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Comment: Re:Hardware is hard (Score 2) 71

by lkcl (#47364551) Attached to: Improv Project, Vivaldi Tablet Officially Dead

Read "hard" as "Expensive as Hell"

That is part of it yes. It requires a wide range of differently experienced people: low level software, high level software, circuit design, assembly, layout, component sourcing, factory liasion, DFt, Manufacturing etc.

Then you need to get them all to work together. And you have to pay them.

... ynow... one of the reasons i came up with the idea to design mass-volume hardware that would be eco and libre friendly was because, after having developed the experience to deal with both low-level software and high-level software, and having done some circuit design at both school and university, i figured that the rest should not be too hard to learn... or manage.

  you wanna know the absolute toughest part [apart from managing people?] it's the component sourcing. maan, is that tough. if you want a laugh [out of sheer horror, not because it was actually funny] look up the story on how long it took to find a decently-priced mid-mount micro HDMI type D [8 months].

  so anyway, i set out to find people with the prerequisite skills that i *didn't* have, offered them a chance to participate and profit. the list of people who have helped and then fallen by the wayside... i... well.... i want to succeed at this so that i can give them something in return for what they did.

Comment: Re:Would it kill you to hint at what Improv is (wa (Score 3, Informative) 71

by lkcl (#47362691) Attached to: Improv Project, Vivaldi Tablet Officially Dead

If only there was some way to get more information, perhaps with a sort of "link" of some kind to a more detailed description.

here is the [old] specification of the [revision 1] CPU Card:

the current revision 2 which i am looking for factories to produce (RFQs sent out already) we will try with 2gb of RAM. this is just a component change not a layout change so chances of success are high.

here is the [old] specification of the Micro-Engineering Board:

that was our "minimal test rig" which helped verify the interfaces on the first CPU Cards (and will help verify the next ones as well, with no further financial outlay needed. ever. ok, that would be true if i hadn't taken the opportunity to change the spec before we go properly live with it!! you only get one shot at designing a decade-long standard.... i'd rather get it right)

this will be the basis of the planned crowd-funding campaign: it's more of a micro-desktop PC:

the micro-desktop chassis is very basic: VGA, 2x USB, Ethernet, Power In (5.5 to 21V DC). all the other interfaces are on the CPU Card (USB-OTG, Micro-HDMI, Micro-SD). however unlike the Micro-Engineering Board, the power is done with a view to the average end-user (as is the VGA connector which means 2 independent screens, straight out the box).

does that help answer the question?

Comment: Re:What was desirable about it? (Score 3, Interesting) 71

by lkcl (#47362605) Attached to: Improv Project, Vivaldi Tablet Officially Dead

Open hardware sounds cool, but as others have noted, good hardware design is both difficult and expensive. Considering how rapidly the components advance (CPU/SoC, I/O, displays, etc.),

aaaah gotcha! that's the _whole_ reason why i designed the long-term modular standards, so that products *can* be split around the arms race of CPU/SoC on the one hand and battery life / display etc. on the other.

and the factory that we are in touch with (the big one), they _love_ this concept, because the one thing that you might not be aware of is that even the big guys cannot react fast enough nowadays.

imagine what it would mean to them to be able to buy HUGE numbers of CPUs (and related components), drop them into a little module that they KNOW is going to work across every single product that conforms to the long-term standard. in 6 months time there will be a faster SoC, more memory, less power, but that's ok, because *right now* they can get better discounts on the SoC that's available *now*.

on the other side of the interface, imagine what it would mean to them that they could buy the exact same components for a base unit for well... three to five years (or until something better came along or some component went end-of-life)?

it took them a while, but they _loved_ the idea. the problem is: as a PRC State-Sponsored company they are *prohibited* from doing anything other than following the rules... i can't tell you what those rules are: they're confidential, but it meant that we had to find other... creative ways to get the designs made.

We're in a world where a first generation Nexus 7 tablet sells for $140 or less. At Walmart.

yeah. now that prices are dropping, just like the PC price wars, the profits are becoming so small that the manufacturers are getting alarmed (or just dropping out of the market entirely). those people are now looking for something else. they're willing to try something that might get them a profit. what should we tell them?

anyway: thank you for your post, darylb, it provides a very useful starting point for some of the key insights i want to get across to people.

