Big, Beautiful Trees

“The quality for which the American elm is most loved, and which hackberry also possesses, is form. Both grow to become large, vase-shaped trees, majestic on their own or divine when planted in rows on either side of an avenue, over which their upper branches meet to form a natural cathedral.
American elm gets Dutch elm disease, which has decimated the species as a landscape plant. Hackberry, besides having attractive bark and tasty fruits, is immune to Dutch elm disease.”
See Relative of the elm, hackberry trees have beautiful bark, tasty fruits
Where I live, American Elm was one of the most planted trees in urban areas. Winnipeg has beautiful shady streets largely due to that tree. Unfortunately, those elms are being killed off at a great rate by Dutch Elm Disease, a fungus carried around by beetles and able to spread from tree to tree through roots. It destroys the circulatory system and kills the tree in weeks. Often, these trees are replaced by Green Ash but it has a boring beetle rising up to kill it off…

So, what’s a lover of shade trees to do? You can plant oaks and maples but the oaks take forever and the maples just don’t equal the beautiful shape of the elms. The local maple, Acer negundo, is OK but it tends to lose twigs and branches in the wind and we are a windy location. Oaks are beautiful and I have planted a few but they grow very slowly, just inches per annum. Consider Hackberry. It’s a relative of elm and has a similar form but in addition it can live on almost any soil and bears edible fruit that people and birds love. I obtained seed from They are out of stock at the moment but will likely have seed in the fall. Buy some, keep them in moist earth in baggies in the refrigerator for a few months and plant them in pots before next spring. They grow quickly so be prepared to plant in the ground or repot before next fall.

Be kind. Plant a bunch of trees this year. Make the world a better place.

Posted in food, horticulture | Tagged | Leave a comment

Fear And Loathing In USA

“Trump on Friday was consumed by questions about whether he had posed as imaginary individuals with those names in order to deal with reporters’ queries about his love life or personal sagas.”
See Donald Trump’s past surfaces as GOP looks forward
This would be funny, fodder for Saturday Night Live funny, if it weren’t true. The GOP’s imminent candidate for POTUS being caught in lies and womanizing while he accuses Hillary of enabling her husband’s philandering… Really, would anyone trust this guy with running a lemonade stand rather than having a hand on the nuclear “button”? USA has a few months to wake up or become the laughing stock of the world. If this guy does any one of the things he promises to do it could well bring ruin to USA and may well cause the world to try to insulate itself from the nonsense. I wonder if Canada could handle the inflow of refugees? I doubt it. We might have to build our own wall.

For a time, I might personally benefit from Trump’s shenanigans as the US dollar plunges, but in the long term, he could do a lot of damage to the world’s economy. Effectively, he’s proposing global sanctions against USA (breaking global trade agreements, bringing back tariff barriers to USAian goods, halting immigration, one of the fuels of the USAian economy, throwing fuel on the war-fires around the globe) and creating millions of second class citizens (the wall with Mexico, halting remissions to Mexico, banning Spanish, putting minorities in their place, and insulting women from the bully pulpit). We know what sanctions did to North Korea and Iran. Four years would be more than enough time to do a lot of damage. Compared to the leaders of those countries, Trump seems like a raging lunatic. The only question is whether his own people would depose him before he caused global economic collapse or war or not. At the moment it does not seem that enough USAians have the will or the ability to discard Trumpism. The only hope I see at the moment is getting every thoughtful USAian to vote in November. That won’t be easy with the disenfranchisement movement amongst GOPian governors.

Posted in technology | 10 Comments

Trump Too Proud To Be POTUS

“Donald Trump says he doesn’t keep money in Swiss banks or offshore accounts and his tax rate is no one’s business.”
See Trump Says His Tax Rate Is No One’s Business
Yeah, right, ~50million voters will believe a guy who won’t share his tax return will look out for the middle class… and I have 50million bridges I want to sell [SARCASM].

Clearly, one must have some humility to run for POTUS. Trump has none of that.

