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Comment: Re:I'm confused... (Score 4, Insightful) 49 49

"Slashvertisement - a fiction spawned in the brains of basement-dwellers who think that anyone who says anything nice about anything or anyone is getting paid to be positive."

Nope. All ads or "sponsored content" pieces on Slashdot are clearly identified. This piece is legit, and I clearly stated that this is just one of many companies in the energy-saving businesses. Clouden's company is close to me and I first heard about it from a satisfied customer, but at no point did I (or he) say his company was better than others in the same business. In fact, let me repeat: If you're going to buy any kind of energy-saving services, you'd better shop around -- just like Smokey Robinson's momma told him: https://www.youtube.com/watch?...

The Almighty Buck

Leased LEDs and Energy Service Contracts can Cut Electric Bills (Video) 49 49

I first heard of Consumer Energy Solutions from a non-profit's IT guy who was boasting about how he got them to lease him LED bulbs for their parking lot and the security lights at their equipment lot -- pretty much all their outdoor lighting -- for a lot less than their monthly savings on electricity from replacing most of their Halogen, fluorescent, and other less-efficient lights with LEDs. What made this a big deal to my friend was that no front money was required. It's one thing to tell a town council or non-profit board, "If we spend $180,000 on LEDs we'll save it all back in five years" (or whatever). It's another thing to say, "We can lease LEDs for all our outdoor lighting for $4,000 per month and save $8,000 on electricity right away." That gets officials to prick up their ears in a hurry.Then there are energy service contracts, essentially buying electricity one, two or three years in advance. This business got a bad name from Enron and their energy wholesaling business, but despite that single big blast of negative publicity, it grows a little each year. And the LED lease business? In many areas, governments and utility companies actually subsidize purchases of anything that cuts electricity use. Totally worth checking out.

But why, you might ask, is this on Slashdot? Because some of our readers own stacks of servers (or work for companies that own stacks of servers) and need to know they don't have to pay whatever their local electric utility demands, but can shop for better electricity prices in today's deregulated electricity market. And while this conversation was with one person in this business, we are not pushing his company. As interviewee Patrick Clouden says at the end of the interview, it's a competitive business. So if you want the best deal, you'd better shop around. One more thing: the deregulated utility market, with its multitude of suppliers, peak and off-peak pricing, and (often) minute-by-minute price changes, takes excellent software (possibly written by someone like you) to negotiate, so this business niche might be one an entrepreneurial software developer should explore.

Comment: Re:So how much are they paying? (Score 1) 25 25

You submitted those stories, right? Anyway, looking through your comment history, you love to be negative. You should thank us for giving you something else to complain about. Also, if I was in a bad mood I might point out that 1 article + 1 article = 2, and "fawning" is a bit over the top. But hey! You're the one who knows more than the rest of us, so I won't question anything you say.

You are probablyright about the "10,000" cars thing being unrealistic, but let's look at it in context:

"The initial plan is for DM to scale up to an annual production of 10,000 of these limited supercars, making them available to potential customers. This isn’t all though, as DM doesn’t merely plan on just being satisfied by manufacturing cars via this method. They plan on making the technology available to others as well."

That 3DPrint.com article wasn't nearly as good as it would have been if you had written it, but you might want to be a little kinder to your inferiors. Czinger and Balzer have consistently talked about cars being just one type of manufacturing for which their process can be used. And it's not all about 3-D printing. Really.

Okay - time to go upload some howto videos.

Good night. Sleep tight. Don't let the 3-D printers bite!

- R


Comment: Re:So how much are they paying? (Score 2) 25 25

Why do you insult us by insisting that we get paid for running stories about things that interest at least one Slashdot editor? If a story is a paid ad, it will say something like "AD" or "Sponsored Content."

Also, what is not newsworthy to you may be newsworthy to someone else. You also seem to be missing the point of 3-D printing in this context: that the Blade is just a proof of concept. The idea is that other items can be made with similar manufacturing techniques; not purely 3-D printing but 3-D printing combined with other fab methods.

Thank you for your input!

- Rob


Meet the Makers of an Exotic (Partially) 3-D Printed Car (2 Videos) 25 25

Last month, in a story headlined 3D Printed Supercar Chassis Unveiled, we promised video interviews with builders Kevin and Brad "in the near future." Here they are. First, we have Kevin Czinger, Founder & CEO of Divergent Microfactories. He says the way we build cars is more important from an environmental standpoint than how we fuel them, and that the way we make cars now is a lot less efficient and a lot more expensive than it needs to be. Divergent's first demo vehicle, the Blade, is a tandem-seating 700 HP supercar its makers say does 0 - 60 in 2.5 seconds. Price? No word yet, but it's safe to assume "plenty" might be an accurate guess.

In the second video, Blade project lead Brad Balzer goes into detail about how, why, and where they use 3-D printing, and explains the modular nature of their car chassis design. He says they don't need to change many parts to go from ultra-sports car to pickup truck. He also says that while Divergent Microfactories is working on cars right now, their manufacturing system can be applied to many different industries. Indeed, their long-range goal is to help people build microfactories making many different kinds of products faster, more flexibly, and for less money than it takes to make similar manufactured items today.

