Desert Rolling

Week out and perhaps now some relief from the truncheoning of the weather beavers. Two nights in a row of temperatures in the low 20’s degF. Given the abysmal state of plumbing in Alibam that translates to two nights of wasting white water to prevent further enriching those selfsame plumbers, and stressing myself.

On a more joyous note, one of my colleagues, Force Spring Constant, sent me an article about how dung beetles, those somewhat quaint desert insects who collect poo, form it into spheres, and roll about the terrain, use astronomy to navigate. The article, [Link] sadly, is the Economist, which is emerging as a contender with the Wall Street Journal for egregiously bad science journalism. This article is fair as compared to some that are stomach emptying, such as one that tried to tell me heat conduction is a wave process. This one is bad enough in listing the animals that use observation of the stars. The problem is that the list lumps humans with all the rest while quite ignoring that human astronomical activities are rational and not instinctive. I suppose I should be satisfied that these journalists were open minded enough to recognize humans as animals rather than as beyond-animal but the absence of differentiation is comparable to what we use Preparation H for.

On a more ambiguous level, there is a rather cute (as in bowlegged) article [Link] in the Register about how some models of Samsung laptop self-destruct when exposed to Ubuntu. This is evidently a combination of the UEFI, the MegaHard mandated boot replacement that is supposed to guarantee MegaHard dominion, and Samsung’s hardware drivers. Canonical, the factory of Ubuntu, has been very careful and thorough, if servile, in assuring UEFI compatibility, so this is rather a black mark for Samsung. We do have to note that this is not new for Samsung. They are notorious for failing on compatibility with the rest of the computer environment. I once made the mistake of buying a Samsung monitor – it was CHEAP and I found out why – that could never be persuaded to perform to specification. So traumatic was that experience that to this day I perspire and shake when in proximity to Samsung hardware of any form.

Nonetheless, the event is refreshing. Something like this was needed – once – to permanently attach the  evil that MegaHard is perpetrating with UEFI. As Winders sags, one might even say that Winders Ate has already exploded its cellular membranes and collapsed into a puddle of bio-goo, and Linux begins to actively fill the vacuum, market forces will assure that this nastiness is unlikely to reproduce. And it strengthens the antagonism between MegaHard and the HW manufacturers perhaps portending some balance returning to the environment.

And lastly, a rather pleasant surprise – a journalist and article who actually sparkle in the light of reason.[Link] The journalist is Trevor Pott, declaiming on the folly of manufacturers to consider the needs of users. The only criticism is that some of the desirements tend to violate laws of physics or the babbling demands of hydrophobic bogs. Mr. Pott is far from either madness or boggery, however. His point can be summed up in the simple assessment that an all-day device does not mean four hours of battery charge. It means twelve hours. And anyone who purveys less should be subject to the code of Hammurabi.

I was taken by two of Mr. Pott’s statements:

“The only perennial non-Android manufacturer-supported Linux endpoint OS is Ubuntu. Unity and Gnome 3 are awful on the order of Windows 8: if you want a usable interface, you’ll have to beat it into submission”;

and

“The death of the “good enough” computer represented by the netbook disturbs me. I don’t need anything more powerful than an Atom or modern ARM processor for the system I am hauling around with me. What I want is a multitasking operating system (Mint, preferably) with a passable WIMP office package. I want it installed – and supported – by a computer manufacturer on a device with 12 hours of real-world battery life and a 10″ to 13″ screen.”

Given a larger screen = 7-9 inches does not do – a netbook is adequate for meeting merde. I should also find it difficult to say which is worse, Unity or whatever the Winders Ate interface is called this week. Gnome 3 is better, however, than either, but still not a real interface for creation. Leave them to the lotus eater users and quit trying to dictate their behavior to information heroes who actually do constructive things. Not that I find the beating into submission to be onerous other than in the wait. A few lines of command line are sufficient, which statement is the exaltation of Linux and the damnation of Winders.

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