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Modular Smartphones Could Be Reused As Computer Clusters

lkcl Re:I suppose... (82 comments)

Assuming that the obsolete compute modules are of standard size/pinout (or, more likely, that compute chassis are only produced for phones that ship in sufficiently massive volume to assure a supply of board-donors), this scheme would work; but I have to imagine that a phone SoC would make a pretty dreadful compute node: Aside from being a bit feeble, there would be no reason for the interconnect to be anything but abysmal.

the nice thing about a modular system is that just as the modules may be discarded from the phones and re-purposed (in this case the idea is to re-purpose them in compute clusters), so may, when there are better more powerful processors available, the modules being used in the compute clusters *also* discarded... and re-purposed further once again down a continual chain until they break.

now, you may think "phone SoC equals useless for compute purposes" this simply is *not true*. you may for example colocate raspberry pi's (not that i like broadcom, but for GBP 25 who is complaining?) http://raspberrycolocation.com... - cost per month: $EUR 3. that's $EUR 36 per year because the power consumption and space requirements are so incredibly low.

another example: i have created a modular standard, it's called EOMA68. it re-uses legacy PCMCIA casework (which you can still get hold of if you look hard enough). the first CPU Card is a 2gb RAM dual-core 1.2ghz ARM Cortex A7, which as you know is based on the A15 so may even do Virtualisation. i did a simple test: i ran Debian GNU/Linux on it, installed xrdp, libreoffice and firefox. i then ran *five* remote sessions from my laptop, fired up libreoffice and firefox in each, and that dual-core CPU Card didn't even break a sweat.

so if you'd like to buy some compute modules *now* rather than wait for google project ara (which will require highly specialist chipsets based on an entirely new and extremely uncommon standard called MIPI UniPro) the crowdfunding campaign opens very shortly:

https://www.crowdsupply.com/eo...

once that's underway, i will have the funding to finish paying for the next compute module, which is a quad-core CPU Card. after that, we can see about getting some more CPU Cards developed, and so on and so forth for the next 10 years.

to answer your question about "interconnect", you have to think in terms of "bang-per-buck-per-module" in terms of space, power used as well as CPU. a 2.5 watt module like the EOMA68-A20 only takes up 5mm x 86mm x 54mm. i worked out once that you could get something like 5,000 of those into a single full-height 19in cabinet - something mad, anyway. you end up using something like 40kW and you get such a ridiculous amount of processing power in such a small space that actually it's power and backbone interconnect that become the bottlenecks, *not* the Gigabit Ethernet on the actual modules, that becomes the main problem to overcome.

bottom line there's a lot of mileage in this kind of re-useable modular architecture. help support me in getting it off the ground!
https://www.crowdsupply.com/eo...

3 days ago
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Government Recommends Cars With Smarter Brakes

lkcl didn't apply the brakes at all (what?!) (304 comments)

this is not a surprise. i have good 3d visual modelling ability, which allowed me to assess gaps between vehicles and drive at 30mph near curbs or bollards in width-restricted areas with an inch to spare either side, for example. i remember one day, a former partner and i, driving along a motorway. approximately fifty times throughout an hour-long journey, she would drive in the middle lane directly up to the back of a car in front at more than 15mph faster than the other vehicle, *apply the brakes* when the vehicle in front was only 8 to 10 metres away, and then and *only then* look in the side mirror to see if it was safe to change lane.

by contrast i would be constantly looking left, right and back (which is actually very tiring), would know where all vehicles were, even up to a mile away in either direction, and, using 3D modelling based on speeds and locations of other vehicles, would *predict* whether it was necessary for me to speed up or slow down in order to merge into faster (or slower) traffic in order to overtake vehicles *plural* in front. or, in some cases, whether to simply sit there happily at the speed of the vehicles in front.

now, this person - my former partner - drove an average of *four to five hours* per day like this. but if they are anything to go by, i am honestly and genuinely not surprised to hear that there are people who cannot judge distances, for whom the world is 2D, devoid of depth and the awareness that goes with it.

*that having been said*... the addition of "features" that apply the brakes without permission seem like an incredibly bad idea. i am reminded of a discussion recently... allow me to quote:

"We inadvertently built our own panic and short-sightedness into
the very systems designed to protect us from our worst impulses"

http://aeon.co/magazine/techno...

then, also, there is the failure of the three laws of robotics (yes, asimov's work demonstrated that the three laws are an *outright failure*, not a success). the three laws basically provided robots that *prevented* humanity from taking risks. on a species-level, the three laws *terminated* our evolution and advancement.

so, honestly, i have to say that if people cannot have the good sense to be sufficiently aware when driving a 1500 kilogramme object that is capable of causing death to themselves and those in the immediate vicinity, then please, with much respect and love, give them family a darwin award, be glad that they weren't driving in *your* vicinity at the time, and be glad that our species gene pool's "average spacial awareness" capability just went up a tiny notch.

5 days ago
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Tracking Down How Many (Or How Few) People Actively Use Google+

lkcl poisionous and risky name policy. (209 comments)

i pointed this out before, but google's policy of forcing people to give their *real* names is incredibly dangerous. google set themselves up as the *authority* - the guarantor - that the person you are contacting is exactly whom google *says* they are. now, given that it's possible under gmail to register very similar email addresses (with and without "." in them) we have the potential extremely litigous situation where someone could be deceived and then sue google - rightly - for damages based on google's guarantees - safety about identity - not being properly upheld.

contrast that situation where *everyone knows* that you don't trust email. or any kind of unconfirmed interaction on the internet.

and i think this is what people felt - subconsciously - both inside google as well as outside, that there was something very very badly wrong about forcing people to both disclose but also to allow google to "certify" their identity.

the other thing is just that... google+ is... simply... devoid of excitement and interest. it feels like it's a single-track uninspiring place, with one direction that Thou Shalt Go: google's waaaay.

contrast this to how facebook operates (or how myspace operated): i realise it's information-overload, but that's *precisely* what makes facebook (and made myspace) an interesting place to be. there are several ways to get to the same stuff.

strange as it may be for someone who is alarmed at the ease by which it is possible on facebook to track someone down merely from their first name (yes i met someone at a party, couldn't remember their surname, but managed to guess their approximate age, guessed that they must live in the approximate nearby area, then used the advanced search on facebook to find them... took a couple of weeks to work out i have to admit, and no i am *not* going to describe here on slashdot how it's done...) ... ... despite that, i have to say that there is actually something useful, and just generally more... homely about facebook than their is about *any* google products. google products are just... sterile and functional. you use gmail to send mail. you use google search to... well... search. but you use *facebook* to tell everyone you know that you wiped your arse today, and that's hilarious.

it also occurs to me: i wouldn't want to put personal stuff up on google: they might index it and let people search on it. and i think that's really the key, there. facebook is closed. you *have* to have a login. your personal stuff is *not* indexed publicly in search engines.

so, sorry google: you got it wrong on this one, and you can't be trusted, even if you said you'd get it right.

about a week ago
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The Paradoxes That Threaten To Tear Modern Cosmology Apart

lkcl Re:I don't get it (231 comments)

Can anyone explain why empty space has energy?

blind leading the blind, here, but my non-specialist-physics background might be a bit easier to understand than someone who mentions "QCD" at you. the way i understand it is that when you have particles around, they have E.M and gravitational fields, and they have binding forces and so on at the very-close (atomic) level which kiiinda mean that if you get close to them with another particle you either get sucked in, or banged away (like billiard balls) - actually _very_ much like billiar balls, in that you have to get *really* close in order for a deflection to occur [at all] but when you do you really know about it.

