Shawed Again

Shaw gives us great service, except when they don’t. Yesterday at ~0800, most of our TV channels and all of our telephone and Internet service died. I have to go to TLW’s office just to watch CNN because it’s not available on my own TV. We’ve lost more than half our TV channels on my TV. The loss of the Internet and telephone is dreadful. This is the 21st century. We can’t live without those.

This is the problem with cable. When you’re near the end of the line you get the weakest signal. If someone upstream does something to suck more juice, a marginal connection gets worse. Finally, the service guy came around and determined the signal at our end of the cable was just too feeble. Apparently this kind of problem develops every spring and fall when the ground thaws/freezes. The cable parts somewhere. It’s not laid in a conduit but just buried in mud… Can’t lay a cable across the street. Can’t go through the culverts. They’re flooded. Plan B is tapping the neighbour’s cable where it enters their home. If that doesn’t work, we’re back to MTS, I guess…

That such things happen is OK. I get that but it keeps on happening. Every year or two, we get another lengthy disruption and one or two long telephone calls via the cellphone… It’s tedious. This time, for instance, it’s affecting my ability to spend my annuity which arrives today. Get between me and more peanut-butter/a new smartphone/tools/another Odroid-C2… and there’s a problem. The bigger problem is that there’s no good alternative to Shaw cable except the phone company. I guess we’ll have to go back to them. While they give poorer service for Internet and no TV, at least they are reliable for what they do. On top of this annoyance, we had a really bad experience with a snooty person who answered the phone at Shaw. It was very strange. TLW received a message to call Shaw on her smartphone and when she did this guy gave her no end of grief about account authentication etc. He wanted us to reseat all the connectors in the system. He even questioned my permission to talk to him even though TLW handed me the phone for the technical stuff… We don’t need that. OTOH, the person who came to our home was polite, courteous, competent… In an organization as big as Shaw, I guess it’s just difficult to be perfect. Sigh…

UPDATE After three days of acute Internet withdrawal symptoms and exhausting several possible solutions, Shaw tapped the cable at the home of a neighbour and ran a line over to us. Everything works. Download speed is ~182mbits/s in the middle of the day. Upload speed is not wonderful, just 10mbits/s but the most we upload are a few images and this blog mostly. I can wait… Life is still not back to normal though. I am having flashbacks… 😎

Posted in technology | Tagged , , | 14 Comments

OMG! Chocolate Price Hike!

“Chocolate prices could rise if the UK does not secure a trade deal post-Brexit, according to Mars’ top boss.”
 
See Chocolate price hike if Brexit deal fails, warns Mars
Be still my beating heart! I was aghast to read the headline on the article on BBC. After a few seconds, it dawned on me that they were talking about prices of chocolate in Europe, particularly “Mars Bars”. I can live with that as long as they don’t raise prices here, in Canada. I am old but eating is still something I can enjoy in moderation. Chocolate, nuts, cheese, fruits, vegetables, meat,… I love them all and I resent arbitrary increases in price. UK leaving EU is a silly reason to raise prices but with no trade agreements, that’s what you get, random percentage increases in prices at each border-crossing.

That’s just silly but that’s what Trump wants, to exclude foreign products/services or to tax them. He should go straight to Hell for that. Raising the price of chocolate or anything just because he can is a sin. That’s right up there with murder by the state, confiscation of property and all that. Let’s hope Canadians retain their senses and never fall for that nonsense, and keep importing chocolate and other good things at reasonable prices.

Posted in food, politics | Tagged , , , , | 27 Comments

Mirage

“Our highly levered financial system is like a truckload of nitro glycerin on a bumpy road,” Gross wrote.”One mistake can set off a credit implosion where holders of stocks, high yield bonds, and yes, subprime mortgages all rush to the bank to claim its one and only dollar in the vault”
 
See Top investor says don’t be fooled by Trump mirage
A lot of talk and no action has inflated investors valuation of equities to the breaking point. Let’s hope the jobs report published tomorrow doesn’t burst the bubble. Still, I’m glad I’m sitting on gold.

According to today’s news, TrumpCare is DOA. It doesn’t please a large enough voting block to pass it. It purports to keep some of the good things about ObamaCare but it doesn’t do anything to fix the bad things in ObamaCare like spiking premiums/declining coverage, and providing health insurance to the poor, millions of them, but still not getting them all. Sure, they can give tax credits the poor can’t use because they don’t have the money to pay for insurance in the first place, and yes they can lower insurance premiums for healthy people by sending sick people to Hell, but they’re capping MedicAid so that won’t work. Guess what? A lot of those poor sick people believed Trump and voted for him. Think they’ll be a little annoyed? Think a -3million vote margin will be big enough next time? What about mid-terms? FAIL!

No. Trump and friends will have to put up or go home. About the only hope of Trump is to convince supporters that Canadian MediCare is the way to go. The Democrats would probably support that. GOP blood-pressure would spike but who cares? He’s a populist, eh? Letting ObamaCare fail is not an option. The next elections are too far away for them to blame Obama. They did promise to do a better job. Get on with it!

Posted in politics | Tagged , , , | 17 Comments

More On M$’s Servery Moving To ARM

“Redmond’s desire, over the next few years, to see the majority of its Bing web search and indexing, Azure cloud platform and database services, online storage, machine learning, and other features, powered by Windows Server on beefy ARM chips.

We found that [ARM servers] provide the most value for our cloud services, specifically our internal cloud applications such as search and indexing, storage, databases, big data and machine learning. These workloads all benefit from high-throughput computing.”
 
See Microsoft: Can’t wait for ARM to power MOST of our cloud data centers! Take that, Intel! Ha! Ha!
I commented earlier on this story but I didn’t know the magnitude of the migration. It’s huge. M$ earns $billions from cloud and web-applications and about half will go to ARM over the next few years. That’s a refreshing “refresh”. It’s about the best tools for the job. It’s also about not having a monopoly in chips for servery. M$ is doing us all a big favour, but then, again, probably M$’s competitors are doing the same so M$ had to compete. It’s all good.

On other ARM-related news, Softbank is selling a large portion of ARM to the Saudis, my old friends from the 1980s… They are diversifying from oil and you can’t get much further from oil than chippery. Going further down the rabbit-hole, I wonder how all the Trumpist Muslim-haters will feel about using M$’s stuff when a Muslim country benefits. Weren’t they going to put “‘Merica First” or something? Who knew life/IT/business “could be so complicated”™?

Posted in Teaching | Tagged , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Pigs Fly At M$

“Microsoft has committed publicly to use ARM chips in machines that will be running cloud services in its own datacenters before year-end.”
 
See Windows Server on ARM: It’s happening
Chuckle. For many months commentators here have been telling me ARM won’t make it on servers, just because… Well, consider this. M$ is going to run ARMed servers in its datacentres. Yes, it’s own operating system too. I guess ARM has made it when everyone accepts that ARM can serve too, except the peanut-gallery.

I wonder what they will say now… That it’s OK that ARM is now blessed by M$? That there’s still no software out there that people want to run on servers? That is costs too much? HAHAHAHA!!! That it uses too much power? HAHAHAHA!!! ROFL!

Posted in technology | Tagged , , , , , | 93 Comments

IKEA Gets It

On the web, you can find several databases of EV charging stations the public may access. IKEA is listed as a generous firm. The store at Winnipeg was listed as having four EV-only parking spots with two J1772 outlets. See them from space… Apparently, IKEA gets it that there are customers who drive electric. Good for them!

UPDATE I discovered in UK IKEA charges money for charging an EV and reimburses customers making purchases the same day. That sounds complicated but whatever works… They charge £6 for a 30-minute charge… That sounds a bit much. In 30 minutes, my Solo would absorb about 16 miles worth of energy. That would pay for about 1/4 of the cost of my trip from my home to IKEA, not that great an inducement. Also, if I wasn’t headed to a particular item in the store, it would take me far longer than 30 minutes to go in and out. The store is huge. I hope they don’t adopt that strategy here. We’ve bought several items from IKEA over the years and we moved it with the gas-guzzler…

Posted in technology | Tagged , , , | 5 Comments

Speed of GNU/Linux Web Browsers

“Chrome emerged on top of this benchmark with 31,737. Chromium, to no surprise, took second with a score of 31,453. Opera came in third with 30,979. Fourth place went to Vivaldi at 30,772. It was followed by Firefox at 30628, and in a distant last place, Web at 27,949.”
 
