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Comment: Quantum mechanics is real, like it or not. (Score 4, Insightful) 85

by Animats (#47568933) Attached to: More Quantum Strangeness: Particles Separated From Their Properties

That's a nice result. It's in accord with theory. It doesn't match human intuition based on large-scale objects, but it's the way the universe really works. The theory in this area is well understood; Feynman's "QED" has a good overview.

Ever since the double-slit experiment, it's been clear that this stuff is real. Over the last few decades, more of the weirder predictions of quantum electrodynamic theory have been confirmed experimentally. This is another predicted event confirmed. Nice work.

Comment: Re:$1000, not $300 (Score 2) 43

by Animats (#47568555) Attached to: A Look At the Firepick Delta Circuit Board Assembler (Video)

I guess you're supposed to stencil the paste in first and the put it in a heat oven as if you had done the pick and placing by hand.

Their FAQ contains:

  • TBD - Solder paste dispensing
  • TBD - Selective Reflow via custom ATC head

That's what would make the machine useful for prototyping. Printing a solder paste stencil can be done on a laser cutter, but you need access to one, or you must send the job out. Laying down solder paste by hand with a little syringe on each pad (probably under a microscope) takes longer than manually placing parts and is Not Fun.

Printing solder paste with an ink-jet printer type head has been done. If they can make that work, that will be a big win.

Comment: Re:Such a Waste (Score 1) 145

by DrXym (#47564803) Attached to: The Hobbit: the Battle of Five Armies Trailer Released
The main problem with The Hobbit is (as Bilbo might say) it feels thin, like butter scraped over too much toast. There's too little story to work with to justify 3 3-hour movies.

Maybe Peter Jackson will release a limited abbreviated edition on Blu Ray to make up for this. Anyway the middle instalment was pretty good (thanks to Smaug) though both it and the first movie are guilty of some utterly pointless detours and WTF moments particularly any time Radaghast appeared on screen.

Comment: Re:Thankfully those will be patched right in a jif (Score 4, Informative) 125

by DrXym (#47564415) Attached to: Old Apache Code At Root of Android FakeID Mess
In practice Android has several reputable stores - Google & Amazon Appstore and there is a second tier of stores which some standard of validation / vetting Samsung Apps, GetJar, F-droid, Appslib, SlideME etc.

At the end of the day, android gives users the freedom to choose where they get apps from. But freedom implies the freedom to do stupid things. It won't stop a user installing warez if they want, but if they get owned it's their own damned fault. Not much different from what happens on a PC or Mac really.

That said I don't think Android does enough to protect users from malicious or rogue apps, e.g. allowing the device to deny a permission to the app even if it claims to need it. Cyanogenmod demonstrates it can be added, but Google haven't seen fit to provide that functionality in the stock android code.

Comment: Re:Thankfully those will be patched right in a jif (Score 3, Informative) 125

by DrXym (#47564233) Attached to: Old Apache Code At Root of Android FakeID Mess
I bet virtually all malware on Android originates not from the official store but from idiots downloading and install apks from the wild or some dodgy Chinese app store - "this cracked Candy Crush says it needs access to make calls, send & receive SMS messages, access to my contacts, my Google accounts and email but I really want to play so I'm going to click through this obvious red flag and wonder later why my phone is calling premium numbers in Ouagadougou at 3am and why I have 10 missed calls from Visa loss prevention".

I'm pretty certain Google has systems in place (as well as an after the fact kill function) to eradicate malicious apps that find their way onto the app store. Doubtless there are some there but they're background noise.

Comment: $1000, not $300 (Score 1) 43

by Animats (#47563223) Attached to: A Look At the Firepick Delta Circuit Board Assembler (Video)

Their presentation for investors quotes a sale price of $1000, not $300. At that price they might be able to do it. How well they'll do it remains to be seen.

Their presentation is all about their XY positioning mechanism. But that's not the problem. The hard problem is dispensing solder paste reliably and precisely, sticking the component down, and using hot air to solder it into place. As with low-end 3D printers, most of the problems are where the weld/soldering action takes place. They don't say much about how that's done.

