Conundrum At Cruising Altitude

“The pilot initially threw the bullets in a rubbish bin before disposing of them in the toilet”
 
See US pilot flushes bullets down toilet en route to Germany
So, you’re a USAian pilot headed for Europe. You’re used to packing a loaded pistol for protection in flight. That’s not allowed in Germany and you find you have some ammunition aboard… What to do?

This guy probably did the wrong thing on several levels:

  • regulatory – Rules are rules. There’s probably a rule against bringing the ammunition to Europe and another against dumping hazardous stuff into the ocean.
  • policy – The company probably has procedures laid out for dealing with every conceivable event, even breaking rules by accident.
  • safety – Come on! Ammunition raining from the sky or going through a sewage pump is not a good thing…

Before condemning the guy totally, I should confess that, once upon a time, I broke the rules. I was leaving a northern community by air and, in the last-minute tour of my teacherage, I found a packet of razor blades sitting on a high shelf in the bathroom, probably above eye-level with my normal slouch. Without thinking, I tossed them in my pocket and headed for the airport. Somewhere in my subconscious, I knew they weren’t allowed on flights in the civilized world but I was in the Arctic headed for a gravel strip with zero security. Getting me and my stuff to the airport without losing anything was the number one mission. Along the way, I changed planes further south and, having totally forgotten the blades, went through a metal detector… We chucked them in the garbage bin and carried on. To be fair, this pilot made a similar error or two. Also, to be fair, he’s supposed to be professional and continuously aware of the rules/policies/procedures.

I’m sure he could have consulted with crew or phoned home and asked what to do. Likely a meeting with security/management in Germany would have been mild compared to being in the news…

Anyway, in Canada, there’s actually criminal law on the matter. Anyone coming into possession or losing firearms/ammunition is required to report to police. Ignorance is not even an excuse. You’re guilty until proven innocent. The law applies to everyone, not just firearms owners, with or without a licence. Johnny picks up a round on the ground somewhere. He’s a criminal if he’s over 18, maybe younger, and has no licence to possess the material. The stupid rule even applies to discarded empty cartridges… It’s up to the discretion of police whether or not to lay charges.

Then, there’s safety. Getting rid of ammunition is legitimate. It could be not permitted, old, unwanted, whatever… The right procedure is to contact authorities for advice. Lacking that at cruising altitude out of radio contact might pose a problem but something better than flushing is in order. How about locking it up in some safe? Got pliers? Pull the bullets and wet the contents with something damp like oil or water. Oil will permanently disable the primers. Water will temporarily disable the powder. For good measure mix oil, water and detergent. This process changes ammunition into inert matter, perhaps just components of ammunition technically, bullet and cartridge, stuff a lot more safe. You’d think a pilot would earn some points in his favour by taking these steps but no, he/she dumped them. They may have gone into the ocean or even reached German soil eventually. Who knows?

I’d guess this will sort itself out and depending on the supply of pilots, courtesy, and discretion should not be fatal. It may result in a few lines added to the policy manuals or the checklists.

Posted in firearms | Tagged , , | 7 Comments

Closing More Windows

“July 8, 2015 — Microsoft Corp. today announced plans to restructure the company’s phone hardware business to better focus and align resources. Microsoft also announced the reduction of up to 7,800 positions, primarily in the phone business. As a result, the company will record an impairment charge of approximately $7.6 billion related to assets associated with the acquisition of the Nokia Devices and Services (NDS) business in addition to a restructuring charge of approximately $750 million to $850 million.”
 
See Microsoft Announces Restructuring of Phone Hardware Business
 
See also A Few Thoughts On Microsoft’s Massive Writedown
For most businesses, an $8billion loss would be an utter disaster, perhaps the end of the road… but M$ is not just a business. It’s a criminal gang bent on stifling competition any way it can. In this case it was “Embrace, Extend, Extinguish” to control Nokia rather than letting Nokia go with */Linux. In the height of its power, M$ could accomplish any anticompetitive act with less than $1billion. This is just inflation brought on by their worsening situation.