See What’s the fastest Linux web browser?
SJVN tried a bunch of web browsers against a bunch of benchmarks and recommends Google’s Chrome browser. I don’t think speed should be the deciding factor, especially when the differences are so small.
\frac{31737-30628}{31737}100 = 3.5\%
That’s not significant IMHO. More important to me is how the browser does its basic job, rendering web pages.

The reason I gave up on Chrome was that it got a big share of its speed by preloading pages. That’s parallel processing, normally a good thing, but when it clogs the connection to your ISP and uses up all available RAM, it’s not. Then there’s the spying… Chrome reports back to Big Brother what you’re doing. I don’t mind Google helping me navigate the web but in the days when NSA and a bunch of others are hacking the web, it’s insecure and a further burden on my expensive ISP connection. No thanks. I’ll stick with FireFox. It may be clunky in places, but it’s not out to get me.

Posted in technology | Tagged , , , , , | 7 Comments

Nuts For Everyone!

“Hazel nuts can be eaten raw, or roasted in the oven, at 180 C for 30 min., with oil and salt to taste. Dry roasted hazel nuts can be ground into a powder to thicken sauces or mixed with flour in baking.
 
Getting enough hazel nuts to make it worthwhile, however, can be a task. Be on the look out for them in late August. They will be ripe by then and won’t last on the bushes for long. Squirrels love hazel nuts and will cut them off the bushes, sometimes before they ripen, to store away for winter. Unless there is a very heavy crop of nuts on the bushes, there usually won’t be enough for people to share in the harvest. And when you collect some, you still have to shell them, too. Yes, wild food means work!”
 
See In the Garden – Nuts in the garden in Manitoba.
Nuts are good food and I love the taste and texture. One of my goals is to grow plenty in my yard so I don’t have to compete with squirrels and bears out in the forest. Well, that’s the plan… 😉

One of the advantages of my future electric car is that I won’t have to justify the expense nor compete for the gas-guzzler to spend a day or two in the bush picking nuts. I can just jump in my fully charged EV and return from places I knew as a boy. That old homestead is in range. The last few miles are gravel but it should be safe driven at below city-speeds. I could set out early before traffic becomes heavy and return late after the rush of commuters. 12h or so of picking nuts should just about fill the car… Then I can spend a few days husking, sorting, cracking and roasting them. Perhaps I’ll plant a few in the yard. Why not?

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

Comparisons

“Mike Pence defended his use of a personal email account to conduct state business while he was Indiana’s governor, saying “there’s no comparison” between his situation and the controversy surrounding Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server that rocked the 2016 presidential campaign.”
 
See Mike Pence on personal email use: ‘No comparison’ to Clinton
Obviously, Pence lacks CPU-power behind his thick skull if he thinks there’s no comparison with Clinton’s e-mail situation. Always helpful as I am I will provide a list of comparables below:

  • Both not only used private e-mail addresses but used the same account for personal/official messages.
  • Both had complicity in the deed by others who should have known better, like correspondents in government.
  • Both deleted private e-mails upon leaving office, sorted out by their lawyers, no less…
  • Both were careless about security although Clinton’s plan to keep the server in the basement was a little more secure than allowing AOL to browse the mail… and Pence was hacked…

On balance, I’d say that Hillary did the better job. At least she took a hammer to old devices, wiped drives and the like while Pence was hacked and real criminals held stuff for ransom. They could even have some goodies socked away to sell to the highest bidder when Trump and Pence put the screws to some ne’erdowells. Yes, Pence, what happens when Putin buys the e-mails between you and your mistresses? Off-shore banker? Hit-man you hired a while back? Are you going to bend over backwards for Putin? Oh, you and Trump are doing that already, I see.

