Follow Slashdot stories on Twitter

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror

Slashdot videos: Now with more Slashdot!

  • View

  • Discuss

  • Share

We've improved Slashdot's video section; now you can view our video interviews, product close-ups and site visits with all the usual Slashdot options to comment, share, etc. No more walled garden! It's a work in progress -- we hope you'll check it out (Learn more about the recent updates).

×
Robotics

John Hawley Talks About UAV Controls (Video) 20

Posted by Roblimo
from the monocopter-bicopter-tricopter-quadcopter dept.
John 'Warthog9' Hawley was the boss sysadmin on kernel.org before he jumped to Intel in April, 2014, as an open hardware technical evangelist. He last showed up on Slashdot in June, 2014, with his Dr. Who-inspired Robot K-9. Now he's talking about flight computers for quadcopters, specifically ones based on MinnowBoards. Last month (April 2015) he was speaking at the Embedded Linux Conference + Android Builders Summit. That's where he and Timothy Lord had this conversation about flight controllers for UAVs, which makes it a fitting sequel to yesterday's video, which was also about controlling drones with real-time Linux.
Robotics

Embedded Linux Takes to the Skies (Video) 25

Posted by Roblimo
from the robot-drones-want-you-to-take-them-to-your-leader-(beep) dept.
This is an interview with Clay McClure. He makes his living designing 'custom Linux software solutions for technology start-ups in Atlanta and the San Francisco Bay area.' He also works on Embedded Linux for autonomous drones. Here's a link to slides from a talk he gave on exactly that topic: Flying Penguins - Embedded Linux Applications for autonomous UAVs, and that's far from all he has to say about making Linux-controlled drones. However, for some reason Timothy and Clay didn't talk about using drones for target practice. Perhaps they can discuss that another time.

NOTE: We urge you to read the transcript of this interview even if you prefer watching videos; it contains material we left out of the video due to sound problems.
Businesses

IT Consultant Talks About 'Negotiating for Nerds' (Video) 61

Posted by Roblimo
from the paying-it-forward dept.
Matt Heusser did a Slashdot video interview back in 2013 titled How to Become an IT Expert Companies Seek Out and Pay Well. Despite noise from a few yammerheads about Matt getting 'free advertising' on Slashdot, which is unlikely since the vast majority of Slashdot users are more likely to compete with him than to hire him, most of the people who saw that video (or read the transcript) knew he was giving helpful advice to peers who might want to get out of the cubicle and work for themselves.

Today, Matt is with us again. This video is about 'Negotiating for Nerds.' Matt talks about negotiating a pay raise or consulting fee increase, starting with learning who has the actual power to negotiate with you. This is essential knowledge if you are employed (or self-employed) in IT and want to make sure you're getting all you are worth.
Hardware Hacking

Another 'Draw Your Own Circuits' System at SXSW (Video) 27

Posted by Roblimo
from the is-this-an-easy-way-to-connect-the-'rear'-speakers-in-your-home-theater-system? dept.
While Timothy Lord was at SXSW, he chatted with Yuki Nishida of AgIC and learned about the company's conductive ink products. But AgIC wasn't the only company at SXSW showing off conductive ink. You could also meet the Electroninks people and see their Circuit Scribe product, which had a Kickstarter campaign a while back that raised $574,425.

This kind of product seems to be attractive to the kind of people who fund Kickstarter projects, and this bunch seems to have good resumes and some interesting, well thought-out products. There is apparently room in the 'draw circuits and learn electrical basics' market for both AgIC and Electroninks -- and probably for another dozen competitors, too.
Hardware Hacking

eBay Sales Patterns Show That the Maker Movement is Still Growing (Video) 24

Posted by Roblimo
from the homemade-always-tastes-better dept.
Meet Aron Hsiao. He works for Terapeak, a company that tracks sales through online venues such as eBay and Amazon in order to help merchants decide what to sell -- and how. The five 'maker' categories Terapeak tracks (drones, robotics, Arduino, Raspberry Pi and 3D printing) outsold Star Trek-related merchandise by a huge amount, namely $33 million to $4.3 million, during a recent 90 day study period. Star Wars merchandise did better at $29.4 million, but still... And as another comparison, Aron says that all Apple laptops combined, new and used, sold $48.4 million, so the DIY hobbyist movement still has a ways to go before it catches up with Apple laptops -- but seems to be heading steadily in that direction.

