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Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Google: Committed to the Suppression of Vaping...?

I found an interesting link (http://www.paulcraigroberts.org/2017/08/08/google-committed-suppression-free-speech/): Google is Committed to the Suppression of Free Speech.

The article describes how Google curtails access to non-major-media web sites: “Between April and June, Google completed a major revision of its search engine that sharply curtails public access to Internet web sites that operate independently of the corporate and state-controlled media. Since the implementation of the changes, many left wing, anti-war and progressive web sites have experienced a sharp fall in traffic generated by Google searches. The World Socialist Web Site has seen, within just one month, a 70 percent drop in traffic from Google.” (quoted from https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2017/07/31/goog-j31.html)


In it Google says: "Today, in a world where tens of thousands of pages are coming online every minute of every day, there are new ways that people try to game the system. The most high profile of these issues is the phenomenon of “fake news,” where content on the web has contributed to the spread of blatantly misleading, low quality, offensive or downright false information."

See, here Google explains how it knows best: "However, it’s become very apparent that a small set of queries in our daily traffic (around 0.25 percent), have been returning offensive or clearly misleading content, which is not what people are looking for."

("Offensive" based on what, I wonder...? Perhaps we should ask their recently fired engineer James Damore...)

Then Google says: "Developing changes to Search involves a process of experimentation. As part of that process, we have evaluators—real people who assess the quality of Google’s search results—give us feedback on our experiments."

I wonder A) who these people are and B) what their personal biases might be...?

Now let's place this in the context of vaping.

We all know the ANTZ position on vaping so to me it's very likely that the "unhealthy" notion of vaping is being adjusted by Google to ensure that the right message about smoking is not curtailed, i.e., vaping is smoking is bad.

(We all know how Facebook feels on this matter as well…)

Of course, based on what we know about Google and search from the above, it would be highly unlikely that anyone would necessarily know or prove what Google might be doing in this regard though clearly there is a significant amount of evidence, e.g., what the main stream media says about vaping, to make one wonder.

Google is a monopoly very clearly, though its name is not yet generic (see http://fortune.com/2017/05/17/google-generic/).  As the "search monopoly" one would hope the search results would be neutral, i.e., not biased.  But this is not the case.

My suspicion is that, very likely, vaping is a target with respect to "misleading content."

After all, smoking is evil and Google says "do no evil..."

And, at least according to some, Google is more like a "cult" than anything else (see James Damore's comments here: https://www.cnbc.com/2017/08/11/fired-google-engineer-damore-says-company-is-like-a-cult.html).




Sunday, August 20, 2017

Eating the Modern "Cake" of Racism

Before getting to the "cake" of the argument let's quickly summarize what happens when we edit history (and, as we'll see, this is in fact important to our discussion of "cake" below...")

There is a fascinating history of how history is edited (both by the "winners" as well as those that teach our children); and an even more fascinating history of how the editing history is "discovered" by those who lived through it yet didn't realize their "history" had been changed.

Who can forget the Soviet era photo-editing of cosmonauts who "fell out of favor":


Above we see a cosmonaut who didn't quite fit the party line "disappear" from official Tass news agency photos.  Only years later is the editing discovered (from Wired).

Similarly here (again from the linked Wired article).  Not bad considering no one had a copy of Photoshop...


Today the same thing is happening before our eyes.


Except that history is being physically destroyed.  Removal of statue does not change the history it represents and, in fact, this "editing of history" will simply push the debate further into the future when those who are unaware of the "truth" rediscover the editing.

And there are some important facts about the Civil War no longer taught (or even known for that matter in schools):

1. Slavery was present in the North (see this) as well as the South.  The Civil War ended slavery in both.  Yet no one is rioting about the "North..."

2. There was much violence and a degrading political discourse (sound familiar?) prior to the Civil War, e.g., the death of Elijah P. Lovejoy an abolitionist who was killed by a mob supporting slavery.  The elimination of slavery was based on a "higher moral ground" - kind of sounds like an argument for abortion clinic bombing doesn't it...?

