33 votes

Do you collect questions? What are some questions on your list?

I read an interesting comic a while back about someone who collects questions that they don't have immediate answers to. (That is, things you can't just Google.) I'm wondering if anyone else actually does this and if you have any questions that you'd like to share?

38 comments

  1. [14]
    skybrian
    Link
    On my list: When are protests effective? Why did some succeed where others failed? Why do some growth economists believe that reduced consumption can result in increased investment? How can I find...

    On my list:

    • When are protests effective? Why did some succeed where others failed?
    • Why do some growth economists believe that reduced consumption can result in increased investment?
    • How can I find or make a custom button board for an electronic instrument?
    13 votes
    1. [2]
      Comment deleted by author
      Link Parent
      1. skybrian
        Link Parent
        Thanks very much for the link, this is exactly the sort of thing I'm looking for. Downloaded the book.

        Thanks very much for the link, this is exactly the sort of thing I'm looking for. Downloaded the book.

    2. [11]
      tibpoe
      Link Parent
      Can you be more specific about this one? What exactly is a button board, and what would you like your custom board to look like?

      How can I find or make a custom button board for an electronic instrument?

      Can you be more specific about this one? What exactly is a button board, and what would you like your custom board to look like?

      3 votes
      1. [10]
        skybrian
        Link Parent
        Sure! I'd like to make an input device with buttons arranged like the bass side of an accordion. (I'm an accordion player.)

        Sure! I'd like to make an input device with buttons arranged like the bass side of an accordion. (I'm an accordion player.)

        3 votes
        1. [4]
          tibpoe
          Link Parent
          Wow, that'd be an ambitious project! You'll need to get familiar with writing software, designing electronics, and soldering electronics. If you're willing to learn, here's a brief overview of how...

          Wow, that'd be an ambitious project! You'll need to get familiar with writing software, designing electronics, and soldering electronics. If you're willing to learn, here's a brief overview of how I'd go about doing that:

          • get a microcontroller, like an Arduino Mega--you want a lot of external connections
          • get a breadboard and some button switches
          • wire up the switches something like this, and write some software to convert the button presses into MIDI commands using a software library like hiduino (there's a video with some background). there's some example code that you can draw inspiration from
          • once you've figured this out and understand what it does, move on and read this article on how keyboards work. You'll need to do something like this because there aren't many microcontrollers that have 6*20 inputs, and those that do you'll never be able to solder. Write some code and test this system out on a breadboard.

          Now it's time to actually put this thing together. This is the fun part!

          • Get some electronic design software, like KiCad, and design your circuit, with all 120 buttons. This is pretty much a drag-and-drop process. Make sure you have connections to the arduino too.
          • pick out some switches that feel good to you. Take a look at DigiKey & AliExpress.
          • design your PCB. You might need to create your own footprints (layout of the copper pads that the switches get mounted to), but besides that, you'd just be dragging and dropping the switches to the correct locations on the PCB
          • get the PCB manufactured. There's a lot of low-cost Chinese PCB fabricators, so just pick one.
          • solder all the parts onto the PCB and test it out!

          There's still some ways you'd be able to improve it, like soldering the microcontroller and usb connections directly onto the keyboard, but walk before you run :)

          14 votes
          1. Bishop
            Link Parent
            These kinds of comments are my favorite things on the internet. "Oh hey you want to do this awesome project? Here's what you need to know and a top-level bulleted list of the things you need to...

            These kinds of comments are my favorite things on the internet.

            "Oh hey you want to do this awesome project? Here's what you need to know and a top-level bulleted list of the things you need to do."

            So cool.

            6 votes
          2. [2]
            skybrian
            Link Parent
            Hey, thanks for the help! Another question: I'm wondering if you any good forums for learning about electronics hardware projects? (There's a lot on the Internet and I'm looking to cut through the...

            Hey, thanks for the help! Another question: I'm wondering if you any good forums for learning about electronics hardware projects? (There's a lot on the Internet and I'm looking to cut through the noise.)

            I'm currently thinking that, to get started, my first project is going to be a sound-generation demo. I'm going to hook a few buttons to a microprocessor and get some nice sound out of a speaker. How hard could it be?

            Also, is there a better way to search for parts to buy than Google searches? This part looks interesting for generating audio, though maybe overdoing it - I'm not quite sure what I'm looking at: https://www.sparkfun.com/products/10587

            1 vote
            1. tibpoe
              Link Parent
              I don't know. I tend to hang out on https://www.eevblog.com/forum/ and https://electronics.stackexchange.com/, but quite honestly, those aren't the most beginner-friendly places. However, if you...

              I'm wondering if you any good forums for learning about electronics hardware projects?

              I don't know. I tend to hang out on https://www.eevblog.com/forum/ and https://electronics.stackexchange.com/, but quite honestly, those aren't the most beginner-friendly places.

              However, if you ask a well-researched question, especially one that seems interesting, you'll get a good response. In particular, the guidelines at https://stackoverflow.com/help/how-to-ask are very relevant when asking technical questions anywhere on the internet.

              How hard could it be?

              That's the spirit :)

              Also, is there a better way to search for parts to buy than Google searches?

              At this point, for you, no.

              There are better ways, like electronics parts catalogs, but those require a certain level of skill and familiarity.

              This part looks interesting for generating audio, though maybe overdoing it - I'm not quite sure what I'm looking at: https://www.sparkfun.com/products/10587

              That looks as good a starting place as any. You'll also need an arduino (that's what "Shield" means--it goes on top of an arduino).

              There's an example at https://www.sparkfun.com/tutorials/302--found it through the "Documents" tab.

              Sparkfun is fairly expensive as far as shops go--but you're not just getting the board with them (that's worth maybe $1-2), but you get support and a guarantee that your parts have been tested and will actually work.

              1 vote
        2. [5]
          tomf
          Link Parent
          Are you thinking something like the Midi Fighter 64, but something you'd make yourself?

          Are you thinking something like the Midi Fighter 64, but something you'd make yourself?

          1 vote
          1. [4]
            skybrian
            Link Parent
            Yes. The midi fighter looks nice but the button layout isn't the same as an accordion. (Needs more columns, only 6 rows, and the rows need to be offset.)

            Yes. The midi fighter looks nice but the button layout isn't the same as an accordion. (Needs more columns, only 6 rows, and the rows need to be offset.)

            1 vote
            1. [3]
              tomf
              Link Parent
              Here's one project a guy did -- https://github.com/bvavra/MIDI_Accordion (main project page) After watching a few accordion videos, I have absolutely no idea how anybody can move their fingers so...

              Here's one project a guy did -- https://github.com/bvavra/MIDI_Accordion (main project page)

              After watching a few accordion videos, I have absolutely no idea how anybody can move their fingers so well.

              1 vote
              1. [2]
                skybrian
                Link Parent
                Hey, thanks! I guess I would have found better links if I had actually searched on "accordion". :-) I just started learning ukulele, and to me it seems a lot easier to press a button than to learn...

                Hey, thanks! I guess I would have found better links if I had actually searched on "accordion". :-)

                I just started learning ukulele, and to me it seems a lot easier to press a button than to learn fretting and strumming. (So much practice for each new chord!)

                1 vote
                1. tomf
                  Link Parent
                  I don't play music or anything, but I saw that midi fighter a few weeks ago and fell in love with the concept. If you end up building something like this, be sure to share some videos! The...

                  I don't play music or anything, but I saw that midi fighter a few weeks ago and fell in love with the concept. If you end up building something like this, be sure to share some videos! The Stradella layout seems far more ergonomic and natural than a straight grid.

    3. skybrian
      Link Parent
      For the record, I finally decided to ask my economics question on reddit and got a good response.

      For the record, I finally decided to ask my economics question on reddit and got a good response.

      1 vote
  2. [8]
    kfwyre
    Link
    Relevant thread! I can't say that I "collect" them, but I do like questions. I don't know if you're limiting this to questions that are feasibly "answerable" but difficult, or if you're interested...

    Relevant thread!

    I can't say that I "collect" them, but I do like questions. I don't know if you're limiting this to questions that are feasibly "answerable" but difficult, or if you're interested in "unknowable" ones too. As such, if these are outside the scope of what you're looking for, let me know:

    • Why is there such a disconnect between what I know I should do and what I actually do?

    • Does my dog love me because I care for his needs or because he just, you know, loves me?

    • Do I love my dog only because he loves me back? Would I love a dog that didn't return my affections?

    • How much have I directed the development of my own identity, and how much of it has come from external factors?

    • Is choosing to fight a battle that you're guaranteed to lose noble, or just foolish?

    • What significant things in my life have I flat out forgotten?

