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+ - Don't Want Google In Your House? Here Are A Few Home-Tech Startups to Watch

Submitted by curtwoodward
curtwoodward (2147628) writes "Google bought Nest. Then Nest bought Dropcam. Then Nest opened up its platform to tech partners, including ... Google. This may not creep everyone out, but for those who don't like the idea of Google's all-seeing eye owning their smart-home devices, there are some small, independent companies developing alternatives. Maybe they'll survive long enough to get acquired by a company that doesn't make 90 percent of its money from advertising---right?"

+ - Is Suspension-Energy Recovery The Next Big Thing?

Submitted by cartechboy
cartechboy (2660665) writes "Let's face it, regenerative braking is now old tech. It's on everything from the Toyota Prius to your mom's new Ford Fusion Hybrid. So what's next? We've already heard about thermoelectric technology which recovers energy from hot surfaces such as exhaust, but what about the energy used by your car while moving up and down? That's right, recovering energy normally lost through a vehicle's suspension. Audi is reportedly developing a regenerative suspension system that could reclaim energy in a similar way to regenerative braking, providing an extra boost of electricity from the up-and-down motion of the shock absorbers. Shocks can become quite hot, especially on a bumpy road. That heat is pretty much wasted as it dissipates into the atmosphere as wasted energy, but the Audi system would collect it with an attached generator. That recovered energy would be stored in batteries and used to power a hybrid's electric motor or electrical accessories in a conventional car. Audi hasn't said when this tech will make its public debut, but this stuff is the next step in when it comes to energy recovery in cars."

+ - If Police Want to Search Your Phone, They Need to "Get a Warrant": Supreme Court->

Submitted by Daniel_Stuckey
Daniel_Stuckey (2647775) writes "In a ruling anticipated for years, the Supreme Court unanimously agreed that police must have a warrant to search a person's cell phone. The ruling, which is strong in its defense of Fourth Amendment rights in the digital space, is a landmark decision for the treatment and protection of individuals' data.

"Modern cell phones are not just another technological convenience," reads Chief Justice John Robert's opinion. "With all they contain and all they may reveal, they hold for many Americans 'the privacies of life.'"

"The fact that technology now allows an individual to carry such information in his hand does not make the information any less worthy of the protection for which the Founders fought," it continues. "Our answer to the question of what police must do before searching a cell phone seized incident to an arrest is accordingly simple—get a warrant.""

Link to Original Source

+ - NASA merges vacuum tube tech with silicon->

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "NASA research merges vacuum tube technology with silicon to create "vacuum channel" transistors that can switch at more than 400GHz. What makes this vacuum-channel transistor useful? Speed. The switching speed of a transistor is governed by the speed of electron flow through the transistor. Electron flow through traditional semiconductors is quite fast, but electron flow through a vacuum (or, in this case, atmospheric helium) is faster still, and that enables faster switching."
Link to Original Source

+ - Gary Kildall, Father of the PC OS, Finally Gets His Due

Submitted by theodp
theodp (442580) writes "GeekWire reports that Gary Kildall, the creator of the landmark personal computer operating system CP/M, will be recognized posthumously by the IEEE for that contribution, in addition to his invention of BIOS, with a rare IEEE Milestone plaque. Kildall, who passed away in 1994 at the age of 52, has been called the man who could have been Bill Gates. But according to Kildall's son, his dad wasn't actually interested in being what Bill Gates became: "He was a real inventor," said Scott Kildall. "He was much more interested in creating new ideas and bringing them to the world, rather than being the one that was bringing them to market and leveraging a huge amount of profits. He was such a kind human being. He was always sharing his ideas, and would sit down with people and show flowcharts of what he was thinking. I think if he were around for the open-source movement, he would be such a huge proponent of it." Techies of a certain age will also remember Gary's work as a co-host of Computer Chronicles."

Comment: Re:The Basement (Score 1) 51

by sixoh1 (#46575967) Attached to: How 3D Printer Maker Aleph Objects Pushes the Open Source Envelope

Thanks for the check in Jeff - sorry for the trolls....

Back to the original OP topic of patents - Do you think that Colorado's congressional delegation is any more informed about the destructive effect of poor patents on this market? I know they have certainly made hay of having you in their districts as a sign of their super-fantastic "stewardship" of Colorado's industrial relevance.

Comment: Re:3D printing very old (Score 1) 51

by sixoh1 (#46575911) Attached to: How 3D Printer Maker Aleph Objects Pushes the Open Source Envelope

While the concept is "old", the actual technology in use here is hardly "old hat". FDM/FFF itself was stillborn as a product from Stratasys mostly due to the extremely high cost of entry - I have clients that purchased systems from Stratasys 15 years ago, and they are far more excited and anxious to use the capabilities of the new-market FFF systems because the vibrant and competitive market from non-commercial RepRap and all of the commercial spin offs like Aleph is putting a significant number of new eyeballs and creative developers into the mix.