3. Aside from slavery there were numerous economic reasons that the North and South became adversaries (see this and this).  After all, slaves existed in both the North and South so slavery couldn't be the only reason...

And today we see these same effects of this discord, but with a twist: the ugly Pandora's box from the left on what's "good" and "bad."  These decisions, as we see today, are based on violence.  If you attempt to speak on an unfavorable topic you will be exposed and "fired" from your job, for example.

And after viewing the image below one must ask is this "rioting" even real?  Look at the picture?  Does anyone really look upset?  Kind of looks staged.  The camera photogs are smiling.  The crowd doesn't appear to notice any tension - they all stand around as if nothing is going on...  (courtesy of the WSJ - full article and image here):



So how does this (the editing of history and forcing ones view on others) effect our "baker?"

While apparently it's "bad" for a baker not to bake a cake for someone whose behavior he finds morally unacceptable we have to now ask:

Should an African-American baker be forced to bake a cake celebrating racism?

Should a Jewish baker be forced to bake a cake celebrating anti-Semitism?

The same "left" who despises the hatred of gays apparently will require the celebration of racism.

After all, like sex we cannot "discriminate" based on race so should SCOTUS find the baker must bake I guess all the Nazi's from Charlottesville will be heading down to their local bakers to order a cake courtesy of the that same "left..."

Not really the intended effect I would think...

Today there is an incoherence that can only be explained by ignorance.

Rules that make you "feel good" are the unfortunate side effect of opening the Pandora's box mob rule.

It failed in the Soviet Union and it will fail here.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Open Source Vaping: Not Grandpa's DIY

At present virtually all pre-packaged mods sold in US vape shops are completely assembled units built in China (excluding a few things made in the US and any DIY parts).   And, for the most part, all pre-built mods subject to local "vaping taxes" which makes them more expensive for the end user.   For example, in Pennsylvania, a 40% wholesale tax on the purchase price paid by the PA shop or distributor.

(Typically vaping taxes “call out” specific aspects of complete e-cigarettes units or mods and tanks used for vaping.  However, all the parts within any given mod (batteries, wires, connectors, switches, etc.) based on my experience would themselves not qualify to be taxed.)

The effect of these taxes is to push the price up to make a vape closer is cost to “combustion tobacco.”  This keeps more people paying tobacco-based taxes which keeps the tobacco settlement money pouring into state treasuries.

I am advocating for mod "components" to be manufactured which users purchase and assemble on their own - much like Lego bricks.  Further, these components are to be designed as “dual use” (see below).  Components which are “dual use” are not "e-cigarettes" and not subject to vaping-specific taxes - in particular most components are virtually identical to technical, commercially available products which are not "vaping parts."

(For example, the nut holding your 510 connector in place would not be taxed if purchased separately.)

Vapers are under attack by state and federal agencies via both regulations and taxes. By making a mod that is purchased as components (components which have open specifications meaning anyone can make them) that are not taxable because they are already made and sold as non-vaping things we can free vaping from these taxes and regulations.

I am "donating," if you will, the design, software, etc. for this purpose to the vaping community.

I hope to encourage others to join with me and to eventually starting making this equipment - either at home for themselves or as products to be sold.

With careful planning nothing should be subject to regulation or taxation as "vaping" or "tobacco products."

One point that comes up is: "Duh! Don't you know there's DIY???"

Of course!  But many people are not interested in DIY.  Would they shift to DIY if there were no other alternative?  Yes.  But if I can save 40% can I do something with Lego-like bricks?  I might be interested...  at least for 40%...

Remember, smokers are cheap!

It is also the case the all Chinese and, AFAIK, all other mods are not "open source." No one knows how they work inside- electrically or software-wise.  This is a problem in general and eventually battery regulations will come to haunt us.  I know, specifically, that what's inside a commercial LiPo battery pack - which can be shipped anywhere - is exactly the same as what's in many Chinese mods (for example: this and this).

The point of this is also to "open this up" - hence "open source" so that anyone can see how it works and, if motivated, make changes. Create better "temperature control" - "smoother vaping" etc.

Right now we in the US are locked into the Chinese supply chain. This also makes us subject to import duty and supply chain regulation.

"Open source" can eliminate all of these issues.

It's been proven in the world of software with Linux. Linux, a free open source operating system, is steadily replacing Windows from Micro$oft because it is open source and free.

You can think of this as "roll your own" for vaping (which does already exist with DIY and home-built mods) except that the components, instead of being cigarette tubes, tobacco, etc. are "off-the-shelf" electronic parts with other purposes.

So here in PA a USB charger or battery, as far as PA Revenue is concerned, is a "dual use" item - this means it cannot have the vaping tax applied because other sell it for other purposes, e.g., Walmart and a phone USB charger.

The idea is to make your entire e-cigarette out of "dual use" components which a user buys separately and assembles - just like a USB charger.

(For that matter nic shots and "cupcake flavoring" theoretically should reduce the taxes only to the nic shot.)

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Open Source Vaping (Overview)

Here is a high-level block diagram of my proposed open source vaping mod:


(NOTE: Quite a bit of detail is left out at this level.  The big difference between this and most home-built mods will be things like temperature control, control over pulse width frequency, dynamic power adjustment during a vape, etc.)

First off, we all need to be concerned about intellectual property (IP).  So here we indicate that the radio communication portion of the mod is an "optional" component only to be added by a user should they desire to make or purchase one.

I spent some time and money working on a patent application sort of similar to this which was preceded by a prior claim (meaning someone else already had the same idea); I abandoned the application.

I think that without the radio portion the basic mod idea is reasonably safe as far as IP goes - but I am neither the patent office nor a lawyer - so you are own your own in the area.  It took some years for the patent office to even comment on my patent so I am guessing they have been inundated with various vaping applications.

The design above, in my non-legal estimation, is probably similar to any of a thousand Chinese mods that have been for sale forever.  ("Prior art" in the patent world is something that invalidates patents.)  Most all Chinese mods are basically something like this, perhaps with the "Processor" and "Coil Power Controller" combined into a single unit, e.g., "smart power supply."

Additionally, most of these parts are available in some form on their own at places like Adafruit or SparkFun.

The batteries can be any type, as can the "Processor."  I prefer Atmel 328P type 8-bit processors but you can use anything up to and including a full 32-bit Linux Odroid, for example.  Similarly, since both Android and iOS support USB connections the phone itself could be the controller via a USB-I/O module (for example this).  iOS involves some trickery and perhaps a bit of clever USB-type coding but I have made it work.  Here's some info, more will follow.

Buttons are expensive and cumbersome so I have working on an alternative.  First the PWM signal to the "Coil Power Controller" (basically a fancy MOSFET) cannot be triggered unless both the "Touch Safety" AND the Ribbon Controller are pressed at the same time.  I am using opto-isolation for the MOSFET to ensure "off" is "off."  The "Touch Safety" is a capacitance switch.  Both this and the ribbon can be covered with various non-conductive surfaces like plastic mod wraps.

Here's an example of a "Ribbon Controller:"



Instead of "Up" and "Down" arrows to control the mod output level this design allows you to slide your finger on the surface of the mod while the mod is running to adjust the power level.  At this point I am thinking that you set the minimum and maximum power levels, say 50W to 100W, either in advance or wirelessly and then as you vape you slide your finger around to get the flavor you want.

PWM-wise we want the user to control the pulse frequency (typically 2-3kHz for applications like this) in order to control "smoothness."  We found this out with the PrimusZ - people like a slower duty cycle in certain cases - though if it's too slow there is a "motor boating" effect.

Everything here, processors, radios, batteries, battery sleds, etc. are all non-vaping parts available at places such as those mentioned above or from places like Arrow or Mouser.  In Pennsylvania this means they are "dual use" items and can be taxed at the normal rate as opposed to the 40% vaping rate.

