Preparing to Hunt

Well, the grouse are definitely winning. I haven’t even seen one this season, so I guess I’ll hunt deer. My muzzle-loading season starts in a week. I don’t even need to check that equipment because it’s so reliable.

Yesterday, two of us went out and fired several rifles. One .308 Winchester just would not shoot properly. It barely made groups on paper at 100 yards. Two others grouped really well. We tested rifles and ammunition in 308 and 7mm Remington Magnum. That 7mm is a tack-driver. The first group with 175 RN reduced loads at 130 yards was a little triangle about 0.5 inch centre to centre. That load is designed to be used within 200 yards so there’s no problem hitting deer close. Some 150 grain full-power spitzers grouped a little worse but were still good enough for easy 350 yard kills. I made a few more rounds of each today. The 7mm Rem Mag will be the go to rifle on a new hunting property with some wide openings. The 308 with 165 BTSP full-power loads will be the backup… I’ll probably use a Mauser either in 8X57 or .30-’06. Those always work and have iron sights, the way real men hunt unless using sharp sticks.

Today a trip was planned to scout the new property including GPS surveys, ranging and sighting in at extended ranges. The new place is far from the city (not even cell-phone reception…) and is near where I hunted grouse very profitably back in the 1980s. There will be some big bucks there and at this time of the year some pine mushrooms.

Life goes on with some of us planning the killing of others… I already have official permission to hunt bucks. Too bad I had to pay a licensing fee. That’s omitted for us old guys for grouse…

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OOPS! Sometimes Even Linus Gets It Wrong!

“Today, October 20, 2016, Linux kernel maintainer Greg Kroah-Hartman announced three new maintenance updates for the Linux 4.8, 4.7, and 4.4 LTS kernel series, patching a major security vulnerability.
Known as “Dirty COW,” the Linux kernel vulnerability documented at CVE-2016-5195 is, in fact, a nasty bug that could have allowed local users to write to any file they can read. The worst part is that the security flaw was present in various Linux kernel builds since at least the Linux 2.6.x series, which reached end of life in February this year.”
See Linux Kernels 4.8.3, 4.7.9 & 4.4.26 LTS Out to Patch “Dirty COW” Security Flaw
Ouch! This could be a pathway to rooting */Linux machines all over the world. At first I thought I had fixed this here but I missed one machine in the living room that used one of those series of kernels. Fixing it as I type.

Having lived for a decade with a gaping vulnerability it gives little comfort to think those who use That Other OS live with such updates almost monthly.

Posted in technology | Tagged , , | 22 Comments

Chuckle. Trump’s Tweets Are Another Shot To His Feet

“A new tool, Troll Trump, lets supporters sign up to automatically donate 50 cents, $1, $3, $5, $10 or other amounts every time the Republican presidential nominee tweets. (Given his past habits on the platform, that could turn out to be a pretty vast treasure trove of donations for the home stretch to Nov. 8.) The tool’s landing page populates a new Trump tweet each time the site is refreshed to offer a sampling of the candidate’s social media style.”
See Hillary Clinton’s Campaign Just Created a Way to Make Money From Donald Trump’s Tweets
After watching Trump “crash and burn” at last night’s debate, I am amused to read that Hillary has implemented a plan to raise funds on each Tweet from Trump. It’s using his own technology against him. That should be fair. Trump likes to use Russian spying/WikiLeaks against Hillary. It’s Mutually Assured Destruction in words and dollars…

“US presidential candidate Donald Trump’s criticism of rival Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while Secretary of State appeared to have rebounded on him.
Security researcher Kevin Beaumont discovered the Trump organisation uses a hopelessly outdated and insecure internet setup.”
See Donald Trump running insecure email servers
Of course, this situation would be funnier if it weren’t so deadly serious. Trump has hijacked the USAian system of elections to try to put a Russian puppet in power all the while dividing the country on race, religion, sex and wealth. I am thankful Trump will fail but at a very serious cost. The USAian system of checks and balances is all that prevents USA from becoming like any dictatorship. While supposedly being an “agent of change” from within the GOP, Trump is actually sabotaging GOP and there is a possibility that Queen Hillary I may take power in January with the support of the Senate, House and SCOTUS… That could turn out to be a good thing if USA gets single-payer healthcare, does the right thing in Syria, imposes term limits and cuts out the lobbying industry… but I won’t hold my breath.

