An omnibus of tech posts by s Futurologist on software development
Friday, 22 February 2008
Time to prohibit chewing gum?
As chewing gum will always get dropped and stuck on pavements by a minority, is it time to prohibit chewing gum sales in the UK/EU? Singapore banned it back in 1992
, the ban remains to this day (although medicinal gum is allowed). I wouldn't miss it, and it would not be "nanny state" ban. In fact, dog dirt is just as much a problem, if only the culture would change, and owners would tidy up after their pooches!
Labels: Europe, UK
taste great! Only £1.30 on that site, for an Australian delicacy! TrueBlueTucker
also sell them in the UK.
European travel adapters
Isn't it frustrating countries still use different sockets. The US/Japan ones are rather flimsy and have a trailing earth wire to connect sometimes. The UK ones are great, with a longer earth pin which "unlocks" the live+neutral pin holes in the socket. The Swiss ones are inconveniently slightly differently spaced round pins compared to France and Germany. The UK shaver 2-pin adapters are also slightly larger round pins which wont fit into standard French sockets!
My "European" travel adapter doesn't fit in Swiss sockets, I need to buy a separate 3 pin adapter for while I am there!
Why don't countries support a multi-compatible socket for the moment? Then in the future just standardise on the safer UK design of plug/socket.
Labels: Europe, Future
Wednesday, 20 February 2008
Tuesday, 19 February 2008
I've had two different experiences of trying to use local government services to get pot holes fixed and fly tipped rubbish collected:
The 1st experience is that because I have contacted them, I am dealt with (but they do not protectively search out work!).
The 2nd is that they do not have resource to deal with the requests, so they assign Tickets, place requests in Queues or future aspirational Lists. Which doesn't solve the issue, and is designed to keep the customer content, the end result is they have managed to not make a service provision -- what is really needed is an expansion of resource to cover the demands on services; rather than various different ways of managing non-delivery of service!
There is a similar situation with allocation of school places in the UK. It used to be done by post-code, which meant the rich would move into the best areas which in turn would keep the average areas average. Now in Brighton it has been changed to a lottery! Which the rich will grumble about and the lucky ones from outside the old catchment area will now all have long commutes to school. Fairer? Yes. However what they should have done was bring all the schools up to the highest standard rather than devise a system to fairly allocate their limited success in running schools!
Sunday, 17 February 2008
Domestic Tame Pet Fox
Ever wondered how Dogs and Cats were tamed? Well a CCCP Scientist Dmitri Belyaev
wondered that too. He was able to selectively pick friendly silver foxes and over 10 successive generations he bread a tame fox
which barked, wagged it's tail, had floppy ears and even had spots on its coat like a dog! For more info: tame fox videos
, BBC scientists breed cute tame fox
It's pretty amazing the change happened so quickly!
Saturday, 16 February 2008
NDISwrapper is an clever project which implements the NDIS Microsoft API to allow the Linux kernel to run binary NDIS wifi and other drivers and get GNU+Linux laptops and other hardware online. The problem is when this becomes a long-term solution vendor's will start just releasing NDIS binary drivers only, as they know GNU+Linux distros are accommodating that stance.
This is precisely the problem IBM encountered with OS/2. The win16 API support was so good, developers might as well just keep targeting that API and then their software could run on both MS-Windows and OS/2 without them needing to do any additional work.
Also this is problem with the WINE
project (for fairness check their Myths
page), it's establishing something as permanent which should really be only a migration tool for software over a couple of years. You can't win a game when you're only ambition is to chase and support someone else's partly proprietary changing API !
We're seeing another example of the OS/2, NDISwrapper and general WINE problem with games on GNU+Linux platforms. Thanks to the WINE developers great efforts getting Direct3D working on top of OpenGL many games are now working, but as we all know does this mean companies will develop games for GNU+Linux? or will they just standardise on Win32 as that works well thanks to WINE?
Another problem is that some commercial companies are now contributing to WINE, which cements it further into the software ecosystem, Google just announced
it has made improvements.
Support native applications and drivers for the future of the platform! ;) Buy the wifi devices that are compatible! I'm personally using a ZyDAS wireless adapter as Broadcom won't make their products Linux kernel compatible (wasted BCM4318 in my system). My ZyDAS uses the excellent zd1211rw
Update: It is possible to install binary only BCM4318 firmware
to get it working with GNU+Linux.