    • Have the people I've irreparably hurt in life forgiven me?

    12 votes
    1. [2]
      Emerald_Knight
      Link Parent
      Consider this from another perspective: replace "my dog" with another person and you'll have that same philosophical question. If you want to be cynical, then you could say that all relationships...

      Does my dog love me because I care for his needs or because he just, you know, loves me?

      Consider this from another perspective: replace "my dog" with another person and you'll have that same philosophical question.

      If you want to be cynical, then you could say that all relationships exist because that relationship satisfies some kind of need for both of the individuals involved. Often this need is one of companionship, but may encompass any number of other needs (e.g. intimacy in a romantic relationship). Relationships thus exist because they're mutually beneficial arrangements. That doesn't make the relationship any less special, though. Once that initial relationship is established, you begin to bond with that other person and you establish trust with one another. You begin to let your guard down because you no longer feel the need to keep it up.

      The same is true of your relationship with a pet. Sure, the relationship starts with you providing it with food and shelter, but a dog doesn't just love you because you take care of its needs, it loves you because you prove over the course of many actions that you're someone it can trust. It will expose the most vulnerable parts of its body to you--its back, its belly, its neck--because it knows you won't do anything to harm it. This is much easier to see with rescue dogs, which start off being much more apprehensive around people until that trust is established.

      A little food for thought :)


      My personally philosophy, though, is this: all animals naturally desire companionship, and satisfying each others' needs is just the natural fuel that helps build trust between them.

      6 votes
      1. kfwyre
        Link Parent
        Great points! I like your idea of interrogating the nature of love as a whole. I'm left with the idea that there's a greater unknown space with my dog than there is with, say, my husband. Language...

        Great points!

        I like your idea of interrogating the nature of love as a whole. I'm left with the idea that there's a greater unknown space with my dog than there is with, say, my husband. Language facilitates understanding, and because I can talk with my husband, I can much better understand his perspective, even though I still ultimately have to trust that what he says is true.

        But my dog has a dog mind and no way to tell me about it, so I'm left wondering. He can still communicate through body language and such, but my interpretation is limited, and it's trivially easy for us to humanize that in inaccurate ways. Yawning can be a sign of anxiety in dogs, for instance, but I might just think he's a cute little sleepy puppy!

        Ultimately it's not a question that keeps me up at night. My dog is one of the greatest joys in my life, and even if my understanding of his "love" is merely projection on my part or merely reciprocity because I care for him, I still experience it just the same. I do think it makes for an interesting thought experiment though.

        2 votes
    2. Keegan
      Link Parent
      I feel like this heavily depends on the reasoning for the "battle", be it on a battlefield or in an argument. So it can go either way.

      Is choosing to fight a battle that you're guaranteed to lose noble, or just foolish?

      I feel like this heavily depends on the reasoning for the "battle", be it on a battlefield or in an argument. So it can go either way.

      4 votes
    3. skybrian
      Link Parent
      Sure, any question is fine. I sort of had in mind using questions to decide what to read about, or do other research, but it doesn't have to be that.

      Sure, any question is fine. I sort of had in mind using questions to decide what to read about, or do other research, but it doesn't have to be that.

      1 vote
    4. [3]
      gergir
      Link Parent
      I want to reply in that threat, but it's too old.

      I want to reply in that threat, but it's too old.

      1 vote
      1. [2]
        cfabbro
        Link Parent
        IMO, if you have something to add to an older conversation, so long as it isn’t “noise” or an attempt to reignite an old argument, you shouldn’t hesitate to add it. That’s the whole point of...

        IMO, if you have something to add to an older conversation, so long as it isn’t “noise” or an attempt to reignite an old argument, you shouldn’t hesitate to add it. That’s the whole point of activity sort, to extend the life of topics and allow older ones to get a second wind with renewed interest in them. The only thing I would suggest is to make sure that if you’re replying to a specific person and hoping for an answer from them, to check their profile first to make sure they’re still active on the site.

        6 votes
        1. gergir
          Link Parent
          Okay I'll do that, thank you.

          Okay I'll do that, thank you.

          3 votes
  3. Keegan
    Link
    What seemingly small decisions have I made that could have massively impacted my life, for better or for worse? I often reflect on the mistakes I've made in life that impacted me for the worse by...

    What seemingly small decisions have I made that could have massively impacted my life, for better or for worse?

