* Posts by osxtra

32 posts • joined 30 Dec 2019

Nuclear power is the climate superhero too nervous to wear its cape


Think of the children

Nuclear is not the way to go. There is already more than enough energy to meet our planet's needs coming from another source. It'll just take a little elbow grease.

No matter which form of power generation is chosen, ultimately it's all about electricity.

Given enough scale, both wind and sea-based forms would probably be detrimental. Who knows what all those ugly turbines would eventually do to global wind patterns. Who knows what all those undersea inertia-transferring gadgets will eventually do to our tides.

Solar - as we know it today - is also not the way to go. Panels everywhere. Too inefficient. Too much atmospheric dissipation.

Since we're going to spend the money on *some* technology, rather than billions upon billions more to "perfect" nuclear energy, let's get two things working:

1) Space Elevators.

2) Wireless transmission of electricity.

Artsutanov came up with the idea for #1 in 1960, and besides other still fictional tales, it was used to great effect twenty years later in Clarke's "Fountains of Paradise".

Tesla never did quite get #2 working, but had it not been for his spat with George Westinghouse, many things may have turned out differently for him, and us.

The solar collectors would live tethered to the space end of the elevator, adding mass to help hold it up, and out of the way of that pesky atmosphere. Need it to be a few miles across? No problem! Plenty of room up there. Put one atop every elevator; in aggregate, more than enough to power the planet's needs.

The resulting electricity would augment the energy needs of the elevator cars (offsetting the extra energy needed for mass going up, if there's not a corresponding amount coming down), but its primary task would be to travel part-way down the shaft, then beamed 'round the world, as Tesla envisioned.

Neither technology is quite within our grasp today, but if we don't start working on it, we'll never get to enjoy it down the road.

Tavis Ormandy ports WordPerfect for UNIX to Linux



The DOS version of v5.1 was great. Much better than the M$ offering at the time, and who needs a GUI or a mouse, anyway?

One could - and often did - go a little overboard customizing what commands were tied to the various keyboard button choices.

I still miss Reveal Codes, an invaluable window into why your formatting was going wonky. Too bad LO Writer doesn't have that.

These days, like many, it's either VS Code for GUI work, or VIM when dialed in somewhere...

Systemd supremo Lennart Poettering leaves Red Hat for Microsoft


The Opposite Of Defenestration

Ultimately, defenestration (see: Icarus)

Soviet-era tech could change the geothermal industry


A Different Tack

Need energy? Sap the seas via electro-wave generators.

Need energy? Sap the earth by drilling holes to allow its heat to escape.

Need energy? Sap the winds by erecting huge fans to capture it.

Need energy? Sap all plant life (and eventually, us), by blowing previously sequestered carbon back into the skies, which will eventually smother what is below.

The problem with all those methods is they're extracting energy from our own closed-system, the Earth. Yet, we have a constant supply of energy coming in from outside the planet.

Why we don't make more use of it is a mystery.

(Well, OK, not *so* much a mystery. More a reluctance for people making money to consider other ways of making money).

So: Need energy? Just use the sun. It's got all the energy we need, and is anyway the ultimate source of all the energy we currently have.

Sure, we're not there yet, technology-wise, but things have been moving faster and faster this past century or so.

Before too long, when Tsiolkovsky's space elevators (neatly described nearly a century later in Clark's Fountains of Paradise) are up and running, and someone equally as bright as Nikola Tesla has finally figured out how to handle ground when transmitting electricity in wireless fashion (or maybe it won't even be electricity, just another wavelength converted back and forth as needed), it'll be a piece of cake.

Simply place the collectors outside the gravity well, tethered and adding to the mass that keeps an elevator from falling back to earth, and beam power from points along the tethers to whatever device may need it. A few hundred feet up for most buildings, vehicles, or pedestrians. Higher for aircraft. Under water or ground may take a little more research.

Look, Ma! No extension cords!

Sure, sounds like science fiction, but in Verne's and Wells' time, so did space travel.

