KISS

Technology is not magic and sometimes in the rush to get the latest toys we forget some simple truths.  The biggest is KISS.  As Sipp points out here.

http://sippicancottage.blogspot.com/2016/03/you-may-not-believe-this-but-weapons.html

This is the latest in a long and entertaining series about having to deal with a clog and the worst part of pluming and waste removal.

http://sippicancottage.blogspot.com/search/label/plumbing

Thanks to the way that plumbing is modular and that even century old pipes can be repaired with stuff that fits into the old pipe, the job was straight forward as plumbing ever gets.  Of course all too many plumbing tasks are not straight forward. Sometimes plumbing tasks get made less straight forward by succeeding generations of plumbers.  I would really like to know which plumber removed the shutoff valves that were installed in  my shower to enable the washers to be changed.  That one turned a ten minute DIY job into a plumber job because the main had to be shut off at the tap outside.

The fact is that the simple light switch is pretty unhackable, unlike say an android pad.  there comes a time when there is just too much technology.

http://mjg59.dreamwidth.org/40505.html

Now, the trend in tech, at least mostly in electronics has been ever more unitary designs.  It’s been the trend to make things unrepairable.  I recently tore down an old Kodak printer who’s only real problem was a broken rubber wheel.  Yet there was no way to take it apart to make the replacement and the printer needed to be thrown out.  Good For Kodak, maybe, not so good for the user.  Of course what happens it the user changes brands?  Then Kodak, HP or Canon no longer sells inks to that customer.  A few design changes and the wheel could have been made replaceable. admittedly that would have meant keeping a parts inventory, but the extra inks sold might have made the difference.  Smartphones are probably the worst case for this because you have to change them frequently. There’s also the issue of the broken glass screen.

I Broke My Phone’s Screen, and It Was Awesome

In a way the smartphone is a victim of it’s own success.  The two top companies have so much invested in them that they can’t change the architecture very much.  So each new phone is pretty much like the last one. as opposed to the chaos of China. The thing is that due to the closing in by IP protection of even the simple parts of the phones construction, nobody can hack one into something new.  That isn’t helped by the lack of a part and kit electronics industry here in the states that can handle retail electronics. like in out computers, DIY and self repair is discouraged.

I think that we lose a lot in making things more complicated. when PC’s were fairly new back in the early 1990’s I could do just about everything that needed to be done from replacing boards and hard drives to manipulating the operating system.  I wouldn’t feel comfortable opening up my laptop and I’m not sure what improvements I could make or what would happen if I screwed up.  It’s probably going to have to wait until I can get  a new machine.  As for the OS, fuhgedatboutit.

In many ways by making ever more sophisticated and complicated devices we seem to have lost our send of technical adventure. The good news is that it seems to be coming back.  the maker movement is growing stronger seemingly every day.  I do see one problem though.  There are all too many selling maker products that want to get away from the KISS open source model and back to the restricted proprietary model. Which is wrong because the whole point is to have an adventure creating  new things.

Here’s some more maker posts.

https://theartsmechanical.wordpress.com/2016/03/24/forbes-on-the-rise-of-the-makers-a-lets-build-special/

https://theartsmechanical.wordpress.com/2015/12/05/this-will-be-a-useful-tool-for-makers-lets-build/

https://theartsmechanical.wordpress.com/2015/11/22/makers-gift-guide/

https://theartsmechanical.wordpress.com/2015/07/06/meet-the-maker-how-independent-designers-are-disruptive/

https://theartsmechanical.wordpress.com/2015/03/14/a-makers-and-engineering-bookshelf/

https://theartsmechanical.wordpress.com/2016/06/02/making-in-the-1930s/

https://theartsmechanical.wordpress.com/2016/05/21/making-micro-stuff-in-micro-factories/

https://theartsmechanical.wordpress.com/2015/03/01/bits-to-atoms-the-new-industrial-revolution-a-lets-build-special/

And the ongoing Let’s Build series.

https://theartsmechanical.wordpress.com/category/lets-build/

Happy making.

Update: Adam Savages first car.

http://www.tested.com/art/makers/452729-my-first-car-and-courage-try/

Of course cars have reached the point that the owner may not fully own the software and working on anything is a huge pain in the butt.

 

 

 

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3 comments

  1. MishaBurnett · August 11

    One of our recent remodels included “energy saving” motion sensor light switches in all of the classrooms. So far I have replaced 3 of them at around $100 each. I wrote up a balance sheet showing that if this failure rate is representative the alleged energy savings can never pay for the ongoing replacement costs. So now I am allowed to replace them with standard switches at about 10% of the cost and several times the expected lifespan.

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  2. MadRocketSci · August 11

    “I think that we lose a lot in making things more complicated. when PC’s were fairly new back in the early 1990’s I could do just about everything that needed to be done from replacing boards and hard drives to manipulating the operating system. I wouldn’t feel comfortable opening up my laptop and I’m not sure what improvements I could make or what would happen if I screwed up. It’s probably going to have to wait until I can get a new machine. As for the OS, fuhgedatboutit.

    In many ways by making ever more sophisticated and complicated devices we seem to have lost our send of technical adventure. The good news is that it seems to be coming back. the maker movement is growing stronger seemingly every day. I do see one problem though. There are all too many selling maker products that want to get away from the KISS open source model and back to the restricted proprietary model. Which is wrong because the whole point is to have an adventure creating new things.”

    One of the things that I think maybe (maybe) separates me as someone “technically competent”, from my peers who are perpetually panicked about random computer upsets (that really only require screwing around in the menus, most of the time to fix), is that I didn’t begin life worried about breaking things. When I played around with my old Apple IIe, or the family DOS box, I wasn’t primarily worried when things went wrong. Error messages weren’t moral condemnations of the user. I didn’t cringe (too much), when I permanenly lodged 80,000 pages of ASCII gibberish in the print buffer of the dot matrix printer, or fried the OS on the DOS box. You laugh, you figure out how to reboot/reload/factory-reset, and you continue playing rough with your stuff. Today, something that needs to be emphasized about electronics are they are *CHEAP*. If you screw up, it’s a $100 mistake (usually), and that is chump change in inflation adjusted 2000 dollars. How much is your free time worth?

    On the other hand, the technology-unconfidant seem to regard crashing their computer like crashing their car: A major disaster. (Note, it’s more of a disaster if you don’t have backups. Back up your data. Electronics are disposable. Your data is precious.)

    (And on the other hand: I regard crashing my car as a major disaster, and panicked a bit recently, whereas someone in the 50s with a garage might not have been as panicked. Long story. I’m not used to dealing with problems like that. Hopefully with time and experience, I’ll improve.)

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  3. MadRocketSci · August 11

    It is annoying not having radioshack anymore. You can order all sorts of things from Digikey, but then you have to wait for shipping. It slows thing down when you are playing around with electronics. Hopefully when I get some more space, and have some more money, I can afford to pre-cache basic parts.

    Would help achieve the sort of cerebellar “ability to hack solutions” with hardware that I currently enjoy with software if I had the means to develop that proprioceptive familiarity.

    In order to “hack” things, you need the ability to develop the sort of familiarity that comes with playing with it.

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