The point is precisely that any technology, no matter how capable, will be under utilized and see limited functionality if it is only allowed to be used by a single company - think Unix at AT&T/Bell in 1960 vs. *Nix in 2010 in phones, cars, elevators, watches, glasses, power plants, airplanes, battle tanks, space craft, and 3D printers.

Comment: Re:There isn't much to 'patent' available (Score 1) 51

by sixoh1 (#46575823) Attached to: How 3D Printer Maker Aleph Objects Pushes the Open Source Envelope

"Important" is meaningless in the eyes of the law - think "swipe to unlock" lawsuits between Apple and Samsung. ANY infringement can bollox your nice little innovative startup and crush novel products. Component costs are not now, nor have they ever been the barrier to innovation, if that was the case then we should be seeing a massive wave of innovation coming from China, Thiland and Maylasia. Instead most of it is still coming from Taiwan and California.

Capital (human and cash) is the real driver, and currently capital is captive to the legal fiction of the value and necessity of Patents - aka "IP Rights". The OP and Aleph's CEO's comments above are very nice to see efforts to break the stranglehold, but its pretty thin gruel to assume one company in Loveland Colorado is going to topple the billions of IPO dollars sloshing around SFO/SJC area chasing and perpetuating the artificial monopolies created by the USPTO.

Comment: Re:years (Score 1) 51

by sixoh1 (#46575763) Attached to: How 3D Printer Maker Aleph Objects Pushes the Open Source Envelope

If you have ever been to the HP (now Agilent) facility here in Colorado Springs, you can walk the graveyard of literally bulldozed cubicles, behind the remaining old cube farm walls. On the walkways are thousands of plaques with US Patent numbers and inventors. The inventors are gone, their cubes are piled like trash, and the shell of the old company exists as not much more than a US based front for a Penang Maylasia based manufacturing outfit with an ever shrinking number of US "engineers" designing more and more expensive systems for fewer and fewer clients every year.

I don't think the Patents have actually resulted in real "advancement of human progress"...

Comment: Re:More please! (Score 1) 51

by sixoh1 (#46575719) Attached to: How 3D Printer Maker Aleph Objects Pushes the Open Source Envelope

Nope, US based. While the "CEO"s are usually MBAs, in many companies from Intel on down the real decision makers of whether things get open sourced are engineers who have climbed the ladder. Think "VP of Engineering", "VP of Product Development" - these are the folks that usually crush open source movements within established firms... "because". They don't understand open source, they didn't do it that way in the 80s, and no amount of argument will convince them otherwise. Add in a corporate legal counsel who wants to be a CFO or CEO and you get "opinions" that GPL is unenforceable and contrary to shareholder interest.

MBAs are actually _easier_ to convince that open source can work since they are more likely to be swayed by graphs and slide ware - tell them "RedHat is doing it" or "Google does it" and they queue up to join the party...

Comment: More please! (Score 3, Informative) 51

by sixoh1 (#46574257) Attached to: How 3D Printer Maker Aleph Objects Pushes the Open Source Envelope

It certainly helps Aleph that the original FDM patent has expired so at least they aren't under immediate assault. On the other hand it is worrisome that they have to think so hard about the "prior art" aspect - is that really what the open source actions is about? If so I'm skeptical that this is a valid solution since the current regime of patentability (I'm looking at you software patents) means there is plenty of danger for them in the dependent/follow-on patents that Stratasys has filed. Lots of necessary and related improvements to the FFF/FDM process are "obvious" if you are building a machine to be useful for additive manufacturing, but USPTO does not use that approach to determining patentability. The worse bit is that if one takes the time to actually dig into the PTO database looking for other's patents, and trying to "work around" - you might be open to contributory infringement (at least stateside), so most folks actively ignore the PTO database to prevent such skeletons. That means LESS information sharing rather than more...

On the gripping hand, I'm happy to see Aleph using the lessons of the software world as a viable business model - forget the 3D printer part. All electronics hardware businesses should be able to follow this model if they are willing - the end result for human productivity, creativity and technological advancement seems inevitable. Assuming Patents are somehow overcome as an obstacle (and for example here we can assume that BRICS nations will take up the flags if US based companies like Aleph are strangled by patents), what else stands in the way of getting more hardware companies to act like Aleph?

My suspicion, having worked in electronics manufacturing for 20+ years is that hardware companies are mostly run by old-line (80s and 90s era) engineers, who cling to privacy, NDAs, trade-secret, etc. by force of habit and comfort. Having spent years coaching my last company about the benefits of open-source (both hardware and software) to naught, I'm betting we won't see more of these kinds of firms until more CEOs die and retire...

Comment: Re:Iff the Republicans allow it (Score 1) 48

by sixoh1 (#46571381) Attached to: SpaceX Resupply Mission To Launch March 30

Ockham's razor applied here might do you a bit of good.

