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February 18, 2008
about 3 months ago
Really? It clearly has an rs232 interface internally and a USB converter bolted on to cope with the current lack of serial ports on modern PCs but in 2015 a new product with closed USB drivers? Really?
In 2015 it should be mandatory for a new design to not only have a standard USB interface but to have a published format for the data on the wire.
And since you are supposed to be selling to people who tinker, how about expose the TTL serial interface on a header to allow it to interface to a microcontroller or your existing USB to TTL Serial interfaces?
Tutorial - RedBoard vs. Uno
about 4 months ago
Good write up, just one nit. The Arduino’s choice of a second AVR in place of a FTDI chip has two additonal differences:
The Arduino uses a second AVR and while it can be simply used as a serial converter it does have the programming connector exposed to reprogram it for more complicated uses. It could be made to appear as a USB Keyboard, USB Mouse, MIDI controller, Misc HID Device, Mass Storage, whatever you can imagine and get the binary stuffed into 16KBytes to do. There are even a couple of it’s GPIO pins exposed, opening the door to all manner of hare-brained schemes with multi-CPU designs.
The Arduino doesn’t have the FTDI chip, something that didn’t matter when the RedBoard was designed but since their recent antics with DRM it might matter to some.
News - SparkFun and the Future o…
about 4 months ago
The ‘Arduino’ flavor of AVR development is based on cheap and little to no up front investment to begin. So serial (usually via usb to serial but still serial) is the name of the game. You can’t get at the onchip emulation capabilities Atmel includes that way. Go check the price difference between a USB/Serial adapter (or the fact most ‘Arduino’ products directly interface via USB) and one of Atmel’s ICE programming interfaces and you will understand. Arduino is for tinkerers, professionals write the check and use the pro tools.
News - FTDI Drivers and Counterf…
about 10 months ago
Where does Apple sit in the supply chain? That is the problem here, FTDI is attacking the end users on a supply chain so long the people being hurt have no realistic way to know whether they are buying bootleg product. In many cases the end user doesn’t even know who FTDI is or that their product even has a USB to serial conversion chip in it.
The reason to drop FTDI like a hot potato is simple. They are a commodity chipmaker worried about cloning / counterfiting and trying to fight it by attacking the downstream end of their chain. They apparently have a reliable way to detect the clones but instead of publishing it they simply attacked. There is currently no way for an FTDI customer to even know if they or the upstream vendor even used bogus product other than rolling the dice and seeing if product they could have bought a long time ago is going to suddenly die.
Imagine what happens if Sparkfun accidentally got a batch of boards with fakes. The unknown Chinese contract factory won’t suffer, the importer won’t suffer, SparkFun is going to be left holding the bag and will end up offering exchanges or refunds on products they sold, even stuff sold a year or more ago lest they get dragged into a PR nightmare.
And that is the problem, the risk of using FTDI now rises greatly with the cost of the product it was integrated into. A cheap USB/Serial board isn’t bad, imagine the $100 + products they have been built into that might become bricks… and the final retailer is going to be getting the outraged customers and forced into dealing with the fallout.
News - The Game of Internet Pres…
Take a look at a map sometime. South Korea has a very dense population, the U.S. not so much. Number of subscribers per mile is a big influence on the cost of providing Internet service. Yes there are a lot of good reasons to live outside of a city, but there are also downsides. Insisting that the government mandate those disadvantages away is a bad idea. Telling rural people that they just might have to pay out some of those savings in property prices, taxes and other expenses of city life in higher Internet rates (and probably still put up with slower speeds) is the correct Free Market solution. When bandwidth really becomes important enough, if the government allows enough competition of course, the Invisible Hand will provide sufficient bandwidth at a price people will pay.
Time to add some reality to this conversation. A few random observations:
Anyone who speaks of one doesn’t understand. A Government monopoly CableCo vs a Government monopoly Telco vs a Government regulated Wireless carrier or two (who can NEVER hope to compete with hardlines) is not a Free Market. The Government is the problem, adjusting how it impacts the market could in theory make things better but history tells us that it almost never works out that way.
Only one government policy change could make things better longterm. Do deregulation right for a change. Leave the last mile wires a monopoly utility since the tech naturally leads to it. But forbid the monopoly from selling ANY content, instead leasing access on a regulated tariff basis to the totally unregulated half of their business that results from the split AND to any and all other interested providers. Do this for both cable TV, cable Internet, POTS service and DSL, etc.
It is an artifact of the early days when people didn’t understand it and Internet adoption would have been inhibited by per byte billing. Cable TV is a broadcast media, it makes sense to bill for it by the home/outlet/etc. Having a TV on 24/7 costs the cableco exactly the same as one on for an hour a day. Internet service is more like electricity or water, using more costs the provider more. More importantly, ALL consumer Internet service is sold on an oversubscribed model. If you want an Internet connection that you can ‘nail up’ 24/7/365 you can buy it. Go price it sometimes. Really, stop reading and Google it in another tab and come back when you pick yourself up off of the floor.
Once you are paying for the bytes you use along with the base fee for the link you will have a much stronger argument against your provider inhibiting them. But even then you may not get totally flat rate per byte billing, see the electric utilities moving to charging different rates based on peak load times.
Some packets require more resources than others to deliver. Realtime traffic is more of a burden than random P2P traffic. Packets that have to traverse the wider Internet require more effort than traffic that stays inside an ISP’s internal network. Which is why Netflix is spending a half million dollars apeice for ‘Netflix in a Box’ appliances co-hosted in ISP datacenters.
Yes the ISPs are also out to generate rapacious profits at the expense of nurturing the growth of the Internet in a very shortsighted way. Cable companies are accustomed to the model where they charge subscribers and pay out to content providers. They would dearly love to flip that and collect fees from both sides.
News - The Free Shipping Sweet S…
about a year ago
Sorry, but the guy has a point. The S&H game has always been a pet peeve of mine as well. Go look on eBay and watch em play it. A small inexpensive item, sold by A for $1…. with $5 in shipping charges vs vendor B for $3.50 with free shipping. A is trying to show up first on a sort by price listing.
Free shipping on orders over $X is just another variant of the minimum order game and trying to hide it. And as they found out, customers will game the system right back and order heavy items and get free shipping.
This site might do a small retail trade but mostly it sells mail order. Meaning that when they display a product to a customer, the customer really needs to know how much it will cost to put it into their hand, not some fuzzy price that will vary an unknowable amount when they get to checkout. Walmart also has shipping (they pay for a whole series of warehouses and own their own trucking company) and stocking expenses plus they have to pay for clerks at the register yet they can display a fixed price and do not need to have a cover charge or a per sale fee. And so does every tiny brick and morter Mom & Pop retailer.
Basic shipping by the minimum method plus ‘handling’ charges really need to be baked into the displayed pricing since nobody is buying the item and not getting it delivered. SFE already has the software setup to show price by quantity so that argument against it is already dealt with. One header that they pay $0.03 for (in quantity) might have to be $1.00 for the first one to cover somebody going and getting it and putting it in a first class envelope. But the quantity break could be really good.
Or bite the bullet, be honest, and have a minimum order or per order processing fee.
Or a compromise would be to just include the handling charges into the price shown and charge actual shipping as shown on the standard commercial UPS rate chart. (Or as close as the software can estimate based on what it knows about weight and dimensions, your location, hazard fees, etc.; and if it rounds up a little that is OK.) Most customers would then have a really good handle on how much an item will cost as they add it to the cart and what adding more will do to the final invoice. That would get the best of both worlds, especially with the level of International shipping they do.
No public wish lists :(
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