[Photograph of Neil Fraser]

Neil Fraser

For the past decade I've been a software engineer at Google in California.  In my spare time I've created a mélange of open-source software.  I've also built some rather unusual hardware.  On rare occasions I've even been known to write something interesting.

Toy Box Saturday, 25 November 2017

Someone threw out some IKEA bed slats. I picked them out of the trash and built a toy box for Beverly.

The box was sized to hold Beverly's wooden building blocks -- the same set I grew up playing with. Their original cardboard box was deteriorating after decades of use, thus necessitating a new box.

What's interesting is that these 39 "tulla building blocks" must be packed in exactly the right configuration to fit in their box. Neither I nor several mathematically-minded friends can determine what this configuration is. There's always an extra piece, along with two or more voids with the volume of the extra piece. The designers (Herrem Woodworkers Ltd, Fort Frances, Ontario, Canada) are no longer available to solve this problem, as their company burned down in 1988. I can't believe that I'm going to have to write a 3D packing algorithm in order to put Bevery's toys away.

Regardless, the box turned out well and only used half the available wood. So I built a second box to house Beverly's growing collection of wooden trains. Sinh helped with the final assembly and finish. As always, I'm thankful to be able to use Google's workshops for personal projects.


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