Comment: moving forward: next crowdfunding launch (Score 5, Informative) 71

by lkcl (#47362451) Attached to: Improv Project, Vivaldi Tablet Officially Dead

short version: the plan is to carry on, using the lessons learned to
try again, with a crowd-funding campaign that is transparent. please
keep an eye on the mailing list, i will also post here on slashdot
when it begins.

long version:

this has been a hugely ambitious venture, i think henrik's post explains much:

the - extremely ambitious - goal set by me is to solve a huge range of
issues, the heart of which is to create environmentally-conscious
mass-volume appliances that software libre developers are *directly*
involved in at every step of the way.

so, not to be disparaging to any project past or future, but this isn't
"another beagleboard", or "another raspberry pi beater": it's a way to
help the average person *own* their computer appliances and save
money over the long term. software libre developers are invited
to help make that happen.

by "own" we mean "proper copyright compliance, no locked boot
loaders and a thriving software libre environment that they can
walk straight into to help them do what they want with *their*
device... if they want to".

the actual OS installed on the appliance will be one that is
relevant for that appliance, be it ChromeOS, Android, even
Windows or MacOSX. regardless of the pre-installed OS, the
products i am or will be involved in *will* be ones that Software
Libre Developers would be proud to own and would recommend
even to the average person.

by "saving money over the long term" we mean "the device is
split into two around a stable long-term standard
with a thriving second-hand market on each side, with new
CPU Cards coming along as well as new products as well.
buy one CPU Card and one product, it'll be a little bit more
expensive than a monolithic non-upgradeable product,
but buy two and you save 30% because you only need
one CPU Card. break the base unit and instead of the whole
product becoming land-fill you just have to replace the base,
you can transfer not just the applications and data but
the *entire computer*".

it was the environmental modular aspects as well as
the committment to free software *and* the desire to reach
mass-volume levels that attracted aaron to the Rhombus Tech

perhaps unsurprisingly - and i take responsibility for this - the
details of the above did not translate well into the Improv
launch. the reason i can say that is because even henrik,
who has been helping out and a member of the arm netbooks
mailing list for quite some time, *still* has not fully grasped
the full impact of the technical details behind the standards

(hi henrik, how are ya, thank you very very much for helping
with the boot of the first A10 / A20 CPU card, your post on
the mailing list last week was very helpful because it shows
that i still have a long way to go to get the message across
in a short concise way).

the level of logical deduction, the details that need to be taken
into account, the number of processors whose full specifications
must be known in order to make a decent long-term stable
standard.... many people i know reading that sentence will think i
am some sort of self-promoting egotistical dick but i can tell you
right now you *don't* want to be holding in your head the
kinds of mind-numbing details needed to design a long-term
mass-volume computing standard. it's fun... but only in a
masochistic sort of way!

anyway. i did say long, so i have an excuse, but to get to the
point: now that the money is being returned, we can start again
with a new campaign - using a crowdfunding site that shows
numbers, and starts with a lower target (250) that offers more value
for that same amount of money to everyone involved as various
stretch goals (500, 1,000, 2500) are achieved. these will include
casework, FCC Certification, OS images prepared and, most
importantly as far as i am concerned, one of the stretch goals
i feel should be a substantial donation to the KDE Team in
recognition of the help - through some tough lessons if we are
honest - that they have given, as well as the financial outlay
that they've put forward because they believed in what we're

i'd like to hear people's thoughts and advice, here, because this
really is an exceptionally ambitious project that no commercial
company let alone a software-libre group would ever consider,
precisely because it requires a merging of *both* commercial
aspects *and* software libre principles and ethics. the
environmental angle and long-term financial savings are what
sells it to the end-users though.

Comment: a Commodore Pet 3032 (Score 1) 153

by lkcl (#47133723) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Inspired You To Start Hacking?

1978, aged 8, our school had a commodore pet 3032. i typed in a simple program in BASIC, 10 for i = 1 to 40, 20 print tab(i), i 30 next i, 40 goto 10 and watched the numbers 1 to 40 scroll across the screen. i figured "huh that was obvious, i can do that" and 25 years later i was reverse-engineering NT 4.0 Domains network traffic (often literally one bit at a time) by the same kind of logical inference of observing results and deducing knowledge.

by 2006 i learned that there is something called "Advaita Vedanta" which is crudely known in the west as "espistemology". Advaita Vedanta basically classifies knowledge (there are several types: inference is just one of them), and knowing *that* allows you to have the confidence in your abilities. up until i heard about Advaita Vedanta i was "hacking blind and instinctively", basically. now i know that reverse-engineering is basically an extreme form of knowledge inference. which is kinda cool.

Comment: Re:Dark Reign (Score 1) 153

by lkcl (#47133695) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Inspired You To Start Hacking?

