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Hardware Hacking

More About Dan Shapiro and the Glowforge CNC Laser Cutter (Video #2) 25 25

Yesterday Glowforge Co-Founder and CEO Dan Shapiro told us that the Glowforge machine is a CNC laser cutter and engraver, not a 3-D Printer -- even though the first words on Glowforge's main page are, "The First 3D Laser Printer," a description Dan says is there for people not familiar with things like laser cutters and 3-D printers, who want to call the Glowforge a 3-D printer even though people who know about this stuff know what it is at first glance. He also talks about his previous startup, Robot Turtles; what it is, how it came to be, and why kids like it so much. This interview is worth watching (or reading) for the Robot Turtles section alone, especially if you have children or are thinking about designing board games for kids.
Hardware Hacking

Glowforge is a CNC Laser Cutter, not a 3D Printer (Video) 45 45

Co-Founder and CEO Dan Shapiro says, right at the beginning of the interview, that the Glowforge machine is a CNC laser cutter and engraver, not a 3-D Printer. He says they've "simplified the heck" out of the hardware and software, and are making an easy-to-use, non-costly ($2500 has been bandied about as the unit's likely price) device that can fit on a kitchen table -- or, more likely, a workbench at a maker facility. Although Dan did very well on Kickstarter (and afterwards) with his previous venture, Robot Turtles, this time he seems to have raised his first $9 million in the venture capital market, with participation from several MakerBot executives.

Glowforge is not the only CNC laser cutter/etcher device out there (or about to be). In Australia, Darkly Labs appears to have raised $569,397 (AUD) on Kickstarter to bring their LazerBlade to life, and already makes a small laser device called the Emblaser. There are others, too, including Boxzy, which did the Kickstarter thing and will now sell you a device that "rapidly transforms into 3 kinds of machines: CNC Mill, 3D Printer & Laser Engraver while enhancing precision & power with ballscrews." All this, and their top-of-the-line "does everything" machine sells for a mere $3500. Obviously, devices to give makers and prototypers the ability to make ever more complex and accurate shapes are coming to market like crazy. We'll continue to keep an eye on all this activity, including a second video interview with Glowforge's Dan Shapiro tomorrow.
Open Source

Building Hospitable Open Source Communities (Video) 117 117

This is an 11 minute excerpt from an hour-long video, contributed by long-time Slashdot user Erik Möller. This video is the moving picture equivalent of the typical Slashdot summary of a text article, complete with a link to the main article, which in this case is a video (over an hour long) at PassionateVoices.org. Erik's interviewee, Sumana Harihareswara, is also a long-time Slashdot reader who claims (admits?) that she met her husband through a Slashdot link, albeit indirectly. She's spent most of the past decade working with open source, much of it as a community leader. If you are in a leadership role in an open source community or plan to lead one someday, you may want to listen to the complete interview. Sumana has many useful things to say about how open source communities should -- and shouldn't -- be run.
Transportation

GM's Exec. Chief Engineer For Electric Vehicles Pam Fletcher Answers Your Question 107 107

Pam Fletcher was propulsion system chief engineer on the first Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid and is now executive chief engineer for electrified vehicles at GM, overseeing electrified vehicles company-wide. A while ago you had a chance to ask about her work and the future of electric cars. Below you'll find her answers to your questions.
Input Devices

Mechanical 'Clicky' Keyboards Still Have Followers (Video) 147 147

For a good number of years, the sound of the old IBM or other mechanical keyboard clacking away was the sound of programmers (or writers) at work on their computers. Then, according to Edgar Matias, president and cofounder of the Matias Corporation, computer companies started using membrane switches and other cheaper ways to make keyboards, which made a lot of people mutter curse words under their breath as they beat their fingers against keys that had to go all the way to the bottom of their travel to work, unlike the good old mechanical keyboards we once knew and loved.