Labels: GNU+Linux, NDISwrapper, WINE
Firefox print to PDF
Why doesn't Firefox have a export as PDF function yet? This is one of the features I use most in OpenOffice. When I need to do it from Firefox on Ubuntu I need to print to Default/Postscript, and save to file, then use ps2pdf from the shell to convert it. However, it just just be a click away!
From KDE System Settings, I can add a new Printer as GENERIC->Postscript Printer but that file is still a PostScript file and not a PDF! The pseudo printer is a simple idea, with PDFCreator and CutePDF being available which acomplish it this way. Will Firefox 3 have this missing feature?
Labels: Firefox, PDF
Friday, 15 February 2008
Flakey ubuntu second mouse support
Many of us now use laptop instead of desktops, like us using mobiles instead of land-line phones! So I use the latest Kubuntu on my Dell laptop, the problem is it doesn't' correctly configure my touch-pad and USB mouse that I use... it enables both! The workaround I use is to delve into /etc/X11/xorg.conf and comment out InputDevice "Synaptics Touchpad" while I am using the USB mouse... and then when I am on the move I have to go back in and uncomment that line.. ugly but Ubuntu doesn't support detection & configuration like MS-Windows and probably Apple's Mac OS does.
Although, even commenting out the Synaptics doesn't solve it all though, as /dev/input/mice actually is a mixed device node, including the data from all mice! cat /dev/input/mice and see! in my case /dev/input/mouse0 seems to be dead, mouse1 is my USB mouse, and mouse2 is the Synaptics pad. So I also needed to change the /dev/input/mice line to be /dev/input/mouse1 to get it to only respond to the external mouse.
When I'm on the move without an external mouse I'll just have to keep editing xorg.conf for the moment then.. :(
ubuntu should really detect an external mouse and disable the internal touchpad, as it stands I would be left accidentally touching the internal pad and all those touches keep highlighting my text etc while typing! Until it's fixed I'll have to stick to editing files as root then.. Shame the KDE System Settings Mouse section can't control this as a workaround for having to edit the xorg file!
Labels: GNU+Linux, Ubuntu
Monday, 11 February 2008
OpenID security issue
I am very pleased that OpenID
is finally taking off, I have too many site logons as it is. However, it does raise a security implication, because once my personal data has been concatenated to the point that it's as dangerous as a leak of enriched uranium waste
.. someone gaining access to my bank logins subject me to fraud ultimately. I personally am pleased my online banking all has a different login system for security. if banks did ever unify their login systems I'd hold out to have a separate account for each system, as I would never use my bank login from a web-cafe as I can't be sure if it's secure.
Labels: DataProtection, Future, GNU+Linux
Sunday, 10 February 2008
Web-apps for Email GPL
I use GMail myself, but does anyone know of a decent Web-app using AJAX I could install on my server and use for email and IM (XMPP etc) while out of my office? Sometihng as good as the current GMail would be needed to get me to switch!
Labels: GNU+Linux, Web
Adam Curtis Documentaries
I've been catching up on older documentary series' by Adam Curtis
recently. Saw his Power of Nightmares
, and The Trap
Century of Self - concerns consumerism and democracy.
The Mayfair Set - concerns how a group of four men who frequented the Clermont club in London ultimately shaped the climax of the Thatcher years.
Pandora's Box - concerns how governments have utilised technology for their own aims.
Labels: AdamCurtis, Humanity, TV, UK
The Paradox of Choice - Why More Is Less
Watched an interesting presentation at Google by Barry Schwartz, The Paradox of Choice - Why More Is Less
. A couple of good choices is better than 50 good choices, too much to reivew. Schwartz builds on the psychoanalysis and PR understanding that Edward Bernays
pioneered in the 1920s after helping with propaganda spin for WW1. Bernays was most famous for getting women to start smoking by promoting it as a power issue and getting women to call cigarettes "Torches of Freedom" in a parade in New York.
Labels: Google, PR, Psychoanalysis
Friday, 8 February 2008
Micropolis on OLPC
EA have releasd the SimCity source code under GPL for the OLPC. EA have done a great thing! It's available under it's development name, Micropolis
as EA wanted to keep the SimCity brand until it passes release QA etc ;)
Labels: Gaming, OLPC
Tuesday, 5 February 2008
A2 jet Concorde successor?
Cryogenic fuel give the A2 jet
, a more environmental feel in tune with the times. Possibly this could materialise as the successor to Concorde. I wouldn't mind the lack of windows for that kind of flight time!
