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How 3D Printer Maker Aleph Objects Pushes the Open Source Envelope

sixoh1 Re:The Basement (51 comments)

Thanks for the check in Jeff - sorry for the trolls....

Back to the original OP topic of patents - Do you think that Colorado's congressional delegation is any more informed about the destructive effect of poor patents on this market? I know they have certainly made hay of having you in their districts as a sign of their super-fantastic "stewardship" of Colorado's industrial relevance.

about three weeks ago
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How 3D Printer Maker Aleph Objects Pushes the Open Source Envelope

sixoh1 Re:3D printing very old (51 comments)

While the concept is "old", the actual technology in use here is hardly "old hat". FDM/FFF itself was stillborn as a product from Stratasys mostly due to the extremely high cost of entry - I have clients that purchased systems from Stratasys 15 years ago, and they are far more excited and anxious to use the capabilities of the new-market FFF systems because the vibrant and competitive market from non-commercial RepRap and all of the commercial spin offs like Aleph is putting a significant number of new eyeballs and creative developers into the mix.

The point is precisely that any technology, no matter how capable, will be under utilized and see limited functionality if it is only allowed to be used by a single company - think Unix at AT&T/Bell in 1960 vs. *Nix in 2010 in phones, cars, elevators, watches, glasses, power plants, airplanes, battle tanks, space craft, and 3D printers.

about three weeks ago
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How 3D Printer Maker Aleph Objects Pushes the Open Source Envelope

sixoh1 Re:There isn't much to 'patent' available (51 comments)

"Important" is meaningless in the eyes of the law - think "swipe to unlock" lawsuits between Apple and Samsung. ANY infringement can bollox your nice little innovative startup and crush novel products. Component costs are not now, nor have they ever been the barrier to innovation, if that was the case then we should be seeing a massive wave of innovation coming from China, Thiland and Maylasia. Instead most of it is still coming from Taiwan and California.

Capital (human and cash) is the real driver, and currently capital is captive to the legal fiction of the value and necessity of Patents - aka "IP Rights". The OP and Aleph's CEO's comments above are very nice to see efforts to break the stranglehold, but its pretty thin gruel to assume one company in Loveland Colorado is going to topple the billions of IPO dollars sloshing around SFO/SJC area chasing and perpetuating the artificial monopolies created by the USPTO.

about three weeks ago
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How 3D Printer Maker Aleph Objects Pushes the Open Source Envelope

sixoh1 Re:years (51 comments)

If you have ever been to the HP (now Agilent) facility here in Colorado Springs, you can walk the graveyard of literally bulldozed cubicles, behind the remaining old cube farm walls. On the walkways are thousands of plaques with US Patent numbers and inventors. The inventors are gone, their cubes are piled like trash, and the shell of the old company exists as not much more than a US based front for a Penang Maylasia based manufacturing outfit with an ever shrinking number of US "engineers" designing more and more expensive systems for fewer and fewer clients every year.

I don't think the Patents have actually resulted in real "advancement of human progress"...

about three weeks ago
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How 3D Printer Maker Aleph Objects Pushes the Open Source Envelope

sixoh1 Re:More please! (51 comments)

Nope, US based. While the "CEO"s are usually MBAs, in many companies from Intel on down the real decision makers of whether things get open sourced are engineers who have climbed the ladder. Think "VP of Engineering", "VP of Product Development" - these are the folks that usually crush open source movements within established firms... "because". They don't understand open source, they didn't do it that way in the 80s, and no amount of argument will convince them otherwise. Add in a corporate legal counsel who wants to be a CFO or CEO and you get "opinions" that GPL is unenforceable and contrary to shareholder interest.

