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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: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.

Comment: Re:RT.com? (Score 1) 534

by Rei (#47880779) Attached to: Cuba Calculates Cost of 54yr US Embargo At $1.1 Trillion

It's an important difference.

Fox News is a right-wing punditry operation. They spin everything that happens in a light that promotes the viewpoints of US right-wing policy. If right-wingers are in power, they spin to the government's favor, and otherwise spin against the government.

RT is a literal government propaganda outlet. They have a story of what they want to tell people happened (regardless of whether it did or not), and tell people that it happened, to the point of routinely hiring actors as interview subjects. (side note: the Russia media really needs to get a larger acting pool, though... it's funny but sad when the same actor claims to be several different people for different stations in the same week).

If you see something inflamatory claimed on Fox, it's almost certainly spun. Possibly outright false, but unlikely - generally just highly spun. If you see something inflammatory claimed on RT, it's almost certainly false. Possibly just heavily spun, but generally willfully outright false.

Example: Fox News will pick random true stories from around the country, overplay them, and tell you that there's a War on Christmas. RT will hire a woman to play a refugee from Slavyansk to weepingly tell you that the Ukranian army is crucifying children in the town square to torture their mothers before killing them.

Comment: Re:RT.com? (Score 1) 534

by Rei (#47880593) Attached to: Cuba Calculates Cost of 54yr US Embargo At $1.1 Trillion

Well, I have to say, I've noticed something about Russia, and also about most (but not all) of the other former USSR states: the exact same sort of thing has kept happening under capitalism. Things like injecting a mother of a dead soldier with a tranquilizer on-camera when she spoke up during a press conference on the Kursk disaster, assassinating dissidents with polonium, arresting and outright assassinating journalists, sham trials to sieze assets either for the state or for Putin allies, heavy media censorship and the requirement for all major blogs to register as media outlets, elections so rigged that Chechnya went 99.59% for "The Butcher of Grozny", and on and on. It's no different today.

So, basically, the presence of these things says nothing about communism; it says that Russia has a history of strongmen leaders who confiscate peoples' belongings, outlaw dissent, condemn people without fair trials, and so forth. And when you look at these third world communist states, you usually find that their third world capitalist brethren rarely behave any better.

I think that communism, at least in its pure form, is terrible as economic policy. But one can easily run the risk of over-conflating.

Comment: Re:When can we stop selling party balloons (Score 4, Interesting) 296

by Rei (#47868519) Attached to: WD Announces 8TB, 10TB Helium Hard Drives

Helium balloons are a minor part of the overall picture. The overwhelming majority of uses are industrial, such as cryogenics. The problem is that they don't recover it. If you want to make a big impact on the helium consumption rate, hard drives is pretty much one of the least effective places you could focus - focus on industrial recovery.

Note that humans will never "run out" of helium. Even if we assume that space-based resource extraction becomes realistic, one can always refrigerate it out of the atmosphere. Or more accurately, refrigerate everything else out and leave the helium behind. There's only a tiny bit in the atmosphere, but for important uses it'll remain a possibility. I saw page that says that neon is $2 per liter. If you're refrigerating neon out of the atmosphere, pretty much all that's left is helium, so you're co-producing it, at a ratio of 3.5 to 1. If we assume that helium demand vastly outpaces neon demand, then the helium cost would be $7 per liter. And maybe less in mass production.

That's not really an absurd price for many uses - such as hard drives. On the other hand, it's dramatically more than today's prices at about $0.005 per liter! You're not going to be making helium blimps at $7 per liter. But if industry learns how to recapture and reuse, they should manage.

(Of course, humans probably wouldn't have to resort to helium extraction from the atmosphere for centuries, pretty much any gas coming out of the ground will be richer in helium than the air)

Comment: Re:Autoplay is EVIL (Score 1) 108

by Rei (#47853175) Attached to: Facebook's Auto-Play Videos Chew Up Expensive Data Plans

I'm not lying, that's the actual size, something like 420k. It may have been a bit shorter playtime, perhaps 20 seconds (I didn't time it), but still, it was quite small.

Nobody said videos on Facebook are Blu-Ray quality. But you seem to have weird concepts about how big videos need to be to be good enough quality for a web page. Just as a test, I took an original high quality full-motion video of a concert, reencoded it with ffmpeg, audio codec aac, vbr audio quality 0.5, video codec x264, preset veryslow, cf 33, resolution 512x288 (half original size), 20 seconds. File size? 420k. Of course the video from facebook was darker and quieter, so one would expect it to compress better. If we give my sample concert clip an allowable size of, say, 550k, then I can up audio quality to 0.7 and cf down to 30. Either way, the resultant clip was fine, the sort of thing you'd expect to see on a Facebook wall.

Anyway, the key point is, Facebook feeds aren't loading you down with 50 meg videos, they're little couple-hundred-k clips, the same size as animated gifs. And while I haven't measured it, they don't appear to start streaming until you scroll down to them, and look to stop after you scroll away.

Comment: Re:Autoplay is EVIL (Score 1) 108

by Rei (#47849965) Attached to: Facebook's Auto-Play Videos Chew Up Expensive Data Plans

1) I just went and pulled the first anim-gif I saw off 9-gag, a fairly simple thing of Ralph Wiggum with little motion, so it should compress quite well for an animated gif. Size: just over 400k. I then pulled the first video that showed up on my Facebook feed, a 30 second full motion clip, and downloaded the entire thing (including the audio stream, full quality). Size: just over 400k.

So....?

2) Are you actually sure that it is downloading the audio stream when it does muted autoplay? Not saying that it oes or doesn't, but do you actually have evidence either way?

3) See the reply below.

There's really no argument. If you're going to allow animated gifs, you should allow autoplay videos. So that we can finally put the nail in the coffin of the awfulness that is gif by removing the last common use of it.

And FYI, 400k is not that much. Slashdot is a pretty simplistic website compared to most, and I just measured how much data is downloaded just to read the front page: 1.4M.

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