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Comments

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Earth In the Midst of Sixth Mass Extinction: the 'Anthropocene Defaunation'

knarf Re:But what IS the point they're making? (302 comments)

As someone who studied forestry at the agricultural university in the Netherlands (yes, there is forest in the Netherlands...) I claim there is no need to forego on wood as a construction material. The only thing that needs to go is the clearcut method of forestry with its accompanying monoculture and age-based rotation. Something like the German 'Dauerwald' (http://forestry.oxfordjournals.org/content/70/4/375.full.pdf) can be used instead. These forestry methods don't destroy the habitat while still giving a steady stream of timber. They are suitable for small-scale as well as large-scale forestry. As an added bonus the forest becomes less sensitive to storm damage (always a bonus with the increasing amount of energy in the atmosphere), insect damage (due to the larger variety of trees as well as the richer habitat) and diseases.

2 days ago
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Researcher Finds Hidden Data-Dumping Services In iOS

knarf Re:DON'T PANIC (98 comments)

Android: you have the source. Not the source of the binary blobs so the device can still be compromised through those, but the rest is 'up to you'. Apple, Microsoft, Blackberry... no source.

Is Android the bees knees of mobile software? No, far from it. It is up to par with the competition, though. And it is free software (most of it). The non-free bits can be replaced, mostly. The non-replaceable bits... need to be replaceable. In other words, as it stands now Android is a local optimum.

about a week ago
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Nathan Myhrvold's Recipe For a Better Oven

knarf Perfection is reached... (228 comments)

...when there is nothing left to take away. Myhrvold seems to think the opposite is true. Did he by any chance work for Microsoft? It would explain the byzantine maze of Windows-related API's...

about a month ago
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Apple Announces New Programming Language Called Swift

knarf Re:Bjarne Stroustrup (636 comments)

Another important 'advantage' for Apple is that anything written in this language is locked to their platform, at least for now. The same goes for anything written to the new 'Metal' graphics api. Seen in that light, Swift-the-language and Metal-the-api are comparable to C#-the-language and Direct3D-the-api.

A bit like that quote Jobs 'stole' from a well-known artist: Good Artists Copy; Great Artists Steal.

about 2 months ago
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Chelsea Clinton At NCWIT: More PE, Less Zuckerberg

knarf Re:Wait... (255 comments)

One of the reasons why veterinarians score so high on the suicide front is that they've made an industry of the 'humane termination' of their subjects. For a vet, the act of ending life is often weekly, if not daily business. It does tend to take the drama out of ending a life by injecting pentobarbital. Combine this with the readily available means of 'termination' and the often stressful work environment and you get the noticed over-representation.

Source: my wife is a horse vet.

On the matter of gender over/under-representation I'd advise everyone to give it a rest already. I studied forestry at the agricultural university in the Netherlands. There were some girls there, maybe 5%? We just organised parties together with the nutrition department which had the opposite gender imbalance - problem solved :-).

about 2 months ago
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New Battery Tech From Japan Could Supercharge EVs

knarf Re: Eight years? Might work if... (81 comments)

I don't have a car (I ride motorbikes instead) but my wife does. I maintain her car, always have.

Oil change? What for? Because they say so? Because the warranty... wait a minute, warranty... that is for new cars, right? We don't buy new cars as that is a waste of money. We buy cars when they're about 4-5 years old, having done about 100.000 km. We get rid of them when they've done about 350.000 km, usually some 6-7 years later. The only time I change the oil is when she's run the thing into some piece of rock again, causing it to piss out the oil somewhere (this happened three times thus far...). Otherwise the oil stays where it is, topped up regularly but otherwise left alone.

We live in Sweden, where cars undergo mandatory inspection every year. This inspection includes an analysis of the exhaust gases for pollutants (hydrocarbons and carbon monoxide). No car I've maintained has ever failed these (stringent) tests, usually the values are at the low edge of what the equipment can detect.

Of course this is all anecdotal evidence, and there are many reports to the contrary, but I claim that the whole oil changing ritual is no more than that - a ritual which once had value but has lost it due to the quality of modern oil and filters (which I *do* change) and the cleaner-burning engines and fuels. It also helps that we run most vehicles on a mixture of ethanol and petrol, with up to 85% ethanol (E85) in some. Yes, there are reports about all sorts of bad things which ethanol will do to your engine and oil. Strangely enough I have not noticed anything of this sort, but that is - again - just anecdotal...

The biggest engine-related repair I've had to do on one of her cars was the swap of a water pump on her current car. This was caused by a design defect (VAG engine, plastic impeller cracks, rotates freely around shaft).

I'm all for electric cars but modern ICE-equipped cars are rather trouble-free, at least the ones I've worked on.

about 2 months ago
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Some Users Find Swype Keyboard App Makes 4000+ Location Requests Per Day

knarf Re:This sounds more like incompetence... (191 comments)

Just put it behind the firewall, no more requests to Google. Use something like privacy guard (in CM) or a similar 'datawall' to keep it from your personal data. Disable location, who needs it anyway? The mere fact that these devices can be tethered to your every personal detail does not mean you should - or want.

