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3-D Printers Are Here -- and They Make More Than You Think

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I'm Alex Villarreal with the VOA Special English Economics Report, from http://voaspecialenglish.com | http://facebook.com/voalearningenglish

When we print something, a flat page comes to mind. For example, you might use a photocopier.Photocopiers print in two dimensions.Now, imagine how this would work for three dimensions. A machine prints layers of material — usually plastic — one on top of the other. The layers are very thin — usually one-fifth or one-tenth of a millimeter. The layers then combine to form a solid object. There are many versions of this kind of technology. But the basic idea is the same for most 3-D printers. The process is called additive fabrication.These 3-D printers have become powerful tools for product designers. Computer-aided design programs use software to direct the printer. Designers can then create a solid model in a short time and easily make changes and tests.The 3-D printing technology was first developed in the nineteen eighties. But high cost put them out of the reach of many researchers and businesses. Early printers were limited. High cost and limited uses meant the 3-D printer market was small.Now, lower-cost printers are available to a much wider market, including small businesses and individuals. In January, the global technology company Hewlett-Packard agreed to sell 3-D printers manufactured by Stratasys. Stratasys has made 3-D printers for years. Last year, it introduced a 3-D printer for less than fifteen thousand dollars. More companies are using 3-D printing to directly manufacture some products. For example, Freedom of Creation, based in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, prints furniture and art. Bespoke Innovations in San Francisco, California, wants to design and print artificial limbs. Co-founder Scott Summit says these prosthetic limbs can be designed exactly for a patient's body for less money than existing products.But 3-D printing still has limits. For example, metals are more difficult to print than plastics. However, airplane maker Boeing prints some airplane parts. And printers are being used to create some rare parts for old machines. For people interested in new technology, a New York based company, Makerbot, sells kits to people who want to build a small 3-D printer. Some kits cost less than one thousand dollars.For VOA Special English, I'm Alex Villarreal. For transcripts and MP3s go to voaspecialenglish.com. And follow us on Facebook, Twitter and iTunes at VOA Learning English.

(Adapted from a radio program broadcast 29Oct2010)

 This site provides links to random videos hosted at YouTube, with the emphasis on random.


 The original idea for this site actually stemmed from another idea to provide a way of benchmarking the popularity of a video against the general population of YouTube videos. There are probably sites that do this by now, but there wasn’t when we started out. Anyway, in order to figure out how popular any one video is, you need a pretty large sample of videos to rank it against. The challenge is that the sample needs to be very random in order to properly rank a video and YouTube doesn’t appear to provide a way to obtain large numbers of random video IDs.

Alternative random YouTube videos generator: YouTuBeRandom

 Even if you search on YouTube for a random string, the set of results that will be returned will still be based on popularity, so if you’re using this approach to build up your sample, you’re already in trouble. It turns out there is a multitude of ways in which the YouTube search function makes it very difficult to retrieve truly random results.

 So how can we provide truly random links to YouTube videos? It turns out that the YouTube programming interface (API) provides additional functions that allow the discovery of videos which, with the right approach, are much more random. Using a number of tricks, combined some subtle manipulation of the space-time fabric, we have managed to create a process that yields something very close to 100% random links to YouTube videos.

 YouTube is an American video-sharing website headquartered in San Bruno, California. YouTube allows users to upload, view, rate, share, add to playlists, report, comment on videos, and subscribe to other users. It offers a wide variety of user-generated and corporate media videos. Available content includes video clips, TV show clips, music videos, short and documentary films, audio recordings, movie trailers, live streams, and other content such as video blogging, short original videos, and educational videos. Most content on YouTube is uploaded by individuals, but media corporations including CBS, the BBC, Vevo, and Hulu offer some of their material via YouTube as part of the YouTube partnership program. Unregistered users can only watch videos on the site, while registered users are permitted to upload an unlimited number of videos and add comments to videos. Videos deemed potentially inappropriate are available only to registered users affirming themselves to be at least 18 years old.

 YouTube and selected creators earn advertising revenue from Google AdSense, a program which targets ads according to site content and audience. The vast majority of its videos are free to view, but there are exceptions, including subscription-based premium channels, film rentals, as well as YouTube Music and YouTube Premium, subscription services respectively offering premium and ad-free music streaming, and ad-free access to all content, including exclusive content commissioned from notable personalities. As of February 2017, there were more than 400 hours of content uploaded to YouTube each minute, and one billion hours of content being watched on YouTube every day. As of August 2018, the website is ranked as the second-most popular site in the world, according to Alexa Internet, just behind Google. As of May 2019, more than 500 hours of video content are uploaded to YouTube every minute.

 YouTube has faced criticism over aspects of its operations, including its handling of copyrighted content contained within uploaded videos, its recommendation algorithms perpetuating videos that promote conspiracy theories and falsehoods, hosting videos ostensibly targeting children but containing violent and/or sexually suggestive content involving popular characters, videos of minors attracting pedophilic activities in their comment sections, and fluctuating policies on the types of content that is eligible to be monetized with advertising.
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