Science from Tech?

Further consideration of the goodness of older, 32 bit lapboxes versus contemporary 64 bit lapboxes, plus a bit of wider viewing, lets up conjecture a rule of modern marketplace mechanics:

When niche pricing develops, quality deteriorates.

That is, competition between manufacturers to capture a niche market, or as large a share as possible, is balanced by making the product as cheaply as possible. This is usually only possible in an effectively horizontal marketplace if crap diffuses into the product.

Hence, the old stuff is better, at least absent some actual advance in technology. In this case, the 64 bit CPU does not offset the rest of the hardware’s rot.

In Praise of Technical Error

Been a bit of a dry spell. Too many distractions from important stuff. So lots of mumblage here.

The other day I was listening to an episode (number three as I recall) of “Late Night Linux” [Link] which is the derivative of “Linux Luddites”. I have never quite figured out why the change other than a stentorian pronouncement of the new permitting profanity that I have yet to notice.

Anyway, the episode opened with a bit of a natter about 32 bit versions and how this only made sense because only old antiquated boxes are 32 bit. I was familiar with the argument but something – the voices or my environment – led me to consider further on the matter. One definite factor is that I have several of these older boxes and help some folks who have ditto and so I am often looking for distros that are not just 32 bit but non-PAE. 

I mentioned this to my colleague Magnetic Inductance Force and he did a bit of a chuckle-mumble. Admitted he sent them an eMail on the matter, which crystallized my own impression. With some priming from an article [Link] entitled “The Terminal Is Where Linux Begins – and Where You Should, Too” that influenced a conversation I had yesterday with my colleague Total Angular Momentum Inductance about how much command lineing is needful and how it impacts adopters.

The issue, I suspect, is an unacknowledged (denied?) dichotomy in the Linux community. The classical Linux community is geekish – operating code writers who are more at home with the command line than a GUI. But recognizing that elitism is a poor survival population in the modern environment, efforts have been bent to make Linux more attractive to the Winders Generation.

The dichotomy thus is between people who think technical excellence is a sine qua non and people who want an appliance but, for some reason, not a slablet. There are, of course, people in intermediate who are perfectly happy to disdain both the extremes of the dichotomy. And attractive as it may be the dichotomy is close in some senses but not quite the appliance-tool polarity.

I should qualify that I am a tool user, but not of the form of the classic Linuxite. I write code but could care less about writing operational code. I write number crunch code, mostly in FORTRAN. When I was running Winders I wrote in PASCAL and hated all the GUI stercus. I still hate the GUI stercus but one advantage of Linux is I could go back to FORTRAN. And now that LibreOffice has a BASIC built into its spreadsheet, I can go back to low end spreadsheet code.

What does this have to do with 32 bit? Well, the answer has to do with a related but different matter, namely the human-machine interface. Just as one cannot take notes or scribble equations without a machine, in this case a pen/pencil and some paper, one cannot do code (or any other computer activity) without a physical (maybe?) interaction between human and computer. IOW, you gotta have a machine in the middle to write code. The blatantly obvious parts of that machine side are keyboard and visual display.

This brings us to the 32 bit bit. Simply put new computers have terrible, crappy interface hardware. Laptops are especially bad. You have to pay through the nose to get a decent visual display and a decent keyboard is not to be found. For desktops, matters are less dire but not as good as they used to be.

Bottom line old laptops good, new laptops bad; old keyboards good, new keyboards mediocre to crappy.

Now I know I don’t want to run code on a 32 bit computer, especially FORTRAN code. It really doesn’t matter with spreadsheet code because there one is satisfied with two or three decimal places. But heavy nerd code is not for 32 bit boxes.

But one can have one or several 64 bit boxes that one terminals into to run the FORTRAN code. And not give up a decent interface.

But code writing is only part of the nerd story. An equally important part is writing up articles on what you find out in your research. And that also requires an effective and efficient man-machine (sexism here!) interface. Which redoubles the whole 32 bit shtick.

And before you mutter something about nerds being minuscule in numbers and therefore importance, remember how the computer came about in the first place.

So abandon those 32 bit implementations at your own risk.


Morning Amusement?

