An omnibus of tech posts by s Futurologist on software development
Friday, 28 March 2008
MiG-31 Foxhound flight to the unknown
flight is one I definitely would like to do, right to the edge of space!
Thursday, 27 March 2008
Too much packaging
I'm sure everyone is noticing just how much superfluous packaging food and products now come in. Now rather than taking all that packaging off individually wrapped apples in a larger bag at home, imagine if we took all the packaging off while still in the supermarket. Imagine if we left it all there neatly placed in black sacks, and took the food home in our reusable shopping bags. Supermarkets would have to hire skips at great expense to take away the packaging, and would soon stop buying produce from supplies who over-packed their food ;)
Labels: Environment, UK
Monday, 24 March 2008
Ubuntu not ready masses?
When I plug in my USB WD "MyBook" it pops up in Kubuntu desktop automatically, and when I want to remove it, it sometimes doesn't have the "Safely Remove" option, so I have to go to root to unmount it (as users are bizarrely not allowed to unmount removable USB drives!?).. anyway, after it's unmounted by root the system locks up when I unplug it.. so much for USB being plug and play with the Linux kernel.
Of cause if it had downloaded the symbols, generated a back-trace from the core-file it could have automatically offered to submit that for further analysis and a fix.. sadly it doesn't support that still. Also it didn't seem to do a recover of the filesystem (i'm using ext3 with all its journalness), when I restarted the computer, so maybe it's just ext3 with its journal recovers automatically? I'd file a bug report, but without the QA staff to follow it up on Launchpad I can't see it being tackled.
I wish there was a pay model so we could contribute to cover QA staff salaries.
The final oldness is that as I don't want to keep my WD drive in Microsoft's FAT32 format I've got to go through quite a manual process to reformat it as Linux's ext3 format. (Why can't I just right click on the FAT32 icon on my desktop and select format and be prompted for the root password etc?)
I need to revert to the command line, repartition with fdisk, format with mke2fs (remembering to set a label with -L and -j for the journal). Then when it mounts I'm left with only a "lost+found" directory, and I can't create files in the root of the drive as a user... so go back to root, create a folder, change the permissions on the folder to 700, change owner and group to user. Rather a faff to use a removable drive in the standard partition format, eh!? I'm not sure how well my non-expert friends would have managed.
Labels: GNU+Linux, Ubuntu
Friday, 21 March 2008
English spelling irregularities
English spelling is pretty eccentric, I wonder if it would ever be possible to switch the spelling of words to a phonetic base. Would be hard as spelling is so engrained, and also many other countries speak English as their first language. However, other languages have tried to make modifications over time, i.e. like High German dropping the sharp-s character, so "Grüße" becomes "Grüsse", I still see the ß charcter widely in use, so the government trying to change may not necessarily make it successful. Also, do we really want to have to change languages back to just latin letters..?
Labels: Language, UK
Thursday, 20 March 2008
Dell Inspiron 1300 Ubuntu Mic not working
The latest Kubuntu is still shipping with no working Mic input, no problem though as the fix is simple, we just need to pass the right model code to snd-hda-intel kernel module. I'm using a Dell Inspiron 1300, but other laptops also use STAC9200, such as the Dell Inspiron 6400.
Normally we would cat cat /proc/asound/card0/codec#0 and use the SigmaTel chip id: "STAC9200", but in the case of my chip
using a name is not supported, so we must use "ref". If you look at the alsa kernel code alsa-kernel/pci/hda/patch_realtek.c you can see it is "ref":
static const char *stac9200_models[STAC_9200_MODELS] =
[STAC_REF] = "ref",
We can specify the options in either /etc/modules or /etc/modprobe.d/alsa-base
options snd-hda-intel model=ref
page for more info. One thing I wonder is that why is it called "snd-hda-intel" in the kernel tree and options, but in the output of lsmod it shows up as "snd_hda_intel" why the underscore difference!?
Monday, 10 March 2008
No online marketing opt in
I wrote about Phorm
the other day. While thinking about this online marketing problem I had a quick look online. There are ways to confirm you don't opt into online web tracking services. The BBC even put up a page about their tracking of visitors
So the list of steps sites to set the special cookies:DoubleClick no marketing opt in
. Onmniture (WebSideStory) SiteCatalist HBX Hitbox no marketing opt in
.Nielsen no marketing opt in
(make sure you click "Total Opt-Out" !)Google Web History remove guide
. (Highlighted on ORG-Discuss
I do think we need an international standard ad-tracking opt out
like the BBC say.
