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Comment Re:The RPi's "secret weapon" (Score 3, Insightful) 120

The problem with the Orange Pi and many other inexpensive systems is that they lack mainline Linux support. AllWinner just doesn't seem to be interested in investing the time, effort and money to make it happen.

With these types of systems you may be able to find and boot a relatively new kernel (ie. 3.8 or later), but even if you manage that you find yourself stuck in time as the rest of the Linux community and API's continue to progress. I have clients that have chosen to use hardware only supported by a hacked 2.6.35 Linux kernel and they fail to realize the enormous effort it takes to get newer applications and protocols working in such an environment -- if it is possible at all. Not to mention the security issues of not being able to track the latest software versions.

It's a shame because the hardware is perfectly fine, but with the systems I own and manage, I want to deal with manufacturers that have at least a 5 year horizon for software support with regards to the hardware they produce rather than 5 months which seems typical of the cheap systems out of China.

I'm intrigued by these Intel based systems if they can indeed run generic mainline Linux kernels. If so, it will be well worth the $30 or more price premium.

Comment What utter garbage... (Score 1) 46

How does this stuff make it on Slashdot?

"Unlike conventional robots, Nadine has her own personality, mood and emotions. She can be happy or sad, depending on the conversation..."

There are so many things wrong with that statement about the current level of robotics and AI I don't even know where to begin. If you want to that gets happy, or sad, when it sees you, get a dog.

Comment Re:Robotics revolution is just around the corner.. (Score 1) 223

Since you asked, I'll describe a bit what lead me down the path to my current career in robotics: Graduating with a degree in Computer Engineering in the late 80's my career has since been all over the map. I've done real-time embedded system design on phone switches, moved to application development on held devices back when they were called "pen computers", then multimedia applications for the web, then Internet search engine development when the .com boom was in full swing and finally Linux application development. Having an interest in robotics since childhood and facing a mid-life career crisis, I finally resolved to break into the robotics field. Like you, I'm very much a 12-year old at heart and it was long past time to satisfy my desire to play and tinker rather than "work" work.

Over the course of a few years I brushed up on embedded system design, joined local robotics clubs and built a few well functioning hobby robots to demonstrate good problem solving abilities in this field. This got me rubbing shoulders and associating with people already in the industry doing what I wanted to do professionally. The final step was keeping my ears open opportunities to step in an solve some problems related to robotics on a modest budget and in a short amount of time -- something people are always looking for. People with big budgets and lots of time can afford to be picky, and generally are. Taking advantage of these opportunities opened the doors for me to turn my hobby into a career. I'm now doing the things I would be tinkering at home on, but now for a paying client -- something that satisfies my inner 12-year-old and keeps my wife happy.

Perhaps things are a bit easier in Silicon Valley or the Boston area for robotics careers, but I suspect that there are interesting opportunities in the NYC area or in any major metropolitan area in the U.S. The trick is to figure out where the local watering holes are where people who are doing things what you want to do are hanging out. Could be a robotics club, a hacker space, a university, a maker's faire, or whatever. Find those places and do something on your own time and effort that will generate interest and attention. Become friends with the people who might one day hire you and the rest will almost certainly take care of itself.

Personally, I've never had luck in my career applying for a job I wanted through traditional channels -- ie. giving my resume to an HR wonk and having it yield results. Either I don't know how to sell myself correctly on paper or I don't have the right credentials regardless of relevant experience. Rather, I find it much easier to establish personal relationships at a social level and then leverage those to get the jobs that interest me.

Finally, don't sell yourself short. Such negative thinking can permeate everything you do. I know because I've been there myself. Spend 80% of your time making sure you doing what is necessary to keep a roof over your head and taking care of your family, but spend the other 20% of your time following your passions. Just really make that 20% count and the other 80% won't be such a bother. Good luck.

Comment Robotics revolution is just around the corner... (Score 5, Informative) 223

I do robotics development in Silicon Valley for both new startups and with large established companies. Our small team is a mix of software and electrical engineers (we team up with other firms doing mechanical and industrial design) and we're finding it difficult to keep up with all the opportunities in the burgeoning robotics field. The nice thing is it seems we're just at the infancy of robotics so growth should be sustainable for quite a while.

I don't know if growth in robotics can compensate for overall declines elsewhere, but it's at least one promising area of growth for electrical engineer over the coming decade and beyond. Currently, pretty much every robot is a unique design built from the ground up so the opportunities are very similar to what was available in the Valley during the early days of computing when pretty much every computer design was unique and created from the ground up. Certainly this will eventually change, but for now it makes for fun and interesting work that is in demand.

Comment Whoa, we really need to think this through... (Score 4, Insightful) 220

Giving private corporations the ability to identify anyone they don't like a "cyberattacker" and then attack them will be very dangerous. Imagine companies pursuing IP related complaints (whether real or imagined) being deputized to go after people and their systems in this manner. There are damn good historical reasons we have a legal system in place -- one of which is to the prevent abuses that vigilante systems foster.

Comment Why stop at a space race... (Score 2) 275

If a space race would spur innovation through rivalry, why stop there? A full cold war would really get the rivalry juices flowing... Rah, Rah, go Team America and defeat the communist yellow man. [/sarcasm]

This idea is very childish. The heated passion of rivalry does not make for good policy and planning decisions. As great as Apollo was for tangible technology spin offs, from a space policy perspective it was disaster. It did long term damage and did much to keep man in low orbit for following 50 years or longer. Another "space race" would just be a repeat of one step forward, two steps back that epitomized Apollo. Instead, if we are to venture into space, lets do it soberly and with calculation required to actually start long-term exploration and colonization efforts. Or, at least step out of the way and encourage those who want to explore and colonize space in an adult manner.

Comment Re:Still vapor (Score 2) 104

MCU looks to be an ARM Cortex M0, but flash or SRAM aren't stated. I would guess 8k to 64k of flash and 2k to 8k of SRAM which is typical for low-end MO's. There also seems to be a 900 Mhz wireless option, but no range specified. Not too shabby. I expected a lot less capable MCU for the 1st generation. Even just a few feet of wireless range could be very useful for some interesting applications.

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