and, what we also know is that in non-vacuum there are *lots* of these particles. so, relatively speaking, even in a gas like any one particle really doesn't have to go that far to get banged-up by any other particle.

in other words, your average particle or your average photon (cosmic ray equals a photon with a very high energy content) has a huge amount of "resistance" applied to it, in *all* directions pretty much. this "resistance" means we end up with solid matter (ok gases too) that *stays* solid. stable. follows newton's laws and so on.

in empty space, there is *no such resistance*. there's nothing to get in the way, nothing to interfere with particles or rays. so even the smallest disturbance when two photons (cosmic rays) happen to cross paths, or one hits an atom, can result in "smaaashhh, wheeee!" any by-products of such collisions, which would normally be instantly destroyed by neighbouring particles, preciselybecause there *aren't* any neighbouring particles, the by-products get to stay alive for much longer [possibly forever].

so my take on this is that it's not so much that "empty space has energy", it's that empty space - by *being* empty - doesn't "resist" (so to speak) the creation process of particles. *scratches head*. ... a bit like how if you have one extrovert in a party that's only just started, has huuge rooms, and nobody knows anyone else, the extrovert will stand in the middle of the room happily dancing and the very few other guests else will hug the walls, but if you have *lots* of extroverts in the room, then, well... it's just an another awesome party :)

about a week ago
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The Paradoxes That Threaten To Tear Modern Cosmology Apart

lkcl avogadro's constant and particle density in space (231 comments)

throw-away comment, here :) i did a funny little bit of experimenting a couple of years back, when someone posted here an article about the density of deep space (the number of atoms per cubic metre) having been measured. anyway, remembering my o-level chemisty and i went, "hmm... that's interesting: i wonder if there's a relationship between that particle density and avogadro's constant.

so... i went... density = 7 * 10e-26, avogadro's const = 6.023 * 10e23, multiply the two together you get 4.2154. just for fun take the cube-root and oo! you get 1.6153982. now, to within experimental uncertainty of the measurements made of the density of deep space vacuum, that number should instantly be recogniseable +/- a bit, as the golden mean ratio (1.618 etc etc).

so we have a relationship - which has absolutely no quotes real quotes meaning whatsoever [ traditionally called "numerology" in a disparaging way in the physics community... ] between the density of particles in vacuum, avogadro's constant, and the golden mean ratio, in a formula that has very low kolmogorov complexity (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kolmogorov_complexity). which, as i do not have the kinds of hang-ups that the physics community has about these kinds of things, i find to be... beautiful.

and that's in and of itself enough for me. i don't care what the physicists say :)

anyway, as this is slashdot, i thought i'd happily derail the conversation with a nice bit of random semi-related nonsense, and see if anyone notices...

about a week ago
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Why Run Linux On Macs?

lkcl Re:high quality hardware (592 comments)

there is a problem with power in the EU - it's not properly earthed.

?

as in, the power sockets in the EU typically do not have an earth pin... at all. they are 2-pin, not 3-pin. so when i sit with my aluminium-cased laptop with my feet up on the radiator, not only does the WIFI stop working, and the SSD gets spiked, but i also get a mild electric shock.

is that clearer?

about two weeks ago
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Librem: a Laptop Custom-Made For Free/Libre Software

lkcl Re:Liberated? What about the hardware? (229 comments)

You have to take steps to make progress. You can take something useful and make it more open (like librem) or you could start from scratch and make something very basic that is completely open.

You can take bigger strides towards openness and get something like Novena, but then you make other sacrifices (size, cost, performance).

I guess if you had infinite money you could make a high spec, completely opensource laptop.

interesting that you should say this :) i am taking a different approach. i am also developing a laptop where the goal is to reach FSF-Endorseability *and* high-end specs. i am doing it one phase at a time, as you suggest... however where instead of having infinite money i am instead using creativity and ingenuity (posh words for "persistent bloody-mindedness combined with desperation stroke eye-popping frustration").

sooo, i decided to go the "modular" route, but had to first create a decent hardware standard - one that will still be here in 10 years time but is simple enough for the average person (or a 5-year-old, or an 80-year-old) to use. it's based on an old "Memory Card" standard - you may have heard how PCMCIA is no longer being used? well, the case-work is still around :) so, re-using PCMCIA it is. and all the benefits of "Memory Card", you now get "Computer Card".. upgradeable, swappable, saleable, transferrable, storable "Computer" Card. ... but then, of course, because of that, yaay, you now have to design entirely new casework, not just a motherboard. talking to casework suppliers didn't um go so well, so i have to do it. bought a mendel90 6 months ago... ... but mendel90's don't do injection-moulded plastics, they do 3d-printed filament plastics. and when presented with a potential $USD 20,000 cost for creating injection-moulding (you send your STL files off, someone adapts them, CNCs out two steel halves and then a little *team* of chinese people sit there for weeks on end polishing out all the CNC burrs.... then you find out it's *completely wrong* and have *another* $USD 20,000 to pay... no wonder ODMs quote $USD 250,000 for developing laptops!!!) ... anyway so that's all completely insane, so i thought, "hmm, i wonder if you can create reverse-3d-printed moulds to do injection-mould prototyping" and it turns out that you can. so i could at least - on a low budget - make a few runs out of very-low-temperature plastic (so as not to burst the 3d-printed plastic under pressure), hell i could even use plasticine for goodness sake, just to get a proof-of-concept, *then*.... and this is the hilarious bit.... there's a girl who's been doing LostPLA home-grown aluminium casting.... *using 1500W microwave ovens* :)

http://media.ccc.de/browse/con...

so in theory i could quite conceivably even try doing the casting of the inverse-moulds for plastic injection *myself*, out of landfill-designated aluminium bicycle rims. do watch that talk: julia is surprisingly subtly funny, there were lots of jokes that the audience didn't get (not a native english speaking audience), and a few later that they did.

bottom line it *can* be done... if you make the decision, and damn well stick at it until success. if you're interested to follow along, here's the links:

* micro-desktop (launching very soon) which has the first EOMA68 module: https://www.crowdsupply.com/eo...
* the 7in tablet (due to go to assembly this week) http://rhombus-tech.net/commun...
* the 15.6in laptop (currently developing the casework) http://rhombus-tech.net/commun...

on the laptop - as you quite rightly point out is a good idea - i am going in stages. the LCD is a reasonably-priced easy-to-source 1366x768 LCD, also this means only single-channel LVDS, meaning lower-risk of EMC non-compliance during the $USD 3,000 FCC testing (yes, after 3 years, i finally found a chinese company willing to do FCC testing for only $3k - everyone else usually charges $7k to $12).

and on the CPU side, the neat thing about a modular design is: i am tracking _two_ companies that have FSF-Endorseable SoC designs. one is ICubeCorp (their current offering is a $2 (!!!) *quad* core 400mhz 55nm SoC) and the other is Ingenic. sadly ingenic's current FSF-Endorseable option only goes up to 1200x720 LCD resolution - just short of what i need. however... they will have a quad-core coming out this year. i waaant iiiit :)

so *instead* of a $15k to $20k total PCB redesign cost, all that's needed instead is a $3k to $5k budget for doing... yep, you got it: a tiny 43x78mm PCB plus some plastic trim. and users will, instead of having to throw away the *entire* laptop (or tablet, or whatever), just... push a button, pop out the old non-FSF-Endorseable CPU Card, plug in the new one (takes about... what... 5 seconds?) and you're done.