Don't use a factory distribution. Build one yourself, or use a build from somewhere you trust. Root your phone. Use a firewall. Use a 'datawall'.

For those of you inclined to start proselytizing for Apple or Microsoft (or any other brand) I'd say wake up and smell the coffee. The difference between Android and 'the others' is that on Android you have a choice. On Apple you don't, you just drink the Cool Aid. Same on Microsoft.

Of course even a self-built Android distribution still uses closed source binary blobs for all sorts of stuff, including the much maligned radio/modem which often has total control over your device. So... if it is a tablet device you wanted... take one without a WAN interface. One less leak to stop...

about 3 months ago
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Figuring Out the iPad's Place

knarf Re:Specialized hardware for a specific task (333 comments)

Funny, this. I don't have anything Apple as I take the 'personal' in personal computing rather serious. My brother, on the other hand, has no such compunctions and has swallowed the cool-aid. Everything Apple, nothing 'less'. He got the iPad. At more or less the same time I got a Chinese Android tablet, a rather eclectic thing riddled with buttons and a trackball, sporting an 8" 1280x768 screen and running Android 2.2 ('Froyo'). The iPad cost about 4 times as much as that Chinese tablet. The Chinese tablet had twice the amount of working storage ('RAM') but for the rest the specs were comparable. Both were capable of playing 3D games quite well, both handled multi-touch input. The screen on the iPad had better viewing angles, the one on my Chinese tablet sported a higher resolution. The iPad had better battery performance (10 hours of video on the iPad, 6 hours on the Chinese tablet). The Chinese tablet has a camera, the iPad did not.

Fast-forward to here and now. That iPad, being a first-generation device, is gathering dust. It is 'obsolete', overtaken by more modern devices. The Chinese tablet now runs Android 4.1.2. I have not taken the time yet to see whether I could get 4.4 running on it because I have not felt the need yet. Of course this Android release did not come from the manufacturer, but that was never my intention anyway. It came from my PC (as in 'personal' computer, a non-descript hunk of plastic running Linux at acceptable speed) and contains those bits I want, leaving out what I don't want.

More importantly, Apple devices are under Apple's control, not other vendors....On Apple you don't have to worry about that. The App has no control over what resources it's allowed to access, the user does.

Who do you think has more control over what their device does, you or me?

about 3 months ago
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How the USPS Killed Digital Mail

knarf solution to junk mail problem: wood-burning stove (338 comments)

Here in Sweden many people have 'Ingen reklam, tack' (no commercials, please) stickers on their mailbox. We don't. Instead, we have a wood-burning stove. All commercial mail ends up in there, unread, unopened. While some of the more heavy printed matter does not burn as good - or as clean - as I'd like, most of it is printed on newsprint (a type of paper) and burns just fine, thank you. In theory it might be possible to get them to deliver so much of the junk to cover a significant part of the heating budget here on the farm. In practice we use the stuff to light the fire, no more.

We could place two mailboxes by the road, one marked 'reklam' with a built-in shredder. I'd like to see the face of the mail person who feeds the bundle of drivel in the box, only to hear the thing clearly shredding it to bits for later combustion. The probability of 'real' mail ending up in there (or fingers or ...) makes this proposition less viable, alas.

about 3 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: What Tech Products Were Built To Last?

knarf Racal RA-17L (702 comments)

All you young whippersnappers with your model-M keyboards (of which I happen to sport some as well) can bow to the supreme longevity of the Racal RA-17L here on the farm which still hums/hisses/squeaks/whines/bleeps/blurps happily along after 60 years. Still using the original valves (that is tubes for you 'merricuns) as well. Valves? Yes, valves. Next to the cockroaches and model-M keyboards these boat anchors will rule the earth after the apocalypse. Not that there'll be much to listen to by then, maybe a pulsar clicking somewhere or a funny noise made by a solar flare?

about 3 months ago
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Intel Releases $99 'MinnowBoard Max,' an Open-Source Single-Board Computer

knarf Re:One of many (97 comments)

...or trying to get any non-Linux OS running on them with acceleration is painful.

How times have changed... a mere few years ago the complaint would be about the difficulty of getting Linux to run on some platform, now it is the other way around.

about 4 months ago
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WSJ: Prepare To Hang Up the Phone — Forever

knarf Re:Fine, get rid of POTS, give us Net Neutrality (449 comments)

Nothing, we build our own mesh network and forego on using commercial services. They'll try to buy some laws to make that impossible - either ignore the laws on a massive scale, vote out the vermin which sold them those laws or make sure the mesh is law-proof.

about 4 months ago
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What Apple's iWatch Can Learn From Pebble

knarf Re:Form factor (97 comments)

No, it isn't. There is a reason I never replaced that watch I lost somewhere on a mountain in Switzerland - I always had to take the thing off because it was in the way. From building to logging to working the land on the farm to fixing the tractor to repairing the $random_piece_of_electronics to $insert_random_activity, the first thing I usually did was take of the watch and put it somewhere out of the way, both to save it from grievous harm as well as to save my arm from the results of getting the thing trapped in some piece of machinery.

