On Partially Closed Systems (or why businesses should share more)

Sometimes it is just silly not to share.  Take for instance mouser and digikey’s refusal to make a cost API available1 or Polulu’s refusal to share their 3D image files for their products.

I say these are partially closed systems because, for whatever reason, the system controllers refuse to facilitate sharing.  But, such websites and products as those mentioned above are only partially closed systems.  The problem with partially closed systems is that those portions of their systems that are public facing (a website or the physical dimensions of their commercial products) are not only available for public consumption, but they’re public facing because their business model requires it. 2

Now, I’m not advocating the need for open sourcing or sharing absolutely everything. 3  I’m just suggesting that facilitating the publicly available aspects of your system makes sense when it means you’re enabling your customers and clients and allowing them to better consume your products.

I suppose it is possible that a company’s competitors might misuse such knowledge, but it is almost trivial for those same companies to accomplish what one dedicated person can do by themselves.  While Amazon and Buy.com used to use a system that only allowed you to view special promotional prices when you added that item to your cart, it doesn’t appear as if Amazon does this any more.  I haven’t visited Buy.com in a while, but I would be a little surprised to see if they did.

The problem with any partially closed system is that it only takes one person to defeat the system.  Worse, no matter how much money, time, and resources you throw at the problem, it will never be enough.  Somewhere in the vastness of cyberspace there is one hacker4 who will work around the clock fueled by unlimited amounts of caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, and hot pockets.  And they will do it for free.

Ultimately trying to prevent access to a partially closed system is useless (those measures will be circumvented) and counter-productive (since that information was already made public).  The only people who are truly deprived of that information are those could do the most for the company holding the partially closed public information.

  1. No longer there.  Bummer. []
  2. An e-commerce website without prices?!  A physical product that has no physical dimensions?? []
  3. In fact, I like the idea that creators of intellectual property can reap financial rewards for their work.  Perhaps it is because I some of my own income is derived from my own intellectual property.  However, I think rewarding content creators for their efforts is probably a good thing even outside of my own selfish desires.  I believe that incentivizing work and the creation of content is a good thing and critical to a well-functioning capitalist society.  That said, I love open source hardware and software projects and actively devote my time and efforts to both. []
  4. I say hacker to mean a person in the strictly technical, non-perjorative sense, of one who makes use of things in ways they were not originally intended. []

Kodak, Kodak, Kodak…

Over the last few weeks Kodak has been on NPR several times.  Kodak invented digital camera technology, but never tried to push it – since it didn’t advance their core method for making money… selling film.  I’m reminded of this because I’ve finally come very very close to finally using up my 5 pound coil of black ABS that I’ve had since December of 2009.

I’m both excited and saddened at this prospect.  In the last two years I’ve run through 5 pounds of clear PLA, 5 pounds of black ABS1 , and another kilogram of clear PLA.  I’ve used a smattering of other colors, but not a whole lot yet.  Black has been my go-to color since I’ve had so damn much of it.

  1. Almost []

Can you tell I’m trying not to work?

I’ve been sick the last few days.  Yesterday I thought I was feeling pretty good and ran a bunch of errands.  By the time I got back home and took care of a few small projects around the house…  I was totally wiped.  It felt like someone had just pulled the plug on me.  Obviously, although I’ve been as weak as a kitten, I’ve been posting all kinds of nonsense. 1

  1. Amazingly, as much as I’ve been posting this month…  this has only been my third most prolific month ever. []
| Comments Closed

DrawBot – Printed Parts

So far I’ve got three types of printed parts:

