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Comment: Re:Tools for modifying open hardware designs (Score 3, Interesting) 78

by dbc (#49236169) Attached to: Why We Need Free Digital Hardware Designs

Sorry to tell you, but you and I are about the only two people in the world to believe this. I use gEDA, BTW, which is another free-as-in-speech alternative to KiCAD, and much older. So far, I have been very frustrated trying to make the case that open hardware designs need to be "elephants all the way down" -- FOSS from the hardware design, to the DA tools (and file formats and libraries), to the OS. In fact, I once had a several-post-long exchange with Limor Fried over at AdaFruit's forums where she finally closed off the thread with: "Tools don't matter." I think her opinion is outrageously misguided and short-sighted, but that is an example of what the leaders of the Open Hardware community are thinking. SparkFun must feel the same way, because all of their designs are released on cripple-ware tools, too.

I think we need an open hardware license that includes a clause about openly documented file formats at the very least, and I would push for a license that calls for design files released on open source DA tools. Imagine where the Linux ecosystem would be today without gcc. Gcc isn't a great compiler, but it is open source, and it got us where we are today.

Comment: Re:50 Mhz lower limit? Ouch. (Score 1) 135

by dbc (#49133505) Attached to: Developers Disclose Schematics For 50-1000 MHz Software-Defined Transceiver

Ummmm I'm not so sure you can say most hams are HF focused. I think there are a lot more technician class shack-on-a-belt types than hard core HF types. Although, the shack-on-a-belt ham isn't likely to be an experimenter. Then again, the CW-or-die HF crowd isn't really doing bleeding edge experiments either. It seems to me that 50-1000 MHz scores a bulls-eye on most true experimenters.

In any case, there already a zillion options in HF SDR's -- how many are you running now? Personally, I'm annoyed that it doesn't go up to 1.2GHz, that's where I want some hardware to play with.

Comment: Values, life-long love of learning (Score 1) 698

by dbc (#49130201) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Terminally Ill - What Wisdom Should I Pass On To My Geek Daughter?

My own father passed when I was six years old. Still, his memory was a huge influence on my life. Through my mother, older siblings, and business associates of his, I was constantly reminded of his values. He was known as an honest man of high integrity. I wanted (still want) to be known the same way. That has always been a tall order to live up to. But I am better for it.

He also expected me to learn something every day. I still remember coming home from kindergarden and being asked "What did you learn today?" -- if I said "nothing" or "not much", I was told that wasting a day like that was unacceptable. He expected a specfic, concrete answer to that question each and every day. He belived in education and served on the school board. He encouraged all of his children to pursue higher education in what ever area they were passionate about.

Comment: Re:Tesla and Leaf are different (Score 1) 212

by dbc (#49102741) Attached to: The Best, and Worst, Places To Drive Your Electric Car

Also depends on how you charge it. The fast chargers will kill a battery faster. The chemicals in the goop do migrate, and though they start out evenly distributed, the uniformity of the chemical density degrades over time. Fast charging on a regular basis accelerates the degradation.

Comment: Re:What's the term for a prophylactic prediction? (Score 2) 677

by dbc (#49040105) Attached to: Empirical Study On How C Devs Use Goto In Practice Says "Not Harmful"

Indeed. And if one is old enough to have read/maintained any FORTRAN code dating from Dijkstra's era, you can understand why he wrote this paper. A lesser being would have gone off on an apoplectic rant. In fact, I may be one of those lesser beings, myself.

Comment: Re:Good thing they put the blinky light on it's ta (Score 1) 63

by dbc (#49023291) Attached to: Boston Dynamics Introduces Their Newest Four-Legged Robot, 'Spot'

The OSHA regs were probably written around the traditional industrial manipulators that have *no* sensors to detect collisions, have large mass, move verrrrry fast, and have high joint torque. They live in safety cages, and there are interlocks on the control panels for when a human needs to go into the cage.

Bringing robots "out of the cage" is a topic of current research. It involves moving slower, reducing mass, lots of sensors to detect surroundings, and having backdrivable joints so that you can just push the robot out of the way if it bunts you. Kicking Spot on the flank is not just a demonstration of it's balancing algorithms. It says you can push it out of your way if you feel like it. I'd be interested in knowing what happens of you grab one of it's feet and hold on -- how much joint torque is present in the legs?

LegoLand San Diego has a ride that consists of a couple of chairs mounted on the end of some big industrial robot arms, (Kuka's, I think). You can pick your intensify from 1 to 5 -- my daughter and I chose 3, which is the first level where you go up side down. It was very good humor. Level 5 looked intense.... Anyway, I'm thinking saddling up a few Spots for robot races could be a cool ride :)

Comment: Re:Fry's Electronics (Score 1) 242

by dbc (#48964897) Attached to: RadioShack Near Deal To Sell Half of Its Stores, Close the Rest

Which Fry's is that? The one's I've seen have one aisle of the most common cruft components, and the rest of the store is "other". When it comes to electronic components, I *am* the target customer, and I would never think of shopping at Fry's first, or at Radio Shack first, either. But... it is common for me to have an order Digi-Key every month, and every couple of months an order to Mouser and SparkFun, and a couple times a year to Adafruit. And several times a year I upload gerbers to a PCB fab house. The market exists, but there is *no* brick-and-morter supplier that could possible stock a useful range. There once was a time when I bought components a Radio Shack, but that was when the components were soldered onto the bottoms of tube sockets. Times have changed.

Comment: Re:Second amendment zone of lawlessness (Score 1) 431

by dbc (#48927257) Attached to: Justice Department: Default Encryption Has Created a 'Zone of Lawlessness'

I think that is a very interesting concept. If it is a munition, it should be covered by the second amendment. The problem you face is that ever since the Miller case, the 2A has been eroding to the point where even though something is obviously covered by the second amendment, you still might not be able to keep and bear it. From a pragmatic standpoint, it is in everyone's interest to push back on government incursions into the 2A, because those same arguments can be applied by the government to 1A and 4A, and any-other-A. If you don't like what the 2A says, then try to pass an amendment to change it -- because trying rubbery arguments to contort the meaning will eventually erode the other amendments.

Comment: Re:why the fuck (Score 2) 101

by dbc (#48872349) Attached to: Google Plans Major Play In Wireless Partnering With Sprint and T-Mobile

Exactly. All that infrastructure build-out costs lots of money. You need subscribers to pay the rent on the cell site, you need coverage (cell sites) to get customers. It takes a lot of cash to bootstrap that. Coverage pulls in customers -- I'm a past T-Mobile customer -- their plans are much more subscriber friendly that the other guys, but darn I need coverage in a couple of their holes. I'm just one data point, but I'm sure others make the same decision.

Real programmers don't write in BASIC. Actually, no programmers write in BASIC after reaching puberty.