The good news is that with each demonstration of failure the world is learning that M$ is not the One True Way to do IT. The world is adding more units based on Linux than M$’s entire installed base every year. The legacy PC units bearing That Other OS are piling up in the channels. On weekends, */Linux is more popular than “7”. Both “7” and “8.1” are losing share …

See Top 8 Operating Systems From 1 January To 4 July 2015 – StatCounter

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Lenovo Joins The GNU/Linux Club

“Lenovo will be shipping Ubuntu preloaded devices starting with Thinkpad L450 laptop from early this month. The laptops will be available to purchase from selected commercial resellers and distributors throughout the region at prices starting from INR 40,000. This marks another milestone in the global adoption of Ubuntu, and is the first joint launch between Lenovo and Canonical in India – another OEM coming into the fold in a region where Ubuntu already possesses a strong foothold.”
See Ubuntu to ship on Lenovo laptops in India
Lenovo has long supported GNU/Linux but rarely shipped GNU/Linux on PCs. That’s changing. India uses GNU/Linux widely at work and at play. To serve this market, GNU/Linux has to appear on retail shelves. Thank you, Lenovo, for restoring competition to the market for desktop OS. Clearly, India uses GNU/Linux more at work than at play so Lenovo is going where its customers go.

See Top 7 Desktop OS In India

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Closing Windows

“Many Taiwan-based ODMs hold the opinion that Windows 10 will not be able to boost large-scale PC replacements and upgrades because a large proportion of consumers mainly use PCs for Web surfing and document processing, and therefore do not need the advanced functions provided by Windows 10.

The ODMs pointed out that most consumers have shifted their budgets to purchase a new smartphone since they have no immediate need to buy a new PC, and Windows 10’s first-year free upgrade will make the matter worse.”
 
See Windows 10 unlikely to hike PC demand, say Taiwan ODMs
Advanced functions of “10”? What are those? New levels of slavery (your data + your money)? New levels of chaos (still more malware, intrusions and lags)? Of course consumers don’t need those. GNU/Linux works fine for them. Everyone wants to get off the Wintel treadmill when it’s a real treadmill, visible, noisy and costly before their eyes. We should be thankful M$ has come out of the shadows to compete in the real world where they lose badly to FLOSS and GNU/Linux. I recommend Debian GNU/Linux for a speedy exit.

Posted in technology | 15 Comments

Key Question: Is Bundling Proper?

“The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) is expected to rule within weeks on the practice of forced sale of licences for operating systems and other software bundled with computing devices. On 25 June, France’s Court of cassation referred to the CJEU a complaint of a French citizen who wanted to purchase a PC without any pre-installed operating system.”
 
See EU court to decide on PC and software bundling
Of course, bundling an OS with a PC makes sense in many cases. Most consumers, for instance, can’t or don’t want to install an OS. In many cases, bundling makes no sense:

  • anyone who wants to install his own OS, and
  • folks rolling out a gazillion PCs with whatever OS.

In both cases, bundling is either a restraint of trade or simply a wasted motion. You don’t paint a house green only to paint it red if you have any sense. The right way to do IT is to make your choice and buy/acquire what you need to accomplish your goals in the most efficient manner possible. Bundling exclusively That Other OS with all PCs was only good for an illegal monopolist and its “partners” in crime. This is not about denying businesses profits. It’s about competition in the market and freedom for users/buyers to have choice.

It’s so sad that this crime has taken so many decades to surface in the courts. All these years no one has been protecting consumers. It’s always been about protecting parties to the crime… When I complained to the Canadian government about bundling I was told I had no standing to complain because I was a consumer and not a competitor of M$. Bundling protected M$ from competition laws around the world because they had a layer of deniability, the OEMs. The OEMs could not be shown to be an organized criminal gang because they were just “doing business” with M$. Convenient and wrong. M$ was always the puppet-master. Let’s see whether a European court can get it right. Let’s see how big a cut to M$’s revenues for client OS the right decision makes. This could be the biggest shot in the “ARM” for GNU/Linux ever if consumers all over the world finally have the choice to buy or install GNU/Linux without paying M$ for the privilege.

