What makes a professional?  

professionalWhat makes a professional?  

I’ve been thinking about this for some time now.

Obviously there’s the simple definition of a person that performs a role and gets paid for it.

But I believe it’s more than that, particularly in today’s world where people can have a “portfolio career” where they perform many roles, some paid and some simply for the love of the work.

There is an implicit understanding that when you hire a professional they have the knowledge and skills necessary to carry out the task.  

But I’m sure you can think of plenty of people who get paid and yet do a shoddy job.  I bet you also know people who do things as a pastime and produce work of the highest caliber. Between these two which one would you say is the professional?  

I’ve read plenty of articles about how be a professional or what professional needs, and yet most of those focus on things such turning up on the time always giving 100% and so on. Those are table stakes.

Many years ago one had to undergo a lengthy apprenticeship before being considered a professional, often not reaching that stage until many years into a career. But in today’s world, where knowledge and experience are often outdated in a very short amount of time, apprenticeships are often a thing of the past.   

The more I thought about it, the more I came to realize that, for me, one of the defining characteristics of a professional is someone who has learned from their mistakes. And the best professionals consistently push the boundaries of their knowledge and experience and use the mistakes inevitably found in new endeavors as a core part of their education.

Anyone can be a professional when everything fits together, people deliver on time, and there are no surprises.

But to be truly worthy of the title “Professional” you need more.  You need to be able to adapt to changing situations.  You need to be able to anticipate problems and solve them before they occur.  And, when finally something does go awry, you have the skills, experience and confidence to work the problem and keep things on track. THAT is what makes a real professional, and it doesn’t matter whether you’re paid to do that or not.

Want to see what a true Professional looks like?  Watch the movie Apollo 13.  NASA was constantly pushing boundaries.  They knew the risks and when things went wrong the Professionals at NASA kept their cool, took what they had and created innovative solutions to get their people home.  

Money?  That has nothing to do with being a professional.  It’s all about attitude and a passion to continually learn.

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DJI Phantom Christmas? Awesome! Now READ THIS!

I posted this last year…but there’s still a lot of good information in there and so I thought I would post again. I have learned a HUGE amount since the original post so please feel free to comment if you have questions that you would like answered.

Houldsworth's Random Ramblings

fc40If you received a DJI Phantom for Christmas, then you are a lucky man…or woman, but I’m betting you’re a man.  

The Phantom’s are amazing machines.  They are great fun, produce really cool video footage and are super easy to fly as long as you have a good GPS signal.

But, before you fly, there are a few things you need to do, and a few things you need to know.  

Not following this advice is, in the opinion of many, the #1 cause of “flyaways”, which is when the thing takes off and is never seen again.  This is usually followed by people blasting DJI on Facebook and then deleting their post when people ask them about home lock.

Most of the details below are from my experience with an FC40.  You may be lucky enough to have a more advanced unit, but the information should be mostly the same.

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Drones: One year on

On January 2nd this year I took a flight over my neighbors house using a store bought drone (Phantom FC40) and a GoPro camera that arrived as a Christmas present.  I was very happy with the quadcopter and the footage I took.  Then, about a week later, I sunk the whole kit into a lake never to be seen again.

At the time I was pretty upset with myself – I made a rookie mistake and paid for it badly.  But I also reasoned that since I had enjoyed modifying the FC40 I should try my hand at building drones instead of buying them.

One year later and I’ve come a long way learning everything from soldering to PID tuning (don’t ask).

I eventually built two different copters, a quadcopter and then a hexacopter, although it feels much more than that because each of those has been built, rebuilt and upgraded numerous times.  Here’s a quick comparison:

 

DJI Phantom FC40 F450 Quadcopter F550 Hexacopter
 IMG_1482.JPG  _MG_4923.jpg  20151122_093203.jpg
Transmitter Range  800m 2,000m
 Flight Modes
  • GPS Hold
  • Altitude Hold
  • RTL
  •  GPS Hold (slow and fast)
  • Altitude hold
  • RTL
  • Automatic (programmed)
  • Land
  • Guided (click on moving map)
  • Manual
  • Acrobatic
  • Follow me
  • Circle
  • Mapping
Speed 22mph ~35mph ~55mph
Size 330mm 450mm 550mm
Real Time Telemetry No Yes Yes
Moving map No Yes Yes
Gimbal 2D 2D 3D
Camera Control Manual Manual or Fully Automated Point Of Interest Lock
Flight Time 9 Minutes 18 Minutes 15 Minutes

 

But probably the best way to show the difference is to compare two videos taken one year apart.  The video on the bottom was from a year ago with the Phantom. It took two separate 9 minutes flights and was then edited to keep only the best parts.  The video on the top was taken in one shot, no editing and took less than 3 minutes to complete from take off to the fully automatic landing.

In fact this year’s video even made it into the local news, and you can find the full version here.

I’ve learned a huge amount that past year, gained some great friends and had a blast doing this, particularly as my #1 son and daughter were very involved in the build of both machines.

Where do we go from here?  

The drone market is in a phase now where digital cameras were 10 years ago.  Their capabilities are increasing exponentially while prices are plummeting.  Even with how far I have come even the cheapest DJI Phantom 3 would outperform my hex in almost every way and these can now be had starting at under $700.  Just a year ago something with that capability would have cost nearly three times that amount!

For me to build the equivalent of a Phantom 3 Standard would cost around $450 in parts alone, and that is if I use cheap parts sourced from China that would need a lot of time to set up properly.  

Will I still build?  I think the days of building from scratch are over, it just doesn’t make economic sense anymore.  But I will continue to improve the ones I have as a way to learn and experiment.  There’s also talk of teaching kids how to build them as part of a maker space project and that is something I would really enjoy doing.

In the meantime, if you are thinking of getting someone a drone for Christmas, or have one and need questions answered…fire away!

 

 

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Motorcycles I’ve Owned

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December 5, 2015 · 9:35 am

Cars I’ve Owned

I’ve owned quite a few cars (and motorcycles) in my time. Some, like the 911, were incredible machines. Others, like the Marina, were turds. I loved them all!

I’m sure I missed one or two here, and I don’t count cars that belonged to my wife

Click on a picture for a short commentary of each car

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Management F-Laws

Anyone that sees my Goodreads feed will see that I regularly post updates of books that I am reading / have read.

This year I’ve read 20 books so far, and yet one book has been on my “currently reading” list for several years.  This is all the more surprising when you consider that the book in question is only 162 pages of relatively large print.  

Am I that slow a reader?

Well…yes is the answer to that question.  But there’s more to it than that.

mflThe book is called Management F-Laws by Russell Ackoff and is described as “A full collection of more than 80 of Russell Ackoff’s management f-laws: the uncomfortable truths about how organizations really work, what’s wrong with the way we design and manage businesses, what makes managers tick… and how we can make things work better.” and therein lies the problem.

Every time I pick up this book I read just two pages and ideas pop into my head sending me off writing a new blog post, updating some piece of work or just discussing the idea with anyone who happens wander nearby…often my long suffering children.

So, after several years, I’m about half way through the book which, in a very strange way, is the about the best recommendation I can give for it!

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Could Drone Registration Actually Increase Incidents?

 

Tiny hex

Register it?

This week the Department of Transportation announced the formation of a task force to create a drone registration process with registration to begin as soon as the holiday season.

Setting aside my skepticism that any government body can design and implement a robust registration system in just two months, it occurs to me that this registration system might actually increase the number of drone related incidents.

How?

Up to now the legality of drones has been a bit of a fuzzy area with almost no regulations in place that cover this new field. This means that while they are not illegal, they have not really been approved by any official body either.

Under this setup enthusiasts (such as myself) are understandably wary when other people are about. I have literally set up to fly at a wide open space only to pack everything up before getting off the ground because a jogger showed up.

There are also quite a few people that want to buy a drone but have held back convinced that the Government was about to ban them outright.

By providing drone registration the government, at a stroke, legitimizes drones.  A situation similar to what six day-care centers discovered when they accidentally legitimized late pickups of kids by implementing fines.

Once my drones are registered I guarantee I won’t be packing things up when Mrs. Smith shows up to walk her dog.  I’ll still be safe and courteous but I will no longer be invisible, happy in the knowledge that if challenged I can whip out my registration card and show that I’m legit.  

Similarly people that have been waiting to see if drones will be banned will suddenly be given the green light just in time for Christmas.  DJI and 3DR may well be rubbing their hands in glee at the moment.

More people flying  +  less inhibition = more incidents

One would hope that the anticipated increased education that comes with registration would help keep incidents to a minimum but that, of course, assumes the buyers actually read the instructions.

You know what they say about unintended consequences…they are still consequences!

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Filed under Building Multirotors, The Human Condition