Posted in technology | Tagged | 11 Comments

MediaTek Evolves

“NavInfo plans to wholly acquire AutoChips, Inc. (hereinafter “AutoChips”), a Chinese subsidiary of MediaTek, for a purchase price of US$600 million. Completion of the above is scheduled for 4Q16, subject to various relevant regulatory approvals. Concurrently, MediaTek plans to invest in or co-invest with NavInfo, an amount of no more than US$100 million, to cooperate strategically in the fields of Automotive ICs and the Internet of Vehicles (hereinafter “IoV”) “
See MediaTek Announces Strategic Cooperation with NavInfo in Expanding Automotive IC and Internet of Vehicles Markets – MediaTek
For years we’ve read that MediaTek has struggled to make money in smartphones. Well, they are diversifying into automotive Internet, navigation and entertainment. They are cooperating with Navinfo who have been into navigation for years and have a foothold with several Asian and European automakers. I’ll bet there is a bigger profit-margin in an automobile than a smartphone. I see that every time I take my car in for service.

Posted in technology | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Indian Courts Go For GNU/Linux

From time to time we read that governments don’t whole-heartedly move to GNU/Linux. India is different. Even their courts, full of serious conservative people are sending everyone to school for a day or two with their laptops to practise using Ubuntu GNU/Linux for desktop work and a Court Information System.

See ubuntu court – Google Search

Other government departments are kicking the tires of BOSS GNU/Linux.

Examples are the schools of Chandigarh in 2014.
In a sample of 1090 PCs:

  • 24.6 % of PCs used GNU/Linux
  • 5% of PCs dual boot GNU/Linux and That Other OS
  • 70.4% still used That Other OS

Major issues were keeping TOOS running. Of the sampled schools, 145 PCs were not running. A couple of schools had nearly half their PCs not running. Big issues were malware and even installing anti-malware software was not a given. It sounds a lot like Canada’s North where I overcame similar issues using GNU/Linux.

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


I listened to a speech recently, by a guy who runs a business in which I have a small share. He didn’t say much. It wasn’t a long speech. He basically recounted what I already knew from widely available information. He did, however, emphasize his basic philosophy and explained his plan for world-domination. Someone unfamiliar with the company might have been impressed. I was merely reassured that my investment was sound. Surprisingly, within a few minutes of the end of the speech, share prices rose to give me a $4K increase in value on no information. Words can be powerful.

OTOH, when Donald Trump gives a speech there is also usually little new information but a considerable rise in blood pressure or anger. It’s all emotion, no reason at all. Listen to him speak. Rather than modulating his voice or explaining something, he will merely repeat the silliest things, usually three times in rapid succession. He also jumps from one topic to another in a random fashion for fear he might actually reveal what he’s really thinking if he’s thinking of anything at all. He appeals to some base instincts like revenge, pride, hatred and such and pauses only to receive applause. There’s nothing there.

With that he received votes of >40% of folks he inspired to vote in the US primaries and got fewer votes than Hillary, with her jaded, wooden style. Yet this guy seems to have the GOP nomination in the bag, all because of a few words uttered in front of crowds and on TV/Twitter.

The moral of the story is that words are powerful but can be used for good or evil. Let’s hope the national polls are wrong, that Trump could well become POTUS for just uttering a few incoherent words. If that were to happen, I would be reassured that pulling all my investments from USA was the right thing to do, but while my stock portfolio may be thriving, the world could soon go to Hell. If ~40% of USAians can be cajoled into doing something really foolish in a few months, I shudder to think how the world could change in four years. I suspect those who are supporting Trump now because they are angry will be more angry to realize how they were fooled.

Posted in politics | Tagged | 16 Comments

We Don’t Need No Stinking “PC”

“All PC categories in Asia Pacific continue to experience weakness, affected by improving quality and falling prices in the smart phone market. In low-income markets, notebooks and tablets are no longer must-have products and multiple device ownership is becoming less common. PC shipments in Asia Pacific and Greater China dipped 14% as the Chinese market saw its third consecutive quarter of double-digit declines.”
See PC market at 2011 levels as tablets fall for the sixth quarter
Not really! Some of us need local computing power or large screens or more bandwidth than a smartphone provides but there is a whole generation of young people and new users of IT for which the legacy PC is optional. I see it in my own family. Two of the three still have a legacy PC but it is getting old and may not be replaced. One actually works in IT and the company provides a powerful notebook so he doesn’t need one at home at all, but the smartphones are glued to their hips…

I was convinced that most of us didn’t need a legacy PC back in the ’90s when games and some publishing were what they mostly did for us. Then along came the Internet making a PC necessary for many. Today the smartphone fills that role, at least for those with nimble fingers and good eyes. We old folks may be the only ones who really need a legacy PC outside of work. It has happened. The smartphone is the new PC and most of them run */Linux. Amen. What GNU/Linux couldn’t do, Moore’s Law and a little denial did, replace Wintel for much of humanity.