Would just be nice if we could grow up a little, and stop acting like little three year olds wanting to hold on to the sugar cube we have, when the chocolate banana-cream pie we're going to know how to bake down the road will taste so much better.

The only way to learn how to bake that pie is with practice. If we try but once a generation when crisis-de-jou rears its ugly head, it'll be scads of those before any progress is made. If we try every day, even just a little, progress will come that much quicker.

DARPA wants to refuel drones in flight – wirelessly


First Thing First

To accomplish this, DARPA first needs another piece of technology: Time Travel. Given that, they could bring back Nikola Tesla and let him resume his research. He'd figure it out.

Contrary to a previous comment, Mr. Tesla did not know "how to do this" 100 years ago. But he sure was working on it. Had he not been screwed by Marconi, who knows what else the man may have ended up accomplishing.

(It is funny though, how we're coming back to the idea of direct current. Turns out both he and Edison were correct. In the house, DC is ultimately the way to go. But, how do you get all that juice *to* the house? Thus, the need for transmission without wires, or alternating current, as you prefer.)

His issue with wireless transmission of electricity was the same any modern inventor will face: determining how to handle ground. During his lightning experiments in Colorado, horses 30 miles away would spontaneously jump into the air as Tesla conducted his experiments. Shocking! ;)

True though, if anyone could figure this out, it'd be Tesla (the man, not the company). Wireless transmission of electriticy would mean no need for power lines cluttering up the streets, and no need for earth-bound generating plants (just capture the sun at the top of the space elevators encircling the equator, then beam it from the exterior of the elevator shafts some miles above ground).

TSMC and China: Mutually assured destruction now measured in nanometers, not megatons


Test Your Backup

This is just dumb. Sure, TSMC currently has about half the global market share, but that's mostly because we've become complacent, assuming the tech we've created will always be available. Too many eggs, not enough baskets.

If that plant in Taiwan stops producing for the West, sure, we'll lose some hardware, but not the ideas that *make* it. I do agree the physical plant should be rendered useless to any usurper, but hey, it's just a building! Didn't humans make it once? We can make it again.

Ghu forbid that during the reconstruction we might have to go on using last year's device for a while.

It took the US some time to ramp up during WWII, but once it did, look out. The same applies here. TSMC has to have a backup of all their data, all their plans and layouts. It's unlikely all that data will perish.

Why don't we, the descendants of those who won the Big One, get off our duffs and put a little elbow grease into the problem? I'll bet we could have another fab up and running in under two years, if we really *wanted* to.

Perhaps - with a nod to historic poetry - near Eindhoven, where we could start all over again worrying about that country's crazy neighbor? Or perhaps in Arizona, where we could worry about some weaponized wacko taking over the plant and demanding "justice"?

We do need a backup plan for Taiwan, but it shouldn't be just one fab. Why not spread the love to at least a half dozen?

Researchers claim quantum device performs 9,000-year calculation in microseconds


Channeling Phil Hartman

I'm just a simple cave-man. Explain how, if with traditional machines it would take nine thousand years to perform this calculation, you are able to verify the "quantum" output is correct?

Sick of Windows but can't afford a Mac? Consult our cynic's guide to desktop Linux


It's Not The Money

Nice list. I still like Debian just because, as mentioned, it's the Daddy, and most of the boxes I spin up are servers of some sort so I'm not worrying about the GUI. It supports what hardware I'm throwing at it.

Am fairly agnostic when it comes to hardware. Commodore back in the day. Running mainframes for USAF. Building V20 boxes in the 80's. Working with this new-fangled 386 chip.

Software is another matter. Not thinking I'd actually need the other 3 megs of installed memory; DOS only really needs 640K after all. Learning to hate WinDoze when v3 came out, then learning to *really* hate WinDoze when ME came out. Vista? Ugh. Must admit 7 was a vast improvement over '95 (being NT under the hood rather than pretty wallpaper on top of DOS), and 10 continues that tradition, but don't care for anyone wanting to control what browser - or any other app - I open by default.