about two weeks ago
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Why Run Linux On Macs?

lkcl Re:a better question (592 comments)

because people pay apple more money, so they can afford better designers and can get better components. [longer post explains more, see http://slashdot.org/~lkcl%5D

lenovo *used* to do this when they were IBM. IBM *used* to buy the more expensive components then run them at lower clockrates, which *used* to result in much more reliable products. the thermal stresses (even during normal operation) placed on ceramic packaging causes them to develop micro hairline cracks; high temperatures also cause migration of solder as well as the heavy metals within the silicon ICs themselves.

about two weeks ago
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Why Run Linux On Macs?

lkcl high quality hardware (592 comments)

whilst i find the practices of apple absolutely deplorable - forcing people to sign up for an ID in order to use hardware products that they have paid for, taking so much information that even *banks* won't work with them - bizarrely the amount of money that people pay them is sufficient for apple to spend considerable resources on high-quality components and design.

i have bought a stack of laptops in the past (and always installed Debian on them - see http://lkcl.net/reports/) and have found them to be okay, but always within 2 to 3 years they are showing their age or in some cases completely falling apart. the 2nd Acer TravelMate C112 i bought i actually wore a hole through the left shift key with my fingernail after 2 years of use. hard drives died, screen backlights failed, an HP laptop had such bad design on the power socket that it shorted out one day and almost caught fire. i had to scramble for a good few seconds to pull the battery out, smoke pouring out of the machine as the PMICs glowed.

about 6 years ago my partner had the opportunity to buy both an 18in and a 24in iMac at discounted prices. i immediately installed Debian on it: it took 4 days because grub2-efi was highly undocumented and experimental at the time. so i had a huge 1920x1200 24in screen (which over the next few years actually damaged my eyes because i was too close: my eyesight is now "prism" - i've documented this here on slashdot in the past), a lovely dual-core XEON, 2gb of RAM and it was *quiet*. there is a huge heatsink in the back, and the design uses passive cooling (vertical air convection).

awesome... except not very portable. and no spying or registration of confidential data with some arbitrary company that you *KNOW* is providing your details to the NSA, otherwise there's this conversation which begins "y'know it's *real* hard to get that export license for your products, if you know what i mean, mr CEO".

so, when i moved to holland i had to leave the 24in iMac behind - apart from anything, 2gb of RAM was just not enough. i leave firefox open for 4-7 days (basically until it crashes), opening over 150 sometimes even as many as 250 tabs in a single window. it gets to about 4gb of RAM and starts to become a problem: that's when i kill it. on the iMac, it was consuming most of the resident RAM. i compile programs: 2gb of RAM is barely enough for the linker phase of applications like webkit (which requires 1.6gb of RESIDENT memory in order to complete within a reasonable amount of time). i run VMs with OSes for study.

so i was used to the 1900x1200 screen now, where i could get *five* xterms across a single window. i run fvwm2 with a 6x4 virtual screen, and run over 30 xterms in different places, 3 different web browsers; as i am now developing hardware i run CAD programs in one fvwm2 virtual screen, PDFs in the ones next to it, i run Blender in one virtual screen, OpenSCAD in another, firefox in another, chromium in yet another, then i have to view and manage client machines so i use rdesktop to connect to those (move over to a free virtual window area to do it) - the list goes on and on.

so i figured, "hmmm laptop... but with good screen. must have lots of RAM too, minimum 8gb, must have decent processor". i then began investigating, and found the Lenovo Ideapad. great! let's buy it! .... except their web site crashed. so i then - reluctantly - began investigating iMac laptops. 2560x1600 LCD, 8gb of RAM, dual-core dual-threaded processor: $USD 1500 and *in the UK*, with a U.S. keyboard so nobody was buying it. researched it, saw the success reports of people installing debian on it, knew it could be done: sold, instantly.

so now i am extremely happy with this machine - not with apple themselves - but with the hardware that i have. it's light, it's fast, it's a sturdy aluminum case, the fan only comes on if i swish large OpenSCAD models around in 3D (or if firefox gets overbloated as usual).

the only downsides i've had are as follows:

* despite having an intel graphics chipset, it's so new that video playback is not supported. i had to set VLC to use "OpenGL" as the playback option, installing the accelerated opengl drivers (which worked)
* there is a problem with power in the EU - it's not properly earthed. this results in *massive* EM interference that spikes the SSD controller, causing hard resets once a second. those cause an entry to be written to /var/log/syslog, which then causes another failure, which results in another entry and so on. to solve this i had to follow the majority of the read-only rootfs instructions normally reserved for embedded systems: move *everything* out of /var/log into a tmpfs. i hacked it into /etc/rc.local which is not recommended but does the job
* the powerbutton by default causes a power-off, i often press it accidentally and haven't worked out how to disable it.
* the camera is a proprietary PCIe device from broadcom that has not yet been reverse-engineered
* EMI power spikes often cause the wireless to be a bit flakey as well (understandably). solved by putting in a high-power linksys router and backing it down to 802.11b.

the 2560x1600 screen however is absolutely fantastic. i can now get *TEN* 80x50 xterms on a single screen. i am currently running firefox at 1600x1300 in one window and have room for *FOUR* xterms to the left of it. i have all the multimedia-related applications (alsamixer, qjackctl, VoIP) on their own dedicated virtual screen, whereas before they had to be spread out across at least two.

and the funny thing is that even with the tiny font size, i am not straining to look at it. i got used to it within about 4 hours.

so, this is the machine i will stick with for at least the next 5 years. i simply won't need to buy another unless i start doing something radically different.

about two weeks ago
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Obama: Gov't Shouldn't Be Hampered By Encrypted Communications

lkcl Re:That is what you lost... (562 comments)

dear karmashock,

thank you - genuinely - for making your feelings known so clearly. it is not often that these kinds of words get through on slashdot: so often they are treated as "troll" or "flaimbait", but your words are genuine and from the heart, and everyone can see that plainly.

i've said this often enough, but it is worth repeating: i am not a U.S. citizen but i know that where the U.S. leads, everyone else follows. so it matters *a lot* that the U.S. remain a stable country and a shining example for the rest of the world. the USA uses something like 25% of the world's resources and is only 1/8th the world's population: obviously not everyone can follow *that* example or we would need more Earths to live on!

the only thing i can suggest is that if you are truly a patriot, read the U.S. Constitution again. it was in the film "National Treasure" that that incredibly critical section first came to my attention - the one about "every citizen having the absolute duty to uphold it" and even to *overthrow* the government if it becomes tyrannical.

so i'm absolutely serious: think hard about that. i don't think it's quite come to it yet: they're being quite subtle about it as well as, in some ways, being really quite self-delusional in the genuine belief that they are doing the right thing, and that in itself is part of the problem. these are *rational people* in power, but they are justifying some pretty borderline decisions.

i guess what i'm really saying is: talk to other people about this. get a consensus. find out if other people believe that your government has gone too far, to the point of being tyrannical. if other people don't believe that's the case, then that's fine too. but if they do, then, collectively, you know what to do.

about two weeks ago
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Spanish Judge Cites Use of Secure Email As a Potential Terrorist Indicator

lkcl didn't someone just point out that SPAM was used? (174 comments)

didn't we just see a report from the NSA that the people who bombed the World Trade Centre didn't use encryption but instead used obfuscation - sending their messages to each other with subjects that would *deliberately* trigger SPAM filters, such as "Buy Viagra Online"?

about two weeks ago
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Ask Slashdot: High-Performance Laptop That Doesn't Overheat?

lkcl macbook pro with debian (325 comments)

i realise several people have said it already, but i wanted to add that i bought a macbook pro with the 2560x1600 LCD, dual core with 8gb of RAM and it wasn't until loadavg went above 4.0 for over a minute that i even realised that it had a fan at all. it's an aluminium case (watch the edges: they are actually quite sharp).

now, people may say they are expensive but i managed to get hold of one that had been imported into the UK, and had a US keyboard, it was only $USD 1500 where all the ones with UK keyboards were $USD 2,000. given the resolution of the screen and the amount of RAM i considered it to be a serious major bargain and a long-term investment: i anticipate running this machine for at least 5 years.

now, the only down-side is that it has a 256gbyte SSD, which these days is quite small. it does however have USB3 so can use external ultra-fast USB3 SATA drives. but that's not the main down-side: the _real_ problem is that in the EU, power is not earthed properly. so when you plug the PSU in, there is considerable EMI which can actually give you an electric shock if you happen for example to put your foot on a metal radiator.

checking in /var/log/syslog it was *swamped* with SATA resets, so much so that i actually had to move to a tmpfs for /var/log and restart all services so that they used it (there are better ways to do this). the debian page for macbook pros with SSDs describes a workaround which carries out a reset on the SATA device (i forget what it is) but i found that this was *nowhere near* adequate, even if added to a cron job and run every single minute. the problem was of course compounded by the fact that each SATA reset was accompanied by a syslog message which, of course, resulted in a write, which, of course, went wrong, causing another reset. by moving /var/log to a tmpfs i broke the loop, and the resets only occur every 5 to 30 seconds, which i can live with.

it's actually good that i'm running debian because if this still had a proprietary OS on it there would be nothing i could have done about the problem.

anyway, _despite_ this, i would *still* recommend 100% getting a macbook pro [and replacing its OS]. the screen is awesome: i left xterm at its default font size, very quickly got used to the tiny characters, and - get this: i can fit *TEN* 80x51 xterms on one screen! i think that's absolutely hilarious, and for programming it's absolutely amazing. currently i have 4 xterms *on the same screen* with a firefox window that's at 1300 x 1200 pixels! i could make it more but i find that web pages don't really properly stretch beyond that as they're usually designed for around 1200 pixels wide at the most, these days.

so, yeah - get macbook pros but please for goodness sake dump the OS.

about three weeks ago
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Ancient Planes and Other Claims Spark Controversy at Indian Science Congress

lkcl Re:original papers available translated to english (381 comments)

Our lead emissions have left a trace in ice cores. As has our industrial production of CO2. We've got radar-trackable space junk in graveyard orbit that isn't going to go anywhere for millions of years. Our nuclear tests have left detectable traces of long-lived isotopes in ice cores too. If there had been any advanced industrial civilisation in the last hundred thousand years, we'd have found it.

where on earth did you get the impression that india was an advanced industrial civilisation thousands of years ago? have you read any of the legends - the mahabarata and so on? it was *backwards*! only the people in power had the kinds of unlimited wealth similar to governments and large corporations of today. and - as now - they keep things incredibly secret. the advantage that they had then over today is the total lack of communication. the people in power at the time were so far removed in terms of wealth and knowledge and resources that they were commonly viewed - quite literally - as living gods.

so no, there *was* no advanced industrial civilisation in india. there were a few incredibly wealthy powerful people with access to machines, scared of letting the knowledge out of their hands of how those machines worked in case their enemies got hold of them (a situation not dissimilar to today...) and then there was everyone else, eking out medieval-style subsistence existence.

about three weeks ago
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Ancient Planes and Other Claims Spark Controversy at Indian Science Congress

lkcl Re:original papers available translated to english (381 comments)

there's a story on the internet that someone in india, during victorian times, actually recreated one of these machines, directly from the instructions. when the british heard about it they had it destroyed.

And why hasn't anyone built any of these things since? Why doesn't any one build these now? If it were a matter of following instructions and someone did it on their own at one point a century or so ago, then it should be straightforward to crank out a prototype now.

thinking that through, there could be a series of compounded reasons why not, and we can summarise at the end with an analogy.

firstly, the people who _did_ make these flying machines were the ruling class of india at the time. they had reputations as "living gods" (how if they could quotes fly quotes would the ordinary person believe otherwise?). in other words, they were incredibly wealthy. so they had access to thousands or tens of thousands of workers if they needed them, to go out and find the metals and other resources.

secondly, fast-forwarding to our "modern" times, we have some texts - written in the context of science at the time - which are in sanskrit, and the context is lost. it takes a *lot* of research to work out the missing information that the original authors would have known. the classic funny story here is that the bible was written in hebrew and was translated to greek by someone who didn't *actually* understand the idiomatic hebrew of the time. so he made some hilarious "literal" translations - the eye of the needle is the most well-known one but there are many others that two famous religious scholars collaborated together to uncover, on the basis that neither of them tried to convert the other away from their respective religions :)

thirdly, we have the "cranks and myths and conspiracy" brigade who like to make a hell of a lot of noise, increasing the probability that even rational people will steer clear of the entire area, *especially* if they are in a quotes renowned quotes scientific established career.

lastly, that analogy. imagine that we are talking about... say... fighter jets, not ancient flying vehicles. let's imagine that you've _heard_ about fighter jets (never seen one). you might have access to the internet, but you've never seen a "fighter jet" go over your head, making an enormous amount of noise. but you heard on the internet that they exist. in the context of a remote country, isolated from the rest of the world, ask yourself the question "why hasn't anyone in *our* country built one of these fighter jets?".

and that really helps hammer it home, that these projects are *expensive*.... even if people believe they are practical (not a complete fabrication, at all, thanks to the cranks, in the first place). i went through the list of materials (the metallurgy section): there are *sixty* types of alloys that need to be made!

so, yeah, i can fully understand why it hasn't been done in today's modern society.

about three weeks ago
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Ancient Planes and Other Claims Spark Controversy at Indian Science Congress

lkcl Re:original papers available translated to english (381 comments)

To some degree, I can accept "lost technology." A claim that the Indians had some metallurgical technique that was lost and rediscovered by Europeans? I can buy that. I'd still require proof, but I can accept that this might happen. Primitive glider-type airplanes developed by Indians thousands of years ago?

honestly i have no idea if they had primitive glider-type planes: the surviving sanskrit texts don't describe such.