Posted in technology | Tagged , , , , , , | 73 Comments


I was dragging a garden hose to water-in one of the Manchurian apricot seedlings when I discovered the asparagus was sending up shoots. TLW loves asparagus and is cooking the spears simultaneously with telling a friend all about it over the phone. I’ll be a hero for at least 15 minutes… 😉 This is the earliest I’ve ever seen asparagus producing here. Chalk it up to Global Warming, I guess. In my younger days planting did not start seriously until May 24, to avoid freezing weather. Frost was forecast next weekend, but now it’s just a cooler couple of days as a low-pressure cell moves past..

PS: Today is the day of the delivery of The Big Alternator which will give me and my property a bit more self-sufficiency, or at least a second source of supply. I plan to run it from an old gasoline engine or the diesel engine of the tractor for the time being, enough power to run a bunch of lights, pumps and a welder no matter the weather or the condition of the grid.

Posted in family, food | Tagged | 2 Comments

Another Big Rollout of LibreOffice Saves Money

“The Italian Ministry of Defence expects to save 26-29 million Euro over the coming years by using LibreOffice. The LibreDifesa project aims to eventually migrate all of the organisation’s well over 100,000 desktops to the open-source office productivity suite. “Taking into account the deadlines set by our current Microsoft Office licences, we will have 75,000 (70%) LibreOffice users by 2017, and an additional 25,000 by 2020,” says General Camillo Sileo, Deputy Chief of Department VI, Systems Department C4I, for the Transformation of Defence and General Staff. That will make this deployment of LibreOffice the largest in Europe.”
See Italian military to save 26-29 million Euro by migrating to LibreOffice
Yes. One does save a bundle using FLOSS like LibreOffice, but that’s just the beginning. Having complete access to data and code makes one free of interference by the likes of M$ and “partners” who are not your friends. No audits designed as cover for salesmen. No re-re-reboots or malware if using GNU/Linux. No more pain. It’s all good.

Posted in technology | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Chrome OS Still Growing In USA

According to StatCounter, usage of Chrome OS in USA continues to grow, especially on weekdays when school is in. I expect schools would get better performance with Debian GNU/Linux but Debian has fewer salesmen and folks continue to spread/believe that GNU/Linux is “hard” somehow. That wasn’t my experience. Debian GNU/Linux worked for us.

Further, this effect is of such significance that it is affecting the bottom lines and units shipped of a couple of big players in the global PC-market.

Posted in Linux in Education | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Puzzle of the Day

“Linux-Kernel ArchiveBy ThreadMost Recent messages6196 messages sorted by: [ author ] [ date ] [ Subject ]About this archiveOther mail archives”
See Linux-Kernel Archive: By Thread as usual… but
The same thing a week later gives just a 200K file of zeroes, with no HTML at all…
I’m sure there’s a rational explanation but the site which bears a mirror of the Linux Kernel Mail List which I scan regularly for news of the development of the Linux kernel had a “null” week. No HTML in the index.html file, just zeroes. I even checked it with a binary editor and wrote a snippet of PASCAL code to double check. There’s nothing there.

Now, I can see some script failing to download/copy/permission, etc. which could give a null result or even 404 but why a file of zero-bytes? A zeroed buffer unfilled is my best guess but this thing should have updated periodically or by polling and put something in there. Why did that not happen, for precisely one week? The last bug report for the application was August 2015… so it’s not as if this thing was broken for a new release. The version running is from June, 2006… The only relevant bug-report seems to be 5439 – Period setting for catch archive is fixed but that’s from 2003… It must have something to do with system administration. Oh well, it’s working again…

Posted in technology | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Yes! FLOSS Works In Education, Higher and Lower

“Proprietary applications such as computer-aided design software require time to gain purchasing approval and to integrate with classwork. And students can quickly fall behind the industry standard. “Our priority has always been graduating students ready for work,” he says.Open-source applications and platforms provide students instant access to the updated versions and new features. “Open source helps us prepare students for the cutting edge and can demonstrate to employers they are familiar with the latest technology”
See 6 colleges turning out open source talent
Chuckle. I’ve been harping on the advantages of FLOSS and GNU/Linux in K-12 schools for many years. It turns out the same advantages work for higher education (low cost, easy implementation, easy licensing…). I love it when I’m proven right again and again. It makes me proud and willing to make the effort to tell the story for many more years.

Posted in Linux in Education, Teaching, technology | Tagged , , , , , , | 39 Comments