Tech Takes


Guest blogged by Anuj on April 12, 2008.

I am currently waiting for a .pdf plug-in to download in order to continue working, life is so pathetic just when I had found the perfect page which had everything I was looking for, and my browser tells me that I forgot to install the plug in. I wish I owned a laptop using other somebody else’s computer is a hazard for my mental health. Anyway, I can’t complain because he just showed me one of the most insanely great things I have ever seen, see the ‘he’ in question is my father’s friend and he owns a TV factory which is partially automated and it’s a fully functional assembly line, ah, now this was fun I have spent more than 6 hours in this place walking around seeing CNC machines, I saw automatic insertion machines both radial and axial types, an insanely great wave soldering machine, which I know I can make better, and I also an EDM cutting out a mold. I even tried my hand in screwing CRTs but I underestimated the force and the pneumatic screw driver flew off into void, embarrassing.

Oh dear it’s 20 MB and it will take a while. Anyway I saw everything, tried my hand at everything and played around with everything, it was almost as if I owned the place, and uncle enjoyed having me around I had an insanely great day. Anyway I was looking at the wave soldering machine and I realized that a lot of material is wasted in the process, why don’t they take a pneumatic head put the PCBs on one of those awesome XY tables, and then mount a heated tube on the head and then solder it this way, in order to save time they could use multiple heads at one time in a specific sequence, maybe use parallel processing architecture to manage them, turns out that I was dead wrong. See it takes some amount of time about 3 seconds or so for the solder to stick and get cooled in order to form the bead, this way one or even multiple heads will take more time than the same machine to do the same task. However, as you can imagine the wave machine has lots of problems, the beads maybe too big, or sometimes two points stick together, which can short the circuit. They, thus, have to be manually checked for faults before the final assembly. So my idea can trade off that time for a little more time in the soldering process, but then again, there are feasibility problems.

Someday, I will make it and see if it works, or I will find someone who has and then see his/her work. The next thing I noticed was the cooling facility for the water they use as a coolant. I think that it’s inefficient what they can do is that they can immerse Freon pipes in the tank and circulate it around, thus cooling the water. This will take lesser amount of time, so water consumption can be reduced, maybe there’s a commercial solution out there that does exactly this; if anyone knows, then please leave a message.

I think that one of the most amazing things I saw today was the automatic insertion machines (there are two kinds radial and axial, the radial machine puts in the vertical components like capacitors and the axial one puts in the horizontal ones like resistors), see what I loved about the process was the precision involved, a mistake of a few millimeters is very costly. What it essentially does is that it puts in the components into PCBs, in a few seconds. They have an XY table which moves the PCB, a pneumatic head that has this nifty crankshaft mechanism, and a cutter at the bottom. The parts are feed in on a tape and, boom! the head goes down slices the leads and puts them into the exact co-ordinate they are supposed to be in, then immediately the other head at the bottom comes up and cuts the out the excess lead sticking out of the bottom; it’s like magic. What I didn’t like was that the fact that programming it is a very, very arduous task, one has to specify co-ordinate after co-ordinate, which are measured before hand, into the machine in a specific sequence so that it matches with the part on the tape. What they can do is that they can make a scanner which scans a PCB and makes a computer representation of the PCB, no that won’t do what we need is perhaps an ANN (artificial neural network) which over time learns where the errors are and avoids those tasks which cause the errors, and maybe find a better way. That’s highly unlikely but I would love to understand their software and the algorithms they use.

I also liked the electrical discharge machine, see what you have is a copper master, which is pushed down on the block, along with electrical discharge while kerosene, a dielectric material, flows over it or it’s in a kerosene bath. The metal erodes away and the master is pushed further and further down, just imagine the precision and the almost impossible cuts that can be achieved. It’s seriously an insanely great product. Imagine the die was so precisely cut, it was a very, very impressive sight, sure it takes a few hours but it does almost impossible cuts. I mean it was awesome no it was really insanely great, not to mention impressive. I am seriously on cloud number 9 right now, I can live here, and I would love to do that.

In short, it was like a trip to Disney land and I am coming back on Monday!! Oh no, the download was interrupted, so I am starting it again, maybe I’ll make something like the insertion machine out of Lego, hmm that’s a good idea, but how…

One more thing, it’s the anniversary of Gagarin’s space flight today, have fun celebrating Yuri’s night!!


Tech Takes

One Infinite Loop

Guest blogged by Anuj on April 15, 2008.