Indians a thousand years ago having modern or even futuristic technology that was lost without a trace save for writing in one book (which might be open to interpretation) is *NOT* extraordinary proof.

i didn't say "proof", i effectively said "*after* reading the sanskrit documents (or their available translations), make a judgement for yourself". about what you've written: think about this - how, in a country where there is no internet, no telephones, no long-distance communication of *any* kind, would there be any kind of "backup" record? we're lucky that even the vimanas documents survived.

cast your mind back thousands of years. most people you know - most people you've *ever* known - are subsistence farmers. the stories you hear - which became legend - are of the "gods" battling in flying chariots. pretty incredible, huh? and yet there are people who come back from battles who tell you these amazing tales... ... how many of those people would have writing skills? or know about electricity? (or even care)

now compare that situation to today. do you know about electricity? do you know about something called "chemistry"? of course you do, and you have something called "the internet" where you could even teach yourself about those things. ... but the people in power at the time? they would have had extraordinary wealth, and extraordinary power. they would have had scholars, and engineers and much more - and the important thing is that in order to keep the knowledge they learned from falling into the hands of their enemies, they would have kept that knowledge *secret*, wouldn't they? and that would be easy to do: have a bunch of guys with great memories whom you keep an eye on (you can always kill them if you get attacked, whereas books could be stolen).

so it is not too hard to imagine that:

a) there could be secretive development of scientific knowledge
b) that knowledge could be kept from everyone outside of the immediate power base
c) that it would be so unbelievably far advanced from the rest of the society that they would consider it to be "magic", and the people controlling it to be "gods".

does that make any sense? and is there anything unreasonable or irrational about either a, b or c, given what we know about the history of india around that era?

now, regarding the "interpretation" comment: again, i can only say read the texts yourself. make the interpretation yourself". if you don't have time to do that, and are still interested, find someone that you trust who has.

one thing i did find fascinating about that link i sent: the sanskrit texts apparently describe pilot clothing and diet! the clothing is designed to be fire-proof as well as extremely warm, and the recommended diet is five (!) meals a day. the texts also describe knowledge of different layers to our atmosphere (five are given names). the author of the analysis at the link i sent says that he had asked an airforce pilot to review the text, and he mentions that it is well-known amongst pilots - especially combat ones - that the physical toll of combat aircraft is extremely high. modern medical professionals therefore recommend that combat pilots eat small very frequent meals,. it is also a taboo in military airforce circles to fly on an empty stomach.

question. how would they know this? a simple "glider" in no way puts its pilot through signifncant physical stress. gliders simply do not reach the required altitude. and how would they know that there are different regions to our atmosphere unless someone had actually been up there?

*think* - please, for goodness sake.

about three weeks ago
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Ancient Planes and Other Claims Spark Controversy at Indian Science Congress

lkcl original papers available translated to english (381 comments)

here is an english translation of the papers: http://www.bibliotecapleyades....

random moderators: BEFORE considering hitting "-1" please read the full text below.

if you look up the papers they apparently had mercury-based plasma ion drives (which i hear NASA and the JPL have been researching for some time) as well as highly destructuve beam weapons (which i hope *nobody* in modern times has been researching). the papers are thousands of years old, and have been well-known for a considerable amount of time, mostly for the metallurgy as the papers go through absolutely every single detail required, from sourcing the materials to creating the crucibles and kilns, to making the garments needed to deal with altitude. there's a story on the internet that someone in india, during victorian times, actually recreated one of these machines, directly from the instructions. when the british heard about it they had it destroyed.

doing a quick google search.... yes, this is the vedic "vimanas" being presented at this conference: it's actually nothing "new", it's just that peoples' reactions are... well, if one wants to put it charitably, it's just surrounded with an amazing amount of incredulity and disbelief, but if we are honest the better way to put it is that it is absolute pure arrogance to think that our current level of technology is the first and only peak of technological capability on the planet: it's just that we are far more connected now than we were before, so word of new discoveries tends to get around.

that "incredulity" you can counteract by simply reviewing the documents for yourself. i recommend focussing on the sections covering the science that *has* been re-discovered since the techniques were lost, for example the mining and metallurgy sections. once you have at least verified that these sections correspond precisely with modern techniques, is it so hard a stretch of one's mind to consider that the other sections and instructions might be correct as well?

about three weeks ago
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Experiments Create Particles Out of a Vacuum Using Neutrinos

lkcl Re:New ways to generate... gravity? (86 comments)

pions are basically made up of quarks just like the neutron and the proton: there's nothing magical about it, and has absolutely nothing to do with gravitons (if such even exist except as a mathematical concept). the difference is that pions only contain two quarks (rather than three) and so they're not stable. imagine throwing two magnets into the air very very carefully and having them spin around each other for a very brief period of time. if they fly apart, splat no more particle: if they touch, splat no more particle. but for that incredibly short duration where the two quarks successfully spin around each other in close orbit, there you have a "pion".

about a month ago
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US CTO Tries To Wean the White House Off Floppy Disks

lkcl floppy disks don't contain silicon ICs (252 comments)

wait... floppy disks are a particularly coarse-grained media, meaning that they are quite likely to survive (in storage) for a very long time. also, they don't contain silicon ICs. does anyone remember the great idea of SD Cards with built-in OSes and a WIFI antenna, and how those have been used as spyware tools? likewise USB sticks could have absolutely anything in them. so i don't think it's such a good idea for the whitehouse to move away from floppy disks.

blackberries on the other hand, i heard a story back in 2007 that the entire email infrastructure at the time ran off of *two* machines (two physical machines). one for the US, one for the rest of the world. i trust that the whitehouse email doesn't go through a single server. that would be... bad.

about a month ago
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Ask Slashdot: Linux Distro For Hybrid Laptop?

lkcl google it.... but not now (210 comments)

normally one would google that and it would come up with instances where people have installed GNU/Linux OSes on the specific hardware in question, and the older the hardware and the more popular it is, the larger the chance of finding someone else who has done exactly that and created a report (or five). unfortunately however, at this very moment, the search engine results show a huge number of interfering references to a site known as "slashdot", as well as RSS syndicated links to the same.

so you can either just risk it and try it, then get on one of the popular forums, or you can wait for things to calm down a bit and the google searches which include slashdot syndication of its front-page drop off the pagerank a bit (should take a couple of days).

that having been said: it looks like it's a standard laptop with an x86 chipset, so it should almost certainly boot. touchpanels tend to use all the same chipsets, and those have been supported in the linux kernel for some time due to GPL compliance, so you should be fine.

about a month ago
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Ask Slashdot: Are Progressive Glasses a Mistake For Computer Users?

lkcl don't do it (464 comments)

let's be clear about a couple of things. one: our vision is designed by natural evolution, and staring continuously at objects only 0.5 to 1 metre away is not part of nature's remit. two: our vision *does not* deteriorate with age, it deteriorates with *misuse* or more specifically *lack* of use: more specifically *lack of training*. eyes have *muscles*. fail to train those muscles and guess what happens?

there is a guy who decided he did not want to be enlisted in the vietnam draft, so two weeks prior to the eye exam he borrowed some glasses from a friend who had terrible vision. the deterioration in his vision as a result was so poor that he failed the eye exam, and so was ineligible for the draft.

now, afterwards, he reasoned that if it took only two weeks to turn his vision so disastrously badly wrong, it would, logically, be perfectly reasonable to attempt some eye exercises to get his formerly perfect vision back. the result: after some experimentation with some exercises, he got his perfect vision back.

now aged over 70 years old this person - who has written a book about the exercises that keep your eyes healthy - has twenty FORTY vision.

why am i mentioning this?

because aged 10 i was given prescription glasses. i had discovered computers a few years beforehand and had begun to spend significant hours in front of computers. every few years, as required and advised, i returned to the opticians. my eyes - EVERY TIME I RETURNED - were described to be "worse than before".

so aged 10 i had something like - 0.5 diopters, but by aged 36 i had -4.0 in one eye, -3.5 in the other and an astigmatism on top of that of -1. i spent $USD 1,000 on two pairs of glasses: one was +1 diopters less than the other. driving to holland, in the dark, i wore the "distance" glasses for 15 minutes and got such a massive headache from them that i had to wear the "reading" glasses.