Posted in politics, technology | Tagged , , , , | 7 Comments

This Could Be Important, A Means To Readily Convert CO2 To Ethanol Electrically

“we report a common element, nanostructured catalyst for the direct electrochemical conversion of CO2 to ethanol with high Faradaic efficiency (63 % at −1.2 V vs RHE) and high selectivity (84 %) that operates in water and at ambient temperature and pressure. Lacking noble metals or other rare or expensive materials, the catalyst is comprised of Cu nanoparticles on a highly textured, N-doped carbon nanospike film.”
See High-Selectivity Electrochemical Conversion of CO2 to Ethanol using a Copper Nanoparticle/N-Doped Graphene Electrode
Wow! Now that prices for photo-voltaic panels have dropped, the biggest issue with solar power is having a means of storing energy for the nights and cloudy days. Liquid fuel is a great compact solution for storing energy that could work with fuel-cells or diesel generators to produce electricity. Ethanol has been produced by fermentation of agricultural products but that’s a very long and inefficient process compared to dissolving CO2 in water and electrolyzing it. I hope this develops into useful products ASAP. It seems very promising.

Posted in technology, weather | Tagged , , , | 19 Comments

Some Dirt Is Better Than Others

“this latest ruling, from the very court that upended things nearly two decades ago in declaring software much more broadly patentable than anyone believed, may now be the nail in the coffin on software patents in the US. The headline, of course, is that the patents that Intellectual Ventures used against anti-virus firms Symantec and Trend Micro, were bunk, because they did not cover patent eligible subject matter. But the part that has everyone chattering is the concurring opinion by Judge Haldane Mayer, that says it’s time to face facts: Alice killed software patents. And Mayer is not some newcomer. He’s been at the Federal Circuit since the 1980s and was actually the chief judge in the late 90s/early 2000s when CAFC was at its worst in terms of expanding patent law. And it appears he’s been born again into the anti-software patent world. It’s… quite a conversion.”
See Prominent Pro-Patent Judge Issues Opinion Declaring All Software Patents Bad
Over on Tech Dirt, there’s TFA about a ruling of a court that could pound in the last nail of the coffin of “software patents”, you know, patents on stuff that’s not patentable because it looks new and shiny just because it’s coded into a computer…

Yes, when hurricane Matthew is shredding the FL coast, I get news that a court has actually put 2 and 2 together and got 4. I’ve been saying for years that software is copyrightable, not patentable, and now an actual court agrees. Pigs are flying, and it’s not just the hurricane doing that, judges are thinking about what stuff means. While such a ruling is very important for technology widely used in business and the Internet, it should also get some bullies off the backs of creators/distributors of FLOSS, Free/Libre Open Source Software, which I favour. It may ding M$’s bottom line, for instance, but it will free */Linux users and creators from one big worry, that they will be in trouble if they compete with M$. I like that.

Posted in technology | Tagged , , | 70 Comments


I’m old. I’ve seen good times and bad. I’ve seen people at their best and their worst.

I’m absolutely amazed that a significant number of USAians (and visitors) in Florida are not evacuating from the east coast of Florida in the face of an F4 Hurricane (Matthew) with multiple weather-models predicting:

  • The eye of the storm will hit the shore near Melbourne and ride nearly along the shore for a couple of hundred miles of densely populated high-value property.
  • Storm surge is predicted to be greater than 9 feet high miles inland.
  • Waves of up to 20 feet on top of the storm surge and rain threatens flash flooding, destruction and death miles inland.
  • The path of destruction could be as bad as an EF 2 tornado but 25 times wider and 25 times longer and thousands of times more homes.
  • Power is expected to be out for many days for millions of residents.

In case these numbers mean nothing:

  • EF 2 tornadoes damage light buildings and destroy trees and powerlines. “Considerable damage. Roofs torn off well-constructed houses; foundations of frame homes shifted; mobile homes completely destroyed; large trees snapped or uprooted; light-object missiles generated; cars lifted off ground.” but usually cover only a few square miles. This thing will cover ~1K square miles.

