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Comment We need a parts database for stuff. (Score 3, Insightful) 272

One place where I see a 3D printer being of use is when repairing things with hard-to-obtain parts. But of course you can't do this unless you have a database of parts you can print for the thing you are repairing. So like MP3 players (which did not explode until there was a database of downloadable songs that you could buy for 99 cents), we need a database of 3D printable parts for things like dishwashing machines and refrigerators and the like which can be downloaded for relatively cheap and printed on your printer which can be used to fix the broken component.

Of course not all parts can be replaced like this. But certainly there are plenty of components (such as the plastic drive gears in a garage door opener) which can be printed and replaced by consumers.

At the higher end I can see companies like auto repair shops using professional or pro-consumer level printers for printing harder, and more refined components for auto repairs, and even using 3D subtractive technologies (like CAD-driven lathes and CAD-driven milling machines) for making metal components which fail that do not require tight tolerances.

I think where things like the MakerBot gadget failed was that it seemed to be oriented around the idea that everyone could design their own components. But even in today's environment there are far fewer mechanical engineers and designers than folks like that give credit for.

Comment Re: Finally, the gloves will come off! (Score 1) 1051

By the way, my own personal feelings are conflicted here. On the one hand I can understand a baker who may not wish to participate in a gay wedding by baking a wedding cake, or a company like Twitter not carrying the President Elect's messages on their platform; forcing them to participate means in order to do business they cannot be selective about their customers. On the other hand, I do find it despicable that a customer would be discriminated against for something as personal--but ultimately inconsequential to the greater public good--as one's own sexual orientation or political beliefs.

In this case I believe the baker or the message aggregation company may hold to their own personal beliefs, but should then suck it up and perform the work realizing they are performing a sort of public service. I have less patience for the baker in this case, only because Christian faith teaches one to love the sinner while hating the sin--meaning if they believe homosexuality is a sin (I don't, BTW), they still need to forgive the sinner and to act gracefully. (I'm reminded of the story of a bunch of Jewish rabbis who visit a farmer to slaughters his prized pig in order to celebrate the visit. As the story goes, the rabbis eat the prepared pig because acting graceful in this situation supersedes the requirement to keep kosher.)

It's sad that we now live in an era where gracefulness is no longer respected, emulated or even acknowledged in the public sphere. And to me it's sad that Twitter responds to President-elect Trump's apparent lack of grace by doubling down on being even less graceful.

Comment Re: Finally, the gloves will come off! (Score 0) 1051

As it turns out, for the purposes of hiring and firing, political orientation is a protected class in some states, such as California. Which is why the CEO of Grubhub had to backtrack from his original e-mail to employees asking Trump supporters to resign.

(Original Story), (Backtracking story)

In the case of Twitter, I'm not sure if they aren't already exposed to some legal consequences for their decision--however, I'm not seeing the AG of California stepping up and doing anything here, since it's pretty clear in this political climate we're slowly turning all of these tools (both legal and technological) into weapons to bash the opposition--generally the right, as most tech companies both reside in liberal areas and tend to lean liberal themselves.

However, given the problems Twitter seems to be having as a business (being unable to monetize its audience without breaking the platform), I suspect pissing off half your audience is not going to help the bottom line--and ultimately Twitter may find itself on the losing end of free market competition.

Comment Re: Finally, the gloves will come off! (Score 1) 1051

Does a bakery, as a private company, have the right to say "No cakes that we don't like"?

Actually, it depends on the state where you live. Legal Zoom observes that there are about 20 states in the United States which have anti-discrimination laws based on sexual orientation, so if you are in one of those states, as a practical matter (rather than as a moral one) you cannot discriminate against a gay couple wanting a wedding cake for their gay marriage. However, you can discriminate against a skinhead group from wanting a swastika on their cake, since membership in a skinhead group is not a protected class.

Comment Re:You can't use current votes to judge other syst (Score 2) 549

That's akin to saying I wonder who would win a football game if we awarded points for things like field goals and touchdowns differently--without realizing that by altering the point system, you alter the behavior of the players on the field.

There are plenty of places in California--a solidly Democratic state which is highly unlikely to vote for a Republican candidate anytime soon--where a popular vote scheme would yield plenty of votes for a Republican candidate, such as through the San Joaquin Valley.

Comment Archive, burning music disks, handing data out. (Score 1) 385

I use M-Disc (archival quality) for burning project data for old projects I'm no longer working on. I also use them to burn music disks, and for handing out data when I don't care if I get the disk back. It may not store as much data as a modern flash drive, but often I only want to transfer a handful of files, and CD-R disks are only about 20 cents a disk if you buy them in batches of 50. (Meaning if I want to mail someone some data, the disk costs less than the postage stamp.)

Comment Hell, even Wikipedia is more accurate than this. (Score 2, Informative) 472

A quick check of Wikipedia would tell you what most people who follow Apple already know: that Apple has a habit of quietly revving its current computers without much fanfare, upgrading their computers on a regular basis.

The current 13 inch and 15 inch MacBook Pros that Apple sell were last updated early 2015. (This correlates with Apple's own on-line store.)

It's not to suggest their current models aren't a little long in the tooth. And it's not to suggest that Apple may be a little behind in using the latest and greatest processors--though one problem Apple has is that they sell quite a bit of volume, so sometimes being on the bleeding edge may not permit them to get the volume of parts they need. But they most certainly are not selling a 4 year old computer.

Comment Re:The tech was never important to me. (Score 1) 97

It's the same argument (how do you, a stupid layman, interpret the results?) that got 23andMe knocked off the air.

Thing is, you can do your own blood tests in most states. It just happens to be expensive and not well known to most people. So Theranos didn't really change anything except improved the price point and increased availability. For those of us with the God-given common sense to (a) know how to use Google, and (b) to not panic when some number is 5% high or 5% low--and notice most blood tests nowadays provide a computer summary of the patterns the computer found on the test as well as bars indicating the usual high/low ranges, so there really is little guessing--lowering the price and increasing availability is a benefit, not a problem.

Comment The tech was never important to me. (Score 4, Interesting) 97

It's a shame Theranos is having so many problems, because to me it was never about blood testing using small volumes of blood, but about low cost DIY blood testing available at places like Walgreens. The ability to walk in and get a Cholesterol test for $3, and a comprehensive metabolic plane for $7 instead of going through a doctor (and paying several hundred dollars for the privilege of having that doctor cluck-cluck at me) is a big deal: it means I could (for example) try different diets and get a blood test monthly to see how those diets affect me.

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