Cetus Extended 3D printer

The Cetus Extended 3D printer, a Rails-based printing technology has been occupying a great deal of my time as of late. This 3D Printer has a build volume of 180x180x280mm and supports 1.75mm PLA filament.
Cetus Extended
A very important consideration for children is a printer’s power source. Many 3D printer kits from GearBest, eBay or AliExpress contain open, live wiring that may prove extremely dangerous to children. This printer is a safe choice for children and schools. Cetus ships a kid-friendly power supply that will put to rest any parental concerns. Remember kids are curious. IMHO the Cetus minimalist design provides a better introduction to real hands-on 3D Printing for my children.

Cetus printers have an active Facebook group providing great feedback from a growing community of owners. I am also pleased to see an active Reddit community.

Popular 3D applications Simplify3DUltimaker Cura, Slic3r, and Craftware all connect to the Cetus Extended and run very well on an iMac. USB and WiFi are built in and Cetus has an iPad client. The Cetus app will also convert G-code to native machine code before sending objects to the printer.
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Latest Read: Blockchain Basics

The Blockchain Basics by Daniel Drescher. This is a very basic blockchain book. I would recommend this to someone completely unfamiliar with blockchain. Daniel hits his mark. Drescher places a repeated template for each step. In this design, I felt the book had trouble flowing for anyone who has already read a blockchain textbook.
Blockchain BasicsDaniel pushes the elementary lessons through 25 steps.

There is a very basic outline to the security of the blockchain. Again this book has a specific target audience: Newbie.

I have to admit that I was bored reading the text. yet was impressed by the lessons and related topics that are presented.

Yet his lessons and related topics are simple to follow. For an overall tip of the iceberg, you can fly through this book and then move to Don Tapscott, William Mougayar and Melanie Swan.

Latest read: A War of Logistics

What really caused France’s humiliating loss to the Viet Minh in the French Indochina war? To understand we must focus on logistics. Charles Shrader’s A War of Logistics: Parachutes and Porters in Indochina, 1945–1954 reveals the true staggering failures of the French were simply the result of poor logistics.
A War of Logistics: Parachutes and Porters in Indochina, 1945--1954 (Foreign Military Studies) by Charles R. ShraderOn the surface it may not make sense. A western power falling to an agrarian band of guerrilla fighters? No author has precisely examined Viet Minh and French military logistics in great detail. This is an impressive view. Shrader has taught at West Point, the Command & General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, and at the Army War College.

He is a former executive director of the Society for Military History. His metrics and well written history document those French military pillars that collapsed triggering their retreat not only from Indochina but from the world stage.

Many respected books point to Dien Bien Phu as the surprising French loss and subsequent defeat in the war. Shrader documents how this battle was the culmination in a series of shocking logistical failures that plagued their efforts against the Viet Minh.

The shift benefitting the Viet Minh developed after the Korean War. China began delivering overwhelming logistical resources to the Viet Minh. While French and CIA intelligence captured communications confirming numerous deliveries of infrastructure, France did not adjust to this threat.

In retrospect the logistical failure to support the French effort should have been sending strong signals to American military advisors that success against this communist enemy would be a long and difficult task.
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Latest read: Operation Vulture

Operation Vulture by John Prados reveals President Eisenhower’s plans to use nuclear weapons at Dien Bien Phu to “rescue” the French garrison. An analyst of national security based in Washington DC, he is a Senior Fellow and Project Director with the National Security Archive at George Washington University where he leads the Archive’s documentation projects on Vietnam and CIA.
Operation VultureThe US National Archive has released multiple classified documents since 2000. We now understand Eisenhower’s deep involvement. He ordered the US military into the First Indochina War in 1953. Prados reveals startling details of Eisenhower’s wish to use nuclear weapons and his order to the US Air Force and Navy bringing a nuclear weapons attack upon the valley as the French garrison was being quickly suffocated by the Viet Minh.

The details of those military actions moving men and arms throughout Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia along with the international political maneuvering by Allen Dulles in the early 1950s dispels any myth that America simply went to war in Vietnam under President Kennedy.

Prados stitches an enormous amount of Eisenhower’s actions regarding Vietnam beginning in 1953. Eisenhower acted on his view of the world that required a strong American confrontation in Asia to offset China.
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Latest read: Who the Hell Are We Fighting?

