Going Batty

“The town, North Hempstead, has approved the construction of boxes that function as bat houses in several parks to attract more bats to the area.
“Bats can eat up to 1,000 mosquitoes per hour,” Judi Bosworth, the town supervisor, said. “That’s extraordinary. A pesticide couldn’t do that.”
The town started encouraging the building and hanging of bat houses in its parks in 2007 to curb the use of pesticides, and it has added a few more each year since.”
See Devouring 1,000 Mosquitoes an Hour, Bats Are Now Welcome Guests as Zika Fears Rise
I’ve long appreciated bats. Anything that eats mosquitoes by day or night is my friend. We have various swallows by day and the bats carry on past sunset. Good for them.

The town in TFA seems to have numerous small-scale bat boxes. That works but more efficient boxes might be less expensive and more effective. My concept is a sandwich of 3/4 inch plywood with 3/4 inch spacing. It might help to score the sides of the panels so that bats could climb up more easily. Bolt the thing together with long threaded rods and hang it on lamp posts or such sturdy mounts. One such house could hold hundreds of bats and their young. Being near a light at night might be helpful as it attracts moths, another favourite food. One could also install CO2 generators to attract a cloud of mosquitoes making the bats even more efficient.

One of my favourite memories as a child was watching toads crawl up window screens at night to eat mosquitoes. The CO2 from us attracted mosquitoes and everyone was happy. The town might consider building toad houses (piles of stones or inverted flower pots with openings) folks could install in flower beds near homes to help increase the consumption of mosquitoes where they hide, in foliage. Don’t forget to build lots of nesting boxes for tree swallows and install anchoring meshes under bridges and eaves of buildings so swallows can nest. It’s all good. Put those mosquitoes to good use instead of letting them eat us.

Posted in food, hunting, politics, technology | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Garden (?) Report

I have one of the least successful gardens in my neighbourhood. It’s not for want of trying but most of my strategy has failed. I planted a fine lawn but because it was winter-killed twice in two successive years, I had only a fraction of the compost I planned to generate… So, the only successful plantings have been trees which are tough enough to live on just about anything and a few flowers and vegetables grown in topsoil trucked in.

Sigh. I barely manage to keep up with the weeds which are thriving. Today, I used up my last few empty pots to plant marigolds. They love the topsoil and they are very hard to kill. I’ve built a large planter/raised bed in which I will grow asparagus from seed next year. If TLW lets me fill the planter this year, I should have a gazillion marigolds and tomatoes thriving too. I’ve plenty of spare trees in pots to take the places of any that die and to plant the last few corners without trees and eventually I will plant a new lawn and reduce my maintenance of that weed-patch…

So, life goes on. Despite age, humidity, high temperatures, wind, drought, rain, harassment by TLW and too much clay and stones the property will carry on improved a little by my efforts. It was just a patch of weeds when we moved in. Now its actually bearing fruit. We had a small harvest of asparagus this year and a few berries. I’ve even managed to grow an apple and several bunches of grapes that will ripen in another month. I may not live to see the final productivity but life is good.

Posted in family, food, horticulture | Tagged | 1 Comment

Programming Languages I Have Known

“It might come as surprise that the lowest level programming language that exists has re-entered the TIOBE index top 10. Why would anyone write code at such a low level, being far less productive if compared to using any other programming language and being vulnerable to all kinds of programming mistakes?”
See TIOBE Index
Yes, Assembly Language is back in a big way. This time it’s not about efficiency or speed but compactness of code. Those tiny IoTs don’t have a lot of RAM. It’s just like the Good Old Days of the IBM 1620 or the first IBM S/360s. Megabytes were a novel concept in those days.

What else shows up? Yes, PASCAL and Modula-2 and Fortran, all great languages now with minor roles compared to Java and other more popular languages. Fortunately monopoly is not the natural state of IT no matter what M$ may have told you.

Posted in technology | Tagged , | 21 Comments

Not A Sniper

“This was a mobile shooter who had written manifestos on how to shoot and move, shoot and move, and that’s what he did”
See Dallas sniper attack: 5 officers killed, suspect ID’d
The title of TFA quoted on the right is simply wrong. Snipers generally don’t “shoot and move”. That’s an infantry tactic to confuse an enemy about location and number of shooters. A sniper relies on hiding, long killing shots and an accurate rifle. This guy was doing rapid firing out in the street with an “AR-15” type of rifle and large magazines. He only hid when the police closed in on him. He never fired a shot longer than 100 yards. He wounded 12 and killed 5. A sniper would have killed more than 12 under those conditions. One of his kills was from point-blank range and he fired multiple shots to do that. That’s not the actions of a sniper.

