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Comment: Re:Change Jobs (Score 1) 224

That is IMHO a much more realistic view. Conflating management with technical leadership is a sure path to bad things happening. Certainly some people can do both, but for any given project at any given time, everyone should know what their current role is.

To answer the original question, I think you can sum up the cause of a lot of programmer fatigue very easily: they got into programming out of a desire to create things, and they found themselves surrounded by a (bad) organisational culture where they instead spend their work time doing anything but create things.

It's not the need for a degree of administration and management that is the problem. Most programmers understand this, and will happily go along with it when it's helpful for the project as a whole. Nor is it the need to create something that serves the needs of the project, even if that isn't the most fun job to do right now. Again, I think most programmers understand that if you're working as a professional then you're being hired to make something that is useful/valuable for someone else, and as long as what they're making is in that category it can be satisfying.

But most programmers are also acutely sensitive to overheads that are unhelpful and requirements that are unnecessary -- not that they really need to be if they're at the kind of shop where those overheads take up most of their time. Geeks will rapidly lose enthusiasm in the face of uninspiring leadership, lack of project progress, and generally incompetent management, and often I suspect it really is as simple as that.

Comment: Re:Don't Miss The Point (Score 2) 103

by Rei (#47946717) Attached to: Dremel Releases 3D Printer

Services like that exist online, and they're excellent, albeit rather slow. I personally use iMaterialize because they have such a wide range of material options (everything from rubber to titanium) and finishes (for example, 4 different options for silver), but there's lots of others out there, and some are cheaper.

If you've ever played around with 3d modelling, I definitely recommend giving 3d printing a try, even if just a little test piece. :) Note that plastics are a lot cheaper than metals, although metals look the coolest.

Comment: Re:Novelty (Score 1) 103

by Rei (#47946611) Attached to: Dremel Releases 3D Printer

What sort of 3d prints are you looking at?

Perhaps my expectations of 3d printers are too high because I buy from professional 3d printing services rather than using a low-end home 3d printer. They use high end products and sometimes do post-printing finishing work. But the quality of the stuff you can get is truly excellent, and out of a very wide range of materials.

Comment: Re:This is so 2012. (Score 1) 103

by Rei (#47946585) Attached to: Dremel Releases 3D Printer

Isn't that now the limiting factor?

So we have 3d printers in stores. Now we need all of the home devices that could potentially need spare parts printed to be available online, preferably in a unified database. You need manufacturer buy-in. Maybe some sort of certification mark that manufacturers can stick on their devices to show that printable replacement part models are freely available. I could use a new cheese compartment door in my fridge right now, for example. And I live in Iceland where shipping times are long and shipping costs / import duties high, so it'd make time and economic sense to print, too. But while having a 3d printer would be great, if the model isn't available, how does that help me?

Of course some companies, like iRobot, rely on profiting off of selling their spare parts.

Comment: Re:Wrong type of machine for Dremel (Score 1) 103

by Rei (#47946453) Attached to: Dremel Releases 3D Printer

It does seem rather weird to treat it as an intractable problem. Are we really talking about something that's AI-Complete here, like natural language understanding? Something not succeptible to a combination of chained rules, physics calculations, and statistical analysis? I seriously doubt it. So different machines can act differently due to wear, etc? Gee, people have never written programs to deal with that before, heavens no. So some things may require a decision from the operator, like whether to restart a defective piece or try to salvage it? Gee, I've never heard of a program asking the user a question during operation before! A piece of "printing" hardware experiencing a jam of some kind and needing manual intervention? Gee, nobody has ever experienced that one before!

I'm not saying that CNC machines and 3d printers are equivalent and that you can just swap a CNC machine in to the sort of role 3d printers are intended for. Of course the task of gouging out steel with power tools is a more intensive one than writing out plastic in layers with a slightly more advanced version of a hot glue gun. But we're not talking about creating superintelligent cyborgs here, we're talking about analyzing physical processes, including their various failure modes, and when a decision or action is required, presenting the user with the information needed to do that.

Comment: Re:This is so 2012. (Score 1) 103

by Rei (#47944167) Attached to: Dremel Releases 3D Printer

Oh, and in #2, sound insulation would also be very important, both for the compressor (if compressed air is used, rather than bottled oxygen) and for the jet itself (which is basically like a tiny rocket engine). And I guess the filter isn't just about removing any incomplete combustion products from the exhaust, but also any dust or the like.

Even if it ultimately isn't suited for, say, a quiet home office, 3d printing isn't really an home office task, we're more talking about a "garage workshop" sort of thing. I'm just curious whether anyone has pursued such an approach, because at a glance it sure looks to have potential for making a very broadly capable product. I mean, such a system should even be capable of printing electronics, including resistors, capacitors, etc, maybe even some types of batteries (not anything requiring extreme precision, like a CPU, and li-ion batteries would be right out due to the thin, sensitive and rather complex membrane needed, there's no way you could just deposit that, but still..).

Comment: Re:This is so 2012. (Score 1) 103

by Rei (#47944031) Attached to: Dremel Releases 3D Printer

There's two types of processes that I'm surprised I've not seen more focus on.

1) Printing of, and then filling of molds, which can then be melted down and reused. That's how the higher-end 3d printed parts that you can buy online made, including almost all 3d-printed metal parts you get from online 3d printing services (the extra steps for metal being to coat the mold in a ceramic shell and melt away the mold). The only commercial 3d-printed metal that I'm aware of that doesn't work in this manner is iMaterialize's titanium, which uses laser sintering - and it has an out-of-this-world price tag.

It seems to me that if you used a mold, while in several ways it complicates the process (extra steps, preventing adherence to the molded object, etc), in others, it simplifies it. Your print heads don't need to handle a variety of materials or produce a pretty or durable product. They still need to be able to produce fine surface details but the ability to print thin structures loses importance. Once you've got a mold, you open up the floodgates to the sort of products you can fill it with, anything that will harden either through cooling or via chemical reaction, anything from thermoset plastics to candy.

(note I'm not envisioning a little hobby home printer that fills molds with molten metal in your office, mind you... although I could envision a more garage-scale or small industrial scale version that could handle such a task)

2) I've never even heard of a 3d printer being based on thermal spraying. With thermal spraying, you can choose the balance of precision vs. flow rate via nozzle size. Your materials are virtually unlimited, pretty much anything you can turn into a powder. It could conceivably even let you work with metals in a home environment, if the rate was kept low enough that heat buildup wouldn't be a problem (and you'd want an air filter on the exhaust, even though it should be pretty clean). You can choose the temperature and velocity you're spraying at by varying the pressures of compressed air and combustible fuel fed into the chamber with the powder, so you can work both with heat-sensitive and heat-requisite materials, as well as materials that can't stand high velocity impacts and materials that require them. Such a system could likewise do more than just print - it could add and then sectively remove substrates, it could engrave, it could change surface textures by sandblasting/polishing with various materials, it could paint or apply high-performance coatings - pretty much anything you can envision from a device whose fundamental workings are "shoot grains of material of your choosing at a velocity of your choosing (1-1000+m/s) and temperature of your choosing (cold to thousands of degrees)".

In both cases #1 and #2, I'm genuinely curious as to why there's not been more work done with them. Or perhaps there has been work done with them that I'm unaware of? I'm asking as someone who makes and buys 3d printed items online but has never printed one herself.

Comment: Re:So everything is protected by a 4 digit passcod (Score 1) 494

by Anonymous Brave Guy (#47940045) Attached to: Apple Will No Longer Unlock Most iPhones, iPads For Police

If they want it to be admissible in court, then it doesn't work so well.

The trouble with that argument is that it relies on legal rather than technical barriers, and the same guys who want to get you (generic "you") are the ones making the laws.

For example, right now in the UK, the law is effectively that you can be required to provide either decrypted data or the encryption keys to various authorities, and if you don't then that is in itself an offence that can in theory get you two years in jail. Naturally this is controversial, because like many laws relating to privacy and surveillance there clearly are real dangers that the law could help to protect against but there are also real civil liberties concerns.

