Lost Hammer

Into the boundary once more. Survived the gallop to Nawth Alibam’s Shining City on the Hill for a bit of staff call and pillaging of the grocery emporia. Returned safely just in time to monitor the evening “news” programming on the electromagnetic audio-visual receiver and was enlightened of a feud – with litigation – between the lord high mayor of Huntsville and the city’s foremost slum developer. And the argument is over ethical misconduct! Which is not only itself humorous but is intensified by the fact that a legal resolution is being sought. Gad!, makes the La Brea tar pits seem trivial in contrast.

Not uncomfortable this morning and the gym was not too noisome. Being Thor’s Day I listened to Linux podcasts, these episodes being ones of the “UK Ubuntu podcast”. One of the delightful discussion topics was whether Canonical/Ubuntu is discorporating? And this was an old podcast circa U 13.10 release. The response was mixed wth a tenor of functionality winning out over ergonomics and rationality. IOW, U server is pretty good.

I recently ran across this cartoon: [Link]

and it seemed somehow relevant. Perhaps it was the closing lament that it is hard to run FOSS projects if no one wants to participate. Evidently all the organizational administrative and management groups have vacancies exceeding applicants and the pedestrian geeks are leaving faster than Rattus Norwegicus the Titanic.

So how can you run FOSS projects if you have no volunteers? Answer: abandon FOSS and become MegaHard or Fruit. 

Since it is now past the release of U 14.04 and Canonical has not gone away, the matter has not been as revolutionary as it seemed back then. But it did give me occasion to consider my own experiences. I started out in Linux with a market survey. I first tried Scientific Linux and found it rather too stiff. So I took up Ubuntu. And then Canonical introduced Unity and I rediscovered hate, loathing, and nausea. So I switched to Kubuntu and Xubuntu. And began to have other problems which are still unresolved as to cause. 

And then Canonical decided to abandon the hinterland. The elimination of an update ISO was the tipping straw, to mix metaphors. So now I use other distros, both Debian based and one supposedly a derivative of U but somewhat neutered (or is it spayed?) And both are supposed to be rolling release so I hope to avoid the practice of Nuke And Pave that was too often the only viable option with Ubuntu.

Sic Transit Gloria Mundi. And hopefully no Canonical troopers shooting through knotholes in Casterllum SCP.

STEM NERD Writing 4

Not a bad morning. Decent if a bit too high temperature and absence of wind in the park but constitutional was bearable. And the podcast was endurable. But it did put me back on the subject of composition and mindlessness but along a different azimuth.

Back when I was in high schule, I was asked to make the halftime public address announcements for the schule band at (American) football half time. I had never done this and actually did not care for any form of athletics but especially spectator sports. Not that I minded the effort of athletics but I disliked the vicariousness of the spectator aspect, the contrived, artificial, meaningless importance of the competition, and the noxious festivity. It was therefore fitting in later life that mu daughter would be a cheerleader.

But I did like the band. Not the marching part. That detracted from the music but it often seemed that the only reason the band existed and music was taught at all in high schule was because of athletics. So I agreed. I then took very exacting notes of what I needed to cover and wrote myself out a script. And when the appointed time came and I was at the microphone, which I discovered had a noticeable latency, I discovered that I could NOT read my script. My handwriting was too poor for me to read it with divided attention.

I did learn from the experience. Primarily to make sure my legibility matched the attention I could afford. And I never tried to announce again. In fact, as soon as I got to college and saw how evil marching band could be, I walked away from that. Leave nonsense like announcements at spectator sports events to bogs, extro bogs at that. With good legibility.

But that lesson with legibility did take root and over the years had to be integrated in the whole idea of composition. In effect, that was the seed of the two part system of composition that I evolved. Write for content and key (type) for legibility (presentation.) Because two different aspects of mindfulness are needed and they should not be mixed.

But high schule never ceases to make me glad I am old.

MahJong GUI

Well, I survived the gallop to Nawth Alibam’s Shining City on the Hill. And the gym was pleasantly sparse this morning. More seniors than educationalists or weight bouncers. Not that any of us seem inclined to much converse this early in morning. Those who rise that early do not waste time in idle noise.

The podcast was an episode of Linux Luddites and the criticism of Canonical, Mark the Mokita, and the abomination that is Unity was delightful, putting my mind to consider the question of tile gui versus the conventional windowed ala Xerox SPARC gui.

I should comment that I do use a tile gui. Or rather, more of an icon gui. Evevry day. After all I do have a “smart” cellular telephone. It is not smart except in the definition that refers to the sensation of a wound. And it is rather painful. The gui is unpleasant, inefficient, and difficult, to say nothing of persistingly contrary. I liken it however to the gui of my HP calculators.

The form factor is quite similar. Even the modern calculators have better keys than the touch pad. I do not try to program either. It is enough struggle to get them to do waht I want without consuming my attention span away from matters of real worth. That, fundamentally, is the problem of til gui. They are so difficult to use that one must be mindful and thus one cannot have other thoughts than working the gui. Such a thing is quite all right for a motorcar or a main battle tank but not a tool. So it fails and thus do all tile gui seem to fail.

I was reading an article the other day on Make Use Of. I don’t have the citation because the article was worse than ground tarrantula hair. The thesis of the article was that everyone should use Winders because the majority did. It was an exaltation of being an asentient, irrational herd nebbish over any degree of individuality. The journalist was definitely a Katarina and I had no desire to spend any time and attention span further.

Is KDE/XFCE/LXDE/MATE/CINNAMON/… perfect? No, but they all are vastly superior – small number divided by zero – to Unity/Metro/Gnome3.