MBAs are actually _easier_ to convince that open source can work since they are more likely to be swayed by graphs and slide ware - tell them "RedHat is doing it" or "Google does it" and they queue up to join the party...

about three weeks ago
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How 3D Printer Maker Aleph Objects Pushes the Open Source Envelope

sixoh1 More please! (51 comments)

It certainly helps Aleph that the original FDM patent has expired so at least they aren't under immediate assault. On the other hand it is worrisome that they have to think so hard about the "prior art" aspect - is that really what the open source actions is about? If so I'm skeptical that this is a valid solution since the current regime of patentability (I'm looking at you software patents) means there is plenty of danger for them in the dependent/follow-on patents that Stratasys has filed. Lots of necessary and related improvements to the FFF/FDM process are "obvious" if you are building a machine to be useful for additive manufacturing, but USPTO does not use that approach to determining patentability. The worse bit is that if one takes the time to actually dig into the PTO database looking for other's patents, and trying to "work around" - you might be open to contributory infringement (at least stateside), so most folks actively ignore the PTO database to prevent such skeletons. That means LESS information sharing rather than more...

On the gripping hand, I'm happy to see Aleph using the lessons of the software world as a viable business model - forget the 3D printer part. All electronics hardware businesses should be able to follow this model if they are willing - the end result for human productivity, creativity and technological advancement seems inevitable. Assuming Patents are somehow overcome as an obstacle (and for example here we can assume that BRICS nations will take up the flags if US based companies like Aleph are strangled by patents), what else stands in the way of getting more hardware companies to act like Aleph?

My suspicion, having worked in electronics manufacturing for 20+ years is that hardware companies are mostly run by old-line (80s and 90s era) engineers, who cling to privacy, NDAs, trade-secret, etc. by force of habit and comfort. Having spent years coaching my last company about the benefits of open-source (both hardware and software) to naught, I'm betting we won't see more of these kinds of firms until more CEOs die and retire...

about three weeks ago
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SpaceX Resupply Mission To Launch March 30

sixoh1 Re:Iff the Republicans allow it (48 comments)

Ockham's razor applied here might do you a bit of good.

It appears that nearly every single member of Congress, both House and Senate, have been effectively co-opted by personal interest in porkbarrel. While we no longer have William Proxmire posting the outlandish and downright shameful pork projects, a fairly casual search on Bing/Yahoo/Google brings up quite a few articles about various "Waste" programs. There a programs like the NEA and NPR/CPB championed by "progressives" and F35/M1A1 and the perennial favorite "Bridge to Nowhere" of Sen. Stevens fame. Neither the DNC nor RNC can claim innocence, nor do any of the NGO/SuperPac/504 groups get a clean bill of health based on their own lobbying for everything from money to build the Mexico border wall, to petitions for the HHS Secretary to start allowing the sale of human organs (Kidneys). Every single one of these people has at least one axe to grind, maybe more.

Dont confuse the actual "Taxed Enough Already" fiscal refuseniks for your assumed evil "other" Koch funded secret cabal that is running the world at the behest of the jews. Most who marched in 2011, and remain allied with the formal TEA organizations such as PACs/504s and ThinkTanks are hostile to quite a broad variety of Federal spending, INCLUDING aerospace/NASA spending, but also sweeping up the Department of Education, Agriculture Department, and the Federal Reserve. If there is unequal pain to be endured from a uniform cut of the Federal piggy bank, then perhaps that only highlights the extent to which our collective polity has distorted ordinary arithmetic and common sense.

Assuming that Rand Paul and/or crazy uncle Ron Paul is an official spokesman for anything other than themselves is a convenient way for you to simply ignore the fact that NASA's current total expenditures are less than one second's activity by the US Treasury in any given fiscal year September-to-September. Want to make sure Congress doesn't get out their knives for the ISS, Webb Space Telescope and other worthy projects, then tell us what other department should be cut? Milk subsidies for hipster Vermont "gentlemen farmers"? Bullet and MRAP purchases for the US Department of Education? Salary for IRS agents that have already retired, and lied to their superiors for 10 years about being in the CIA? There are plenty of bad expenditures in a government with 4.3 MILLION employees.

Blind anger and blame will not restore comity amongst the citizens of the US, but its just slightly possible that an army of concerned citizens taking sensible, cautious, and incremental action to peek and poke our way around the budget looking for waste and standing up to it (even when that waste is in your hometown!) might chip away at the bloated machine enough to keep leviathan running through our lifetimes. Or we could just take Venezuela's lead and blame whomever is today's convenient scapegoat for every failed attempt to violate physics, causality, and microeconomics.

about three weeks ago
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SpaceX Resupply Mission To Launch March 30

sixoh1 Re:Huh? (48 comments)

The amount of practical metallurgy knowledge we have under microgravity conditions falls in the "Not A Number" section of a floating-point unit calculation result.

