Austrian Schools

“As well as all the small problems with our Windows installations, hours lost in updating Java, Flash, Quicktime, Silverlight and so on, Microsoft turned off the KMS server in Vienna and this introduced new problems with the key management service. Let’s make it short — I wanted to get rid of Windows in the classroom and enforce free and open standards. I have this weird belief that proprietary pseudo-standards like OOXML Transitional and expensive software like Photoshop, MS Office and so on have no reason for existence in public schools.”
See Interview: Thomas Weissel Installing Plasma in Austrian Schools
Here it is 2017 and Austrian schools are using GNU/Linux and folks are still having problems with That Other OS in schools. I was in a similar situation back in 2000 when I first installed GNU/Linux in my classroom. TOOS didn’t work for me then and it still doesn’t work for schools today. Any time you have a monopolist telling you what you can and can’t do in your classroom, you’re going to have problems, especially if that monopolist isn’t particularly supportive of your objectives. In my case, M$ was celebrating its monopoly and didn’t even care if the software crashed hourly. I later discovered there were all kinds of evil consequences of the EULA from Hell, like limiting the size of networks without a server running their software and fat licensing fees.

M$ may have changed a lot in the meantime but the EULA still stifles creativity, there is no package management system making updating easy, the file-format war continues, lock-in still happens… OTOH, with GNU/Linux schools, teachers, and students have great freedom to teach and learn the way they want. I had students install operating systems and applications in my classroom without a budget, licensing issues, and students could run the same software at home and at school. It cost nothing to turn a PC into a server as an educational project. It cost nothing to create an ad hoc network of PCs into a class’s model of the Internet. It cost nothing to let students practice taking PCs to bits and installing all kinds of software with no licensing issues due to restrictions or prices. GNU/Linux is perfect for schools. It’s perfect for Austria, why not your country?

Posted in Linux in Education, Teaching, technology | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 37 Comments

Even My Nearest Pharmacy Gets It

“Patient Advocate Pharmacy
Ports EV Plug (J1772)
Custom Ports 240V 40A Level 2
Address2595 Main St, Winnipeg, MB R2V 4W3, Canada
Phone(204) 338-5135
HoursAvailable 24/7
Description Southeast corner of Patient Advocate Pharmacy (around back). ClipperCreek 240V 40A Level 2 charging station.”
See Patient Advocate Pharmacy
Well, well! One of the reasons businesses install charging stations is to attract customers who drive electric vehicles. I will be one in 2018. I’m old and my doctor thinks my life is better taking pills. I go to pharmacies every few months for a new supply and here is one with an EV charging station, close by. I likely never would have gone to this pharmacy because it’s not on my usually travelled routes. Now it will get my business because they care. Isn’t that sweet? I will be able to drive there, charge up while I wait for a prescription to be filled and drive home with no cost to me for transportation except wear on the tires… I like it. I like this pharmacy already and I’ve never been there before.

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Electra Meccanica Solo Charges Ahead

“February 15, 2017 – Electra Meccanica Vehicles Corp., (EMV), a Canadian-based designer and manufacturer of the SOLO, an all-electric single passenger vehicle developed to revolutionize the way people commute, opened its first retail Intro Store today in downtown Vancouver. Located in Bentall Centre, the Intro Store welcomes interested customers to learn more about the SOLO, talk with EMV representatives and place their reservations.”
Putting a demonstrator out in public in a high traffic area is another sign that sales to the public are about to happen. Commercial production is expected next month as ten test-vehicles go through their paces. I’ve already planned my turn by turn route to drive my unit back from Calgary in 2018. My biggest issues so far are not with the design of the vehicle but the design of some highways near cities in Saskatchewan. Yes, even though Peavey Mart and its charging station are right beside the highway you have to drive a mile upstream to get back onto the highway… They even fool Google into thinking one can do U-turns to get to where you want to go. Nope. There are fences between the streams of traffic. There are multiple routes possible on Google but only one is reasonable… Anyway, there are enough charging stations along the way that I should never run out of juice.