Maybe watches work for desk jockeys? In that case it might be the ultimate form factor for *some* of the target group for wearable electronics, but not for everyone.

The optimal form factor for wearable electronics is a neural implant. Just don't forget the spam filter...

about 4 months ago
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Classified X-37B Space Plane Breaks Space Longevity Record

knarf Re: I know what it's doing... (123 comments)

"I, for one, will not go to sleep under the light of a communist moon"

Swap "communist" for whatever you want.

about 4 months ago
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Russian Officials Dump iPads For Samsung Tablets Over Spy Fears

knarf Re:Globalization (198 comments)

Russia has plenty of resources to create their own Android distribution for whatever piece of hardware they want. They have the resources to reverse-engineer any blobs, aside from the fact that there is a less than zero chance that they already have all the data on those devices through their own version of the NSA. Your reaction implies that they'd run whatever Samsung decided to install on those tablets. That is of course a silly assumption, for many reasons.

about 4 months ago
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Russian Officials Dump iPads For Samsung Tablets Over Spy Fears

knarf Re:Why Samsung? (198 comments)

CM is full of binary blobs which are as closed and proprietary as they can get. If you want Android without the nasty bits you'd better look at Replicant - that is if it works on your device, of course...

about 4 months ago
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Why Movie Streaming Services Are Unsatisfying — and Will Stay That Way

knarf Luddite view, maybe, but... (323 comments)

I might have a somewhat luddite view on this subject, but for me the whole concept of canned visual entertainment has failed. Since it has failed, I have given up on it. I can't remember the last movie I saw, I only know it was a long... time ago - many years. I do remember some movies from before that time which somehow managed to get stuck so I can not state unequivocally that movies are not worth the celluloid they used to be printed on but the industry has made the whole experience around it so distasteful that I feel better iff without. On the risk of sounding like a Luddite I can honestly say that I'd rather read the book. Which I do, a lot. Time and time again my own imagination produces better special effects than the UK, Canada and New Zealand manage.

about 4 months ago
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Measles Outbreak In NYC

knarf Re:Obvious Answer (747 comments)

How about denying medical insurance coverage to those that fail to get vaccinated, unless they can demonstrate that they are a member of a recognized religious congregation that specifically is against vaccination as a part of church dogma?

Why make an exception for 'church dogma'? If you willingly subject yourself to unnecessary risks because of 'church dogma' you should be willing and able to bear the consequences of your actions. Surely the ${deity} which instilled this 'church dogma' into its believers will come to the aid of the needy? And if ${deity} happens to fail to show up, that must all be part of the plan, right?

The only exception I see as necessary is that for underage children. They don't have a say in the matter and are just subject to whatever figment of imagination their parents or guardians impose on them.

about 4 months ago
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Ubuntu's Mir Gets Delayed Again

knarf Re:This could be good news... (241 comments)

It is not so much that commercial unixes sucked, more that they were encumbered with so many restrictions and limitations that it got plain annoying and hard to use them. From missing tools and compilers to forced kernel rebuilds for the most trivial configuration change, anything to extract just one more license fee from the user. This, combined with the unix wars where players tried to outdo their competitors by doing things their own way made life much harder than needed.

This is probably one of the biggest contributions Linux made to the unix world. While Linux might not officially be unix, it does away with all these artificial restrictions and offers the same options to everyone everywhere. The differences between Linux distributions are nothing compared to the difference between, say, HPUX and Solaris (or AIX or Irix or Non-Stop OS or AT&T system V, let alone SCO in its many incarnations...)

about 4 months ago
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Google Sued Over Children's In-App Android Purchases

knarf Re:Please.... (321 comments)

Also, isn't it possible to have a Google Play account without a credit card?

Yes, that is perfectly possible. Entering payment details is completely optional and does in no way limit the functionality, other than not being able to pay for apps and in-app purchases. Compare this to iOS which absolutely refuses to do anything unless you enter either payment details or a pre-paid card number. Android - iOS: 1 - 0.

about 4 months ago

Submissions

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knarf knarf writes  |  more than 7 years ago

knarf (34928) writes "Here in Sweden the former state power monopolist Vattenfall is currently replacing all electricity meters with remotely readable versions. They have chosen to use Echelon NES system components. Recently I got an EM-1023 Poly-Phase (PDF) installed which includes an ANSI C12.18 compliant infrared optical port.

The power company can now follow my electricity consumption from day to day and... so could I... if only I could interface to that meter. Which leads to my question: where can I find a reference implementation of the ANSI C12.18 (or similar PSEM) protocol? I have the specs and can write everything from scratch but why reinvent the wheel?"

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