GNU/Linux Still Relevant On The Desktop

“As the world increasingly moves from local applications to web-based and remote apps, the opportunities for Linux on the desktop have never been greater. Many organisations lack the resources to deploy Linux based desktops on a large scale. We have had experience deploying managing and deploying many thousands of Linux desktops across a country-wide infrastructure and this session will explain some of the methodology and benefits of doing so. The lessons learned at this session will be valuable for enterprises with 20 or 200,000 desktop systems.”
 
See Getting to the Future: Upgrading Windows Desktops to Linux
The future is now, I suppose. Lots of folks still have fleets of PCs running That Other OS. They don’t need to spend the time, money and freedom that OS demands. They can have Free Software with GNU/Linux to access their web-applications just as they do from their smartphones and tablets. There just isn’t much reason to depend on a tyrannical single-source for software for your PCs. Free Software is software you can run, examine, modify and distribute according to the accompanying licence. What a refreshing change to more and more difficult commandments than God makes for your soul. The cost of a licence is ~$0 too. It’s a bargain. You get to keep your soul and your money.

When I was teaching the cost of maintaining That Other OS in the manner to which it had become accustomed was just too great. Instead of crippled IT with a huge share of money going to licensing, we switched to re-using older computers with GNU/Linux and laughed all the way to the bank. We had Free Software, $Free Hardware, no pain and we could put all our energy in IT into making a system that worked for us instead of some unwanted third party.

Posted in Linux in Education, technology | Tagged , , , , , | 6 Comments

Carbon Dioxide Pollution In The Good Old Days

“Towards the end of the 20th century around 50% of the CO2 emitted by humans each year was removed from the atmosphere this way. Now that number seems closer to 60%. Earth’s carbon sinks seem to have become more effective, but the precise details are still unclear.”
 
See Earth’s plants are countering some of the effects of climate change
Life is a lot of chemical reactions. One of the most important is photosynthesis which combines CO2 with air, water and sunshine to make sugars, energy food for plants. Increasing concentrations of CO2 does increase the rate of photosynthesis which is a good thing for farmers and vegetarians and creatures that like trees and grass etc. Scientists report that is happening, one of the few good things associated with global warming.

However, the bad things are coming: more extreme weather, droughts in the interior of continents, where I live, and floods elsewhere. The Arctic is already feeling the pain. The climate certainly is warmer where I live a few hundred miles south. When I was a kid, we had plenty of snow in winter to build subsurface cities, caverns in which to stay warm and snug. I remember walking on snow drifts many feet deep right in my yard. I think it’s been three years since there was any snowdrift in my yard. Last winter, I only cleared my driveway three times. I had young trees die from lack of snow-cover.

In the short term I am better off as the trees I’ve planted will grow more vigorously and the white tailed deer will be more fruitful and survive milder winters but I fear for the world my grandchildren will inherit. Will water become scarce for them? Will they have to move to the tropics for water? Will drought kill the trees here? Will global displacements of people make our times look like a picnic? I guess I will not know the answers as I am a short timer.

Posted in family, food, horticulture, weather | Tagged , , | 62 Comments

Rest In Pieces, USA

“The Government of Canada’s immigration website crashed on Tuesday night as the US election results were rolling in.”
 
See Canadian immigration site crash: Election 2016
What can I say? TLW won a $200 bet that Trump would win. The price of gold spiked. Yes, that’s an instant devaluation of the USD. My stock portfolio will likely get a boost because I have nothing denominated in USD nor traded on US exchanges. I’ve also invested heavily in gold…

Well, it’s sad for USAian democracy that a candidate can be elected with 60% of voters hating him in the primaries and >50% of voters voting against him. For that stupidity/neglect USA will pay a heavy price. Folks will find out that international trade is actually good for USA. Folks will find out that Trump can’t balance a budget. Folks will find out the world will be in chaos in the vacuum created by Trump. Extreme cases will be Asian and Middle Eastern countries going nuclear. Will you feel safer then, paranoid brats?

Posted in politics | Tagged | 33 Comments

Linux Foundation Fumbles

“The results were a big surprise, and hearkened back to the bad ol’ days when open source and the rest of the world usually didn’t work and play well together. Browser, cookies, bandwidth and “Flash Test Video” all passed with flying colors. What didn’t pass? Our Linux Mint operating system.”
 
See Linux Foundation ‘Fails’ Linux Mint: Suggests Upgrade to Windows or Mac
I’ve played sports a bit. I know one can be quite skilled/capable and still have an embarrassing fumble. I hope this is all this is. I hope this is a learning experience. I hope The Linux Foundation once again embraces the desktop OS that is GNU/Linux. Really, folks, it’s not just about servers and controllers and networking. GNU/Linux works for people.

FLASH? LF webinars depend on FLASH!? This is the 21st century. Folks are using HTML5 and lots of other popular standards. Why is LF trying to hold the world back to a deprecated technology, one that only awkwardly works with their kernel?

