2016 — 24 May: Tuesday

A sunny start is dispersing the last of a cold1 night. And, as predicted, the TV screen never even got switched on yesterday evening — though I did watch some snippets from two sets of "Silk Road" documentaries on iPlayer on the Android SHIELD Tablet PC. And, somehow, the green bin is once again full of the dismembered bodies of cardboard boxes for various items of kit. (The new ultra-sharp breadknife has proved surprisingly useful.) The bulkier disposal problem (if one ignores [as I tend to] the two piles of garden waste) remains the polystyrene packing.


... clearly forgot to mailout last week's Ubuntu newsletter until reminded by this week's. The current list of updates to the latest Ubuntu 16.04 remains impressively long, too.

We can define ourselves...

... geologically by the amount of cr*p we leave around the planet, it seems:

Radioactive fallout is a good candidate. If I were deciding, we'd use the plutonium section in the ground from around 1953. You could also use aluminum (sic), pesticides, plastics, or carbon dioxide concentration. Generally boundaries tend to happen around major events, like a major continental collision, where you have mass extinctions. It's an interesting analogy to what's been happening over the last 300 years — we're taking animals and plants and moving them across the whole planet because we find them functionally useful, essentially speeding up the process of continental collision, and instigating the sixth mass extinction along the way.

Zach St. George interviewing Colin Waters in Nautilus

Which reminds me:

All but seven of the ships [from the German fleet scuttled at Scapa Flow in June 1919] were later salvaged for scrap and their metals recycled into the fleets of both sides in World War II. The remaining ships are now one of the few sources of uncontaminated steel needed to shield delicate instruments that measure radiation, so bits of the Kaiser's navy are now (courtesy of NASA) on the moon, or even further afield.

The Bessemer conversion of iron to steel uses a vast amount of oxygen, which — since nuclear bomb "tests" — is now inevitably radioactively contaminated.

Weep, or cheer?

From the end of his interview with the IEEE:

... many of the basic issues with operating systems are the same today as they were back in the sixties, when people started having real operating systems, long before Linux. I suspect that we've seen many more changes in how computers work in the last 50 years than we're necessarily going to see in the future. Hardware people, like software developers, have simply learned what works and what does not.
Of course, neural networks, et cetera, will change the world, but part of the point with them is that you don't "program" them. They learn. They are fuzzy. I can pretty much guarantee that they won't replace the traditional computing model for that very reason. People will want smarter machines, but people will also want machines that do exactly what they're told...

Linus Torvalds in IEEE Spectrum

Particularly if they are smarter, surely? :-)

I have yet...

... to be wholly convinced of the merits of the "Software Boutique" that comes along for the ride with Ubuntu MATE 16.04 as it's currently woefully understocked with, erm, software. But at least it's just pointed me to Clementine, a music player "inspired" by Amarok. Unlike VLC, if you open a folder of MP3s with Clementine it very decently allows you to play them in track order. It even manages what the completely unmissed iTunes called "gapless playback".

With the apparent demise of decibel, it will do nicely. Though I do wonder exactly where it's managed to tuck itself away now that I've just installed it on my NUC. I can "right click" and open files and music folders with it, but I can find no trace of the program itself (or, at least, not under "Sound and Video" which is where a naïve fool such as me might expect it to park). Nor does it appear under "All" in the list of applications.

I thoroughly enjoyed the latest chunk of the Vorkosigan saga, by the way.



1  Bedroom window condensation is always a bit of a giveaway. As is the remnant of heat in a radiator.