Reading daily tabs. Except maybe on Wednesday when I have to go do real stuff. But in the process this morning I ran across an article [Link] entitled “Which is Better, Mac or Windows?” on LifeHacker. This is a podcast and I didn’t listen to it for reason that are (or will become) obvious. Not telling others to not listen, just that it ain’t my thing.

I also have to admit that I have only listened to one LifeHacker podcast and that was only for ten minutes. And controlling the urge to regurgitate kept me from smashing the MP3 player and only erasing the abomination file.

But the idea that there would be people who would listen to a podcast arguing the merits and defects of Apple OS versus Winders was engaging. I had not thought there were any people like this, or at least any statistically significant number.

I have known many Winders users. Almost none had any interest in changing OS. And of the few who did, most were frustrated by the high monetary cost of Apple and the high (?) cognitive cost of Linux. Apple for the exorbitant (but excellent) hardware and Linux for an increased need to actually think and learn and do. 

Hence the mutterings about Appliance Bogs.

Of the Apple folk I have known all had the conviction of rabid christianist evangelicals. Those who believe Sprague DeCamp’s version of Freedom of Religion is holy writ. That the week isn’t good if you haven’t killed an other-believer. Either by actual discorporation or bullying into your perversions. They are better mannered, admittedly, and most are Jewish in attitude towards evangelicalism, namely that you have to prove you are worthy of Apple. Which is maybe better?

Cost aside, there is no real competition here. Apple OS is lots better than Winders. At least 10dB. Maybe more. Winders is for herd bogs who are afraid of learning. Who have been mindwiped by their schules and employers into thinking they have to be well behaved serfs who never learn anything about computers other than surfing and socialing. The make Eighteenth Century chattel slavery look enlightened.

Not that Apple is much better but at least the OS is. And the hardware. But not the chains. Soma by electronics.

But the most bemusing bit was the personal notes of what each commentator was doing. Laughable. I listen to a Linux podcast and the commentators are doing great stuff, either writing code or bashing metal or learning something. These guys are making ice cubes or counting hits on their social media. Makes me wonder what their creds are to actually do a geekcast?

I’m gonna go open an editor and write some code. Then maybe the urge will abate.

Rust Box

Seven Day. Solid Dihydrogen Oxide outside. So no constitutional. But the morning groats were welcome. 

Part of this week has been spent arguing with Winders. And I feel a bit soiled after doing so. Rather like when one changes the lubricant in one’s motorcar and feels rather slimy/slippery for a couple of days after despite several applications of detergent to oneself. In this instance sort of like falling into the LaBrea tar pits, extricating oneself, only to encounter a Mephitis Mephitis on the bank and fall backwards into the pits again choking and gagging on the noxiousness.

Hence my positive mood this morning when I ran across an article [Link] entitled “Get Yourself a Chromebook For Under $150, Today Only.” I have to admit that I bought a ChromeBook, a refurbed one for a bit less than this price.

And I also have to admit that I feel like I was cheated.

The hardware is abysmal but even so it is sterling compared to the OS. It’s worse than the OS on the IBM 360 I had to use in undergraduate days. 

All you can do with a ChromeBook – effectively – is browse. Almost nothing constructive. 

After a bit of research I discovered that the implementation – hardware – is virtually the same as a Stercus lapbox I have wrangled with because of the way Horrible Packaging implemented secure boot UEFI. But even less useful.

So I have to conclude that the combination of HP and Chrome is Sturgeon’s Rule to the nth root. That is 0.91/n. Where n is large; bigger than 1E2. 

Oh! And I can’t even run FORTRAN code on it!

But what scares me is that there are actual people who define their lives via this. 

Three Cheers for the Extinction Meteorite! May it arrive soon!

Digital Dinkage

Six Day. No gym. Walked under the fall of dihydrogen oxide. Wonderful! At least if I don’t contract pneumonia or influenza or whatever.

Brought me to thinking about computers and users and OSs. 

The situation: we have three (actually four) OS in play: iOS; Winders; and Linux. For the nonce I am going to exclude Android from Linux simoly because it doesn’t really run on real computers. More of this vitriol later.

