3D Printing

A couple of months ago I bought a Prusa Mk 3 3D printer kit, as it generally seems to be considered the best for under $1000. Took quite a while to put it together, as I was doing it in short spurts when I had some free time, and on two or three occasions I had to take parts of it apart when I realized I hadn’t assembled them correctly.

But I got it working over Christmas and it’s printing without many issues; the biggest one is that the filament sometimes gets caught on the spool where one layer has somehow become caught under another, and that’s screwed up a couple of prints so far.

My main advice for assembly would be to read the comments on the online instruction manual, because there’s a lot of information in there that’s useful to prevent you from doing things you shouldn’t.

I also managed to slightly crack one 3D-printed part by tightening a bolt just a little too much, but so far it’s not affected operation. It’s just the duct that directs cooling air from the fan onto the material near the print head, so a slight misalignment probably won’d do much.

Thought for the day: Geolocation and Targeted Advertising

When I was in Italy some years ago, everything Google was showing up in Dutch. Not that it really mattered as I couldn’t read either language, but I doubt many of the Italians could read Dutch either.

Frankly, the only ‘targeted advertising’ site that’s ever shown me an ad I was interested in is Facebook. And, even then, I went and bought it from a friend instead of the poeple who were advertising, so the advertiser paid to send business to someone else.

So their targeting is garbage, but it’s less garbage than the competition. And cost the advertiser money for no benefit.

Everyone else sends me ads for things I already own (‘you made a post saying you bought a car. Therefore we’re going to send you car ads, because obviously you want to buy another one!’). And even Facebook keep sending me ads for their VR headsets when they know for sure that I already own two.

No-one knows who has this data and what they’re doing with it. Even something as simple as knowing what you set your ‘smart’ thermostat to could tell crooks you’re away on vacation and it’s a good time to burgle your house.

And there’s a staggering amount that can be done with location data alone. Happen to be close to where a crime was committed? Don’t be surprised if the cops turn up on your doorstep, even though you weren’t involved.

I suspect we’ve just about reached peak ‘Cloud’ and are going to start heading back towards more secure localized systems.

Thought for the day: Laptop Keyboards

I replaced my old Toshiba with an HP when the Toshiba broke, and it was only after a couple of days that I realized how much I relied on the Toshiba’s illuminated keyboard to see the keys in the rather dim lighting of our living room (I’ve no idea what idiot decided to not put any lights on the ceiling there when they built the house).

Other than that, the laptop is fine, but being unable to see the keys properly has noticeably reduced my productivity. And I wouldn’t need to see them that much, except the keyboard is positioned differently on the laptop, so my fingers automatically go to the wrong place.

Thought for the day: Kindle Unlimited

Generally speaking, in order for a subscription model to make sense, someone has to be screwed. The subscriber has to get less value than they would by purchasing, the producer has to get less value than they would from sales, or the subscription service has to get less money than they would from sales.

There’s a small argument that people who subscribe to a service would watch or read things that they wouldn’t have bought, but that’s just redistributing income from high-value producers to low-value. Since I got a Netflix subscription I rarely buy movies any more, so the companies have lost all those $10-20 sales in favour of the few cents Netflix give them.

And it’s ten times worse with an uncurated service like KU, because it literally becomes a license for scammers to print money. KU is now basically the Hunger Games, where writers are thrown into a pit of money to fight to see who comes out alive.

KU eliminates the pricing mechanism that makes economics work, and gives scammers a license to print money. A bot costs $9.99 a month, and earns $0.004 every time it ‘reads’ a page. So it can trivially generate far more income than it costs.

Giving scammers the ability to print money is not something that can be fixed. KU is broken by design, as anyone could have told Amazon before they created it.

You can’t do the same by having bots buy your books, because Amazon takes a 30% cut. It’s only the subscription model that makes scamming profitable.

Of course, Amazon claim to be able to count page reads, but they really can’t, and it’s a fundamentally complex problem to solve. Unless, maybe, they restrict KU books to tamper-proof Kindles and put a face-tracking camera on the front to check you’re actually reading the words.

Hence scammers exploit that to make more $$$$$.

Thought for the day: Amazon Ads

Amazon used to be good at showing me things I might want to buy, based on what I’d bought and what other people who’d bought what I bought had also bought.

Now they’re more concerned with showing me things that advertisers want me to buy, so they can make a few more bucks selling ads.

Yesterday I didn’t see any also boughts at all on the book pages I looked at.

And it’s not just books. When I do a search for anything now, I have to invest time and mental energy in filtering out the damn ‘sponsored’ results.

Just another reason why I buy less and less there.

Jumped. The. Shark.

Thought for the day: Please Sign Up

I was just thinking the other day how much I hate that every… single… site… on the Internet now puts up a ‘hey, why not sign up to our email list’ popup when I go there. It’s incredibly annoying when I find something in a web search and go to the site to read the info they have, and can’t until I click away from that damn popup.

I understand why they do it, but it just makes me avoid the site unless I have a good reason to go there. Particularly because I use private browsing mode on my web browser and most of these sites seem to check a cookie to decide whether to put up the popup, so I get it every… single… time… I go to the damn site.

There’s one store where I’ve spent thousands of dollars in the last year which I’m starting to avoid because I get the damn popup every time I go to their website now. They’re literally looking at losing tens of thousands of dollars of business over the next few years because of this crap.