works as an engineering draftsman. I have heard some of these terms before. Cook explains terms like multimeter, capacitance and resistance fairly well. This is in a lively and engaging style that never talks down to the reader.

Entertaining

Cook’s good humor extends to a section showcasing equipment that he’s fried by making various mistakes. He makes it clear. Be safety-conscious and budget-conscious (he provides specifics and current pricing for most of the items used and referred to). However recognize that, sometimes, stuff is just going to happen. You’ll break or burn things, or just not get them right the first time. Shrug it off and move on – it’s all a part of the learning experience.

The book is large and difficult to digest except in small bites. It is intended as a step by step guide to Sandwich’s construction, but I think a better usage – in particular for laymen reading the book but not actually building the ‘bot – comes as a reference and resource guide.

It almost makes me want to try soldering again – but I’ll have to fight my coworkers to get to the soldering station.

Rating

Review:3/5 stars.

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Facebook

Responding to Facebook’s Organic Reach Decline

Responding to Facebook’s Organic Reach Decline

Responding to Facebook’s Organic Reach Decline – Facebook’s organic reach is going down. That is, fewer people are seeing your posts (unless you cough up some dough). What to do?

Facebook logo Español: Logotipo de Facebook Fr...
Facebook logo Español: Logotipo de Facebook Français : Logo de Facebook Tiếng Việt: Logo Facebook (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Social Media Today’s Pam Dyer has the scoop on how to respond.

In 2012, Facebook restricted brand content reach to around 16%. In 2014, the figure plummeted to just about a dismal 6%.

According to Dyer, “No one really knows for sure how Facebook decides what appears in news feeds, but some elements are well known as weighting factors:

  • Post types that receive the most user interaction
  • Posts that users hide or report as spam
  • How a user interacts with Facebook ads
  • The device that is used to access Facebook and the speed of its connection”

EdgeRank has less importance than it had, but it’s not quite gone from the mix. It consists of –

  • “Affinity: The closeness of the relationship between the user and the content/source
  • Weight: The action that was taken on the content
  • Decay: The freshness of the content”

Dyer lays out four steps.

  1. Optimize Facebook content. Test what’s working, and what isn’t.  What are people clicking on? And are they clicking through to your site? Look at Google Analytics for your site, and determine which content is the source for your Facebook-generated traffic.
  2. Create incentives for sharing content. Whether that’s offers, contents, or just can-you-believe-this types of posts, create the kind of content that people want to spread to their peers.
  3. Work a multi-network campaign strategy. Use hashtags; they show up in all sorts of places, and not necessarily on Facebook.  Put your hashtag in all of your promotions, e. g. blogs, television commercials, literature, etc.
  4. Track data, and act on it accordingly! What’s happening with your links? Where is your audience coming from? Dovetailing with step #1, be the company that knows where your traffic is really coming from. Know where your audience is clicking.

Knowledge is power.

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