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

Avenging Deer

I’ve been getting over a persistent cold last week. Today, I had enough energy to

  • harvest my marigold seed,
  • take care of a drainage issue on the property and
  • fetch the mail.

I guess I’m ready to hunt deer in a new location we scouted recently. I need some revenge. On my errands, I found a deer had walked through the seed-bed of my Saskatoons, possible endangering a few percent… That’s an innocent act, I suppose, but then I discovered one of my Manchurian Apricots had been chewed down to a stick. It was nearly three feet tall and now it’s about 9 inches. Further, the seedlings had swelling buds on them ready to burst forth next spring. This stick will have to start well back of its brethren. Fortunately, I have one still in a pot and several others planted so there is some safety for the species in my yard. I should remain calm. All will be revealed next year when the forest TLW and I have planted celebrates its first or second year. The rugged survivors have much for which to be proud, surviving our rough treatment, deer, rabbits, neglect and our variable winter.

PS I forgot to mention one of several ways I use marigolds in the yard besides their pretty flowers and massive production of seed. I planted them around various trees as a living mulch. Even after freezing weather the stems have captured leaves from the neighbourhood to protect the soil around the young trees from drying or allowing too low a temperature in the roots. I was visiting young trees collecting the seeds from marigolds when I discovered the depredation of the deer. I may soon have my revenge. A scouting report is positive for deer, lots of deer, at a new location …

Posted in family, food, horticulture, weather | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

Arwa! Are You Trying To Kill Us With Worry?

“For more than 28 hours, CNN senior international correspondent Arwa Damon and photojournalist Brice Laine were with Iraqi special forces during their push into ISIS-held Mosul. It was a new phase of the liberation operation — switching from villages and open terrain to a dense city that a well-equipped ISIS is determined to defend.
 
Their convoy was leading the operation Friday when it came under attack multiple times.”
 
See Iraq: 28 hours of the battle in Mosul
This story is about a textbook lesson in how not to invade a city. In WWII folks did not send in tanks without escort of infantry to invade cities or they died. The “PanzerFaust” would eat them alive. That German weapon was a shoulder-fired shaped-charge explosive that could take out tanks let alone lightly armoured personnel carriers. Infantry could just lay in wait, pop up, shoot and withdraw inflicting many more casualties and damage upon the armoured troops, just the opposite of what armour is supposed to do for an army. Iraq and Syria are awash with RPGs, a modern functional equivalent with better range and effectiveness. In a city, armour should be used to back up infantry so that the infantry can fight infantry instead of letting infantry murder armoured personnel carriers. Using the tactics of the desert in the city is foolishness.

I hope this action was a learning experience. The Iraqi army did fight but it was not very smart. Next time, they need to send in swarms of infantry followed closely with armour, mortars and machine-guns instead of offering up sacrifices. The enemy did a lot of damage with few resources and pinned an army that was supposedly well-equipped and armed. Arwa certainly learned a lesson. Fighting a war is not just a story but a gut-wrenching life or death experience and you have to be both good and lucky to survive. She was lucky this time.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | 4 Comments

Sewage Becomes Oil, Nature’s Way

“the raw sewage is placed in a reactor that’s basically a tube pressurized to 3,000 lb/in2 (204 atm) and heated to 660° F (349° C), which mimics the same geological process that turned prehistoric organic matter into crude oil by breaking it down into simple compounds, only with HTL it takes minutes instead of epochs.”
 
See Mimicking nature turns sewage into biocrude oil in minutes
See, we don’t need to rely on petroleum as much if we recycle the biomass running through our guts. If we stuck to using oil for lubrication and plastics, we would easily have enough just by recycling. My idea to have an electric vehicle for personal transportation is looking better all the time. It won’t burn any petroleum and will use just a little to lubricate bearings on the motor and wheels.

While the imminent USA election paints a very gloomy outlook for humanity, this news offers hope that we might not destroy the planet for momentary creature comforts.

Posted in technology | Tagged | 19 Comments

OOPS! MySQL Falls Down…

“two critical vulnerabilities, which can lead to arbitrary code execution, root privilege escalation, and server compromise, affect MySQL and forks like Percona Server, Percona XtraDB Cluster, and MariaDB, according to security researcher Dawid Golunski”
 
See Admins, update your databases to avoid the MySQL bug
While programming, it’s easy to get tunnel-vision or to accept some “tiny” risk that things could go wrong at some point but write the code that way anyway. That’s what happened with MySQL and MariaDB. Creating a database should not create a vulnerability but it does, because a repair operation allows changing permissions of a file with a particular name which a bad guy could substitute with malicious code…

So far, the version I have on my machine is affected. I hope TLW does not intend to take over Beast III. This is a serious disadvantage of running normal users on a single machine as desktop and server but at least my system is small enough the risk is manageable. I have one such normal user, TLW, and she has enough trouble running desktop applications let alone hacking servers and she now has her own machine, Odroid-C2, and does not usually run processes here. Of course, I use MariaDB and desktop applications on Beast III every day, so I am my most dangerous enemy…

Posted in technology | Tagged , , , , | 22 Comments

Oh Yes! Secondary Batteries Made From Junkyard Scrap!