Posted in technology | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 35 Comments

Smartphones Are The New PC And */Linux Rules

“Smartphones first accounted for more than 50% of total quarterly cellphone shipments in the first quarter of 2013. In fourth-quarter 2015, smartphones are forecast to reach 435 million units or 80% of total cellphones shipped, according to IC Insights. On an annual basis, smartphones first surpassed the 50% penetration level in 2013 (54%) and are forecast to represent 93% of total cellphone shipments in 2018.”
 
See Smartphones to represent 80% of total handset shipments in 4Q15
 
See StatCounter
According to Digitimes and StatCounter the smartphone is the new PC and */Linux is the winner in a competitive market for client operating systems. That Other OS is still ahead in total share of client OS page-views but is in decline while Linux operating systems grow by high single digits.

This is what the PC-market could have resembled if M$ had not been granted a monopoly by IBM and used illegal means to leverage itself into every corner of IT for decades. Competition is good for everyone. Mass murder of operating systems and intimidation of OEMs was the crime of the century. Thank Goodness we are done with that. The only thing which is a dark cloud over IT is that M$ is still in business rather than having been jailed by governments around the world for restraint of trade.

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Courage, Conviction and Freedom

“A woman scaled a flagpole in front of the South Carolina Statehouse on Saturday morning and removed the Confederate battle flag.”
 
See Woman Removes Confederate Flag In Front Of South Carolina Statehouse
I love many kinds of technology. The best technologies make “impossible” become “easy”. The lady appears to have used a couple of Prusiks to alternately support her weight from her waist and foot. With no weight, the knot is easily loosened to slide up or down the pole. With weight, the knot tightens and can support an amazing force. It takes courage to put your weight on a thin rope or strap, but a wise person uses two or more so if one fails, the other can catch and hold.

The same things are true of Free Software. Because it costs so little and there is no central authourity, many fear Free Software, but it’s the right way to do IT. The whole world can make its own software and share it freely. We don’t need a slave-master. Take down the slave-master’s flag on your computers. Be Free.

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Undermining That Other OS

“The National Security Agency and its British counterpart, Government Communications Headquarters, have worked to subvert anti-virus and other security software in order to track users and infiltrate networks, according to documents from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.”
 
See Popular Security Software Came Under Relentless NSA and GCHQ Attacks
I’ve been writing for ages that governments should promote FLOSS and GNU/Linux. It’s the right way to do IT after all. However, governments tend not to do the right thing in straightforward ways. Take IT-security, for instance. It used to be that the NSA gave us Tor and Selinux to make the world a better place… Then came “9/11″ and it all changed. The NSA became deeply paranoid and “out to get us”.

Given That Other OS is just about everywhere and is helpless without anti-malware software, the NSA and others have studied the anti-malware software to exploit it as a back door to TOOS… Ironic, isn’t it? M$ lobbies governments endlessly by fair means and foul to prevent being banned from global markets while those governments use TOOS to spy on friends and enemies… Europe is practically fleeing Wintel. The rest of the world is over ~1% utilization on the desktop with no need for salesmen. India uses GNU/Linux at work. Uruguay uses it widely in schools. M$ has had its client OS on a slippery slope for years. They didn’t need Big Brother giving them a push down the hill after greasing and warming the skids. Chuckle. It’s all good. I’ve been using GNU/Linux personally and professionally for years. I just upgraded to Linux 4.1 this morning after watering my weeds. They are doing well as are the corn, onions, trees, squash, etc. Life is good without TOOS and Big Brother is helping the world become Free a few million PCs at a time.

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

Bottomless Pits Of Exploitation

“Adobe (and I guess MS as well) put font handling in the kernel from NT 4.0 to gain speed at the expense of having privileged-based protection, and against Dave Cutler’s original micro kernel plans. What could possibly go wrong?”
 