  1. Spools
    1. These spools hold the monofilament and are friction fit onto the motor shaft.  You can check out the designs on Thingiverse.
  2. Motor Mounts
    1. The Thingiverse page actually has a lot of information about the motor mounts.  They’re designed in OpenSCAD and are mostly parametric.  Since I’m mounting these motors inside a box, the mounts are designed to go into the corners of the box.
  3. John Abella’s Gondola
    1. I haven’t hooked everything up yet, so I don’t know how well this will work.  I can’t wait to find out!
  4. Arduino Mount
    1. I’m kicking around some ideas for how this would work.  Ideally, I’ll end up designing a bracket that the Arduino and motor shield can just snap into.
Posts in the DrawBot Adventure Series
  1. DrawBot Resources and Links
  2. DrawBot, the Adventure Begins
  3. DrawBots for the slow learner
  4. DrawBot - Parts Ordered!!!
  5. DrawBot - The Breakdown
  6. DrawBot - Parts Shipped!!!
  7. DrawBot - What would you draw?
  8. DrawBot - The Plan!
  9. DrawBot - The Hacks
  10. DrawBot - Giant Unicorn?
  11. DrawBot - The Delivery?
  12. DrawBot - The Delivery, Part II
  13. DrawBot – The Delivery, Part III
  14. DrawBot – The Assembly, Part I
  15. DrawBot – The Software, Part I (and an existential conversation)
  16. DrawBot – The Delivery, Part IV
  17. DrawBot – The Assembly, Part II
  18. DrawBot – The Assembly, Part III
  19. DrawBot – Halp!!! No - seriously, a little help?
  20. DrawBot – The Face Palm
  21. DrawBot – The Delivery, Part V
  22. DrawBot – The Silver Lining of Failure
  23. DrawBot – The Delivery, Part VI
  24. DrawBot – The Assembly, Part V
  25. DrawBot – The Assembly, Part VI
  26. DrawBot – Printed Parts
  27. DrawBot – The Assembly, Part VII
  28. DrawBot – The Operation, Part I
  29. DrawBot – The Breakdown, Part II
  30. DrawBot – Printing!
  31. DrawBot – Printing, Part II
  32. DrawBot – Why are you crying?
  33. DrawBot – Calibration
  34. DrawBot – Pen Selection
  35. DrawBot – How to Recover from a Stalled Print!
  36. DrawBot – Drawing Success(ish)!!!
  37. DrawBot – Pen Selection, Part II
  38. DrawBot – Onwards and Upwards!
  39. Restarting a Stalled DrawBot Drawing
  40. TSP FTW!
  41. Speedier DrawBot Drawings
  42. Excellent DrawBot Slides
  43. Another Drawing Robot!!!
  44. DrawBot Practice Tip: A Watched Pot
  45. The biggest inkjet printer ever
  46. Why do DrawBots draw on walls?
  47. Maze Code + Polargraph?
  48. All New Polargraph on the way!!!
  49. Ideas for improving my DrawBot
  50. The Eagle Has Landed
  51. Every Body Needs a Skull
  52. This project is not going to overengineer itself
  53. Overengineered Spools
  54. Overengineered Stepper Motor Mounts, Filament Guides
  55. Overengineered Bolt Endcaps, Case Holder
  56. DrawBot - A Tour!
  57. DrawBot - A Preview
  58. Arduino Powered Drawing Robot Poll
  59. Building an Arduino Drawing Robot - On The Cheap
  60. DrawBot - Printed Parts Tour
  61. Unidentified Foam Object
  62. Arduino Powered Drawing Robot - Take 2 (Or 3)
  63. DrawBot, now ACTUALLY wall mounted!
  64. A Study of Drawing Robot Pen Holders and Design Considerations
  65. Drawing Robot Pen Holders, Calligraphy Pens, and Thought Experiments
  66. Ideal Qualities in a Drawing Robot Pen Holder
  67. Enough talk! Finally a pen holder!
  68. DrawBot Pen Holder Post Mortem
  69. To Maker Faire!!!
  70. Skipping! How could I forget the skipping?!
  71. Drawing Robot Penmanship
  72. PlotterBot at Maker Faire Bay Area 2013!
  73. PlotterBot.com - a new site dedicated to drawing robots
| Comments Closed

DrawBot – The Assembly, Part VI

Okay!  It was a good day for drawing robots in the MakerBlock household!  Here’s what we got accomplished:

  • I designed some motor mounts, printed one… and had to redesign it.  Gotta love having a 3D printer!
  • I selected a long shallow pine box to hold the motors and electronics.
  • I tried a variety of sound insulating materials.  Bubble wrap was easily the most effective, but least practical.  I settled on some corrugated cardboard.  I placed some cardboard between the motor and the motor mount and between the motor mount and the wood.
  • I soldered some longer wires to the motor leads.
  • I drilled holes in the wooden box, attached some monofilament line to the spools, put the spools on the motors, mounted the motors, ran the leads to the Arduino, powered it up… and it moved around and stuff!