Enter Edgar Matias, who started out making the half keyboard, which is like a chorded keyboard except that you can use your QWERTY typing skills with little modification -- assuming you or your boss has $595 (!) to lay out on a keyboard. But after that Edgar started making QWERTY and Dvorak keyboards for semi-competitive prices. FYI: No Slashdot person got a free keyboard (or extra money) for making this video, but I have a Matias keyboard, and in my opinion it's far better than the cheapie it replaced. A lot of other people seem to want "real" keyboards, too, which they buy from Matias or from other companies such as Unicomp, which makes keyboards just like the classic, heavily-loved IBM Model M. Again, I've owned a Unicomp keyboard (that I bought; it was not a giveaway) and it was excellent. Both companies put out quality products that are far easier on your hands and wrists than the $10 or $20 keyboards sold by big box electronics retailers.
Medicine

How Light at Night Affects Preschoolers' Sleep Patterns, Part Two (Video) 29 29

Yesterday, in the intro to video number one of this two part extravaganza we wrote, "The effects of light and dark on adults' Circadian rythym has been studied over and over, but there hasn't been much research done on how light at night affects young children's sleep patterns."

Then we said, "This is the topic of Lameese Akacem's doctoral dissertation, and is a study being carried out under the aegis of the Sleep and Development Laboratory at the University of Colorado, Boulder," and we mentioned that this research is (at least in part) crowdfunded, and that the deadline for donating to this project is early next week, so if you feel this project is worth supporting you need to act within the next few days.
Medicine

How Light at Night Affects Preschoolers' Sleep Patterns (Video) 51 51

The effects of light and dark on adults' Circadian rythym has been studied over and over, but there hasn't been much research done on how light at night affects young children's sleep patterns. This is the topic of Lameese Akacem's doctoral dissertation, and is a study being carried out under the aegis of the Sleep and Development Laboratory at the University of Colorado, Boulder, under the direction of Assistant Professor Monique K. LeBourgeois. Aside from the inherent value of this research, which may help parents decide whether (and how much) they are messing up their children's sleep patterns by letting them view screens such as TVs, tablets or smart phones near bedtime, its funding is unique; the money for this study is coming, at least in part, from crowdfunding. The crowdfunding itself is an experiment. This study is one of a small, select group of projects the University of Colorado at Boulder has in its pilot crowdfunding program. Its crowdfunding time window closes next week, so if you want to help sponsor this experiment, and help learn how different kinds of light can affect how (and how well) small children sleep, you need to act within the next six days. (This is a two-part video. Part one runs today. Part two will run tomorrow.)
The Internet

Interviews: Fark Founder Drew Curtis Answers Your Questions 45 45

A week ago you had the chance to ask Fark Founder Drew Curtis about wasting hours at work reading stories about Florida, and his Kentucky gubernatorial campaign. We'll be checking back with Drew as the race proceeds, but for now you can read his answers to your questions below.
Build

Going Beyond the 'Stock' Arduino with Justin Mclean (Video) 12 12

Justin McLean is probably best-known for his work with Apache Flex. He also started playing with open source hardware before Arduino, and now works with systems like Fritzing, an open source hardware initiative that can take you all the way from initial concept to production-ready PCBs you can have made by a production house -- or make yourself if that's the way you roll. This can be an educational activity, a way to make prototype boards for potential Internet of Things products or even just a fun way to occupy yourself by making LEDs light up.
Education

Volunteer Bob Paulin Turns Kids on to Tech with Devoxx4Kids (Video) 12 12

You can call Bob Paulin 'Coach' and he'll probably respond, because he's been coaching youth football since 2005. Now he's also coaching what you might call 'youth science and technology' as the Chicagoland organizer of Devoxx4Kids.org. A motto on the group's website says, 'Game programming, robotics, engineering for kids in a fun way!' And that's what the group is all about, as Bob says in this video (and in the accompanying transcript for those who prefer reading over watching).
Intel

Mark and Joel Make Autonomous Drones in Their Spare Time (Video) 17 17

Mark F. Brown and Joel Rozenweig build autonomous drones; that is, drones that don't need an operator every second. You tell the autonomous drone, "Pick up package # 941A at the loading dock and deliver it to 451 Bradbury St.' and off it goes. It's going to be a while yet before that happens, but one day....