Drones are the hottest hobbyist thing going right now, Aron says, but all five of the hobbyist/tinkerer' categories Terapeak tracks are growing steadily at a rate of up to 70% year over year, with drones leading the way and robotics trailing (but still growing). It's good to see people taking an interest in making things for themselves. If you remember (or have heard of) the Homebrew Computer Club, you have an idea of what tinkerers and hobbyists can produce if given even a tiny bit of encouragement. And it's good to see that the DIY mindset is not only still alive, but growing -- even if it seems to be moving away from traditional hobby tinkering (cars; radios) toward concepts (drones; robotics) that weren't considered mass market 'homebrew' possibilities even a few years ago.
Hardware Hacking

Armstrap Claims to Make ARM Prototyping Easier (Video) 41

Posted by Roblimo
from the not-just-easy-but-fun-too dept.
It almost seems too perfect that the originator of the Armstrap 'community of engineers and makers' is named Charles Armstrap. He just introduces himself as 'Charles' on the Armstrap.org website. Names aside, Armstrap.org is 100% open source, including circuit board designs. This is not a 'draw your own circuit boards' bunch, although you certainly could if you wanted to badly enough since they provide schematics and even full CAD drawings of what they make. The reason they do this is laid out on their Core Values page. The boards Armstrap sells are not expensive, but if you are going to be truly open source, you need to supply the means to duplicate and modify or extend your work, as is totally permitted under the MIT License they use.

Comment: Re: If i can't work on my car (Score 3, Insightful) 292

by Roblimo (#49401689) Attached to: EFF Fighting Automakers Over Whether You Own Your Car

Two years ago traded my 1994 Jeep Cherokee in for a... 1996 Jeep Cherokee. Yes, it's fuel injected and computer-controlled, but everybody from Autozone to Hector at Segundo Auto (a traditional, highly-skilled "Mexican" mechanic from L.A.) has a reader that works on it. Can I fix my Jeep? My eyes are horrid and I'm sick and weak, but up to a point, yes. I still know how, and I still do the light stuff like tuneups and a/c recharges -- essentially annual service. Plus belts and hoses, which I routinely change because as all taxi and limo owners know, rubber is responsible for at least 80% of all road breakdowns. (check my login name - I used to own a small limo service.)

Brakes and more physical work? Hector needs to feed his kids, and he has a hoist and air tools -- and doesn't rip us off. Like when my wife went to the Hyundai dealer for a $19.95 oil change and tire rotation and they gave her a $2000 estimate for a 60,000 mile service (includes timing belt change) and Hector did all the work for $200 - not counting the timing belt kit, which includes the serpentine belt, water pump, and front main seal, that I got online for something like $120.

The day I can't fix my own car or hire someone like Hector instead of going to the dealer is the day I stop driving. Hopefully I'll be dead before things get that messed up.

Security

How to Prepare for an IT Security Disaster (Video) 23

Posted by Roblimo
from the 2-ounces-of-prevention-are-worth-32-ounces-of-cure dept.
What should you do if your company's servers are hacked and your customers' credit card info or other data are stolen? Neill Feather, president of SiteLock, says you should have a plan of action tested and ready to go, the same way it's wise to hold fire drills so that everyone knows what to do in case of fire. Neill also recommends checking out the Online Trust Alliance and the many resources it makes available to businesses of all sizes whether or not they are OTA members. One document that would be a good place to start is their Data Protection & Breach Readiness Guide, which covers topics including liability and insurance considerations; basic forensics (to help catch the evildoers -- and prevent them from doing evil to you again); and even what information you should include in a letter to customers after a Target or Home Depot-type data theft. We can sum all of this up with the old saying, 'An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,' but you should also know what to do if a problem happens, whether that problem is data theft, a ransomware attack or anything in between.
Hardware Hacking

Hand-Drawn and Inkjet Printed Circuits for the Masses (Video) 33

Posted by Roblimo
from the give-your-kids-paper-plates-with-lights-that-tell-them-to-eat-their-veggies dept.
We started looking at ways to make instant hand-drawn or inkjet-printed circuit boards because Timothy met an engaging young man named Yuki Nishida at SXSW. Yuki is a co-founder of AgIC, a company that makes conductive ink pens and supplies special paper you can use to write or draw circuits or, if you have the right model of Brother printer, to print them with special inkjet inks. The AgIC people are aggressively putting the 'A' in STEAM by marketing their products to artists and craftspeople. Indeed the second line on their website's home page says, 'AgIC offers handy tools to light up your own art works.' This is an excellent niche, and now that AgIC has developed a circuit eraser (due to ship this April), it may lead to all kinds of creative designs. And as is typical with this kind of company these days, AgIC has been (at least partly) crowdfunded.

A little cursory Google searching will soon lead you to other companies selling into the home/prototype circuit board market, including Cartesian Co and their Argentum 3-D printer that does prototype and short-run PCBs and only costs $899 (on special at the time this was written) and Electroninks, which markets the Circuit Scribe pen and associated materials with an emphasis on education. There are others in this growing field, and a year from now there will probably be more of them, all working to replace the venerable breadboard the same way electronic calculators replaced slide rules.
Medicine

