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Comment Re:Gazebo, ROS, OpenCV, Point Cloud Library (Score 1) 78

What dbc says in his answer. But there's also that you can to some degree choose to shift complexity to hardware or software.

You can for instance have a very expensive, high-quality, difficult to design and build harmonic-drive limb joint. The hardware is strong, accurate and reliable. There's no backlash or slack anywhere. Your software for moving the joint can in such a case be more or less "move_to_angle(something)" and you're done.

Or you can have a hobby servo moving a hinge consisting of two holes threaded with a wire hanger. You can build it in five minutes. But now your software has to take all the slop, and all the inaccuracies into account. The behaviour of the joint will change depending on bending angle, direction to the floor, what it's holding and probably a lot more. You'll need extra sensors and probably some kind of adaptive system that learns to control the rickety thing.

So you can decide whether you want to shift more of your problems to the hardware or to the software.

Comment Re:$3 (Score 1) 112

I've built things that sold in the 10's of thousands of dollars range and took people years to develop in the 90's that can now be made (often better) by a kid in high school with lunch money. I wonder what the long term affect this has on the economy.

Well, if it really takes off, the school cafeteria sector revenues are going to be hurting.

Comment It's not Linux versus Windows for me (Score 2, Insightful) 126

I play games on Linux. I loved the Portal games, and I'm spending more time than is perhaps good for me in Kerbal Space Program. Got XCOM waiting for me once I take a break from KSP. On my laptop I play FTL, and I've slowly playing through Baldurs Gate; something fun to do during business trips.

If I didn't have these games on Linux, I would not be playing on Windows. Dual-booting is completely impractical, since you'd have to close your work and shut down just to play a game. I'd not use Windows; I'd probably just get a game console instead. Or be content with the games I can play on my tablet. Without Linux games, I would not be playing PC games at all.

Comment Re:Another day, another future battery tech story (Score 1) 151

New battery technologies are being implemented, and battery technology has been constantly improving. Batteries today are far better - smaller, lighter, energy denser - than those of twenty years ago.

Some of the announcements of the past twelve months will end up in working batteries. But it will take a few years, and there will be no fanfare or press releases when it happens. Your next model phone or whatever will just be a bit faster, or support some new transmission standard, or charge a bit quicker, and you'll never realize the improved battery in it is part of the reason that could happen.

Comment Re:More than just another attempt (Score 2) 51

Instead they're using the RCS system, a low-efficiency thruster which was only meant for steering, to perform orbital injection. Reportedly, this is the first time that's been done for a planetary transfer,

In real life, yes. Meanwhile, in Kerbal Space Program...

I think KSP is, in a way, ruining real space exploration for me much the same way science fiction ruins the expectations for real robots. Out of fuel? Use your RCS. RCS also out of fuel? Get out and push! Lander strut broken? Use RCS to balance the lander until time to take off.

Comment Re:How does Pi compare to PDP-11 (Score 1) 243

How does a Pi with a remote text terminal session compare performance wise to a PDP-11 :-)

Way faster, way more capable. I worked with a PDP11 on a summer job. If I remember correctly, it had 2x64KB memory (data and code pages); the Pi has more main memory than the PDP had hard rive storage.

It managed to support about a dozen concurrent users that used it for monitoring an industrial process. It was tight enough, though, that we had to stop people using a full-screen clock application, since it couldn't cope with all terminals running it at the same time.

Comment Re:Science journals have done this as well (Score 2) 135

There is no longer any need to filter prior to publishing - filtering can happen after. Researchers should just "publish" their papers on their own or school's website.

There is a need. Look at it from the readers' side. You are asking me to trawl the websites of tens of thousands of labs and researchers in order to keep up with events. And we'd all have to individually act as gatekeepers, sifting out the good stuff from the bad, the deliberately fake and the crap put out by people with mental health problems.

I already spend far too much of my time just trying to stay on top of what happens; without aggregators - places to collect papers in one place - and gatekeepers - people that do the filtering so we don't all have to - I could spend 100% of my time on this and still fail.

I absolutely agree that we don't need the classic limited-space, expensive paper journal. PLoS and the like, along with Arxiv for preprints, are good replacements for that. Especially as they're pushing for applying metrics on a per-paper basis, not journal.

The problem is the editing/gatekeeping/evaluation. Peer review sucks. Problem is, I have yet to hear of another system that would both suck less and actually work in a real-world setting. And we do need it. We need to share the job of filtering out the valid science from the invalid crap, the pranks and the religious rants.

Comment Re:3m x 3m is still pretty big.... (Score 1) 137

Yes; you don't just need the free area, but enough extra margin that you don't risk bumping into things or breaking something when you flail about. Especially since you can't see, are focused on a game and have little clue where you actually are in real life. 3x3m really means 1.5x1.5m of actual, safe space - or less.

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