Daily Archives: 2020-11-15

Stadia: Why?

I got one of the free-with-YouTube-Premium Stadia Premiere kit + Pro trials just out of curiosity (since I’m waiting to cancel until Play Music actually stops working, and why say no to $100 of free toys), and after playing for it for an evening, while I’m very technically impressed … I’m completely baffled as to why anyone would pay for this thing, or especially “buy” individual games on it.

It is fast and surprisingly responsive, and the (insane) distributed “phone or computer + controller + Chomecast all talk to the internet and also to Bluetooth and manage to stay in sync” wizardry is an amazing technical achievement, as is the low-latency, reasonably low-artifact streaming.

…but the subscription/rental library is tiny, expensive, and non-portable. It sucks a massive amount of bandwidth (it seemed to be holding at about 20-25Mbit/s down during my AAA test). The fact that I need a minimum of three independent devices (since you can’t do most of the configuration or library management with the controller + Chromecast) to play on the TV is awkward, and the layers of account management and device syncing are pretty wonky for a single user, I can’t imagine dealing with it in a multi-user household.

I played a little bit of Celeste (as an input lag test; it was not half bad, though playing it on a controller is not my preference), a little bit of Hitman (To see how heavy duty graphical games would do), and a little The Gardens Between (hadn’t played it, in my Pro trial, looked neat) – and they worked, but nothing about the experience was particularly compelling.

The whole free-kit-for-Premium-subscribers thing feels like a desperate attempt to dump their hardware stock to build enough user base to recoup the back-end costs for another doomed Google product that will die as soon as the current back end ages out and the workforce moves on to career-advancing shiny new things – after Buzz, Reader, Plus, Play Music, the steady churn of ever-worse chat tools, and half a dozen other products that were useful enough to take all the air out of a market before being unceremoniously dumped Google has lost all credibility for paid rentals or ecosystem investment.

All the freebie premiere kits are going to be Goodwill gold in a couple years though – the controllers are decent (Not $70 decent, but decent) and seem to work as normal HID devices, and there are two nice USB power bricks with cables in there.

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Cutting Balsa Wood with Air (Oh, and a Laser)

Source: Hack a Day

Article note: Yeah! We hacked a couple cruddy air assist mechanisms for a diode laser engraver in the research lab I work in a couple summers ago, it's absolutely necessary for them to work well - heavy cuts just carbonize instead of cutting otherwise. The primary reason I haven't built myself a blower-based one is lack of time and energy. I prefer designs that shroud the lens of the laser to keep crud building up on it, like the CO2 lasers work, rather than side-mounts like the example.

[DIY3DTech] likes using his Ortur laser cutter for balsa wood and decided to add an air assist system to it. Some people told him it wasn’t worth the trouble, so in the video below, he compares the results of cutting both with and without the air assist.

The air assist helped clear the cut parts and reduced charring in the wood. The air system clears residue and fumes that can reduce the effectiveness of the laser. It can also reduce the risk of the workpiece catching on fire.

In addition, the video shows the results of cutting wood using different speeds and number of passes. So the holes marked 5/10, for example, are cut at 5mm/second and ten passes.

Although air assist might help if you are engraving, the real benefit, according to the video, is when you are trying to do cuts. However, removing the fumes is probably a good idea even when engraving.

The video doesn’t go into much detail about the air system, but there are links in the video description to pages that have more information about how to add something like this to your laser cutting setup. There’s also a more recent video specifically about how the air assist system works.

If you need more on laser cutter basics, we read a great post about it last year. Like 3D printers, it used to be fashionable to build your own cutter, but now it is cheap enough to buy one if you’d rather not mess with it.

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