For the meantime we just need Firefox and other browsers to start shipping with these cookies set by default. Also we need a Firefox extension which let's users control the cookies in a more friendly manner.
Sunday, 9 March 2008
One child policy
Everyone knows of China's One-Child Policy
, the BBC
is running an article on it and how it has avoided overcrowding and resource issues families not having those 400M births that would have happened otherwise.
Our little pale blue dot is the only M-Class planet
, we have precious little resources on the surface of the planet and China's One-Child Policy looks like a good decision to prevent overcrowding, and I expect other countries may fallow suit. After WW2 population was at 2.5B, now it is at 6.5B, and if no careful planning is done it will be 20B by 2050.
Nice quote from the BBC article:"Compared with the world's other developing countries with large populations, we have realised this transformation half a century ahead of time."
One problem will be avoiding the one-child growing up spoilt, there must be many group activities, and sharing encouraged. Also the birth ratio of boys to girls is more different than in other countries.
Phorm unique tracking
BBC ran a story earlier this week: Ad system 'will protect privacy'
. Also the PMs site has a petition
worth signing. The Phorm site has a privacy
page with some more information.
Phorm say their tracking is anonymous, but surely they have miss-understood the definition of Anonymous (from the Greek ανωνυμία):
Oxford English Dictionary:
1. Not identified by name; of unknown identity.
2. Having no individual or unusual features.
Or as Chambers Dictionary puts it, "without character; nondescript"
Once I have been assigned a unique number which identifies every communication with me uniquely, surely I am no longer anonymous?
Once they have tagged my interests as "cars", "music", "travel" and "gadgets" surely that would constitute something along the lines of "individual or unusual features" ? I'm certainly no longer nondescript.
The honest way would be for Phorm to phrase it: "uniquely identified, profiled and browsing categories tracked by a number rather than a name".
Let's see what the Information Commissioner's research
into Phorm reveals.
Labels: DataProtection, UK
vCard Firefox integration missing from Kubuntu
vCard (.vcf, text/x-vcard) has been around for a long time. However, Kubuntu isn't setup with Firefox to load the vCard from web pages. We need to set firefox to use /usr/bin/kaddressbook, or manually save the file and then open it. The browser needs tight integration with the rest of the GNU+Linux distro!
Labels: GNU+Linux, Ubuntu
Saturday, 8 March 2008
Sunday, 2 March 2008
Freeconomy walk fails - just bad planning?
Inspired by Gandhi's walk to Porbander (India), Mark Boyle planned to walk from Bristol to Porbander as a "Community Pilgrim" to promote his Freeconomy community movement. Unfortnately for him he failed and returned
from France this week.
To me it looks incredibly stupid to set off abroad to France in light of not being able to speak French! No wonder everyone thought he was a freeloading backpacker or illegal migrant. It's pretty rude to expect people to speak English when French is such a significant language itself. Setting out on a walk with such a complete lack of planning is simply stupid. His community didn't yet exist, and no wonder no one understood what he was aiming to achieve. Had he marketed his mission in advance online, and got local media involved it would probably have been more successful.
However, setting off with no money at all is pretty silly, if he wants to get things to move to a "freeconomy" there has to be some intermediary phase (like the difference between socialism and communism, no country ever reached communism).
From his site:
"So what is The Freeconomy Community about?
It's about making the transition from a money-based communityless (sic) society to a community-based moneyless society."
What Mark wants has been tried before, the socialist countries in Eastern Europe, CCCP and Asia all operated barter trading agreements. Putting a numerical value on things just seems to work better though, because you can't often work out how many sheep you need to barter for a car..! the free market is pretty good at deciding prices. In CCCP there was a state managed economy, where Gosplan would "predict" demand, and set prices. The problem with predicting is that they would ramp up production for say "fashionable shoes", and then it would turn out that people didn't like them. The moral is, you can't predict what consumers what to buy. In addition, there needs to be the "success factor" that is capitalism, otherwise there bad ideas and bad products last for ever, when, like in evolution only the successful products and services should survive.
It's odd that Mark expected to rely on others food and shelter while on his trip, which those people would obviously foot the bill for.
At least the media have highlighted the need for schools to educate in modern popular languages which people like Mark will need when they are on trips abroad.
The Landshare idea on his website is pretty silly, making everyone run an allotment. It reminds me of domestic iron production in CCCP.
These days Mark would probably make more of an impact on the world if he got on Wife Swap
. Mark Boyle
website. Funny commentary
on the walk.
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