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VP Anthony Moschella Shows Off Makerbot's Latest Printers and Materials (Video) 44

Posted by timothy
from the now-you-can-make-fake-wood-designer-shapes-on-the-3d-printer-at-your-local-makerspace dept.
You may have read a few weeks ago about the new materials that MakerBot has introduced for its 3-D printers; earlier this month, I got a chance to see some of them in person, and have them explained by MakerBot VP of Product Anthony Moschella in a cramped demo closet — please excuse the lighting — at the company's booth at CES. Moschella had some things to say about materials, timelines, and what MakerBot is doing to try to salvage its open-source cred, despite being a very willing part of a corporate conspiracy to sell boxes of Martha Stewart-branded extruder filament — as well as a few unremarkable things that the company's ever-vigilant PR overseer decreed Moschella couldn't answer on the record for reasons like agreements between MakerBot parent Stratasys and their suppliers. The good news for owners of recent MakerBot models: they'll be upgradeable to use the new and interesting materials with a part swap, rather than a whole-machine swap (it takes a "smart extruder" rather than the current, dumber one). And the pretty good news for fans of open source, besides that the current generation of MakerBots are all Linux-based computers themselves, is that MakerBot's open API provides a broad path for 3-D makers to interact with the printers. (The bad news is that there's no move afoot to return the machines' guts to open source hardware, like the early generations of MakerBots, but STL files at least don't care whether you ship them to an FSF-approved printer to be made manifest.)

Comment: Re:The solution is obvious (Score 1) 579

by c (#48930749) Attached to: Google Explains Why WebView Vulnerability Will Go Unpatched On Android 4.3

While that seems vaguely plausible on the surface, I honestly have to wonder if the vendors branch the sources because it is the most direct way to accomplish their goals.

It's possible. But looking at how the hardware OEM's operate (particularly at the level of the SoC vendors), the process from the outside looks a heck of a lot like "branch, patch, compile, rm -rf". And it's worth pointing out that the crap the OEM's mod into Android (Touchwiz, Sense, etc) plus the bloatware on top has been getting less invasive as time goes on and the vendors have been getting a bit quicker to pick up Android version changes. So there does appear to have been some improvement.

But at the core of it, "giving back to the community" and "smartphone OEM" aren't phrases that one typically expects to see together.

Let me put it another way: if Google isn't happy about this situation, why the fuck didn't they fix it a long time ago?

I think the carriers and OEM's are probably a lot less amenable to arm twisting than you think. The carriers basically lost complete control over the iPhone, so I can't see them being enthusiastic about Android also becoming a black box to them, and the OEMs are going to make what the carriers are willing to buy, plus they still want to have their crapware and whatever to set themselves apart from the rest of the pack.

It's worth pointing out that by now, the major OEMs probably have enough Android expertise that breaking off and building directly from AOSP is a feasible option if Google tries to flex too much muscle.

And if you think things are bad now, think of how much worse it will get if a substantial chunk of phones don't even have a common Google Play-based core capable of patching an ever-increasing set of components.

That's not even getting into the anti-trust concerns Google's going to run up against if they start adding more conditions to their contracts. They're already getting grief over "forcing" the bundling of their apps, imagine what they'll get if they start "forcing" their own updates to the core O/S (I'm sure the contract wouldn't be written quite that way, but we all know how it would be twisted).

At this point, the only proper "fix" I can see is for Google to keep doing what they're doing. Keep improving Android, building and improve their collection of must-have apps, try to maintain a market of unlocked Android Nexus/One/GPE phones, and keep some pressure on the OEMs to get with the program. I'm also quite interested in seeing how the Google wireless offering might go... if they create a carrier which only accepts unlocked phones and isn't trying to rape the consumer for profits, the North American carriers could be in for a well-deserved ass-kicking.

Comment: Re:The solution is obvious (Score 1) 579

by c (#48928579) Attached to: Google Explains Why WebView Vulnerability Will Go Unpatched On Android 4.3

But for that to work, they would have had to have a meaningful way to abstract HW from SW.

Arguably, they do.

There's a fundamental problem with things like closed source drivers and folks down the chain forking Android to add their secret sauce, but at its heart Android is basically a big JVM on top of a Linux kernel.

Branching the sources isn't the only way to do it. It's just how things seem to work. That the assorted manufacturers and carriers are particularly shitty FLOSS software development collaborators, and that the smartphone hardware ecosystem is basically a collection of one-offs... that's a hard thing to fix.