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Pride And Prejudice

There’s more than enough of both to go around here. When I proposed to play around with some new hard drives and RAID 0 and XFS on them, I was roundly criticized by several commentators. I wanted better performance and was willing to trust the drives and/or make backups. That wasn’t good enough, of course…

Well, it happened. Recently Beast III had trouble booting because of one of those shiny new drives, or so I thought. I was more concerned about “losing face” than any data. Most of my important stuff was either not that important or was on other drives. I had one hope… I looked around and noticed one of the drives was connected to the motherboard and one to the shiny new PCI-e SATA card that I bought recently. I shut Beast down and moved the second SATA cable to the PCI-e card and persuaded the BIOS to boot from the “new” drive… No problem. Not one error message like
“Feb 18 07:31:54 beast kernel: [ 8.349411] ata3: softreset failed (device not ready)
Feb 18 07:31:54 beast kernel: [ 8.349486] ata3: applying PMP SRST workaround and retrying
Feb 18 07:31:54 beast kernel: [ 8.521414] ata3: SATA link up 3.0 Gbps (SStatus 123 SControl 300)
Feb 18 07:31:54 beast kernel: [ 8.523494] ata3.00: configured for UDMA/133
Feb 18 07:31:54 beast kernel: [ 8.523498] ata3: EH complete
Feb 18 07:31:54 beast kernel: [ 8.573417] ata3.00: exception Emask 0x50 SAct 0x100000 SErr 0x90a02 action 0xe frozen
Feb 18 07:31:54 beast kernel: [ 8.573522] ata3.00: irq_stat 0x00400000, PHY RDY changed
Feb 18 07:31:54 beast kernel: [ 8.573593] ata3: SError: { RecovComm Persist HostInt PHYRdyChg 10B8B }
Feb 18 07:31:54 beast kernel: [ 8.573681] ata3.00: failed command: READ FPDMA QUEUED
Feb 18 07:31:54 beast kernel: [ 8.573752] ata3.00: cmd 60/08:a0:a8:6d:70/00:00:74:00:00/40 tag 20 ncq 4096 in
Feb 18 07:31:54 beast kernel: [ 8.573752] res 40/00:a0:a8:6d:70/00:00:74:00:00/40 Emask 0x50 (ATA bus error)
Feb 18 07:31:54 beast kernel: [ 8.573940] ata3.00: status: { DRDY }
Feb 18 07:31:54 beast kernel: [ 8.573990] ata3: hard resetting link

So, I guess the motherboard is losing its mojo… I need that new ARMed motherboard ASAP, or I can add another SATA card. Either way, I’ve been proven right again, at least until the drives burst into flames or another decade passes. I might not be around that long to receive the vitriol. All kinds of jokers are not living as long as I have lived. I guess it’s a matter of time before I start reading the obits to see if I’m there…

In the meantime, I’ll carry on as before.

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Munich’s Fake News On GNU/Linux

“”Employees are not satisfied with our IT,” Reiter told a council meeting on Wednesday morning, citing a report he had commissioned from Accenture. “More than half are not happy.”
Accenture’s report, which included a survey of Munich council staff, did not finger LiMux as the main culprit for employees’ dissatisfaction.
As council member Florian Roth of the Greens pointed out during Wednesday’s debate, the local authority’s IT organisational structure was to blame. “68.6 percent said they were completely satisfied with the software,” Roth argued.”
See Linux’s Munich crisis: Crunch vote locks city on course for Windows return
Truth doesn’t seem to matter much in politics these days. Just repeat a lie. If enough believe it, you get what you want… Despite proof that GNU/Linux works for Munich, the mayor and friends are going to migrate back to Wintel at all costs. They’ve voted to make the plan which will waste $millions. They’ve crept right up to the edge of the cliff. Let’s see if they actually have the courage and spite and gaul to jump.

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ODROID-C2 Update

List Price : $46.00
Dispatch : in 30 days”
Hmmmf! I was thinking of ordering a couple of Odroid-C2s soon and visited the maker’s site. I was surprised to find the price had risen… Perhaps it’s related to the price of oil or gold or something global… Anyway, at $46 USD it’s still at a good price but the killer is they are out of stock! Either they’ve had an interruption of supply or the thing is just too popular. Yes, that’s it. I’ll have to wait a bit. 😉

Another bit… There’s a note on the page that power-consumption can be cut a bit by removing a jumper if you’re not using the OTG power input.
“Remove the Jumper on J1, if you don’t use the USB OTG port as a power input.
It will reduce the power consumption and heat significantly.”


