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Comment: Re:The 3d printed elephant in the room (Score 2) 52

by plover (#49332311) Attached to: Australian Company Creates Even Faster 3D Printer

If you have a business use for what they can print today, you already have one, and are likely contemplating buying a better one. If you have a personal use for the parts they can print, you probably already own one. And even if you don't have a real use for them, you may have one as a cool toy. But not everyone is going to buy the same toys as you.

Once they get a lot more capable (maybe not Star Trek replicator capable, but substantially better than they are now) then they'll become ubiquitous. Until then, not everyone needs one. I'm thanking you now for being an early adopter, but don't expect me to join you yet.

Comment: Re: The real reason (Score 5, Informative) 52

by plover (#49332271) Attached to: Australian Company Creates Even Faster 3D Printer

The problem is they're too limited. They have to get more capable, not faster, in order to meet my needs. If they can insert circuitry, maybe I can print things that are somewhat more useful. As of right now, I have needed exactly one 3D printed thing (a battery holder for an electronic project, which a friend provided gratis.) But at no point in the last five years have my needs for small plastic things added up to the $300 price of a Simplebot, let alone a printer with better quality, resolution, size, or capabilities.

Maybe you have kids who need thousands of plastic army men. Maybe you are in a business where fabricating prototypes is valuable to you. Great for you, I'm glad you have a use for one. Hopefully you'll help drive volume so the costs come down even further. But as they stand today, they're too expensive for anything I need, and would take up more storage space than I want to waste on a toy.

It has nothing to do with thinking big or small. I'm sorry you can't imagine a scenario different from your own experience.

Comment: Re:Fake road signs... (Score 1) 282

by plover (#49332141) Attached to: Ford's New Car Tech Prevents You From Accidentally Speeding

How much havok will a 10 mph sign cause on the highway?

None at all. Drivers aren't that stupid, and still maintain enough control over their car to react appropriately.

You, however, might be so stupid that you'd slam on your own brakes to 10 MPH just to make another idiotic point, at which point you get rear-ended by an 18-wheeler who is unlucky enough to be following you. Fortunately, there is only one you, so the gene pool will be thinned out to the point where this situation won't repeat.

Comment: Re:Cruise Control 2.0? (Score 1) 282

by plover (#49331883) Attached to: Ford's New Car Tech Prevents You From Accidentally Speeding

The system would be really awesome if could also maintain the proper distance from the car ahead of you.

Ford has had that for years now. It's called 'Adaptive Cruise Control', and uses radar to maintain a preset minimum following distance.

I have it on my 2011 Ford, and while it's nice, it can only be set to following distance, not time. I want to set it for a two second gap, but my choices are 22, 44, or 66 yards. It's too close for high speeds, but too long for low speeds.

Comment: Re:it always amazes me (Score 0) 339

by plover (#49331827) Attached to: Feds Attempt To Censor Parts of a New Book About the Hydrogen Bomb

Devil's Advocate here, but maybe the reason is that all kinds of data is out in public, and some of it is likely flawed. Maybe there's a paper that theorized that you could set a Dewar's flask of liquid hydrogen next to an A-bomb to get an H-bomb. But Dr. Broad is a respected authority, and if he says "we did it this way" without mentioning the Dewar's flask idea, a rogue state would know what not to try.

Remember, these guys get about one shot to get their test explosion right, because in about an hour after a successful test of an H-bomb by anyone the US considers a threat the USAF is going to be raining actual working H-bombs on their entire nuclear program, with a few diverted to cover the presidential palace, the parliament, and essentially every researcher and civilian within a 20-km radius of the aforementioned targets. The US will not tolerate a new state of MAD with a new non-Western-approved government.

Comment: Re:Pointing out the stark, bleeding obvious... (Score 1) 247

by dougmc (#49305445) Attached to: France Decrees New Rooftops Must Be Covered In Plants Or Solar Panels

Batteries aren't really cost effective for storing the amount of energy that we'd need to power the electrical grid from sunset to sunrise.

