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Microsoft's New Surface Pro: What You Should Know

The fifth generation Surface Pro is finally here. After waiting for over a year and a half Microsoft has refreshed their most popular Surface device. They've dropped the number scheme, made a few tweaks, and the new Surface Pro will go on sale worldwide on June 15th. Been waiting for this refresh? Here's what you should know about it.

The Surface Pro 2017

Upon first inspection the new Surface Pro is nearly identical to the Pro 4. It has a 12.3 inch screen with a resolution of 2736x1824. And for better or worse it has all of the same ports in the same spots, including a USB 3.0 A port, mini DisplayPort, a microSD card slot, and the magnetic Surface Connect port.

Inside of course are the latest Intel Kaby Lake processors with a Core m3-7Y30, i5-7300U, and i7-7660U. Now not only is the m3 model fanless, but the i5 one is as well. The 1866Mhz LPDDR3 RAM ranges from 4GB to 16GB, and SSD options from 128GB to 512GB. It still has a front facing camera for Windows Hello facial recognition, and the speakers have been upgraded too. There will also be an LTE option available later this year.

The new Surface Pro features a next generation kickstand, and now moves up to a 165 degree angle. The new Surface Pen has seen a huge upgrade, now sporting 4,096 levels of pressure sensitivity (up from 1,024), latency has been cut in half down to 21ms thanks to a new Pen coprocessor, and it can even recognize tilting. Microsoft is claiming this is the best digital pen ever, so we'll have to see how it stacks up against Apple's Pencil. The new Surface Pro will also work with the Surface Dial on screen. Finally, the new Type Cover is made out of alcantara, just like the previous Signature Type Cover and the Surface Laptop, and comes in burgundy, cobalt blue, and platinum.

The Surface Pro now has more hidden costs than ever before.

Microsoft says that the new Surface Pro starts at $800, back down from the price hike that the entry level Pro 4 saw. However, the Surface Pro now has more hidden costs than ever before. It still doesn't come with a Type Cover and the new version costs $160. (You can use the slightly cheaper Pro 4 cover at $130 if you wish.) Microsoft has also made the decision to take the Pen out of the box, costing you an additional $60 if you want that. That makes the "real" cost of a Surface Pro starting at $1020. A new Pro with an i5, 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD is $1300, but after tacking on a new Type Cover and Pen it really comes out to $1520. That's more than the Surface Laptop with identical specs. Sure, the Pro is more difficult to engineer, but the average person won't know that.

Eric Harrell 3D-Prints Mechanical Engine Models

We meet Eric Harrell, who brought his collection of functional 3d-printed car engines and transmissions to this year's Maker Faire! Eric shows us his 1/3rd scale engines, which he designs from reference schematics and measurements to highlight how real engines work. Eric has also made his files available online for anyone to make their own replicas!

Building and Playing the "Monolith", a Teensy-Powered Synthesizer!

We invite Paul Stroffregen and Darcy Neal to our studio to assemble the Monolith, an interactive musical sculpture they and their friends created for this year's Maker Faire. Paul is the inventor of the Teensy, the small and power microcroller that powers the Monolith, generating all of its sounds in real-time! And it sounds AWESOME.

No More Drone Registration for Hobbyists

Last Friday (5/19/17), a federal court ruled that the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) drone registration policy for hobbyists is illegal. The immediate effect of this decision is that hobbyists no longer need to register with the FAA or maintain a current registration. It is not, however, a blanket exemption for all hobbyists. Recreational flyers must meet a few stipulations to be relieved from registration (more on that later). Those who fly RC models for commercial purposes must still register as well.

It is important to understand that this decision only impacts the registration aspect of RC model flying. The rules of safe and responsible flying have not changed. Nor does this case completely remove hobbyists from under the FAA's umbrella. The FAA still has teeth to go after modelers who endanger others by flying recklessly or in prohibited areas. We still have to follow the rules.

A federal court ruled that the FAA's drone registration policy for hobbyists is illegal.

Genesis of the Lawsuit

When Congress passed the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012, it included wording that specifically addressed model aviation. Section 336 of the bill stated that the FAA could not introduce any new rules related to model aircraft. While the widespread proliferation of RC multi-rotors was causing alarm in the halls of the FAA and even among long-time hobbyists, the agency would have to work within the bounds of any existing policies to address their concerns. For this reason, many were surprised when the FAA announced in late 2015 that it was introducing a requirement for RC pilots to register in a national database.

The FAA's stance was that the policy was not new because model aircraft are still aircraft by definition, and aircraft registration had long been a requirement. That the agency had never previously demanded modelers to register could be attributed to them simply exercising enforcement discretion. Several legal challenges were filed, but none had sufficient traction to halt the registration program before it went into effect in December of 2015.

The challenge that eventually struck down registration was filed by John Taylor, a hobbyist and attorney in the Washington DC area. The crux of his argument was simple: the FAA had created a new rule for modelers after Section 336 forbade them from doing so. Federal judges ultimately agreed.

While it seemed obvious to many that the FAA was blatantly ignoring the letter and the spirit of Section 336, few were confident that Taylor would prevail. There is a precedent for courts giving leeway to government agencies in interpreting grey areas of statutes (Chevron deference). Apparently, the judges in this case felt that Congress' intent in Section 336 was clear and allowed no wiggle room. In fact, the written decision states, "Statutory interpretation does not get much simpler."

LEGO with Friends: VW Beetle, Part 1

Our guest this week is friend of Tested Trace Dominguez, from the YouTube channel Seeker! Trace joins Norm and Danica to build the LEGO VW Beetle, a beautiful kit that sits well next to the LEGO VW Van. We talk about science communication and share our science fair experiences from our youth!

The Stuff of Maker Faires - Still Untitled: The Adam Savage Project - 5/23/17
We welcome special guest Ian Cole this week to recap another amazing Bay Area Maker Faire! Along with Adam, Ian is on the board of Nation of Makers, and organizes maker spaces in Florida. We discuss the culture of maker faires around the country and highlight some of the great things we saw over the weekend.
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Adam Savage's Maker Faire 2017 Speech!

Adam gives his annual Sunday "sermon" to the attendees of Bay Area Maker Faire, and fields questions from the audience! This year, Adam rides in on a beautiful kinetic sculpture by the artists at La Machine.

Bits to Atoms: Thermal Detonator, Part 2

Sean and Jeremy's epic quest to fabricate a metal thermal detonator comes to a thrilling conclusion! With Frank's molds perfected, it's time to experiment with pewter casting, using Kishore's backyard forge. But all the pieces still have to come together to fit Jeremy's electronics!

Tested: Fujinon MK 18-55mm Cinema Lens

Joey tests and reviews the Fujinon MK 18-55 zoom lens, which is notable for its price as a entry-level cine lens. Using it on a variety of location shoots and Tested productions, Joey demonstrates how professional cinema lenses operate and perform differently than still photography lenses for video, and why you would want to use one on your camera.

Adam Savage's Maker Tour: Stanford Adolescent and Young Adult Cancer Program

At SAYAC, Adam learns about an innovative and therapeutic program that designs makerspaces in children's hospitals in order to engage young patients in making and problem-solving. Then, as part of that "maker therapy," Adam helps Aaron, Ryan and Joseph build a doorbell that will help provide some privacy for Tia from all the nurses and doctors coming and going from her hospital room! (This series and tour is made possible by The Fab Foundation and Chevron.)