“A room-temperature chemical process is developed to convert brass and steel into functional electrodes for rechargeable energy storage that transforms these multicomponent alloys into redox-active iron oxide and copper oxide materials. The resulting steel–brass battery exhibits cell voltages up to 1.8 V, energy density up to 20 Wh/kg, power density up to 20 kW/kg, and stable cycling over 5000 cycles in alkaline electrolytes.”
 
See From the Junkyard to the Power Grid: Ambient Processing of Scrap Metals into Nanostructured Electrodes for Ultrafast Rechargeable Batteries
Not since the evil sorcerer tried to obtain Aladdin’s Lamp by offering new lamps for old has there been such a story. Scrap steel which is a byproduct of welding, machining and eventual scrapping of all kinds of steel machinery and materials, and scrap brass, produced in copious amounts at shooting ranges and recycling of all kinds of goods made of brass ( an alloy of copper and zinc ) are cheap and plentiful. I have many kilos of the stuff just hanging around. My welding stubs and cutoffs are a steady supply of steel scrap. My collecting at shooting ranges and out in the fields and forests amounts to kilograms per annum. Electricians produce a fair bit of waste copper annually too. The stuff is available for pennies a pound if I wanted larger quantities.

That one can make decent heavy discharge/frequent recycling storage batteries from such cheap stuff is absolutely wonderful. I may not need to import NiFe batteries from India or China to go solar/wind… This is so cool.

Posted in technology | Tagged , | 12 Comments

Chickens Do Come Home To Roost – Closing In On MH370

“Drifters starting in the southern half of the current search area or below (dark blue, green, light blue) can be observed on and around the coast of Western Australia, with many drifting towards Tasmania. No debris has been discovered on the Australian coast. This indicates that a starting location within the current search area, or further north, is more likely.
 
A significant number of red drifters have already reached the coast of Madagascar and mainland Africa. This is not consistent with the time at which debris was discovered. The first item of debris was not discovered on Reunion Island until 16 months after the accident. This suggests a reduced likelihood of debris originating from the northernmost areas shown in Figure 10 (red and white coloured regions).”
 
See Investigation: AE-2014-054 – Assistance to Malaysian Ministry of Transport in support of missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 on 7 March 2014 UTC
This should put an end to all the uninformed speculation. Drifting buoys and simulations matched with debris that washed ashore in the western Indian Ocean suggest that the crash site will be found slightly further north than the current search area. Whether this data and analysis will be compelling enough to continue the search a bit further north or not remains to be seen but it looks like the way to go IMHO.

Besides the tracks of the debris there is the analysis of the wreckage that suggests the plane took a nose dive and may have spiralled down further north due to a shorter flight. It’s tenuous but consistent with the data they have used to justify the current search. I would bet the decision will be made to extend the search northward as the necessary equipment is on site. That might depend on crews needing rest and other bookings for equipment but I can see this search having priority more or less.

Posted in hunting, politics, technology | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Ho Hum. Another City Switches To LibreOffice

“The experiments taught the IT department that when installing LibreOffice, the proprietary predecessor should be removed. “If a workstation had both, users would revert to the old tool whenever they had a difficulty”…
 
In Nantes, 75 percent of the users switched without reporting significant difficulties.”
 
See Nantes: ‘Surveys support switch to open source’
It’s not surprising that cities should choose LibreOffice. It works. It costs much less than M$’s offering. I knew that 15 years ago when OpenOffice.org came out with version 1.0. It’s still true today. Further, LibreOffice also works on GNU/Linux so another barrier to FLOSS (Free/Libre Open Source Software) has been broken.

Posted in politics, technology | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 70 Comments

Grousing Again

Had a nice afternoon. Took a couple of walks in the bush. Not a grouse in sight.

Oh, well. We got some exercise and fellowship. Talked a bit about firearms, hunting and electric vehicles. We agreed electric cars are neat but not optimal for some people. I still have a few questions before I sign up for mine. I may consult with TLW to be assured she will never demand to drive it although she getting her own is an option. If you have a charging facility at home, we don’t need to charge two at once. That would be even more economical. I’m going to research using solar/wind for the charging. All I need are the specs on the input to the charging circuit, minimum applied voltage, minimum current etc. If I can recharge in 24h instead of 3-6h I can save a bundle on equipment and still get the benefits of being electric.

TLW would have an interesting advantage… She would have an excuse for not doing errands for the kids and their kids and… We should retire and let the world take care of itself. She spends ~$3K per annum on fuel. An electric car could pay for itself in a few years. She’s already owned the Lexus for a decade and paid more than thrice for it in insurance, oil-changes, tire-changes, repairs and fuel. Electric is looking pretty good. I’ll give her some numbers…

Posted in family, food, hunting, technology | Tagged , , , | 10 Comments