Hackaday Links: July 16, 2017

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[Carl Bass] has joined the board at Formlabs. This is interesting, and further proof that Print The Legend is now absurdly out of date and should not be used as evidence of anything in the world of 3D printing.

Here’s something cool: a breadboardable dev board for the Parallax Propeller.

Finally, after years of hard work, there’s a change.org petition to stop me. I must congratulate [Peter] for the wonderful graphic for this petition.

Want some flexible circuits? OSHPark is testing something out. If you have an idea for a circuit that would look good on Kapton instead of FR4, shoot OSHPark an email.

SeeMeCNC has some new digs. SeeMeCNC are the creators of the awesome Rostock Max 3D printer and hosts of the Midwest RepRap Festival every March. If you’ve attended MRRF, you’re probably aware their old shop was a bit on the small side. As far as I can figure, they’ll soon have ten times the space as the old shop. What does this mean for the future of MRRF? Probably not much; we’ll find out in February or something.

Rumors of SoundCloud’s impending demise abound. There is some speculation that SoundCloud simply won’t exist by this time next year. There’s a lot of data on the SoundCloud servers, and when it comes to preserving our digital heritage, the Internet Archive (and [Jason Scott]) are the go-to people. Unfortunately, it’s going to cost a fortune to back up SoundCloud, and it would be (one of?) the largest projects the archive team has ever undertaken. Here’s your donation link.

If you’re looking for a place to buy a Raspberry Pi Zero or a Pi Zero W, there’s the Pi Locator, a site that pings stores and tells you where these computers are in stock. Now this site has been expanded to compare the price and stock of 2200 products from ModMyPi, ThePiHut, Pi-Supply, and Kubii.

86 thoughts on “Hackaday Links: July 16, 2017

    1. No! They’ll just come after one of the others if they get rid of Brian. And then another, and yet another. Where will it end? :P

      As for the type of people who hate him? Eh.

      But I would note that there is a scroll bar down the right side of the screen. Don’t like reading his stuff, scroll past it. Takes less time than starting a petition.

      1. If articles’ authors were credited on the main page, then you’d be able to see who wrote each one and skip them accordingly. Then a simple stats-trawl from HAD would see whether, given the opportunity, a significant amount of people dis-prefer a particular author.

        Until then, do you need your real name and address to sign the petition?

        1. Um, are you not aware that the author of each article IS listed on the main page?

          Seems like a hard thing to miss, but I guess maybe the device you view them on must cover it up or something…

          1. You’re right for the static list, but the zooming sliding list at the top doesn’t list authors, unless I’ve gone blind in a really weird way, or my desktop PC has gone on strike. Actually it’d probably break a desktop, I bought a great big heavy black case with groovy appurtenances, looks like Darth Vader’s luggage.

      1. Um, he wrote this article that links to the petition, I think he signed it.

        He probably wants them to get enough signatures so he can laugh at how pointless a petition this is. I mean, what are they going to do, send a letter to him telling how bad he is, or maybe call his boss and complain? Really what happens if it does get 100 signatures, is there a party, with balloons and cake? Really, I hope the creator did it as a joke, because its both pointless and petty.

  1. To repeat a near-meme: “There is no ‘cloud’ – there are only other people’s computers” Of course they’ll fail, get tired, go broke etc. etc. from time to time.

    1. I read elsewhere that large businesses are dropping out of “the cloud” as it doesn’t have economy of scale and once they grow to more servers it’s just cheaper to self host.

      So it’s only economical for small / private users who don’t pay enough to support the use of the technology anyway.

      It will be interesting to see where this ends.

      1. Um, no?

        SoundCloud is going out of bussiness because they didn’t know where they were going or how to make money. Lets be fair, if you don’t make money, you’ll go out of business.

        There are a long list of “large” companies that use cloud services; Amazon’s cloud alone is 12 Billion dollar business (that’s a lot of money for only “small / private users”) and made over 3 billion in (operating) profit.
        The businesses that need private Datacenters are either huge, or have special requirements like very high security for things like financial data.


        1. I wasn’t referring specifically to sound cloud as I don’t even know what that is.

          I was referring to the fact that large businesses and corporation are moving away from cloud based services/resources because the pricing models are not suitable for large users who find it cheaper to self host.

          1. SoundCloud is awesome.
            I can listen to my favorite radio show from almost anywhere on Earth, with very few commercials. Nothing to sign, no accounts required.

          2. Which is what the second paragraph’s referring to. I agree though, working at a small business that needs a lot of processing power it doesn’t make sense for us to buy something from Dell for $50k when we could rent from amazon for a dollar an hour. It’d take about 6 years for buying the machine up front to work out cheaper. If you’re just considering the cost of the machine though you’re missing the point. There’s also the cost of getting beefy fibre laid to the building you’re keeping the machine in, the cost of gateways and switches, the cost of engineers to maintain the thing, dedicated cooling solutions, etc.

