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Comment Waiting for a MacBook Pro update (Score 2) 29

Although I've got Linux on my servers, I'm using Apple on the desktop (app development). The last MacBook Pro update was... lackluster, without a CPU update. I'm really hoping for Skylake and its integrated graphics, because I want the fastest laptop but without discrete graphics. The repeated disasters in the past with the discrete graphics basically melting off the motherboards, left me waiting for something like this.

Comment Re:Here's how you make money (Score 1) 56

I've found the secret, you have other people pay you to make their apps for them. I've been making a pretty good living from that going 5 years now.

Exactly. I've started last year, and like any on-site contractor, you get paid pretty well and there's an amount of freedom in picking a client.

Comment Desktop versus server, big difference (Score 1) 319

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

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

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

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.

Never keep up with the Joneses. Drag them down to your level. -- Quentin Crisp