Author Topic: The uBeam FAQ  (Read 301581 times)

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Online PaulReynolds

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Re: The uBeam FAQ
« Reply #625 on: December 11, 2016, 09:02:17 am »
"Ya' can'ut change the laws of physics, Captain!" -Chief Engineer Scott

Yes we can and already did several times.

We have plenty of learning ahead of us and that's a good thing.

No we can't, and no we never have.

How the air responds to vibrations is set, and the basics are well understood. It responded the same way in 2000 BC, 2011 AD, 2016 AD, and will in 3000 AD. Basic behaviours like how speakers work, how we talk and hear, blast wavefronts, how aircraft are built and even the weather all depend on it remaining the same. We'd definitely notice if it changed. Our understanding of it may improve and become more precise, but it's not 'dark matter' where there are lifetimes of work left to understand it to a basic level - our understanding of how air carries sound will not change to any practical extent. It's like saying gravity might change by an order of magnitude because we study it more.

The air responds to sound how the air responds to sound. Don't even think of stating that it might change or it's not well understood.

What might change is that devices used to generate and receive sound improve in some metrics such as efficiency, size, cost etc - but once that sound is in the air, it's never going to change in how it responds.

Don't start claiming that the laws of physics, such as the second law of thermodynamics, aren't what we think they are. Dumber people than you have tried that and believe me, you do not want to start down that path...
 
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Offline Fungus

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Re: The uBeam FAQ
« Reply #626 on: December 11, 2016, 09:22:57 am »
No possible future technology could vibrate air in a radically different way to the way we can vibrate air today.
Well, if you say so.

I do say so.

Air is a fairly macroscopic thing that we can study easily. The temperature/pressure/humidity of the air in a room is well known and can't be varied much without cell phone owners complaining/dying.

There's no way we're ever going to vibrate the air in a room in a way that's several orders of magnitude different than we can do it today.

 

Offline EEVblog

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Re: The uBeam FAQ
« Reply #627 on: December 11, 2016, 09:58:29 am »
Never say never.
We qualified it! Vibrating air as a medium for power transmission doesn't work in anything like the requirements necessary to charge a cellphone. Not even close.
No possible future technology could vibrate air in a radically different way to the way we can vibrate air today. Focusing and phasing of air vibrations is a well studied discipline, it comes up short by many orders of magnitude for any receptor that would fit in a cellphone or any transmitter with a plausible power consumption.
The power levels needed would also be dangerous.

This.
By all means put money into research into the area of ultrasonic power delivery, possibly for niche applications, just leave out the ridiculous demonstrably un-doable consumer claims. Or put money into research for some alternative method is fine.
You don't just try and push poo up a steeper hill with an even pointer stick which is exactly what they are doing here.
They have made zero claims about any radically new innovative technology or method, and Perry has said it herself, just "world's most powerful/smallest/most efficient/cheapest etc etc". Having the world's best stick isn't going to work.
 

Offline newbrain

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Re: The uBeam FAQ
« Reply #628 on: December 11, 2016, 10:12:05 am »
The legend goes back to this ole greek boy, Gaius Mucius Scaevola, I guess he did it to get off the hook for some accident assassinations.
Roman (republic), not greek.
Sent to kill king Porsena, he managed to infiltrate the enemy camp but killed the wrong man.
To show his bravery and the lack of fear of roman soldiers, he burnt the hand who had failed the mission on a fire.

He (and his family) only then became Scaevola, from scaevus, left handed.

Sorry for the OT.
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Offline Fungus

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Re: The uBeam FAQ
« Reply #629 on: December 11, 2016, 11:09:22 am »
To show his bravery and the lack of fear of roman soldiers, he burnt the hand who had failed the mission on a fire.

I don't see the link between him and LOA.

(they both had burnt hands, obviously...but for totally different reasons)

It was actually Lawrence of Arabia who said/did that.
Mmm maybe you're thinking "Lawrence of Arabia"

Yes! Yes I was! How on earth did you guess???  :-DD



(promises not to post any more on this subject)
 

Offline zapta

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Re: The uBeam FAQ
« Reply #630 on: December 11, 2016, 11:19:08 am »

Physical laws are things that we *discover*.

We can discover only things that preexisted. The 'laws of physics' are merely man-made models that generalize the results of a final set of observations we have conducted.

They have made zero claims about any radically new innovative technology or method, and Perry has said it herself, just "world's most powerful/smallest/most efficient/cheapest etc etc".

My point was that we shouldn't confuse 'we can't do it with our current level of technology and understanding of physics' with 'it will never be done'. 200 years ago, nobody would imagine the things we do now and they would easily be 'debunked' as physically impossible.

As for Perry, her Ted X presentation lead me to believe that she is an arrogant charlatan.
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Offline StillTrying

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Re: The uBeam FAQ
« Reply #631 on: December 11, 2016, 11:50:49 am »
Over 50 viewing this thread. :o Have they released the stick on light bulbs.

I might be the only one(there's always one isn't there!), but I'm still finding that even assuming 100% efficiency and no losses anywhere that it's impossible to get more than a fraction of the inputted power into the 'focussed beam' of a phased array.
There might be a good reason why the energy efficiency of a phased array is not discussed anywhere, and there might be a good reason why no phased array power transfer device exists, no one in their right mind would try to invent one!

Que, someone to say they're very efficient because they 'focus' the beam. Yes, they focus the beam but not the power!

http://www.radartutorial.eu/06.antennas/Phased%20Array%20Antenna.en.html

AFAICT RF, radio, and radar are all much the same.

Online coppice

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Re: The uBeam FAQ
« Reply #632 on: December 11, 2016, 03:01:00 pm »
Que, someone to say they're very efficient because they 'focus' the beam. Yes, they focus the beam but not the power!

http://www.radartutorial.eu/06.antennas/Phased%20Array%20Antenna.en.html

AFAICT RF, radio, and radar are all much the same.
How could you focus a beam without focusing the power? The link you quoted shows reasonably well how things work, even if the English reads a big strangely. I assume its a translation.
 

Offline Corporate666

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Re: The uBeam FAQ
« Reply #633 on: December 11, 2016, 04:36:23 pm »
Say what you like about Meredith, she's certainly living the life...

How do you know what life she's living?  Investors may have her on a very short leash, especially if there were questions raised about the validity of uBeam's technology.  She is likely earning less than she would otherwise be working for someone else, and she will have to ride this thing into the ground, where it will inevitably end up.

Don't fall for too many (possibly politically derived) delusions about how CEO's live.
It's not always the most popular person who gets the job done.
 

Offline Corporate666

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Re: The uBeam FAQ
« Reply #634 on: December 11, 2016, 04:45:55 pm »
By all means put money into research into the area of ultrasonic power delivery, possibly for niche applications, just leave out the ridiculous demonstrably un-doable consumer claims.

Just out of curiosity, and if you are comfortable saying.... have you ever been contacted by a venture capital group or investor asking your opinion on a product or technology they were looking at investing in?  I'm guessing it must have happened, or possibly happens regularly.  I am quite surprised it doesn't appear to happen all the time (with you or others) - and if it does, I can't understand how companies like uBeam get funding.
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Online Bud

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Re: The uBeam FAQ
« Reply #635 on: December 11, 2016, 06:44:35 pm »
Things can happen if you belong to a certain ethnic group.
 

Offline timb

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Re: The uBeam FAQ
« Reply #636 on: December 11, 2016, 06:47:27 pm »

Physical laws are things that we *discover*.

We can discover only things that preexisted. The 'laws of physics' are merely man-made models that generalize the results of a final set of observations we have conducted.

:palm: You clearly just enjoy arguing *or* don't really get what we're saying...
Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic; e.g., Cheez Whiz, Hot Dogs and RF.
 

Offline EEVblog

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Re: The uBeam FAQ
« Reply #637 on: December 11, 2016, 06:52:42 pm »
They have made zero claims about any radically new innovative technology or method, and Perry has said it herself, just "world's most powerful/smallest/most efficient/cheapest etc etc".
My point was that we shouldn't confuse 'we can't do it with our current level of technology and understanding of physics' with 'it will never be done'.

We are not confusing anything, we are talking about the very specific claims uBeam have made, and their method of going about it delivering energy wirelessly. Vibrating air to transfer energy for consumer product charging will never happen on a practical consumer level at the W level. If you don't understand why then I'd hazard a guess that you're in the wrong field.
 

Offline EEVblog

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Re: The uBeam FAQ
« Reply #638 on: December 11, 2016, 07:00:40 pm »
By all means put money into research into the area of ultrasonic power delivery, possibly for niche applications, just leave out the ridiculous demonstrably un-doable consumer claims.
Just out of curiosity, and if you are comfortable saying.... have you ever been contacted by a venture capital group or investor asking your opinion on a product or technology they were looking at investing in?  I'm guessing it must have happened, or possibly happens regularly.  I am quite surprised it doesn't appear to happen all the time (with you or others) - and if it does, I can't understand how companies like uBeam get funding.

Not from a VC or other such group, no.
But countless "inventors" have contacted me, and way before the blog and even the internet. I used to get hand written letters in the post asking for help on some crackpot invention.
They are almost always the same:
- I've got this great idea no one has thought of before and I've been working on it for years
- I've thoroughly investigated the market potential and it's worth millions/billions.
- All you have to do is design and build it and we can become partners, I'm the "ideas man".
- I've thought of everything that can possibly go wrong and there is no way this can't work.
Blah Blah.

They get very upset when I destroy their idea with one google search or one calculation, and *insert rant* about the Wright Brothers  ::)

I've been getting this crap for over 20 years.
 
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Offline zapta

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Re: The uBeam FAQ
« Reply #639 on: December 11, 2016, 09:38:14 pm »
... Vibrating air to transfer energy for consumer product charging will never happen on a practical consumer level at the W level. If you don't understand why then I'd hazard a guess that you're in the wrong field.

Don't be too cocky with your 'never' about our current technology and understanding of physics. Many things that people considered 'never' 300 years ago are possible with today's technology. We have a lot of learning ahead of us.
Drain the swamp.
 

Offline EEVblog

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Re: The uBeam FAQ
« Reply #640 on: December 11, 2016, 10:47:29 pm »
... Vibrating air to transfer energy for consumer product charging will never happen on a practical consumer level at the W level. If you don't understand why then I'd hazard a guess that you're in the wrong field.

Don't be too cocky with your 'never' about our current technology and understanding of physics. Many things that people considered 'never' 300 years ago are possible with today's technology. We have a lot of learning ahead of us.

What part of the first part of my paragraph that you snipped did you not understand? :
Quote
We are not confusing anything, we are talking about the very specific claims uBeam have made, and their method of going about it delivering energy wirelessly. Vibrating air to transfer energy for consumer product charging will never happen on a practical consumer level at the W level. If you don't understand why then I'd hazard a guess that you're in the wrong field.
 

Offline Cerebus

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Re: The uBeam FAQ
« Reply #641 on: December 11, 2016, 11:32:16 pm »
Just out of curiosity, and if you are comfortable saying.... have you ever been contacted by a venture capital group or investor asking your opinion on a product or technology they were looking at investing in?  I'm guessing it must have happened, or possibly happens regularly.  I am quite surprised it doesn't appear to happen all the time (with you or others) - and if it does, I can't understand how companies like uBeam get funding.

Venture capitalists are no different from the rest of us, if they want free advice (you don't get rich paying for things) they ask people they already know. The pool of 'expertise' they draw from is what you might expect, people they know down the pub/tennis club/country club/whatever and people at firms they've already invested in. Typically they, just like the average person, goes looking for, not a specific domain expert, but some who 'knows a bit about X'. It's a variation on the Dunning-Kruger effect where you don't know enough to judge whether whom you perceive as a 'domain expert' actually has relevant expertise.

When I worked at a company that had funding from a VC fund and two independent private investors about every two months one of the three would turn up looking for free advice on the technology aspects of one of their prospective investments. We were turning out early AI software tools, but they'd come and ask about anything that involved a computer with little regard for whether we had any real relevant expertise.
Anybody got a syringe I can use to squeeze the magic smoke back into this?
 

Offline Cerebus

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Re: The uBeam FAQ
« Reply #642 on: December 11, 2016, 11:45:41 pm »
But countless "inventors" have contacted me, and way before the blog and even the internet. I used to get hand written letters in the post asking for help on some crackpot invention.
They are almost always the same:
- I've got this great idea no one has thought of before and I've been working on it for years
- I've thoroughly investigated the market potential and it's worth millions/billions.
- All you have to do is design and build it and we can become partners, I'm the "ideas man".
- I've thought of everything that can possibly go wrong and there is no way this can't work.
Blah Blah.

They get very upset when I destroy their idea with one google search or one calculation, and *insert rant* about the Wright Brothers  ::)

I've been getting this crap for over 20 years.

Back in my tech journo days we'd get at least one of these a week sent to the magazine, as Tech Editor they used to land on my desk. There were three tactics used.