    I often reflect on the mistakes I've made in life that impacted me for the worse by embarrassing me or whatever, but there are many mistakes that I have made that don't do that.

    In simpler wording, what things should I have done that I did not do?

    It's sort of similar to the question of "what things would you change in your life decisions if given the chance?", but it is decisions that you don't even remember occurring.

    5 votes
  4. gergir
    Link
    I r e a l l y want to know how the universe can be, why it is, and if it's all there is. As someone curious it's truly madding at times to realise I can never know. @kfwyre: your dog loves you, no...

    I r e a l l y want to know how the universe can be, why it is, and if it's all there is. As someone curious it's truly madding at times to realise I can never know.

    @kfwyre: your dog loves you, no ifs/buts

    5 votes
  5. [7]
    Catt
    Link
    Interesting question! Can't say I collect them, but here's a few I find myself thinking about every now and then: Which is more immortal - being able to just transfer your memories into a new...

    Interesting question!

    Can't say I collect them, but here's a few I find myself thinking about every now and then:

    • Which is more immortal - being able to just transfer your memories into a new clone when you die (just memories, so they know everything you know as if reading a transcript of your life, not as if they experienced it), or you get brought back to life each time you die, but without your memories (but with feelings and impressions or instincts intact)?
    • When the human race is completely extinct and a new dominant, intelligent life evolves to fill our niche, how will we look in the fossil records? Will they be digging up random harddrives that someone tossed in a safety deposit box? Will they figure out how to read it?
    • When climate change issues can no longer be ignore, will we adjust in the cities by trying to grow as much plants (grass and edibles) to replace as much concrete as possible to cool and regulate the air temp? If that happens, will concrete driveways be seen as quaint the way some old cottage / country designs are now?
    4 votes
    1. [2]
      NaraVara
      Link Parent
      On a time-scale long enough for evolution to bring changes like that, bit rot will almost certainly have corrupted all the data; even if the drives themselves remained pristine.

      Will they be digging up random harddrives that someone tossed in a safety deposit box?

      On a time-scale long enough for evolution to bring changes like that, bit rot will almost certainly have corrupted all the data; even if the drives themselves remained pristine.

      6 votes
      1. Catt
        Link Parent
        Yeah almost guaranteed. But I do wonder if there's some way a fluke could be preserved and found.

        Yeah almost guaranteed. But I do wonder if there's some way a fluke could be preserved and found.

    2. [3]
      Macil
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      I think it's optimistic to imagine there's enough time for another intelligent species to evolve: the Sun might make land on Earth uninhabitable in as little as 300 million years (a little more...

      When the human race is completely extinct and a new dominant, intelligent life evolves to fill our niche, how will we look in the fossil records? Will they be digging up random harddrives that someone tossed in a safety deposit box? Will they figure out how to read it?

      I think it's optimistic to imagine there's enough time for another intelligent species to evolve: the Sun might make land on Earth uninhabitable in as little as 300 million years (a little more time than has passed since dinosaurs first evolved). (Maybe it's likely that an intelligent species evolves on average once every few hundred million years, or it's possible that humanity is a total fluke. We don't know how often planets with life fail to evolve intelligence. Imagine a group of lottery winners who only knew each other and reasoned that humans tend to win the lottery once every few decades.)

      Anyway, here's an article on an idea like this: https://www.futurity.org/silurian-hypothesis-thought-experiment-1732282/. If there were a civilization on Earth millions of years ago, how would we know?

      5 votes
      1. Catt
        Link Parent
        May not be a whole new species (though I find that line more interesting to think about no matter how remote a possibility). Maybe we'll just end up almost extinct, loose our place for a bit as...

        May not be a whole new species (though I find that line more interesting to think about no matter how remote a possibility). Maybe we'll just end up almost extinct, loose our place for a bit as the dominant species, forget just enough to have to restart completely. Ten thousand years or so would probably be enough.

        Thanks for the read, it was neat!

      2. Eylrid
        Link Parent
        It also depends on where the next technological species is starting from. Is it a species that already has a brain and a certain amount of intelligence, or will enough species be wiped out that it...

        It also depends on where the next technological species is starting from. Is it a species that already has a brain and a certain amount of intelligence, or will enough species be wiped out that it has to start over with something more basic? Looking at other animals and our own ancestors it's far from inevitable the a technological species would arise. There are so many steps that have to happen. For each of those steps there's loads of examples of animals that do quite well without taking that step. High intelligence is not the One Ultimate Pinnacle of evolution; it's just one of many paths it can go down.