Is the Apple Watch a Useful Medical Device? (Video) 47

Posted by Roblimo
from the all-we-want-is-for-you-to-be-happy-happy-happy dept.
Let's kill the suspense right away by answering the title question, 'Probably not.' For one thing, according to interviewee Alfred Poor, the Apple Watch is in no way linked to the Apple Research Kit. Dr. Poor is editor of the Health Tech Insider website, so he follows this kind of thing more carefully than most people. And the Apple watch is not the only device mentioned in this video (or transcript, if you prefer reading to listening). If you want to ruminate about the possibility of direct mind control, for instance, you need to know about the Thync, whose vendor calls it 'A groundbreaking wearable device that enables you to shift your state of mind in minutes.' They say it 'induces on-demand shifts in energy, calm, or focus.' It even has a 'pleasure' setting. Crank that to 11 and you might happily spend your days prone, being fed by a drip and emptied by a catheter, moving only when an attendant turns you over to keep bedsores from developing -- not that you'll care if they do -- as you spend the rest of your life in an artificially-induced joyful stupor.
Networking

Dueling Home Automation Systems at SXSW (Video) 47

Posted by Roblimo
from the to-serve-man dept.
Austin has a strong western heritage and more country and western music than you can shake a fiddle bow at. So when Timothy came back from SXSW with video clips from two home automation companies with different approaches to this question: "How can you work with a whole bunch of lights and thermostats and other IoT home automation pieces that all have different OSes and control APIs?" we obviously had to call the resulting video 'Dueling Home Automation Systems.'

The two companies shown in this video are called WigWag and Yonomi. WigWag sells you a "Relay," which they say "is a powerful mini computer that gives you control of your home's smart devices." The minimum pre-order buy-in for WigWag seems to be a $149 WigWag Relay. Their 'products' page his page shows the Relay -- and many other gadgets and kits that could easily run your total tab up to $1000 or more. Yonomi, on the other hand, "resides on your phone and in the Cloud. No need for a hub, controller box or other additional hardware. Yonomi magically finds and enhances your existing connected devices allowing them to interact with one another in ways never before possible."

Yonomi may start with a free Android app (iOS coming soon), but you still need to buy lights, speakers, thermostats, and other things that are Internet-aware, so you're not going to save much (if anything) over buying a WigWag relay and the rest of what you need to create your own, private Internet of Things. And what about good old X10 and other home control systems? They're still out there, still doing their thing in millions of homes even if they aren't getting all the IoT buzz. In any case, it's nice to see new home automation alternatives coming down the pike, even if their cloudness may make them easier to hack than an old-fashioned appliance like this coffeemaker.

Comment: Re:Steamed people (Score 1) 79

by Roblimo (#49333655) Attached to: Better Disaster Shelters than FEMA Trailers (Video)

I'd far rather camp in a Shelterbox tent than in a plastic sweatbox since I, too, live in FL. I have a week's worth of food, water, and cooking fuel stockpiled in case of a hurricane, and I can charge our laptops and smartphones from our cars.

If our house trailer blows away, so it goes. We have a tent, and while my wife whines a little about camping, she's basically okay with it and has the necessary skills to 'live rough' comfortably. A FEMA trailer would be fine with us. We happily live in a 1 bedroom trailer now, so no BFD living in a travel trailer. Or a tent. Civilization is nice, but we can do without most of its trappings if we must.

We have guns and a shitpot of ammunition, too, because you never know...

Earth

Better Disaster Shelters than FEMA Trailers (Video) 79

Posted by Roblimo
from the they'd-better-have-internet-routers-built-in dept.
An aerospace engineer and Mississippi native named Michael McDaniel "watched helplessly as Hurricane Katrina forced thousands of people out of their homes and into crowded, poorly equipped 'shelters.'" This scenario led to Michael founding Reaction Housing and the creation of its first product, the Exo (as in exoskeleton) shelter. This company isn't holding its hand out for crowdfunding. It got $1.5 million in seed capital in March, 2014, later got another $10 million, and is now going into mass production of its Exo housing units.

Reaction Housing is not the only attempt to make post-disaster housing better, or at least less expensive, than the infamous FEMA trailers. A charity called ShelterBox in Lakewood Ranch, FL, fills boxes with everything a family or group of up to 10 people needs, including a heavy-duty tent, bedding, and kitchen supplies, in order to survive after a natural disaster. (Here's an interview video I shot in 2010 about ShelterBox.) Exo, ShelterBox or any one of dozens of other emergency housing alternatives are good to have around, ready to go, for the next Katrina, Sandy or Tsunami. High tech? Not necessarily, but technology has obviously made emergency housing faster and easier to erect than the "earthquake shacks" that were built in San Francisco to house people made homeless by the 1906 earthquake.

Comment: The first real AI scare was in 1909 (Score 1) 294

by Roblimo (#49329815) Attached to: Steve Wozniak Now Afraid of AI Too, Just Like Elon Musk

The Humanoids, first published as 'With Folded Hands,' was a science fiction novel first published as a novelette in 1947. It was the first book or article I read (in the late 50s) about machines taking over.

The Machine Stops dates all the way back to 1909 and posits a world where humans depend on a global Machine -- and what happens when the machine stops working.

"Oh what wouldn't I give to be spat at in the face..." -- a prisoner in "Life of Brian"

Working...