The "Radio Power Controller" is something not typically found on today's mods.  On the PrimusZ we found that leaving a radio, e.g., Bluetooth, running all the time quickly drained batteries.  We added a special circuit that shut the mod off after a period of time unless it was moved (physically): it allowed the mod to "wake up" very quickly and shut off after being set down (no, it didn't always work in the car but then again nothing is perfect).  This scheme worked pretty well.  In this case we apply the circuit just to the radio and add a feature to allow the "Processor" to keep the mod "on" - say for an over-the-air software update - until the radio is no longer needed.

The principles here have been well-tested over a couple of years.  I am open to other suggestions so long as reasonable, fact-based evidence is supplied.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Freeing Vaping Equipment From Taxation

(The intended audience for this is the computer-literate vaper and/or smoker.  If you are unfamiliar with electronics, computer hardware, software, and so on all this might be a bit hard to grasp.)

A long time ago, as I posted last time, I created the PrimusZ.  This was a bluetooth-based mod that supported a web site called vaporscloud.com (not the current site - we no longer own that domain).  The PrimusZ, via your iPhone or Android phone, was able to upload vaping data from your mod and publish it to you vaporscloud.com account.

(Search this blog for "PrimusZ" if you are interested.)

You could create friends on vaporscloud, share comments, and compare your vaping stats.

The work on all this started in 2014.

I spent a lot of time and money creating the technology for this over a couple of years - web development for a Facebook-esque web site with integrated data upload, Amazon cloud, embedded power controller technology, over-the-air software updates, support for encryption (lest your buddy fry your pocket), iPhone development, Android development, support for PC's and Mac's, SQL databases, patent applications, etc.

We built a few hundred PrimusZ's - went to trade shows, sponsored contests, and so forth.  Again, a very expensive undertaking.

All documented here more or less in this blog.

Unfortunately, due to a variety of circumstance, though heavily influenced by the release of the FDA "deeming" regulations and local 40% taxes on being an ecig "manufacturer" where I live the project was abandon.

More money than was available was required to do this and the uncertainty of the FDA and state activities at the time forced a decision away from continuing the project.

In the interim I have been working in other areas - never far from battery powered devices, remote control via phones and laptops, and so on...

With the recent and fortunate turn of events in FDA staffing there is again hope that vaping can be freed from onerous regulation (at least for the most part).

I'd like to see the idea's that the Primus embodied live to help folks vape; and now I think the time has come.

But, instead of working on this as a business, I'd like to create a completely "open source" model for a device with the same capabilities as the Primus, but this time with some important changes (also what you vape is up to you...)

Following is a sort of initial "manifesto" outlining what I plan to do:

1. A device, really a "class" of devices (let's call one "the gadget" for now) capable of the follow:

A. Operation on one or more pairs of 18650 or 20700's (7V or more).

B. A range of 1W to at least 250W of power.

C. Sub-ohm capable to .12 ohms with standard 510 connector support.

D. Optional wireless connectivity (Bluetooth, WiFi) to a phone (iOS or Android).  "Wireless" will involve the ability to "sleep" without consuming current.  Bluetooth will be BLE4 common to existing phones.

E. All mod components and parts will be off-the-shelf components unrelated to vaping.  Ideally 510's will be sold as parts as well.  Parts that can be sold in any store or vape shop without being subjected to "vaping taxes."  Also, if anyone were to sell their mod it would make, at least according to the current FDA rules, anything including software and off-the-shelf hardware, "tobacco products" subject to regulation.

F. "Gadgets" must never be sold in a complete form unless through a private transaction.  You must always buy the "parts" for a "gadget" and assemble it yourself.  By themselves "gadget" parts should be useless and uninteresting and hard to explain.

G. The "gadgets" will be controlled by open-source software governed by an MIT-style open license (I suppose on iOS you'll need to spend the $99 USD to develop for iPhone though...).

