Robert Pogson

One man, closing all the windows.

Monthly Archives / October 2012

  • Oct 31 / 2012
  • 3
Uncategorized

Michael Moore is a Twit!

I was just watching Michael Moore, who lives in New York City and who makes documentaries, interviewed on CNN by Piers. Moore criticized the reporters in the field for holding fixed positions while they missed some parts of stories like a neighbourhood burning on Manhatten.

He’s a twit, a silly twit. During the height of the storm it would have been almost impossible to move the CNN vans around the region. In a brilliant move, CNN dispatched the reporters and crews before the height of the storm so they could be mobile and locate where they had enough shelter to do the job while giving the folks back home a global picture of the storm. Talking heads usually seen in the studio were out in the boonies ducking flying debris and showing folks who might have had an impulse to go out some reality. Instead of them being the news, CNN covered the storm very well. The fact that CNN did not have an infinite number of reporters does not take away from the success of the strategy. CNN did get a reporter to the burning neighbourhood while the fire still raged…

So, Michael Moore, go back to making documentaries. You do that well. Let CNN report on current events. They do that well. Compliment each other on what you do well.

  • Oct 31 / 2012
  • 12
technology

Making Do in Disaster

“A quarter of cell towers, broadband Internet and television services in Superstorm Sandy’s path were still dark Wednesday.”

see Sandy knocks out 25% of cell towers in its path – Oct. 31, 2012.

One of the things I have noticed on the CNN coverage of the hurricane’s effects is that citizens are gathering around CNN’s vehicles, charging their smart phones and accessing free wifi. This is something citizens with a little technical know-how could do for themselves. Anyone with a south-facing window, roof or just the lawn can put up a solar panel to produce a few watts of power for charging batteries. The wholesale cost of one panel is ~$1/watt and a charger needs only a few watts. Walmart sells gadgets based on the same idea but at a much higher price per watt.

A small but rugged wind generator could supply power in the aftermath of the storm in a brisk wind day or night.

Combine wind and solar power with a batter and inverter for gadgets and almost any home could be self-sufficient in electrical power. Add gadgets to connect to the Internet by satellite and to open a wireless access point and every home within 100m could have free wifi and a bit of power during a prolonged outage. That does nothing about heat, food and shelter, but it’s a start. A stock of tarps, ropes, blankets, water and dehydrated food should keep folks alive indefinitely. The ability to communicate will facilitate recovery.

  • Oct 30 / 2012
  • 3
technology

AMD ARMed

Years ago I advocated AMD CPUs as a less-expensive alternative to Intel monopolistic pricing. When they completely ignored the netbook I began to ignore them. Perhaps they noticed because now they have an ARMed CPU on the horizion:

“Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) is to release its first ARM-based chip in 2014.

AMD added that it was also considering making ARM-based chips for consumer-targeted computers, but no decision had been made as yet.”

via AMD in chip tie-up with UK's ARM.

This may be too little and too late but it shows that even thick-headed people can see the light. People want less power-consumption and they want cheaper/smaller computers everywhere, not just in smartphones.

I still am incredulous that they think it will take until 2014 to do what a dozen other companies have done years ago, produce an ARMed CPU. ARM has done most of the work. They mostly have to do packaging in which task they have a lot of expertise. Perhaps it will take that long to get servers running ARM in volume but the small cheap computer is here now. I wonder if Intel will get the message.

AMD, WAKE UP! :o

  • Oct 30 / 2012
  • 0
technology

Consumers Switching to Small Cheap Computers for Their Default Gateway to the Internet

According to IDC,

“Consumers are migrating away from PC-based Internet usage and are increasingly using mobile devices as their default gateway to the Internet, according to the latest release of the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide New Media Market Model. The United States leads that trend, with Western Europe and Japan only about two years behind. In the U.S., the number of people accessing the Internet through PCs will shrink from 240 million consumers in 2012 to 225 million in 2016. At the same time, the number of mobile users will increase from 174 million to 265 million.”

see Consumers Increasingly Using Mobile Devices as Their Default Gateway to the Internet.

Few people actually need PCs for much else:

  • gaming,
  • multimedia, and
  • printing

being major exceptions. The Internet was the reason most people first brought PCs into the home in the first place. This shift is a fundamental change to the marketplace for PCs. The share of PCs in business, productivity, and content generation will increase as the total annual production of PCs stagnates or declines.

This may finally mean retail shelves in many places will sell something other than a standard/x86 PC. People really do tend to want their PC to be smaller and cheaper. This change will also be useful for businesses because a dollar is a dollar and spending fewer to get what needs to be done makes sense. That other OS makes a migration to small cheap computers “a jarring experience” while it’s as smooth as silk with Android/Linux or GNU/Linux. Retailers are noticing. We now have several mechanisms for retailers to desert that other OS: cost, unit sales, and Internet access.


  • Oct 29 / 2012
  • 2
technology

Portuguese Government Wasting Money on non-Free Software

“Ansol specifically condemns the Banc of Portugal, two municipalities and two universities, of "macroscopic illegal procurement procedures". These public administrations recently published requests for specific brands and products, Ansol points out. "This is explicitly forbidden and prevents competition. These contests are not real competitions."”

see Portuguese advocacy group: 'Switch to free software to reduce public debt' | Joinup.