Sunday, 3 February 2008
Flakey GNU Flash (Gnash) causes Firefox to hang
I'm running the latest Kubuntu 7.10 which comes with Firefox 2 and through I would see what all the fuss is about with Gnash (aka GNU Flash). Gnash is the GNU/FSF branded project to implement decoding support of Adobe's Proprietary Flash file format that is sadly so common on the net these days (seems contrary to the No MS-Word documents
strategy you're probably thinking too?)
Anyway I followed the instructions:
apt-get install mozilla-plugin-gnash
Gnash installed ok, so I headed over to youTube to hear a new track
by a band I heard on the radio earlier. I hadn't' thought to save my draft email in another tab.. pretty risky this software stuff.. My laptop started chugging and churning, I ran "top" and could see gtk-gnash
was using 1.6% of RAM in its two process threads, and 20% CPU in one process and 79% in the other one! This went on for 5 mins before I managed to close the tab (after several warnings from Firefox about a script which had stopped responding). There were no errors reported, and the clip never worked. I did get a glimpse of the spinning loading icon youTube uses though, before it all went grey.
Bizarrely, there is a context menu item in Gnash (from within the browser) where you can "Quit".. so I did this and it went down to one process taking up 80% of CPU time!
So it looks like.. unfortunately for the Gnash developers.. that the implementation is presently as flaky ass the GNU+FSF strategy to support Adobe is.
Labels: Adobe, GNU+Linux, Web
When will Microsoft open up their OS to customisation?
One way Microsoft could improve their strategy is to offer users and PC sellers choices in the way the OS is setup, what components are installed and what browser, Wordprocesor is setup as default etc. Even more useful things like what UI is default and the ability to run a different desktop such as Gnome or KDE. It would give Microsoft another chance to compete with the flexibility that a GNU+Linux PC seller has. The EU Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes may even force them to open up their OS to vendor customisation when they loose the Opera case..? It would save them market in the short-term.. so let's hope they don't read this!
Labels: Europe, GNU-Linux, Microsoft
Saturday, 2 February 2008
Political revival of Scots Gaelic
After the nationalist politicians in Wales have been desperately reviving the Welsh
language, Scotland's nationalist politicians have also started along a track to the detriment of the citizens who elected them as well. The Scottish Parliament passed the Gaelic Language (Scotland) Act
back in 2005, establishing a quango called "Bòrd na Gàidhlig" to push Scots Gaelic back into Education and Scottish life from it's defunct position.
It's a sorry day for the students who could otherwise be spending those 4-6 hours a week learning another popular language to give them an advantage in life.
At least Scotland isn't trying to mandate school lessons in Gaelic... yet.. See Wikipedia's Language revival
and Languages of the United Kingdom
articles for further information.
Labels: Politics, UK
now have a competitor, from Canadian company InkMedia
with their Unique
laptop running Ubuntu
. It is a different in that it runs everything from ROM, and data is saved to an external USB stick which prevents any viruses getting into the system when nothing is connected.
Labels: Future, GNU-Linux, Laptops
Unsackable "Honourable" MP Derek Conway
Conservative MP Derek Conway isn't Honourable
, he systematically gave tax-payers money to his son, over £13k of it, and there are no records of what his son did on those 17 hours a week he was being paid for. The parliamentary commissioner for standards has ruled, but Derek still has his job. The conservatives have dropped him from renominations and their party, but he is still an MP!Derek Conway's head and shoulders in trough
, over £1.5M paid out to his family and friends since 2001.. So why don't we have powers to sack him? If anyone stole £13 in their job from funds they would be fired for gross misconduct.
Friday, 1 February 2008
CMYK in GIMP ever?
Looks like GIMP will be superseded before it ever gets CMYK support... Krita
can do CMYK, and it can open GIMP XCF files too. GIMP used to be the main graphics application, but it's use is shrinking recently. There is hope for GIMP, as its new GEGL
architecture is planned, but then it has already been four years
in the planning..
GNU+Linux is missing a number of key features if it ever wants to be taken seriously by graphic designers:
Decent design applications to compete with Adobe Photoshop/Illustrator and support CMYK.
Rename GIMP to something less stupid, something even artistic. Google has the right idea with "Picasa", Pablo would be proud!
Update the UI to follow standard design, like Firefox, OpenOffice, Scribus and other applications users are familiar with.
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