Oviedo U Increases Use Of FLOSS

“The University of Oviedo in Asturias, one of Spain’s autonomous communities, is studying ways to increase its use of free and open source software, reports La Nueva España, a newspaper.
Using free and open source software will help to avoid the use of unlicensed software, the university management is quoted as saying in December.
The university is also looking into using free software solutions to reduce academic plagiarism.
The newspaper notes how Asturia’s one and only university is at the bottom end of the annual ranking of universities that use free software”
See Oviedo university studies to increase open source
Yes, my biggest takeaway from using GNU/Linux for years in education is that FLOSS (Free/Libre Open Source Software) is perfectly suited to use in education. Teachers, administrators and students love its utility and flexibility. There’s no problem with the budget, no legal hoops to jump through and no lawyers need examine the deal. FLOSS just works for people in education.

Posted in Linux in Education, Teaching, technology | Tagged , , , , | 21 Comments

Fetching The Mail

Tonight is forecast to be the coldest night of the year. Last night we had high winds and blowing snow drifting into my driveway. I decided to walk to fetch the mail after the wind died down. The temperature was only -25C but the wind was gusting up to 52km/h at times. I put on half of my cold weather gear, parka, hoodie over a toque, scarf, sweater, insulated boots and moose-hide mitts. I was motivated. I was expecting the new wireless access point in the box…

It wasn’t bad on the way out. I had the wind at my back. The router was there as well as an order of flower/garden seeds. Yes! On the return trip, I was in trouble. In seconds I could feel my nose freezing… I resorted to the childhood expedient of walking backwards… I looked silly, probably, but I was warm and the footing was good as the wind had cleared the roadway nicely. I walked backwards 30 yards or so and then faced the wind just to make sure no truck was about to run over me or that I was heading into a rough spot. It worked. I arrived home with only some fingers complaining of cold. The circulation in my hands just isn’t enough to keep a finger warm…

Anyway. The seeds looked to be in order and the router and all its four antennae were in the box. Now to RTFM and hook it up. TLW wants it properly mounted on the wall, not my forte, so I’m going to do the configuration and a family member with a reputation for neatness and making things level will attach it to the house… It’s all good.

Posted in family, technology | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

Traditional PCs Continue To Decline

“Worldwide PC shipments totaled 72.6 million units in the fourth quarter of 2016, a 3.7 percent decline from the fourth quarter of 2015, according to preliminary results by Gartner, Inc. For the year, 2016 PC shipments totaled 269.7 million units, a 6.2 percent decline from 2015. PC shipments have declined annually since 2012.”
See Gartner Says 2016 Marked Fifth Consecutive Year of Worldwide PC Shipment Decline
Yes, for most consumers a PC has become a smartphone and they’ll buy two or three smartphones before buying another desktop/notebook. That confirms my belief that the legacy PC was overkill for most consumers from the beginning. Because it was the only choice it took off but monopoly’s not sustainable. New/better/different technology always comes along.

I’m still surprised how much people will pay for a smartphone. Makers are making huge profits compared to the narrow margins of makers of legacy PCs. Savings are everywhere: material, freight, space at every stage… Even maintenance, which was a big industry with the legacy PC, is almost nonexistent with the smartphone. People break them and just buy another. That way they get the latest technology/fashion. Certainly everyone hated the cables, malware and slowing down of the legacy PC running Wintel. In education where I did most of my computing, the legacy PC was a great boon and a great burden. Many schools could not keep a fleet of PCs running until I installed GNU/Linux which was a lower-maintenance option.

I still can’t use a smartphone very well. I have to squint and hold one close to my eye to use the damned things and my fingers just get in the way… So I hold onto the legacy but at least I’m joining the 21st century by switching to GNU/Linux on ARM instead of what the remains of the Wintel monopoly ships. 2017 should be the last year an x86-based PC runs in my home, except for a print-server. I don’t have an ARMed driver for the damned printer, but that printer is getting old. Maybe it will die…

Posted in family, Linux in Education, technology | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 19 Comments

Tillerson Time-Warp

“ExxonMobil did not lobby against the sanctions,” he said multiple times.
Surprised lawmakers produced lobbying records suggesting otherwise. Democratic Senator Bob Menendez held up lobbying reports showing Exxon spent millions of dollars to lobby Congress about the sanctions placed on Russia as well as the 2010 Iran sanctions.
For instance, a 2014 lobbying form shows that Exxon lobbied Congress on three different sanctions bills: Russian Aggression Prevention Act of 2014; the Ukraine Freedom Support Act of 2014 and the Sanction Iran, Safeguard America Act of 2014.”
See Despite paper trail, Tillerson denies Exxon lobbied against sanctions
I happened to be watching CNN when this transaction took place at Tillerson’s confirmation hearing. It was rather shocking. Was it even possible that a huge global oil firm with dealings in Russia/Iran and extensive lobbying did not come out against the sanctions, which clearly interfered with business? Why deny it?

