Amazon 3D Prints

[Amazon now offers 3D printing on demand.][a] It looks like you can only order from some pre-determined templates, but I wonder if there isn’t a way to upload designs — I know a number of on-line vendors offer this. Speaking of which, that reminds me that our local library now has a 3D printer. It’s time to swing by to see what they are up to and to get more involved with the local maker scene.

[a]: http://www.amazon.com/b?ie=UTF8&node=8323871011

3D Printing

[Forbes reports on Shapeways][], a 3D printing facility in Brooklyn, New York that can print by fusing nylon dust particles. Some of their jobs are so precise that they produce moving parts, machines, in the printing process. They can also print in metals. Clearly, this is the future for a lot of manufacturing. Why cast, mill, or forge when you can print?

The counter-argument to such a claim is that, given what it takes to set up a print job — in terms of 3D modeling in advance, there is a whole host of work, one-offs for which this might not make sense. I am also thinking of the kind of custom work that folks like the Olinger Repair Shop do.

[Forbes reports on Shapeways]: http://www.forbes.com/sites/andygreenberg/2012/12/10/inside-the-worlds-biggest-consumer-focused-3d-printing-factory/

Rebooting the Tractor

Bloomberg Business Week has an interesting report on a [post-acolyptic survival machine farm][]. The farm’s founders say they are working on a “civilizational reboot”, which is an interesting idea in and of itself, but what I found most interesting is that they are trying to re-create basic machines using a semi-standard set of spare parts. The tractor below is but one example of a variety of machines that are all running off what they describe as a “power cube”:

> Most of Factor e Farm’s equipment runs on an in-house invention called a Power Cube. It’s a black metal box about the size of an office copier, with a 27-horsepower engine that runs a hydraulic pump. The Power Cube’s engine can drive the bulldozers; the pumps can power the table saws and other smaller, stationary machines.

[post-acolyptic survival machine farm]: http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2012-11-01/the-post-apocalypse-survival-machine-nerd-farm

Milling in Multiple Dimensions

[This machine is amazing](http://singularityhub.com/2010/04/05/5-axis-robot-carves-metal-like-butter-video/). As the Singularity Hub article notes: a great deal of attention is focused on 3D printing, which is increasingly being done with metal, but there are moments where milled materials are superior. Is the gap close-able? If so, how long?

The difference between milling and printing is that with the former you start with a large chunk of material and then slowly carve out what you don’t need. Printing would seem to be more inefficient in which you only “print” or build up the material you need.

Home-Grown DropBoxes

Let me be clear: I love [DropBox][]. I depend on [DropBox][]. I use [DropBox][] everyday. [Dropbox][] makes it possible for me to be as productive as I am. (All failings in productivity are entirely my own fault — well, and I’d like to blame Apple for its continuous jinking of iTools, MobileMe, iCloud, on-line name *du jour*.) Until [DropBox][] there was no reliable syncing of files. Sometimes I would forget if I had remembered to sync to my flash drive or if I had synced a computer before I had started working on a document. Or, when I tried to rely on iDisk, I realized that I could not rely on it.

In short, before there was DropBox, there was hope and there was chaos and there was swearing.

After DropBox: certainty, calm, confidence.

As great as DropBox is, and other services like it — please note, I am not looking at you (yet) iCloud — it still requires two things: a subscription and a willingness to have your data on other people’s boxes.

I’m not really opposed to having my data live on other people’s boxes. My real problem is that I can’t afford to have as much of my data as I would like live on other people’s boxes. There is a host of data, mostly media, that I would prefer to have more ready access to, but I can’t, because I can’t afford the cost of that many gigs in the sky.

Now, DropBox or DropBox clones can’t fix all of my problem, because in part the way these services work is they sync files across machines, and so that means that you need to have room enough on all machines for the synced files to live.

No can do, Houston. This MBA only has 128GB, and I can’t afford to bump it. And even if I could afford it to 256GB or 512GB, I’m not entirely sure that would fix the problem.

And so I it’s time to explore the DropBox clones to see how well they might serve my large, complex problem.

*Please note: all the links to DropBox are to the primary home page. No affiliate links, no bonuses for me. And that’s okay, the good folks at DropBox have proven themselves.*

[DropBox]: http://dropbox.com/

## The Alternatives

* AeroFS
* Bitcasa (reports are its buggy and immature)
* Cubby
* Owncloud (buggy and limited)
* Symform
* [Tonido Sync](http://www.tonido.com/app_sync_home.html). Also has a [low-powered hardware setup](http://www.tonidoplug.com/tonido_plug.html).
* Unison (for the ambitious DIYer)