So far as not being able to afford a Mac ... it's not that. I have a perfectly good '09 MBP. Sure, it's stuck on El Capitan, but iTerm, SSH, FireFox, ThunderBird, TunnelBlick, VNC, VIM, VS Code, Bash, etc. all still work just fine. Most of the new versions of code (openssl, curl, apache, etc.) even still compile on it.

The problem with Mac is not the price. It's not being able to swap out or upgrade the underlying hardware. That's where OpenCore comes in. For desktop, am still on a Coffee Lake CPU, with 128G ram and a Titan Black GPU. PhotoShop is *very* responsive. Haven't quite bitten the bullet yet to get off of Catalina. Don't care for the file system being untouchable. Did I, or did I not just type sudo? Thought *I* was in charge of these bits. I shouldn't be required to make a snapshot just to update the compiled version of bash to /bin ('cause who wants to update the hash-bang on all the user scripts).

Will be interesting to see how OpenCore adapts to the Fruity Company's switch to Arm. Eventually I will have to purchase new hardware, but have no intention of splurging on Apple until I can fix and upgrade it myself, as I still can with the '09 MBP.

Having switched from 'doze to Mac a dozen or so years ago as my daily driver, I'm now used to it. CMD vs CTRL, mostly it's the same. Bringing WSL into WinDoze has helped me like that platform again, but when using the GUI I still like Mac. Having BSD under the hood makes things more comfortable.

If *nix really wants to go mainstream, Adobe needs to port Creative Cloud over to it. Sure, Gimp, InkSkape and Scribus are great, but I'm not the only one used to PhotoShop, Illustrator and InDesign, and truth to tell, Adobe has invested quite a bit over the years to improve their product offerings. Wasn't happy with the switch to a subscriber model, but do like having the latest and greatest, and the constant improvements they make. I'd jump ship from Mac in a second if I could run Adobe's apps natively, not fiddling with containers.

Would probably be running some flavor of Ubuntu though, that driver thing again...

World’s smallest remote-controlled robots are smaller than a flea


You Will All Be Assimilated

So that's how Borg nano-probes came about!

Supreme Court urged to halt 'unconstitutional' Texas content-no-moderation law


Restaurant Rules

"We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone."

Doesn't sound like too big a stretch to use that same logic when it comes to 3rd-party content.

The server is, after all, not the personal property of the person posting the content. Unless they have some kind of arrangement with the server's owner, the end user has no expectation with regards to how their content is - or is not - stored.

BTW, Greetings from Austin. I wish Paxton, and his boss Abbot would go. They do not appear to be honoring the document they swore to protect, and though this law would prohibit that opinion from being removed from public view, I'd wager if enough people posted in similar fashion - especially around election time - they'd figure out a way to suppress it.

Appeals court unleashes Texas's anti-Big-Tech content-no-moderation law


Two Words

"Streisand Effect"

"I think <ELECTED OFFICIAL X> is a rat-infested <#$%0!> who likes <@&!^0#*> little boys."

Moderate that, will you? ;)

US appeals court ruling could 'eliminate internet privacy'


Flip the problem on its head

This is all due to U.S. laws, which are authored by the Legislative branch of the government, fact-checked by the Judicial, and acted upon by the Executive.

New law 1: The GAO (US Government Accountability Office) logs *all* 'net data from any member of those three branches.

New law 2: Once requested by a U.S. citizen, no FOIA request regarding content of these logs can be blocked.

Watch the other laws change!

(OK, probably not, but fun to fantasize...)

Backup frustration brought this CTO to forefront of ransomware protection


Quacks Like A Duck

So far as "modern" backup systems go...

2005: Git, an open-source, on or off-premise versioning backup system for files, is released.

2006: Carbonite, a closed-source, partially versioned off-premise backup system for files, is released.*

2008: Nasuni, a closed-source, off-premise versioning backup system for files, is released.

Per the article, Nasuni versions files which are "not shipped to a backup system but instead are kept on the cloud-based platform."

A rose by any other name. Sure sounds like a backup.

