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Comment What terrible news (Score 5, Interesting) 187

Bob was one of the most clearheaded problem solvers out there, regardless of domain. When I was designing high-voltage CRT drivers, his books and columns were invaluable. When I moved on to digital, then FPGA system architecture, then management, again his thinking was almost always mappable in some way to the problems at hand.

When he wrote a self-published book on driving, _How to Drive Into Accidents and How Not To_, I bought and read that too (472 pages on driving).

For those that say Bob was not serious about seatbelts because he apparently was not wearing one, he talked in detail about how that Beetle had rotted belts, how he had purchased nylon webbing to repair them, and his difficulties in finding a good, robust way to sew them. He made the point that a seatbelt "holds you down firmly and helps you AVOID having an accident." [Bob's emphasis]

The man was not perfect, and I'm sure his actions did not always match his intent (did you ever see pictures of his desk? or the back seat of the Beetle?), but we've lost a great thinker, and he will be greatly missed.

Comment The Caliris (Score 2, Insightful) 111

I know something of Jamie and Dyami, the brothers behind Dragon Stop Motion. Jamie and I were introduced by our sons on a bike ride in 2004.

Jamie has a long history of directing award-winning stop-motion animation, from music videos to Super Bowl ads. On top of his visual aesthetic skills, he has a long history of craftsmanship (builds his own camera motion systems, creates beautiful stereo-optical systems of glass, wood, and brass). I think the artistry runs in the family.

By the time he started working on "Dragon" for United Airlines, he had become fed up with the current state of stop motion support software, especially when it came to DSLR control. He took his concerns to his brother, Dyami, who began coding after hours to support Jamie's concept.

The interesting thing is that they were not in the same city. Dyami would code new features (including hardware control via poorly-documented APIs) and, if needed, debug with Jamie over the phone. I have run large teams of very good developers, but very few are so good they can do that type of work efficiently. Talking with Jamie at the time, he said little debug was required; he would conceive of a feature one day and would have code in production the next.

Dragon has since become the brothers' primary focus. When my 10-year-old expressed interest in stop motion, we purchased one of the first copies of Dragon. I expected it would take days for me to start using, and then I would have to teach my son a limited subset of the features. Nope--he picked it up on his own and had his first few seconds of animation that afternoon. (He now keeps his whole SM kit in a backpack so he can shoot at friends' houses after school.) Tools like onion-skinning and short sequence playback made a great difference in the quality of his work.

It says a lot about Jamie's vision and UI expertise that the same tool used for multi-million-dollar movies can also be effectively used by a child. Combined with the stability provided by Dyami's top-notch coding, we couldn't be happier with Dragon. I wish them the best.


Steampunk Con Mixes In More Maker Fun 50

California has once again been blessed with another steampunk convention, this time to be held in Emeryville, CA on March 12-14 as the "Nova Albion Steampunk Exhibition." This year's event promises to mix in much more of the DIY/maker flavor for a greater hands-on feel. Steampunk has been gaining much broader appeal in recent months with the continued growth of maker communities, and the many delightful varieties of music and literature. The con will feature, among other things, a 2 day track of 2-hour how-to, hands-on, and interactive workshops gear towards makers, DIY-ers, mad scientists, and evil geniuses. Of course, if you are an evil genius you probably don't need a workshop except as a gathering for potential test subjects.

Android 2.0 — Competition Against the iPhone and the Rest 347

GMGruman writes "Every few months, it seems, there is a new 'iPhone killer.' Android 2.0, in the guise of the Motorola Droid, is the latest such 'killer.' But what will it really take to beat or match the iPhone (single page), and does Android or any other mobile OS have the right stuff? There's a lot more to the answer than is usually discussed. This article takes a look at the strengths that may allow Droid and Android 2.0 to provide strong competition to devices like the iPhone and the Blackberry, as well as the obstacles it continues to face that could inhibit adoption."

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