See Killer ChAraCter HOSES almost all versions of Reader, Windows
What more can I say? M$ has allowed bad guys to exploit images, PDFs, fonts, … It’s never-ending. Thank Goodness there’s GNU/Linux, software created by people that care just a little bit about security, sane people just like us.

Posted in technology | Tagged , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Demonopolization

“The Russian Ministry of Telecom and Mass Communications has announced a plan to replace proprietary software with open source and locally produced software.”
 
See Russia to replace proprietary software with open source
Better late than never… In 2010, Putin ordered Russia to convert to FLOSS by 2015. It took them until now just to figure out how to do that:

  • Prefer locally generated software,
  • Choose GNU/Linux and FLOSS as the platform, and
  • Collaborate with other countries, particularly BRICS, to create specific applications.

Amen. I may not like a lot of what Putin has done, but this is the right way for all governments to do IT. It frees them from monopoly. It saves them a ton of money. It unleashes the talent of the world outside the monopolists. Governments tend to be the largest organizations in many countries. That size empowers them to be the engine of software development in the world of FLOSS. Instead of exporting $billions annually to M$ and “partners”, they can pay their own people to adapt FLOSS and */Linux and contribute to FLOSS generally. Many large businesses do this. Why not governments? Also, it’s their job to protect their economies from criminal monopolies like M$’s.

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Rats Queuing Up To Leave Sinking Ship

“Microsoft has been talking to notebook brand vendors about the licensing of Windows 10 recently and is planning to charge extra fees for notebook models with high-end hardware such as Core i7 processors or Full HD display. However, the vendors are concerned that the increased fees could impact their profitability from high-end models, according to sources from the upstream supply chain.”
 
See Microsoft looking to charge extra licensing fees for high-end notebooks
Yes, these are the end days of Wintel. M$ is desperately trying to remain relevant in the client OS domain while shipments shrink. Now they want to charge “extra” for putting the OS on high end OEM machines while giving the OS away for $0 to older machines. It’s just like M$ to think they own OEMs’ products rather than supplying OEMs a good/service. It will be interesting to see the many ways the OEMs jerk M$’s chain to bring them back to reality, say, by installing GNU/Linux instead of That Other OS. Expect GNU/Linux to have a really great year. 😉

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Desktop/Notebook PCs Stagnate In MEA

“IDC expects the MEA PC market to remain almost flat between 2015 and 2019. However, there will be a gradual shift in the weight of demand from consumers to the commercial segment as a growing proportion of home users switch from PCs to tablets and smartphones and commercial end users maintain their loyalty towards PCs.”
 
See High Inventory Levels Signal Further Declines for Middle East & Africa PC Market
What should be an emerging market for the classic PC is instead an emerging market for smartphones and tablets. The poor, newbies, youth, and consumers don’t need the bloat of Wintel, folks. The markets are speaking because people have a choice in IT these days, thanks to */Linux and ARM.

I think IDC is optimistic for the outlook for business use of PCs. While a lot of businesses use local applications needing huge monitor, keyboard and mouse, a lot of businesses have employees with meagre needs for data input, great needs for mobility and everyone needs to cut costs in a competitive world. The UPS guy who delivered stuff to me carried a tablet to pick up my signature, not a legacy PC. Salesmen and clerks are mostly consumers of content, not producers. There are a lot of those in the world of business. Businesses used to claim they needed Wintel because their people “knew” it. Well, Android/Linux on ARM is the new Wintel, just a lot less expensive and folks can see the code…
On Thursday, 2015 June 11, 23.35% of page-views counted by StatCounter on a global scale were from Android/Linux. On Thursday, 2014 June 12, the share was only 15.11%, so the annual growth is over 50% per annum, far above stagnation. In Africa the growth of Android/Linux is even higher, nearly 100% per annum. It’s second only to “7”, so far… In Turkey, June 10, Android/Linux was ahead of “7” by more than 1%. In fact, in much of Africa and Asia, and Poland, Paraguay and Costa Rica Android/Linux gets more page-views than That Other OS. Wintel, eat your heart out.

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