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Comment Re:New Grads (Score 1) 132

If you want to see some creators that are going different places check out places like Armor Games.They are usually small flash games that you play for an hour and forget but there are some gems as well. Boxhead wars is great as are the bubble series. There might be 20 crap games but there is usually 20 cool games and 60 games that are just repeats of current themes.

Comment Start small and cheap (Score 3, Insightful) 166

Get to a Maker Faire. Several years ago I spent awhile talking with Bre Pettis about his new machine from MakerBot without realizing who he was. Take the kids! Solder your own badge! Learn how to make your own air powered rockets! My kids aren't even into robots think it is a blast. A word of waring... they make you sign a serious waiver for a reason. They expect you to pay attention to your surroundings and not blindly walk into that quadcopter demo. Make sure your kids are not texting as they walk. Look for some of the small booths/tables with guys that brought in their home brewed stuff. They were you not that long ago and would love to talk about hot to get started. The fancy booths are people looking to sell stuff. If your not looking to buy your own laser cutter.... they will let you look and they will be polite but they are looking to sell stuff.

If you decide you want to start now and want to learn how things work....

Get this kit for $49:

Follow the tutorials starting here:

Soon you will be a master of blinky lights. Think of it as "Hello world" for robotics.

If you think, "HOLY CRAP. I AM MAKING IT REALLY DO THINGS" Then continue. If you went, "HOLY CRAP, I JUST WASTED $50 AND A FEW HOURS OF MY LIFE TO MAKE A STUPID LIGHT BLINK" you might consider some of the more expensive options or re-consider your desire to do this. If you want to continue...

If you have an old printer laying around then rip some motors out of it. In fact anything that has a motor or is older electronics will soon be looked at with, "Hey, that has a nice transformer in it. Those are some nice through hole resisters. Would you look at those hardened steel rods! I wonder why they did it this way?"

Things to consider furthering the addiction:
motor shield with some basic motors
digital multimeter
Soldering iron, do not get one of those nasty Radio Shack $20 pieces of junk. You wouldn't try to build a small deck with a handsaw. This is one of the more expensive pieces you will buy, but it is one of those tools that you will use and will appreciate not having a junk one. This does not mean you need to get a super solder re-work station. Get one with a base station and dial control. Temp controlled would be great.
Go to a nearby electronics place that sells this stuff and buy some general wire, breadboard etc. They will appreciate the business and might be there someday when you really need that one part and don't want to wait for shipping. I was amazed to find one near me. They were rather knowledgeable compared to some certain chains (they had a soldering iron on the counter just in case)
An old computer with the following ports: MIDI(computers used to have a port with real IO, oh my), serial, USB, parallel. You might want to eventually talk to ports and individual pins without the OS in the way. Windows stopped allowing this with XP. A P4 is fast but gets warm and very power hungry. A PIII not so hot or power hungry but not as fast. An old laptop works great for this since it has a small footprint.

Start to follow a few web sites:

Comment Re:Competition is often complex. (Score 2) 294

Many officers knew each other before the war but Grant was a nobody before the war. Lee had been important before the war (He had an almost perfect record at West Point). They had met once in Mexico but Lee didn't remember the meeting. It was rumored that Lee was offered command of the entire army in the North but declined when Virginia went with the South. But there were many moments were former friends and even families would be on opposite sides. This led to some very hard feelings especially in areas where both sides recruited like Kentucky.

Eventually they would go on to fight one of the bloodiest wars the US has ever known. More Americans died in that war than WWI, Korea, Vietnam, and the Revolution... combined. Only WWII had more.

Comment Re:Yes, (Score 1) 614

But they have seen "Put a robots on machines and fire lots of people until one person is running 8 machines instead of 10 people running 8 machines." Every time the economy gets tight businesses learn to squeeze more out of fewer people. It is part of what drives a recovery.
A Things get tight
B Layoff 10% of workforce
C Things get better
D Workers struggle but manage to keep up, Maybe bring back some of the workers at reduced wages.
E Profit!!!!
F Massive bonuses to executives

This is how the wage gap gets larger and larger.

Comment Re:I prefer to think of inventions as discoveries (Score 2) 417

I think part of the problem is also the lack of low hanging fruit. After the explosion of the industrial revolution someone working in their garage/shed could do things like build an airplane. We reached a point were you needed unobtainiom to take things further. In some ways that has started to swing back. Look at what the Maker movement has been doing with easy to get and use chips. Yes, there have been thousands of "Oooo look at my blinky lights." But there have also been things like the Maker-Bot and the Raspberry Pi. People also have access to what would have been considered a super computer a few years ago as a laptop. And the Maker-Bot and its siblings I think could drastically change things. I don't need a proto shop, machine shop, etc. to build my idea to see if it works. The 3D printer in my shed can build the parts.

Comment Re:Microcenter? (Score 1) 491

I love the Microcenter near me. Yes, it is three times further then Best Buy but I don't have to worry about idiots trying to rip me off. Here are two experiences for examples:

1) I was looking for a particular motherboard. The sales guy saw me looking at them and comparing them. He warned me about getting that model, "Those are very flaky. See those with the stickers? Those are ones that were returned. We tested them and they work fine but there must be a reason so many are getting returned."

2) I went in looking for a half height video card. I told the sales guy that this model was supposed to support half height. He wasn't sure and opened up the box so we could look at it. If you opened the box at Best Buy they would look at you like you were planning on stealing it.

I can't tell you the number of times I have gone in looking for some weird adapter and had them say, "Sure, we have it three different styles." These guys even knew what kind of adapter I was looking for from just my description.

My brother-in-law has a Tiger Direct store near him that he is proud of. It was half the size and 1/4 the selection of Microcenter.

Comment Re:Althourhg it was a private contractor (Score 4, Interesting) 428

Ben Rich (head of Lockhead in the 90's) said in his book that one time he was at the GE engine plant. One of the guys was pointed at two jet engines. He said they were the exact same engine. The only difference was one was for the Air Force and had 200 extra inspectors look at it and cost twice as much for that reason. Next time you want to blame the contractors for how much things cost take into consideration all the extra regs and paperwork they are required to do. Another fav of his is how they go crazy labeling things secret or top secret. That doubles the paperwork and makes all their work that much more difficult.

He compared the overall cost of a new plane for the air force to the overall cost of the new model for the Mustang. The amounts were fairly close. Ford gets to spread the cost over thousands of cars. The manufacturer of a planes gets to spread the cost over a few hundred planes.

Comment Re:Invaluable for our lab equipment (Score 1) 266

If you want to monitor a serial or parallel port in real time you need an older os like DOS. WinXP, NT and newer made it hard to do this. That is why programs that control stepper motors or gather data through a serial port use some flavor of DOS. That is why some CNC machines use DOS.
For example:

Comment Compition is a good thing (Score 1) 397

Where we live we have the choice of WOW, Comcast and AT&T. We have WOW and have great service, techs that know what they are doing and paying only 2/3 what my friends that live in areas nearby that only have Comcast. A Comcast sales guy stopped by once. I looked over his deal and told him that he was more expensive then what we have now even with his limited time deal. He admitted that this area was tough and that Comcast offers deals here that they don't offer elsewhere.

Comment Interesting choices in software (Score 2, Interesting) 139

From the page where Google talks about keeping your account secure....
"We can tell you, though, that trying all of these programs often makes a difference, as does having the latest versions.

        * Google Pack - Norton Security Scan, Spyware Doctor
        * Kaspersky Free Virus Scan
        * Spybot Search and Destroy
        * Lavasoft Ad-Aware
        * MacScan"

Norton is not part of the Google pack. Besides, when did it become a good idea to run more then one anti-virus? I always thought that was a good way to cause problems with them fighting each other over a virus.
From the Google Pack page...

"Learn more about Google Pack Software

        * Google Chrome Web Browser
        * Google Apps
        * Google Earth
        * Google Toolbar for IE
        * Spyware Doctor with Anti-Virus
        * Google Desktop
        * Picasa
        * Adobe Reader
        * Firefox with Google Toolbar
        * Google Talk
        * Skype
        * RealPlayer"

What is interesting is that it includes Chrome and Firefox. It is nice to see them recommending Spybot. It has long been a favorite of mine that seems to have lost some of its popularity over the past year or two. On the other hand, they have RealPlayer in the Google Pack and I have despised them for ages.

Comment Trying to read the article with the winner (Score 1) 273

I was trying to read the article with Chrome, the eventual winner, and these incredibly annoying ads took up a big chunk of the top left corner. This is with the AdBlock extension for Chrome. The ad was bad enough that it covered several words of the first sentences on each page. I thought that a nice experiment would be to load the page on Firefox. Hey, whadyaknow, the annoying ad is gone in Firefox. To me that says Firefox won the two most important categories. Mem usage and getting rid of annoying ads.


Failed Games That Damaged Or Killed Their Companies 397

An anonymous reader writes "Develop has an excellent piece up profiling a bunch of average to awful titles that flopped so hard they harmed or sunk their studio or publisher. The list includes Haze, Enter The Matrix, Hellgate: London, Daikatana, Tabula Rasa, and — of course — Duke Nukem Forever. 'Daikatana was finally released in June 2000, over two and a half years late. Gamers weren't convinced the wait was worth it. A buggy game with sidekicks (touted as an innovation) who more often caused you hindrance than helped ... achieved an average rating of 53. By this time, Eidos is believed to have invested over $25 million in the studio. And they called it a day. Eidos closed the Dallas Ion Storm office in 2001.'"

Comment Only real pizza is in Chicago (Score 1) 920

Uno or Duo in Chicago, and not one of the many they have put up around the country. Connie's is pretty good too. All others around the world wish they were as good. In particular New York pizza tastes like cardboard. One of the great joys of when I lived in Chicago was the pizza. I am not sure why there is any need to discuss it. It is obvious that Chicago has the best pizza.

Comment Re:Privitization (Score 4, Informative) 681

I used to live near one of those in suburban Chicago. It was still called Plank Road. An excerpt from a local paper (http://www.ledgersentinel.com/article.asp?a=5946).

"The roads were financed by private, state chartered corporations, in which stockholders expected to make a profit. Tolls, generally a penny a mile for a one-horse buggy or wagon and an additional half-cent for every other animal providing the power. Up in Wisconsin, driving from Milwaukee to Green Bay via the plank turnpike cost $3.78—a not inconsiderable sum when government land was selling for $1.25 per acre.

Here in Kendall County, Oswego was the target for two plank road ventures. According to “A History of the County of DuPage Illinois” published in 1857: “The Naperville and Oswego plank road was laid through the central part of this town [Naperville]. The projectors of this road thought to facilitate the communication between Oswego, Naperville and Chicago...The road was completed from Chicago to Naperville, but no farther. The project was a failure; the stock was worthless, for people would travel by railroad. The material of which the road was constructed is now being torn up and converted to other uses.”"

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