* Posts by skierpage

19 publicly visible posts • joined 14 Sep 2013

Firefox points the way to eradicating one of the rudest words online: PDF


Re: I don't mind PDFs

`pdftotext` on Linux does a good job just extracting simple text. For tabular data if I select and copy in Firefox's PDF viewer, then massage the text in vim to turn it into tab-separated values, then load into a spreadsheet. Newlines in the copied text generally correspond to lines in the table; it would be great if PDFs indicated tabular information so that the copied text had tabs between cell values. There are online and downloadable viewers from sites you've never heard of that claim to rebuild Microsoft Office-sorry-365 documents from PDF exports.


Re: Not the format, but the reader, 95% of the time...

The "real Adobe Reader" nags me to login to use Liquid Mode and offers a bunch of tools that require a subscription. And as others have pointed out, Adobe's profit motive incentivizes them to release new versions of the PDF format to drive subscriptions and upgrades.

The pdf.js viewer in Firefox loads faster (I'm already in a browser) and Just Works. I used to file bugs about PDFs it couldn't render in the 2010s, but not for years now.


Re: Rather PDF than HTMl

In Firefox for years you choose Print > Save to PDF. Works great. Firefox is a fine browser that generally puts the interests of its users first (in the aggregate, not the single cranky person in TheRegister comments). But Google and its customers (advertisers, not users) thank you for your support.


Re: XML or PDF, give me PDF any time and embed the XML in it to have the computers read it.

LibreOffice can export as a hybrid PDF which embeds the source ODF file. So anyone can view the document, but the editable text is present. I will sometimes search for the source file for an old PDF document, and then remember it *is* the PDF.


There are lots of Linux command-line tools to manipulate PDFs. `qpdf` is the most powerful, alrhough its syntax is fiddly. Open the original PDF in Inkscape, import only the page that needs signing, insert a PNG of your scanned signature, save as a PDF, use qpdf to assemble the new document.

I also use `pdftotext` and `pdfimages` all the time.

Founder of zero-emissions truck venture Nikola found guilty of $1b fraud


Re: towed to the top of a hill before the brakes were released.

ARES (Advanced Rail Energy Storage) planned to roll train cars full of heavy junk up and down an abandoned railway in Nevada “with operations beginning in early 2019”. It would only deliver 50 MW and store 12.5 MWh, far smaller than most commercial battery storage system already up and running. It probably realized how much it would cost to electrify the track.

It's now shifted to an even crazier plan to drag a fleet of 210 “mass cars” each weighing 350 tonnes (!! 11 times heavier than Energy Vault’s latest glowing blocks) up and down the side of a working gravel pit, still in Nevada. The world's most boring roller coaster ride! Same small energy storage, same fundamental problem that gravity is a terribly weak force that requires enormous weights to store appreciable energy.


Re: This one runs

Nope. GM was going to receive an 11 percent stake and a seat on the board of Nikola as part of the deal to make the Nikola Badger pickup truck and provide hydrogen fool cell components. The Hindenburg Research released its sensationally good research report detailing all of lyin' Trevor Milton's lies (the truck rolling downhill is just the tip of the flaming zeppelin), and by Nov 2020 the deal collapsed.

GM is already making Brightdrop electric delivery vans.

DoE digs up molten salt nuclear reactor tech, taps Los Alamos to lead the way back


Re: Water

Yes, the evil cabal of fossil fuel companies and aging anti-nuclear hippie enviros successfully infiltrated the construction companies building every nuclear plant to make them all billions of dollars over budget and a decade late.

Awful financials has doomed the current generation of nuclear plants, and It seems the next-generation technologies won't start producing > 100 MW electricity until 2030, with actual proof that they will be cheap and quick to build coming after that.


Re: Timing

China's first thorium reactor only makes 2MW of thermal energy, generating even less electricity. "if the experiments are a success, China hopes to build a 373-megawatt reactor by 2030, which could power hundreds of thousands of homes."

It's fine and important to research and develop nuclear power for possible mass construction to meet energy needs over a decade from now. But all the nuclear fans blathering about how we need to build it now live in an alternate reality where France kept building more nuclear reactors and Toshiba and Westinghouse got better at building AP1000s faster and cheaper instead of going bust.

Meta's AI-based Wikipedia successor 'may be the next big break in NLP'


Re: Disputed comment?

"I also accept Wikipedia makes massive amounts of money off the back of real contributors"

??!!? The Wikimedia Foundation is a non-profit. It runs no ads, it doesn't track users. It makes its incomparably valuable articles and Wikidata freely available. It asks for donations to pay for the servers, software development, and supporting the volunteers.

Smart thermostat swarms are straining the US grid


Re: nuclear counterfactuals are irrelevant

"The amount of money being poured into "renewables" would make a VERY big hole in the carbon problem if it had gone into molten salt nuclear reactor R&D instead (and then building MSRs)"

Renewables have reduced carbon burning. Obviously, when the wind is blowing or the sun is shining, fewer tons of fossil fuel are shoveled into thermal plants. The percentage of electricity generation by coal has gone down, the percentage of electricity generated by renewables has gone up. In the USA gas plants still generate the majority of electricity, But since renewables are by far the majority of new generation, gas will drop too. Yeah yeah we all know renewables are intermittent, and gas plants continue to step in when renewables aren't generating. But renewables plus storage are becoming more popular, so the gas plants will fire up less.

