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Comment: Embarassing use of tech (Score 0) 99

by Andrew Wagner (#49478309) Attached to: US Navy Researchers Get Drones To Swarm On Target
Stuff like this makes me embarassed to call myself an electrical engineer. If you tell someone you've worked in the field of robotics or UAV's, there's a decent chance they're going to think something along the lines of "oh, so you're the kind of person who builds machines that rain death from the sky." Doctors take a pledge not to kill people; I see no reason why we engineers shouldn't hold ourselves to the standard.

Comment: Slashdot editorial standards? (Score 1) 181

by Andrew Wagner (#49456469) Attached to: Autonomous Cars and the Centralization of Driving
While this is one of my favorite discussion topics, TFA is extremely badly written. If someone is not writing clearly and concisely, they are probably not thinking clearly either. Why is this below average blog post getting treated like a serious rebuttal to a report from a major financial instution?

Comment: Re:just like software, centralizion is inevitable (Score 1) 181

by Andrew Wagner (#49456453) Attached to: Autonomous Cars and the Centralization of Driving
It is unlikely the automation of cars willl be centralised to the point that they ~can't also work autonomously. The interstate highway system was built because fast road transportation for defensive forces was viewed as a military necessity. If all of our roads could be gridlocked by a cyber attack commanding all of the robot cars to stop in the middle of the road, I'm sure the military would have something to say about it.

Comment: Re:Never (Score 1) 181

by Andrew Wagner (#49456421) Attached to: Autonomous Cars and the Centralization of Driving
I disagree with this sentiment. If we can figure out how to program planes to never crash into mountains/buildings/the ground, we absolutely should. If it's fault tolerance you're concerned about, apparently a single pilot with a head full of bad ideas is still a potential single point of failure. Maybe we're not ready to take humans out of the loop completely, but surely we can make it necessary to have consent from ~both pilots to disable the plane's safety features.

Comment: Re:Never (Score 1) 181

by Andrew Wagner (#49456403) Attached to: Autonomous Cars and the Centralization of Driving
It is not just about reaction time (thought that sure helps stopping distance); it is also about sensors and reliability. Humans cannot shoot lasers out of their eyes to precisely and directly measure the distance to every object in every direction, know intrinsically where they are (GPS), how to navigate (google maps), where there are traffic jams (via other cars running google maps), where there are potholes (via the accelerometers in the smartphones in other cars), etc... As for reliability, an autonomous car does not ever have to reach the performance of our ~best drivers, it just has to beat the performance of our ~worst drivers. Would you rather cross the road as a pedestrian in front of a robot car, or a human driver that is tired/drunk/distracted/half blind/stupid/enraged/hurried?

Comment: Re:"without garbage collection" (Score 2) 211

by Andrew Wagner (#49404967) Attached to: Rust 1.0 Enters Beta
Things could get very interesting indeed if Apple opens up Swift. I'm not sure if Swift can cover all of the use cases that Rust does, but it can probably cover most of them, and Apple has worked very hard on Swift's ergonomics. Interactive REPL-style coding is a mere twinkle in some rust dev's eye right now; the closest we have is the playpen and the playbot in the IRC channel. The world wins if either of them catch on.

Comment: Re:Thank you! (Score 3, Funny) 211

by Andrew Wagner (#49404909) Attached to: Rust 1.0 Enters Beta
The main hot newness in Rust is the borrow checker. It is the source of Rusts most notable strengh and also it's most notable weakness, but you won't see it at all if you just look at a code example online, or download an already-working code example. It's also interesting since it's the first language to really target the remaining C/C++ strongholds in a long time, and it does have an interesting mix of good ideas from other languages. As for graphical programming, I would have said that all the clicking (and not version controlling) puts an upper limit on program complexity, but who knows... people have designed some darn complex stuff in Minecraft; if someone designed a visual programming language for people with that temperament maybe they ~could write something like an operating system by clicking and dragging (and shoveling?).

Comment: Re:Ada (Score 3, Informative) 211

by Andrew Wagner (#49404805) Attached to: Rust 1.0 Enters Beta
Wow, Ada code looks nothing like Rust code to me. Ada looks like a mix of BASIC and python. I don't know Ada, but Rust supposedly makes stronger guarantees of memory correctness for parallel code. Rust just went beta yesterday; breaking changes up to now were to be expected. Once there are more people with real-world experience with both Ada and Rust, I'll be very interested in reading about their experiences. Maybe you haven't been following it closely, but Rust is not some one-developer toy scripting language. A team of brilliant engineers has been working on it full-time at Mozilla for years.

Comment: Re:Have you actually tried using Rust? (Score 1) 211

by Andrew Wagner (#49404633) Attached to: Rust 1.0 Enters Beta
Wow, HN must be attracting a very special subset of rust folks if what you say is true. I've found the rust devs and everyone in the community to be consistently polite and helpful. There was one guy who would leave a mix of verbal abuse and insightful technical arguments, and the abuse the devs took politely before ultimately banning him was epic. If you get stuck on something, help in IRC or SO is almost immediate.

Comment: Give the ecosystem a few days to catch up (Score 5, Interesting) 211

by Andrew Wagner (#49403493) Attached to: Rust 1.0 Enters Beta
Now is a good time to play around with Rust and explore the language features! If you build against the beta release and don't add external package dependencies, your code will most likely continue to function for the duration of the 1.0 release cycle. However, now is probably a particularly ~bad time for new rust users to start a project and add a bunch of dependencies from Cargo/crates.io. Beta changed code dependencies on unstable features from warnings to errors, so a lot of common libraries in the ecosystem are broken at the moment, and will take a little while to get updated. Happy hacking!

Comment: Re:projecting UV images from below liquid resin? (Score 1) 95

Really? I remember one that shined light on the top of the pool and gradually lowered the object / raised the resin level. I suspect growing the object from the bottom is novel, but I'm not sure. The thing with the oxygen acting as an inhibitor is probably also novel, but I imagine there are other ways to prevent sticking at the interface.... i.e. a water based resin of some sort coupled with a super hydrophobic surface treatment... or something that just erodes a bit but not enough to affect tolerances...

Comment: Go 3D next? (Score 1) 146

by Andrew Wagner (#49036325) Attached to: Building the Developer's Dream Keyboard
Nice job so far! I started working on an open keyboard similar to a Kinesis Contour or Maltron, but I was using closed source CAD and my windows installation started refusing to boot one day and I haven't been sufficiently inspired to fix it yet. CAD is the main thing holding back open source hardware IMHO; there is FreeCAD, but assemblies aren't even there yet; that's a showtopper for me. I think if you laser sinter the entire keyboard shell and hand-solder the keyscanning matrix, you could almost reach cost parity with the commercial versions, which cost around 300 bucks. My main motive was to be able to fix firmware bugs and replace keys individually, even though Kinesis is really cool about sending you replacement parts if you buy one of their keyboards and manage to wear out the keyswitches. I also wanted mechanical switches for the F-keys; the rubber dome switches drive me nuts.

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