            Say you’ve got the scale for self-hosting to be worthwhile, what I’ve found is that even then companies aren’t abandoning ‘the cloud’, they’re just hosting their own private cloud with a bit of public cloud as backup if their capacity is exceeded. Things that you associate with the cloud such as easy and fast creation of servers, easy scaling, failure tolerance, these are all still useful if you’re providing computing power to your own employees.

          3. I think our definition of “large” may be different.
            According to the IRS a large employer is more than 50 full time employees.
            Building your own servers doesn’t become even close to profitable unless you have a hosting bill of several million dollars a year, or probably ten times that.
            Most of the companies that are moving away from cloud are going to be larger than than large, which I would consider to be another category, say huge.
            Many companies will do things internally because “cost” but are trying to keep their jobs or are being naive about the costs.
            Bottom line, cloud services will stay around, probably forever.

          4. @[raukk687]

            Disagree. Accept your perception. Mine is different.

            The current cloud services / resources business model is designed to attract market share.

            Unfortunately, the business model has false faith in such a mobile market.

            The expectation *was* that future returns would cover the unprofitable expenditure that has been invested in the industry.

            The reality is that other business models that don’t have the burden of historical financial investment can quickly capitalize on the fresh market that will be left behind when “cloud” services / resources start to fall in decline.

            Dot.com V2.0

    2. “The Cloud” is supposed to be some sort of nebulous comput-o-sphere, as a result of virtualisation, fast networking, and commodity hardware. The idea is there’s supposed to be a load of servers out there, somewhere, between them providing virtual servers, which can be created and rented on demand. Each physical server can host one, several, or even fractional amounts of a virtual server.

      If a physical server fails, the infrastructure and emulating middleware means the virtual server doesn’t notice. Virtual servers can be offlined and stored if necessary. Also any company of any size can offer up physical servers, and some sort of bidding system doles out real resources to virtual customers, according to the highest / lowest bidder.

      Anyway, all that sort of thing. It’s not a bad idea. It’s not a solution to everything. But for things like short-term supercomputer use it could be great. Hire a million CPU-hours then leave them to float away and coalesce into someone else’s supercomputer, web server behemoth, etc.

      The problem is, and this ALWAYS happens, is that “cloud” became a buzzword. Them some arseholes stepped in and hijacked the term. So now all “cloud” means is “remote server over Internet”, even if no virtualisation or clouding or anything like that takes place.

      There’s dozens of examples, it happens all over. If business-speak didn’t infest ordinary language it wouldn’t matter. But as it is, there’s no point educating the public about some helpful new thing, because arse-baskets are just gonna falsely use the term for their own crappy tuppence-ha’penny version. This is bad.

      So, cloud did mean something, and it was a good thing if possibly over-hyped and a bit before it’s time to go mainstream. But now it doesn’t. Because people who quite possibly didn’t understand it in the first place, decided to use it in their own hype.

      I suspect I am talking about marketing scum…

  2. I feel like starting a counter-petition for Benchoff to do it harder.

    Is there some USENET newsgroup where Brian is a total dick to everyone, or something? Honestly I’ve never figured out what everyone’s problem is…

    1. As any public face of anything, you get negative reactions towards you. He is actually doing a pretty good job, but, as any human has made a few things of lesser quality that people witch hunt him for now.

    2. Quote [Dielectric]: “Is there some USENET newsgroup where Brian is a total dick to everyone, or something?”

      In a nutshell [Benchoff] has a writing style that is provocative and colorful causing readers to use their intelligence and imagination.

      Some people imagine a different meaning to the intention of his colorful writing and then attack him because the article isn’t what they imagined or wanted. They do this because while they rate high on the imagination scale they unfortunately do less favorably on the intelligence scale.

      In reality these attackers are really complementing Hack a Day writers as they are angered by the fact the articles haven’t reached the impossible expectations they have (unless HaD writers are trained in mind-reading). If the articles here were not of the very high standard they are, then peoples expectations wouldn’t be so high.

      I should declare –

      1) [Benchoff] is one of my favorite writers here.
      2) I have a super human ability to completely skip articles that don’t interest me – without feeling a need to attach the writer.

      1. “Some people imagine a different meaning to the intention of his colorful writing”

        Maybe, but HaD is about technology, which is usually pretty unambiguous. Should a good tech-author not be able to convey his meaning clearly, even with colourful writing? Because if not it seems like you’re describing a poet.

        1. If technology was just about unambiguous boring facts them we might as well sit around reading data sheets all day. RTFM

          [Benchoff] adds a little color and intellectual tease to the mix and makes reading a whole lot more entertaining than your average data sheet lol.