        Even if another species becomes as intelligent as us, will they remain hunter-gatherers, or will they figure out agriculture and the technological advances that opens up? We were intelligent for a long time before we became technological.

    3. Algernon_Asimov
      Link Parent
      You might be interested in this recent post: The Anthropocene Is a Joke: On geological timescales, human civilization is an event, not an epoch. FTI: @Macil

      When the human race is completely extinct and a new dominant, intelligent life evolves to fill our niche, how will we look in the fossil records?

      You might be interested in this recent post: The Anthropocene Is a Joke: On geological timescales, human civilization is an event, not an epoch.

      FTI: @Macil

      2 votes
  6. [3]
    cadadr
    Link
    Yes. More general questions go into a file called zibaldone, along with miscellaneous notes and links. There is also another file for linguistics research questions, which range from ideas that...

    Yes. More general questions go into a file called zibaldone, along with miscellaneous notes and links. There is also another file for linguistics research questions, which range from ideas that could grow into theories to little curiosities.

    I'd give examples but I'm travelling, sorry. If I'm not totally exhausted in the weekend I may expand this a bit with some examples.

    1 vote
    1. [2]
      cadadr
      Link Parent
      So, catching up with this, here are excepts from my questions: Linguistics: Various ideas for literature surverys: Mediterranean lingua franca, linguistic studies (particularly CxG) on Turkish Is...

      So, catching up with this, here are excepts from my questions:

      Linguistics:

      • Various ideas for literature surverys: Mediterranean lingua franca, linguistic studies (particularly CxG) on Turkish

      • Is the head-complement structure essentially arbitrary?

      Zibaldone:

      • "Imagine yourself in front of a cat, slightly blocking your passage,and imagine that you feel inclined to kick it out of your way. How would you decide whether or not to kick it away?" This one starts an attempt at finding an objective reason to avoid being violent and creatively/s concludes that it is because you need to in order to not encounter violence yourself.

      • "Failing in public in the days of social media": this looks like it was an idea for some sort of research project or a blog post, subsequently abandoned.

      • A new Turkish ortography: I've been trying to develop an ortographical style in my private writing that I think is in some ways superior both subjectively and objectively to what we currently use. I don't expect to change anything, but I like pondering on this idea every now and then.

      More general questions I keep in my head are:

      • What am I doing and why?

      • Why people want excess stuff, why do they hoard money and power, even past the point where lifelong luxury is guaranteed?

      • When will we grow out of nations and ethnicities and religions and parties into a worldwide community of diverse and loving fools, if ever?

      • How and when did religion became a thing? Could it have happened without language?

      1 vote
      1. Eylrid
        Link Parent
        We have two things going against us there: biology and power politics. Tribalism is a deep part of us. We can divide into tribes over anything. But division is also a good way to get power. Having...

        When will we grow out of nations and ethnicities and religions and parties into a worldwide community of diverse and loving fools, if ever?

        We have two things going against us there: biology and power politics. Tribalism is a deep part of us. We can divide into tribes over anything. But division is also a good way to get power. Having someone to fight is an effective way to get people to rally behind you.

  7. [4]
    mrbig
    (edited )
    Link
    Do magicians play cards amongst themselves?

    Do magicians play cards amongst themselves?

    1 vote
    1. [3]
      Eylrid
      Link Parent
      You'd have to ask magicians to know for sure. Richard Turner, a blind master card mechanic, did false dealing right in front of Penn and Teller on Fool Us and they couldn't see it. I suppose if...

      You'd have to ask magicians to know for sure. Richard Turner, a blind master card mechanic, did false dealing right in front of Penn and Teller on Fool Us and they couldn't see it. I suppose if they trust each other to respect the spirit of the game enough to not cheat they could play a casual game.

      1 vote
      1. mrbig
        Link Parent
        They could make cheating a part of the game! And I happen to love this show ;)

        They could make cheating a part of the game!

        And I happen to love this show ;)

        2 votes
      2. nothis
        Link Parent
        Why do I find it so weird that Alyson Hannigan is moderating this show? It's like... how can they afford an actress with Sitcom money?

        Why do I find it so weird that Alyson Hannigan is moderating this show? It's like... how can they afford an actress with Sitcom money?