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Comment Desktop versus server, big difference (Score 1) 318 318

There's a big difference between how you treat your desktops and your servers.

I wanted a change of pace and moved from embedded stuff on Linux to iOS development. So my desktop is basically always the latest OS X version.

I still have Linux servers running for OwnCloud and my personal website, and that's all Debian Stable. But given that it's Stable, I always update to the latest.

Comment Re:Possible problems (Score 1) 183 183

Unless these road pieces are chemically altered in some way, traction on plastic roads would be awful

Couldn't they have come up with some ridging or some pattern of grooves?

I'm all for cleaning out the oceans

I bet some stupid manipulative marketing asshole/bitch just made that up.

Comment Re:I've seen this up close (Score 1) 25 25

Our first flight didn't end well due to another reason. The next balloon flight, the electronics engineer just removed enough insulation to keep it cosy at the height where the balloon would mostly stay. He then added a small additional battery pack connected to a heating element. A colleague coded a PID algorithm to keep the big pack warm at the start of the flight.

Comment I've seen this up close (Score 4, Interesting) 25 25

I've seen this up close. I'm a software engineer and I've worked for a scientific institute in the past. One of the project involved putting a camera on a helium-filled balloon. The electronics and PC equipment (a PC104-sized Linux box) were powered from a big pack of lithium batteries.

The problem is basically that lithium batteries perform best in a certain temperature range, say from 10 to 25 degrees Celsius (50 to 65 F). But that's rather difficult.When you lift off, it might be cold and you want the batteries to have a decent temperature. Otherwise they can't deliver enough power. So you insulate them and they stay warm by themselves, because when you draw power, they get warm.

But then the higher you lift off into the air, the thinner the air gets. Thus convection will be less and less. You can shed heat via radiation (into the infrared spectrum) but that's only half of the heat or so. And then the insulation can overheat the battery packs.

There's all sorts of tricks, for example copper-strapping the packs to a large piece of black metal so you increase the heat radiation. But if you automate that (or the insulation), you also get additional possible failures.

What it comes down to, is some calculation but also some experience.

Comment Re:dependent contractors (Score 1) 273 273

And a lawyer and an accountant and an accounts manager and a salesperson and a...

It's not that bad, actually. I moved from a steady job to contracting and it's not like you run a full-fledged business. I get my work through a bunch of agencies, so I don't have to do calling and selling and what have you. I just spread my resume around those, and they call and email me. There's also a local site where you can check out companies looking for a contractor. Once you have a client, it's usually a multi-month/-year, stable affair.

I do my own bookkeeping because I happen to like it, but a friend of mine simply gives it to an accountant. Since it's only a one bill a month and a handful of invoices, the costs are quite limited.

And I easily earn twice of what I used to earn.

Comment Re:3D printer parts and various accessories (Score 2) 266 266

Roomba accessories? WTF are you doing with your vacuum cleaner?

Roombas break in certain, specific ways. For example, the (outer case of the) gear box often develops cracks. I'd like to be able to print out a new cover, because that's the only thing broken right now. Getting it replaced involves buying a complete swiper assembly, $100-150 or so.

Great thing about the Roomba is that these problems are well-known. I've been keeping mine running 7-8 years, replacing infrared LEDs, ball bearings and probably the outer gear box this year.

Comment OwnCloud (Score 1) 107 107

This being a tech site, I suggest you do it yourself and get a virtual private server somewhere, then install OwnCloud. It's extremely easy, just get a VPS at one of the nice providers like DigitalOcean or Linode, install Debian and use dmcrypt or ecryptfs to encrypt the filesystem.

Then share your files over HTTPS. Done.

Many people write memos to tell you they have nothing to say.