If they were amusing enough that we passed them around the office and had a good giggle we'd publish them in the Letters column. If they were run of the mill they got a stock reply will all the usual excuses 'can't offer advice outside of the magazine pages/liability/lawyers foaming at the mouth/publisher would shoot me as he doesn't pay me for that'. If they came on good enough stationery and offered 'dinner at my expense to discuss the matter' I'd see if the Deputy Editor wanted a free dinner somewhere posh.
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Offline Fungus

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Re: The uBeam FAQ
« Reply #643 on: December 11, 2016, 11:57:13 pm »
Many things that people considered 'never' 300 years ago are possible with today's technology.

Which things were considered 'never'? Can you provide a list?

 

Offline zapta

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Re: The uBeam FAQ
« Reply #644 on: December 12, 2016, 02:02:17 am »
... Vibrating air to transfer energy for consumer product charging will never happen on a practical consumer level at the W level. If you don't understand why then I'd hazard a guess that you're in the wrong field.

Don't be too cocky with your 'never' about our current technology and understanding of physics. Many things that people considered 'never' 300 years ago are possible with today's technology. We have a lot of learning ahead of us.

What part of the first part of my paragraph that you snipped did you not understand? :
Quote
We are not confusing anything, we are talking about the very specific claims uBeam have made, and their method of going about it delivering energy wirelessly. Vibrating air to transfer energy for consumer product charging will never happen on a practical consumer level at the W level. If you don't understand why then I'd hazard a guess that you're in the wrong field.
I understood all of it and was commenting on the definite 'never' part.
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Online PaulReynolds

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Re: The uBeam FAQ
« Reply #645 on: December 12, 2016, 05:52:59 am »

Physical laws are things that we *discover*.

We can discover only things that preexisted. The 'laws of physics' are merely man-made models that generalize the results of a final set of observations we have conducted.

They have made zero claims about any radically new innovative technology or method, and Perry has said it herself, just "world's most powerful/smallest/most efficient/cheapest etc etc".

My point was that we shouldn't confuse 'we can't do it with our current level of technology and understanding of physics' with 'it will never be done'. 200 years ago, nobody would imagine the things we do now and they would easily be 'debunked' as physically impossible.

As for Perry, her Ted X presentation lead me to believe that she is an arrogant charlatan.

If you want to know why VCs fund perpetual motion machines it's because of statements like this from engineers and scientists. You're right, we *may* find a way of extracting vacuum energy at zero cost like in sci-fi movies, just like any second now all the air in the room may decide to randomly move in the same direction and you will die of asphyxiation. But the odds are so low that to any practical extent the answer is "no don't be stupid neither of those things is going to happen". When you say "Well, we don't know for sure, it's not 100% certain, so don't be arrogant it might change in the next 100 years" what a VC hears is "Yes it's possible".

People in that type of position never hear the caveats, the "at risk", the concerns, the timelines, or anything like that - all they hear is "Yes" or "No". And engineers hate reducing answers to that level of simplicity yet that is exactly what is demanded by senior executives and money people. Want to know why charlatans or the less technically skilled get to the top in engineering? Because they don't know enough to say anything but "Yes" or "No" and they'll say whichever one the boss or man with money wants to hear.

You're basically asking us to prove a negative, and a future time negative at that. It's not going to happen. Must be nice to have an argument where you've constructed it so you cannot possibly lose no matter what, as long as you stick to your guns. The onus is on *you* to prove that the established data, laws, rules, equations, or what ever you want to call them are not correct, or there are exceptions. The methodology is clear in how to do this. It's called "scientific method" and it doesn't involve stubbornly repeating your statements again and again. That works in politics, not so much in science.

So, to repeat, VCs fund perpetual motion machines because one engineer, somewhere, with some form of credentials, says "Well, there's a slim possibility....". So stop it.

The burden of proof is on you.
 
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Offline zapta

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Re: The uBeam FAQ
« Reply #646 on: December 12, 2016, 07:15:10 am »
The burden of proof is on you.

The burden of proof that our understanding of reality evolves over time and that things that were considered impossible are later consider trivial? 

Just look at the last 1000 years and extrapolate.

It's one thing to debunk in the context of our current science and technology. It's another to debunk 'forever'.
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Online edy

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Re: The uBeam FAQ
« Reply #647 on: December 12, 2016, 08:44:25 am »
Let's forget about any possible power transfer that can be used for charging via uBeam. Let's say they design some system or a tiny chip with a small tuning fork designed to oscillate at some very high frequency, attach it to a Quartz element (similar to a Phono cartridge) and they use uBeam as a way to broadcast "data" local to certain locales (much like a WiFi) but uni-directionally.

Now you have the potential to have data transfer of advertisements, specials, WiFi-password information, etc... something to the phone that may bootstrap a potential WiFi or BlueTooth connection based on the location proximity due to sound. Usually something within a room. Maybe even like in Museums or other places.

There can be potential here in that sphere of thinking..... What do you think? With things like Pokemon Go being all the rage, location-specific broadcasts through open systems may have some potential. Not sure why would need yet another communication method but this may be good for data-only benefits.
« Last Edit: December 12, 2016, 08:54:47 am by edy »
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Offline EEVblog

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Re: The uBeam FAQ
« Reply #648 on: December 12, 2016, 09:58:11 am »
Let's forget about any possible power transfer that can be used for charging via uBeam. Let's say they design some system or a tiny chip with a small tuning fork designed to oscillate at some very high frequency, attach it to a Quartz element (similar to a Phono cartridge) and they use uBeam as a way to broadcast "data" local to certain locales (much like a WiFi) but uni-directionally.
Now you have the potential to have data transfer of advertisements, specials, WiFi-password information, etc... something to the phone that may bootstrap a potential WiFi or BlueTooth connection based on the location proximity due to sound. Usually something within a room. Maybe even like in Museums or other places.
There can be potential here in that sphere of thinking..... What do you think? With things like Pokemon Go being all the rage, location-specific broadcasts through open systems may have some potential. Not sure why would need yet another communication method but this may be good for data-only benefits.

Sure, that's possible, but who's going to build ultrasonic receiving circuitry into phones to do just this one thing? Let alone everyone installing ultrasonic transmitters everywhere to enable it?
This power transfer/charging thing was the "killer app" enabler for that alternative use. Without that it's not going to happen.
 

Offline EEVblog

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Re: The uBeam FAQ
« Reply #649 on: December 12, 2016, 10:11:27 am »
Physical laws are things that we *discover*.
We can discover only things that preexisted. The 'laws of physics' are merely man-made models that generalize the results of a final set of observations we have conducted.
They have made zero claims about any radically new innovative technology or method, and Perry has said it herself, just "world's most powerful/smallest/most efficient/cheapest etc etc".
My point was that we shouldn't confuse 'we can't do it with our current level of technology and understanding of physics' with 'it will never be done'. 200 years ago, nobody would imagine the things we do now and they would easily be 'debunked' as physically impossible.

As for Perry, her Ted X presentation lead me to believe that she is an arrogant charlatan.

If you want to know why VCs fund perpetual motion machines it's because of statements like this from engineers and scientists. You're right, we *may* find a way of extracting vacuum energy at zero cost like in sci-fi movies, just like any second now all the air in the room may decide to randomly move in the same direction and you will die of asphyxiation. But the odds are so low that to any practical extent the answer is "no don't be stupid neither of those things is going to happen". When you say "Well, we don't know for sure, it's not 100% certain, so don't be arrogant it might change in the next 100 years" what a VC hears is "Yes it's possible".

Absolutely nailed it.

Quote
People in that type of position never hear the caveats, the "at risk", the concerns, the timelines, or anything like that - all they hear is "Yes" or "No". And engineers hate reducing answers to that level of simplicity yet that is exactly what is demanded by senior executives and money people. Want to know why charlatans or the less technically skilled get to the top in engineering? Because they don't know enough to say anything but "Yes" or "No" and they'll say whichever one the boss or man with money wants to hear.

Yes, and that is a major problem with engineers and other technical people. We generally hate saying "no", "not possible" etc, but sometimes we simply have to laugh at people and their stupid impractical idea and tell them a firm "no".
Carl Sagan said it best - It pay to keep an open mind, but not so open that your brains fall out.

Remember, VC's generally fund practical ideas, they want a practical return on their investment in a few years, they do not usually fund general research into new physics etc.
This means that engineers like us have to be very strict and not think "what new physics discoveries might be like in 100 years", instead we have to call bullshit on ideas like uBeam here and now.
I've said, and I'm sure Paul and others would agree that it's important to encourage basic research in these fields, but only when this basic research shows some sort of promise should us engineers come along and go (especially to VC's) "yeah, that might be possible".

Once again uBeam made no claims they were working on or spending any money toward basic acoustics or physics research. They were simply taking an existing concept and seeing if they could beat it with a big engineering hammer to make it practical. It was obvious to any competent engineer from day 1 that it wasn't going to be practical for the application they wanted.
 
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