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Comment: Everything but Learn CAD (Score 2) 266 266

A 3D printer is great for people who know CAD. I love my little Afinia. Sure, I have printed out my fair share of toys and models. But where it comes in handy is when I need something very specific to solve a problem both at home and work.

For instance, I bought my grandma a weather station for her birthday. However, there was no place to mount some of the sensors. After about a half-hour of design work and about 45 minutes printing time, I had some quick plates that I could glue to the shed and screw to the fence posts to mount the temperature and wind sensors. Sure, I might have went to the hardware store and looked for a solution, but that would have taken much longer than the hour and 15 minutes it took me to design and print something.

Simply put, if you know CAD or are willing to learn, 3D printers are great. If you are only going to print what other people have made, don't bother. After the toys and other tat, you will lose interest and probably feel like you wasted your money.

Comment: Re:Can we go back to R/C Planes? (Score 1) 268 268

Small 4" Quadcopters by UDI and Hubsan. They can be had for like $50 - $200 on Amazon depending on features like cameras. They can barely reach the top of a 3 story house. The only way they are interfering with aircraft is if you are flying it on a runway.

Comment: Re:Can we go back to R/C Planes? (Score 1) 268 268

I am all for hobbyist RC helicopters. Hell, I own two. However, I also believe that if they are capable of flying high enough to interfere with actual aircraft they cease to be toys and become unlicensed remotely operated aircraft, or drones. This is not some $200 toy quadcopter from Amazon, this was a 4-foot wide drone in a no-fly zone.

Comment: Flexible Automation is Hard (Score 3, Interesting) 45 45

As an engineer who works developing flexible automation solutions, this stuff is hard and it is expensive. Sure, it is worth it for companies in North America and Europe (our main customers) because people are even more expensive. But in countries like China and India, this is more of a prestige thing than an actual business case because people are cheap and flexible solutions are not.

Now, I say flexible because the problem with industrial automation is cheap or flexible, pick one. We can easily make a machine for cranking out a product, maybe even a for a family of products. However, if it is a low demand part or worse, is not expected to be around in 10+ years, that machine will be a large useless paperweight. Those that come to us are looking for solutions for when the next product is here, they can hire an engineer to reconfigure to make it work.

My guess, this guy make a prediction without knowing the reality of actual automation and was forced to eat his words.

Comment: Re:Distressingly easy? Not yet. BUT... (Score 2) 165 165

There is nothing wrong with computerizing the engine, brakes, and so forth in and of themselves. This has been going on for years and has helped make cars lighter, cheaper, and more fuel efficient with better onboard diagnostics to boot.

The problem lies when companies stop designing their control systems as closed loops. It is often cheaper to use wireless devices rather than wired and many car manufactures (and law enforcement) want the ability to remotely control the car and push firmware updates and what-have-you. Sadly, these systems are not built for any kind of security outside of "Only I can use these frequencies and no one knows my protocol" kind of security through obscurity. That is where someone with a $50 software radio and a laptop can wreak havoc either through signal jamming or direct hacking.

TLDR: It isn't computers that are the problem, it is leaving your control systems open for wireless intrusion.

Comment: Re:Yeah sure (Score 5, Informative) 205 205

You do realize that Disney is one of the largest multimedia conglomerates in the world, right? While the word Disney gives rise to images of cartoon princesses they also own ABC, Marvel, and the Lucasfilm properties, among many other things.

To say they only make princess movies is like saying Kraft only makes crappy cheese products or Pepsi only makes cola.

Comment: Re:I kind of agree (Score 1) 306 306

Personally, I am sort of conflicted on the issue. On one hand, this is a topic not for everyone. Every school should have a CS program, but it should be an elective. The closest thing to a required computer class these days should be on the art of typing, because hunt-and-peck is not the way to go on anything outside of a tablet / phone.

However, as someone who taught themselves programming in elementary school, I can see the value of a "CS-light" type class. Something that teaches the concepts of logic, flow control, and variables. Especially if taught before algebra. It seemed to boggle my mind that people just couldn't understand the idea of variables when algebra was introduced in middle school. "What do you mean that the letter is a number? My head hurts!" Yet, I was using "FOR I = 0 TO 10 ... NEXT I" before I even learned long division and could see the concept in action.

Comment: Re:And I'm the feminist deity (Score 1) 446 446

For some, some of us would love to see more equality in the workplace. As an engineer, I would love to see more women, this place is a sausagefest. Ideally, most jobs should have a ratio comparative with the population at large, that fact that coders and engineers are fairly well paid (well, except me) makes it even more important for generally equal representation.

However, I am also convinced that much of this is a bunch of rich assholes who see the 70-cents-on-the-dollar statistic and say, we need to hire some more of these cheap women, only to find that there aren't that many in the field. Same with the push to get the markets saturated with cheap coders any way they can so they can systematically lower the pay of programmers in general.

Comment: Re:Yes (Score 1) 405 405

You either know a lot of fictional people, or your company is in trouble with so much executive turnover.

I can tell someone hasn't worked in many large multinationals. Some VP or CXX gets hired, brings in his buddies, implements some stupid crap policies, milks the position for what its worth and then leaves after 3-5 years for greener pastures and the cycle continues. Everyone else is left to clean up the mess left behind. Usually the next guy will see the resulting disfunction and hire some consultants who recommend layoffs and various reorganizations. It is the same thing over and over again.

When I was a kid, I used to read Dilbert and laugh. Now I read Dilbert and cry because that shit is all too real.

Comment: Re:Yes (Score 1, Insightful) 405 405

They drive up the stress levels for the rest of us, coming in thinking they know everything, implementing stupid fucking ideas that never pan out, then buggering off to another company before implementation is complete and without any strategy for support or long-term maintenance. Their turnover rates are routinely cited as reasons why our jobs are being shopped off shore, which just adds to the stress.

Funny, most of the people I know who are doing that are usually 40-50 year old MBA managers and CXX-titled executives.

Comment: Re:Looks like someone rediscovered Dan Hurley's bo (Score 2) 407 407

None of that matters in corporate America. It's all about short term gains. Workers are nothing but a resource to use up, wear out, and throw away. If they can get a 10% productivity boost at the expense of your health and well being, that is a no brainer! If you get burned out, they can just as easily get rid of you and replace you with someone for half your salary.

The only thing that matters is stock price.

At the source of every error which is blamed on the computer you will find at least two human errors, including the error of blaming it on the computer.

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