That said, even if we we ignore the possibility of storing energy or transporting it long distances to handle the moving (east to west) peak sunlight hours ... even if we can can only get half of our energy from the sun, that's still half of our energy that we didn't have to burn fossil fuels for.

We don't need batteries for that to be a false dilemma.

Comment: Re:NOT "network timekeeping", just timekeeping (Score 2) 166

by plover (#49303821) Attached to: Internet of Things Endangered By Inaccurate Network Time, Says NIST

Remember that the bag's Zigbee radio is broadcasting the bag's location constantly in real time, whereas the child's embedded GPS transceiver is using an accelerometer to help predict when the child will zip across the roadway; plus the child's Wi-Fi chip, network path, etc., will all add latency. If that child's GPS receiver has lost signal due to interference, it's going to need to rely on inertial navigation and its own free-running clock to send the predictions of future locations to the car, and those might be out of sync, depending on how long the child has spent in the basement.

Oh, wait. Children aren't having embedded ADS-B chips surgically implanted yet? And random trash bags don't have Zigbee? Hasn't someone been thinking of the children?

Comment: Re:That's all well and good... (Score 1) 112

by plover (#49289243) Attached to: How To Make Moonshots

I heard a great quote from a filmmaker who encouraged his cameramen to take big risks: "If you're going to soar with the eagles, you can't expect to crap like a canary."

They shot mountains of unusable trivial footage, which cost them a ton of cash. But they also produced some spectacular, memorable films, which catapulted them and their clients to huge popular success. He realized that he had to risk his business to succeed, and he won. Not everyone who takes those kinds of risks succeeds, but companies that take no risks generally don't explode with success, either.

Comment: Trackball for the foot (Score 1) 100

by plover (#49259171) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Mouse/Pointer For a Person With Poor Motor Control

As others have said, every person is different in their abilities and limits. And I know nothing about your friend's situation, so I can only tell you about the situation I've worked with.

My aunt was born with cerebral palsy, and she has always had much better control over her feet than her hands. Her solution was to place an ordinary trackball under her desk, (the large kind, not the marble sized one) and she uses her bare foot to control it.

Because it's foot operated and she can't really clean it effectively, it gets dirty much faster than a desktop trackball, and so she ends up replacing it more often than you would a mouse. But overall it's been a pretty cheap investment, and one that works for her.

Comment: Re:APD doesn't have the authority to do this ... (Score 1) 46

by dougmc (#49257459) Attached to: Austin Declared a Drone-Free Zone During SXSW

Turns out I was wrong here -- the ordinance does already exist :

13-1-1 - DEFINITIONS. ...
(6) AIRCRAFT means a device that is used or intended to be used for flight in the air.

(A) This section does not apply to a person properly assigned to operate an aircraft by military authority.
(B) A person may not operate an aircraft in or over the corporate limits of the city unless:
(1)the person has an airman's certificate issued by the Federal Aviation Administration; and
(2)the aircraft the person is operating has received a certificate of air worthiness from the Federal Aviation Administration.
(C)The operator of an aircraft in the corporate limits of the city shall deliver the operator's airman's certificate and the aircraft's certificate of air worthiness to a police officer or airport official on demand.
Source: 2003 Code Section 13-1-4; 1992 Code Section 17-2-4; Ord. 040729-16.

Of course, that ordinance is so vague that it effectively bans all hobbyist R/C airplanes in the city -- including at the two R/C club fields in town -- all the time, not just just during SXSW. It also bans paper airplanes. And kites. And frisbees too. (Letting your bird fly is OK, however, as birds are not devices.)

And it's been this way since at least 2003, though I don't think anybody really thought that it might apply to all of these things until now. Selective enforcement of the laws is rarely a good thing, and now that the cat is out of the bag it'll be interesting to see how this will be selectively enforced after SXSW is over.

Real Users find the one combination of bizarre input values that shuts down the system for days.