Self-Directed System Analysis: Sand Toy


The elements of this system come together in a way that is simple and elegant, which is part of the reason I like it so much. Many of the systems we have looked at have been complex or in some way important, but this one uses few parts to bring entertainment through a method that, when you think about it, is really the basis for many of the new media forms of entertainment today. The box holds the whole system together and gives it a space to exist in. You have the acrobat and the wires he is attached to, which in turn are attached to the wheel in the back of the contraption. Finally, in the back you have the sand which is, at resting position, on the bottom of the box, the chute that guides the sand to the hopper above the wheel, and the hopper itself.


The interconnections of this system, while simple, again reflect the elegance of the system as a whole. The chain of interactions is not only simple, but streamlined to make the user experience require as little work as possible in order to maintain the fun that comes along with the nature of playing with a toy. The following illustrates the chain of events that causes the system to operate.

Self-Driven System sand toy.png


The control or feedback of this system is completely reliant on the user, and whether or not they feel like converting their physical energy into the potential energy of the sand in the hopper. The system is not self-sufficient, it will cease functioning when all of the sand has fallen into the hopper, and the control mechanism is the realization that the acrobat is no longer flipping, eliciting the action of reloading the toy.


Again, I love this system because it has one function, and it serves it so gracefully. The object of the system is to entertain the user, and the coolest thing about it is that the entertainment doesn’t just come from the acrobat at the front doing his flip over and over, it also comes from the system itself. Observing how sand and a wheel in a paper box can cause something like this to occur, and watching the process in action to see how it works is entertaining in and of itself. It is like those crazy gumball track machines, where you don’t really care about getting the gumball, but watching it fly and spin its way through the track is extremely entertaining.


Industrial System Analysis: Oreo Cookies


There are many elements in this system; perhaps more than in any other system I have analyzed so far. I think this is because of the linear, process oriented assembly line nature of the system. First off, you have all of the ingredients of the cookie — sugar, cocoa, salt, canola oil, dry ice, extra ingredients, flour, and the creme and everything that goes into the creme. Additionally, there are all the numerous machine elements to the system. Major ones include the giant mixer to make the batter, the various conveyors throughout the process, the molding roller, the oven, the fans, the shoots and ramps, the creme pump, the mechanical separators and grippers, and the heated roller to seal the packaging. Finally, there are the human worker components that assist and interact with various parts of the system with irregularity in order to keep the machine components running smoothly and properly.


As I said when discussing the elements of the system, this system is a very linear one. The interconnections, as a result, are very one directional and uninteractive. Everything moves one way, down the production line, from unrefined ingredients to completed cookies, as shown in the flowchart below.

Industrial System


This system is interesting in that it has very little control and feedback built into it. What control and feedback it does have comes from the workers surrounding it. They initiate the process, and observe and make changes if anything were to go wrong, but other than that, there is no process in the machine to consider restarting or monitor itself and its processes.


The function and purpose of the system is also quite simple: to make cookies, and more than that, to make them quickly, and with consistency. Mass producing an edible commodity such as these cookies places a high value on consistency, they want to make sure that their customers know what they are getting every time they buy so that they trust in the product and buy more consistently as well. This process is more efficient and effective at accomplishing those goals than any human-based system could ever hope to be.

Control System Analysis: For Loop


The elements of the for loop are fairly simple. They include the loops themselves, in this case both the internal and the external, the variables for each, the condition for each, the increment for each, the activity within the internal loop, and the activity that initiates when the external loop finally finishes its run. Here is the for loop I created that this analysis is based on:

for(int i = 0; i < 5; i++) {
for(int z = 0; z < 5; z++){ System.out.println(“Going…”);
System.out.println(“We made it!”);


The interconnections within this system are very linear, mostly because they are designed to operate that way, especially in such a simple nested for loop. Here is the process illustrated in the form of a flow chart:

For loop control system

Control Feedback

What makes this system qualify as a control system is the individual “check” statements within each for loop. These statements (i < 5 and z < 5) act as sensors to make sure that the loops go off a certain number of times. If, somehow with extra code, i or z was lessened at some point, the system would recognize that the variable had not yet surpassed the condition, and would keep running until it measured that the loop had sufficiently met its end condition. If you were to read out the for loop statements in a comprehensible way, they would read out something like “start a number i at 0, as long as i is less than 5, do whatever is in the loop, and every time you do this, increase i by one.” This way, the number of times a loop runs can be set by a number or possibly determined by a separate variable, enabling this sensor like measuring to determine the number of times a loop goes off.