I saw an advertisement for a computer OEM D***. The advertisement said “D*** recommends Winders 10.” (sooc.) And I immediately thought how hard it is to buy a computer without the cancer that is Winders.

Which made me think about statistics and that led to a different way of looking at the matter, at least for me. I should give credit to my colleague, Normal Angular Momentum, for the seed crystal of the whole thing.

Consider the spectrum of computer “users” (as a rather all encompassing name) in terms of how much they “want” to dink with an OS. Specify three bins: absolutely don’t want to dink at all (appliance users;) will dink a bit; and want to dink. Admittedly there is potentially a LOT of space between bin two and bin three so a bit of qualification is in order.

Bin one is people who want someone else to install their OS and they NEVER want to have to ask anyone to dink for them.

Bin two includes people who will reach their dink upper bound very quickly and then either curse a lot, throw their computer out a window or under a main battle tank, and go buy anew one, or hire someone knowledgeable – usually a bin three – to dink for them.

For our purposes we will ignore whether tuning eye candy qualifies as dinking. 

Now let us observe that statistically both bin one and bin three compromise about a sigma of the population in the context of a Gaussian distribution

Now let us consider that: bin one is entirely populated with iOS users; bin three is entirely populated with Linux users; and that bin two is predominantly Winders users with a few industrious (masochistic?) iOS users and a few ferdish Linux users.

That’s it. That’s the population of computer users. And it explains why businesses really hate Linux and Apple users. 

And the Android folks? They are people who can’t dink. Want is irrelevant.

Thankful/Unthankful 4

Yes, I know the holiday known as thanksgiving is some past but its proximity to the Solstice Season provides at least a weak link.

Today’s nattering is about electronics. Particularly digital electronics. Aka computers.

I am distinctly unthankful for all the merchants who intimate that I should expect slablets and such as gifts and should unitarily consider them as gifts.

Stupidity. Greed. Asentience. 

Given my experiences with rubbish electronics. Such as the current state of Hewlett Packard. (How long has it been since they introduced a NEW RPN calculator?) And Dell is a close third.

And slablets? Appliances masquerading as real computers. Useful only in weight restricted situations. Where nothing worthwhile is to be done. Entertainment and diversion only. 

And cellular telephones. Definitely Freudian. Very Hate-Abide. No love component. 

And the popped zit head executives who think that everyone is going to do all computing on slablets and phonyiums. 

But I am thankful for real computers. Which excludes those pre-ruined by MegaHard’s insecurity. And utile OS like Linux. 

And I am especially thankful for screensavers. A vastly underappreciated art form. Of which the best is “Flying Toasters.”

And keyboards with Blue Cherry switches. Not the stercus that comes bundled with deskboxes. 

Selah. For now.

Digital Stupidity Confirmed

Starting early cleaning tabs. First, a grievous evil may have been righted. [Link] The Lenovo people are usually pretty good about supporting Linux. It has been fairly easy to take one of their lapboxes, blow away the cancer that is Winders on it, and install the Linux distro of choice. Even though they have gone to UEFI, their implementation works well with uncertified distros.

But not recently. In an apparent subjugation to MegaHard, their YOGA lapboxes have been untouchable. Which has likely hurt their business. The Two-Percentum are not without a certain Linusesque inclination to expression. But supposedly the exclusion was an error (???) and has now been corrected.

I tend not to buy latest and greatest. Mostly because I’m frugal. And the one time in the last year I bought a new, contemporary box, it was as rotten as cardboard shoes in a monsoon. So I crated it back up and saved it for some needy Winders serf.

In the same scan, I noted a rather overdone article on the security of internet appliances. [Link] Too much of this article is about physical burglary angst, which is quickly, less than one sentence in, boring. The sort of boring that makes you wish the author had been mugged in the burglary.

But the point, not well associated with the burglary, that we can’t trust the manufacturers of IOT appliances is valid if untrustworthy in such a sob sister.

ANyway, my natural distrust of things BOGish is being confirmed in the wake of the recent DNS DOS assault. I am – barely – willing to accept microprocessor controlled appliances but not if they’re connected to the internet. Or even to my network.

Especially since I turn my cellular telephone off as soon as I get home since it won’t work under my metal roof.