As this point the next step is to mount it on the wall and actually attempt to draw stuff.  Yay!

Posts in the DrawBot Adventure Series
  1. DrawBot Resources and Links
  2. DrawBot, the Adventure Begins
  3. DrawBots for the slow learner
  4. DrawBot - Parts Ordered!!!
  5. DrawBot - The Breakdown
  6. DrawBot - Parts Shipped!!!
  7. DrawBot - What would you draw?
  8. DrawBot - The Plan!
  9. DrawBot - The Hacks
  10. DrawBot - Giant Unicorn?
  11. DrawBot - The Delivery?
  12. DrawBot - The Delivery, Part II
  13. DrawBot – The Delivery, Part III
  14. DrawBot – The Assembly, Part I
  15. DrawBot – The Software, Part I (and an existential conversation)
  16. DrawBot – The Delivery, Part IV
  17. DrawBot – The Assembly, Part II
  18. DrawBot – The Assembly, Part III
  19. DrawBot – Halp!!! No - seriously, a little help?
  20. DrawBot – The Face Palm
  21. DrawBot – The Delivery, Part V
  22. DrawBot – The Silver Lining of Failure
  23. DrawBot – The Delivery, Part VI
  24. DrawBot – The Assembly, Part V
  25. DrawBot – The Assembly, Part VI
  26. DrawBot – Printed Parts
  27. DrawBot – The Assembly, Part VII
  28. DrawBot – The Operation, Part I
  29. DrawBot – The Breakdown, Part II
  30. DrawBot – Printing!
  31. DrawBot – Printing, Part II
  32. DrawBot – Why are you crying?
  33. DrawBot – Calibration
  34. DrawBot – Pen Selection
  35. DrawBot – How to Recover from a Stalled Print!
  36. DrawBot – Drawing Success(ish)!!!
  37. DrawBot – Pen Selection, Part II
  38. DrawBot – Onwards and Upwards!
  39. Restarting a Stalled DrawBot Drawing
  40. TSP FTW!
  41. Speedier DrawBot Drawings
  42. Excellent DrawBot Slides
  43. Another Drawing Robot!!!
  44. DrawBot Practice Tip: A Watched Pot
  45. The biggest inkjet printer ever
  46. Why do DrawBots draw on walls?
  47. Maze Code + Polargraph?
  48. All New Polargraph on the way!!!
  49. Ideas for improving my DrawBot
  50. The Eagle Has Landed
  51. Every Body Needs a Skull
  52. This project is not going to overengineer itself
  53. Overengineered Spools
  54. Overengineered Stepper Motor Mounts, Filament Guides
  55. Overengineered Bolt Endcaps, Case Holder
  56. DrawBot - A Tour!
  57. DrawBot - A Preview
  58. Arduino Powered Drawing Robot Poll
  59. Building an Arduino Drawing Robot - On The Cheap
  60. DrawBot - Printed Parts Tour
  61. Unidentified Foam Object
  62. Arduino Powered Drawing Robot - Take 2 (Or 3)
  63. DrawBot, now ACTUALLY wall mounted!
  64. A Study of Drawing Robot Pen Holders and Design Considerations
  65. Drawing Robot Pen Holders, Calligraphy Pens, and Thought Experiments
  66. Ideal Qualities in a Drawing Robot Pen Holder
  67. Enough talk! Finally a pen holder!
  68. DrawBot Pen Holder Post Mortem
  69. To Maker Faire!!!
  70. Skipping! How could I forget the skipping?!
  71. Drawing Robot Penmanship
  72. PlotterBot at Maker Faire Bay Area 2013!
  73. PlotterBot.com - a new site dedicated to drawing robots
| Comments Closed

Simple Series – Half-Life; Market Research

I’m wondering at what point will the downloads on this plugin plateau.  Whatever the eventual baseline download rate, I would suspect that speaks to the amount of maximum market share that is possible for a plugin that performs these functions.1  I would think that downloads would spike when I release a new version of the plugin.  Given that I released about five updates to this plugin the first day, I would assume some of those initial downloads were duplicative.