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Peavey Mart – Doing Good Things

I checked out PeaveyMart’s Store Finder and I’m pleased to see that 26 out of 37 locations in western Canada have charging stations for electric vehicles. They’ve committed to having stations in all stores so they are working on it. I’m hoping they’ll get to Winkler, Manitoba soon, so I can visit some relatives without having to overstay my welcome charging up from 120V outlets which take 6h in an ElectraMeccanica Solo. I feel awkward charging up at a hotel (Days Inn, Winkler) and not staying the night but I can always find interesting things to do in a hardware store. 😉

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TDF On Munich

“According to the report, only a minor percentage of users (between 18% and 28%, based on different applications) had severe issues related to software, which could be solved by migrating these users to Windows and MS Office.
Incidentally, 15% of users acknowledged severe issues related to MS Office.
In fact, the Accenture report suggests decoupling the operating system and application to reduce dependencies at client level. To ensure this, both Windows and LiMux should be deployed in a basic configuration, which includes operating systems as well as applications, such as LibreOffice, calendar and e-mail, required by all units and self-service providers. The basic configuration should be extended depending on the application.
In spite of the suggestions, on Wednesday, February 15, Munich City Council will discuss a proposal – filed by a minority of city councillors – to install Windows 10 and MS Office 2016 on all workstations by 2020. This would cost taxpayers close to 90 million euro over the next six years, with a 35% aggravation over the 66 million euro figure suggested by Accenture.
In addition, according to estimates provided by Green Party councillors, another 15 million euros should be spent to replace or upgrade PCs which are perfect for a small footprint operating system such as Linux, but cannot support even a Windows 10 basic configuration.”
See Statement by The Document Foundation about the upcoming discussion at the City of Munich to step back to Windows and MS Office
Sometimes it pays to wait for the real story. The alarming news we’ve heard is only the tip of the iceberg. In the details from TDF we find Munich’s fearless leaders have offered voluminous evidence which doesn’t support their conclusion. They’ve offered a recipe to spend a huge amount of money for zero benefit.

Beware politicians promising solutions to nonexistent problems. Read TDF’s post. Read the report from Accenture, M$’s “partner”. Even Accenture doesn’t believe the politicians’ solution. Monopoly is never the solution to diverse problems. Accenture advocates using web-applications. That provides independence from the OS and GNU/Linux would work for them. Sigh. Politics, the game that never ends.

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Threats Are Easily Made But Hard To Keep

“American farmers sent $2.4 billion of corn to Mexico in 2015, the most recent year of available data. In 1995, the year after NAFTA became law, corn exports to Mexico were a mere $391 million.
Experts say such a bill would be very costly to U.S. farmers.
“If we do indeed see a trade war where Mexico starts buying from Brazil…we’re going to see it affect the corn market and ripple out to the rest of the ag economy,” says Darin Newsom, senior analyst at DTN, an agricultural management firm.”
See Mexico ready to retaliate by hurting American corn farmers
Threats by Trump to break NAFTA and force Mexico to pay for the damned wall will not go unanswered. All the goods that USA exports to the world may well be impacted by duties and “buy anywhere but USA” acts. Think of all the businesses that sell globally: Intel, M$, auto-makers come to mind. If their products become banned/taxed to death, there will be a big impact on the USAian economy. Has Trump included that effect in his maths? I don’t think so. Canada, despite being USA’s largest trading partner, can’t take all of USA’s corn nor its Intel processors nor its Wintel PCs nor its vehicles. In fact, Canada may well become self-sufficient in more products and adopt */Linux on ARM in case of trade wars. Canada should increase shipping capacity on the West Coast.

Trump, people who live in glass houses should not throw stones.

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Trump Lies. Never Forget That

“to give credit where it’s due, it looks like the main reason that stocks have taken off again lately is because Trump has promised to unveil a “phenomenal” tax plan soon.”
See Trump isn’t killing the bull market. Here’s why
I would have fallen off my chair when I read the quotation to the right except that I’m overweight and my bottom is rather wide…

It’s true that folks thinking of the short term are pleased with the words of Trump, mostly, but when you figure out what proportion of the sentences he utters are out and out lies, there is a longer term problem. Trump has promised to cut taxes. He’s given a recipe. He’s also promised to build a 2000 mile concrete wall with backup and a road and sensors, lots of new toys for the military, jobs for all, infrastructure like we haven’t seen since the 1970s, keeping out immigrants of all kinds, keeping all the benefits of Obamacare and breaking trade agreements…

Do the maths. If you cut taxes and spend $trillions, the national debt grows, by leaps and bounds. You may get a short term boost to the economy but those are not real jobs, building infrastructure. They terminate with the contracts. Trump has promised to negotiate better purchasing deals. I guess he figures it’s OK to funnel contracts to his friends. That’s what he did in Trump Inc., but USA has laws requiring competitive bidding. Is he going to allow low-ballers to get the contract and then beat them down? It’s still new money however corrupt and it adds to the debt. At one point he promised to nullify the debt. Then you will see capital running for the hills and I will be ready with portfolios full of gold. The long term will be full of wailing and gnashing of teeth if Trump gets through half of his agenda. So far the Congress seems gutless enough to let that happen. Will they wake up when they do the maths?