The beautiful thing about this type of control system is that its function or purpose is whatever the programmer designed the function or purpose to be. With nested for loops checking for 60 and incrementing up to 12 on the inside, you would effectively create the same type of loop that drives a clock, the possibilities are truly endless.

Ecological/Environmental System


The elements of this system are the bees themselves — the Queen, the Male Drones, the Female Workers (in their two categories of Worker and House bee), and on a smaller level, the larvae and dead bees.


The interconnections, in the form of each bee, some of its duties, and how those duties interact with and affect the other bees, are shown in this diagram.Ecological system beehive.png

Most of the duties for the hive fall on the female worker bees in some form, and almost anything they do has an impact on the rest of the bees in the hive, and the hive itself.


The control/feedback mechanism for the hive has to function on the hive itself as a meta element for the system. I would argue that the most prominent one would be the “health” of the hive as a whole, if it is doing well, the same things will keep occurring, if it is struggling, some changes will occur, such as a new queen.


The purpose of the entire system is to keep the hive healthy. In order to operate and sustain all of the bees, the hive must be able to sustain itself. If any part of this system or interaction between the roles of different bees is not working or is out of balance, the hive won’t be able to produce enough honey to keep itself running.

Information from:

Sociological System Survey: Dorm Floor


The elements of the Sociological system of a dorm floor are much like a Matryoshka doll in nature. From smallest to largest, we have individual students in their rooms, rooms with more than one student within a suite, suites within the floor, and the floor as a whole.


The interconnections within this system are irregular and unpredictable in some aspects, yet there are some that are predictable. The following diagram illustrates this point. Many aspects of the student’s individual paths are predictable and consistent on a day to day basis — they likely travel to their closets, their bathroom, and the elevators every day. The other paths may be someone less regular, but still somewhat predictable. Over several days, you may notice that particular students travel to the same room at similar times, but not necessarily every night. Patterns and links form between certain students and certain rooms. Students in other rooms interact with each other, following similar paths. Roommates may travel together to another student’s room or to the elevator. A student may leave their room to stop by one room, then travel with the student from that room to a third room, when finally the trio together goes to the elevator. There could be a week where the connection and regularity of two students’ patterns are very strong because they are working together, but then after the project is done the connection ceases to exist; or maybe it doesn’t. Maybe the connection persists because a friendship has formed. On the other hand, maybe a connection that was really strong suddenly fades completely, the result of some feud causing a break in a friendship. The sheer number of different combinations that could be seen and analyzed in a system like this are immense, and the contextual conclusions that can be drawn from these connections can potentially be of great depth.

Sociological System DiagramControl/feedback

This system is interesting in that it operates less like a mechanical system than ones we have looked at in class. It is a very fluid, flexible system that can change on a whim or be extremely concrete for long periods of time. If I were to look at control mechanisms within the system itself, I would say they would mostly be social factors. Short term factors such as sickness or absence could effect the system, but most of the meaningful changes will be ones that are due to shifts in the social structure and relationships between students. Additionally, considering that this specific system is a college dorm, an important external factor to recognize would be class schedules and other commitments. These would almost certainly play a huge role in determining when students are entering or leaving the building.


This system does not have a specific purpose or reason for existing as much as it exists as a byproduct of the social institution that is a collegiate university. It exists because many people of roughly the same age and similar demographics have been placed into close living quarters. They interact both within the dorms, in classes, on campus, and elsewhere. All of this culminates in a complex system that functions more as an ecological environment than a machine built to serve a function or a purpose.