so that was 2005. i realised that, after being told by opticians at the time "oh, people who are short-sighted are used to seeing perfectly at long distance so we give them an extra -0.25 just to help", that the problem was that i was being given glasses each and every single time that were too strong, but not only that, that i was having my vision "corrected" to distance, was then looking at objects only 0.5 to 1.0 metres away and my eyes were AUTOMATICALLY ADJUSTING.

at some point i then made the stupid mistake of getting a 24in iMac. huge wide screen, i thought it was fantastic. except that over the next three years using it, because i was sitting (unavoidably) close to it, my eyes trained themselves to deal with the wide angle... by going *prism*.

now when i look rapidly to the left or right at any object a distance further away than 2 metres, i CANNOT FOCUS ON IT. i see double for a good couple of seconds. in the dark, lights over two metres away i cannot bring into focus at all. however if the object is only 0.5 to 1 metre away, i am able to *really rapidly* flick my eyes backwards and forwards, focussing successfully within fractions of a second, absorbing the information on-screen.

in other words, guess what? my eyes *keep adjusting* to the conditions that i put them through.

now i have stopped getting prescription glasses entirely: i am absolutely fed up with the ignorant optician industry screwing up my vision. if i go to an optician, they think they know better and they damn well don't. they tell you that your eyes deteriorate with age, but that is absolute rubbish: the muscles around your eyes are just like any other muscle: they need *exercise*.

so that's what this old guy advocates: eye exercise. several times a day, stop what you are doing and look in the distance for 8 to 10 minutes. if you want to get rid of short-sightedness, pick two objects, one just at the edge of your "blurry" vision and one just inside it. look at the first, look at the second, look at the first, look at the second - focus on each as you do so. then, move the two objects (your thumbs will do) ever so slightly further away. repeat the exercise. very quickly you will get a *CONSCIOUS* feel for what it takes for your eye muscles to "focus" in the distance and, importantly, you are *exercising* those muscles, making them stronger. those muscles will become more capable, and you *will* be able to control them, just like any other muscle. i've done this successfully: it took a couple of weeks, and i had improved vision.

now i've also taken up tennis, and i go every day for around 20 minutes or more, even just to hit a ball against a wall. it's enough to teach me the importance of looking after my eyes, as i don't like seeing two balls coming towards me, because i can't hit either of them.

so, to our anonymous writer, i tell you this: DO NOT get progressive glasses, for goodness sake. i assume you are already taking breaks (to look after your wrists): please when you get up, go outside and look in the distance. if you don't want to walk, sit out on the porch or at the window, and look down the street if you don't have a garden. get a smaller higher-resolution screen: i now have a macbook pro (which i instantly destroyed the proprietary spyware-ridden OS on and replaced it with debian), and it has a 13in 2560x1900 LCD. i run the standard xterm font (around 9pt) and it is doing my eyes a hell of a lot of good, forcing them to focus *clearly*. i make my eye muscles *work*. i now look at other screens and i notice all the faults! in fact this only took 4 hours. and, importantly, with the screen width being smaller i am not forcing my eyes to different focal lengths quite as badly as that 24in widescreen.

if you absolutely must use 2 or more screens, *please* consider getting 1280x1024 (4:3 aspect ratio) or 1600x1200 or whatever, or if you do lots of programming run the 16:9 screens at 9:16 (sideways) - GNU/Linux OSes can do this perfectly well. make the screens form an arc rather than a straight line: no matter where you sit they should be directly head-on.

the basic critical point of all this: please *exercise* your eyes. don't trust any optician that is ignorant of this simple fact. you know you need to give all your *other* muscles a work-out rather than sitting there in a chair all day: why would those in your eyes be any different? and if you don't do that, then is it any surprise that the lenses in your eyes become "stiff" as well?

about a month ago

Submissions

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Open Educational Robot for under $50

lkcl lkcl writes  |  about 3 months ago

lkcl (517947) writes "Straight from the crowd-funding page comes news of Hack-E-Bot, described as a "low price and open source robot that hopes to encourage children to learn about engineering, electronics, and programming". Part of the reason for achieving such a low price appears to be down to the use of a tiny $7 off-the-shelf Arduino-compatible board called Trinket from Adafruit. The Trinket (ATTiny328 PIC) press-fits neatly into a supplied breadboard: all connections and any educational experiments can be done entirely without soldering. It's cute, it's under $50, you can pay extra for one to be given free to a child if you want, and there's a lower-cost kit version available if you prefer to use your own embedded board and are prepared to write your own software. I absolutely love the whole idea, and they've already reached the incredibly low $7,000 funding target, so it's going ahead."
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Python-LMDB in a high-performance environment

lkcl lkcl writes  |  about 3 months ago

lkcl (517947) writes "In an open letter to the core developers behind OpenLDAP (Howard Chu) and Python-LMDB (David Wilson) is a story of a successful creation of a high-performance task scheduling engine written (perplexingly) in python. With only partial optimisation allowing tasks to be executed in parallel at a phenomenal rate of 240,000 per second, the choice to use Python-LMDB for the per-task database store based on its benchmarks as well as its well-researched design criteria turned out to be the right decision. Part of the success was also due to earlier architectural advice gratefully received here on slashdot. What is puzzling though is that LMDB on wikipedia is being constantly deleted, despite its "notability" by way of being used in a seriously-long list of prominent software libre projects, which has been, in part, motivated by the Oracle-driven BerkeleyDB license change. It would appear that the original complaint about notability came from an Oracle employee as well..."
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Power-loss-protected SSDs tested: only Intel S3500 passes

lkcl lkcl writes  |  about a year ago

lkcl (517947) writes "After the reports on SSD reliability and after experiencing a costly 50% failure rate on over 200 remote-deployed OCZ Vertex SSDs, a degree of paranoia set in where I work. I was asked to carry out SSD analysis with some very specific criteria: budget below £100, size greater than 16Gbytes and Power-loss protection mandatory. This was almost an impossible task: after months of searching the shortlist was very short indeed. There was only one drive that survived the torturing: the Intel S3500. After more than 6,500 power-cycles over several days of heavy sustained random writes, not a single byte of data was lost. Crucial M4: fail. Toshiba THNSNH060GCS: fail. Innodisk 3MP SATA Slim: fail. OCZ: epic fail. Only the end-of-lifed Intel 320 and its newer replacement the S3500 survived unscathed. The conclusion: if you care about data even when power could be unreliable, only buy Intel SSDs."
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QiMod / Rhombus Tech A10 EOMA-68 CPU Card running Debian 7 (armhf)

lkcl lkcl writes  |  about a year and a half ago

lkcl (517947) writes "With much appreciated community assistance, the first EOMA-68 CPU Card in the series, based on an Allwinner A10 processor, is now running Debian 7 (armhf variant). Two demo videos have been made. Included in the two demos: fvwm2, midori web browser, a patched version of VLC running full-screen 1080p, HDMI output, powering and booting from Micro-HDMI, and connecting to a 4-port USB Hub. Also shown is the 1st revision PCB for the upcoming KDE Flying Squirrel 7in tablet.

The next phase is to get the next iteration of test / engineering samples out to interested free software developers, as well as large clients, which puts the goal of having Free Software Engineers involved with the development of mass-volume products within reach."

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Rhombus Tech 2nd revision A10 EOMA68 Card working samples

lkcl lkcl writes  |  about 2 years ago

lkcl (517947) writes "Rhombus Tech and QiMod have working samples of the first EOMA-68 CPU Card, featuring 1GByte of RAM, an A10 processor and stand-alone (USB-OTG-powered with HDMI output) operation. Upgrades will include the new Dual-Core ARM Cortex A7, the pin-compatible A20. This is the first CPU Card in the EOMA-68 range: there are others in the pipeline (A31, iMX6, jz4760 and a recent discovery of the Realtek RTD1186 is also being investigated).