Yep, my life is one infinite loop, it doesn’t stop, just when I thought I had screwed up things and they can’t get worse than this, then I suddenly open my eyes and see reality, and I close them again. I mean I can sell things to people but I am not a good people person, I can’t talk to anyone properly, it’s some inherent disability, but I can’t and I mess things up. One thing I forgot to foresee was introductions, basically the teacher asks you to stand up and say some crap about yourself, so what should I say? I am obsessed with robots and I dream of owning and running everything I touch? That I am in control not some friktard like you? No I decided that I would say something true and generic, I just said “my motto is ‘Think Different'”; which really is but that’s besides the point, my English teacher called me a ‘Einstein’ and then after class I gave her a lengthy lecture that she was degrading standards by calling me that and told her not to do it in future. She wasn’t pleased, she was twitching to slap me; wow first day, first enemy. However something was reinforced today semantics not syntax.

In short I don’t care who’s in my class and who’s not, I care only about myself and the teacher, that’s the important thing, not attempts to show off, although you should do that when you sell something, but still most of these people are like the borg, who say “You know we did that to irritate people”. I mean come on. We’re here to do one thing gain knowledge and this time the knowledge in front of me actually matters, I am sure as hell not going to be distracted in anyway by anyone else. That’s the key don’t give a damn about the others, but learn what I need to learn and what I may need and then squeeze her in, somehow.

“We’re here to make a dent in the universe, otherwise why even be here?”; Steve was right, I need to find my inner peace and inhabit it, these friktards don’t matter, nothing does except for me and my work. I need to be Apple not Microsoft; concentrate on things that are truly important and get them right, and forget the rest.

So in the end it doesn’t matter if I can talk to friktards or not, as long as I am able to sell her to them it’s okay.

Anyway check these XKCD comics out, they’re so classy.

Our maths teacher today invited people to do things on the board, I was tempted to draw this one.

One more thing, guess what there’s this XKCD toon that describes me down to the last decimal place.

You may have realized by now that I love XKCD, guess what? I am thinking of buying on of these insanely great “science it works bitches” T-shirts, and then wearing it to school.

Tech Takes

Apple Design Works!!

Guest blogged by Anuj on April 28, 2008.

Just got news today that the stupid soft-board I made won some stupider competition, proving my teachers wrong. More on this as it develops.

All I want to say is; Thank you Apple. I honor the place where your design strategies and my free time meet.

Peace out.

The developments
: Okay here’s the deal, what apparently happened was that some guy apparently appreciated what I had made and decided to award it second place, not that I care but I have only one question to ask; why not first? I mean it is nearing perfection; it’s minimalist beauty, it’s an assault on the senses, a note in the symphony of life. It’s a tribute to the creative spark in humankind, what else do they need? Cheerleaders (that’s a nice idea)? Even a kid can figure out what it means by looking at it. It’s not just a soft board, it’s a work of art and it should be treated like that.

Even though I am a bit too sore over it, I mean I failed in one of my basic intrinsic premises; it was supposed to be a secret that I made it, but the kids who were supposed to do it went around squealing my name, I mean which part of a non-disclosure agreement you don’t understand? Next time I’ll make people sign it on a legal stamp paper, then maybe they will honor something called a contract. Whenever any teacher asked who made it fingers were pointed in my direction and I had to step in and defend it. I had a very lively debate about it with my English teacher. I like this teacher, she admitted that she was wrong and agreed to correct her mistake, now that’s a quality I respect. So it doesn’t matter that we had a mutual disagreement on the subject before.

I managed to squeeze out Rs. 20 from my class teacher, she has agreed to pay for my ticket to that science museum outing we’re having tomorrow, sweet. To tell you the truth, she was kinda shocked that I had such low demands but the thing is that I am thinking in terms of mass production, what I can do is that I can start a consultancy firm dealing in this; there are nearly a 100 classrooms in the school if I manage to sell my services on a monthly basis to 80% of the target market then I would be making around Rs. 1600, which isn’t that bad. However, I would need word of mouth to advertise my services, and if I made majority of the soft boards then it could reach stagnation. No I think what I should do is that I should charge for quality experience I could make it 10 times that Rs. 200 and instead focus more on customer satisfaction. Now I just need to figure out how to get the word out, maybe mass interpersonal communication, after all this is the age of the Internet.

Maybe I am losing my mind.

Tech Takes

Oh My God!

Guest blogged by Anuj on 17th April 2008.

Yes this is that bad, I have to use the g-word. Here take a look at this, seriously play it for a few seconds, then close your computer and cleanse it from the menace by using Apple, Ubuntu (I saw the beta of Hardy Heron, I am waiting for the 24th), fedora, or any other good operating system, whether closed or open source. Uninstall windows after seeing this. I mean it, if this isn’t telling you something, then please go and meditate on it (yeah I am taking my Buddhism pledge seriously, I may be the only atheist Buddhist in the world). I mean these guys have no taste, it’s just like windows, no taste at all. None whatsoever, and you expect them to create quality software?