Sweet-Blood Bag Up Goer Five

The way the body controls how much sweet-blood it has is hard to understand. There are many parts to the way it works. It all happens in the body. The pieces that work together start with the part that looks at how much sweet blood you have. If there is too much or too little sweet-blood in your body, this part will send two different kinds of wet stuff to your soft sweet-blood bag. If there was too little sweet-blood, your soft sweet-blood bag will tell your blood cleaner bag to make more sweet-blood, making it so you have enough sweet-blood in your body. If you had too much sweet-blood, your soft sweet-blood bag tells your body power storing cells to eat some of your sweet-blood so that there is less. In the end, your body can make sure that you have exactly enough sweet-blood to stay living.

Biological System Survey Flow Chart (1000 most used words version)body image actual final

Biological System Survey: Blood Sugar Regulation


The system by which the body regulates its own levels of blood sugar can be pretty complex and involves many different elements. The first element would be the body itself, containing all of the other elements in the system. Below this are the main parts of the body that take part in the system, in my view these break down into the Pancreas, the Liver, Fat Cells, our Veins and the Bloodstream, and the parts of the Endocrine System as a whole. Additionally, on the Pancreas exist two type of cells which serve as gauges for blood sugar levels Alpha cells which release Glucagon, and Beta Cells which release Insulin, Glucagon and Insulin themselves also being elements of the system. Finally, there are the hormones Alpha 2 and Beta 2, Alpha 2 functioning to decrease Insulin secretion from beta cells and increase Glucagon from Alpha cells, and Beta 2 working in the inverse, increasing secretion of Glucagon from Alpha cells and increasing secretion of Insulin from Beta cells.


This system functions in a negative feedback loop as shown in the diagram below:Biological System Survey Flow Chart



Additionally, this GIF by Helloportobello is helpful for illustrating the Negative Feedback Loop in action.


(By Helloportobello – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

The Endocrine system functions as the control valve in this system, monitoring blood sugar levels and secreting Alpha 2 and Beta 2 as necessary to trigger the Pancreas into its regulatory function. When blood sugar homeostasis has been once again achieved, the endocrine system continues to monitor the levels constantly, ready to adjust to any change that may occur.


The function and purpose of this system is quite simple — the body cannot function if it does not have blood sugar levels within the appropriate zone. For most people, this is within 100-140 mg/dL around the time they are going to bed. The reason this system is so important is because of the regularity with which our blood sugar levels can fluctuate through daily activities such as sleep, exercise, and eating.


Final Twitter Wrap-up

A lot has happened this quarter…

The election coverage and subsequent shocking results have made for a tumultuous and rather upsetting quarter in terms of political news. Because of this, I decided to focus on articles that interested me personally for my class tweets. Most of my coverage was focused on two sections of information, Elon Musk’s ventures with SpaceX and Tesla, and general tech articles that interest me.

Tesla updates

Solar has been a key focus of the Musk companies recently, specifically with Tesla and SolarCity. Over the course of one week, Musk announced new technology for powering homes with solar panels that look like normal ceiling tiles, and a home battery that is able to store the excess solar energy generated during the day. On top of all this, the system is relatively affordable and could soon revolutionize clean home energy.

Musk also mentioned the application of this solar technology for Tesla vehicles. Not only could integrating these types of panels into the body of Tesla vehicles help with extending the cars’ range with continuous solar charging, but the panels could be put to other usage as well. For example, Musk mentioned the possibility of having windshields made of the solar panels that would be able to use the head to defrost and melt snow and ice in the winter while simultaneously creating a net positive charge from the process.

It seems that even by sticking o topics that interest me, I couldn’t avoid the fallout of the election. Trump is currently doling out leading governmental positions in preparation for the upcoming presidential transition. Unfortunately, much of his leading appointments with regards to environmental regulation are a part of the small minority who think that the effects of global climate change are exaggerated or even fabricated. This new cabinet agenda could pose issues for Musk and the progress he is making on multiple fronts, but hopefully the  progress he has initiated will not be hampered by the results of this election.

General Tech News

For nearly a decade Apple has been at the forefront of innovation when it comes to personal technology, but it seems that their latest innovations are not being taken well in the public sphere. A few months ago, the announcement of the removal of the headphone jack in the iPhone 7 was met with mixed appeal, and it seems that they could be facing more of the same issues with the reveal of certain features on the new Mac.