So, I have to ask, “Do these people feel lucky?”

I’m amazed. Tolls have been cancelled, inbound lanes of highways reversed, supplies of fuel, school buses, National Guard, and ~100 substantial shelters have been set up and still folks don’t evacuate. The governor and many others have repeatedly stated this storm will kill people who don’t evacuate. Who will the survivors blame in the coming week when the dead are piled high in makeshift morgues? Will the only good to come out of these events be that a million Trump-supporters have died, that the gene-pool will have been sharpened for rationality traits, or that the economy will have a major boost repairing the damage?

Posted in politics, weather | Tagged , , , | 176 Comments

Democracy At Its Worst – Colombians Choose War

“Polls conducted ahead of Sunday’s vote suggested a comfortable win for the “yes” campaign.
But in a surprise result, 50.2% of voters rejected the agreement compared with 49.8% who voted for it.
The difference with 98.98% of the votes counted was less than 54,000 votes out of almost 13 million ballots.
Turnout was low with fewer than 38% of voters casting their votes.Colombians reject a landmark peace deal with Farc rebels in a shock referendum result, with 50.2% voting against it.”
See Colombia referendum: Voters reject Farc peace deal
Democracy is a great system. It allows everyone in society to have a voice to make clear decisions about directions. However, like any system it can fail:

  • when participation/turnout is very low and some splinter can decide the matter, or
  • when killing a small number of voters could give the opposite result, or
  • when some charmer leads the flock astray.

The recent result in Colombia is very unsatisfactory. It allows both sides to see victory is achievable with a little more killing or screaming or whatever…

The world is not a better place when democracy decides that war is better than a few compromises and wider participation of groups in society. Let’s hope that cooler heads prevail and people care enough to do the right thing sooner or later.

Posted in politics | Tagged , | 31 Comments

Open Standards And FLOSS Go Together

“in the 66 courts across Slovenia, the 4400 staff use Apache OpenOffice. It is well-integrated in the court’s case management system, allowing automatic document generation by combining a template repository with case data. The courts also use the Mozilla Thunderbird mail client, and the Mozilla Firefox web browser.”
See Open standards default at Slovenia supreme court
I cite the example to the right to refute a claim of one of our commentators that M$’s office suite is widely used because folks can use templates… Yes, well, so can users of LibreOffice/ I’ve been using templates for ages since I don’t remember how far back that goes but it’s been over a decade certainly. When I was a teacher, I taught students how to do that as a shortcut even for letter-writing, putting in the constant information like sender, date, and addresses. Companies, organizations and individuals can insert their favourite logo, image or motto with no need to retype stuff.

That’s just the beginning. Saving money, particularly for organizations of size who don’t need to pay yet another round of licensing fees, has a huge advantage. With the money they save they can easily afford to manage all their templates and integrate with their databases further extending the usefulness of the software. I did that with report cards in schools, making the attendance, date, grades and various headings and boxes part of the templates. It made printers, not teachers, the bottleneck in the system. If e-mail could replace the printing, the bottleneck would be nearly eliminated.

Posted in Linux in Education, politics, Teaching, technology | Tagged , , , , , , , | 37 Comments

US Senate Overrides Obama’s Veto – Chaos Imminent

“The Senate on Tuesday unanimously passed a bill that would allow families of 9/11 victims to sue Saudi Arabia for its alleged connection to the attacks, pushing the kingdom one step closer to having to follow through on its pledge to sell hundreds of billions of dollars of United States assets that could be frozen by the courts. Carrying out that divestment pledge will be a long, difficult, complicated and likely costly process.”
See After 9/11 Bill, Could Saudi Arabia Really Sell All Its U.S. Assets?
Today, the US Senate overrode Obama’s veto, 97:1. That suggests the House will be more bold in doing the same. Then chaos will result. The Saudis have promised to pull their assets out of USA, hundreds of $billions in treasury bills and many other investments. 2016 could undo the tidy recovery USA has made in Obama’s term. Even a gradual withdrawal could lower the value of the dollar, raise interest rates, ding the stock-market, possibly trigger a nuclear arms race in the region and raise the price of gold.