Assuming you have some "dust' - you have to purify it, and then convert the refined ore into a chemically neutral granular material that is compatible with electron-beam or infared laser spot heating/sintering. On earth, buy the refined metal from Grainger in whatever format its available (screws, bar stock, etc.) - reformulate it as a powder (preferably something very chemically stable, uniform, and with particle sizes compatible with the resolution of the final use). None of these have been performed on-orbit that I am aware of.

Second, its a leaky system, volatile chemicals (water and Nitrogen come to mind) are needed for many of these stages for buffering and chemical conversion (reduction/oxidation), transport, lubrication, mixing, heat-treating and quenching, etc. etc.

Also, we don't yet know the true relative abundance of the important ores vs. locations for collection, Lunar surface? Lunar drilling? Trojan "asteroids"? NEO objects? Or do we have to go beyond Mars to get any decent quantities of these raw materials.

One more item - if you do have a perfect NEO rock with a nice mix of Iron, Aluminum, Titanium, Cobolt, Copper, and Silicon, first you will need to break this up into manageable chunks. A hand pick and a canvas bag won't work. Jackhammer and auger drills will also fail if they cannot be anchored to something in order to generate force on an ore vein. Once its in small chunks, how do you refine it? Chemical refining, gas/vapor distillation, electric arc furnaces, and other standard tools for metallurgy are used in the presence of 1 standard G. Will the use of a centrifuge to approximate 1G conditions work - think tidal forces, shear forces, and other non-linear effects that will pop up to create inconsistencies in the local environment around the refining process.

All of the above can and should be solved, but won't unless we are _there_ and there to stay.

about three weeks ago
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SpaceX Resupply Mission To Launch March 30

sixoh1 Faster please (48 comments)

Also per Rand Simberg and others, it appears that Space X is going to launch their 54-ton capable heavy launch vehicle THIS year - thats something like 6 years ahead of NASA's porkbarrel SLS.

Lets cross our fingers and hope that Elon's engine of creative destruction will blow up the market for government directed launch vehicle technology, and start using the Billions allocated for 1960s rocket technology for something like permanent cis-Lunar habitation, asteroid visits, and/or experimenting with off-planet manufacturing so we can start learning how to build and stay beyond LEO.

about three weeks ago
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Why Improbable Things Really Aren't

sixoh1 Re: The day before Fukashima happened (166 comments)

From human perception, there is no difference between these statements, and that's the problem addressed. The fact that something is statistically likely to "someone" (i.e.: not you) does not make something "probable" for you, which is included in the SA summary of the book.

about 2 months ago
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Why Improbable Things Really Aren't

sixoh1 Re:Oblig XKCD (166 comments)

Same information, but the visual aspect of the animated GIF is somehow much more accessible. One more data point on how the human brain is so poorly adapted to statistical inference as compared to our natural abilities with visual information like "is that tiger going to eat me", or "can I make it across the gap between this tree and that tree when I jump".

about 2 months ago
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Why Improbable Things Really Aren't

sixoh1 Re: The day before Fukashima happened (166 comments)

When the core is "shut-down" to prevent accidental thermal runaway (aka meltdown, or "china-syndrome") the system still contains a rather significant amount of heat for quite a while due to the secondary radioactive products, but this heat is not nearly enough to drive the normal steam turbine dynamos which generate the utility load - it takes a rather large amount of torque to generate megawatts of electric current. Until the heat is removed and the reactor core, fuel rods, and associated secondary decay radio-nucleotides reach a lower level, something needs to provide the power for the cooling pumps, and to ensure that the trapped hydrogen gas (byproduct of fission) is recycled and contained. There are various schemes to create "fail-proof" nuclear reactors, one of which happened to be the Chernobyl design (and we all know how well that one worked). It was supposedly "impossible!" for Cherynobyl to melt down because of the built-in systems, and the smart, but not smart-enough, engineers wanted to test those "fail-proof" systems...

