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Robot Operating System To Officially Support ARM Processors

dbc Qualcomm must be funding it. (33 comments)

ROS has had portability issues for a long time, but those issues have been getting a lot of attention for at least a couple of years. The build system is much better, for one thing. It should be acknowledged that a lot of people (hobbyists, mainly) have been putting in signficant effort on making an ARM port possible for some time, Raspian on the RasPi being the main target. So while it is a good thing, on balance, that Qualcomm is putting in some money to make it happen, I'm disappointed that the work already done on an ARM port isn't being recognized.

One interesting question that is always worth asking: Why is Qualcomm putting money in? And why are they putting money in now?

Anyway... it's finally nice to have some news for nerds.

about a week ago
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UK Ham Radio Reg Plans To Drop 15 min Callsign Interval and Allow Encryption

dbc Re:Everyone uses encryption right now anyway (104 comments)

Pedantically correct, you are. But... why is a proprietary CODEC allowed in the ham bands? I can't go out and build a D-STAR compatible radio because of that. Proprietary CODECs should not get FCC type acceptance for amateur radio, as it conflicts the the "basis and purpose" wording of the enabling legislation. *grump*

Encryption, OTOH, is kind of a big deal now for emergency communications. In the USA, hospitals have traditionally been both big supporters of and big clients of amateur radio emergency communications groups such as RACES and ARES. HIPAA has put a very large kink in that -- being able to encrypt patient information would make that a non-issue, but as things currently stand HIPAA regulations are a giant trip-wire for anyone passing information in the clear. Amateur radio would benefit greatly from changes to part 97 that allowed health/welfare information to be encrypted for emergency communications.

about two weeks ago
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Ask Slashdot: Robotics or Electronic Kits For Wounded Veterans?

dbc Re:RedBot, Elecraft (115 comments)

Well, so there are no jobs in wireless these days? I guess I'll have to tell that to all my friends that do cell tower site planning and engineering, or do tower rigging, or old-fashioned two-way and paging system maintenance. Or all those guys I know with RF design engineer jobs... I guess they are unemeplyed, too.... wonder how they are paying for their Tesla's?

about two weeks ago
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Ask Slashdot: Robotics or Electronic Kits For Wounded Veterans?

dbc Re:RedBot, Elecraft (115 comments)

I wasn't suggesting a high-end kit. Elecraft makes a lot of smaller kits other than the big transceivers.

about two weeks ago
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Tesla Plans To Power Its Gigafactory With Renewables Alone

dbc Hydro is NOT green. (260 comments)

Stop saying that. Dams are highly destructive of the environment. Entire fisheries wiped out. Valleys flooded. I just don't get it when bus loads of eco-protesters show up when someone wants to scrape 5 acres of desert for a factory, but flooding 10 of thousands of acres of virgin forest, destroying land and aquatic habitat upstream and downstream of the dam, and they say "Great! Green energy! Let me plug in my electric car!"

Please, please, next time you visit Yosemite, pay a visit to the Hetch Hetchy reservoir. Then tell me how green hydro is.

about two weeks ago
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Ask Slashdot: Robotics or Electronic Kits For Wounded Veterans?

dbc RedBot, Elecraft (115 comments)

SparkFun RedBot
The Arduino Robot
Just plain old Arduino, RasPi, etc hackery.
For the radio minded, Elecraft has some cool ham radio kits.

about two weeks ago
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Fedora To Get a New Partition Manager

dbc What does it support that others don't? (170 comments)

Not flamage, this is data-seeking. The announcement only vaguely states that existing tools don't support all modern storage technologies. So, what are the technologies where blivit gets a "yes" and gparted gets a "no" in the "supports " column?

about two weeks ago
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Fedora To Get a New Partition Manager

dbc We have a winner! (170 comments)

"RedHat is also known for having a bad case of Not-Invented-Here as well as wanting more control over a significant piece of their distro."

about two weeks ago
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Did you use technology to get into mischief as a child?

dbc Electric fence chargers are great fun... (231 comments)

I grew up in farm country, so it was fairly common for kids to bring broken fence chagers into the electricity shop or farm shop for a quick repair job. After it was working again, it could often be ... ummm.... tested, yes, that's the word, tested... by hooking it to the metal parts of a chair. Just to make sure it was working.

about two weeks ago
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Did you use technology to get into mischief as a child?

dbc Re:Fairly often, but nothing serious: (231 comments)

Guess what, it happens to pros.... years ago my wife was working at Oracle when they introduced their own email product. Larry Elison, being a strong believer in eating your own dog food, had an early version rolled out campus-wide in one shot replacing their good, old Unix MUA's and MTA's. It was OK, but the out-of-office reply wasn't smart enough to not auto-reply to an auto-reply. It also would auto-replay to the *entire* cc list of the original message, which as it turns out, is a mis-feature. In a campus of 5000 people, there are usually a fair number of people out-of-office, sales folk especially. Anyway, things were looking pretty grim already by 9:30 in the morning, when some well-intentioned person in facilities sent a campus-wide notice about an upcoming parking lot paving project. The result of that was epic.

about two weeks ago
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Some Core I7 5960X + X99 Motherboards Mysteriously Burning Up

dbc Voltage regulator? (102 comments)

From the photos and the write-ups, it looks like a voltage regulator is failing. So, maybe a spec in the data sheet is wrong (for reasons from typo to ooops, we didn't compute that rating correctly...) or maybe a parts vendor for that regulator had a bad-batch day. It happens. Years ago I was involved in one of the latter... "Which date codes do you want us to pull from the parts crib again? I think we have about $2 million of the bad ones...." -- at least that time I was on the customer side, which has much less impact on your sleep schedule.

