Spring

I know spring has finally arrived. I was out shooting this morning and planted 24 young trees this afternoon. It felt good except that I am still fighting off a persistent cough. Thanks to my son fetching and carrying we shared the load and I didn’t have to crawl around close to the ground dealing with the roots. I mostly shovelled, something an overweight old guy can still do. I enjoy making holes in targets and the soil of my garden. With luck in a few years we will be blessed with an abundance of grapes, filberts and blackberries. I have a hundred more diverse fruiting trees growing in pots and trays waiting their turn. Ah, the Good Life is here.

Posted in food, horticulture | Tagged | 2 Comments

The Drumpf Effect

“The Canadian stock market is up in early trade Friday, after ending yesterday’s session nearly unchanged. Mining stocks are leading the way higher and gold stocks are also a source of strength as gold and silver prices continue to head higher. Gold is also benefitting from its safe haven appeal, as investors exit riskier investments.”
 
See Canadian Stocks Are Rising As Gold Shines — Canadian Commentary
My pension account made a ton of money on Friday. It’s almost embarrassing to make more money in a day investing than teaching for weeks… I guess I’m definitely a conservative, blue haired capitalist these days and I’m not even trying.

The conventional wisdom here is that this is about investors fleeing some investments for others that are “safer”, like Canadian stocks. I think there’s something more basic. People are reading the writing on the wall. Trump is being seen as the “inevitable” GOP candidate… With the apparent foolishness of the USAian electorate and Trump’s money being able to outspend Hillary and CNN’s free propaganda network, Trump has a finite possibility of becoming POTUS, scrambling world trade and igniting global nuclear war. Worse, all the GOP and DEMs are becoming isolationist and anti free trade. Even the Koch brothers think Hillary might be the best of all the evil choices but Hillary won’t take their money, even to stop Trump. It’s Hitler all over again, getting his Brown Shirts to bring him to power only to slaughter them and embrace the military. Trump will do the opposite of what he’s promising, centralizing control and stifling democracy, feudalism instead of representative government. He’s already persuaded millions that he should be given power with only a minority of support, trampling the rights of the majority. Can economic and political Hell be far off?

Posted in politics | Tagged | 3 Comments

Intel Cuts Chips – Wintel Is Officially Dead

“The company poured billions of dollars into its mobile business, but Intel failed to unseat market leader ARM. Atom is available in just a handful of smartphones, and the tablet market is declining. PC makers are replacing tablets with detachable devices and hybrids.
 
The Atom product line has been in trouble for some time. Atom started off with a bang in netbooks, but its fortunes have sagged since then. Intel’s mobile chip updates haven’t followed a set timeline, and the last Atom chips for servers were released in 2013.”
 
See Intel cuts Atom chips, basically giving up on the smartphone and tablet markets
Think about it, folks. Despite having the best fabrication technology in the world, Intel could not squeeze x86 into a good mobile chip. ARM selling to Qualcomm/Mediatek/Samsung/etc. is more efficient than Intel doing it all in house. QED

Posted in technology | Tagged , , , , , | 30 Comments

The Future Is Open

“Europe’s relative weakness in digital consumer markets, in web and internet services and notably in data platforms is becoming a major challenge to the whole economy.
 
In addition, users feel that proprietary platforms do not satisfy their needs. They get locked-in to a specific provider and have very little influence on the evolution of the platform.”
 
See Keynote Speech at the Closing Plenary session of Net Futures 2016, Brussels
Amen! What I’ve been railing against for a decade is finally top of mind for leaders who influence the future course of government. Allowing a single corporation to dictate to the world standards in IT is wrong, foolish and definitely not in our best interests. Finally governments are opening their eyes, seeing the dangers and a safe way forward.