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Aging Gracefully In Canada

“While governments have money to spend on things such as electric car-charging stations and light rail transit, that spending will do little to benefit seniors.”
See Time for seniors to stand up to governments
I stumbled upon an article written a few years ago griping about the situation of seniors, mostly related to taxation. I guess it takes all kinds but I noticed the line at the right about governments promoting electric vehicles. These can really be a benefit to seniors like me.

I’m likely to be driving for about a decade if I don’t die sooner as I still have good hand-eye coordination, know how to use mirrors and speedometers etc. To me, an electric car is absolutely wonderful. Because there are so few moving parts compared to a car with an internal combustion engine (ICE), I won’t have to waste my precious dollars nor dwindling time on repairs, oil-changes, and fuel. I can go on an outing with a full charge and return with no trouble at all and just plug it in, just like many people do for winter driving anyway. The more public EV charging stations there are the less it will cost me to drive. Sure, this is mostly a benefit to younger people commuting to work but it is definitely a blessing for seniors.

Let me tell you about being a senior… If I need to maintain my gas-guzzler, I have to make a phone-call. Yes, there is a website for that, but you still have to confirm by phone; the dealership calls back to verify stuff. I hate that. Young people on the phone talk way too fast for me. I have poor short-term memory so I’m constantly in a confused state and if I have to write something down, I’m further distracted. It’s really a problem. I don’t have that problem on the web. I can read at several times the speed I can comprehend speech on a telephone. That’s just the way I am. I hate to be forced to use a telephone just because I drive a gas-guzzler. I’m getting an electric car to be done with that. TLW (The Little Woman) can arrange her own service in the future….

If I’m driving a gas-guzzler, I get into trouble. The thing can drive 550km on a tank of gasoline and I just can’t endure such a long episode and sometimes I forget to get a rest stop. An electric car with a range of 160km on a charge is perfect for me. I get enforced frequent stops and I have to plan the trip in detail to visit charging stations. I love to do that. It keeps my brain engaged.

An electric car is quiet. That does pose some danger to pedestrians who trust their ears to safety but I love it. I can listen to music (oldies stuff, of course) better while I drive. I can hear the noise of the tires and detect the slightest problem with them early. It’s one less thing about which to worry. An electric car has no exhaust. Of course that’s good for the atmosphere but I hate being near an engine cranking out whatnot by the ton. It’s just foul gases for no benefit to anyone.

Why should I not be happier and spending less in my old age? Governments, go on promoting electric vehicles. Help a senior today! Manitoba, where’s our subsidy? BC, Ontario and Quebec have them to benefit seniors and others and to promote electric vehicles. Why not Manitoba with an abundance of renewable energy?

Posted in politics, technology | Tagged , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Small Businesses And Electric Vehicle Charging Stations

““Many of the people that come to plug in and eat tell me they only came to Nauna’s because of the chargers in the parking lot, and that they didn’t know of the restaurant before finding it on their EV charging app,” said Moloughney, who has been driving electric since 2009. “I’m averaging about five or six electric vehicles per week now, and the number is definitely on the rise.””
See Why Small Businesses Are Installing Electric Vehicle Charging Stations
It pays to advertise. I’ve known that for ages because I’ve made major purchases simply because of a chance encounter with an ad that caught my eye. How much better an advertisement is the announcement that you have an EV charging station on the property when folks need a boost? It takes hours to charge an EV sometimes and some of that time can be spent eating locally or shopping or seeing the sights and getting a good impression of a location.

I don’t think I’ve ever been to a Peavey Mart. There’s only one near me in Manitoba so far, but they’ve plastered charging stations at most of their locations and I could not drive across the prairies with my “next year” Solo EV without them. You bet I’m going to walk the aisles checking out products and prices. I might buy tools, seeds, consumables for welding/soldering, stuff I use a lot at home. The Solo is a great tool for shoppers. It can hold a whole basket of goods.

Thanks to all the small businesses helping customers, EV users and enthusiasts and building our economy.

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