          Some where close to the center between poetry (or colorful language) and data sheets is (in my opinion) [Benchoff]’s colorful and entertaining articles.

          All of this of course is subjective.

          1. As I’ve pointed out before, technology intersects a lot of other things, including politics. So if the real world isn’t going to stay confined to neat little boxes, why should our discussions stay confined to the same?

      2. Good for you and you are entitled to your opinion. I personally find Jenny List’s to be the most interesting to me overall but there are definite other contenders.
        I personally think the cracks are showing. He attacks readers that disagree with a simple spelling or grammatical error. It really has no place here anymore. I really wish some of the other writers would reel him back in. He has always been a snarky asshole–fine. It is the anger. People are assholes to me all day. I go to the internet to get away from that and to occasionally learn a thing or two. I have dealt with enough engineers with their head up their asses that are at the same time so petty and concerned that someone sniff them out as fakes (or less knowledgeable than they portray) that they actively employ the good ol boy method of trying to be an anus to make you leave them alone so that no one learns and nothing gets fixed outside of “bad cap-order a whole new board” mentality. I would like to enjoy Benchoff’s articles again, but wouldn’t object to him and Zach Epstein taking clickbait trolling therapy ;)
        You are always a pretty reasonable person, ROB so hope this doesn’t offend you. Just offering a counter opinion.
        Then again I could be reading the whole thing wrong and maybe it is like pro wrestling and he is a “heel” haha! Benchoff with the Russian sickle off the top ropes lol

        1. [Jenny List] is also a favorite writer here. As are many others.

          You opinion is respected, of course, and no offense is taken.

          I still support [Benchoff]’s writing style as well as [Jenny List]’s writing style.

          The whole team really.

          1. @[jawnhenry]

            Who am I? Well I am just another poster here with just another opinion like everyone else.

            As for more performance metrics. My experience has been that in a work environmen, metrics specific to individual workers does nothing to enhance performance and destroys morale making the employment a drudgery that employees can’t wait to get away from. If you want to keep good staff then specific metrics are a bad move.

          2. @[jawnhenry]

            lol you have argued with me before.

            Lets discuss intelligence shall we.

            An intelligent person puts detailed and specific case forward that clearly defines an alternate view.

            You have put forward “What a crock of shit”.

          3. @ RÖB–
            You flatter yourself. To no avail, I would hasten to add.
            There no remote indication of intelligence, nor reasoning ability, in a person who does not understand that “What a crock of shit” refers to everything which that person has previously written. Bad grammar, poor composition, and misspellings–at a minimum–included. Go display your (lack of) erudition somewhere else.

            “I would like to take you seriously, but to do so would affront your intelligence.”–William F. Buckley, and me.

          4. @[jawnhenry]

            Well while I am flattering myself let me add that people with the lowest intelligence are able to conduct personal character attacks by using the simplest of derogatory terms. This is not intended to be specific to you.

            You really haven’t set the comparison bar to high with your comments.

            And … I won’t be bothering to respond again.

          5. @RÖB–

            “… using the simplest of derogatory terms…”
            The simplest of problems requires only the simplest of tools.

            “…I won’t be bothering to respond again.”
            It is a fact, learned late by some, that the consequences of an ill-advised venture are a bother…

    3. Blind approval is as foolish as blind hate, since nobody is perfect. I for one don’t want Brian to go. He writes plenty of good stuff. However sometimes it seems he looses his cool and/or does not take his readers serious. A prime example is that recent discussion you all know about. Now of course you don’t have to read his articles, but I would rather he would accept feedback/criticism where it is legitimate. After all, feedback is the only way an author can improve himself. And because there will always be people disliking as well as people liking you, it may be a real skill to discern when the criticism is legitimate and when you can ignore it. Concerning that recent discussion (that sparked this petition), Brian seems to be ignoring it (or actually actively trolling). However, given the amount a criticism he receives for his logic defying choice, I think he is obligated to at least explain his choice, so that he can get the reader on board instead of aggravating them. Else he is just a troll. And I would think HaD is not really a place for that.

  3. Will the internet implode?

    I’ve personally been impacted by the cessation of a number of internet based services in recent times. The end result being that due to the demise of the service the information they held is no longer available. Storing things electronically s efficient in some respects but once it’s gone it’s gone.

    Maybe we need to start printing out the contents of the “internet” to be able to preserve the information we are losing!

    1. “Maybe we need to start printing out the contents of the “internet””…

      Not enough trees on earth for all the paper it would need… and not enough warehouse storage.

    2. I have so much fun trying to locate missing information and finding that all of it leads back to one source (curse you hyperlink!). In other words little redundancy in the internet, and that’s partially by design.