I suppose it could be a failure of recollection but it just made no sense. These events were just two years ago. $3.44 million spent lobbying EPA is not just a visit. It’s a campaign. We don’t know what they spent lobbying over sanctions, yet… Lobbying is what Trump’s “Swamp” is all about and Trump said he understood it well and that he would drain it. Presumably one of the reasons he chose Tillerson was to have another man on the team who knew the swamp well. Perhaps not.

I’m also shocked that Tillerson actually came across as a sincere, honest guy who understands a wide variety of topics unlike Trump and many of Trump’s buddies who seem only able to sing one song over and over again. It’s like a fine mural with a prominent crack. It just doesn’t fit. Apart from this lobbying/Iran issue I found nothing to complain about Tillerson. He’s probably competent to run any secretariat in the government except possibly the EPA…

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Electrameccanica Plans 400 EVs for 2017

“Electra Meccanica SOLO Delivery Dates
Car Number: *Estimated Delivery Date:
1 – 50 Q2 – 2017
51 – 100 Q3 – 2017
101 – 400 Q4 – 2017
401 – 800 Q1 – 2018″
See Delivery Dates
Shucks. I hoped to be in on the first 1000 Solo EVs but I could be too late. They are already stacked up until Q1 2018. There’s still a small window of opportunity for the first 1000 but 2018? I still haven’t made up my mind… Now I have to worry whether I will live long enough to take delivery… 😉

Posted in technology | Tagged , , | 5 Comments

Linux Consolidates Support For Beast IV

See [PATCH v5 11/12] arm64: dts: marvell: add sdhci support for Armada 7K/8KIt’s great to see that Marvell’s ARMed stuff is being pushed upstream to Kernel.org to support their new product which should be available soon to power ARM64 developers and guys for a need for a small server, like me. 😉

My new server which will have the designation, “Beast IV”, will deviate from a long line of AMD products (Athlon, Athlon 64 single core, Athlon 64 quad-core) to an ARM-based developer board from Marvell, the ARMADA 8040 Networking Community Board. It will have sufficient power and resources to run a few hundred processes: my desktop, my NAS, my web-server, my databases, and network infrastructure from the ISP to my LAN. It may not be the most powerful Beast ever but it will use half the power of Beast III and use the later DDR4 with ECC, USB3 and SATA3 technology at half the nanometres. The motherboard has multiple gigabit/s+ NICs too. Apart from still needing a fan to keep cool, it’s nearly perfect for my needs and (at my age) may well be the last motherboard I ever buy.

Shipping soon, I hope… 😉

Posted in technology | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 17 Comments

There It Is – Trump Co Riddled With Russian Spies

“Intel chiefs presented Trump with claims of Russian efforts to compromise him

The two-page synopsis also included allegations that there was a continuing exchange of information during the campaign between Trump surrogates and intermediaries for the Russian government, according to two national security officials.”
See Intel chiefs presented Trump with claims of Russian efforts to compromise him
The bizarre rants of Trump now make sense. Trump has been covering up a nest of Russian spies in his camp. Folks coordinating with an enemy of the state in the middle of an election campaign, this is going to be better than Watergate and the Chinese Connection combined. This makes the 2016 US election look more like an attempted coup every day. Will the traitor take the oath? Will there be mass arrests and perp-walks? How red will Trump’s face be? How many Tweets will he fire off before then? Bring on more popcorn. Continue reading

Posted in politics | Tagged , , | 7 Comments

Talos, For Those Needing Powerful Computing

“Talos™ is a state-of-the-art mainboard designed for the new IBM POWER8 architecture. It is the first and only high performance computer with absolutely no proprietary software or firmware blobs. With its ATX form factor, Talos™ brings a level of performance to the workstation realm usually found in dedicated servers and a level of freedom and user control long extinct in modern hardware. In addition to its onboard, open-toolchain FPGAs, Talos™ easily and tightly interfaces with GPUs, FPGAs, and custom hardware.”
See Talos Secure Workstation
FSF (Free Software Foundation) is backing a crowd-funded project to develop a motherboard for a workstation that’s competitive in the “power” department with Intel’s Xeon. I don’t need anywhere near that kind of power in my home so I’ve opted for ARM for small/efficient computing, but if you need the power and don’t want Intel nor Intel’s backdoor it might be just your thing. The price is a show-stopper for me. It starts ~$7K just for a naked motherboard. It is a fine motherboard but after spending more on CPUs, RAM etc. it’s out of my league at least for this year and probably next despite the growth of my stock portfolio. If I do a “big ticket” purchase, it will be an electric car next year. This year, I might be going halvers on a meat grinder and I will buy some kind of ARMed server. Perhaps the IBM Power solutions will be less expensive in a couple of years…

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

The Return Of Wooden Bullets

“The Department of Defense is now looking at ways to clean up after itself, putting out the call for the development of biodegradable ammunition loaded with seeds that sprout plants after being discharged.”
See US military seeks biodegradable bullets that sprout plants
In the last desperate days of WWII, my father encountered wooden bullets fired by German forces in his direction. Of course such bullets lacked range or accuracy but they would be dangerous at close range. OTOH, they convinced “our guys” that we were winning and that the end was near. It was. A few months later he was married and at home causing the “baby boom”…