It's no use crying over spilt milk "we could have built nuclear like crazy and it would have (somehow) got cheap and we would have no worryies about intermittency." It didn't happen! In the world we live in, new nuclear produces expensive electricity 24 hours a day, and for much of that time it's undercut by renewables. It's not surprising electric utilities aren't interested. Nuscale is now saying it will make hydrogen at times when its electricity isn't wanted, which raises the question why not plug some electrolyzers into the renewable grid to intermittently make hydrogen, without the expensive nuclear plant.

Alibaba joins rivals in offering tool for those under pressure to reduce carbon emissions


Way to lash two unrelated things together. The carbon footprint of your Facebook and Twitter postings, even if those companies weren't committed to being efficient with energy and reducing their emissions, Is miniscule compared to, you know, actually burning fossil fuel as you use electricity, drive, fly, and heat your house.

Heaps of tweaks and improvements incoming with GNOME 42


"As GNOME Software supports Flatpaks, and [update downloads] can be big"

Flatpak only downloads deltas and the underlying OSTree deduplicates files. I find Flatpak updates tend to be smaller and faster than system package updates even though my Flatpak apps are bigger.

It's entertaining to see the frothing hate here for Gnome. Try KDE.

GitHub merges 'useless garbage' says Linus Torvalds as new NTFS support added to Linux kernel 5.15


Git is a DISTRIBUTED version control system. The distributed part makes it fundamentally hard! The arcane commands permit, for example, someone who has spent months developing a feature on their own local branch to painstakingly adapt it so that it appears to be a sensible sequence of changes to the latest code in the main repository. That's exactly what Linus requires, not a commit history of "Got it working", "Grab latest kernel" (dozens of changes that have already been made in the main repository), "Whew, got it working again", repeated.

Two developers I respect told me the way to really understand git is to read its source code. Otherwise as commenters here have said you rely on lists of commands that mostly work until you develop a feature on a long-lived branch.

Google: Linux kernel and its toolchains are underinvested by at least 100 engineers


"0) C is not difficult, it’s the opposite of that —that is what makes it a very good choice, possibly the best choice, for low level system programming"

Yet engineering managers at Amazon, Google, and Microsoft managing groups of engineers a hell of a lot more talented than random commenter on the internet, have all decided the benefits to switching to a better language are worth it for many projects. Go argue on their blog posts how dumb they are to move away from languages that enable several classes of bugs.

If C, C++, and Rust had been introduced at the same time, do you really think any programming would be done in languages other than Rust because they're "not difficult" to write secure code in?

Latest patches show Rust for Linux project making great strides towards the kernel


Re: Another dimension of complexity

Microsoft and Google have 10,000 times more experience than you do with C and C++ programming, and their engineering managers have decided to develop some new projects in Rust, as have Amazon and many other companies. Rust solves real problems in developing memory-safe and thread-safe high-performance code by replacing runtime errors with compiler errors. Your ill-informed capital-letter ranting isn't going to change the trend.

Go on, devs, have a Flutter on Linux desktop apps: Google and Canonical launch alpha SDK


Canonical supporting Flutter is probably bad for Linux

Flutter may be a good toolkit for Linux desktop apps, but tying it to Canonical's Snap store and allowing marketing garbage like "Snapcraft is the app store for Linux" is going to hurt it overall. GitHub issues like "flutter doesn't recognize applications installed through flatpak" don't inspire confidence that you can develop for Flutter with tools installed as flatpaks.

For the end-user, if Flutter becomes successful it would be nice for Flutter to be available as a Flatpak runtime. But with Fedora having some control over Flathub and preferring Gnome, and Canonical participating in Flutter development for Linux, I don't see it happening any time soon. <sigh>

Kinoite: Immutable Fedora variant with KDE Plasma desktop on the way


nope, shared runtimes

My Flatpak apps currently use one shared KDE 5.15 runtime, GNOME 3.22 and 3.20 shared runtimes, and share components like openh264 from the freedesktop 20.08 platform. I could even force GIMP to use Gnome 3.22 to drop to 2.5 runtimes. That's a lot of sharing! Not everything is shared, e.g. I have two apps using the same XML parsing libraries.

I use a couple of bleeding-edge Flatpaks built nightly from git head and the rest are stable builds from Flathub. The ability to easily run newest Flatpak to reproduce a bug without disturbing the rest of your installation is great for both users and developers.

ZTE Open: This dirt-cheap smartphone is a swing and a miss


Re: Why do an OS at all?

Mozilla is doing everything you suggest. Firefox OS apps are just HTML+CSS+JavaScript calling Web APIs, and many of the APIs are already available in desktop and Android Firefox. The Firefox Marketplace, and the button you put on your web site to "install this as an app", works in all three already.

For some, a "Really good open source HTML5 development env" is your text editor together with debug tools like Firebug in a browser window, though it won't satisfy people coming from Interface Builder or Visual Studio.