Hackaday Links: January 12, 2020

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Nothing ruffles feathers more reliably than a software company announcing changes to its licensing terms. And so it goes with AutoDesk, who recently announced that Eagle would no longer be available as a standalone product and would now be bundled with Fusion 360. It looks like there’s still a free option for personal use, which is good even if it limits designs to two schematic sheets, two board layers, and 80 cm² board area. And perhaps this means there will be a Linux version of Fusion 360 too.

With the Y2K bug now twenty years in the rearview mirror, it’s entertaining to look back at that time and all the hype that surrounded it. Usually we talk about the effort that went into fixing vulnerable systems, but do we ever talk about the recipes of Y2K? The Advent of Computing podcast recently did an episode that gives a great background of the Y2K bug, plus discusses what people were planning to do for food after the bug detonated all the world’s nukes when the new millennium rolled around. Pantries stocked with canned goods, wood stoves to cook on and keep warm by when the powerplants all self-destructed on January 1 – it was all part of the vibe at the time.

We suppose when you put 60 birds into orbit at a time, it doesn’t take long to make a sizable impact on the planet’s constellation of satellites. Still, it came as a surprise that SpaceX was able to claim the title of world’s largest commercial satellite constellation after just three Starlink launches. We guess the operative term is “commercial” here, since some governments probably have far more satellites in service than the 182 Starlinks that have been launched so far. That’s a far cry from the 11,000 plus eventually predicted to form the Starlink constellation, but it’s already having an impact.

As a proud Idahoan, I feel personally triggered by what’s billed as the world’s first smart potato. True, I live in the part of the state with the trees and the bears, not the spuds, but still, it’s right there on our license plates. While clearly tongue-in-cheek, the Smart Potato pokes fun of our official State Vegetable, which I find beyond the pale. Seems like anything can be crowdfunded these days.

Speaking of which, check out Kohler’s Alex-connected smart toilet. For a mere $7,000 you can have a toilet that does everything a regular, boring old toilet does, but with lights. In fairness, the value of a good bidet can’t be overstated, but the ability to talk to your toilet and have it talk back seems a little on the iffy side. Perhaps teaming it up with the Charmin Poop-Bot, a self-balancing robot that connects to your phone and brings you a roll of toilet paper if you find yourself without a square to spare.

And finally, drummer Neil Peart died this week at the far-too-young age of 67. While there’s probably a fair number of Rush fans in the core hackaday demographic, there’s no hack or other tie-ins here. I’m just sad about it and wanted to share the news.

44 thoughts on “Hackaday Links: January 12, 2020

    1. It is not often that the more you dive into a subject, the more impressed you become. Neil Peart falls squarely into this category for me.

      We have lost a great artist. RIP Neil.

  1. I wonder how many Y2K fixes were really just hacks that put off the expansion of the year field beyond 2 digits by just offsetting the year (or some other foolishness), and are still ticking bug-bombs waiting to go off?

    1. Several “fixes” turned out to be whomever did it simply expanding the 2 digit year variable to four digits instead of actually fixing the year variable *and* the rest of the code to work with a four digit value. Thus there were a tiny number of cases where the year rolled over from 1999 to 19100, and the software didn’t crash but did do things like shutting down or sending out notices for some very overdue bills or books.

      The only case I directly encountered was a cement factory running their accounting with a DOS program from a long gone company, on an old 80286 clone they’d likely bought in 1985~86. They’d been proactive, circa 1998, by setting up a new business file on its own 1.2M floppy, entering some test data then setting the clock to just before midnight December 31, 1999. In their words “It freaked out.”

      Ummmm, yeahhhh. No fixing that. I sold them a new computer, with a copy of Y2K certified Quickbooks and told them to get busy entering all their 1998 to date data into it, don’t put anything more into the old system, just hang onto it for archival use, might be a good idea at some point to copy the past few years of old data over to Quickbooks.

    1. As I wait, and wait, and wait, for Fusion to finish pulling in an SVG (about 20000 linear segments. Needed to match the surface features of an existing part), hopefully without crashing this time.