Well, USA doesn’t intend wooden bullets to make a comeback in use against hostile forces, but just to make firing ranges less of a bio-hazard. That’s good. I shoot at a range where most bullets end up in a berm filled with lead, copper, zinc, steel and other stuff that while natural is not normally found in high concentrations near the surface of Earth. Living things find these metals toxic. Keeping them concentrated on ranges at least minimizes the risk to the rest of the environment but it’s just delaying the problem as rain can move some of the material into aquifers or wind and erosion can spread it over the surface. Heaven only knows what various critters will do with the stuff.

It’s a cute idea to have expended rounds deposit seeds but it could be beneficial not in berms but large areas where war-games and such are carried out. There, tracked vehicles may erode flora on the surface and explosions can kill grass, weeds, trees and shrubs so rejuvenation is a good idea. Too bad we can’t make rounds that would convert murdering bastards into kind, loving people.

Posted in firearms, politics, technology | Tagged , , , | 17 Comments

Heating Up, Not Warming

“2016 was the second hottest year for the U.S. in more than 120 years of record keeping, government scientists announced on Monday, marking 20 above-average years in a row. Every state had a temperature ranking at least in the top seven, with two, Georgia and Alaska, recording their hottest year.”
See It’s Official: 2016 Was Second Hottest Year for U.S.
While measuring temperatures on a global scale is expensive and measuring temperatures at a single point (like where I live) may not be truly representative, coverage over a large region like USA has merit as an indicator and it’s a whopper. USA has had 20 above-average temperature years in a row and 98% of recording stations showed 2016 hotter than average. It’s pretty convincing evidence of climate change to the upside in temperature. Trump can’t deny that. Trump can’t also deny that burning fossil fuels is dumping tons of CO2 into the atmosphere and that it’s a greenhouse gas. He can’t connect the dots though because he’s stupid and bigotted just like his EPA nominee.

Fortunately, Trump’s four-year term will cut short his nonsense and USA will come back to its senses after one dance with the devil. Of that 4 years, he might manage to ramp up CO2 production or dampen renewables for a year or two. Thank goodness the authours of the constitution had the forethought to put in term limitation. He’s also an old geezer and Nature might take its course.

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

Trump Overrated

“US President-elect Donald Trump has hit back at Meryl Streep’s criticism of him as she received a lifetime achievement award at the Golden Globes.
He tweeted: “Meryl Streep, one of the most overrated actresses in Hollywood, doesn’t know me but attacked last night at the Golden Globes.”
See Donald Trump calls Meryl Streep ‘overrated’ after Golden Globes speech
Following his usual recipe, the thin-skinned POETUSPOS attacks Streep the messenger rather than her message. Streep has won a truckload of Academy Awards and Golden Globe Awards. She’s well rated. He’s an ignorant twit, full of himself and utterly incapable of doing the job of POTUS which is not to insult as many people as possible. He’s supposed to be an executive above the fray not criticizing everyone like a drunken sailor. He has no judgment and has earned all the criticism he has received in the last year or so. Unfortunately too many voters decided to ignore his obvious faults and hoped for a magical future. It isn’t happening. What we saw is what we will get until he’s impeached or dies in office.

Streep knows him. He’s been all over TV and the Internet for months, repeating and repeating and threepeating the most inane statements imaginable. If he is brilliant, why are his utterances so ignorant? If he is wise, why are his utterances so unwise? If he’s so responsible, why does he keep claiming we don’t understand the clear meaning of his words and actions? He’s a hopeless candidate for POTUS. The world’s only hope is that he stays on Twitter for four years continuously so that he doesn’t break anything or push the wrong button.

PS: Read Streep’s speech here.

Posted in politics | Tagged , , | 15 Comments

Daesh Losing Grip

“Iraqi government forces fighting so-called Islamic State (IS) in Mosul have reached the banks of the Tigris river in the city for the first time.”
See Mosul battle: Iraqi government forces reach Tigris river
It’s taken some months, but nearly half of Mosul has been “liberated” from Daesh. Too bad Iraq didn’t have the fortitude to protect it from Daesh years ago.

Anyway, the end of Daesh is near. In Mosul, they are surrounded, with only the tiniest opportunities for resupply/reinforcement. In Syria, Raqqa will soon be in a similar state. Daesh is collapsing while taking as many lives as possible with it. The end can’t come too soon for these murdering bastards. ⅔ of East Mosul has been liberated. The west side has been surrounded. Once the river is controlled, the west side will collapse in good order. This is not Stalingrad. There is no one on the outside risking everything to send in supplies/reinforcements. The surrounding forces have strength, depth and lots of experience. The remainders of Daesh have nothing but a “death wish”. Give them what they want…

Posted in firearms, politics | Tagged , , | 1 Comment