Robert Pogson

One man, closing all the windows.

Daily Archives / Monday, October 3, 2011

  • Oct 03 / 2011
  • 35

Flexibility of GNU/Linux

I have often written that flexibility is one of the sweet spots of GNU/Linux. It runs on all kinds of hardware and the licence goes with it so there are no hassles like that other OS: an EULA from Hell and drivers have to be found when the software is run on different hardware from that on which it was installed. GNU/Linux has both of those issues covered. That makes it perfect for education.

Another huge strength is fixing things when that other OS refuses to boot. That is a “target-rich environment” according to Russell Hollander. He carries a bootable USB drive loaded with KNOPPIX as a Swiss Army Knife of IT. A couple of years ago I used a Live CD for much the same purpose but now I meet machines with no CD drive so the USB drive gives wider coverage. It is becoming rare to find a PC that will not boot from USB although even that could become more complex if that other OS and its partners changes the way new PCs boot.

I have often used GNU/Linux to examine systems for many reasons: hardware identification, testing, rescuing data from hard drives, and installation, of course. KNOPPIX is often used but SystemRescueCD is designed for the purpose and has a ton of great features such as chNTpass and memtest. Then there is CloneZilla which does efficient disc imaging to/from a device or a server and, with a server, multicasting. The world is “solution-rich” with GNU/Linux.

  • Oct 03 / 2011
  • 1

Manitoba Election 2011 – Tomorrow

Here it is the day before the election and I have not made up my mind. I am not a decisive person in many ways so that is not surprising but the hopelessness of the decision-making process is. Each of the major parties has serious baggage with me:

  • Lieberals brought in the damned “Firearms Act” in Ottawa and supported it in Manitoba,
  • PCs did oppose the Firearms Act as intrusion into provincial affairs etc. but they did some really stupid things with healthcare, MTS and rumours are Manitoba Hydro would be “privatized” and
  • the NDP want to nationalize almost everything and support the Firearms Act.

One of the fallouts of this weekend’s time spent with family was that my children tried to help me make up my mind. One said, “What about the Green Party?”. That’s cool. I like to be self-sufficient as much as possible. I like Nature to be left alone as much as possible. They do have an advantage for me of not being close to power so they might actually listen to my advice to embrace hydroelectric power as a valuable renewable resource and to use GNU/Linux and thin clients. We shall see.

The platform of the Greens is here.

They are cool with my being a hunter:
“Other benefits of our forests include outdoor recreation, hunting, fishing, timber, spiritual retreats, harvesting of food and medicine, and wildlife habitats. Large expanses of old growth forests in northern Manitoba must remain intact in order to maintain these human and ecological values.”

Their hangup with hydroelecticity is that major environmental impact is arising not from the needs of the local economy but actually subsidize exports of power to the USA at bargain-basement prices:
“Bipole III is only a small portion of the roughly $20 billion in planned hydroelectric mega-project developments that accompany Bipole III – and which continue to soar in cost!
The primary driving force behind the construction of these new mega-dams and Bipole III is to export power to the U.S.A. Recent investigations by the Manitoba Public Utilities Board have revealed that if we build these new dams, we may be exporting the power at a loss – leaving Manitobans with soaring electricity rates.”

I can live with the Greens, I think.

UPDATE It’s over. My candidate came in third of four. The fourth was my old ex-principal, Lawrence Einarsson of the Lieberals. Not bad for the first try by the Green party. Of 9729 votes cast my candidate received 300, 3%. It will take some hard work to advance but that fourth place was the Lieberal party which thought it was the “naturally governing party” when I was young… The Green Party did come in a distant second in one riding, Wolseley. The NDP lost a bit of popular vote but due to redistribution won all of the northern seats and most of Winnipeg’s. The Green Party needs to connect with more people. People vote. Issues do not. Education will be required to show people that green issues are important to them, more important than governmental slush funds and kickbacks.

  • Oct 03 / 2011
  • 2

Family Weekend

It was an interesting weekend. I got to visit all of my children, a grandchild and to terrorize a cat. It was great.

We got in some target shooting, a good dinner including asparagus and chicken and apple pie with ice-cream. I even grabbed a mower instead of commenting that the grass was a bit long. I got to sleep on a couch. It seemed OK but I awoke with a pain in the neck and stiff as a board. The most fun was finding that the younger generation still have a lot to learn despite their supposed maturity.

At one point we drove up to the front of my son’s home and spotted his cat prowling the side walk. I called the cat’s name and approached whereupon it looked startled and ran into a neighbour’s yard. It turned out that my son’s cat has a ringer in the neighbourhood…

  • Oct 03 / 2011
  • 0

iSuppli: New Amazon Kindle is a Retail Loss-leader

“While some say the super e-book reader approach of the Kindle Fire means it falls short of the iPad’s capabilities, IHS believes it actually represents an enhancement of the e-book reader, which will serve to expand both the e-book reader and tablet markets. Because of this, IHS believes the Kindle Fire will be a successful product.”

iSuppli actually does a tear-down of the Kindle Fire and finds the cost of production is close to the selling price, meaning that sales of the new Kindle are not the goal but the means to get people in the door/on the web at to buy other products. Thus, it is not only a product selling at great price/performance but it is also a promotional product for the rest of Amazon’s business. Even content is not the goal. Amazon makes little money on movies and eBooks compared to all the other products it ships.

This is akin to ISPs and banks giving away cheap netbooks. That was a huge business for Acer and it will be for Amazon. It will be a large enough business to take another bite out of Apple’s iPad business. Folks who have a Kindle Fire may not believe it is a superior product to iPad but it will do for most purposes and folks who have one are much less likely to also buy an iPad. Again, Android/Linux gains a new channel while iPad’s channel shrinks or grows more slowly while the Android/Linux wave grows larger. Again, folks make money not by selling FLOSS but by promoting it.