ASUS Provides Competition In ARM SBCs

“From a performance perspective, the ASUS Tinker Board is a capable ARM SBC for its price tag of only $60 USD. The performance is very good against the inexpensive (sub-$100) boards while obviously if needing greater performance there is more to find with the NVIDIA Jetson line-up.
 
The stock Debian 9.0 image for the Tinker Board is quite capable and useful while for those craving an Android environment there’s that too. The GPIO pin layout and PCB board form factor compatibility with the Raspberry Pi 2+ is nice. Though what the Tinker Board doesn’t have is quite the developer community around this ARM SBC that the Raspberry Pi has built over the years. We’ll see over the months ahead how the Tinker Board community grows and if it can rival that of the more popular ARM developer boards.”
 
See ASUS Tinker Board Is An Interesting ARM SBC For About $60 USD Review
I had been settled on Odroid-C2 as my standard ARMed client platform but ASUS now has the Tinker Board which is very similar but a bit better on performance/dollar. Besides price/performance, ASUS is very widely distributed so I can buy this thing in Canada for lower shipping costs. I like that. Thanks, Phoronix.

Posted in technology | Tagged , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Plug For PASCAL

“Is it worth the extra effort to add static type annotations to a JavaScript project? Should I use Facebook’s Flow or Microsoft’s TypeScript if so? Will they really catch bugs that would otherwise have made it to master?
 
both Flow and TypeScript are pretty good, and conservatively either of them can prevent about 15% of the bugs that end up in committed code. “That’s shocking. If you could make a change to the way we do development that would reduce the number of bugs being checked in by 10% or more overnight, that’s a no-brainer. Unless it doubles development time or something, we’d do it.”
 
See To type or not to type: quantifying detectable bugs in JavaScript
Assuming the results of this study are transferable to other programming languages, PASCAL, being strongly typed, deserves another plug for simplicity, reliability and speed of development. It’s cool when the biggies plug your favourite feature of your favourite language. I’ve liked PASCAL from Day One. It was designed for teaching and learning but it still is superior to nonsensical languages like C which lack meaning in every line of code. My first PASCAL programme still compiles and runs correctly while C-programmers run for the hills every time the C-compiler gets tweaked and does something differently…

Posted in Teaching, technology | Tagged , , , , | 9 Comments

Trump’s ITC Shoots USA In Solar Foot

“The ITC’s decision is disappointing for nearly 9,000 U.S. solar companies and the 260,000 Americans they employ. Foreign-owned companies that brought business failures on themselves are attempting to exploit American trade laws to gain a bailout for their bad investments.
 
Analysts say Suniva’s remedy proposal will double the price of solar, destroy two-thirds of demand, erode billions of dollars in investment and unnecessarily force 88,000 Americans to lose their jobs in 2018.”
 
See SEIA Statement on Anti-Solar ITC Decision
Pity USA! Not only are they saddled with a dinosaur in the Oval Office, the International Trade Commission has decided international trade in solar panels is unfair. This will likely mean a huge rise in the price of solar panels greatly curtailing deployment.

Fortunately, I live in Canada and expect the price of solar panels to continue falling as USA sharply drops its demand for the product. There is a silver lining. It will be even less expensive for me to power my future Solo EV by sunshine.

See also https://www.usitc.gov/press_room/news_release/2017/er0922ll832.htm

Posted in politics, technology | Tagged , , , , , , , | 21 Comments

Where Only The Tough Survive

TLW (The Little Woman) and I have a very difficult yard in which to grow stuff. It’s low. It used to be a swamp but heavy clay soil was imported to raise the grade. Still there is one low spot which subsides and traps water in spring or after heavy rains. It’s wide open to winter winds… We’ve planted a hundred trees and only a few survive. We’ve searched and I think found a species that can grow along this edge of the property, the high bush cranberry.

It’s not a cranberry at all but it does produce tasty red fruit which persists through winter. It’s Viburnum trilobum. It’s native to Canada and my earliest memories of it relate to my mother making gallons of jelly from the fruit. You could find it anywhere, in exposed fencerows, anywhere in the forest, and it loved to be at the edges of the swamps. It has a profusion of white flowers in spring and clusters of red berries at a good height for picking. Imagine that, toughness, versatility, beauty, privacy and delicious food all from a single plant!

Well, I won’t have that. I bought more than 1000 seeds and I intend to keep planting until I have enough shrubs. You guessed it. The perfect plant has one negative. Part of its toughness comes not from producing seed for next year but the year after… Yes, in Nature the seed lies dormant all next summer when it may sprout roots and nothing more. In the following winter seeds grow cotyledons which then emerge in a later spring. Being impatient I’ve a handful of seed stratifying in a bag of moist loam simulating summer. About April, I will place the bag in the refrigerator to simulate winter and plant the seeds in pots in June, saving my patience a whole year… 😉

So, in a year or two I will plant a row of these near perfect shrubs just as I did today with hardy grapes. If I live long enough, my pathetic yard will produce more flowers and fruit than all my neighbours combined. It’s all going to be good. BTW, the newest swath of grass seedlings have taken hold and more mud will grow much more than weeds next year.