Honestly, given the state of the industry when Android kicked off, I'm surprised things have gone as smoothly as they have.

Comment: Re:The solution is obvious (Score 1) 579

by c (#48914885) Attached to: Google Explains Why WebView Vulnerability Will Go Unpatched On Android 4.3

But it's a situation that they could reasonably have foreseen.

They might've believed having an "open" handset operating system would break the various carrier/manufacturer strangleholds on the market similar to how MS-DOS and the PC affected the computing market years ago.

In fact, I think while that might not have been the plan from the outset, I'm willing to bet that's the direction the strategy went as Android gained market share.

Whether or not they should have planned for failure (or the partial success they have largely due to the Nexus series) is an interesting. Apple demonstrated that it's entirely possible to have an ecosystem of up-to-date phones, so it's not exactly unreasonable to expect that Android could have pushed things that way.

Portables

Getting Charged Up Over Chargers at CES (Video) 33

Posted by Roblimo
from the slip-me-some-of-that-juice-Bruce dept.
First we look at Skiva Technology and their Octofire 8-port USB charger that pulled in nearly five times the requested amount from a Kickstarter campaign. (The 'pulled in X times the requested Kickstarter amount' is becoming a common product boast, isn't it?) Then, for MacBook owners who are tired of having their chargers or charger cords break, we take a brief look at the Juiceboxx Charger Case. These two power-oriented products and WakaWaka, which we posted about on January 9, are just a tiny, random sample of the many items in this category that were on display at CES 2015. Timothy was the only Slashdot person working CES, so it's shocking that he managed to cover as many (hopefully interesting) products as he did, considering that even the biggest IT journo mills don't come close to total coverage of the overwhelming muddle CES has become in recent years. (Alternate Video Link)

Comment: Re:"A hangar in Mojave" (Score 3, Informative) 38

by Bruce Perens (#48908157) Attached to: Virgin Galactic Dumps Scaled Composites For Spaceship Two

That's actually what it's like at "Mojave Spaceport". Hangers of small aviation practicioners and their junk. Gary Hudson, Burt Rutan, etc. Old aircraft and parts strewn about. Left-over facilities from Rotary Rocket used by flight schools. A medium-sized facility for Orbital. Some big facilities for BAE, etc. An aircraft graveyard next door.

Comment: Re:The solution is obvious (Score 1) 579

by c (#48907271) Attached to: Google Explains Why WebView Vulnerability Will Go Unpatched On Android 4.3

However, if this security failing leads to a major loss of money or privacy for Android users, I suspect Google could be on the recieving end of a multi-gazillion dollar class action.
And so could the handset manufacturers.

Lawsuits are always a possibility.

Mind you, Google has an out ("it's fixed in 4.4.x, which we make available free-of-charge. Why didn't you install it?") while the handset manufacturers don't, really.

Comment: Re:The solution is obvious (Score 3, Interesting) 579

by c (#48905757) Attached to: Google Explains Why WebView Vulnerability Will Go Unpatched On Android 4.3

Why does Google get a pass just because they have a fast versioning scheme?

Largely because everyone with a clue knows that 99.999% of devices still running Android 4.3.x which haven't been upgraded to 4.4.x have approximately 0.00000 probability of being updated to 4.3.(x+1) even if Google were to make a patch available.

Whether they "support" 4.3 for two days, two years or two decades at this point is largely irrelevant. If you have no means to get a patch to the people affected by the problem and you're going to get criticized irrespective of whether or not you try, then why waste the resources?

And it's pretty darn obvious from what Google's been doing in the last few years that this is not a situation that Google is happy with, nor is it a situation they could reasonably do much more about.

Comment: Re:life in the U.S. (Score 3, Informative) 255

by c (#48903719) Attached to: Verizon, Cable Lobby Oppose Spec-Bump For Broadband Definition

I am not sure that this group of people has any business telling me what I need or don't need.

No, it's a useful gauge of how good it would be for the consumer. If the telcos and/or cable industry oppose something then it's a solid bet that it's in the best interests of the average consumer.

Comment: Re:buy the competition (Score 2) 105

by c (#48898295) Attached to: Brought To You By the Letter R: Microsoft Acquiring Revolution Analytics

It's ancient history, but when Microsoft put some money into perl-on-Windows development, there were a lot of ruffled feathers and panicky headlines.

It didn't amount to anything even close to "taking over perl", even during the nastier stretch of Microsoft's "embrace and extend" era, but asking people to remember things that happened so long ago is obviously too much.

The herd instinct among economists makes sheep look like independent thinkers.

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