Like many, I use git for tracking changes to website content. One such has product catalog and sheet PDF's for a medium-sized wholesaler. Running for ten years now, the "objects" dir of that repo is around 13 gigs. Current content on the site itself is nearly 2 gigs (a good chunk of that being zips of hi-res product images and collections of PDF spec sheets, along with the individual spec, catalog and product sheet PDF's, all of which have of course changed over time).

Sometimes we need to go back and find out when a section of the website verbiage, or some PDF or ZIP has changed. Thanks to diligent use of commit comments, that's easy to do as we're looking for a specific price, image or verbiage update. Just throw a commit hash to Git and restore the chosen file somewhere, then compare it to today's copy.

A much harder prospect is to find out when your system got infected. Exactly which files to you inspect for changes? That can end up being a lot of diff.

If you keep more than one copy of your backup based on time, it's versioned. While the idea of using an individual file-based method as opposed to monolithic copies of your entire dataset is a good one in that the potential for restoration is much faster, it's still just a backup. Also, no matter which method is used, in practice, it could prove problematic determining exactly when the "good" data turned "bad"' i.e., from what point you'd need to restore.

It would also be interesting to see just how much overhead there is with this per-file method, whether or not the content is hosted on some shared network drive, or locally on individual workstations.

(It's assumed a shared drive would be on "stronger" hardware, but depending on what all the target machine is hosting, the load could still be pretty large. With the above-mentioned website on my dev machine, and not counting actual upload time, these days it still takes some seconds for Git to sync everything when pushing updated content to the website repo.)

* Not harping on Carbonite, just an example of one of the myriad cloud-based backup systems out there, and an early one for the WinDoze / consumer world. As others have posted, this concept has been around a while. According to their website, Carbonite keeps a single Daily version of files - not each and every change, presumably just the last change made that day - three weekly versions of the Daily, and two monthly versions of the Weekly. So, provided the infection happened within the past couple of months, you can recover...

Tomorrow Water thinks we should colocate datacenters and sewage plants


Thinking In The Toilet

This idea is absolutely the shit!

Oracle's compliance cops now include Java in license audits


And then there were none

Java -> OpenJDK

MySQL -> MariaDB

OpenOffce -> LibreOffice

Granted, the last one is still theoretically free-as-in-beer, but only because the code base sucks so much hardly anyone uses it anymore.

Let's have a poll: What will be the next software technology Mr. Ellison purchases, then ruins to the point of losing his customer base?

A shop I do work for uses a Java app on WinDoze clients for thermal printing via a shipping provider's website. Warned the provider a while back now to stop telling people to just "download the latest java, it's free", and when the shop migrated to Win 10 switched to OpenJDK. Took the time to point to their updated license verbiage. It was duly ignored. They actually replied in email claiming Java SE post 8u202 did not need a paid license.

Wonder what Snoracle's audit of this provider - and their customers - would find?

Orders wrong, resellers receiving wrong items? Must be a programming error and certainly not a rushing techie

IT Angle


Having dealt with my share of cards in the past, that's what I call a floor sort!

RingCentral shouts revenue growth from the rooftops while shareholders can't help but notice deepening losses


Is This The Party To Whom I Am Speaking?

Am not a big fan of this company. We used them briefly back in '12 when going multi-office and switching to a VoIP provider. It was awful. Service was sub-par and support was tier 0.5 at best; they just wantedg to argue all the time rather than trying to solve whatever problem was at hand. Never did figure out where the call center was. After a few months we gave up and switched to 8x8, staying there until early last year due to too many dropped calls. Now we're with Jive and, while all providers have their issues, compared to 8x8 their management UI is head and shoulders above. RC's is also pretty basic.

We still use RC for faxing - about $25 / month - no real complaints except we had to stop advertising the toll-free fax number to customers as they'd fail (100% for both in and outbound with the TF, maybe 5% with the local #'s also running through them). The TF fax is also at Jive now, but only for inbound.

As an aside, instead of RC's method which employs a sender whitelist to allow outbound faxing (which, though not tested, could probably be 'abused' as it doesn't appear to check the sender's IP), Jive requires an access code to be embedded in the subject line, which is fine unless your fax is a cc (extra copy of an emailed invoice, or whatever). Were we to use Jive as our main fax platform, we'd need to pipe messages through an alias and have a script remove the code so as not to show our customers how to fax for free.

