Hackaday Links: July 15, 2018

Have you tried Altium CircuitMaker? Uh, you probably shouldn’t. [Dave] of EEVBlog fame informs us via a reliable source that CircuitMaker is intentionally crippled by adding a random sleep on high pad-count boards. The hilarious pseudocode suggested on the forum is if ((time.secs % 3) == 0) delayMicroseconds(padCount * ((rand() % 20) + 1));.Now, this is a rumor, however, I would assume [Dave] has a few back channels to Altium. Also, this assertation is supported by the documentation for CircuitStudio, which says, “While there are no ‘hard limits’ per se, the software has been engineered to make it impractical for use with large designs. To this end, the PCB Editor will start to exibit [sic] performance degradation when editing designs containing 5000 pads”. Chalk this up to another win for Fritzing; Fritzing will not slow down your computer on purpose.

Here’s an open challenge to everyone. As reported by [SexyCyborg], XYZPrinting (makers of the da Vinci printer) are patent trolling. This US patent is being used to take 3D printers off of the Amazon marketplace. Here’s the problem: no one can figure out what this patent is actually claiming. There’s something about multiple nozzles, and it might be about reducing nozzle travel, but I’m getting a ‘snap to bed’ vibe from this thing. Experts in 3D printing have no idea what this patent is claiming. The printer in question is the Ender 3, one of the first (actually the third…) China-based Open Source Hardware certified products, and it’s actually the best selling printer on Amazon at this time. I’m talking with Comgrow (the sellers of the Ender 3 on Amazon), and the entire situation is a mess. Look for an update soon.

Tired: Congress shall make no law… abridging the freedom of speech. Wired: But what if that speech is a gun? Wired‘s own Andy Greenberg advances the argument that computer code is not speech, contrary to many court rulings over the past 30 years (see Bernstein v. United States). Here’s the EFF’s amicus brief from the case. Read it. Understand it. Here’s a glowing Stephen Levy piece from 1994 on the export-controlled PGP for reference.

Like integrated circuits and microprocessors? Sure you do. Like drama? Oh boy have we got the thing for you. A week or so ago, ARM launched a website called RISC-V Basics (now unavailable, even from the Internet Archive, but you can try it here). It purports to settle the record on those new chips based on the capital-O Open RISC-V instruction set. In reality, it’s a lot of Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt. This was an attempt by ARM Holdings to kneecap the upstart RISC-V architecture, but a lot of ARM engineers didn’t like it.

29 thoughts on “Hackaday Links: July 15, 2018

    1. Nothing to do with the FSF – most likely the only connection to them is that they wrote the GPL. The only people that can “fight back” are copyright holders of the infringed code.

        1. Sure. But the OP was talking about the FSF actually enforcing the GPL – they can’t do that, as it isn’t their code being infringed. It is up to the copyright holders, and if they take action the FSF can choose to assist as you say.

  1. The Wired article is a hoot: it trots out as much gun control rhetoric as possible in the process of admitting the government stepped back from an unconstitutional position. The general theme seems to be, “the Constitution is on their side, but I really wish it wasn’t.”

  2. If experts in the field can’t understand exactly what it is that is being patented, its a sign the patent should never have been granted in the first place.

    1. ” A week or so ago, ARM launched a website called RISC-V Basics (now unavailable, even from the Internet Archive, but you can try it here). It purports to settle the record on those new chips based on the capital-O Open RISC-V instruction set. In reality, it’s a lot of Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt. This was an attempt by ARM Holdings to kneecap the upstart RISC-V architecture, but a lot of ARM engineers didn’t like it.”

      Business simply doesn’t like competition, full stop. Look all the way through history and you’ll see it.

      1. All it takes is one shitty marketing director’s whim for a site like that to pop up, it takes a lot of work to get them to remove it. Good to see ARM’s technical side aren’t willing to accept that sort of thing.

    2. To me, it looks like it covers using multiple nozzles and choosing which ones to use based on how much they’ve been used to minimise wear… Something like that anyway, that mixes 2D inkjet printing in with it for good measure. Either way I can see no way for it to apply to almost any non-professional 3D printer.

    3. The patent primarily concerns an inkjet print-head with multiple nozzles, and protects a class of methods for equalizing nozzle usage. Could also apply to a multi-head non-inkjet (e.g. FDM) printer printing the same material with both/all heads and using the covered methods to make both/all heads print equal amounts, but nobody does that.
      Totally unclear why anyone would think it “looks like mesh bed leveling”.

      1. Yes, the claims only apply to multiple nozzles. And the “accumulated printing point number” needs some translation before applying to FDM machines (maybe extruder stepper counts would work).
        But most hilarious is the fact that the authors of the patent even have trouble counting single-digit numbers:
        Check out figures 4 and 6 in the patent, the left-most section shows 6 black squares, but the count below is (5). IANAL, but I would suggest that this patent does not apply to correctly functioning algorithms.

        1. If it doesn’t apply to correctly functioning algorithms, then think of the gazillions of algorithms it does (and will) apply to. I know I’ve written a lot of those!
          B^)

        2. The patent doesn’t apply to correctly functioning language. I get that there are ESL engineers and that’s fine, but for a patent to be granted you’d think it would need to be intelligible enough to get a specific design across. Language with legal consequences needs a certain amount of precision. Is this some kind of machine translation of a patent in a different language, perhaps?

          It’s complete nonsense, I can’t believe it would be granted in this state. Even the title alone is some kind of memetic deflector shield; your brain just kind of deflects away from it as you read it and try to put together its meaning.

  3. “Another win for Fritzing”….

    It’s a real shame Fritzing doesn’t have integrated part creation.

    There’s another project, LibrePCB, which is already fairly usable and I suspect that once it gets to a beta-level state it’s going to be the best of all the FOSS and freeware PCB apps.

    1. You mean the “Fritzing will not slow down your computer on purpose.” phrase? This seems more like sloppy writing rather than a cynical side swipe at fritzing.
      Ps. How come nobody ever mentions Design Spark for PCB design? ….. oh ….. I just done it!

  4. that wired article is great! lol

    “By blurring the line between a gun and a digital file, Wilson had also successfully blurred the lines between the Second Amendment and the First.”

    Wilson did nothing of the sort, instead it is the article that does all of the blurring of lines in the first place. Wilson’s main argument was about the 3D file and that posting it on the web is free speech, It might be designs for a gun but it is definitely not a gun. By wired’s logic, any paper drawing of a gun is a gun and therefore against the law, so where is the line supposed to be now that the goal posts have been moved from a physical device that fires bullets.

    His secondary argument was against using the statues in ITAR against him because ITAR is used to restrict and control the export of defense and military related technologies. His argument was that any semi automatic firearm is not inherently military and he got the government to admit to such in his settlement.

    Its shoddy articles like this that sow distrust in the media amongst the masses, Wired clearly has a political agenda and as such has just tainted every single article they have ever published, after all if this article clearly has a political agenda then what are the agendas for any other article they have written.

    That article is virtue signaling at its finest as they try and conflate actual guns with 3d files and 3d printed guns with school shootings, also considering that plans for several guns have been available to the public for much longer than Wilson and his legal issues, just because now it is “with a computer” it is a new thing and Wilson is a monster for doing so. all you have to do is look at how long 80% lowers have been available and you will understand.

  5. Article is bad for all the reasons Mike points out.

    Freedom of speech should apply to all forms of communication, including code.

    Although the first amendment should apply to data and code, copyright shouldn’t. The spirit of copyright law is to protect the complete opposite of a binary creation.

    If it doesn’t fire a projectile with fire it’s not a firearm…. this should also apply to silencers, but they’re considered “a firearm” all by themselves for some stupid legal loophole reason.

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