Discontinued Distribution

There are times, I am told, when only violence will settle a problem. No, I don’t mean pogroms or what is inaccurately called genocide. Since the only genus we have left is homo, what with the Romans being reduced to not a city state, so genocide only applies if we are going to extinguish humanity. Which is a bit much for this nuisance.

My primary gripe with Linux is upgrades. They are the riskiest aspect of using the OS. They are what almost completely generates the term “nuke and pave”. Which I hope is self-explanatory? 

Anyway, I have been doing a lot of N&P (hopefully that is also self-explanatory) the last year. Mostly due to a combination of hard drive failures and something really whacked in an install of Ubuntu with KDE grafted on since Unity is so painful and aproductive. But for the last two months I have been getting increasingly stressed as a new Long Term Support release loomed, arrived, and I waited for the upgrade release.

Several years ago the hassle of selling actual media got to be too much for Canonical, probably offended some financial delusion of Saint Mark, and they started trumpeting the idea of direct by internet upgrades. Updates direct by internet were working pretty well, as they still do, but that’s nominally a few Mb rather than a few Gb! But they offered downloadable CD/DVD image files of the upgrades as well.

That turned out to be a necessity for me. Being a good user, I tried the direct by internet upgrade. I forget the numbers but it was one of those half-year things. If failed spectacularly. I downloaded a DVD image of the new release and did an N&P. Six months later I tried again and again downloaded a DVD image of the new release and did an N&P.

Thereafter I downloaded an upgrade DVD image and that worked pretty well. But when the next LTS (Long Term Support – read organizational version) came out I camped. And when a new LTS came out every two years I downloaded an upgrade DVD image and upgraded.

This year they announced that they were discontinuing the upgrade DVD image. Exclamation point. I was left with three choices: do nothing – not a good security strategy; try the direct internet upgrade; or N&P. I opted for the latter since if it failed, as I expected, I would have to exercise the third anyway.

So I did all the back up stuff, engaged the upgrade process, and it failed spectacularly!  The good news is that I now have statistical significance! The direct by internet upgrade process does NOT work! At least here in the hinterland. The other good news is that I am cutting ties with Canonical. If they can’t support me minimally with an upgrade DVD image then I ain’t going to support them. My deskboxes are now Ubuntu-free. They are still running Debian based distros but not Ubuntu based. And the few lapboxes I have still running Ubuntu based will be replaced as I can touch them. 

Canonical, you are herewith discontinued in Castellum SCP. The pony to poo ratio has finally gotten TOO low!

Not Programming

Still rather shy at the gym. Strange? Quite low temperature this morning, at least for August. More like October. Omen of busted pipes?

I ran across this cartoon: [Link]

the other day and I took reflection on it. I have come up with the conjecture that DVRs (and microwave ovens and like appliances) are deliberately manufactured to be difficult for everyone to program. I asked several of my programming colleagues, the actually acomputate folk, and they all reported that they had problems with appliances. Not as much as the acomputate, but some. The consensus is that the “programming” interface is not designed but a hash constructed by someone who knows how the hardware works but has no idea how to interface with humans. From there the opinions diverge, ranging from the organizational klutz who cannot be permitted to interact directly with the hardware to an intern who is likely related to senior management but has no other credentials and must be given something that appears important but isn’t.

Regardless, the result is the same. An interface that is almost unworkable. The closest we could come up with was the programming interface for a nerd calculator, probably not RPN, but we all agreed this was a poor comparison by at least 10 dB. No calculator interface is as bad as the best appliance’s. 

So actually “programming” a DVR or other appliance is indeed bragging rights. Unless one is some form of idiot savant.

I was pleased to hear that one of the IT types had started a project to develop a way to connect appliances to computers and actually program them. Using real programming tools. Great idea. Won’t work for bogs. Good reason to proceed.


One of the most wonderful and enjoyable things about buying a refurbished computer is powering it up, inserting a Linux DVD, booting it, and overwriting Winders Ate with a usable and enjoyable OS. 

Its rather like taking a horrible disease and making something wonderful and useful out of it. 

I think Temujin said something about this sort of thing?

Towers Toppling

Summer endeth! Schule resessions tomorrow and the educationalists must report today so in the most local of terms, thus endeth summer. And I rather regret it in a way. Now the gym will be flooded with arrogance and people and noise and annoyance and bullying and all those things that have been absent the last couple of months. And being thus depressed I turned to matters of similar gloom.

The first is a gloom for Apple and MegaHard and even, amusingly, Mozilla. It seems [Link] that android OS cellular telephones make up 0.85 of the global cellular telephone market. Since this is greater than 0.793, android may be considered to hold a Lanchestrian monopoly of the cellular telephone marketplace. So long as they have this monopoly they dominate the marketplace. Which means things are pretty dismal for the other players.

What is amusing is that the previous Lanchestrian monopoly in the digital electronics/computer market was held by MegaHard with Internet Stumbler. And that monopoly was broken by Mozilla with FireFox. So these monopolies don;t last forever but they do last too long – usually. And have rather nasty effects.

I have to admit that I use an android cellular telephone. Can’t abide Apple. Dark side from my POV. And MegaHard is worse. But I would switch to FireFoxFone in a flash if I could.

The second gloom is that tablet sales are somewhere between even and declining. And the flagship manufacturers are definitely declining. Apple is close to hurting, making this gloom 2 for them. And MegaHard is evidently irrelevant except among anal retentive corporations who buy employees MegaSlabs that get left at office. The antithesis of BYOD evidently. And I suspect totally ignored beyond the bullpen?

What is not clear is whether we are seeing the beginning of the end of MegaHard? They are fast losing ground in all theaters. Unless they have a “wonder weapon” hid back they are likely going to be overrun or, at least, marginalized.

And I shall be happy. At least as soon as Scientific Word 6 comes out.

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