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Comment: $1000, not $300 (Score 1) 29

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) 127

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) 82

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) 55

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) 57

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: Re:Real life is complicated (Score 1) 479

Hmm, factory workers aren't really comparable to soldiers invading a foreign country, are they? The former makes useful things for people at home and the latter signed up voluntarily to go kill people who were not invading.

Look, you may not like people in the military (no clue why), but to say they deserve what they get is naive and stupid. Historically and currently, joining the military has been one of the most sure ways for intelligent, motivated people born into poor circumstances to raise themselves up the ladder of success.

Given the relative abundance of rich entrepreneurs vs rich veterans, I think a citation may be needed there.

Comment: The scammer's dream. (Score 3, Insightful) 155

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.

Comment: Re:Institutional hypocrisy (Score 1) 181

They could sit on their thumbs doing nothing. While this option pleases the anarchist in us, you cannot expect a lawmaker to ignore lawbreakers

What law breakers? This new "law" that was invented by the courts with zero debate is so vague that whether someone is breaking it or not is entirely debatable and thus eminently ignorable.

A committee is a group that keeps the minutes and loses hours. -- Milton Berle

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