Speaking of Apple, their Macs have been the top choice for creative professionals for years. Following the iPad, Microsoft introduced the Surface tablet as an alternative for creative professionals on the go, and they just brought that technology to a whole new level.

For my Intro to Marketing class, I was a part of a group project that analyzed Netflix’s prospects for expanding their European market. This article was both interesting, and key to understanding how we should recommend the use of Original Content.

Twitter roundup 3

Something smells like a joint…

Current methods of cartilage repair are, well, lacking. As the article states, there is no “gold-standard” in joint cartilage repair. My freshman year of high-school, I experienced an injury that ended my soccer playing career that involved damaging the cartilage on the end of my femur. Two surgeries later and still no luck, I am constantly monitoring the progress in this type of medical surgery to see what my future holds, @CNN reports on Swiss surgeons who may just be on to the start of some real progress.

Just in time for the election

The omnipresent media is playing an increasingly powerful role in informing and socialization in today’s society. Because of their increasing prevalence, it is important to remain skeptical of the information we read online, to always realize that not everything you read on the internet is true. This new extension from Google (who is all over the place, including airlines, thanks @jrobbs12) is a huge step towards filtering out biased and misinformation for online readers.

So the developments continue

@elonmusk (and his rocket, ZING)  is on fire recently. The development of self-driving vehicle technology has entered a state of extremely rapid development over the last few months. Many of the articles I have tweeted about have been regarding self-driving technology and it’s rapid development both technologically and in the public eye. Now it seems that, at least for Tesla, self-driving features have become the new standard.

Take everything you know, and throw it out the window

Quantum theory states that everything exists simultaneously in all of its possible permutations until it is observed/measured. There are two theories as to what exactly happens when this observation occurs. The Copenhagen theory says that one possibility is chosen and all others crumble and fade into nonexistence, while the Multiple Worlds Theory posits that a new universe is created for each of the possibilities. If the MWT is true, it holds some interesting, if disturbing, implications for life as we know it. Thanks @wilkes_queen for being a fellow science nerd tweeting about black holes.

Twitter Round Up #2

What made it go boom?

Following the explosion of a SpaceX rocket early last month, the company launched an investigation to discover why and how the rocket malfunctioned.

During the investigation, an anomaly was spotted on a nearby rooftop. The building in question belonged to the United Launch Alliance. When SpaceX went to try and investigate the rooftop, they were denied access by ULA employees, who instead called investigators from the air force who found no evidence connecting the rooftop to the rocket explosion.

Regardless of whether or not ULA actually was involved in the explosion of the SpaceX rocket, the media attention surrounding the investigation and implication of sabotage seems to be positive for SpaceX, giving just the shred of possibility that the explosion was not SpaceX’s fault.

Google has been up to a lot lately…

The good

For a decade, Google Translate has been helping non-speakers, curious amateur linguist and struggling college students to change words and phrases from one language into another. GNMT or Google Neural Machine Translation is Google’s next step for machine based translation algorithms.

They say that while the current algorithm translates by breaking sentences down into singular words and small phrases before piecing them back together, GNMT functions on a higher level, translating entire sentences at a time.

The bad

Google has also been facing a decent amount of negative press lately.

A judge has just approved turning an ongoing age discrimination suit into a collective action suit, allowing other people over the age of 40 who have interviewed for a position at google and were told that they did not get the job after August 28th, 2014 to join in on the suit.

While google has extensive anti-discrimination policies in place, it appears that there is actually a decent amount of evidence pointing to the possibility that this discrimination is actually taking place. Apparently, the median age of programmers at google is 29, while the median age of programmers in the US is almost 43.

The… pixel?

While the Pixel is not Google’s first effort at breaking in to the smartphone market, it is their first time marketing to smartphone users as a whole. Nexus phones and tablets were marketed to a much smaller market segment.

Along with the ability to tap into the wireless network of Project Fi, another of Google’s many projects, Google also claims that their new smartphone has the best camera available in a smartphone currently on the market.

Whether or not these features, and the network pricing of Project Fi, will be appealing to the public, remains to be seen.