      1. Oh yeah, i know this… When sites disappear (there was a shutdown of some old webspace offer some years ago that made lots of content disappear, maybe this was AOL? Don’t remember…) it can be a massive PITA and sometimes impossible to find the information (schematics e.g.) elsewhere. The Wayback Machine doesn’t have everything and especially not stuff that you had to download (pdf, zip, …) from a website. (Also talking about datasheets some stuff is just too old, the internet is still quite young in some way.) Another really annoying thing are forums where images (like schematics) and other stuff (firmware, service manuals, …) are hosted externally on some free (image) hosting plattform, guess what happens when you find the topic a few years later…
        Now when i found some interesting stuff (especially stuff that might not please $bigcompany with lots of laywers…) sometimes a just download it and store it for later use, but this method of course has limits and especially when talking about backups and stuff like this. Yes storage is cheap and there is no need to backup what’s still on the internet, but this can change really quick and you have to know it and keep your files organized.

  4. Meh. Soundcloud changed something a while back and hasn’t worked for me since then.
    Nothing that was visible (to be enabled) in noscript list or addblocker pro would let it seem to work.

    I see that storing your images on photobucket has bitten folks in the ass also.
    IF it’s available to do, just post it to the damn website that your commenting on and be done with the “cloud” drama.
    That “image not available” kitten pic, was really getting old anyhow.

    1. They stopped using HTML5 for playback…. it seems,
      Had problems with using it on Pale Moon web browser with the site asking to install flash player, installed the flash player and had audio with the expense of loosing a quarter of my laptop runtime. Haven’t been back to that site since.

      1. Seems to work for me, and I don’t have flash enabled.
        But who knows maybe it’s dependent on what you listen to, they certainly have the option to download disabled on some sources (or did they remove that completely?)

        But I know the feeling of having sites suddenly not work and nothing you do or protection you disable helps. But I too just give up then and blame them.

    1. Not really completely, it has tons of stuff stored for years, and, used to at least, enable downloads on some sources. And if you start an item it buffers the entire thing and ‘streams’ from your cache.

      But it’s not like all the makers of material only save it on soundcloud, like a single unique master.
      I guess comments are unique though, but those should be easy to archive. Especially since I never saw an item on soundcloud with more than a handful of comments.

  5. Maybe something is flying completely over my head, (and at the risk of sounding like an idiot) but I noticed the “An airbag saved my life” tag. Wanna talk about it B?
    I’ve been in a serous car accident before and the airbag (and seatbelt) definitely saved me from having anything worse than the concussion.

    1. See the next article. Many of the tags refer to it or something in that article, with “An airbag saved my life” being a lyric on the Radiohead album “OK Computer”.

  6. Following up from the comment that the Cloud is “just other peoples’ computers”, the fact that many large organizations are OK with using them doesn’t make it safe or a good long term idea. The upsides to the cloud are fast start up, low entry cost, short term scaleability and, at least until they hold your systems and data for ransom, low running costs.There are many downsides. Such centralized systems are not resilient. They essentially have a single point of failure and require that the network to someone elses computers be up and running. They put your data in the hands of someone else who you may or may not be able to trust. The hosting company may change the terms of service any time. They may go out of business. They may stop supporting your needs and so on. You are dependent on someone else to whom your interests are not very important. There are, of course, much bigger and ominous implications, such as the centralization of knowledge and power in the hands of GAFA (Google, Amazon, Facebook, and Apple) plus a couple of central cloud wannabees such as Microsoft and IBM. Given the low cost of small servers these days, any hacker worth his or her salt would avoid cloud centric systems for any operational system. I use cloud services for proof of concept and to provide services that enhance my systems but that are not necessary to the day to day operation of the system. Even then, you have to be careful what and how much data you give away to these services. The ease of use of cloud services make them very tempting but you will pay the cost later. Yes, play with services like Alexa but understand the risk if you pass all your conversations to Amazon. What I want to do is to use cloud services like Alexa to establish the core rules from the vast amount of data they have available. Once they are established, I want voice recognition and personalized learning to be done locally. I haven’t yet had time to look at what is available to do that.

    1. Nothing about a cloud keeps one from backing up one’s data, and really that’s what’s important. And with VMs it’s pretty easy to move them from development to cloud, and back.

    2. GAF, not GAFA- Apple isn’t a major player- sure, they have iCloud, but the restrictions they place on it (pictures, few documents, nothing else) really limits its users. I have little faith in Apple’s long-term future…

    3. Soundcloud is mostly semi-professional semi-commercial stuff though that is put there for the general audience. It’s not like that other form of cloud service where you store your personal items AFAIK, and which is indeed not a smart thing to do really.
      The name is a bit confusing, it’s like if youtube would have called themselves ‘videocloud’

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