Thursday, 31 October 2013

07:57 – I hate Halloween. I’ll have to spend time today hanging garlic sprigs over all the doors and windows and taking other steps to keep the zombies, vampires, and ghosts outside, where they belong.

Whatever happened to the concept of a secured/senior creditor? Detroit proposes to pay its (unsecured/junior) retirees 16 cents on the dollar while defaulting on bonds and other senior obligations. That 16 cents on the dollar is being stolen from senior creditors, just as the Obama administration stole from senior creditors during the GM/Chrysler bankruptcies. Detroit should be paying retirees zero cents on the dollar.

10:49 – I built my first computer back in about 1976 using an 8080A processor, 256 bytes (not KB) of discrete memory chips, toggle switches for input, and LEDs for output. When I was in business school (1983 – 85), a lot of my fellow students were surprised that I hadn’t bought a PC yet. I told them that I was waiting until I could afford to buy a desktop PC that was at least as powerful as the DEC VAX 11/780 I used at work. They told me I’d be waiting a long, long time. They were wrong, obviously.

Although no one has asked me why I haven’t bought a 3D printer yet, the same principle applies. Affordable consumer models are currently itneresting toys rather than serious tools. No slam on them; they’re capable of doing some amazing things. But I want better, faster, more capable, larger, and cheaper. And consumer-grade 3D printers are, of course, getting better, faster, more capable, larger, and cheaper every year. It won’t be long now.

Okay, I’ll admit that I actually did buy an IBM PC/XT back in the day, mainly because I wanted to get some experience with personal computing while I waited for the PC I really wanted. And I may do the same with 3D printers, but I don’t think they’re to the PC/XT stage quite yet.

I suspect that 3D printing is going to be the next “intellectual property” battleground, and those IP owners are going to lose to FOSS and Pirate Bay, just as they have with music, movies, and increasingly ebooks. I’d guess that five years from now there’ll be freely-downloable templates for millions upon millions of items. The next time I need to replace the plastic dogs in the washing machine agitator, instead of ordering them from a website I’ll just print them. And millions of other people will be printing millions of other items every day. The cat is already out of the bag.