Home Fabrication for the Fumble-Fingered

The Cupcake CNC makes 3-D printing as easy as pie

3 min read
Home Fabrication for the Fumble-Fingered

Cupcake 3-D printer kit, from MakerBot

Photos: Makerbot
Copy that: When assembled, the Cupcake 3-D printer kit, from MakerBot, "photocopies" physical objects at a half-millimeter resolution.

I've been building a 3-D printer from scratch for several years, but open-source hardware projects do not favor the leisurely. Between the time I first started ordering parts and when I was ready to assemble them, my controller circuits became antiques, and my ancient printed circuit boards are regarded by today's software with the same sense of befuddlement my son had when looking at a vinyl record.

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From WinZips to Cat GIFs, Jacob Ziv’s Algorithms Have Powered Decades of Compression

The lossless-compression pioneer received the 2021 IEEE Medal of Honor

11 min read
Photo of Jacob Ziv
Photo: Rami Shlush

Lossless data compression seems a bit like a magic trick. Its cousin, lossy compression, is easier to comprehend. Lossy algorithms are used to get music into the popular MP3 format and turn a digital image into a standard JPEG file. They do this by selectively removing bits, taking what scientists know about the way we see and hear to determine which bits we'd least miss. But no one can make the case that the resulting file is a perfect replica of the original.

Not so with lossless data compression. Bits do disappear, making the data file dramatically smaller and thus easier to store and transmit. The important difference is that the bits reappear on command. It's as if the bits are rabbits in a magician's act, disappearing and then reappearing from inside a hat at the wave of a wand.

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