As far as rankings go, at this time this plugin is #5 on WordPress.org’s plugin search page, #5 inside WordPress’s internal “Add New” plugins search page, and no where to be seen in the Google rankings.  Looking at Google Keywords, it appears that there’s no small amount of search traffic for the keywords “WordPress series.”  There’s some 200,000 global monthly searches.  One of the reasons I’m following this so closely is that I’ve had a few ideas for plugins that I could sell.2

Here’s the WordPress.org plugin download stats for “Simple Series with SEO!” for the first four days.

  1. 1/26/2012: 1 download
  2. 1/27/2012: 99 downloads
  3. 1/28/2012: 37 downloads
  4. 1/29/2012: 20 downloads

What will tomorrow bring?

  1. I promise I won’t subject your RSS feed to my obsessive stats checking.  Much of the time I use this blog as a way to document/save/organize information that is probably really only interesting to me. []
  2. A brother’s gotta earn, right? []
January 29, 2012 | Comments Closed

TARDIS’s are more practical than you might think…

You could use a prop TARDIS for a tool shed, chicken coop, garden shed, file cabinet, etc.1

But, as I was watching that video of Sillysparrowness build her TARDIS, I couldn’t help thinking…  This is a time and relative dimensions in space device – why does it need to be enclosed?  As long as you are going to use it as a prop, rather than as a storage device of some sort, you would really only need the front, the left or right panel, and the top.  Admittedly, then you could only take front or 3/4 perspective view shots.  If it were modular, the left and right sides could be swapped back and forth so you could take a left or right-sided 3/4 view picture.

If constructed in such a fashion it wouldn’t take up much room if you were to put it facing into a corner.2

  1. A place to change clothes very quickly before you go off to save the world? []
  2. NOBODY PUTS BABY IN A CORNER! []
| Comments Closed

Anti-Virals

Here’s the WordPress.org plugin download stats for “Simple Series with SEO!” for the first three days.

  1. 1/26/2012: 1 download1
  2. 1/27/2012: 99 downloads2
  3. 1/28/2012: 37 downloads3

It looks after being bumped from the newest plugins slot, the downloads dropped precipitously.  So much for going viral, money, and fame, eh?

Actually, I’m happy to have helped out a 100 people or so.  I also think a lot more people will end up using this plugin over time.  The alternatives, while very good, are more difficult to use and do tend to add a lot of other stuff into your WordPress installation.

  1. That was me installing it in another blog! []
  2. And a blog ain’t one []
  3. I have nothing clever to say about this. []

DrawBot – The Assembly, Part V

I just finished soldering the Adafruit Motor Shield … this time with all the bits in the correct places.  The Adafruit directions are incredibly detailed, I just soldered a few parts in wrong like an idiot last time. This time it went much smoother and much quicker.

I just wired up the two steppers, plugged in the power adapter, plugged in the USB cable, uploaded the Polargraph firmware, fired up the Polargraph software, and asked it to try to draw something.  And it started to twitch away in what appeared to be a meaningful pattern!!!

Huzzah!

Now… for sleep!