Of WWII, my father told the story that many of the Canadian soldiers were decent shooters from living in rural areas where one shot for food and to dispatch predators. They did not want to be snipers often because they considered shooting from concealment at long range as cowardly and not likely to result in being captured alive. At one point the Dallas shooter parked his vehicle on an empty street, put the flashers on and did rapid firing in two directions at police at both ends of the same block. Police with rifles could have finished him with one shot. The Dallas shooter was definitely cowardly but also definitely was not a sniper. In the military he worked at carpentry and construction. Small arms training was secondary to his primary mission of keeping the infrastructure together. Snipers are brave. The police who closed on this guy with pistols were brave although foolish. The Dallas shooter was just a murdering bastard.

Calling the shooter the murdering bastard that he was instead of “sniper” would not undo any of the harm he caused but it also would not insult those who have/had the skill and training and equipment to kill at long range from concealment. Explicit differences are that at long range a shooter has to know something of the trajectory of the bullets which can arc several metres above intervening distance, and accuracy of sub-minute of angle is required. This shooter relied on multiple shots to kill. He had very poor accuracy. He fired dozens of shots per kill. At such short ranges the trajectory could be assumed linear and ignored. He wasn’t sniping at all.

Posted in firearms, hunting | Tagged , | 36 Comments

Canadian Prime Minister Sees The Darkness

“The first international act of a leader who styles himself as a man of peace will not be to send peacekeepers to the favoured mess of the moment, Mali or somewhere nearby, such as Niger or Burundi. It will be to deploy combat forces to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s backyard.”
See Putin’s manoeuvres make man of peace Trudeau into warmonger against all his inclinations
When Justin Trudeau became prime minister, I advocated standing up to Russian aggression in eastern Europe. Trudeau is not even halfway to the mobilization of forces that I proposed but at least he’s headed in the right direction. The world is in a dangerous place and Canadians should step up to fight for liberty in Europe, Ukraine and Syria. A small contribution is better than none. A larger contribution will be necessary to preserve Canada’s arctic and to teach Putin that he’s out-numbered and should behave more politely. We should have a ten-fold increase in shooters, flyers and sailors and proper equipment for all of them. Put some of the general officers to work actually leading forces rather than riding desks…

Posted in politics | Tagged , | 5 Comments

The End Of Ian Murdock

Ian Murdock, the founder of the Debian GNU/Linux distribution of Free/Libre Open Source Software operating system and repository, died by suicide according to a medical examiner’s report.

Life is hard and often too short despite major contributions that our most brilliant people make. Debian GNU/Linux was one of the high points of my life and continues to be a big part of my day. I thank Ian Murdock for that.

Posted in technology | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Linux-4.4.15-stable Review Missing In Action

“The whole patch series can be found in one patch at: kernel.org/pub/linux/kernel/v4.x/stable-review/patch-4.4.15-rc1.gz”
See LKML: Greg Kroah-Hartman: [PATCH 4.4 00/32] 4.4.15-stable review
I follow Greg Kroah-Harman’s output of Linux-4.4 releases closely and he has been very reliable. This time, we have an announcement but no file…
“Location: https://www.kernel.org/pub/linux/kernel/v4.x/stable-review/patch-4.4.15-rc1.gz [following]
–2016-07-07 07:34:18– https://www.kernel.org/pub/linux/kernel/v4.x/stable-review/patch-4.4.15-rc1.gz
Resolving www.kernel.org (www.kernel.org)…,,, …
Connecting to www.kernel.org (www.kernel.org)||:443… connected.
HTTP request sent, awaiting response… 404 Not Found
2016-07-07 07:34:19 ERROR 404: Not Found.”

I suppose this glitch will be resolved soon. With my purchases on the web hung up in the postal conflict and most of my repotting done, there’s not much in my queue except building the next kernel and whipper-snipping the damned weeds… I know what I’d rather be doing.

Posted in technology | Tagged , | 3 Comments

Canada Post Rattling Labour Sabre

“The sticking points include the union’s proposal for a pay increase for its rural, mostly female carriers. The union says they earn 28 per cent less than their urban, mostly male, counterparts.”
See Canada Post extends lockout deadline to Monday
Canada Post is a utility that brings a few official documents and a lot of the web-ordered stuff I prefer to appear in my mail-box rather than me driving into the big bad city… I can attest that most of the postal employees in my neighbourhood are women. If Canada Post is indeed paying them 28% less than men in the city, they should be spanked. The pension issues do affect the quality of life of retiring postal employees. I can attest that’s important. 😉

Come on, Canada Post. Do the right thing. Treat your employees well and move on. Don’t blame them for your complex management and hoary baggage. Get on with business and let the rest of us live well and prosper.

