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Re: gEDA-user: Free Dog meetings at MIT starting this September!

On Sat, Aug 21, 2004 at 10:39:49AM -0700, Samuel A. Falvo II wrote:
> On Saturday 21 August 2004 09:48 am, Karel Kulhavý wrote:
> > Take a high school full of adolescents and persuade them that reverse
> > engineering hardware is more cool than free sex, drugs, booze and pot
> > together. (This is impossible, of course). Then you'll probably end up
> > with a PC schematic.
> High school kids don't have the technical background, because no such 
> background *CAN* exist.  There is *NOTHING* the highschool kid can 

It doesn't matter - someone has reported building Ronja without any
prior experience with soldering and electronics at all!

They seem somehow to be able to learny anything on the fly.

You can see them talking about OSPF and BGP when they onvolve in community
networks. If it is useful for them, they seem to learn anything.

> inexpensively fall back on to support ANY kind of curiosity.  This is my 
> point!  Note also the key word, "inexpensive."  Now-a-days, you can 
> purchase a kick-butt book called "Art of Electronics," by Horowitz and 
> Hill.  Costs $150 or more.  Back in the early 80s, you could find every 
> bit of knowledge in that book in a small handful of Radio Electronics 
> magazines, for $1.50 a piece.  OK, $30 or so a year for a subscription.  
> Either way, the cost of knowledge today is, at a minimum, 5x what it was 
> back then.
> When I was growing up, I had full schematics to my Commodore 64 and 
> Amiga.  I had register-level documentation of all the system hardware 

I didn't have for those, but for ZX Spectrum ;-]

> for both (although I paid a nice penny for it for the Amiga).  I 
> literally taught myself how to read schematics before I entered 7th 
> grade Jr. High, and was building my own 4-bit processor (yes, PROCESSOR) 
> by the age of 15.  The point being, there were a TON of books and 
> resources I could rely on for knowledge.  Today?  NOTHING.  It's just an 
> intellectual WASTELAND out there.
> And yes, the processor worked.
> > However much easier would be to persuade them into hardware hacking
> > instead (also impossible ;-) ) because designing a computer from
> > scratch is IMHO less pain that reverse engineering the crap that is on
> > today's markets.
> This is patently and observably false, as indicated by the infinitesmally 
> small hobby-kit industry.  Let's be objective here: you cannot persuade 
> someone to enter into a hobby which requires thousands of dollars of 
> investment to build anything beyond rediculously simple, because he 
> hasn't paid his stupid SIG dues.
> I do not consider the use of PIC-chips as satisfying, because their 
> utility is highly limited by their on-chip resources.  They're not even 
> good for learning the basics of digital electronics design, because 99% 
> of working with a PIC is *software*.

And isn't it possible to buy a reasonable CPU today? I can still get 6MHz
Z80 for abou 3 USD in a retail store here in my city. In the worst case,
you can write your own into a FPGA.

> The problem is, though, those who create for themselves and want to share 
> with others are hindered by patents.  My Kestrel project was affected 
> badly by patents.  Now it's affected by my inability to reach a target 
> price point for the kit.  I just can't win.
> > I don't see any point in creating something what is already banned
> > from distribution at the time of it's birth by some huge company that
> > just wants to rake, rake, rake money. It's like not creating anything
> > actually because is of a very limitted utility for the society.
> What?  You totally didn't make any sense here.

I just wanted to say that when you work for some big company you
are creating some work, nevertheless the work is of no use for the
public (just for the company).

> > You'll be probably have a feeling that your attempts are void and be
> > called communists, your trying economically inefficient etc. however I
> Economically inefficient?  I've never heard that term before.
> > It seems to me that evil has some inherent property that it's design
> > is basically flawed so that it has lots of security holes and one of
> > them is free software, hardware etc. ;-)
> Not true.  Free software came about in a free society, 1970s era America.  
> Free software would never have come about in Taliban Afghanistan, 
> Stalinist Russia, or Hitler's Germany.  Absolutely never.

I am not trying to say here that free software could come in a non-free
society. I am trying to say that free things can penetrate the part of
society that is driven by the large companies.