The important thing is doing a consistently good soldering job. Nobody needs a machine that produces lots of reject boards.

Comment: Should I do an ad blocker? (Score 3, Interesting) 328

by Animats (#47561759) Attached to: Which Is Better, Adblock Or Adblock Plus?

I'm behind Ad Limiter, which limits Google search ads to one per page, picking the best one based on SiteTruth ratings. You can set it for zero search ads if you like. It also puts SiteTruth ratings on Google search results. It's a demo for SiteTruth search spam filtering.

This Mozilla/Chrome add on has a general ad-blocking mechanism inside. Unlike most ad blockers, it's not based on regular expressions looking for specific HTML. It finds URLs known to lead to ads, works outward through the DOM to find the ad boundary, then deletes the ad. So it's relatively insensitive to changes in ad code, and doesn't require much maintenance. The same code processes search results from Google, Bing, Yahoo, Bleeko, DuckDuckGo, and Infoseek. (Coming soon, Yandex support, and better handling of Google ads within ads, where an ad has multiple links.)

So, if I wanted to do a better ad blocker, I could do so easily. Should I? Is another one really needed? Are the headaches of running one worth it?

Comment: Cell and battery production in same plant (Score 5, Informative) 91

by Animats (#47559917) Attached to: Tesla and Panasonic Have Reached an Agreement On the Gigafactory

The Tesla/Panasonic plan gets cell and battery production back into the same plant. The battery industry has, for a while, had a model where cells were made in one country (usually Japan, Taiwan or S. Korea, or at least with machinery from there) and assembled into device-specific battery packs near where the end device was produced (usually China or the US.) For the Chevy Volt, the cells come frm LG Chem in Korea, and the battery packs are assembled at the Brownstown, MI Battery Assembly plant.

There's no good reason to do it that way now that the era of cheap labor in China is over. As a rule of thumb, labor has to be 4x cheaper to justify offshoring. The coastal provinces in China have reached that level with respect to US/Japan wages.

Done right, this isn't labor-intensive. Brownstown has only 100 workers in a 400,000 square foot plant, and they're doing battery assembly, which is the more labor-intensive part of the operation. Tesla claims to need 6,500 employees for their 10 million square foot plant, but they're probably counting construction-phase employees.

Comment: "Beginning of mainstream 3D printing" (Score 4, Informative) 61

by Animats (#47559309) Attached to: 3-D Printing Comes To Amazon

But this could be the beginning of mainstream 3D printing.

We heard that when Staples did it.

Amazon's 3D printed product offerings are rather lame. They're not offering any of the more advanced 3D printing processes; for that you have to go to Shapeways. All you can get from Amazon is plastic junk.

Comment: No new tools. Low-budget operation (Score 3, Informative) 61

All they're offering are some existing tools, ones you can get for free. The main ones are the Clang static analyzer and Cppcheck. They're not offering free access to some of the better, and expensive, commercial tools.

Cppcheck is basically a list of common errors, expressed as rules with regular expressions. Clang is a little more advanced, but it's still looking for a short list of local bugs. Neither will detect all, or even most, buffer overflows. They'll detect the use of "strcpy", but not a wrong size to "strncpy".

Comment: The scammer's dream. (Score 3, Insightful) 165

by Animats (#47551715) Attached to: US States Edge Toward Cryptocoin Regulation

Over half the Bitcoin exchanges have gone bust. Entire Bitcoin "stock exchanges" disappeared with the money. Bitcoin "investments" promising substantial returns each month were, of course, Ponzi schemes.

Bitcoin is a scam magnet. Irrevocable, remote, anonymous money transfers are the scammer's dream. (Yes, there are people talking about cryptographic escrow schemes so you can buy something with Bitcoins and have some recourse if it doesn't show up. So far, that hasn't reached usability.)

That's why Bitcoin needs regulation. If you're going to hold other people's money, you have to be regulated. Deal with it.

I'd rather just believe that it's done by little elves running around.