Who the Hell Are We Fighting?: The Story of Sam Adams and the Vietnam Intelligence Wars is the story Sam’s incomplete memoir War of Numbers could not deliver. Sam Adams died suddenly in 1988 at the age of 54. Sam was a gifted analyst at the CIA. Author C. Michael Hiam delivers a well written narrative of Sam’s life.
Who the Hell Are We Fighting?: The Story of Sam Adams and the Vietnam Intelligence WarsSam displayed the uncommon trait of speaking truth to power. As history often suggests Sam was in the right place at the right time.

His truth revealed outcomes that pitted him against the White House, MACV and even senior leadership within the CIA.

What also made Sam unique was his inability to backdown to the highest offices in the government. Sam created a point of great turmoil by discovering and confronting repeated MACV intelligence failures. His analysis was not supported by CIA Director Richard Helms. Nobody wants to make their boss look bad.

Haim traces Sam’s life from Harvard to a rising star within the CIA to a disillusioned analyst. War of Numbers did not shed light on Sam’s death. Realizing Haim was going to address his passing at the close of the book I dreaded the final chapter to the life of Sam Adams.
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Latest read – War of Numbers

War of Numbers: An Intelligence Memoir was published after the death of Sam Adams. He spent his career working in CIA intelligence during the Vietnam War. He leaves behind a memory of dedication to country and an unbending legacy speaking truth to power.
War of NumbersSam graduated from Harvard and began a CIA intelligence career in the Congo. Adams won high praise for accurately predicting changes to the Congolese government in 1966.

His initial Vietnam war research focused on the moral of Viet Cong troops in 1967. He wrote a larger Viet Cong order of battle. This began a long clash with CIA, MACV, the Joint Chiefs and the White House over the size of VC forces before the Tet Offensive.

His initial reports never made it out of the CIA. His experiences in chapter 4 “Bulletin 689” changed everything. Adams was able to discover errors in the MACV order of battle. Insights from CIA interrogations allowed Sam to separate deserters vs. defectors regarding guerrilla troops at the hamlet, village and district levels. His order of battle data revealed MACV underestimating VC guerrillas by 120,000 by 1967.
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Latest read: None So Blind

Regarded as one of the CIA’s premiere Vietnam intelligence experts George W. Allen wrote a 2001 memoir None So Blind: A personal account of the intelligence failure in Vietnam that remains an alarming insight of intelligence failures that forecasted both France and America’s defeat in Vietnam. Allen’s contributions set the stage regrettably for the Pentagon and White House to also follow France’s misplaced goals in Indochina for the next twenty-five years.

None So Blind: A personal account of the intelligence failure in VietnamMy interest in Allen’s memoir developed from reading a series of confidential reports by the US military and CIA from the 1950s. Declassified in the late 1990s the documents address the French defeat at Dien Bien Phu.

Many of those documents point to Allen’s intelligence reports and analysis. Naturally this peaked my wish to better understand the American intelligence analysis of the French defeat.

Allen holds a unique, deep understanding of the Indochina Wars (France 1945-1950) and the coming failure of America’s intervention on behalf of South Vietnam 1960-1974. The lessons in his book leave deep, haunting impressions today on the White House and Pentagon leaders who ignored our intelligence community.
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Dien Bien Phu retrospective

The valley of Dien Bien Phu was the site of a historic siege by the Viet Minh on a French garrison from March 13th to May 7th 1953. The result was the first time an Asian guerrilla force defeated a standing Western army in sustained battle.

The French hoped to again draw out their Viet Minh enemy and defeat them with superior artillery fire as they did at Na San in November 1952. However a year later a series of French military blunders would doom the garrison.

To more fully understand the French defeat the six titles below are well written and serve as the entrance to a deeper American involvement that would lead to our own nightmare.

Each author addresses key failure points long after the battle that invalidate immediate reactions to the siege. Each author conveys the inhumanity suffered by both sides before, during and after the siege.

Why Vietnam?: Prelude to America’s Albatross
Archimedes Patti

Hell In A Very Small Place: The Siege Of Dien Bien Phu
Bernard Fall

Street Without Joy: The French Debacle in Indochina
Bernard Fall

Embers of War: The Fall of an Empire and the Making of America’s Vietnam Fredrik Logevall

Valley of Death: The Tragedy at Dien Bien Phu That Led America into the Vietnam War
Ted Gibson

The Last Valley: Dien Bien Phu and the French Defeat in Vietnam
Martin Windrow

The books all provide powerful experiences from both the Vietnamese and French perspectives:

This garrison was not an all-French unit. Quite the opposite. A majority of soldiers were African, Algerian, Moroccan, Tunisian and of course Vietnamese serving the French Far East Expeditionary Corps. This unit included European volunteers from Spain, Poland and Germany. The garrison’s officer corps were French. Make no mistake Paris was no longer interested in sending their sons to die in the jungles of Vietnam.

