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The Future is disappointing

I have an Amazon Echo since yesterday. I tried it a bit and I decided that I will send it back. Not because it always listens and privacy and bla bla bla… Simply because it's stupid.

Alexa is not an AI. Alexa is just voice recognition, combined with a big list of patterns, combined with speech synthesis. The voice recognition and the speech synthesis are really excellent. It's the middle part that disappoints:

Alexa, who was the first US president?
The first US president was George Washington.

Alexa, who was the second US president?

The second US president was John Adams.

Alexa, which president came after George Washington?

Sorry I didn't understand the question I heard.

Alexa, name all US presidents.

Sorry I didn't understand the question I heard.

That's the level Alexa is working at. This is like a student that memorized some facts, but never actually understood the topic at all.

My biggest gripe though is that Alexa will not learn from me. When she doesn't know an answer, I can not tell her. When she's assuming a wrong context I can not correct her. There are no conversations.

I will try Google Home when it becomes available in Germany, but I wonder if it will be a better experience…

amazon, echo, alexa, ai, review
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Last updated: 2017/01/17 20:42 · Permalink · Comments

JavaScript CDNs by the numbers

CDNs are an excellent way to speed up the loading of common JavaScript libraries for your website:

  • because it's a different domain, your browser can load the files in parallel to your other resources
  • CDNs use a geo location near you, which should reduce latency
  • CDNs servers may be a bit faster than your shared hosting server
  • Your browser might have cached the library already so no request is needed at all

Inspired by a discussion on a pull request for DokuWiki, I was curious about the popularity of different free CDN providers. So I decided to do some research and ran a little web crawler….

Two weeks later my script is finally done checking 16 million domains and I'm happy to present the results in the following info graphic:

Last updated: 2016/12/21 10:26 · Permalink · Comments

Hello Fresh

A while ago we tried a Marley Spoon recipe box and really enjoyed it. So when my company asked if they could give us a little wedding gift we asked for another recipe box.

This time we had a trial voucher for So here's a review.

Last updated: 2016/11/30 09:33 · Permalink · Comments

A curious Letter

Sometimes I get weird letters. But today must be some kind of record for weirdness.

When I came home I found this manila envelope in my letter box:


A letter from Canada? I couldn't remember ordering anything from there. But who knows, maybe I just forgot.

However when I opened it, there was another envelope:

Last updated: 2016/11/29 19:57 · Permalink · Comments

My 3D Printer sucks

People sometimes ask me about the state of my 3D printer. It's complicated. I love having one. I love when I have the final thing in my hands. But I really hate getting there.

3D printing is hard.

First of all you need to design your piece. I usually end up using TinkerCad or OpenSCAD for that. But getting something right the first time is rare. Usually you design something, then print it, then make adjustments, then print again, make some more adjustments and maybe finally do the final, correct print. You can easily spend a whole day on a simple, small piece.

Before you can actually print something you need to create a G-Code file containing the actual print instructions. There are a million things to tune. And each filament is different. So changing filaments means retuning. You also often want different setting for different pieces. Retuning again.

Then there's the printing it self. My 3D printer was cheap. I assembled it myself. The firmware on it is ancient. My heated bed is broken. I never found a really good cover for the bed to make objects stick (for some reason Berlin hardware stores do not have blue tape). All this makes it hard to print something from the beginning.

print in progress, failed stuff in front So I often have problems with warping. Things not sticking to the bed. The printer aborting a print due to unknown reasons. And the quality isn't that great either.

Finally there's the speed. 3D printing is slow. Even small things takes at least an hour to finish. With all the aborts and retries it eats a lot of time.

Overall the experience isn't great. Which means I rarely use my printer. Not using (and maintaining) the printer of course makes it harder to use it when I do. A negative feedback loop.

So sometimes I think about buying a new printer. A better one. A more expensive one. But then I think I'm not using my current one often enough. Or would I use it more if it worked better? Would finding out be worth spending a 1000 bucks? OTOH my current one still kinda works. *sigh*

From time to time I dream about a Formlabs printer which uses a completely different technology. In my mind it should be easier to use one of those. But that might be wrong. Also spending 2400€ for their smallest model would be insane.

So here I am. Waiting for my printer to finish that piece I need. Hoping the print will succeed despite one end having lost contact with the bed already…

3dprinter, rant
Last updated: 2016/11/20 14:30 · Permalink · Comments

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