Regardless of the ethics of the situation, right now that is what the law in my country says. They don't need a £5 wrench, and they don't need evidence gained using that wrench to be admissible in court. All they need, essentially, is suspicion and your silence.

Comment: Symmetric gameplay is all we get now (Score 1) 291

by Anonymous Brave Guy (#47916435) Attached to: The Growing Illusion of Single Player Gaming

I find many games where the AI is just too dumb for it to be fun. Overall, it's not smart, and it works for a casual player, but for hardcore games, it's just too dumb.

I agree. The thing is, I'm not a 19 year old student any more. I don't want to be a hardcore gamer today. I don't have time to learn FPS maps well enough to navigate them with my eyes closed and still lob a grenade/rocket everywhere the respawn/power-up/camper is likely to be. I can't sustain multiple keyboard/mouse actions per second over a half-hour RTS game. I have no interest in playing against an arena where 1 in 3 opponents is a bot that never misses, nor installing so much mandatory crapware to prevent this on my computer that something outside the game breaks.

For symmetric competitive games, things like arena-based FPS or RTS genres, the "single player" has been going up against bots on PCs since at least the days of Quake 3 Arena, which was around the turn of the century. The big RTSes of that era often had some sort of contrived plot and a series of preplanned missions, but the replay value as a single player was all in open gaming against bots. In each case, playing against real people on-line was always the natural successor; this is not a new thing.

But there used to be asymmetric games as well, where the storyline and gameworld made for a much more compelling experience that could feel more like being in an interactive movie than playing round 17 of laser tag. Classics like the Baldur's Gate series or the original Deus Ex come immediately to mind. They avoided the boredom of facing what you called "pattern AIs" by having actual progression through the game, so the situations and capabilities you'd face would be changing. You can't really do this in a multiplayer gameworld when everyone wants to start with everything and the game only ships with 2 maps. (*97 more maps are available as DLC. Payment required.)

AIs have improved since those days anyway, but the biggest problem for single-player gaming is that the industry has so completely given up on games that require actual progression and development that fighting AIs on the same handful of maps is all the replay value they've got.

Comment: Re:Well now. (Score 1) 102

The argument about committing crime being outlawed would be more convincing if basic copyright infringement were treated as a crime and was actually investigated and punished in some proportionate way by the authorities when it occurs. The reality is that copyright is in most cases a civil matter, which means that while the cumulative damage to a genuine victim can be significant, they are essentially responsible for their own protection, without any police or public prosecutors to help them the way a victim of say theft or fraud would have. And the costs of bringing an action to recover losses are disproportionate in most cases, because copyright infringement kills with a thousand cuts.

Also, we're talking about the EU. Everything your wrote about fair use doesn't apply here. We tend to have more specific exemptions to copyright in our national laws in Europe, often including certain special privileges for libraries because of their unique public service role, and that is the matter at hand.

Comment: Re:Well now. (Score 2) 102

The thing is, as many a Slashdotter has pointed out, you can't accomplish the same thing virtually. If you let people download material from a library then there are only two realistic options. One is that you provide the material with huge amounts of DRM and interfere with readers' own systems in dubious ways. The other is that you create a blatant avenue for copyright infringement and inherently give it special legal blessing that is intended to protect the public resource of a library for entirely different reasons. It is highly unlikely that libraries would support the former, and there is no way the latter was going to fly legally.

Comment: Re:When can we stop selling party balloons (Score 1) 296

by Rei (#47883153) Attached to: WD Announces 8TB, 10TB Helium Hard Drives

Helium exists in the atmosphere not because of the helium reserve, but because the planet constantly outgasses it. It's a product of the radioactive decay chains within the planet.

And if it costs $7 a liter, you better believe people will consume it a *lot* slower. Mainly recapture, but also less frivolous usage.

Real Users never know what they want, but they always know when your program doesn't deliver it.

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