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Comment: Re:So how much are they paying? (Score 1) 15 15

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

Transportation

Meet the Makers of an Exotic (Partially) 3-D Printed Car (2 Videos) 15 15

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) 46 46

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.

 

DRM

Cory Doctorow Talks About Fighting the DMCA (2 Videos) 46 46

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.
Robotics

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) 232 232

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.

Comment: Re:I'd be in favour of something else... (Score 1) 232 232

Less videos on Slashdot. As someone explained a few days ago, Slashdot readers are not business suits, we prefer to read our information. It's just plain faster.

This is the old "Slashdot ran a story that didn't interest me personally" complaint that's been going around since 1999. If you don't want to watch videos, don't watch them. If you want some or all of the information contained in a video, but don't want to watch the video, we give you transcripts.

Slashdot typically runs 20+ stories every day, and around 3 videos per week which may (gasp) go up to 4 or even 5 at some point. Thousands of people watch those videos and seem to like them, while 5 or 10 complain.

On the gripping hand, you seem interested in Bitcoins and that sort of thing. I've had people tell me that stories about digital currency don't interest them, so they don't belong on Slashdot. Ummm..... okay....

The sad secret is that there are many Slashdot readers with different tastes and desires. I figure that if anyone -- including me -- finds 80% of the stories on the site interesting, that's pretty good.

Thanks for caring,

- Rob

Government

Mayday PAC's Benjamin Singer Explains How You can Help Reform American Politics (Video) 232 232

Larry Lessig's Mayday PAC is a SuperPac that is working to eliminate the inherent corruption of having a government run almost entirely by people who manage to raise -- or have their "non-connected" SuperPACs raise -- most of the money they need to run their campaigns. The Mayday PAC isn't about right or left wing or partisan politics at all. It's about finding and supporting candidates who are in favor of something like last year's Government by the People Act. As we noted in our Mayday Pac interview with Larry Lessig last June, a whole panoply of tech luminaries, up to and including Steve Wozniak, are in favor of Mayday PAC.

This interview is being posted, appropriately, just before the 4th of July, but it's also just one day before the Mayday PAC Day of Action to Reform Congress. They're big on calling members of Congress rather than emailing, because our representatives get email by the (digital) bushel, while they get comparatively few issue-oriented phone calls from citizens. So Mayday PAC makes it easy for you to call your Congressional representatives and even, if you're too shy to talk to a legislative aide in person, to record a message Mayday PAC will leave for them after hours.

The five specific pieces of legislation Mayday PAC currently supports are listed at the RepsWith.US/reforms page. Two are sponsored by Republicans, two by Democrats, and one by an Independent. That's about as non-partisan as you can get, so no matter what kind of political beliefs you hold, you can support Mayday PAC with a clear conscience. (Note: the transcript has more information than the video, which is less than six minutes long.)
Programming

Starcoder Uses a Multiplayer Game to Teach Programming (Video # 2) 11 11

We ran video # 1 about Starcoder yesterday and linked to the project's Kickstarter page. At that time, the project had raised $3221 out of a $4000 goal. Today they're up to $5836, which means they've reached their goal and then some, and they still have four days of Kickstarting to go. Nice! It looks like Starcoder will soon be available to a lot more students than are using it now, and that (hopefully) there will be enough server capacity to accommodate students who want to sign up and play on their own, not necessarily with help from their schools.

To learn more about Starcoder, you may want to check out these video clips on Vimeo that not only show you how the game was developed, but give you a look at how it's played. Note: this is video 2 of 2. The transcript covers both videos, plus some material we were forced to edit out of the videos due to length restrictions.)
Education

Starcoder Uses a Multiplayer Game to Teach Programming (Video # 1) 37 37

Starcoder, says the project's Kickstarter page, "is a multiplayer online space action game that teaches kids coding as they play." Their page also points out that it's easier to learn as a group than it is to learn alone. The Starcoder Kickstarter project has collected $3221 at this writing, out of a $4000 goal, and they have until June 17 to come up with the rest. So please take a look at Starcoder, see how it works and why it is unquestionably a more interesting way to learn programming basics than the traditional "highly theoretical and (frankly) boring manner."

Starcoder starts with Blockly. Then, as students advance to higher game levels, moves to JavaScript. Yes, there are levels. Also competitive play, since Starcoder is a massively multiplayer online game. In fact, a big reason for the Kickstarter project is to expand server capability so that kids can play from home, not just in school or during after-school computer classes. One more thing to note: The Win2Learn team behind Starcoders is composed of professional educators and designers. They've been working on STEM education for a while. Want to see some of the thinking behind Starcoder? They have some video clips on Vimeo that not only show you how the game was developed, but give you a good look at how it's played. Does it sound good? Do you want more kids to have access to an ever-improving Starcoder? Then you know what to do. (Note: This is video 1 of 2. The second one will run tomorrow. The transcript covers both videos, plus some material we were forced to edit out of the videos due to length restrictions.)
Education

WA Gov. Sides With Microsoft: Philanthropy-Funded K-12 CS Education Now the Law 166 166

theodp writes: During public hearings on WA State's House Bill 1813, which took aim at boys' historical over-representation in K-12 computer classes, the Office of the WA State Superintendent of Public Instruction voiced concerns that by relying on the generosity of corporations, wealthy individuals, and nonprofits to fund STEM, computer science, and technology programs, learning opportunities would be limited to a small group of students, creating disparity of opportunity. "If this is a real priority," pleaded Chris Vance, "fund it fully" (HB 1813, like the White House K-12 CS plan, counts on philanthropy to make up for tax shortfalls). But legislators in the WA House and Senate — apparently more swayed by the pro-HB 1813 testimony of representatives from Microsoft and Microsoft-backed TEALS and Code.org — overwhelmingly passed the bill, sending it to Governor Jay Inslee for his signature. Not to worry. On Wednesday, the bill was signed into law by Gov. Inslee, who was perhaps influenced by the we-need-to-pass-HB-1813 blogging of Microsoft General Counsel and Code.org Board member Brad Smith, who coincidentally is not only responsible for Microsoft's philanthropic work, but was also co-chair of Gov.-elect Inslee's transition team. The WA state legislative victory comes less than 24 hours after the San Francisco School Board voted to require CS instruction beginning with preschool.

The early bird who catches the worm works for someone who comes in late and owns the worm farm. -- Travis McGee

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