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Comment: Do cellphone chargers require USB negotiation? (Score 1) 204

by smellsofbikes (#47575487) Attached to: "BadUSB" Exploit Makes Devices Turn "Evil"

The most obvious route for disaster is a compromised cellphone charger, at least for my usage patterns. Since it'd take me about ten minutes to make a pez-candy-sized PCB with USB-micro-M and USB-micro-F connectors with only the power lines connected between them, I'm wondering if an android phone will charge when it's getting power, regardless of whether the USB is connected, or it won't charge until it's had a USB chat. I recall older devices being able to charge at lower-power (150mA?) but having to negotiate for 500mA. I'm perfectly happy to settle for 150mA for right now, until I can program a little AVR to fake the negotiation process and make me an air-gap charger. I don't have a usb traffic sniffer at work, and am about to lose my pcb fabrication equipment for a couple of weeks, so if I could find out today if it's worth making the pcb I'd do it this afternoon. Anyone know?

Comment: Re:Strabismus (Score 1) 547

by smellsofbikes (#47528823) Attached to: Laser Eye Surgery, Revisited 10 Years Later

You don't have to be wildly strabby or exotropic to get some (potential) benefits: if your eyes are struggling to maintain fusion, you may read more slowly and suffer more eyestrain than if you had vision therapy, without knowing that you're fighting your own eye muscles. Simple use is lousy training, it turns out, much like just walking lots doesn't help people with screwed-up knees.
It might not do anything for you, but a consult with an optometrist who knows a bit about vision therapy may be worthwhile.

Comment: Complicated background (Score 1) 376

by smellsofbikes (#47526447) Attached to: Western US States Using Up Ground Water At an Alarming Rate

When I took a geography class focussing on the western US, one of the things the teacher mentioned (which I haven't verified independently, but it was his job) was that the Colorado River water rights were allocated based on how much the Colorado River was running in roughly 1920, which happened to be an unusually high flow rate period, so ever since then there hasn't been enough water to satisfy everyone. (Water rights are allocated by time priority: first person who used it gets to take the entire amount that person is entitled to, then second person, and so forth.) So it's 100% spoken for, forever. The shortfall is made up for by pumping out groundwater, and when they allocated the colorado river water rights, they also decided that they were going to make a 100 year plan for water usage, meaning that after 100 years they would have used up pretty much all the available aquifers. Since then we've discovered some more aquifers, and are willing to drill deeper and run more expensive pumps, but that's only somewhat covering the shortage. We're pretty much collecting exactly what we planned 95 years ago. There are still semi-serious proposals to divert and pump chunks of the Columbia River over into the upper Colorado River basin... which is sort of funny, as much of the original water projects in the upper Colorado River basin were, and are, pumping water from it through the Continental Divide over to the eastern slope to fulfill Colorado, Kansas, Wyoming, and Oklahoma water needs.

The same instructor also noted that depending on how you define your terms, the category of western state water rights was by quite a bit the most common lawsuit that ended up in the US Supreme Court, showing up every couple of years in one form or another.

Comment: Re:Strabismus (Score 1) 547

by smellsofbikes (#47525955) Attached to: Laser Eye Surgery, Revisited 10 Years Later

My eyes don't line up in the exact same place when I look at things. I had surgery when I was 15 to correct it, after 20 years, it's coming back a little (although to a much less significant degree). Fortunately, it's small enough that I can use lenses to correct it - I have to wear bifocals now - but that also means that Lasik will never work for me to improve my vision. I could have better than perfect vision in each eye and I'd still need corrective lenses. :|

Consider talking to a vision therapist about if this is something that can be corrected. They can do pretty amazing things to train and strengthen your eyes to track, fuse images, and reduce eyestrain while doing so. A lot of people aren't aware that they're straining constantly to keep images fused, and as a result dislike reading or using computers. Sometimes, some physical therapy for your eye muscles can fix it. My wife regularly gets kids whose eyes are pointing in entirely different directions and have never had 3d vision in their lives and after five months (five very expensive months, it should be mentioned) they have and retain 3d vision. It's life-changing for a lot of them.

Comment: Re:My wife has one and loves it, for one reason. (Score 1) 242

by smellsofbikes (#47377047) Attached to: Disappointed Woz Sells His "Worthless" Galaxy Gear Watch

She's a sometimes model whose non-modeling job also involves looking very professional. I'm not even allowed to look at the laundry for fear of destroying something by washing it wrong. She bought a ... shirt? blouse? I dunno, something you wear on the upper half of your body, the other day, and I was all "that's very pretty!" and she's all "it should be. It cost 800 euros." So, yeah, I don't go anywhere near her clothes. And clothes like that don't have pockets. It ruins the lines/aesthetic. Definitely not something Woz considers, nor would he have any reason to, but there are a whole bunch of people who do.
Even her painting-the-house pants have these microminiature pockets that you can fit, like, a credit card and a car key into. Whenever we go out I carry her wallet, because even that doesn't fit. Totally different clothing regime from my ten-pocket dungarees, where I could carry most of a toolkit for doing bicycle maintenance and still be able to sit down comfortably.

Comment: My wife has one and loves it, for one reason. (Score 3, Interesting) 242

by smellsofbikes (#47363521) Attached to: Disappointed Woz Sells His "Worthless" Galaxy Gear Watch

There aren't any current cellphones that fit in the pockets of the sort of clothes she wears. Size zero/one fashion clothing often doesn't even have pockets, much less ones that'll fit the half-tablet-sized cellphones these days. She had an HP Veer, the size of a credit card, that she loved, until it died. So now she has the same smartwatch and has what she calls a GIANT cellphone in her purse or stuck in her desk at work, and takes calls using her watch.

Size zero clothing is probably not on Woz's radar, but there are people who want tiny connectivity.

Comment: Re:Which CAD software? (Score 1) 251

by smellsofbikes (#46574855) Attached to: 3D Printing: Have You Taken the Plunge Yet? Planning To?

This is currently what I'm struggling to find. The main thing I've established is FreeCAD just isn't ready yet - very buggy and I can not get it to work, but parametric modelling is an interesting concept.

What else are people using for dimensioning parts which need to fit together? (i.e. part design, rather then modelling I guess?)

I've been using freecad, personally. I just did a series of adapters that allow me to attach RC servos to LEGO bricks for some inverse kinematics robots. It worked reasonably well. I've had it crash and do unexpected things, but what I've found is that if I work in the part design toolbar, build sketches that are fully constrained, and then use extrude/pocket operations to build my final parts, it seems pretty robust. Then I can switch to mesh and turn those into exportable meshes individually, and get parts that interact the way I want to. Half the stuff I'm doing I 3d print and the other half I mill on my cnc mill, and when I'm processing stl's I find again that having started from fully constrained sketches means the stl's are more robust and less likely to crash the cam programs I use.

Comment: Re:Yeah right (Score 1) 769

by smellsofbikes (#46391739) Attached to: The Next Keurig Will Make Your Coffee With a Dash of "DRM"

My guess RFID. By one regular pod, cut RFID chip out of it, tape to the bottom of subsequent generic pods.

FWIW we tried that with our Stratasys 3d printer. It remembered the RFID number and remembered that the print cartridge was out of print material, so sticking the rfid tag to a new, third-party, 1/4 the price, filled to the brim container of print material did precisely nothing for us. I have no idea if the keurig will do the same. Oh, it was also a pain in the butt because they'd built it into the side of the cartridge, so when we cut it out it wouldn't simply stick on the new cartridge as it had a flat side and the resultant cartridge+rfid tag wouldn't fit in the printer, so we had to bodge something up by putting it on the front where the door closed and hoping it would be detected. It was, but see above.

Comment: Re:flow = pressure/resistance (Score 1) 362

Why not simply lower the water pressure by 10% to curb water usage?

I dunno about everywhere else, but where I live -- next door to the local water tower -- there isn't any sort of water pressure regulation mechanism. You pump water into the water tower, and it flows by gravity to all the houses that are lower than it. And, in the summer, when everyone down in the valley is running their sprinklers, my water pressure is low enough it's difficult to take a shower, so even if you did manage to regulate pressure it would have a disproportionately large effect on some of the people and very little on some others.

Comment: Re:Not plastic, titanium (Score 1) 82

by smellsofbikes (#46288077) Attached to: 3-D Printed Pelvis Holding Up After 3 Years

This is purely anecdotal, but the two indie framemakers I know who have worked with 3d printed lugs have both said the lugs broke very quickly and they only used them for prototypes, didn't consider them safe to ride. One said he thought he could make a 3d printed lug (this was stainless steel, through shapeways, silver-soldered to Reynolds SS tubing) that would be durable but he guessed it would weigh about 4x as much as equivalent forged columbus lugs.

Comment: Re:False choice society (Score 2) 388

by smellsofbikes (#46113137) Attached to: Edward Snowden and the Death of Nuance

It's the same as how Congress's approval rate is extremely low, yet in the last election most seats didn't change hands. In both cases, people are saying "everyone else is the problem, not me!" -- they said "vote out your incumbents" but still voted for their incumbents claiming their incumbent isn't the problem.

What makes this complicated is that I think that's a reflection of America. My congressman _is_ a really good representative for me: he's a smart gay liberal who has started several successful tech companies. I vote for him because he's doing stuff I like. My aunt's congressman is a good representative for her: a pro-life, pro-gun conservative creationist pastor. She votes for him because he's doing stuff she likes.
We'd like to think that there's a logical disconnect between "congress is crazy" and "my congress person is awesome" but that's not necessarily true: we, as a country, have an extremely wide spectrum of opinion. Jim Hightower used to say there's nothing in the middle of the road but yellow stripes and dead armadillos. If congress is a dead armadillo, midway between what I want them to be and my aunt wants them to be, my aunt and I can both be contemptuous of congress while liking our personal representatives, and both of us can be logically consistent in doing so.

Comment: Re:Not found in "humans" in general (Score 5, Informative) 202

by smellsofbikes (#46105153) Attached to: 20% of Neanderthal Genome Survives In Humans

Lactose intolerance is complex. The Tuareg of Saharan Africa have lower lactose intolerance rates than Finnish people, for instance. It mostly has to do with whether a group has spent a long time as nomadic herders or not, and adult persistence of lactase activity appears to be caused by several different mutations, that arose spontaneously. http://s1.zetaboards.com/anthr... has a nice list of adult lactase activity in different ethnic groups.

Comment: Re:Fancy technology (Score 1) 96

by smellsofbikes (#46095577) Attached to: Device Mines Precious Phosphorus From Sewage

There was a fairly interesting Radiolab podcast about a program that shipped New York City's biosolids to Colorado for use as fertilizer: http://www.radiolab.org/story/...
It includes a significant discussion of waste treatment, pathogens, and the economics of shipping what some municipalities call hazardous waste cross-country.

Comment: Re:I find this strange (Score 2) 397

by smellsofbikes (#45988023) Attached to: Electrical Engineering Lost 35,000 Jobs Last Year In the US

Pure speculation, but it could very well be a knock-on effect from off-shoring manufacturing. You want at least some of your engineers to be close to the manufacturing line to debug when things go wrong. The designers might stay in the US, but manufacturing, test, packaging, etc., will shift towards the factories. And then, some years later, you'll want the designers to be near the mfg/tst/pkg guys to allow easier communication.

It's exactly this. You want your chip designers to be working right next to the mask layout people because layout needs designers to correctly optimize the layout. You want your test people to be able to walk through the whole test program design with the designers, who will be involved throughout the test hardware and program design, because test engineers know how testers work, and designers know how the chip works, and matching those is tricky. And you don't really want to be shipping tested wafers overseas for packaging and then waiting for them to come back to test packaged parts, and the product engineers need tester access and parts access to characterize the parts and produce the datasheet info, so at that point you have the whole silicon design team, from conception to finished parts, in one place. It can be done remotely but with a significant time adder or lots of evening/midnight phone meetings. It's easier to separate applications and project engineering from the design/manufacture group, but there's still some value in having them colocated. At that point, all that's left is middle management... and that's even easier to outsource.

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