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Debian GNU/Linux Grooves In Schools In Grenoble

“Following last year’s successful pilot, the French city of Grenoble is this year moving 8 more schools to a complete free and open source stack. France’s 16th largest city, is using Linux for PCs, laptops and servers. The city intends to have switched all schools at the end of 2018.”What can I say? Grenoble tested GNU/Linux in schools recently and as a result is expanding utilization of GNU/Linux and plans to be completely GNU/Linux in a couple of years. I discovered the compatibility of GNU/Linux with education 17 years ago and others are still discovering that today. It’s all good: freedom from lock-in, lower cost of IT, easier management and deployment. Amen.

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All In A Day’s Retirement

I went shopping and drove to a medical appointment today. I gave my doctor a couple of Manchurian apricots that I planted from seed this year. They were surplus to my needs and he loves trees. He said he would plant them ASAP. I like that. He’s not only a good physician but an all round fine person.

In addition to the medical appointment I bought some more gasoline and 2-stroke cycle lubricant. It’s amazing what my string trimmer does with 50:1 fuel:oil mix. I used 16:1 for my chainsaw and it was belching smoke all the time. The trimmer just rips the weeds and skips that. It’s the synthetic components that give the oil such effective lubrication at high temperatures and RPM.

I also shopped for a bushing to adapt a new pressure switch for our well. Unfortunately, the local hardware store didn’t have exactly the bushing I needed but they had a solder fitting that would work so I used that and did some soldering. Unfortunately, I am rusty and the first trial had a tiny jet of water playing on the underside of the switch… Not good. I soon fixed that and got down to wiring. I’ve been wiring since the 1960s and have long understood what a circuit is unlike my father who used to just hook things up and watched where the sparks were… I did exactly that, although I was in the other room closing the circuit breaker so I didn’t see the sparks. Yes, I had carefully wired both sides of the power supply through the switch… I was distracted by some troublesome terminal screws and that the switch was a double-pole single throw type. I had to remove the screws to attach the wires. There was no way to loop the wire around as is usual. Well, in the end I did get it working nicely and no longer have to manually control the pump. I should have been declared “Hero of the House” at that point but TLW was not impressed and asked when I would get to the mowing… Yes, I did remember to buy the fuel.

So, it was an unusually eventful day in retirement, but it’s not half over.

Posted in family, horticulture, technology | Tagged , | Leave a comment

ARMed Entry

Many years ago M$ and Intel invented Wintel a software and hardware platform that made them $billions, often without having to work for it after they eliminated competition. Times have changed. With smartphones and tablets we saw new platforms emerge under the radar but in full sight… Those who had invested heavily in Wintel could not suppress competition this time. The whole world learned that ARMed processors and */Linux actually work for people.

The last barrier to entry for the new platform is that it’s still not seen as a “personal computing” platform as the legacy PC was. That’s changed in a big way in the past year. Raspberry Pi, Odroid, and a host of others are now available to ordinary folks at the retail level and millions of youngsters are getting their hands on a new PC and coding for it. As well, many GNU/Linux distributions have been ported to ARM and sooner or later will be accessible on the new hardware. A case in point is ViewSonic using Raspberry Pi as their platform for a new thin client. It supports all the usual protocols and is good enough for general use as a PC despite 100mbits/s networking. The Odroid-C2 is even better with more RAM, faster CPU and gigabit/s networking.

This year, I’m going to migrate my AMD64 server and clients thick and thin to Lemaker Cello and Odroid-C2. It’s time.

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

All Is Forgiven, Crucial

Yes, it is a good time to buy RAM. For my IT-migration in progress, I need a bunch of SODIMM DDR3 RAM and Crucial supplied it at a great price through Amazon.ca. The last time I bought a product from them, it came in a plastic bag and was snapped in two. I survived that crisis and enough time had passed I thought I’d give them another try. This time, the product came in a tough see-through retail package and seems intact. I don’t think it fits any of our existing motherboards so I can’t test it yet but that should happen soon. I also bought some SD-card flash storage for the server’s motherboard and my camera which seems to have a love/hate relationship with the current card. The Kingston card worked immediately in my camera. Expect more images.

So, I can forgive, especially if a business supplies what I want. I doubt that will ever happen with M$ and probably not Intel until they make ARMed processors mainstream.

Posted in technology | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments