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Hardware

Video Predicting the Future of Electronics and IT by Watching Component Demand (Video) 41

A big question college students should be asking is, "What IT and electronics knowledge will be most in demand five or six years from now?" In these fast moving niches, an answer is almost impossible to come by. But what if you were one of the people who supplied raw components to the electronics industry? Wouldn't you have a better handle than most on what kind of devices and components are becoming more popular among prototypers and engineers? And wouldn't watching those trends possibly give you at least a little insight into what the future might hold? Randy Restle, Director of Applications Engineering at component supplier Digi-Key Corporation, carefully tracks orders and tries to determine what's hot and what's not. His reason for doing so is to figure out what Digi-Key should stock in coming months and years. But his insights can also be used to decide what you might want to study or -- if you're already working in the field -- what products you or your company should consider developing. Digi-Key also has an online video library where they feature new products and give ideas of what you can do with them. Even if you're not an engineer or electronics hobbyist, it's fun to see what's available but may not have hit the mass market quite yet.

Comment Documentation is overrated (Score 2) 211

Documentation goes out of synch with the code very quickly. The only thing worse than working on someone else's code without documentation is working on someone else's code with incorrect documentation. The problem is so old Dijkstra allegedly said, "Always debug code, not the comments".

Oh, yeah someone will tell me I am doing documentation wrong. How come "you are not doing agile right" is a valid response but "you are not doing watefall right" is not?

Social Networks

Video Facebook May Dislike the Social Fixer Extension, but Many Users Love It (Video) 176

If you have the Social Fixer extension installed on your Web browser, you can post Facebook comments with line breaks you control with your "Enter" key, and insert your comments with "Tab + Enter." If you want to, that is. If you want to change the color of the blue "Facebook bar" at the top of your screen to puce, go right ahead. Want to have your newsfeed show the most recent stories at the top, rather than "Trending Articles" and "Trending Videos," or hide the "ticker feed" of friends' activities? Go right ahead. Social Fixer gives you the power to do all this, and more. Best of all, everything happens in your own browser. Social Fixer makes no changes to Facebook's servers and is not dependent on Facebook's APIs. Still, Facebook doesn't like some Social Fixer features, and says creator Matt Kruze must remove them if he doesn't want to be banned from Facebook. They've already removed his Social Fixer page from Facebook, so they apparently mean business. The Social Fixer website says it's "a free browser extension that improves the Facebook site by eliminating annoyances and adding lots of great enhancements and functionality." We don't know why Facebook would be against a browser extension (available for most popular browsers other than Explorer) that improves their users' site experience. Maybe someone from Facebook will contact us and let us know. Meanwhile, enjoy our video interview with Matt Kruze (or the transcript if you would rather read than watch and listen). One last note in the interest of full disclosure: Both Timothy Lord (timothy) and Robin Miller (Roblimo) use and like Social Fixer and believe that If you try it, chances are that you'll like it, too.

Comment Next wave of modern technology. (Score 3, Funny) 178

Let us use the 3D printing technology to create papyrus rolls. And use an email to a post-office which will print it and deliver it to the customer's home.

Or we can speak into a smart phone, use an app to convert it to text, send it via SMS, the receiving app will use a synthesizer to read it out aloud. If the receiving phone has stored the profile of your voice, the receiver can actually hear the sender's voice, on a phone, no less! Oh, wait, some already did this. It is called What's App.

Advertising

Video More From Don Marti About Why Targeted Ads are Bad (Video 2 of 2) 53

The intro for yesterday's video interview with Don Marti started out by saying, "Don Marti," says Wikipedia, "is a writer and advocate for free and open source software, writing for LinuxWorld and Linux Today." As we noted, Don has moved on since that description was written. In today's interview he starts by talking about some things venture capitalist Mary Meeker of Kleiner Perkins has said, notably that people only spend 6% of their media-intake time with print, but advertisers spend 23% of their budgets on print ads. To find out why this is, you might want to read a piece Don wrote titled Targeted Advertising Considered Harmful. Or you can just watch today's video -- and if you didn't catch Part One of our video conversation yesterday, you might want to check it out before watching Part 2.
Media

Video Longtime Linux Advocate Don Marti Tells Why Targeted Ads are Bad (Video 1 of 2) 187

"Don Marti, says Wikipedia, "is a writer and advocate for free and open source software, writing for LinuxWorld and Linux Today." This is an obsolete description. Don has moved on and broadened his scope. He still thinks, he still writes, and what he writes is still worth reading even if it's not necessarily about Linux or Free Software. For instance, he wrote a piece titled Targeted Advertising Considered Harmful, and has written lots more at zgp.org that might interest you. But even just sticking to the ad biz, Don has had enough to say recently that we ended up breaking this video conversation into two parts, with one running today and the other one running tomorrow.

Comment Upscale hotel customers get everything free. (Score 3, Informative) 318

Most upscale hotel customers are business travelers and their corporate employer is picking up the tab. They don't even look at the bill. If they do it is to make sure the correct euphemism is used for the porn bill. So in some sense they get everything free.

Again the real big businesses get into large contracts with the hotel chains and they get a different rate. But then the hotels get smart and add "service" fees. And the next round of contract talks things get negotiated. The cycle goes on.

In all our travel, if there is no free parking, free breakfast and free wi-fi, I am not even looking at the hotel. They get filtered out.

Hardware

Video Tour Houston's Texas-Sized Hackerspace (Video 2 of 2) 45

A few weeks ago, on his way to LinuxCon, Timothy stopped by the biggest hackerspace he'd ever seen. Houston's TX/RX Labs is not just big — it's busy, and booked. Unlike some spaces we've highlighted here before (like Seattle's Metrix:CreateSpace and Brooklyn's GenSpace, TX/RX Labs has room and year-round sunshine enough to contemplate putting a multi-kilowatt solar array in the backyard. Besides an array of CNC machines, 3-D printers, and wood- and metal-working equipment, TX/RX has workbenches available for members to rent. (These are serious workspaces, made in-house of poured concrete and welded steel tubing.) There's also a classroom full of donated workstations, lounge space, a small collection of old (but working) military trucks, and a kitchen big enough for their Pancake Science Sunday breakfasts. Labs member Steve Cameron showed me around. You saw Part One of his tour last week. Today's video is Part Two.

Comment Re:Silly question (Score 1) 274

This morning I asked my Android "where can I buy a good pair of fur-lined leather gloves" and it thought I said "where can I buy a good pair of for lined leather gloves" and returned no useful results at all. The programmer was a southerner, I guess? "How much does them go fer?"

No it actually thought you wanted to buy "purloined" leather gloves. The programmer is a Sherlock Holmes afficianado.

Comment We don't remember what we saw, only what we felt. (Score 3, Insightful) 158

Human memory is a funny thing. It does not really remember what we saw, except for a few savants with photographic memory. What we generally remember is what we felt. I will cit two personal examples.

When I was in seventh grade I saw a movie with a typical bollywood number set on the Moon. Craters and boulders and stuff with the leading pair dancing and singing. I remembered it as a magnificent big set. After some 40 years I happened to see the same sequence, in an old is gold DVD set. The set was cheesy, tacky, at most 40 feet by 30 feet, craters were of just two sizes, nearly perfect circles, in a kind of semi uniform spacing. The leading pair looked horribly over made up. The only thing that was still great was the song. I was humming it for a couple of days. [*]

Whan I was young my dad used to take to the bank and I used to think the tellers were sitting on very tall chairs behind impossibly tall counters. Turns out that was just the perspective of a child who has to look up at everything. Once I grew up these counters seemed quite normal, at most 4 or 4.5 feet tall.

The point is, even if we unearth all those missing 106 episodes, the actual episodes might not stand up to all the hype and expectation heaped up on them.

[*]: For the Desis out there: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i6UeorX-aVo

Comment Re:Bad idea. (Score 1) 189

It is not the farmers' losses that drives up the insurance cost for the rest of us. The cost passed to us do not come from these farmers. They have the same cookie cutter homes that is totally unsuitable for tornado alley, miles and miles of exurbia. Farmers have a reason to live in the middle of tornado alley far away from everyone. What about those office workers who prefer to stay in half-acre lot 25 miles from city center? They contribute to the maximum amount of tax payer subsidized disaster relief. This sprawl would not happen if we ask them to pay for the full cost living like that. They would congregate into tight clusters of concrete buildings if they are paying for the whole thing.

And those urban sprawl would do greatly once they revert back to farmland.

Comment Bad idea. (Score 1, Interesting) 189

It will let people survive to rebuild in an area unsuitable for human occupation again and again. They will take our tax dollars through FEMA again and again. Unless people are asked to pay full price of their decisions, such shelters would lead to more financial pain, tax burden to others. People who decided not to live in plywood boxes in tornado country, or in wildfire area or below the sea level between a lake and the sea, or below the river level etc should not be asked to shoulder the burden of supporting people who made foolish decisions on where to build their homes. One unexpected natural disaster? We all should pitch in. But supporting unviable habitation through taxes, insurance subsidies, and disaster relief on known and predictable disasters distorts the marketplace.

You want the freedom to live anywhere in America? Go for it, and pay full price for it. No disaster relief, no insurance subsidies. FEMA should annonce phased withdrawal of tornado support in known tornado regions, wildfire suppression in scrub country, flood insurance in known flood prone areas, or hurricane relief in known hurricane prone coastal areas. Emergency relief is only for areas where the disaster is very infrequent. It is not a routine operation.

Probably the right solution for tornado country is to stop the stupid urban sprawl, create towns with a nucleus of concrete condos, two or three stories tall, tightly built in a circle with a pool and courtyard in the middle. Windows with aluminium shutters that can be closed, cars parked at ground level below these condos. You need concrete structures to survive tornadoes and do the compromise necessary to do it. Or pay full price for freedom. I am sick and tired of supporting your unnatural life style choice to live in plastic and plywood boxes in tornado country.

Hardware Hacking

Video Tour Houston's Texas-Sized Hackerspace (Video 1 of 2) 57

That things are bigger in Texas is sometimes more than just a cliche. A few weeks ago, on the way to LinuxCon, I stopped by what is certainly the biggest hackerspace that I've ever seen; is it the biggest in the world? Whatever the answer is to that, Houston's TX/RX Labs is not just big — it's busy, and booked. Unlike some spaces we've highlighted here before (like Seattle's Metrix:CreateSpace and Brooklyn's GenSpace), TX/RX Labs has room and year-round sunshine enough to contemplate putting a multi-kilowatt solar array in the backyard. Besides an array of CNC machines, 3-D printers, and both wood- and metal-working equipment, TX/RX has workbenches available for members to rent. (These are serious workspaces, made in-house of poured concrete and welded steel tubing.) Member Steve Cameron showed me around, but TX/RX Labs is so large that we broke the tour into two parts, with the other one set to display next week.

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