Back in the present, dronemaking is still a hobby for Mark and Joel, something they do for fun after spending their workdays as software engineers at Intel. Joel says there is 'remarkably little' crossover between their jobs and their hobby, and that (so far) Intel has contributed little beyond some Edison modules (which you can buy for less than $50) and travel to the Embedded Linux Conference, where they gave a talk accompanied by these slides. NOTE: We have a little bonus for you today. We try to keep videos to 10 minutes or less, but we have no such constraints on transcript length. So if you want the 'full' version of this interview, please read the transcript.
News

Interviews: Ask Fark Founder Drew Curtis a Question 127 127

For many, the day would not be complete without checking Fark.com for the latest funny or weird news. Inspired by the numerous links to interesting news stories he'd send to friends every morning, Drew Curtis created Fark in 1999. By 2009 it was one of the top 100 English language websites with 3-4 million unique visitors, and 60 million page views per month. Recently Drew has been in the news after he announced that he was running for governor in his home state of Kentucky with his wife Heather as his running mate. Calling himself an independent "citizen candidate," the campaign website says: "We have a theory that we’re about to see a huge change in how elections and politics work. Across the country, we have seen regular citizens stepping up and challenging the status quo built by political parties and career politicians. They have been getting closer and closer to victory and, here in Kentucky, we believe we have a chance to win and break the political party stronghold for good." We'll be checking back in with Drew as the race heats up, but for now he's agreed to answer any questions you may have. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one per post.
Games

How and Why the U-Pick Game Marathon Raises Money With Non-Stop Gaming (Video) 34 34

On June 12 through 14th of this year, the fourth (not "fourth annual," but close) iteration of the U-Pick Video Game Marathon for Charity --“UPickVG IV” for short --will be streaming on an Internet connection near you. The U-Pick crew's volunteers will be playing and broadcasting video games, non-stop, as a fundraiser for Charity Water, a cause they've supported since the beginning. I talked with organizers Stephanie and Grant Kibler from their video-game lounge of a living room about what it takes to broadcast an online gathering like this, and why they've adopted this as an annual event. Hint: some esoteric video-capture hardware helps, and so does a beefy network connection, for high-quality streaming of games that pre-date today's multiplayer, network-oriented options. That's significant, because U-Pick's stable of titles isn't limited to modern ones, and observers are encouraged to suggest appropriate games (hence "U-Pick").The remote viewers' choices and donations influence the event by deciding which games are represented on the Wheel of Destiny that the team spins to decide which games get played.The play itself, though,*is* limited to the players who'll be on hand at a Northern Virginia co-working space that will serve as this year's venue. It turns out to be easier to stream the output of old consoles than it is to control them from remote (never mind the latency that would mean), but maybe one day participants will be able to play as well as shoulder-surf and laugh at the players' running commentary. You can check out the Upick page on Facebook, too, and watch one of their practice runs each Sunday. (Note: Video #1 talks mostly about the game play and how you can join. Video #2 - below - talks more about hardware and behind-the-scenes work.)
Robotics

John Hawley Talks About UAV Controls (Video) 20 20

John 'Warthog9' Hawley was the boss sysadmin on kernel.org before he jumped to Intel in April, 2014, as an open hardware technical evangelist. He last showed up on Slashdot in June, 2014, with his Dr. Who-inspired Robot K-9. Now he's talking about flight computers for quadcopters, specifically ones based on MinnowBoards. Last month (April 2015) he was speaking at the Embedded Linux Conference + Android Builders Summit. That's where he and Timothy Lord had this conversation about flight controllers for UAVs, which makes it a fitting sequel to yesterday's video, which was also about controlling drones with real-time Linux.