That project is in the "Voluminous Free Time" folder for now...

Realizing this is getting out of hand, Coq mulls new name for programming language


Why not just call it what it is: Proofman.

HP CEO talks up HP-ink-only print hardware and higher upfront costs for machines that use other cartridges


Drive Time

I just love my new BP-Mobile!

Only problem is finding one of their stations to re-fuel...

Companies toiling away the most on LibreOffice code complain ecosystem is 'beyond utterly broken'


Grow Up or Give Up

LO is the only serious contender to M$ Office, but it certainly has its warts. Have not been a fan of MicroSloth since they killed WordPerfect for DOS. As an individual, I donate a couple of beers worth of $ to LO every month just because. It's not the same as a subscription ala Office365, because I'm opting to do it, not being required to.

Could LO be improved? Absolutely. Mail merges are a pain. Styles are awful. The macro IDE is worse.

What could make it better? Just one area would be attracting corporate use that pays an arm and a leg to have Excel on a server. Though they'd love to get you into their Adobe-style subscription model, there are still scads of one-time purchase QuickBooks desktop installations, and none of them can open a report directly into LO as you can with Excel; you have to go with CSV.

Yes, you'd still have to purchase something from TDF to make that work (and yes, they'd have to trick Intuit into "thinking" Excel was installed, but that would be a hack worth writing).

Still, the cost would be much lower than going with M$ and their "It's on a server. Prepare to be squeezed" mentality. I feel many, many companies large and small would jump on this.

And did I mention the IDE? LO's doesn't even have code bookmarks, a way to modify the background color away from white, or anything one would want in a modern editor, such as linting, code completion, syntax highlighting, etc. It's dysfunctional. Sure, they've added Python, and their Oopified Basic is actually not a bad thing. Sort of like how scripting Fruity apps has Javascript these days, but still supports AS.

It's not the coding, it's the *way* you have to code. (Apple's script editor sucks, too.)

What they *should* do is wrest Thunderbird away from Mozilla, make some adjustments to the GUI, and give M$ a seriously good run for their money. Right now they're kind of like the proverbial red headed step-child', *almost* good enough to take seriously.

Oh, and modernize that IDE!

Don't like Mondays? Neither does Microsoft 364's Outlook Exchange Online service


Count 'em up

Hopefully it's just this past Monday, otherwise we'll have to start calling it Office 313 (possible 314 on a leap year).

Bloke rolls up to KFC drive-thru riding horse-drawn cart only to be told: Neigh


Hungy Hungry Humans

On behalf of all Americans, I apologize for the way our fast food industry has infected the planet.

Had been weaning myself off of fake food anyway, but after seeing Michael Keaton's excellent portrayal of early Ray Croc in "The Founder", have stopped visiting that type of establishment.

If I can't cook it, or be served an actual, metal fork with my meal, I'm not a customer.

In the early 70's we moved from Chicago to a small town around an hour away. (Funny that dad wanted to get away from the "dangerous" city of our births, but we ended up in, shall we say, a real "family" town that used to be the summer getaway for folks in the Capone era. Go figure. The town was actually quite safe, so long as you "followed the rules".)

The area was just full of lakes. A new Burger King went in, and yes, they had a boat-through for folks that couldn't be bothered to actually come inside for their heart-stopping-good "meals".

An Internet of Trouble lies ahead as root certificates begin to expire en masse, warns security researcher


Just when you thought it was safe...

... to forget all about Y2K. In the words of the (so far) immortal David Byrne: "Same as it ever was."

We have Huawei to make the internet more secure: Dump TCP/IP to make folks safer says Chinese mobe slinger


What Could Go Wrong?

Hopefully no one associated with the Leerless Feeder at 1600 Pennsylvania will be involved when it comes to building this new "more secure" protocol.

"Repeal and replace" hasn't gone over so so well here in America...

Ever felt down after staring at your phone late in bed? It's not just you – mice do too



And hear I thought it was just all that scary news content making me blue...