      After many, many years using eagle, and with a very large library of custom parts, boards, and so on, I may have to move on. There will be nothing easy about doing so. Maybe I should just retire from that part of my work, instead, and farm it off to someone else?

    2. I’m an old-school Eagle hold out, having bought the original software in the 90s. I am single-handedly responsible for the purchase of at least 100 of their licenses by other people. Even when they switched the stupid ass rent a puppy agreement I was still getting people to buy it and use it even a few days ago. This is it. They’ve torn it. As much as I hate ki-cad, and really I do, Eagle is dead to me. Auto-dicks you can suck it. I don’t care if I have to hand code and auto router in assembly and put it on get hub I will never use your goddamn product again.

  2. This is again why all future developments I will do in FreeCAD. I can’t trust someone elses business model to give me permanent access to my designs, and refuse to do so.

    I am highly trained in Autodesk Inventor, and Solidworks, as well as MasterCAM- I support FOSS, and decided any learning curve is worth it for me. I just can’t trust their motives or business approach anymore. And I will be donating to the projects I find that work.

    I hope others try this too. Dont give up on making because of stuff like this. Overcome it, and support a better model.

  3. I’m paying $310 a year for Fusion 360 (because of the awesome CAM; at the time unbeatable for the price) and was close to getting use to the subscription model. I had plans on paying for Eagle (been using it since version 4.0 but stopped upgrading when it went to subscription) but now it’s free with my Fusion subscription. The impression I got was if you were subscribing to Eagle you now get Fusion for no extra cost.

    1. Well when they finally do something that crosses your pain threshold, know that FreeCAD has usable CAM right now and plays nicely with Kicad. I don’t know what features you need but I do see a trend of license terms getting less suited to the needs of many people for these SAAS products.

  4. AutoDesk going full ham with the pseudo cloud subscription model (AKA software renting) is something I predicted would happen, but people didn’t believe me.
    Now most of those naysayers have either fallen for the boiling frog fallacy with how it’s been slowly but surely phased in, OR grumbling that it’s NOW a pain to switch because they never made any contingency plans and preparations just in case.

    1. I’m more concerned about what he wrote:
      “We suppose when you put 60 birds into orbit at a time, it doesn’t take long to make a sizable impact on the planet’s constellation of satellites. ”

      Which species of birds?
      Maybe if they are starlings, only satellite owners will care if frozen dead birds start smacking their satellites.
      Hummingbirds will have a lesser impact than say… California Condors.

  5. I’ll stick with Diptrace for now.
    Perpetual license at a reasonable price, and an intuitive user interface that makes sense (to me at least) that doesn’t get in the way or have a steep learning curve, like Kicad.

  6. For those looking to migrate from Eagle to a FOSS toolchain, pcb-rnd can load binary and XML layouts, including their netlists, as well as load Eagle binary or XML parts libraries. pcb-rnd can also export to Kicad.

  7. I know I already commented on this, but I just can’t hold my tongue. Eagle, even for the rental price is an incredible deal. I’m not going to deny that, and I would happily pay that and more. But it’s an abusive relationship that I cannot let myself get into. And I mean that with all seriousness. At any point auto desk can decide they are no longer interested in me, rendering years of work completely fing useless. That’s why I can’t support this anymore. I cannot enter into a relationship that is totally unilateral as to who is in charge. Give me my license, even for a high price, but I need to own this software in my designs for the rest of my life. This is how I make my living too , I can’t be held ransom to the business decisions of an executive who doesn’t know me, and could care less about me. I’m not going to let you (To quote the beastie boys) “Shut me down at the touch of a button” – Sorry, I’m not investing my past, And my future in your (autodesk) future.

    1. Two days later and I am not totally hating KiCad.. Autodesk, your best customer, and one of your best sales people, has just “gone native” — I want to tank Ed for 20+ years of excellent customer service. Autodesk management, We will takk again when your product is no longer a rental. BTW – freecad kicks ass too. Death to Fusion 360.