Posted in politics, technology | Tagged , , , | 30 Comments

Battery Technology Advances

“A new glass electrolyte-based solid-state battery has been developed by the researchers at UT Austin. Led by the Li-ion battery inventor John Goodenough, the team demonstrated that their battery is better than Li-ion. It can hold an almost 3x charge, has more charging cycles, supports fast charging, and isn’t prone to catch fire.”
 
See Li-Ion Battery Inventor Creates Breakthrough Solid-State Battery, Holds 3X Charge
Amen! If the Solo EV can make me happy with current technology, imagine me in a Solo with this new battery technology when my current battery dies… 3X the distance? Yes! Lower operating temperatures? Yes! Longer life? Perhaps not so important, considering my age, but OK! I’ll take that.

Let’s hope the holders of the patent don’t lock it up too tightly…

Posted in technology | Tagged , , , | 19 Comments

Conscription

“Sweden is to reintroduce conscription due to difficulties filling the ranks on a voluntary basis at a time of increased security concerns, the defence minister has said.
 
Sweden ended compulsory military service in 2010 but military activity in the Baltic region has increased after Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014, prompting Sweden to strengthen its military preparedness.”
 
See Sweden to reintroduce conscription amid rising Baltic tensions
I don’t think Canada needs conscription at the moment but I would definitely urge the Canadian government to build up our military forces in anticipation of real war sooner or later. Russia, Syria, Korea, Libya and any place that boils over require strong intervention not peace-keeping. If the kitchen catches fire, one doesn’t just move to the living-room and hope for the best.

Canadian armed forces are barely enough to hold a single town together, let alone to fight a war. That’s not good enough. We should ramp up bodies, especially shooters, by at least a factor of five and we should procure vehicles and weapon-system in numbers sufficient for a general mobilization. Modern warfare is not like WWII where we had years to get ready. Things can get really bad in days with ICBMs, suicide bombers, chemical/biological weapons and many thousands of really insane people possessing them with evil intent. Conscription is fine to mobilize a population but we probably don’t need that if our reserves are much larger and our weapon-sytems more capable. We should aim to recruit ~10% of the population for military training and have 1% of the population ready to go instantly. That would give us flexibility similar to other countries who recognize the dangers around the world.

Posted in politics | Tagged , , , , | 14 Comments

Getting Solo EV Out There

See Ribbon-Cutting Event And Unveiling of Electra Meccanica Solo EV in Vancouver at Bentall CentreA display shop in a high traffic area of a big city is a good way to show off this pretty car. The video has >5K views so far, so I’m not the only one interested.

One feature of the car shown in the video is entry/egress. It’s different. One steps over a row of batteries from either side. It’s a different manoeuvre than the usual car, but one can quickly figure it out and adapt. It might be good for my flexibility… It looks like the smart people put one foot in/out and then move the rest of the body and trail one foot. Otherwise you have to get both feet through a narrow gap. I can do that. No one looked uncomfortable once they’d put the thing on their body.

Another difference not shown in the video is the wasted space under the hood. In an ICEd car, one has a 4-8 cyclinder noisey hot thing that takes up a lot of space and adds weight. In the Solo, the motor is tiny and gets its power by spinning really fast with lots of torque. That leaves room for two trunks, a front and rear, so one has quite a bit of space that’s about right for a single traveller/messenger/delivery-person/old guy like me… I hardly ever haul anything bigger than water bottles or groceries. I do like to carry some long firearms to and from the range/bush, however. I might have to go for shorter items. That’s OK. Deer, rabbits, and targets won’t mind a bit.

Something I’ve come to appreciate after planning some trips threading through public charging stations is the benefit of a smallish battery. The bigger electric cars need more powerful charging stations to get charged in a short period of time. The Solo can get a full charge in 6h from any old 120V outlet and 3h from 240V level 2 charging stations. That’s nice. It allows me to take a bit more time at a pit stop without wasting the whole day.

Posted in technology | Tagged , | 3 Comments