French Union troops moved a brothel into the garrison. Yes in 1953.

Generals Christian de Castries, Henri Navarre and René Cogny ignored their own very accurate military intelligence reports. The movement of heavy artillery from China into the surrounding hills was discovered by radio intercepts. Yet the Generals never considered the Viet Minh able to position heavy artillery around the surrounding hills.

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Latest Read: Decentralized Applications Harnessing Bitcoin’s Blockchain Technology

Decentralized Applications Harnessing Bitcoin’s Blockchain Technology by Siraj Raval is my follow up to three previous blockchain books. This kinda forks hard left after chapter two and drifts.
Decentralized Applications Harnessing Bitcoin's Blockchain TechnologyMy first book Don Tapscott’s The Blockchain Revolution was interesting in broad strokes. William Mougayar’s The Business Blockchain was better.

Melanie Swan wrote an even better overview to in her book Blockchain: A blueprint for a new economy. Melanie provides a great overview (looking back from 2015) to address decentralized apps (Dapps), decentralized autonomous organization (DAOs), decentralized autonomous corporations (DACs) and decentralized autonomous societies (DASs). There is such a deeper dive required to wrap your arms around decentralized autonomous blockchains.
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Latest read: The Last Valley: Dien Bien Phu and the French Defeat in Vietnam

The Last Valley: Dien Bien Phu and the French Defeat in Vietnam by Martin Windrow is another stunning book regarding the French defeat in Indochina. He follows the same historical accuracy as Archimedes Patti’s Why Vietnam? Prelude to America’s Albatross and Bernard Fall’s Hell In A Very Small Place: The Siege Of Dien Bien Phu.

The Last Valley: Dien Bien Phu and the French Defeat in Vietnam

Windrow has written an amazing history of France’s approach to defeat the Viet Minh. His work complements a select number of authors who have brought to life an important battle long overlooked in the late 1950s by America that contributed heavily to our entry into Vietnam.

Similar to my review of Ted Morgan’s book Valley of Death The Tragedy at Dien Bien Phu That Led America into the Vietnam War the siege is a stunning look by Windrow at a morally bankrupt 4th republic attempting to re-colonize Indochina beginning in 1946. World War II in Europe was over with rebuilding was underway. France attempted along with Britain to reclaim colonial territories after the surrender of Japan.

In great detail the opening chapters document French losses from 1948 to 1952. His attention to detail is amazing. These repeated failures as Windrow noted began to show weak points within the French Union. Clearly they had no ability to defeat the Viet Minh at the Laotian border.
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World Economic Forum: The Blockchain

The blockchain is the future of financial infrastructures. An ambitious look at how blockchain can reshape financial services.

The World Economic Forum has posted a PDF view of the Blockchain’s pragmatic impact upon global financial services. Its a very visual read to a great deal of research.
The future of financial infrastructure An ambitious look at how blockchain can reshape financial services

The key areas of focus are blockchain technologies that can push simplicity and efficiency. The opportunity to create new financial service infrastructure based upon high level information security.

The blockchain is looking to launch next generation financial services infrastructure. The report’s use case focus considers how blockchain technology can benefit multiple scenarios across future financial services.

The report is a follow-up to a Deloitte/World Economic Forum report Disruptive Innovation in Financial Services. This report analyzes blockchain across nine sectors of financial services.

Latest Read: Blockchain – Blueprint for a New Economy

When Melanie Swan’s book Blockchain: Blueprint for a New Economy written under the O’Reilly series was available I was eager to start reading. This is a thoughtful overview to the Blockchain. There is much to learn about the role of cryptocurrency and the blockchain but this is not the sole focus of her work.

Blockchain - Blueprint for a New EconomyMelanie, like Tapscott paints a wide brush across the Blockchain. Too similar to Tapscott perhaps? No. If the blockchain’s focus was just security then it would command a smaller, narrow focus on IT infrastructure. Yet Melanie provides a wider arena to learn how Blockchains especially in healthcare hold enormous possibilities.

My first book Don Tapscott’s The Blockchain Revolution was interesting. William Mougayar’s The Business Blockchain was better. My thirst for knowledge continues.This is possibly the best of the three at providing a deeper dive to the possibilities of a truly changing technology.
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