Posts in the DrawBot Adventure Series
  1. DrawBot Resources and Links
  2. DrawBot, the Adventure Begins
  3. DrawBots for the slow learner
  4. DrawBot - Parts Ordered!!!
  5. DrawBot - The Breakdown
  6. DrawBot - Parts Shipped!!!
  7. DrawBot - What would you draw?
  8. DrawBot - The Plan!
  9. DrawBot - The Hacks
  10. DrawBot - Giant Unicorn?
  11. DrawBot - The Delivery?
  12. DrawBot - The Delivery, Part II
  13. DrawBot – The Delivery, Part III
  14. DrawBot – The Assembly, Part I
  15. DrawBot – The Software, Part I (and an existential conversation)
  16. DrawBot – The Delivery, Part IV
  17. DrawBot – The Assembly, Part II
  18. DrawBot – The Assembly, Part III
  19. DrawBot – Halp!!! No - seriously, a little help?
  20. DrawBot – The Face Palm
  21. DrawBot – The Delivery, Part V
  22. DrawBot – The Silver Lining of Failure
  23. DrawBot – The Delivery, Part VI
  24. DrawBot – The Assembly, Part V
  25. DrawBot – The Assembly, Part VI
  26. DrawBot – Printed Parts
  27. DrawBot – The Assembly, Part VII
  28. DrawBot – The Operation, Part I
  29. DrawBot – The Breakdown, Part II
  30. DrawBot – Printing!
  31. DrawBot – Printing, Part II
  32. DrawBot – Why are you crying?
  33. DrawBot – Calibration
  34. DrawBot – Pen Selection
  35. DrawBot – How to Recover from a Stalled Print!
  36. DrawBot – Drawing Success(ish)!!!
  37. DrawBot – Pen Selection, Part II
  38. DrawBot – Onwards and Upwards!
  39. Restarting a Stalled DrawBot Drawing
  40. TSP FTW!
  41. Speedier DrawBot Drawings
  42. Excellent DrawBot Slides
  43. Another Drawing Robot!!!
  44. DrawBot Practice Tip: A Watched Pot
  45. The biggest inkjet printer ever
  46. Why do DrawBots draw on walls?
  47. Maze Code + Polargraph?
  48. All New Polargraph on the way!!!
  49. Ideas for improving my DrawBot
  50. The Eagle Has Landed
  51. Every Body Needs a Skull
  52. This project is not going to overengineer itself
  53. Overengineered Spools
  54. Overengineered Stepper Motor Mounts, Filament Guides
  55. Overengineered Bolt Endcaps, Case Holder
  56. DrawBot - A Tour!
  57. DrawBot - A Preview
  58. Arduino Powered Drawing Robot Poll
  59. Building an Arduino Drawing Robot - On The Cheap
  60. DrawBot - Printed Parts Tour
  61. Unidentified Foam Object
  62. Arduino Powered Drawing Robot - Take 2 (Or 3)
  63. DrawBot, now ACTUALLY wall mounted!
  64. A Study of Drawing Robot Pen Holders and Design Considerations
  65. Drawing Robot Pen Holders, Calligraphy Pens, and Thought Experiments
  66. Ideal Qualities in a Drawing Robot Pen Holder
  67. Enough talk! Finally a pen holder!
  68. DrawBot Pen Holder Post Mortem
  69. To Maker Faire!!!
  70. Skipping! How could I forget the skipping?!
  71. Drawing Robot Penmanship
  72. PlotterBot at Maker Faire Bay Area 2013!
  73. PlotterBot.com - a new site dedicated to drawing robots

DrawBot – The Delivery, Part VI

Okay, that was FAST.  I ordered the Adafruit motor shield from MakerBot on 1/26/2012 just after midnight and it arrived today a little after noon.  That’s about two-and-a-half days for the parts to be packed, shipped, make it from Brooklyn, NY to Oakland, CA and then to my secret robot lair in the Bay Area.1  While at the hardware store today I picked up some small eyescrews and new tips for my soldering iron.  Tonight I’ll assemble the board.  Again.

I can honestly say that I was mightily tempted to purchase a third motor shield along with this second.  However, as I have no immediate designs on a secondary DrawBot2 I’m not ready to admit the possibility of defeat.  In the words of Kongorilla, I will not fail.3

Actually, now that I’ve got these new soldering iron tips, I stand a chance of being able to desolder the mis-soldered parts. 4 My old soldering tips were old, tarnished, and somewhat crusty.  The soldering tip I’m replacing is all of these things plus it is in the rough shape of a flathead screwdriver. 56

Wish me luck!