The first product in the EOMA-68 family, also nearing a critical phase in its development, will be the KDE Flying Squirrel, a 7in user-upgradeable tablet featuring the KDE Plasma Active Operating System. Laptops, Desktops, Games Consoles, user-upgradeable LCD Monitors and other products are to follow. And every CPU that goes into the products will be pre-vetted for full GPL compliance, with software releases even before the product goes out the door. That's what we've promised to do: to provide Free Software Developers with the opportunity to be involved with mass-volume product development every step of the way. We're also on the look-out for an FSF-Endorseable processor which also meets mass-volume criteria which is proving... challenging."

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Rhombus Tech 2nd revision A10 EOMA68 Card

lkcl lkcl writes  |  about 2 years ago

lkcl writes "The 2nd revision of the A10 EOMA-68 CPU Card is complete and samples are due soon: one sample is due back with a Dual-Core Allwinner A20. This will match up with the new revision of the Vivaldi Spark Tablet, codenamed the Flying Squirrel. Also in the pipeline is an iMX6 CPU Card, and the search is also on for a decent FSF-Endorseable option. The Ingenic jz4760 has been temporarily chosen. Once these products are out, progress becomes extremely rapid."
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Rhombus Tech AM389x/DM816x EOMA-68 CPU Card started

lkcl lkcl writes  |  more than 2 years ago

lkcl writes "The Rhombus Tech Project is pleased to announce the beginning of a Texas Instruments AM389x/DM816x EOMA-68 CPU Card: thanks to earlier work on the A10 CPU Card and thanks to Spectrum Digital, work on the schematics is progressing rapidly. With access to more powerful SoCs such as the OMAP5 and Exynos5 being definitely desirable but challenging at this early phase of the Rhombus Tech initiative, the AM3892 is powerful enough (SATA-II, up to 1600mhz DDR3 RAM, Gigabit Ethernet) to still take seriously even though it is a 1.2ghz ARM Cortex A8. With no AM3892 beagleboard clone available for sale, input is welcomed as to features people would like on the card. The key advantage of an AM3892 EOMA-68 CPU Card though: it's FSF Hardware-endorseable, opening up the possibility — at last — for the FSF to have an ARM-based tablet or smartbook to recommend. Preorders for the AM3892 CPU Card are open."
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Rhombus Tech A10 EOMA-68 CPU Card schematics completed

lkcl lkcl writes  |  more than 2 years ago

lkcl writes "Rhombus Tech's first CPU Card is nearing completion and availability: the schematics have been completed by Wits-Tech. Although it appears strange to be using a 1ghz Cortex A8 for the first CPU Card, not only is the mass-volume price of the A10 lower than other offerings; not only does the A10 classify as "good enough" (in combination with 1gb of RAM); but Allwinner Tech is one of the very rare China-based SoC companies willing to collaborate with Software (Libre) developers without an enforced (GPL-violating) NDA in place. Overall, it's the very first step in the right direction for collaboration between Software (Libre) developers and mass-volume PRC Factories. There will be more (faster, better) EOMA-68 CPU Cards: this one is just the first."
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Google+ Identity Fraud

lkcl lkcl writes  |  more than 2 years ago

lkcl writes "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nymwars outlines the problem with Google+ as an "identity" service, but nowhere does this page discuss any compelling down-sides for Google themselves. One is the risk of lawsuits where people *relied * on Google+, were lulled into a false sense of security by Google+, failed to follow standard well-established online internet identity precautions, and were defrauded as a *direct* result of Google's claims of "safety". Another is the legal cost of involvement in, and the burden of proof that would fall onto Google in identity-fraud-related cases of online stalking, internet date rape and murder. Can anyone think of some other serious disadvantages that would compel google to rethink its google+ identity policy? I would really like to use Google Hangouts, but I'll be damned if i'll use it under anything other than under my 25-year-established pseudonym, "lkcl". What's been your experience with applying for an "unreal" identity?"
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Pyjamas pyjs.org Domain hijacked

lkcl lkcl writes  |  more than 2 years ago

lkcl writes "The domain name for the pyjamas project, pyjs.org, was hijacked today by some of its users. The reasons: objections over the project leader's long-term goal to have pyjamas development be self-hosting (git browsing, wiki, bugtracker etc. all as Free Software Licensed pyjamas applications). Normally if there is disagreement, a Free Software Project is forked: a new name is chosen and the parting-of-the-ways is done if not amicably but at least publicly. Pyjamas however now appears to have made Free Software history by being the first project to have its domain actually hijacked. rather embarrassingly, in the middle of a publicly-announced release cycle. Has anything like this ever happened before?"
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B2G's Store and Security Model

lkcl lkcl writes  |  more than 2 years ago

lkcl writes "Boot to Gecko is a full and complete stand-alone Operating System that is to use Gecko as both its Window Manager and Applications UI. Primarily targetted at smartphones, security and the distribution of applications are both facing interesting challenges: scaling to mass-volume proportions (100 million+ units). The resources behind Google's app store (effectively unlimited cloud computing) are not necessarily guaranteed to be available to Telcos that wish to set up a B2G store. Although B2G began from Android, Mozilla's primary expertise in the development of Gecko and in the use of SSL is second to none. There is howevera risk that the B2G Team will rely solely on userspace security enforcement (in a single executable) and to try inappropriate use of CSP, Certificate pinning and other SSL techniques for app distribution, resulting in some quite harmful consequences that will impact B2G's viability. The question is, therefore: what security infrastructure surrounding the stores themselves as well as in the full B2G OS itself would actually be truly effective in the large-scale distribution of B2G applications, whilst also retaining flexibility and ease of development that would attract and retain app writers?"
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EOMA-PCMCIA modular computer aiming for $15 and Fr

lkcl lkcl writes  |  more than 3 years ago

lkcl writes "An initiative by a CIC company Rhombus Tech aims to provide Software (Libre) Developers with a PCMCIA-sized modular computer that could end up in mass-volume products. The Reference Design mass-volume pricing guide from the SoC manufacturer, for a device with similar capability to the raspberrypi, is around $15: 40% less than the $25 rbpi but for a device with an ARM Cortex A8 CPU 3x times faster than the 700mhz ARM11 used in the rbpi. GPL Kernel source code is available. A page for community ideas for motherboard designs has also been created. The overall goal is to bring more mass-volume products to market which Software (Libre) Developers have actually been involved in, reversing the trend of endemic GPL violations surrounding ARM-based mass-produced hardware. The Preorder pledge registration is now open (account creation required)."
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Where are the Ultra-efficient production Hybrid EV

lkcl lkcl writes  |  more than 3 years ago

lkcl writes "Has anyone else wondered why ultra-efficient hybrid vehicles have to look like this, why the Twizy doesn't have doors as standard and has leased batteries, or why the Volkswagen XL1 does 313mpg but only seats 2 people and isn't yet in production? Why were both Toyota's RAV4-EV as well as GM's EV1 not just discontinued but destroyed? Against this background, what makes this 3-seat Hybrid EV design different, and what could make it successful? Although this article on hybridcar.com outlines the problem, the solution isn't clear-cut, so how can ultra-efficient affordable hybrids actually end up on the road?"
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An accidental Free Software Accelerated 3D GPU

lkcl lkcl writes  |  more than 3 years ago

lkcl writes "In evaluating the Xilinx Xilinx Zynq-7000 for use in a FSF Hardware-endorsed Laptop and possible OpenPandora v2.0, a series of Free Software projects were accidentally linked together — Gallium3D and LLVM 2.7's MicroBlaze FPGA Target. The combination is the startling possibility that the Xilinx Zynq-7000 may turn out to be the perfect platform for a Free Software 3D GPU, for use in Tablets, Laptops, and the OpenGraphics Project. entirely by accident."
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RISC Notebooks: does 28nm make all the difference?