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My Pension Fund Gained More Than M$’s Last Quarter

“Dividends and interest income $ 230
 Interest expense (340 )
 Net recognized gains on investments 85
 Net losses on derivatives (155 )
 Net gains (losses) on foreign currency remeasurements (18 )
 Other (49 )
 Total $ (247 )
 See M$’s 10-Q
Really, if my pension fund had had $100 billion rattling around, it would have made a lot more money than M$’s. See, they could have done nothing, bought gold, repurchased a whole lot more of their shares, or invested in the S&P’s 500 and not lost as much as $247million. Gold was at $1189 USD near the beginning of the quarter, reached nearly $1300 and was again at $1189 at the end. They could have sold gold in the middle and made $100/ounce, nearly $900 million to the good… Meanwhile, their actual business dropped operating income in every segment except “personal computing” which was an anemic $1.6billion instead of ~$3billion back in their prime. Share price dropped $4 on the news.

I’m not giving M$ any investment advice, but their business continues to come back to the realization that they finally have competition in all markets so they’d better shape up.

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France Chooses Freedom

“”The choice of free in the administration is not an ideological commitment is the result of a reasoned choice, which ensures the sustainability of the documents created, and thus ensures the state to ensure future of its heritage. The documents of the State can not be dependent on a particular actor, “said Jean-Vincent Place, the Secretary of State responsible for State reform and simplification.”
 
See The formalized v2 GIR, ODF to OpenXML favorite
It’s been a long time coming but France is now on its way to giving preference to ODF over M$’s mess of a standard for documents. Why any government would choose to insist that M$’s lock-in be chosen over freedom has been a mystery to me but finally everyone is understanding what freedom means.

Posted in technology | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Tail Wags Dog, Says Canonical

“The CDDL cannot apply to the Linux kernel because zfs.ko is a self-contained file system module — the kernel itself is quite obviously not a derivative work of this new file system.”
 
See Canonical accused of violating GPL with ZFS-in-Ubuntu 16.04 plan • The Register
Once again lawyers are getting things wrong and Canonical is following them down the wrong rabbit hole. A Linux kernel module is a derivative work of the Linux kernel, not the other way around. When compiling a kernel module, one needs the Linux kernel headers which are a part of the Linux kernel and which are licensed GPL v2. So, distributing Ubuntu GNU/Linux 16.04 violates the GPL v2 licence of the kernel and Canonical is asking for legal trouble. Since ZFS is most likely of interest to users of servers where Ubuntu has some traction it will be interesting to see whether or not this legal cloud slows adoption of 16.04 amongst the many businesses and organization that use Ubuntu on servers.

It looks to me that Canonical is claiming they don’t have to worry about violating CDDL and they don’t care that GPLv2 is violated. This is another example where they downplay the role of Linux in their system. This will not be good except it may get them some coverage in the news. Perhaps they consider legal suits as free advertising. We shall see.

Posted in technology | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Free The Schools!

“deputy mayor Guillard published his recommendations for others that want to ‘free their schools from the commercial agenda of proprietary software vendors’. Free software is unhindered by the constraint of financial profitability, he argues: there is no planned obsolescence and no lock-in to specific hardware.
 
Olivier Guillard urges rigorous testing of solutions before suggesting them to teachers. Just as important is to convince the teachers of the benefits of free software. He also recommends being proactive on maintenance and monitoring.
 
See Yvelines school completes switch to free software
Yes! Another school frees itself from non-Free software. No more BSODs, re-re-reboots, lock-in, malware, treadmill marketing, …

They still keep a few machines with TOOS for compatibility and whiteboards. My advice? Stick with projectors and Gromit and the latest version of LibreOffice. I would use Debian rather than Mint. Further, to reduce the capital costs and maintenance, use ARMed thin clients and a GNU/Linux terminal server. It’s a wee bit more work to set up but that work spread over N machines is tiny compared to installing on N machines. Look at Odroid-C2 for clients and Lemaker Cello for servers.

Posted in Linux in Education, technology | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 38 Comments

Linux Keeps On Getting Better

It may take a while sometimes but many eyes do improve Free/Libre Open Source Software. Linux has just had an important set of bugs trampled. The CPU scheduler which has evolved in stages for decades was discovered by a group of researchers around the globe to have several bugs that wasted or ignored CPU resources. As Linus is fond of asking, “Where is the code?”, the code is here. See The Linux Scheduler: a Decade of Wasted Cores Contributions were made from Canada, Switzerland, and France.