Posted in family, food | Tagged | 2 Comments

Trump And Kim Playing With Fire

“Kim’s foreign minister told reporters in New York that Pyongyang could launch a nuclear missile test in response.”
 
See North Korea could test ‘strongest’ hydrogen bomb in Pacific Ocean, says country’s foreign minister
This is like the 1960s all over again but faster this time. Then USA and USSR were in an arms race and moved nukes closer to each other’s territory. Tests of nuclear weapons were made in the atmosphere and nuclear fallout was contaminating vegetation and animals all over Earth.

The only thing that’s different is now we have two nut-cases leading USA and North Korea. Both “leaders” are erratic and unpredictable. They inspire fear and worry rather than confidence.

If North Korea can deliver a nuke to some target in the Pacific ocean by missile, the game gains momentum. The world is closer to nuclear war. How will it go? A preemptive strike followed by a barrage? Will China and Russia remain neutral? Will both leaders compensate for a possible first strike by giving the military a green light? How many millions will die in the process? Will the egos of these demonic leaders be satisfied? Will humanity learn from or even survive the experience? Stay tuned. You cannot change the channel.

Posted in technology | 3 Comments

Thin Edge Of The Wedge

“According to French press reports, by switching from a proprietary tool to Zimbra, the city avoids having to pay EUR 700,000 for renewal of proprietary licence fees. The city has earmarked EUR 200,000 to cover the exit costs and to tailor Zimbra to the needs of the administration.”
 
See City of Rennes to tackle IT vendor lock-in
I wasn’t at first avoiding vendor lock-in when I first began to use GNU/Linux in schools (I just wanted software that worked.) but I’ve seen this e-mail problem in schools. Some company has ownership of your data and if you want to continue using their product you pay through the nose for the right to keep access to your data… It’s a racket. The same thing extended to the desktop OS with fake new file-formats designed simply to keep users on the Desktop OS treadmill. Enough of that.

Use FLOSS (Free/Libre Open Source Software). It’s software that works for people not slave-masters disguised as businesses providing a service. The world can and does make its own software. There’s no need for monopoly. Use GNU/Linux and FLOSS applications.

Posted in Linux in Education, technology | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

EVSEs fall in price

“AV 30 Amp – 15ft Cable, UL- ListedPrice: $749.00
 
$539.00″
 
See AV 30 Amp – 15ft Cable, UL- Listed
OK, so the quotation on the right is an ad for an Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment. I just gave that as an example of the price of things. One of the impediments to adoption of electric vehicles is the still low volume of sales/installations of EVSEs. It cost ~$500 CDN even for a simple 120V adapter. Many home EVSEs cost ~$1000 and often an electrician doubles the price for the labour and materials to extend electrical service to the garage or driveway.

Apparently, that’s changing. The sheer volume of sales of EVs has grown so that EVSEs are coming down in price through market-forces/supply and demand. Thus, it should be easier than ever to make my 2018 Solo EV happy. 😉

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

Fishing For Lobsters On Dry Land

“Lobster mushrooms are unique and tough to misidentify. Look for their bright red-orange color, which looks a bit like the red-orange on lobsters. We found our specimens growing on a north facing hill where Douglas Fir and Hemlock trees grew. Much of what we harvested was mostly buried beneath moss and weeds; fortunately, the mushrooms’ bright color made them easy to spot.
 
Lobster mushrooms have an irregular shape – in part because they are actually two fungi. They consist of the host, which is either a Russulas or Lactarius mushroom, and a parasite called Hypomyces. The Hypomyces infects the mushroom, transforming it into the deformed, dense, and roughly textured thing we call a lobster mushroom. The mushroom’s caps often have cracks in them and the mushroom has no gills. Depending upon where you live, lobsters are available most of the year, or mainly in the fall. For more tips on properly identifying lobster mushrooms, click over to Mushroom-Collecting.com.”
 
See How to Forage, Clean, & Eat Lobster Mushrooms (with Roasted Lobster Mushrooms in Clarified Butter recipe)
No, I haven’t lost it and I haven’t fished for anything except crabs off Vancouver and mussels in the Arctic that was seafood. These are “Lobster mushrooms”, actually a fairly common type of mushroom being parasitized by another fungus. The Lactarius mushroom that hosted the lobster mushrooms we found today is a rather insipid type but the lobster mushroom has a much better flavour and texture. We had some stir-fried and some on pizza. Delicious and they made our mouths happy.
Here’s a picture:

Posted in food, hunting | Tagged | Leave a comment

On Not Being Stupid

“These hurricanes have not been caused by global warming, but their frequency and intensity have likely been magnified by climate change. Particularly calamitous hurricanes have their names retired, and in the last 20 years there have been about as many names retired as in the preceding 40 years. California has had more than 6,400 wildfires this year. The 17 hottest years on record have all taken place in the past two decades.”
 