Posts in the DrawBot Adventure Series
  1. DrawBot Resources and Links
  2. DrawBot, the Adventure Begins
  3. DrawBots for the slow learner
  4. DrawBot - Parts Ordered!!!
  5. DrawBot - The Breakdown
  6. DrawBot - Parts Shipped!!!
  7. DrawBot - What would you draw?
  8. DrawBot - The Plan!
  9. DrawBot - The Hacks
  10. DrawBot - Giant Unicorn?
  11. DrawBot - The Delivery?
  12. DrawBot - The Delivery, Part II
  13. DrawBot – The Delivery, Part III
  14. DrawBot – The Assembly, Part I
  15. DrawBot – The Software, Part I (and an existential conversation)
  16. DrawBot – The Delivery, Part IV
  17. DrawBot – The Assembly, Part II
  18. DrawBot – The Assembly, Part III
  19. DrawBot – Halp!!! No - seriously, a little help?
  20. DrawBot – The Face Palm
  21. DrawBot – The Delivery, Part V
  22. DrawBot – The Silver Lining of Failure
  23. DrawBot – The Delivery, Part VI
  24. DrawBot – The Assembly, Part V
  25. DrawBot – The Assembly, Part VI
  26. DrawBot – Printed Parts
  27. DrawBot – The Assembly, Part VII
  28. DrawBot – The Operation, Part I
  29. DrawBot – The Breakdown, Part II
  30. DrawBot – Printing!
  31. DrawBot – Printing, Part II
  32. DrawBot – Why are you crying?
  33. DrawBot – Calibration
  34. DrawBot – Pen Selection
  35. DrawBot – How to Recover from a Stalled Print!
  36. DrawBot – Drawing Success(ish)!!!
  37. DrawBot – Pen Selection, Part II
  38. DrawBot – Onwards and Upwards!
  39. Restarting a Stalled DrawBot Drawing
  40. TSP FTW!
  41. Speedier DrawBot Drawings
  42. Excellent DrawBot Slides
  43. Another Drawing Robot!!!
  44. DrawBot Practice Tip: A Watched Pot
  45. The biggest inkjet printer ever
  46. Why do DrawBots draw on walls?
  47. Maze Code + Polargraph?
  48. All New Polargraph on the way!!!
  49. Ideas for improving my DrawBot
  50. The Eagle Has Landed
  51. Every Body Needs a Skull
  52. This project is not going to overengineer itself
  53. Overengineered Spools
  54. Overengineered Stepper Motor Mounts, Filament Guides
  55. Overengineered Bolt Endcaps, Case Holder
  56. DrawBot - A Tour!
  57. DrawBot - A Preview
  58. Arduino Powered Drawing Robot Poll
  59. Building an Arduino Drawing Robot - On The Cheap
  60. DrawBot - Printed Parts Tour
  61. Unidentified Foam Object
  62. Arduino Powered Drawing Robot - Take 2 (Or 3)
  63. DrawBot, now ACTUALLY wall mounted!
  64. A Study of Drawing Robot Pen Holders and Design Considerations
  65. Drawing Robot Pen Holders, Calligraphy Pens, and Thought Experiments
  66. Ideal Qualities in a Drawing Robot Pen Holder
  67. Enough talk! Finally a pen holder!
  68. DrawBot Pen Holder Post Mortem
  69. To Maker Faire!!!
  70. Skipping! How could I forget the skipping?!
  71. Drawing Robot Penmanship
  72. PlotterBot at Maker Faire Bay Area 2013!
  73. PlotterBot.com - a new site dedicated to drawing robots
    • Delivered, January 28, 2012, 12:09 pm, [SECRET ROBOT LAIR], CA [9XXXX]
    • Out for Delivery, January 28, 2012, 8:14 am, [SECRET ROBOT LAIR], CA [9XXXX]
    • Sorting Complete, January 28, 2012, 8:04 am, [SECRET ROBOT LAIR], CA [9XXXX]
    • Arrival at Post Office, January 28, 2012, 5:17 am, [SECRET ROBOT LAIR], CA [9XXXX]
    • Depart USPS Sort Facility, January 28, 2012, OAKLAND, CA 94615
    • Processed through USPS Sort Facility, January 28, 2012, 2:26 am, OAKLAND, CA 94615
    • Electronic Shipping Info Received, January 27, 2012
    • Depart USPS Sort Facility, January 27, 2012, BETHPAGE, NY 11714
    • Processed at USPS Origin Sort Facility, January 26, 2012, 11:40 pm, BETHPAGE, NY 11714
    • Accepted at USPS Origin Sort Facility, January 26, 2012, 10:25 pm, BROOKLYN, NY 11217

    []

  1. I’ll want to make sure I can get this first one sorted before I try []
  2. Actually, that’s a little more bravado than I’m really capable of.  If I fail, I fail – I just have no intention of ending at failure.  Rather, I’m committing to repeated failures … until I end up with a working DrawBot []
  3. Gah, why didn’t I pick up a desoldering pump while I was out today?! []
  4. And chipped, at that. []
  5. It’s really quite a miracle I got the first board soldered at all in the first place. []
January 28, 2012 | Comments Closed