    1. Looks like you need to keep up with the evolving use of language.
      At no point has a ‘trigger’ caused one to get PTSD.
      A ‘trigger’ is (in this context) something that might cause someone already suffering from PTSD to be reminded of their trauma and thereby possibly raising other aspects of their (already extant) disorder.
      This terminology lead to the conversational use of ‘triggering’ personal preferences, for example: I prefer not to have pineapple on my pizza and could therefore describe myself as ‘triggered’ by Hawaiian pizzas.

  8. I’m really counting on LibrePCB to get real good in the next year if Eagle is going down the turlet.

    KiCad will probably take longer to fix their UI and library model than LibrePCB will to have all the features everyday devs need(Mainly just importing at least one common library format so we can use SnapEDA stuff) to be minimally useful.

  9. > And perhaps this means there will be a Linux version of Fusion 360 too.
    They have stopped offering eagle for sale on their website: “No pricing available, contact a reseller”.

    And Fusion downloads simply state: “your operating system is not supported”. Even if I had a windows machine in the back I can’t download it on my Linux machine.

    1. You can modify your user agent in firefox to look like you are w weindows PC. Whether fusion 360 will then run under wine is another matter. I for one have a free eagle install, I managed to take it offline after one signin and have reason to think it has never phoned home again and still runs years later, will be seeing if I can pack it into a linux system image. I’ll never trust anythingt cloud based for access to my files.

  10. Existing Eagle subscriptions have been grandfathered into Fusion 360. Ignoring the issues surrounding subscription based licensing (I abhor them), this is quite a good deal.

    Eagle still exists as the same product. For the same monthly payment I new also get Fusion 360. Something that I’ll probably never use. My point is that the product is still available to me at the same price point that I’ve (reluctantly) been paying.

  11. “And perhaps this means there will be a Linux version of Fusion 360 too.”

    Only when Fusion 360 goes fully web based, and i could definitly see that coming, but a naitive version of fusion 360 on linux, sorry try again. It will never make sense to the MBA types so it will never happen, Fusion 360 is supposed to be a stepping stone to get users trained into the autodesk ecosystem so that those users would then make companies running the more expensive software packages to buy more seats. The problem comes in that the cost of writing a naitive linux application would never show the rewards of a windows application and thus the cost is too much for a return on investment. That all changes when we fully finish migrating back to the dumb terminal era (except now its branded “web apps”) then there will be no extra cost to developing a linux version and then and only then will linux get a version of fusion 360

    ps: stick to freecad, even if it does run slower and has issues. It is much better in the long run to support FOSS

  12. Am not a good person, as evident in my laughter at all of you people just now seeing the evils of autodesk; and now deciding to flee to KiCad/FreeCad. For those that sneered at me in years past when I converted to FOSS, I am truly sorry about your ‘data implosion’, but this is your karma.

    As for the derision of Y2K, it was truly a huge disaster waiting to happen. You are ignorant and foolish is you think otherwise.My employer at the time leading up to 2000 had over 100 windoze (and a few DOS) boxes running ATE, QC monitors, and various production machines. We started test and update projects about 13 months in advance, and I finished the last ATE driver update during the xmas holidays of 1999. The problem was real. The problem was analyzed. Solutions were designed. And the implementations were tested. And the only problems the company had were some windoze boxes in the HR and sales departments (their internal databases had a crash related to Y2k roll-over). That is, the IS people screwed the pooch, but the various engineering departments sailed through January 2000.

  13. While not a PCB program DraftSight (dassault systems) was a tool I have used for free for several years for home remodeling projects and occasional scratching out drawings for tinkering projects (home built log splitter, forks for backhoe etc.) I would have happily purchased the 2012 version for a fair price for a non commercial user with no updates, as I have no use for anything added since, but it now is by subscription and the free version has been disabled…. I just won’t pay it each year. I get that I’m of little consequence to the profit structure of the company but still, throwing SOME money from a small group with no update liabilities for an older version vs NO money from that group….
    It is what it is…

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