lkcl lkcl writes  |  more than 3 years ago

lkcl writes "Predictions have been made for quite some time that ARM or MIPS notebooks and servers will be here. Failed prototypes date back over two years, with the Pegatron Netbook never finding a home; the $175 Next Surfer Pro being frantically withdrawn last week, the Lenovo Skylight being pulled weeks before it was to launch, and a rash of devices successfully making it to market with long-term unusable 1024x600 LCD panels and a maximum of 512mb RAM being the only real rare (and often expensive) option. The Toshiba AC100 and the HP/Compaq Airlife 100 are classic examples.

So the key question is: what, exactly is holding things back? With the MIPS 1074k architecture, a Quad-Core 1.5ghz CPU at 40nm would only consume 1.3 watts, and 28nm could easily exceed 2.0ghz and use 30% less power. The MIPS GS464V, designed by China's ICT, has such high SIMD Vector performance that it will be capable of 100fps 1080p at 1ghz on a single core, and has hardware assisted accelerated emulation of over 200 x86 instructions. A Dual-Core Cortex A9 consumes 0.5 watts at 800mhz and 1.9 watts at 2ghz: 28nm would mean a whopping 3ghz could potentially be achieved. And Gaisler have a SPARC-compatible core, the LEON4, which can be configured in anything up to 8 cores, and run at up to 1.5ghz in 30nm, giving an impressive 1.7DMIPS/Mhz performance per core that matches that of both the MIPS 1074k and the ARM Cortex A9 designs.

Due to the incredibly small size, significantly-mass-volume SoC processors based around these cores could conceivably be around an estimated $12 for Quad-Core 28nm MIPS1074k and $15 for Dual-Core 28nm Cortex A9s, bringing the price of an impressive desktop system easily down to $80 retail and a decent laptop to $150.

So why, if this is what's possible, providing such fantastic performance at incredible prices, are we still seeing "demo" products like the OMAP4 TI Smartphone, are still waiting for the Samsung Enyxos 4210, and for Nusmart's 2ghz 2816? Why are we not seeing any products with decent screens and memory from mainstream companies like Dell, IBM and HP, but are instead seeing a rash of low-performance low-quality GPL-violating Chinese-made Android-based knock-offs, touted as "web-ready", with webcams and microphones that don't even work?

What's it going to take for these alternative processors to hit mainstream? Do we really have to wait for 24nm or less, where it would be possible to run these RISC cores at ungodly 4ghz speeds or above, when 20,000 tiny RISC cores could fit on a single wafer resulting in prices of $4 to $5 per CPU? Or, with the rise of Android and GNU/Linux Operating Systems, would a lowly 28nm multi-core RISC-based System-on-a-Chip be enough for most peoples' needs?"

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ARM or MIPS Notebooks: does 28nm make a difference

lkcl lkcl writes  |  more than 3 years ago

lkcl writes "Predictions have been made for quite some time that ARM or MIPS notebooks and servers will be here. Failed prototypes date back over two years, with the Pegatron Netbook never finding a home; the $175 Next Surfer Pro being frantically withdrawn last week, the Lenovo Skylight being pulled weeks before it was to launch, and a rash of devices successfully making it to market with long-term unusable 1024x600 LCD panels and a maximum of 512mb RAM being the only real rare (and often expensive) option.

So the key question is: what, exactly is holding things back? With the MIPS 1074k architecture, a Quad-Core 1.5ghz CPU at 40nm would only consume 1.3 watts, and 28nm could easily exceed 2.0ghz and use 30% less power. A Dual-Core Cortex A9 consumes 0.5 watts at 800mhz and 1.9 watts at 2ghz: 28nm would mean a whopping 3ghz could potentially be achieved. Due to the incredibly small size, significantly-mass-volume SoC processors based around these cores could conceivably be around $12 for Quad-Core 28nm MIPS1074k and $15 for Dual-Core 28nm Cortex A9s.

So why, if this is what's possible, providing such fantastic performance at incredible prices, are we still seeing "demo" products like the OMAP4 TI Smartphone, are still waiting for the Samsung Enyxos 4210 and for Nusmart's 2ghz 2816?"

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FreedomBox Foundation hits target in 5 days

lkcl lkcl writes  |  more than 3 years ago

lkcl writes "The FreedomBox Foundation hit its minimum target of $60,000 in just 5 days, thanks to KickStarter Pledges, and seeks further contributions to ensure that the Project is long-term viable. Curiously but crucially, the FreedomBox fund is for Software only, yet neither suitable low-cost $30 ARM or MIPS "plug computers", envisaged by Eben Moglen as the ideal target platform, nor mid-to-high-end ARM or MIPS low-cost developer-suitable laptops actually exist. What do slashdot readers envisage to be the way forward, here, given that the goals of the FreedomBox are so at odds with mass-market Corporate-driven hardware design decisions?"
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Toshiba AC100 Linux 2.6.29 Kernel Source available

lkcl lkcl writes  |  more than 4 years ago

lkcl (517947) writes "Toshiba Digital Media Group, Japan, kindly responded to a request for all GPL source code and supplied it on CD. The kernel source has been uploaded to the arm-netbook alioth git repository (branch ac100/2.6.29/lkcl). The AC100 has already been hacked, rooted and sadly ubuntu'd as noted on debian-arm. Availability of the "official" kernel source should make getting WIFI etc. somewhat easier. Two key questions remain, though: why does such a fantastic machine with a top-end dual core ARM Cortex A9 CPU only come with 512mb of RAM, and why supply only the truly dreadful and unusable 1024x600 resolution LCD when it is known to be the cause of so many negative reviews?"
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Open University Linux Course Irony

lkcl lkcl writes  |  about 5 years ago

lkcl (517947) writes "A new Open University course, Linux T155 aims to teach the benefits of Linux and Free Software, including the philosophy and history as well as the practical benefits of being virus-free and being able to prolong the working life of hardware. Unfortunately, in a delicious piece of irony, potential Tutors who stand by Free Software principles and thus are best suited to apply for a teaching post must violate the very principles they are expected to instil, by filling in a Microsoft Word formatted application form. An article on the Advogato Free Software Advocacy site describes the ways in which changing the "accidental" policy of using Proprietary File formats has succeeded and where it has failed."
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python converted to javascript: executed in-browse

lkcl lkcl writes  |  more than 5 years ago

lkcl writes "Two independent projects Skulpt and Pyjamas are working to bring python to the web browser (and the javascript command-line) the hard way: as javascript. Skulpt already has a cool python prompt demo on its homepage; Pyjamas has a gwtcanvas demo port and a GChart 2.6 demo port. Using the 64-bit version of google v8 and PyV8, Pyjamas has just recently successfully run its python regression tests, converted to javascript, at the command-line. (Note: don't try any of the above SVG demos with FF2 or IE6: they will suck.)"
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