Thanks, Trump, and others, for reckless endangerment of the world’s financial system. While you follow each other into a black hole the world is growing dark.

Posted in politics | Tagged , | 23 Comments

My Experiences Converting Users To GNU/Linux

“If you sit a child in front of a Linux computer, they usually just start using it. It’s an amazing thing to watch. Kids are curious by nature and they also have the added advantage of not having any preconceived notions when it comes to how a computer ought to work. I have found, on the other hand, that the hardest kind of person to teach Linux is the crusty old Windows power user.”
See My Mom Runs Linux!
My wife, TLW, runs GNU/Linux with few problems. She uses a tablet, an Odroid-C2 ARMed thick client, and a big notebook all running Debian GNU/Linux or Ubuntu and her Android/Linux smartphone and her scanner and printer all deal with Beast, my GNU/Linux server. I have her file-system plugged in via NFS so she can do IT in bed, in front of the TV, on TV, or in her office and all her thousands of pictures, documents, scans etc. are all in the same place.

She doesn’t even have much problem using Ubuntu or XFCE4 on Debian because she mostly uses the same applications all day long. It just works for her and memories of That Other Operating System are fading. She was locked to a single thick client with limited capabilities in those Dark Days. She had repeated crashes and malware. Today, her issues with IT are things like changing the name of a file on the FTP server or how to scan a light image or…, real problems, not problems M$ causes billions of people every day.

It was the same with users of old XP machines in schools where I worked. With GNU/Linux, students found they could do more faster with GNU/Linux and they just took off like young birds, flying fast and furious in all directions. Teachers were another matter. A few were extremely reluctant to make the move, reluctant to try new things, reluctant to leave the Devil they knew, reluctant to change. Old people are a bit like children. They may not ever have used much computerized IT so it’s all new and wonderful to them. GNU/Linux is new and wonderful to me and I’ve been using it 17 years now. GNU/Linux isn’t a problem, but an opportunity to have hardware to all it’s capable of doing rather than a straight jacket limiting what we can do.

I recommend Debian GNU/Linux for people who want software that works for them not against them.

Posted in family, Linux in Education, Teaching, technology | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 48 Comments

Small Things Make Big Changes

Last winter, I ordered a plant, a variation on our local wild hazelnut shrubs, from T&T Seeds, a local supplier. I planted it in our best-drained soil, right on top of our septic field… It started out as a bare root plant properly packaged and delivered to my mailbox. The thing did nothing for weeks, so I cut it back a bit and watered it very well. Eventually, a tiny bud formed, which led to the fine growth shown above.

Combined with other hazel nut shrubs I’m growing I will have fewer excuses not to pick some in future years. This year, I just never got around to picking wild nuts until after the nuts were shed… too much tree-planting. Soon I will literally be able to harvest the fruits of my labours.

Posted in food, horticulture | Tagged | 7 Comments

Good and Great News

Sometimes new things are amazingly good and sometimes they are frightening. Yesterday TLW rode the Chinese roto-tiller. Afterwards she said, “That was fun!”. Now, that’s frightening. The machine frightens me and she barely knows how to steer… On the good side, I’ve added an outlink to Button Soup, a site mostly about food, with some coverage of my favourite fruit trees and actually making stuff from fruit you pick. It’s from Edmonton, a city just south of the great boreal forest zone, just like Winnipeg. Weather is similar despite it being in a province quite different from Manitoba.

TLW and I discussed selling/re-purposing the giant roto-tiller and buying something much easier to use/maintain. We found a good used machine on Kijiji. It’s a smaller rear-tined tiller. She hasn’t decided whether to buy it or not. I wanted to recycle the engine of the beast but she knows someone who might buy it who has lighter soil, less weight and more familiarity with such machines.

Meanwhile I’ve finished fabricating two beams and five crossbars for the trailer for the alternator. If TLW sells the current tiller, I might buy another big diesel engine to run things.

UPDATE: Here’s TLW on the machine… Yes, it’s running… The darned thing shed its belts twice and broke two tines while she was figuring out how to steer…

Posted in family, food, horticulture | Tagged , | 49 Comments