See Stop being afraid of more government. It’s exactly what we need.
 
Missed his 2017-09-17 broadcast? Look for the transcript here
Fareed Zakaria is a thoughtful person and he does his homework. I’ve rarely found him say or write anything with which I disagree. Whether it’s the size of government or climate change, he’s about right. Science does measure and predict the behaviour of important systems including our climate. Government does help greatly in monitoring and forecasting weather, regulating healthcare, building infrastructure, generally anything that’s too big for individuals to manage themselves. That’s all good yet we have Republicans and Trump touting that government and science are evils which must be ignored or handicapped instead of used wisely. That’s just stupid.

Stop being stupid. Let government and scientists do what needs to be done. Universal healthcare and managing climate change need to be done. Get on with it.

Here’s part of Fareed’s show today:

See also, A climate scientist on hurricanes

Posted in politics, weather | Tagged , , , | 55 Comments

It’s Not Donald Trump’s Presidency That’s Highly Abnormal. It’s Trump

“After picking just three women to serve on his 23-person Cabinet, President Trump isn’t doing any better with his U.S. Attorney nominees. Of the 42 people he has nominated so far, only one is a woman, BuzzFeed News reported.
 
Ninety-three U.S. attorneys serve as the country’s lead federal prosecutors, heading offices across the country. When Trump abruptly asked for the resignations of all Obama-era U.S. attorneys in March, it left 90 of those 93 spots in district offices empty.”
 
See Donald Trump’s highly abnormal presidency: the week of Sept. 11
People keep making apologies for Trump, that’s he’s not a politician, that he lacks experience, or that he just speaks his mind. Those are true but they are just the window-dressing of the problem. Trump’s absolutely nuts. No one in their right mind would plan on “winging it” or not having a plan to run something as complex as the government of the USA. Trump doesn’t have a plan at all, or if he does make one up, he changes it by breakfast time. He does all kinds of things that make no sense even to supporters, like depopulating the Department of State, banning one or another classes of people from USA not based on reason just who they are, building a wall that can’t be built at great expense for no purpose that anyone can see, and threatening dire consequences repeatedly and backing off. He trumpeted that Obama had no plan or that Obama was weak but Trump has less of a plan and is weaker.

This is the 21st century yet Trump has fewer blacks and women in positions of power in his government than any government since I was a teenager. He’s not making USA great again. He’s taking it backwards. He’s touted the military power of USA but lets China and Russia do what they want. Even the Iranians are still harassing the USA’s navy in the Gulf. Russia hasn’t been forced to give back Crimea. Russia is still bombing civilians with impunity in Syria and North Korea is doing and saying more outrageous stuff than they ever did with Obama. Trump said it would be easy to make things right but he had no clue then and he has no clue now. The “Law and Order” president is OK with Nazis terrorizing ordinary people in the streets of USA but blacks and anti-Nazis should stay in their places. His “inJustice Department” is scaling back supervision/monitoring of rogue police. He’s out to lunch and should be fired immediately before he causes mass slaughter.

He’s right to claim he’s not a white supremacist. That would require an idea, some concept of a goal. He has no goal except chaos. We don’t need that. We don’t want that. We don’t need Trump. We don’t want Trump. Impeach him for high crimes and misdemeanours. Declare him incompetent and replace him. Get on with it.

Posted in politics | Tagged , , , | 34 Comments

NATO?

“A top general has told Canadian MPs they cannot count on US support if North Korea launches a nuclear attack on their country.”
 
See US policy is ‘not to defend Canada’ in any N Korea attack
ISTR that USA and others joined with Canada in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization which had the stated purpose to defend any and all members against attack. If it’s indeed true that USA is no longer willing to do that, perhaps it’s time Canada went nuclear too. Canadians helped USA build its first bombs in the Manhattan project. One Canadian from my University of Manitoba physics department died in the process when they were “tickling the tail” of the critical-mass tiger. My uncle was among those holding a flank during the Battle of the Bulge in WWII. Canada opened its airports, hotels and homes to USAians stranded in the air when the USAian airspace was shut down in 9/11. Canadians helped in Afghanistan despite USA occasionally bombing them with “friendly fire”. How soon USAians forget.

Posted in politics | Tagged , , , | 9 Comments

Example #9475 Why It’s Stupid To Make A Deal With Trump

“President Trump denies deal has been reached with Democrats over protecting young “Dreamer” undocumented migrants”
 
See Trump denies deal reached over ‘Dreamers’
Two Democratic Party leaders dined with Trump last night and came away proclaiming Trump had agreed on a plan to save the Dreamers combined with increasing border security. As usual, making a deal with a man with no conscience is just an illusion. Trump denied the deal. A few minutes ago, he wrote, “No deal was made last night on DACA. Massive border security would have to be agreed to in exchange for consent.”

So, there you have it. A leader adrift, following random courses according to the breezes, a country in turmoil, a government falling apart all because the electorate was fooled by Russian meddling and Trump’s lies into turning towards the darkness.

Posted in politics | Tagged , , , | 22 Comments