Thursday, September 9, 2010

Alien and Monolith

I was experimenting with cute mascots in Inkscape and I got this.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Pushing towards easy open source robotics

This talk gets fairly technical in spots (the main audience was Google engineers) but mostly it's about New Devices plus Building Community plus Social empowerment.

It introduces a platform that aims to make advanced robotics simpler. Currently, 3D printers are doing fairly straightforward predetermined actions, and micro-controllers can handle this level of interaction. But why shouldn't a more advanced printer have an accelerometer to notice when it is jostled, or even a camera to see exactly where a part moved to and continue printing it correctly?

Awesome Open Source Wheel Tracks

Monday, September 6, 2010

RepRap sucks?

After many time building my RepStrap, printing parts for Mendel and finally build my Mendel, I asked on dev mailing list about "RepRap roadmap" -- seems there is no defined roadmap.

Because there is no roadmap, I can't know what will be RepRap in next 1, 3, 5 years. Will RepRap improve and be userfriendly, being useful for people? --- I don't think so, because none developers expressed that intention. It's clear not and objective and nor a priority.

This reminds me of the criticism Linux got when it still had really bad usability issues.

As user jbayless says:
"RepRap is difficult to build and tune, that's for sure, but it takes perseverance. I would have much more pride -- and faith -- in a printer that I'd built and helped to design, than in a closed-source competitor. But this approach is not for everybody. "

The core of a complex machine or piece of software will always be complicated and hard to configure. Once the ubergeeks get that core working, others can layer on interfaces that do the hard configuration automatically. If the core is open source.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

A Future Post on Future Posts

For several years I've been reading John Michael Greer's The Archdruid Report. Once a week he writes a thoughtful and informative essay on some topic, usually relating to sustainability or our future given peak oil. Often he gives detailed historical examples of major social changes or failures which mirror whatever challenge he brings to our attention.
I suspect that this tendency to bridge together the past, present, and future stems from some aspect of Druidry, and that this same mode of thought prompts him to give a distinctive structure to his writing. Every post begins with few paragraphs broadly outlining what he has written about in the past few weeks or months, and ends with a few paragraphs hinting at the topics which will be covered in upcoming posts. While this is not to unusual, he extends this pattern down to paragraphs themselves.
Just as he does with posts, he will often begin a paragraph by referencing and idea introduced in the paragraph before it. He explores and develops this idea and in one or two final sentences he hints at a topic to be introduced or explained in the following paragraph. This gives his post a quality which the Archdruid borrows from nature: fractal self-similarity.
Fractal self-similarity is the quality that lets us pretend that a broken off branch is a tiny tree. It is often evident when a simple initial process creates something rich in complexity. The style of The Archdruid Report encourages to you continue reading and to go back to the archives and read more.