I was reading Bill Gates book The Road Aheadand you know what? He was lying through his teeth in that book on several things, even though he never talks about windows ‘inspiration’; he indirectly keeps on suggesting through out the book that Microsoft is the true visionary, and even IBM was wrong, but Microsoft is infallible. You know what? He called the guy he ripped off inspirational and he refused delve into the Macintosh, which was a true milestone for computing in general, instead he went into detail about frivolous IBM PCs which failed. You know what really happened after he stole it, while working for Apple?

Note: Steve has called Gates into his office to talk about windows. I got this from here.
“You’re ripping us off!”, Steve shouted, raising his voice even higher. “I trusted you, and now you’re stealing from us!”

But Bill Gates just stood there coolly, looking Steve directly in the eye, before starting to speak in his squeaky voice.

“Well, Steve, I think there’s more than one way of looking at it. I think it’s more like we both had this rich neighbor named Xerox and I broke into his house to steal the TV set and found out that you had already stolen it.”

Unfortunately, it turned out that while the agreement that Microsoft signed in 1981 stipulated that they not ship mouse-based software until a year after the Mac introduction, that ended up being defined in the contract as September 1983, since in late 1981 we thought that the Mac would ship in the fall of 1982, and we foolishly didn’t let the ship date float in the contract. So Microsoft was within their rights to announce Windows when they did. Apple still needed Microsoft’s apps for the Macintosh, so Steve really couldn’t cut them off.

Microsoft didn’t manage to ship a version of Windows until almost two years later, releasing Windows 1.0 in the fall of 1985. It was pretty crude, just as Steve had predicted, with little of the Mac’s thoughtful elegance. It didn’t even have overlapping windows, preferring a simpler technique called “tiling”. When its utter rejection became apparent a few months later, Bill Gates fired the implementation team and started a new version from scratch, led by none other than Neil Konzen.

Neil’s version of Windows, released a couple of years later, was good enough that Apple filed a monumental copyright lawsuit against Microsoft in 1988, but they eventually lost on a technicality (the judge ruled that Apple inadvertently gave Microsoft a perpetual license to the Mac user interface in November 1985).

This is probably why Microsoft has failed to have any standards at all, this is called lack of ethics. Microsoft thinks that they have the perfect formula, they wait around and exploit Apple and other OS designers, and then they build the features into their own OS. They basically steal everything, the typefaces used on windows and all PCs today? They were first put in to the original Mac by Steve after he recalled a college course he took on calligraphy, Microsoft copied it and put it in; just like the new ‘Aero’ user interface which kinda, amazingly enough, looks like Apple’s interface Aqua. They even didn’t change the name a lot, they just took another element starting with ‘A’, which sounded cool and put it in. In short, despite spending billions on R&D Microsoft consistently fails to produce something truly special, something innovative because they never actually did it, they’re just a bunch of businessmen who have perfected the art of exploitation. They’re nothing but a parasite, which needs to be killed

This doesn’t always work, ok it never works. Nobody prefers to buy Vista, in fact several people I know do the opposite. They prefer to have Vista uninstalled and put in something like XP or Ubuntu. On the other hand because the Mac system is seamless and it works so great people prefer to buy a whole Mac just to play around with it (I would). They are original ,they’re not. This goes a long a way in determining the outcome, Microsoft is still the market leader because of two things, business strategy and lawyers. It got a virtual license to use the Apple OS’ innovative features forever thanks to this one judgment, this one thing changed the way we look at the world. Vista is terrible there’s no doubt about it, what pains me is that people refuse to choose the better alternative, which clearly is a Mac. Hell, Popular Mechanics even did a detailed study on the two and the Mac ran Vista better than the PCs themselves, i.e. the integrated solution offered by Apple truly works, it’s so well designed that it can handle a resource hog like vista better than the PCs who have more RAM. As for Leopard Vs. Vista, isn’t it obvious who won?

Anyway forget that stupid commercial and check this one out, you’ll love it;

I am sorry for this random incoherent rant, after all so much has been said on this topic, and the truth is pretty obvious. Also I just had the most pathetic day of my life so far.

Peace out.

Tech Takes

An Insanely Great Thing

Guest blogged by Anuj on April 19, 2008.

Guess what? My earphones went missing yesterday, as I got new ones yesterday the loss was compensated for, but what happened to them?

Creative Commons License photo credit: todderick42
That mystery was cleared today; their destiny was revealed to me in the morning while I was getting dressed for horse riding. I had left them in my trouser’ pocket. They went on a trip which, I am willing to bet, no earphones have ever taken before. They were washed and ironed. I didn’t expect them to survive but they still work! In fact, they perform as well as they used to do, they aren’t damaged in any way at all. Instead, they’re clean and smell like flowers in an alpine meadow (I blame my detergent for that).

is called design, isn’t it the most insanely great thing ever? I am thinking of enshrining them to remind me what design truly is, and what practices must be followed while creating something.