They've only gone and bloody done it! NASA, SpaceX send two fellas off to the International Space Station


Bottom's Up

I wonder if they were able to bring a cold one for the ride.

Made-up murder claims, threats to kill Twitter, rants about NSA spying – anything but mention 100,000 US virus deaths, right, Mr President?


It's The Word

You know how you're not supposed to say the name of the bad guy in Harry Potter, as just doing so only gives him more power?

That's why I call the current CEO of America "It".

No offense (and hopefully no relation) to the *other* creepy clown with that same name, or the wonderfully hirsute cousin from the Addams Family...

cmd.exe is dead, long live PowerShell: Microsoft leads aged command-line interpreter out into 'maintenance mode'


DAS Terminal

To druck: yes, cmder is a great alternative to cmd, especially coupled with far commander.

To Furbian: That's why I don't like PS. It goes against the grain of *nix philosophy re small, easy to remember helper programs. Sure, PS has piping, but it's like writing a German opera. Ugh. (No offense to anyone who speaks German, your grammar is just a little ... verbose.)

What made Cmder shine was its *nix philosophy and baking the old unxutils port into it.

One might say Cmder's days are numbered, as the new WSL seems worthy of use. However, Cmder already supports spawning shells in multiple terminal types (bash, cmd, cmder, PS), and does have a nice tabbed interface, so may have more life left than we know. Will just have to see...

How many times do we have to tell you? A Tesla isn't a self-driving car, say investigators after Apple man's fatal crash


What's In A Name?

Wrote to Tesla's board through a link on their website a while back. Never got a reply, of course, but did mention to them that they were using the wrong word for their self-driving tech.

It's not Auto-Pilot. The underlying tech is too new and unreliable, but that phrase makes folks think the car is ready to drive itself, when we sadly hear, all to often, that it is not.

Until the tech reliably works, they should instead call it Co-Pilot. At least then folks would have the understanding they still need to be involved in the process of not accidentally killing themselves while behind the wheel.

As internet pioneers fight to preserve .org’s non-profit status, those in charge are hiding behind dollar signs


Tit for tat

Perhaps it's time for a new ".borg" tld...

LibreOffice 6.4 nearly done as open-source office software project prepares for 10th anniversary


What's Not To Like

I use Libre most every day, mostly calc. Then again, the main machine is a Mac.

It's also on our main Windoze RDS server, and chugs along happily with many users.

With regards to scripting, it's nice they've kept Basic, though they also support Python, Javascript, and even Beanshell.

All in all, it's a great office suite, and has matured nicely since being forked from Sun. (The same can be said for Maria, and OpenJDK is coming along as well. Guess King Ellison just can't keep good code around.)

One thing which I believe would encourage migration from M$ would be for Intuit to stop their discriminating practice of only allowing QB reports exporting to Excel.

So far as email goes, have been on Thunderbird since the early days, around 15 years now, so am used to it. It can be quirky, but is a great platform, especially now as it supports maildir storage (no more bloated mbox files, easier backups, etc.). IMHO, if Mozilla ever lets go of the project, it would be a good fit for Libre.


What's Not To Liike

I use Libre most every day, mostly calc. Then again, the main machine is a Mac.

It's also on our main Windoze RDS server at work, and chugs along happily with many users.

With regards to scripting, it's nice they've kept Basic, though they also support Python, Javascript, and even Beanshell. The scripting IDE could use a little polish though. At least bookmarks would be a great start.

All in all, it's a great office suite, and has matured nicely since being forked from Sun. (The same can be said for Maria, and OpenJDK is starting to grow up, too. Seems King Ellison just can't keep good code around.)

One thing which I believe would encourage migration from M$ would be for Intuit to stop their discriminatory practice of only allowing QB reports exporting to Excel.

So far as email goes, have been on Thunderbird since the early days, around 15 years now, so am used to it. It can be quirky, but is a great platform, especially now as it supports maildir storage (no more bloated mbox files, easier backups, etc.). IMHO, if Mozilla ever lets go of the project, it would be a good fit for Libre.


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