The world can and does make its own software and it just keeps on getting better.

Posted in technology | Tagged , , , | 13 Comments

Manchurian Apricots Will Take Over The World

Or, perhaps not, but it won’t be for lack of trying. I bought a bunch of tree seed this winter and “stratified” (soaked in moist earth in the refrigerator) it for 2-3months. Recently, I planted them all in trays and large pots. The Manchurian apricots (Prunus armeniaca var. mandshurica) lead the way in sprouting a long taproot and primitive stem with leaves. These are very rugged trees that can tolerate any soil if it’s not waterlogged and much colder climates than mine (USDA zone 3) while still producing an abundance of delicious fruit.

I’ll leave them in pots this summer and plant them in the ground at my leisure. The only question is “Can a man have too many apricots?”… I count 15 in 6” pots looking lively and a few which may yet sprout. I have two that I started last year out in the garden. These will grow into small trees and TLW might notice. 😉

Posted in family, food, horticulture | Tagged | 2 Comments

M$: If You Can’t Beat ’em, Join ’em…

“Windows Phone is still dying. Android is the most popular mobile operating system by a wide margin. Microsoft has bought a company that can help its developers easily write apps for Android. And, last but not least, it has partnered with an Android vendor that wants to replace Android’s Google services and that also happens to be working on integrating Microsoft services with Android.
 
Maybe we won’t see Microsoft Android by 2017. But I’m certain we’ll see Cyanogenmod with Windows services locked in. For all practical purposes, it will be Microsoft’s Android.”
 
See Don’t be surprised when Microsoft Android shows up
M$ has come a long way. Finally, reality is creeping in. M$ has tried to beat Linux on x86 and ARM but when it comes to small cheap computers/smartphones, it was no contest. Linux won. Despite $billions invested, M$ could not take much share away from Android/Linux on smartphones. There are all kinds of reasons for that besides price. I suspect from the consumer’s viewpoint is was mostly about apps and keeping up with the Jones family.

So, why was Google able to succeed and M$ failed? It was all about control. Google allowed the ecosystem to innovate and not be locked into M$’s way of doing things. Android and Linux are both Free/Libre Open Source Software so there’s no lock-in built in to the licence. It’s all about sharing. Now, ironically, M$ finally sees the advantages of sharing and not doing everything in house. That’s good. That’s M$ becoming more like a real business instead of a monopoly. I expect when shareholders see margins and volume improve for smartphones, they will demand that M$ loosen its grasp of the desktop as well. That would be the right way to sell desktop operating systems. Not reinventing the wheel but sharing the load for software development is a much more efficient model of business. When that happens, GNU/Linux will be ready to help.

Posted in technology | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

The Netherlands Going Electric

“The lower house of the Dutch parliament passed a motion recently that would ban the sales of non-electric cars in the country by 2025. The motion still needs to pass the Senate to become binding, but if it does, it would mean that the only non-electric cars allowed in the Netherlands would be those already on the road today: anyone in the country looking to buy a new car would have to buy electric.”
 
See The Netherlands Could Soon Ban The Sale Of Non-Electric Cars
Banning automobiles powered by fossil fuels would be a bit extreme in Canada. Except in towns/cities, the country’s just too damned large. I know people who commute year round ~100 miles each way. Having a range of ~200 miles would be dangerous, particularly in winter. Itinerant workers would be out of a job. You’d need to cover the country with a bus-system that worked. Try that in a country heavily populated in a strip 3000miles X 300 miles.

I’ve suggested several times TLW should go electric or at least diesel to reduce fuel-consumption but she won’t hear of it. Imagine the resistance millions of such drivers/owners could raise. It could be done, of course, in heavily populated regions by spending $billions on charging/battery-swapping stations all over the country. We already have thousands of gasoline/service stations. They could be converted with enough $billions expended.

Of course, Netherlands doesn’t have an abundance of hydro-electricity as we do here, but they can just burn the oil they don’t want to burn in cars somewhere else…

Posted in technology | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment