This is meant to be an answer to: diy.stackexchange.com/questions/27669/how-can-i-thoroughly-blackout-a-bedroom-window-on-a-budget but that question was protected and I can't answer right now because I don't have 10 reputation on the website, so here goes.
This is my first working setup, done in a rental friendly way without drilling. I am sure that it is possible to do it cheaper, better and with less work, but it the first one that worked for me, so I will document it.
Cost: 150 Dollars for a relatively large 130 x 158 cm window. They do not sell for windows much larger than that.
Bought from www.orderblinds.co.uk on June 2019.
My window faces East, and in summer the sun rises at around 5AM here, and I am a bit light sensitive and was getting destroyed.
This setup, together with:
is good enough to allow me to sleep properly, which is priceless.
Figure 1. Total Blackout Cassette Roller Blind With Curtains. Source.
Figure 2. GO Travel sleeping mask. Source.
Demonstration if everything goes exceptionally well:
Video 1. How to fit a Total Blackout Cassette Roller Blind by Order Blinds Online (2016) Source. The actual product name appears to be Bloc Blinds or BlocOut, Order Blinds appears to whitelabel them.
However, not all will necessarily be fun and games as in that YouTube video, especially if you are doing it for the first time, and the main point of this article is to make you aware of that.
The first problem is that you may have to remove existing useless "privacy blinds" from the way, which can mean putting effort into learning how they work and, has a risk of damaging the property. So be smart and get a chair and a second person to help you out!
Next, fitting the side rails is not going to be that easy. The thing has to be tight to block the light, right? Careful not to scratch the bottom sill!
Then you will notice that, like in the video at youtu.be/cTVVe7codw4?t=106, you are expected to screw the side rails to the bottom wood / plastic sill of the window, which is not rental acceptable! So I didn't to that, but together with the black tape that I will mention next, it held well enough.
The top part requires hammering nails as shown on the video: youtu.be/cTVVe7codw4?t=24 but this is generally rental acceptable, and you can fill the holes afterwards.
Once you have the setup in place, it is likely that there will be some light gaps still, because it is basically impossible to make such large objects fit perfectly. This was especially true for the top of the window, but also for the sides, so I just used some black tape
So I added some wide (50mm) Figure 4. "Diall PVC repairing black tape" between the blind and the wall to completely seal off the light.
Figure 3. Total Blackout Cassette Roller Blind Black Tape. Source.
Figure 4. Diall PVC repairing black tape. Source. This tape made things dark and was durable, but note at Section "Removal wall damage review" that it pulled bits of the plaster out with it during removal. I've since learnt about the existence of "painter’s tape"/masking tape, that might have been a better idea to protect the walls when pulling the tape off. It is worth noting that some of the painter's tape do come with a maximum number of days before you can pull them off, presumably after which wall damage becomes a possibility, e.g. Ciro saw one rateed 14 days.
There is still some leakage at the bottom however, which cannot be taped. I mitigated that a bit by putting some black T-shirts on the bottom window sill, and together with the pre-existing rental curtain, it was enough.
Another minor annoyance is that parts of the blind cloth sometimes slip out of the conduit holes in the aluminium side bars. For this reason, I have to always open and close slowly and carefully. But if it does happen, fully opening and closing carefully has solved the problem.
One problem popped up about one year after having bought the blinds in 2019: the blind won't stay still except at the most closed position. Anywhere above it started to slowly go up by itself.
It is not super serious as it covers the two main use cases: full closed and fully open, but it is a bit worrying.
Also, we've had some mold grow on the window, so it is something to look out for, and add some mold spray as it comes up. The fact that the window is dark makes the mold harder to spot.
After removing it:
  • the black tape used pulled out the paint in parts of the wall, and even worse small bits of plaster on some corners
  • the sticky from the blinds bits also pulled out a bit of plaster
Of course, we already knew that minimal plaster work would be needed from the start, since we have to hammer two small nails into the wall. But that level of damage might have been easily dealt with by a non-professional tenant himself. But the level I had was a bit more than I felt I should handle myself.
Figure 1. Total Blackout Cassette Roller Blind wall damage. Source.
The problem with virtually all sleeping masks on the market is that they leave a lot of room near your nose for light to come in.
Ciro Santilli discovered a useful workaround for that: make the mask tighter with a swimming goggles!
Just make the goggles as loose as possible to not put pressure on your eyes, and then strap them over the sleeping mask.
If you are a back sleeper, put the googles forward as normal. If you are a stomach sleeper, put the googles on the back of your head, and the straps over the mask. This way you wont get your head squished by the goggles and the bed.
Once Ciro understood the idea, Googling "swimming googles sleeping mask" led to: mantasleep.uk/ might be a good option.
Another good Google is "sleeping mask blackout".
I also believe in publishing null results, so here goes.
Thick cardboard paper and Gorilla Tape: the intense Sun heat made the cardboard bend, and even the Gorilla tape could not hold it, leading to light leakage. Even worse, it started to smell a bit, and I got afraid that it could catch fire, so don't do this! Maybe I will try coating with aluminium foil next time, but I'm afraid it might stick to the glass. In any case, even if those setups work, your room may be permanently very dark depending on how far the window opens, which can lead to other problems such as mold. Another downside of this method is that the tape is extremely sticky, and especially difficult to remove if it touches the glass, where you can't use metallic items to scrape it off without scratching the glass. I had to get a solvent and use a lot of elbow grease to get rid of it.
I have tried a few sleeping masks, but none of them were enough on their own. There is always some light leakage around the nose, especially as you turn around in the night. And some of them are too hot. I have tried:
I also considered getting one of those "Perfect Fit Blinds" www.blindsdirect.co.uk/perfect-fit-roller-blinds (archive) which fit between the glass and the insulation. This looks like it could work. But I didn't go for it in the end because my window has 3 glass panels, so I would have to get three of those blinds separately.
Off-the-shelf techniques to become a teaching superhero.
Customized website idea at: OurBigBook.com.
Don't set goals for your students.
Ask students what they want to do, and help them achieve that goal.
If they don't know what to do, give suggestions of interesting things they could do.
Once they have a goal, just help them learn everything that is needed to achieve that goal
If they don't have a goal, any attempt to learn is a total and complete waste of time.
This is because the universe of potentially useful things that can be learnt is infinite, and no human can ever learn everything.
The only solution, is to try and learn only what seems necessary to reach your goal, and just try to reach your goal instead.
This approach is called backward design.
Also, setting overly ambitious goals, is a good idea: the side effects of ambitious goals are often the most valuable thing achieved.
"Graduating" and "getting a diploma" are not valid goals, because they are useless. A goal has to be either an amazing specific technological or artistic development.
Grouping by age as done in traditional education as of 2020 is useless.
Rather, we should group students by subject of interest; e.g. natural sciences, social sciences, a sport, etc., just like in any working adult organization!
This way, younger students can actually actively learn from and collaborate with older students about, see notably Jacques Monod's you can learn more from older students than from faculty.
This becomes even more natural when you try to give students must have a flexible choice of what to learn.
This age distinction should be abolished at all stages of the system, not only within K-12, but also across K-12, undergraduate education and postgraduate education.
This idea is part of the ideal that the learning environment should be more like a dojo environment (AKA Peer tutoring), rather than an amorphous checkbox ticking exercise in bureaucracy so that "everyone is educated".
Perhaps, even more importantly, is that we should put much more emphasis on grouping students with other students online, where we can select similar interest amongst the entire population and not just on a per-local-neighbourhood basis.
Tell students to:
  • make suggestions to the course material themselves, since you have used text and published your source.Review their suggestions, and accept the best ones.
  • answer the questions of other students on your online forum. Let them work instead of you.
Praise those that do this very highly, and give them better grades if you have that superpower.
This is part of a larger concept Ciro Santilli holds dear: don't just consume, but also produce.
Whatever you do, even if it is playing video games: if you manage to produce related content that will interest other people, and possibly allow you to get paid, it will much much fun to do that thing.
If you give a course in a classroom, you reach 10 people (the others were sleeping).
If you make a perfect course online, and answer questions online, you reach 10 thousand.
Not doing things online is a waste of time.
You are a highly trained professional, and your time is extremely valuable.
Even if it takes twice as long to create the material than giving course, you are still more efficient by a factor of 500.
It is as if there were 500 little copies of you working full time. It is a superpower.
Give students answers to all questions.
Explain in extreme detail how each result was reached.
Students have the amazing capacity of not looking at answers if they don't want to.
And when they've had enough, then can read answers and understand while the problem is fresh in their minds.
If you don't give answers, no one will be able to use your online material without you being there to hold their hands.
Keep the example/theory ratio high, very, very high.
For natural sciences, add as many reproducible experiment images/videos/descriptions as you can.
By writing in English you reach more people.
Writing in any other language is a waste of time.
The reason is simple: English speakers control a huge proportion of the world's GDP.
English is the de-facto Lingua Franca of the second half of the 20th Century, it is the new lingua franca, the new Latin, and there is no escaping it.
Students who don't know English will never do anything truly useful in science and technology. So it is pointless to teach them anything (besides English itself).
Text materials are generally superior to video because they:
  • are faster to create and edit
  • uses less disk space and network bandwidth
  • is easier to search: Ctrl + F on the browser and off you go. And then grep if you have superpowers.
Only produce video material if:
  • it shows an experiment, physical technique, natural phenomena or location that is of interest. See also: Section "Videos of all key physics experiments"
  • it gives fundamental geometric insight on the subject
  • you are filming a human transmitting their passion about the subject, and the speaker is amazing, and does not speak for too long
Never create videos of people just speaking hardcore content for long amounts of time.
If you have to use videos, make them as short as possible, and index them with a textual table of contents.
Also consider using sequences of images or GIFs instead of videos, since those are cheaper.
Figure 1. Textbooks Y U NO HAVE CTRL-F meme. Source. Same applies to videos.
Search a lot first, and only create your own when you can't find something that suits you.
Someone else has already written everything you can come up with.
And if you do find something useful that you want to modify, propose your modifications to the author: they can also be useful to them and others.
Once you have crated something awesome, you have to advertise it, otherwise no one will ever find it.
This means:
  • whenever you walk into a classroom, give students a link to the material
    Then ask them if they want to talk about anything.
    Then leave the classroom and go produce more good material instead of wasting your time there :-)
  • whenever someone asks as question on an online forum, answer it, and link to the section of your material that also answers that question.
    The material will answer many of their future questions.
  • after you've done something awesome, Google possible relevant keywords that should hit it.
    This will lead you to other websites that talk about the same content.
    Then, leave comments on those pages linking to your stuff, or email the authors of those pages.
    It is borderline spam, but if the subject is closely related, it is a win for everyone.
Eventually, people will find you on the front page of Google searches, and then you will know that you've truly made something useful.
Then, if people find errors, or have questions, they will write a comment near the content itself.
Then, next person that comes along and has the same problem, will also find that comment, and your answer will solve their problems too.
The perfect way to do this is to use GitHub issues
For example, if you write LaTeX files for you PDFs, give both PDFs and the LaTeX.
This allows other people to:
  • modify and reuse your material
  • make improvement suggestions that you can accept by clicking a button
    The perfect way to do this is to use GitHub pull requests
Whenever you make a change to your material, people should still be able to access the previous version.
Maybe there was something in the previous version that they needed, and you just removed.
Git + GitHub is the perfect way to do versioning.
People will be more interested if they see how the stuff they are learning is useful.
Useful 99% of the time means you can make money with it.
Achieving novel results for science, or charitable goals (e.g. creating novel tutorials) are also equaly valid. Note that those also imply you being able to make a living out of something, just that you will be getting donations and not become infinitey rich. and that is fine.
Projects don't need of course to reach the level of novel result. But they must at least aim at moving towards that.
This is one of the greatest challenges of education, since a huge part of the useful information is locked under enterprise or military secrecy, or even open academic incomprehensibility, making it nearly to impossible for the front-line educators to actually find and teach real use cases.
And if you really can't make money from a subject, there is only one other thing people crave: beauty.
This way people have to link back to you, which makes you more famous.
And they can't steal your material without giving anything back.
This is what Wikipedia and Stack Exchange use.
When you do get face to face time with students, don't teach a large group.
Everything you want to teach is already online.
The only goal of meeting students is talking to them individually or in small groups to:
  • understand what they feel
  • transmit your passion for the subject
and letting them do the same amongst themselves.
If you talk to a large group, you will only reach / understand a very small percentage of the group, so your time is wasted.
It is better to deeply understand what 25% of the students feel and adapt the course material, than to talk to everyone at once, and have only 5% understand anything.
There is only one thing that can truly motivate you to make good materials: becoming famous.
Strive for that. Make good materials. Publish them. Get good reviews. Loop.
This generates a virtuous loop, which makes you produce better and better material.
Just make it very clear what you've tried, what you observed, and what you don't understand if anything at all.
This will already open up room for others to come and expand on your attempt, and you are more likely to learn the answers to your questions as they do.
And there's a good chance someone who knows more than you will come along and correct or teach you something new about the subject. For example, this has happened countless times to Ciro Santilli when doing Ciro Santilli's Stack Overflow contributions.
Perfect is the enemy of good.
Examples of famous fails:
The only thing that matters is that students aim towards the goals described at explain how to make money with the lesson.
Any "homework for which the student cannot use existing resources available online" is a waste of time.
Projects don't need of course to reach the level of novel result. But they must at least aim at moving towards that.
The ideal way to go about it is to reach some intermediate milestone, and then document it. You don't have to do the hole thing! Just go until your patience with it runs out. But while you are doing it, go as deep and wide as you possibly can, without mercy.
The thing about projects is that they are illiquid: it is not easy to immediately compare them.
And that is the whole point.
The outcome of that however is that you have to learn how to explain what you've achieved to others and why it is awesome.
Just like in the real world.
You have to create portfolio, and do some public relations.
Like all poor countries, Brazil's lack of money and scientific culture severely limit its ability to make technological and scientific advances.
While this sounds obvious, Ciro Santilli has felt it first hand since he moved from Brazil to Europe, and it is just shocking.
In the city of Santos for example, despite being a dream place from the natural point of view, it would be completely impossible to achieve any deep tech technical advance that impacts the world. In Europe however, there are several several places where this can happen.
This is obviously the most efficient investment any non-English speaking country must do, because you need to know English to be able to learn from rich countries and innovate.
As Ciro has rambled infinitely at Section "University", the school system is hugely inefficient and a waste of time for everyone involved.
Instead, just use Section "OurBigBook.com" instead.
Poor countries don't have a lot of money.
Therefore, you have to pick a few key the next big thing deep tech bets, and invest on those enough.
These have to be few, because your country is poor, and so you can't invest on everything.
Therefore, the bets have to be well selected, because it is useless to make several insufficient investments: you have to pick a few ones, and put enough time and money into each one of them for them to stand any chance. These bets should be made and reevaluated on 5/10 year horizons.
The key things that you have to select are:
  • which poor students you will bet on educating. Since you can't give amazing education to everyone, you have to select the most promising poor students somehow, and give those free amazing learning conditions: free gifted education
  • which ares to focus on. Ciro believes that molecular biology technologies and quantum computing would be good bets. Focusing on the previous next big things, e.g. classic computers, is always a losing bet on average
And then you only tax those companies heavily when the start to bring in real money. These are startups remember! You only need 5 unicorns a year to call it a success. And countries should not be greedy and invest through equity, but rather recoup their investment through taxation alone.
Ciro's second removed uncle, who was a physicist at the University of Campinas, one of the best universities in the country, told him an anecdote. He had moved from fusion energy research to solar cell research. At some point, there was a research lab that needed 10 million to buy a machinery critical for their experiment. They asked and asked, and finally the government gave them only 2 million. So in the end they spent those 2 million in random ways, but of course did not achieve their research goal and no money came out of it.
He also explained how as a result of the insufficient investments, he felt clearly that some of the semiconductor production facilities related to solar power he saw simply were not able to control the production process adequately to produce consistent silicon. As a result, everything failed sooner or later as people found more and more bugs that they did not have the time to solve.
Another key investment is enticing back experienced exchange-students who have learnt new techniques to be heads of laboratory/founders to back in your country.
A fantastic initiative from Brazil for example is BRASA, which aims to put together Brazilian exchange students to make a difference back in Brazil.
Do not try to forbid external companies from selling in your country. Instead, fund your own companies to be able to fight the external market off. And if they can't, let them die and pick a different bet. Video "How Taiwan Created TSMC by Asianometry (2020)" has a good mention. Protectionism is something that Brazil notably tried to do, and look at what it led, not a single international success.
Many of the student exchange programs Ciro witnessed in the 2010's in Brazil were inefficient because they were requiring students to come back immediately after university or PhD in fear that those students will never come back.
This is useless, because you don't learn anything unique during university: the truly valuable knowledge is obtained when you work for several years as a postdoc in a world class research laboratory or as an engineer in a world class company.
Therefore, Brazil should learn from the Chinese exchange system, which lets students go do whatever they want, and once they are Gods of the domain, entices them back with great positions and pay as heads of laboratory back in China. Just don't do fraudulent stuff like this like China did, or else you will get a bad rep.
To help this university collaboration happen, we should create communication channels between exchange students and professors of the origin country who work on the same domain so that they can discuss the subject. For example, once Ciro Santilli wanted to contact some of his former teachers at the University of São Paulo about "advanced" topics he had been exposed to as part of his job. However, they didn't even reply to his email, and Ciro didn't know who else to contact. This must never happen. We need a way to informally contact several professors of a given domain informally, to increase the chances that at least one might be interested. It is pointless to just let students loose abroad and hope that they will bring things back to their home country: a more cohesive infrastructure is needed to nurture that.
There is basically one sane way to achieve these goals: the exchange programs must be organized at a national level, not in an ad-hoc per-university manner.
Another good idea is to have taxes that depend on your nationality alone and which only start collecting when you reach a very high amount of net worth. So e.g. if someone leaves the country and makes it big, then and only then does the Government starts clawing back the benefits of its investments in the person. Furthermore, such taxes could be reduced if the person brings some of the business back to the country. And mandatory taxes should be charged if the person decides to drop their nationality at some point.
The above points would also be greatly eased by having a national-level exchange program. E.g. in Brazil in the 2010's which Ciro experience, every university had different terms and conditions, which made everything a mess. Exchange programs must be treated as a unified federal policy.
Ciro actually had to return for just six months from the École Polytechnique to the University of São Paulo, to finish a course he had only done the generic Maths/Physics introduction to. Students from other Brazilian universities were forced to return for up to 3 years even to get their Brazilian diplomas! Ciro was lucky that his teachers understood the situation, and allowed him to develop online learning projects instead of his supposed control engineering projects, which hopefully will have led to changing the world with motivation one day. And for this, Ciro is eternally thankful.