Yes. I can remember clashes between staff requesting purchases and the purchasing department… When you had a gizmo that needed a spare part they would “save money” by buying a square peg for a round hole. Sometimes you could specify “Do not substitute” or explain why you could not get three quotations but sometimes what was eventually delivered weeks after you wanted it would be quite a surprise.

For generic desktop and server OS and applications, there’s often no need for that other OS. I demonstrated that today when I was asked to record a webcast. This is not something I do routinely but I found the tools in my Debian GNU/Linux repository. I used gnome-sound-recorder, ffmpeg and sox to edit out the parts I did not need and e-mailed it as requested. I could also have done the job with audacity. With GNU/Linux you can do anything and it costs so little. Why use anything else?

I recommend Debian GNU/Linux for IT. It works.

  • Oct 29 / 2012
  • 6
technology

Debian’s Here, There and Everywhere (almost)

The locations of mirrors of repositories of Debian GNU/Linux on the web are plotted in this map by Raphael Geissert

This shows the densely populated regions of Earth are accepting Debian GNU/Linux quite well but there are still challenges. Sparsely populated regions in the greatest need of closing the digital divide need means of distributing the software. If not by the web they have to fall back on USB drives and CD/DVD or preinstallation on PCs.

  • Oct 29 / 2012
  • 0
technology

OS-bloat Through the Ages

iSuppli has a cute article tracking the effect of each new release of M$’s OS on DRAM volume. They reveal that “8″ has had the least impact of any release all the way back to Lose 3.1. They suggest it’s bloat/DRAM requirements of the OS that have plunged along with emergence of non-Wintel stuff but it’s also a reflection of the willingness of the channel to plug up with M$’s stuff. ie. With “8″ the world is just dipping a toe in the pool instead of diving in.

  • Oct 29 / 2012
  • 1
technology

What The Heck?

I have long watched the huge share that GNU/Linux has at Sunnyvale, CA, according to NetApplications but today I spotted this at Redmond, WA, home of M$…

What the Heck? Is M$ reverting a bunch of machines to XP? Why? Maybe they plan on making XP immortal… Maybe they finally NATed their machines and allowed the community to shine… It just goes to show that NetApplications counts something but it sure isn’t matched with usage of an OS in the real world yet some trumpet NetApplication’s data to “prove” that GNU/Linux share of PCs is ~1%. Maybe all the schools and governments with rafts of NATed PCs are not being counted properly.

UPDATE Well, history has been revised. NetApplications now shows ~70% for “7″ and ~25% for XP over that time-frame… I guess their “quality assurance” people are massaging the data.

  • Oct 28 / 2012
  • 8
Uncategorized

Battening the Hatches for a Hurricane

I am somewhat alarmed by the preparations of USA to the imminent hurricane.

  • there have been few announcements about flooding and local governments have advised residents to evacuate the coast, “ordered” them to evacuate certain low-lying areas and provided evacuation sites to assist with heat, light, shelter, food, water…

What’s wrong with this? The data given predicts precipitation amounts in ~24h period up to 8 inches, similar to an annual precipitation rate where I live. All the rivers and lakes and creeks cannot possibly handle that so instead of local flooding there will be widespread flooding and flash floods of great depth.

It’s just maths. Multiple 8 inches by the area of a storm hundreds of miles across and figure where that volume will fit. Remember, you cannot pile up water unless it’s snow. This storm is predicted to be held stationary for hours from an advancing cold front and low pressure area to the west. A river large enough to take that amount of water would take weeks to do it…

The result could be that the two or three days of food/water recommended will be insufficient and that even the early distribution of FEMA resources will barely touch this problem. A lot was learned about responsiveness as a result of hurricane Katrina but I think it’s going to be more than an “October Surprise” in this election year. In law, the election must go as scheduled but I can see much of Obama country being denied the vote. Expect sparks after the disaster. The right wing may feel God wanted their guys to win… The left wing will feel the GOP sold its soul to the devil…

In any event Obama will have an opportunity to prove his worth and Romney will have an opportunity to find fault. They both are powerless in the face of Nature.

  • Oct 27 / 2012
  • 0
technology

Android/Linux: 41% Share of Q3 2012 Tablets

“For the quarter, iPad’s slipped to 57 percent of the global market share. That’s still a commanding majority, but Android made some headway at Apple’s expense, capturing a record 41 percent share.”

see Android Claims Impressive 41% Share of Q3 Global Tablet Shipments | Mobile Marketing Watch.

Meanwhile… Apple has been ordered to post on their website a statement that Samsung does not violate Apple’s design patent and they really bent the truth, implying that somehow that was just a local matter. Indeed the jury in USA found the same thing…
“A U.S. jury also found Samsung guilty of infringing on Apple’s pie-chart showing shares: 57% iOS, 41% Android/Linux, and 2% M$design and utility patents, awarding over one billion U.S. dollars in damages to Apple Inc. So while the U.K. court did not find Samsung guilty of infringement, other courts have recognized that in the course of creating its Galaxy tablet, Samsung willfully copied Apple’s far more popular iPad.”

That’s not the whole truth even in Germany. The German court’s finding was overturned on appeal. I would bet the court is not amused at the attempt to belittle the effect of the court’s ruling.

While some air-headed consumers may actually fall for Apple’s advertising, I think the legal suits advertised Samsung’s products. After all if Apple thought they were good enough to fool consumers, perhaps the consumers should try out Samsung’s tablets… They have.

There’s also news from the front in China. A Chinese company, GooPhone, has filed for patent on the design of Apple’s iPhone 5… I kid you not. First to file, right? They will release a tablet in September, too, the GooPad Mini:

Take that, Apple! He who lives by the sword shall die by it. It’s also remarkable proof of the utility of Android/Linux that a working product can be rolled out in mere weeks while the monopolies struggle with their bloat for years.

  • Oct 26 / 2012
  • 2
technology

Trick-or-treat for “8″

“Theres been plenty of talk in the media about whether Windows 8 will be annoying because it has no Start button or because its Internet desktop will make it slow and glitchy. The deeper problem is that it is restrictive and damaging to your freedom as a computer user. We will make sure that, no matter what Microsofts advertising is focused on, computer users still have a chance to learn about the fundamental issues with proprietary operating systems, and about the path to something better.”

see Activists trick-or-treat for free software at Windows 8 launch event — Free Software Foundation — working together for free software.

While I have plenty of issues with M$ one that’s fundamental is the technically unnecessary restrictions M$ puts on OEMs, retailers, and end-users that are designed to perpetuate monopoly rather than to make the world a better place with better products. Really, if M$ were selling licences for it’s desktop OS, why hide the source code or restrict the number of PCs that can communicate using the licence? Isn’t being on almost a billion PCs enough power for M$? Why do they want it all? So, we keep on fighting, standing up for freedom to run, examine, modify and distribute software anywhere. I think every consumer who receives the message about Free Software will have the keys to freedom. I think every consumer who has a choice on retail shelves will as well.

  • Oct 26 / 2012
  • 10
technology

Share Will Shrink to ~30% for That Other OS in a Few Years

It’s not often you see information from several opposing forces quoted in one article but the release of “8″ has triggered that. Forrester tells us the share of personal computing devices running that other OS is in rapid decline. M$ is stagnant this year and most bets are that “8″ on tablets won’t amount to much. Meanwhile the world is adopting Android/Linux on mobile thingies and GNU/Linux on lots of other PCs and the growth in unit shipments per annum is dramatic. Then Jeff Zemlin of the Linux Foundaton announces the “Post-PC” world is upon us and he’s writing about mobile gadgets. Of course, he’s right that with hundreds of millions using */Linux there’s no reason people cannot use GNU/Linux on PCs too. Then FSF gets in on the act to hand out pamphlets at a retail establishment…

“it’s easy to switch to free software instead of choosing a downgrade to your rights as a computer user — for example, your rights to know what the system is doing and to change behaviors you don’t like. We’re here because we want people to know that they don’t have to buy Windows 8 — this is a great time to upgrade to free ‘as in freedom’ software.”

see Windows 8 launch – Jim Zemlin and the Free Software Foundation have their say | Linux User.

While M$ is distracted by mobile and cloud, GNU/Linux on thick and thin clients is eating into M$’s base. Pretty soon, M$ will have to learn to fly on clouds or compete in the real world instead of hiding in the price of PCs. You just can’t hide that price in these small cheap computers and even desktops are becoming small and cheap.

Feature Trim-Slice Barebone Trim-Slice Value Trim-Slice Pro Trim-Slice H Diskless Trim-Slice H250
CPU NVIDIA Tegra 2 @ 1 GHz NVIDIA Tegra 2 @ 1 GHz NVIDIA Tegra 2 @ 1 GHz NVIDIA Tegra 2 @ 1 GHz NVIDIA Tegra 2 @ 1 GHz
RAM 1 GB DDR2-667 1 GB DDR2-667 1 GB DDR2-667 1 GB DDR2-667 1 GB DDR2-667
Storage not included Micro-SD 4 GB SATA SSD 32 GB Bay for 2.5″ SATA hard disk (not included) 250GB 2.5″ SATA hard disk
Display HDMI HDMI dual head HDMI + DVI dual head HDMI + DVI dual head HDMI + DVI
LAN GbE GbE GbE GbE GbE
WLAN not included WiFi 802.11n USB dongle Built-in 802.11n module
with external antenna
Built-in 802.11n module
with external antenna
Built-in 802.11n module
with external antenna
Bluetooth not included not included Bluetooth 2.0 USB dongle Bluetooth 2.0 USB dongle Bluetooth 2.0 USB dongle
Video-in not included not included PAL/NTSC PAL/NTSC PAL/NTSC
Specifications
Specifications
Specifications
Specifications
Specifications

MSRP

$213

+shipping, duty & VAT

$233

+shipping, duty & VAT

$325

+shipping, duty & VAT

$260

+shipping, duty & VAT

$338

+shipping, duty & VAT