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Comment Re:Just give the option to turn it off... (Score 1) 823

In fact, there is something nice about a Tesla or Prius's silence at idle

Unless you're blind, or happen to be looking the other way when the drunk in a prius bears down on you. Which is why some sort of fake engine noise will eventually be mandated (if it hasn't been already).

This is actually mandated now, but the rules are kind of mushy. It was signed into law in 2011 here in the US, and applies to 2012 models, but there weren't initially strict guidelines on the noises. So you'll find the 2011 Nissan Leaf has a 'silent' mode where it won't make the backing-up beep-beep alert or the turbine-like engine noise when driving, but the 2012 and later models cannot silence the engine noises.

Wikipedia has a good breakdown of the state of the current noise laws across the US, Japan, the EU, and the UK:

Comment FreeCAD (Score 1) 1

Disclaimer: I'm a practicing mechancial design engineer and opensource hardware contributor (

A commercial CAD software package is really 3 components:

1) A component to create your parts (Part design)
2) A component to create assembly from your parts, and move / mate them for interference detection
3) A component for exporting the previous 2 parts into a paper drawing / engineering file exchange formats

Of all the OSS options, FreeCAD is probably the closest one to being able to implement all these. Assembly module is still under development, but from what I've seen of the part modelling module, it's done really well and it's the closest to commercially available close sourced alternatives. (I own a seat of Solidworks. At $5k per seat, it is not for hobbyists).

If you are a student, Solidworks, AutoDesk Inventor, ProE (now PTC Creo), all offer great discount student packages. Be warned though - some of them are only 2 year licenses.

For the lower budget end, there's Alibre Design as well. No experience with this.

The 3D printer community also uses OpenSCAD a lot. Personally, that's like using a butter knife for brain surgery incisions. OpenSCAD uses a scripting language to script a part into existence. I've heard that there are now graphical front ends to do this, but have no experience and no desire to learn it.

Comment Manufacturing in the US *is* hard (Score 5, Interesting) 268

I'm a small business owner (I created OpenBeam: It is basically a small, nice version of an erector set, that is currently being used for building 3D printers. (See:

US manufacturing is *hard*, for sure, for small businesses. In fact, the system is set up so that I'm better off shipping jobs overseas.

We buy our extrusions from a small mill in California, a family owned business. Our first batch was great. We made a small engineering change on the next batch and ordered the extrusions in October of 2012. We received the parts in early December, and the black anodizing was crap - it literally looks like it's been dive bombed by seagulls with diarrhea. We shipped back 700 of 2000 pieces for rework, and we still have not received it back. Meanwhile, I'm out of stock, I have thousands of dollars of backorders that I can't fill, and I still have no idea when I'll get replacement stock back in. And to make things worse, when we complained initially about the quality of the parts, the answer we got was literally "you're small potatoes, we don't have time for you"

Meanwhile half way across the globe, my injection molder ( is churning out parts, 50,000 at a time. He always delivers when he says he'll deliver. With UPS and Expeditors I can get goods landed on my doorstep anywhere from 48 hours to less than 3 weeks for ocean freight shipping. It costed me $1000 to ocean freight half a metric *ton* of parts, and it'll be here in 3 weeks. The reason for going overseas for injection molding is simple: The material we use is a high end glass-reinforced nylon and the only shops the US that can handle it are military and aerospace molders and they demand an incredible premium.

On top of all this, I currently import a bunch of motors, pulleys, bearings for my 3D printer kits, US customs requires that I file an individual HTS classification for each line item, and taxes me individually. I then pay my old coworker's kid $20/hr, which is a princely sum for a 14 year old girl, to do my packaging and kitting. However, If I paid some guys overseas $10.00 a day to do the same job, I can declare my imported goods as "construction toy set" and avoid paying import taxes all-together. Therefore, there are absolutely NO incentives for me to keep the packaging job in the US, except for the short flexibility between an engineering change and getting the change pushed through on the line.

When it comes to export, I'm equally screwed. Until I signed up with Expeditors, there was no easy way for me to export my shipment around the world. So while I have customers in the UK, EU, and NZ/AU areas, for the longest time I had to resort to USPS Priority mail to ship them stuff, and priority mail rates just went up. Surface parcel service was discontinued a few years ago during budget cuts, so unless you are a bonded importer / exporter, you really have no option of doing a low cost export. Meanwhile, I paid US$20.00 for a batch of parts for 2 day shipping for a crate of timing belt pulleys from Shanghai to Hong Kong. There are so many Chinese logistics company these days that shipping is incredibly cheap to move things around in China.

People don't realize that the world is getting a lot smaller these days. The other day a vendor returned an email quotation - 5 weeks after initial RFQ. I had already paid someone else and landed parts in that amount of time. A supply chain is only as strong as its weakest link and it seems like for small businesses there are just no good options for manufacturing.

-=- Terence

Comment Re:Okay, so... $2M fine, right? (Score 1) 307

I thought the standard was for each copy 'made available.' So if you count each song as multiple infringements on BitTorrent, by that logic, shouldn't every single hypothetical viewer of Glee be counted as a separate infringement?

According to TVByTheNumbers, last night's Glee viewership was 6.75 million viewers, and the fine's almost certainly more than $1 per infringement, so... ;P


Why Linux On Microsoft Surface Is a Tough Challenge 561

hypnosec writes "With Linux enthusiasts and distro publishers eagerly waiting for a solution to Microsoft's UEFI SecureBoot, there are those who have already looked at the viability of Linux on Microsoft Surface tablet. Matthew Garrett, a.k.a. UEFI-guru, has revealed that those who are keeping their fingers crossed and hoping to find run Linux on Microsoft's tablet are on an uphill walk and it doesn't seem to be an easy one. So why is this? The answer is in the manner in which Microsoft has restricted the Surface from loading non-signed software / binaries by implementing UEFI SecureBoot. Microsoft has loaded on the ARM based tablet its private key instead of the 'Microsoft Windows UEFI Driver Publisher' key, which is needed to sign non-Microsoft software like Linux distributions or loaders. So, no publisher key = no signed non-Microsoft binary = no Linux."

Comment Re:3D printing was interesting last year. (Score 1) 91

Wrong. FDM is used commercially to produce parts - including airplane parts. (I know, because one of my ( vendors is printing cosmetic trim pieces for the Airbus A380). Commercial systems have no problem with overhang because they use a water soluble support system. And if you want something prototyped out of production representative material, it is one of the faster (and hands off) way to do it. I've used FDM for Ultem, Polycarbonate and ABS parts before.

The reason you don't see this in the hobby market, is because Dimension's patent on water soluble support, and heated build chamber, is valid until 2014 (or 2016). That's why there is no hobby grade 3D Printer on the market that is completely enclosed and they only have a heated bed. Most people enclose their printers if they are printing with ABS for a variety of reasons.

-=- Terence

Comment Re:iOS maps should have started as an App (Score 2) 561

Except that, according to the article, that was exactly the problem: Google Maps would expire mid-next-year. Which meant either they'd have to sign another contract — and I would be *stunned* if, in such a situation, Google didn't demand Latitude be included or some other sort of data-collection concession — or have Maps go dark *during* iOS 6's lifetime, requiring Maps to be replaced in a point-release, rather than changing over at a major OS release.

Whether or not I think this was a great decision, I can totally see why they made the move now from a business aspect. Imagine if they had done this changeover in iOS 6.2...

Comment Re:Largely Demand Driven (Score 4, Informative) 490

Renault and Nissan came up with the Quick-Drop battery swapping system that another poster mentions in regard to the Fluence ZE, though Nissan doesn't use it for the LEAF platform; the LEAF battery packs *can* be swapped out fairly easily, but it's not set up for the Quick-Drop method. Tesla originally talked about offering battery swaps at their Supercharger locations, but I think that's fallen by the wayside.

Honestly, with so many different battery capacities — the LEAF has 24kWh worth of batteries, while the highest-end Model S has 80kWh — I think standardization would be hard. I mean, we can't even fully finalize on a quick-charging standard!

In Japan and France, they have a system called CHAdeMO, a large plug capable of delivering up to 62.5kW of charge and thus charging the LEAF from near-empty in about 25 minutes. Japanese EVs and a number of European ones use this as a charging connector.

Meanwhile, the US came up with SAE1772, a replacement for older charging standards, with a smaller plug but which is limited to about 6.6kW of charge at 220V, meaning they can be installed many more places but take hours to recharge. (These are the little stations in many parking lots, for 'charge while you shop' at a mall or whatever.) Given the differing standards, various cars released in the US — the LEAF, the MiEV, etc. — support J1772 for slower charging and CHAdeMO for fast charging. And so CHAdeMO quick chargers have been put in along freeways.

Now SAE has come up with a variant on SAE1772 — a bigger form of the plug with the original plug as a subset of the design — which could allow quick-charging. The idea being that you'd only need one plug; the new SAE1772 variant sockets could use the old plugs, so older charging stations would work, but you'd have to have new sockets for any new plugs. However, no one's committed to supporting that yet that I've heard.

Then Tesla, disgusted with everyone else, designed their own Supercharger system which charges at up to 100kW — heavier duty than CHAdeMO — so that they can charge the 80kW pack of a high-end Model S much faster. They made adapters to allow SAE1772 charging too, for all the little parking lot stations, but there's no easy way to convert CHAdeMO for those quick chargers.

Standardization among EVs is... well, we still have a way to go.

Comment POV from a KS project creator - what stupid rules! (Score 3, Informative) 157

Posted also on the Kickstarter comment section:

Kickstarter project creator here: I'm the guy behind OpenBeam (
And in case anyone's wondering - we shipped the majority of our rewards a *month* before the original promised date. That probably puts me in the top 5 percentile of projects...

Let's take a look at the new rules one by one:

“What are the risks and challenges this project faces, and what qualifies you to overcome them?”

- Okay, this is perfectly valid. I am surprised KS haven't done this earlier, because there are quite a few clueless guys ( - *( and out on here who seems be doing the "throw s*** at the wall and see what sticks" model of development.

"Product simulations are prohibited. Projects cannot simulate events to demonstrate what a product might do in the future. Products can only be shown performing actions that they’re able to perform in their current state of development."

"Product renderings are prohibited. Product images must be photos of the prototype as it currently exists.
Products should be presented as they are. Over-promising leads to higher expectations for backers. The best rule of thumb: under-promise and over-deliver."
Okay, so KS want a working prototype. I get that; that's pretty straightforward. But it doesn't stop someone from *faking* a prototype on camera. This however, won't stop a project like iCase ( from being a train wreck, as the protoytype would likely have been SLA, painted, and the problem wouldn't have been apparent until the metal parts were CNC machined and fitted and found to short out the iPhone's anntenna.

The OpenBeam project would have passed these requirements; we had a physical prototype for shooting the video, as part of a good product development practice.

"Offering multiple quantities of a reward is prohibited. Hardware and Product Design projects can only offer rewards in single quantities or a sensible set (some items only make sense as a pair or as a kit of several items, for instance). The development of new products can be especially complex for creators and offering multiple quantities feels premature, and can imply that products are shrink-wrapped and ready to ship."

And how would KS define "Multiple copies" of a reward? This I have a problem with. When you're in production, you are trying to get the manufacturing volume up to bring the costs down. If I were launching OpenBeam now, would I be limited to selling one stick of aluminum and one of each bracket to my backers (who wouldn't be able to do anything useful then with this?) If I packaged it up as a "kit", like I had on my KS, would I have gotten around these restrictions? Who decides whether multiple copies of the same item is required for the item to work (ie, construction toy kit), and when it becomes a way to side step your rules? How much "individual judgement" is there to allow the listing of a project, and do you consider the project creator's background (ie, having successfully delivered on a previous project) when you allow them to post? With the amount of controversy about what gets allowed (*cough* Tangibot (*cough*) and what doesn't on Kickstarter already, this rule is probably going to make your selection process more Apple App-store like (arbitrary with no recourse for the project creator if you are not selected).

(Edited to add: The real problem, that KS probably don't want to admit, is that none of their hipster workers have a sufficient engineering / science / technology background to effectively monitor and approve Kickstarter projects to begin with. That's why they let stupid shit like Z-Torque ( in, but plenty of GOOD projects get rejected).

-=- Terence

Comment Re:Double standards are twice as good! (Score 1) 680

If I'm reading the news articles properly, available evidence actually indicates the protesters themselves were peaceful and the protests got used as cover for violence by extremists. Some articles suggested that this was a 9/11 'reminder' planned anyway, and the protests over the film just provided a convenient cover for them to get into place in a crowd.

Sadly, the lunatic fringe is often what a group gets judged by, which is hardly unique to Islam; many people also judge Christianity by groups like the Westboro Baptist Church or the Christian groups who bomb abortion clinics. Heck, the same is true of political parties or — to use a more Slashdot-relevant example — OS platform advocates. The loud lunatic ones end up being the voices outsiders notice the most readily, because they're shouting and starting fights.

As a result, the story many take from this becomes not, "Violent lunatics seize on convenient excuse to thinly justify their attacks" but "ZOMG YOU GUYS, MUSLIMS ARE CRAZY-VIOLENT." Which is unfortunate.

Comment Seems to me... (Score 4, Insightful) 141

...that this would affect a lot more than just Apple if upheld. I understand Google's got a small interest in touch-based devices, too, and I seem to recall that Microsoft's considering maybe supporting some of this 'touch' stuff in Windows 8. (Sarcasm tag heavily implied there, which was hopefully clear.)

Seriously, I feel that patents have become sort of like nuclear weaponry; you either try to amass enough weapons in your patent portfolio that the other side won't launch, as with mutually assured destruction between the big companies, or else you get held hostage by patent-troll terrorists who get ahold of a weapon and threaten to take out everything they can unless you pay them. Maybe we need the patent law equivalent of Jack Bauer to deal with patent trolling. :P

Comment Re:Inefficient (Score 1) 271

Japan never used to have power outages to speak of, but in the wake of the tsunami and Fukushima Dai-ichi being taken offline, outages are heavily on the mind of the average Japanese citizen. They had a ton of blackouts in March, and the Tokyo area in particular has been engaging in a ton of power-saving measures; the article from the summary even mentions a few (dimming subway station lights, to draw less power, for instance). Given that everyone's looking for ways to reduce their draw on the power grid at peak times, I'm not surprised that Nissan is looking into this possibility.

Comment Re:The embarrassing thing (Score 1) 231's AAAA record resolves to 2620:0:1cfe:face:b00c::b -- however, most folks can't resolve it. According to posts on the ipv6-ops mailing list, Facebook is still doing IPv6 in a limited testing phase, so they have DNS whitelisting enabled to avoid folks other than Hurricane Electric IPv6 testers getting the AAAA record while the IPv6 version of the site is still not quite there yet.

Presumably they'll turn off the whitelisting and let it resolve universally for IPv6 Day.

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