about 2 months ago
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Mozilla will start showing ads in Firefox

sixoh1 Re:Firefox is becoming more unstable. (3 comments)

Lets go for something simpler: Hanlon's razor... Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.

about 2 months ago
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FCC said to be considering monitoring radio and TV news content

sixoh1 Re:Don't rush to the tin-foil hats? (4 comments)

Given Ockham's razor, its pretty likely that this is meant with "good intentions" by the well meaning bureaucrats at the FCC who seem to lack any sense of irony. Its pretty creepy though...

about 2 months ago
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Driver Privacy Act Introduced In US Senate

sixoh1 More useless legislation (69 comments)

Not that I'm skeptical or anything... but I would expect this to end up being just like the "Privacy Policy" notices we all get from banks and other places, or HIPPA - a nice sounding bit of legislation with so many holes in it, the 100-200 page bill will end up doing nothing but giving jobs to "compliance officers" while actually resulting in less opportunity for the "consumer" to sue or block the data access. Think about how HIPPA actually works, since the insurance company needs to know what the doctor treated you for, your "data" gets sent to them (if not the actual paper chart, a summary of what boil on what limb, or what infectious disease test was used). Expect that car companies will hammer this hard in lobbying...

about 3 months ago
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FAA Wants All Aircraft Flying On Unleaded Fuel By 2018

sixoh1 Re:mostly some small private planes left (366 comments)

Those aircraft (at least in the US) that remain registered (an FAA requirement to operate these aircraft) have lots of operating data. See the NALL report (AOPA and others). In general a 100LL 4-cylinder piston aircraft is the workhorse of the GA fleet, used by flight schools and flying clubs. A 1969 Cessna 172 is likely to be a primary trainer (the first aircraft you step in) because the depreciated cost of the airframe and simplicity of the engine/avionics means a flight school can operate it at a "reasonable" cost per hour for the student and not lose their shirts. Ditto for most aircraft made up to about 1995. Go to a flight school and look at the schedule for such an aircraft and you'll probably see appointments noon-to-night because students desperately need hours for their logbooks, and the oldest planes are the cheapest.

Newer aircraft with engines certified for 91-Octane AVGas and such unleaded replacements generally tend to be cost prohibitive to students. Most are owned by owner-operators, and while some are at flight schools, they are rare. The only real change to the market is the use of Jet-A based diesel engines in some of the new Light Sport Aircraft which are expected to take over the trainer market. Unfortunately a change of engine from a 100LL piston model to a diesel is a very expensive transition, complex permitting process, requires the manufacturer to obtain a certificate from the FAA, and causes the owner to throw away a piece of working hardware (the old engine).

about 10 months ago
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FAA Wants All Aircraft Flying On Unleaded Fuel By 2018

sixoh1 Re:Thanks Slashdot. (366 comments)

Public Use General Aviation airports are not required to allow unfettered access to the ramp area where 100LL is sold. In many cases a fence line exists specifically to control access to the apron and ramp areas because of concerns about aviation security. If the airport has _any_ Scheduled Operations (read airline service) then there is 100% guarantee TSA is present and they demand such a fence line. If a fence line is present, access to the ramp area without a valid ID and permission (given by the Airport Operator) can be a felony. Even at the GA operators like Signature Aviation that pride themselves on letting private aircraft have easy access, EVERY SINGLE PERSON must be escorted by a badge holding employee.

Only very rural areas, or airports that are privately owned and operated are likely these days to have unrestricted access - just ask all of our friends who own homes in "fly-in" lots adjacent to airports that have been informed by the FAA that "cross-fence" access (which they paid for when purchasing their land) is no longer permitted because there is is no way to control that cross-fence movement...

about 10 months ago
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What Charles G. Koch Can Teach Us About Campaign Finance Data

sixoh1 Re:Why Koch and not Soros? (238 comments)

The only thing "forcing" people to loan money ...

... was "disparate impact" lawsuits.

Fixed that for you.

about 10 months ago
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SpaceShipTwo Tests Its Rocket Engine and Goes Supersonic

sixoh1 Re:long term goal? (103 comments)

Branson wants to make Virgin Galactic profitable just doing tourism - think about it, for the moment he's got an exclusive market for the sub-orbital hops, and a turn-time/serviceability of SS2 being a day or less. This is a much better revenue stream than the one-a-quarter rocket launches for SpaceX, and is widely scalable at $100k or less a pop. Far more seat occupiers at that rate than the $20M per Dennis Tito ratio for the full-orbit experience.

about a year ago

Submissions

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Why Improbable Things Really Aren't

sixoh1 sixoh1 writes  |  about 2 months ago

sixoh1 (996418) writes "Scientific American has an excellent summary of a new book "The Improbabilty Principle: Why Coincidences, Miracles, and Rare Events Happen Every Day" by David J. Hand. The summary offers a quick way to relate statistical math (something that's really hard to intuit) to our daily experiences with unlikely events. The simple equations here make it easier to understand that improbable things really are not so improbable, which Hand call the "Improbability Principle":

How can a huge number of opportunities occur without people realizing they are there? The law of combinations, a related strand of the Improbability Principle, points the way. It says: the number of combinations of interacting elements increases exponentially with the number of elements. The “birthday problem” is a well-known example.

Now if only we could harness this to make an infinite improbability drive!"
Link to Original Source

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Joe Armstrong on Why Programming is Hard

sixoh1 sixoh1 writes  |  about 2 months ago

sixoh1 (996418) writes "From the blog of Joe Armstrong (author of the book "Programming Erlang") a nifty bit of summarizing the 'little' constraints that turn programming from something easy into what really happens:

Many years ago I used to think that programming was easy, as the years have passed I have have realized that programming is not easy. This is due to a slow perceptual shift in what I think programming is and what it is that a programmer does. At first I thought programming just involved telling a computer what to do, this part of programming is relatively easy. After practicing for twenty odd years I reckoned that this part of programming was pretty easy.

"

Link to Original Source
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FCC said to be considering monitoring radio and TV news content

sixoh1 sixoh1 writes  |  about 2 months ago

sixoh1 (996418) writes "According to an op-ed in today's WSJ (tiered subscription model) by Ajit Pai (current FCC commissioner, nominated by Obama):

Last May the FCC proposed an initiative to thrust the federal government into newsrooms across the country. With its "Multi-Market Study of Critical Information Needs," or CIN, the agency plans to send researchers to grill reporters, editors and station owners about how they decide which stories to run. A field test in Columbia, S.C., is scheduled to begin this spring.

Don't rush to the tin-foil hats, but at the same time we're seeing a fight over Net-Neutrality, do we want to see a precedent set that allows the FCC to select favored content?"
Link to Original Source

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Can XML save the US Credit Markets?

sixoh1 sixoh1 writes  |  about 5 years ago

sixoh1 (996418) writes "The Wall Street Journal Opinion pages have a very interesting tidbit today about the eXtensible Business Reporting Language (XBRL) — can XML be used to improve transparency in the jumbled financial markets and help fix the mortgage market mess by making all of the information searchable? The director of Edgar Online thinks so: 'Philip Moyer, who runs the Edgar Online service that distributes SEC data, studied more than 500 mortgage-backed securities priced between 2006 and mid-2008. He found there were only 600 relevant data points needed to assess the risk of a mortgage, which is many fewer than the tens of thousands of factors used to report on stocks. "This crisis has proven that lack of transparency ultimately destroys a market," Mr. Moyers said.'"
Link to Original Source
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Obama putting lobbying activity on the web

sixoh1 sixoh1 writes  |  about 5 years ago

sixoh1 (996418) writes "Barak Obama wants to ensure that "lobbyists do not stand in the way of our recovery," so it seems that he is trying to get every bit of communications with them online.

It's no secret that President Obama has made lobbyists one of his favorite punching bags. Even today, Obama announced unprecedented restrictions on contacts between his administration staff and lobbyists. If they want to talk to each other about the $787 billion economic stimulus package, they have to do it in writing, which then will be posted on the web. And if they want to meet in person, that meeting will be on the Internet too. The move will ensure "lobbyists do not stand in the way of our recovery," he said."

Link to Original Source

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