H. All wiring, schematics, etc. will be open license, e.g. like Arduino but with an MIT-style license.

2. A Facebook "app."  Since the snowflakes at Facebook hate vaping and nicotine the app will be for sharing "information" and IoT data with your friends.  What kind of things and what kind of information you might choose to share is up to you.

A. Sharing work work by pushing XML (or other format) data to the equivalent of a "drop box" account under a GUID-based name with private write (by you) and public read (by anyone you share it with).  Encryption will be optionally supported.

B. A Facebook "game" or "app" will allow you to manipulate your own data or data of people you choose to share the data with, i.e., chart, graph, download, compare, comment.  The game will support notifications and will not have any direct connection to vaping or nicotine.

C. There shall be no "central server" of any kind.

D. I imagine some sort of Facebook "game" app in Corona or similar - again fully open sourced under an MIT license.

3. From a legal perspective "gadgets" are "personal medical devices" created by you, the person with the illness.  There is a long and detailed Constitutional history of "treating one's own disease" (see this: http://lwgat.blogspot.com/2015/01/the-right-not-to-smoke.html).  Your "gadget," for example, might be an "inhaler" of your own design, created to treat your ADHD.

Obviously there is only a very small number of people who will "get" what this is about at a technological level.

Not a problem.

The goal is to poke the "anti-vaping" authorities right in the eye.

The goal is to make these things in our own countries using technologies well ahead of what the authorities can regulate.  I suppose like designer drugs - legal and free until they find some way to tax it.

If you don't think it can be done simply remember what Linux has done to the computer software world.  Look at what a company like Odroid puts out.

We have been given the chance to win and I plan to try and do exactly that...

If you have real, serious interest AND can contribute efficiently, technologically and selflessly then get in touch with me.

Otherwise stay tuned to this channel...

Sunday, August 6, 2017

PrimusZ Requiem

An original PrimusZ prototype
On March 15, 2014 I release pictures of the original PrimusZ bluetooth mod (http://lwgat.blogspot.com/2014/03/primusz-mod-released.html).

At the time vaping was entering a hockey-stick-like mode of growth despite only thin science on why vaping was better than combustion tobacco.

Mrs. Wolf opened a vape shop: it grew at an unbelievable pace until the state of Pennsylvania and the FDA came calling.

We manufactured a few hundred PrimusZ mods, took them to trade shows all over the country.  We built the original www.vaporscloud.com (not what you see today at this URL as this too died during the PA/FDA period of inquisition): an integrated Facebook-like site with logins, posting, and dynamic stats from your registered PrimusZ mods. We built a community of vapers uploading data daily showing the number of puffs/day and other statistics.

To be sure the original PrimusZ was not without its flaws but, for its time, I believe it was quite innovative.  It was originally designed for 15W of power, which got bumped to 60W by the time it was released.  This included making the device able to "sleep" for indefinitely long periods (months or years).

A production PrimusZ
There have been so many other changes over the last few years they are hard to recall:  shipping limitations of Lithium Ion batteries, many, many local and state laws restricting vaping, the Royal College of Surgeons in the UK endorsing vaping (along with other countries including the US), Chinese entries into the "wireless" mod market, the move by companies such as SMOK to .12 ohm clapton over-the-counter high-end vaping products.

The key, however, in the US is the recent change in position by the FDA and the pushing back to 2022 of the deeming regulation enforcement on "new products" (see http://lwgat.blogspot.com/2017/07/e-cigarettes-finally-trump-smoking.html).

To a large degree Mrs. Wolf and I stepped back from day-to-day vaping activity, including posting on advocacy, because during the 2016 election cycle the only clear potential win for the industry in the US was Trump.

Certainly you can write letters and what not but at the end of the day Hillary was not going to let vaping live.

Today things are different.

There is, no pun intended, breathing room for vaping, vape shops and new technologies.

Things are going to move forward now.

More to come over the next while...