Note: The transcript covers both videos and has a little 'bonus' material in it, too.

Comment: Re:Why two videos? For the love of dog, why?! (Score 4, Informative) 47 47

Tim just put the "let's have the ability to attach two or more HTML5 video to one text block" on the developers' work request list. It'll happen. When? Um.... "Soon." This is yet another case where the people who actually work on the site agree with readers -- which we do 90% of the time. Believe it or not, our management is gradually learning that the people who work on the site know a thing or two. The Beta debacle was great training for them. Gawd, that thing was awful...

As for video length restrictions: A spreadsheet manager looks at video costs and sees that a majority of people jump off of a video within 3 minutes. So, asks the spreadsheet manager, why would we ever want to have longer videos? Reality = people not interested in that video or topic watch 3 minutes, while people interested in the topic or interviewee stick around for 10, 15, 30, even 60 minutes. What Tim and I want is 3-minute (or so) summary videos for the uninterested, followed by full-length ones for those who are interested. At least, when the topic is interesting to at least some readers, we now can (and generally do) provide a transcript that covers the full, uncut video interview for you.

Believe me, we appreciate questions and criticism. We read what you have to say. Like about the cartoon-balloon m,ain page comment counts. I can't say that I personally care much about them one way or another, but I think Tim or one of the other guys brought them up in a meeting to which I was not invited -- because I rarely am since I'm retired and I just work part-time editing /. videos for hourly pay to supplement my Social Security. Thinking of which, I have some howto videos to edit for another site, so I'd better break off here and go do that.



Cory Doctorow Talks About Fighting the DMCA (2 Videos) 47 47

Wikipedia says, 'Cory Efram Doctorow (/kri dktro/; born July 17, 1971) is a Canadian-British blogger, journalist, and science fiction author who serves as co-editor of the blog Boing Boing. He is an activist in favour of liberalising copyright laws and a proponent of the Creative Commons organization, using some of their licenses for his books. Some common themes of his work include digital rights management, file sharing, and post-scarcity economics.' Timothy Lord sat down with Cory at the O'Reilly Solid Conference and asked him about the DMCA and how the fight against it is going. Due to management-imposed restraints on video lengths, we broke the ~10 minute interview into two parts, both attached to this paragraph. The transcript covers both videos, so it's your choice: view, read or listen to as much of this interview as you like.

Making a Birdhouse is Like 'Hello World' for a Versatile Factory Robot (2 Videos) 24 24

Many millions of American students have been called on to construct a wooden birdhouse as part of a middle- or high-school shop class. To make a birdhouse from wood and nails may not requite advanced carpentry, but it does take eye-hand coordination, object recognition, the ability to lift constituent pieces, and to grasp and wield tools -- and each of those can be broken down further into smaller tasks and skills of the kind that we as humans don't generally have to think about. ("Rotate wrist slightly to account for board angle.") For robots, it's another story: like the computers that run them, robots generally only do what they're told. Industrial robots can do some complex tasks, but they're expensive and complex to program.

Benjamin Cohen is a Ph.D candidate at the University of Pennsylvania working under adviser Maxim Likhachev with a real-world, cheap way to make robots to accomplish a multi-step project with minimal human intervention, which he calls "autonomous robotic assembly." Project Birdhouse -- part of his Ph.D. work, along with teammates Mike Phillips and Ellis Ranter -- is Cohen's effort to create a sort of "Hello, World" for robots. With a combination of a research-platform robot base, off-the-shelf parts, like a nail gun (read: "One not built for robot use"), and software to squeeze greater accuracy out of the system as a whole, he and his colleagues have come up with a robot that can grab a selection of parts, align them properly, and assemble them with nails into a functional birdhouse. QR codes let the robot give the robot a sort of recipe to follow, and the system is smart enough to squawk if it doesn't have the right parts to complete the task. (Check out more video with the robot in action, and a great many photos, sketches, and diagrams illustrating the project's evolution.)

NOTE: We split today's video in half, with both halves running right here, today. This way, if you watch the first video and and want to learn more, you can move on to the second one. And the transcript not only covers both videos, but has "bonus" material that isn't in either one.

Comment: Re:I'd be in favour of something else... (Score 1) 233 233

I don't have a problem with linking to a video as long as you have a transcript, but the fact that "thousands" of people watched them without complaining doesn't prove anything about whether they liked them.

I think we need could have a great discussion, but that first we'd need to go back to Marshall McLuhan's first major book, Understanding Media - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... - and come forward from there. This is where the saying, "The medium is the message" came from, in a time when "multimedia" was a beat poet doing a recital accompanied by a flute and bongos while psychedelic (a new word back then) images played on a sheet behind the stage.

I think that might make a fun little video piece. If you want to do it, email robin@roblimo.com.

"Oh my! An `inflammatory attitude' in alt.flame? Never heard of such a thing..." -- Allen Gwinn, allen@sulaco.Sigma.COM