It appears that nearly every single member of Congress, both House and Senate, have been effectively co-opted by personal interest in porkbarrel. While we no longer have William Proxmire posting the outlandish and downright shameful pork projects, a fairly casual search on Bing/Yahoo/Google brings up quite a few articles about various "Waste" programs. There a programs like the NEA and NPR/CPB championed by "progressives" and F35/M1A1 and the perennial favorite "Bridge to Nowhere" of Sen. Stevens fame. Neither the DNC nor RNC can claim innocence, nor do any of the NGO/SuperPac/504 groups get a clean bill of health based on their own lobbying for everything from money to build the Mexico border wall, to petitions for the HHS Secretary to start allowing the sale of human organs (Kidneys). Every single one of these people has at least one axe to grind, maybe more.

Dont confuse the actual "Taxed Enough Already" fiscal refuseniks for your assumed evil "other" Koch funded secret cabal that is running the world at the behest of the jews. Most who marched in 2011, and remain allied with the formal TEA organizations such as PACs/504s and ThinkTanks are hostile to quite a broad variety of Federal spending, INCLUDING aerospace/NASA spending, but also sweeping up the Department of Education, Agriculture Department, and the Federal Reserve. If there is unequal pain to be endured from a uniform cut of the Federal piggy bank, then perhaps that only highlights the extent to which our collective polity has distorted ordinary arithmetic and common sense.

Assuming that Rand Paul and/or crazy uncle Ron Paul is an official spokesman for anything other than themselves is a convenient way for you to simply ignore the fact that NASA's current total expenditures are less than one second's activity by the US Treasury in any given fiscal year September-to-September. Want to make sure Congress doesn't get out their knives for the ISS, Webb Space Telescope and other worthy projects, then tell us what other department should be cut? Milk subsidies for hipster Vermont "gentlemen farmers"? Bullet and MRAP purchases for the US Department of Education? Salary for IRS agents that have already retired, and lied to their superiors for 10 years about being in the CIA? There are plenty of bad expenditures in a government with 4.3 MILLION employees.

Blind anger and blame will not restore comity amongst the citizens of the US, but its just slightly possible that an army of concerned citizens taking sensible, cautious, and incremental action to peek and poke our way around the budget looking for waste and standing up to it (even when that waste is in your hometown!) might chip away at the bloated machine enough to keep leviathan running through our lifetimes. Or we could just take Venezuela's lead and blame whomever is today's convenient scapegoat for every failed attempt to violate physics, causality, and microeconomics.

Comment: Re:Huh? (Score 1) 48

by sixoh1 (#46571273) Attached to: SpaceX Resupply Mission To Launch March 30

The amount of practical metallurgy knowledge we have under microgravity conditions falls in the "Not A Number" section of a floating-point unit calculation result.

Assuming you have some "dust' - you have to purify it, and then convert the refined ore into a chemically neutral granular material that is compatible with electron-beam or infared laser spot heating/sintering. On earth, buy the refined metal from Grainger in whatever format its available (screws, bar stock, etc.) - reformulate it as a powder (preferably something very chemically stable, uniform, and with particle sizes compatible with the resolution of the final use). None of these have been performed on-orbit that I am aware of.

Second, its a leaky system, volatile chemicals (water and Nitrogen come to mind) are needed for many of these stages for buffering and chemical conversion (reduction/oxidation), transport, lubrication, mixing, heat-treating and quenching, etc. etc.

Also, we don't yet know the true relative abundance of the important ores vs. locations for collection, Lunar surface? Lunar drilling? Trojan "asteroids"? NEO objects? Or do we have to go beyond Mars to get any decent quantities of these raw materials.

One more item - if you do have a perfect NEO rock with a nice mix of Iron, Aluminum, Titanium, Cobolt, Copper, and Silicon, first you will need to break this up into manageable chunks. A hand pick and a canvas bag won't work. Jackhammer and auger drills will also fail if they cannot be anchored to something in order to generate force on an ore vein. Once its in small chunks, how do you refine it? Chemical refining, gas/vapor distillation, electric arc furnaces, and other standard tools for metallurgy are used in the presence of 1 standard G. Will the use of a centrifuge to approximate 1G conditions work - think tidal forces, shear forces, and other non-linear effects that will pop up to create inconsistencies in the local environment around the refining process.

All of the above can and should be solved, but won't unless we are _there_ and there to stay.

Comment: Faster please (Score 5, Interesting) 48

by sixoh1 (#46564859) Attached to: SpaceX Resupply Mission To Launch March 30

Also per Rand Simberg and others, it appears that Space X is going to launch their 54-ton capable heavy launch vehicle THIS year - thats something like 6 years ahead of NASA's porkbarrel SLS.

Lets cross our fingers and hope that Elon's engine of creative destruction will blow up the market for government directed launch vehicle technology, and start using the Billions allocated for 1960s rocket technology for something like permanent cis-Lunar habitation, asteroid visits, and/or experimenting with off-planet manufacturing so we can start learning how to build and stay beyond LEO.

We warn the reader in advance that the proof presented here depends on a clever but highly unmotivated trick. -- Howard Anton, "Elementary Linear Algebra"