This shows the complete and total lack of any Brazilian strategy to send its students abroad to really learn valuable things and then come back. There is no strategy at all. Things have just reached an equilibrium point of bureaucracies, Brazilian universities trying to bring students back to validate useless diploma pieces of paper, and foreign universities no caring about that, and just wanting the students to say abroad forever.
Ciro was once talking about why so few Brazilians go study abroad compared to the Chinese. Besides the likely true "there are a lot of Chinese" argument, his wife made another: good point Brazil is not so bad to live in, because you have good food and freedom, while China only has good food.
But Ciro still fells bad that so few of his University of São Paulo colleagues, who learnt automation and control engineering, are doing deep tech. Nor physical engineering. They have all basically become computer people like Ciro.
This is not their fault. They basically don't have a choice: all physical science and technology is done in rich countries.
Yes, someone has to implement the newest tech to improve local country efficiency in projects that will never spread abroad.
But who will be left then for the next big thing problems that would really make Brazil richer? 6 out of 30 person class ended up working on a gaming company at one point, even though they were not crazy passionate about the field! What could possibly be a worst investment for society?
This lack of technological innovation can also be clearly seen when you research investment options available in Brazil. Huge emphasis is put on fixed return financial products (often inflation adjusted) linked to base non-tech business such as housing market and agriculture. And when you look to the returns of the stock market on s&P 500-analogue backed exchange-traded funds, they do not seem obviously better, especially considering inflation and taxation benefits that exist for some of the other investment possibilities.
When the companies of a country are not clearly the best investment, you know that something is wrong. They are highly specialized money making machines, remember! And housing and agriculture are not such innovative markets where people can hugely influence efficiency.
When it is best to send students is a good question. Undergrad studies could be easily reproduced in poor countries if they had any intelligence at all, since even in rich countries laboratory usage is always limited. Masters and PhD are generally more valuable moments to send people out. The question is if the students will actually have a fighting chance without having been out, in particular in terms of language skills. Ciro feels that Masters are a good focus point for entry, as that is where PhD links are more actively done.
In 2020 Brazil for example, you are not allowed in theory to obtain a double nationality which you were not allowed to have as a birth right.
This means that Brazilian students e.g. in France, many of whom could easily obtain the French citizenship had to either chose between:
  • giving up their Brazilian citizenship. Who the fuck would do that? Brazilians love their country despite all!
  • not getting French citizenship. This meant in France having to come 6 AM once a year to some police station on some suburbia to stamp a piece of paper, plus having your VISA completely dependant on your employer for several years until you could obtain a permanent VISA, making it very hard to change jobs, and putting you in a constantly precarious position
  • keeping both citizenships, ignoring Brazilian law, which is extremely unlikely to sue you anyways for this bullshit law, and just hope for the best
Can you guess which option Brazilian students would usually pick?
As a poor country, you have to allow people to obtain multiple citizenship. Students are not going to go back because they don't have the foreign citizenship. They are just going to have to ensure shittier jobs for a few years, thus diminishing the chances that they will actually lean anything useful to bring back to your country later on.
Video 1. Being valued as a lab technician interview with Norman Greenwood by Web of Stories (2017) Source.
Ciro Santilli often sees all those genius who are much smarter than him making shitty forum/mailing list posts, they need to learn this:
  • The apparently most important one liner error message must appear in the title, and fuller apparently relevant logs must appear on the body
  • You must always give the version of the software that you are using as either a tag or git SHA
    These are an important part of the minimal working example.
  • For build errors, you must give your OS and compiler version and version of any relevant external library
Future self, answer these.
10 years:
  • 2017-2027: did self-driving cars become big?
  • 2017-2027: did virtual reality become big?
20 years
  • 2018-2038: are companies offering free full genome decoding just to get your genomic data and sell it to pharma companies?
    Someone like Ciro then creates an open source genomic database funded by health organizations that publishes genomes + phenotypes anonymously. Genome to phenotype analytics go crazy big.
40 years:

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