about two weeks ago
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FAA Scans the Internet For Drone Users; Sends Cease and Desist Letters

dbc Re:I understand the FAA's position... (222 comments)

There are only two answers to your question: "Yes" and "Baaaaaa"

about two weeks ago
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Willow Garage Founder Scott Hassan Aims To Build a Startup Village

dbc Scott Hassan?? Run away!!!!! (62 comments)

Scott "Bridge Burner" Hassan is a well-known ass-hat in the Sili Valley robotics community. He guided Willow Garage into a controlled cratering, and the spin-out agreements of the companies that have come out of Hassan's previous ventures have contained undigestible poison pills driven by Scott's greed. Hassan has PO'ed enough of the VC's on Sand Hill Road that he is *forced* to go it alone now with strange schemes like this where he can indulge his misguided greed. Scott Hassan is number one on my list of people that I would never, ever, allow to influence a start-up I was involved with.

Given what I know about Hassan, I predict that this is simply a slave camp disguised as a honey pot. Scott will own everything. The slaves will own nothing. Apparently, Hassan is disatisified with the rate at which he is accumulating personal enemies, and now wants to start manufacturing personal enemies by the warehouse-full.

about two weeks ago
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Steve Ballmer Authored the Windows 3.1 Ctrl-Alt-Del Screen

dbc Re:Hexidecimal (169 comments)

???? Well, I guess you are proud to be an uneducated redneck. Just because it is useless to *you*, doesn't mean it is useless to everybody. To some of us, it is essential that the exception code be easily available. If it doesn't appear on the last screen the machine can put up before coming to a complete halt, where would you suggest it go? To a log file, when the file system might not be working? *sheesh*. Really, I'd like to hear where else you think it could be recorded in a manner that is both 100% reliable and easily accessible without specialized diagnostic equipment.

BTW -- 99% of the blue screens were 0E exceptions -- "invalid page fault". In other words, a page fault in the kernel. Page faults are only valid from user space code. In 99% of *those* cases, the cause was a driver bug where an I/O driver should have wired down a page so that it would not get swapped out while it was the I/O source or destination. Microsoft got tired of getting blamed for shitty third party drivers, thus we now have signed driver code.

Let me tell you, if you don't get an error code at a machine halt, the next step is to start hanging logic analyzer probes. Then when your bench tech is done hanging probes you get to come back and spend the next several hours staring at logic analyzer traces. Been there. Done that. Got the tee-shirt -- literally.

about two weeks ago
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FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler Says Switching ISPs Is Too Hard

dbc Re:Here's an idea, Tom (145 comments)

Oh??? So, when the rural broadband act when through, and a rural telco plowed fiber across the meadow in front of my mountain cabin, and paid me for the right-of-way, those were fictitious dollars? So, I'll grant you this... the telco didn't pocket the dollars, they paid a lot of money to plow fiber through hard rock and the Cat operators and I pocketed the dollars. The Telco is pocketing dollars monthly from the communication tower tenants that the fiber serves.

There *were* federal dollars to be captured for doing internet build-out. And dollars were captured. I personally cashed one of the checks. At least in my case, I can say it improved service. I'm not sure the benefits were evenly distributed, though.

about two weeks ago
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Researchers Harness E. Coli To Produce Propane

dbc Re:Environmentally-friendly? Hello?! (82 comments)

Well, as it turns out, pigs are very efficient feed converters. About 3 pounds of vegetable input to produce 1 pound of pork. Much more efficient than most other meat animals. So, just insert pigs in the loop. Biomass takes carbon from the air. Pigs eat biomass, product fertilizer that boost biomass production, with an opportunity to siphon off methane. Bacteria eat fatty acids in the form of pork. It's just an extra step in the loop.

Bacon *is* the answer, in this case.

about two weeks ago
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Researchers Harness E. Coli To Produce Propane

dbc Re:Well... (82 comments)

sort of. Actually most of the oil in the Earh was produced during two distinct mass-extinction events. So it really isn't a continuous process. More like:

1. Mass extinction event.
2. Wait a couple hundred million years.
3. Profit.

about two weeks ago
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State of the GitHub: Chris Kelly Does the Numbers

dbc Yeah, so (34 comments)

Yeah, so, I start almost everything I say with "Yeah, so,..."

about three weeks ago
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Choose Your Side On the Linux Divide

dbc Re:If systemd is deemed going against unix philoso (826 comments)

Yes. launchd is a royal pain.

I got my original MacBook because it was a good BSD Unix that ran on a lap top and would sync to my PDA (as we called them back then) and everything worked well. OS X Mavericks is getting far enough away from Unix that it is a royal pain to get real work done. Also, Linux now runs quite well on nearly every laptop I throw it at, with minimal hackery. Which leaves only syncing -- but syncing is moving to "the cloud", and with the advent of things like owncloud, OS X is looking less and less compelling.

about a month ago
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Netflix CEO On Net Neutrality: Large ISPs Are the Problem

dbc Re:Vote with your feet, literally (181 comments)

Oddly, my cabin in the mountains has a fiber going through my meadow where bears are regularly seen, yet here in the middle of Sili Valley I can get either indifferent DSL speeds or unreliable cable connectivity supplied by idiots. Of course, I admit that having "fiber to the bear turd" is largely a matter of have a lucky rural location positioned between wireless operators that will pay for a carrier-grade fiber connection.

Sadly, moving to where you can get decent internet connectivity is not an option for most people -- I believe economists call that an "externality".

about a month ago

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