Anybody here ever play that game?

yeah, me! were you around in 1995-1996 by any chance? in CB1 Cafe in cambridge UK i was the person who discovered that you could put zombies into the underground phase-tunnel vehicles, then sneak behind enemy lines (the underground vehicle could see "up" into one square at a time). i would go looking for artillery because artillery by default had a reaaally nasty habit of auto-firing at close-range enemies on a huuge delay. so, what would happen was: first zombie went up, artillery would turn and begin loading, zombie would go to nearest artillery craft and suicide, blowing up several. all artillery would fire, blowing up even more. second zombie up, artillery lock-and-load, zombie makes a beeline for.... you get the idea.

anyway the idea was good enough that it ended up on the hints-and-tips page. turns out that the people who we played were some of the people who worked at activision :)

Comment: malware with randomisation (Score 1) 125

by lkcl (#47127167) Attached to: Imparting Malware Resistance With a Randomizing Compiler

huh. this sounds very similar to the theoretical virus designs i came up with many years ago. yes, you heard right: turn it round. instead of the programs on the computer being randomised so that they are resistant to malware attacks, randomise the *malware* so that it is resistant to *anti-virus* detection. the model is basically the flu or common cold virus.

here's where it gets interesting: comparing the use of randomisation in malware vs randomisation in defense against malware, it's probably going to start being used in malware before it gets used in defending against malware. why? because malware attackers have nothing to lose. unfortunately, they are likely to keep their compilers secret. even *more* unfortunately, successful creation of anti-malware randomising compilers means that the malware attackers can use them as well.

but, that is just a risk that has to be taken, and make sure a decent job is done of it.

Comment: Re:Which is why sometimes small engines ... (Score 1) 238

by lkcl (#47095237) Attached to: Official MPG Figures Unrealistic, Says UK Auto Magazine

Whereas with a bigger engine this is less of the case and you can get equivalent mpg

ah, i wrote a diesel truck simulator in 1993 for Pi Technology: there is actually much more to it than that. with a bigger engine with higher torque it is possible to have the vehicle drive more often in its peak torque range where it has either better acceleration or better fuel economy or both.

with a smaller engine the effect you mention - that people put their foot to the floor - means that the engine has to rev its nuts off and thus operates waaay outside of its efficiency band.

Comment: watch the program on 5th gear (Score 4, Interesting) 238

by lkcl (#47091277) Attached to: Official MPG Figures Unrealistic, Says UK Auto Magazine

before making *any* judgement you *need* to watch the program on 5th gear which covers exactly this question in some detail. basically the test was designed originally for people driving sensibly, and it was designed i think well over 20 possibly even 30 years ago. so it has a very *very* gentle acceleration and deceleration curve. gentle acceleration because that is not only fuel-efficient but also the cars of that time simply could not accelerate that much, and gentle braking because again that is more fuel-efficient but also because if you had drum brakes they would overheat.

people no longer drive sensibly: they are more aggressive with other drivers (not keeping a safe distance), they put their foot down hard on the accelerator and they put their foot down hard on the brake. also as the cars are more reliable they tend to not maintain them properly: until i watched another program on 5th gear about how badly old oil affects fuel economy and the lifetime of the engine i had absolutely no intention of changing oil regularly in the decade-year-old cars i buy.

so, in effect, people should stop complaining and start driving in more fuel-efficient ways... *regardless* of how aggressive the person behind them gets when they set off from the lights at the same acceleration rate as a 40 tonne cargo lorry. that's the other person's problem.

Comment: love descent (Score 1) 251

by lkcl (#47068119) Attached to: It's Time For the <em>Descent</em> Games Return

i love descent, and i love that it's now software libre. i hope the guy who maintains d2x has stopped being an idiot by including patched versions of standard libraries such as libsdl without providing an option to replace them and forcing the patched versions to overwrite pre-installed software, but yes - awesome.

the thing about descent was that it was the first game with 6 degrees of freedom. i actually bought a special joystick that was capable of dealing with it (one designed for flight simulators) and after 2 to 3 weeks of practicing i was competent at side-motion circular slides firing at a target at the centre. the first 2 weeks were spent mostly getting motion sickness and having the nose of the craft bashed against a corner :)

it was also fun to watch spectators swaying from watching the screen! but, again, after a couple of weeks you got used to it, both as a player and as a spectator.

yeah - to those people who set up LAN parties: i hear ya :) i did the same. i think the lowest spec i got away with was a 486 SX 25 with 12mb of RAM, setting the screen to 320x240 and it was just about tolerable. i had to use 10-Base-T with terminators for goodness sake - what the heck i was doing with 5 networked computers in my house back in 1996 with just a 28kbaud modem i _really_ don't know!

so yes, absolutely: descent (the software libre version *or* a commercial version) gets my vote... *as long as* it has a community portal similar to that of Dark Reign, with a chat room so that people can meet other players, set up a match and play. that is bizarrely what's missing from bzflag: although bzflag has an in-game chat it doesn't hatve out-game community chat, very odd.

also, it would be awesome to see planetary-surface action as well, not just in mines (no matter how large). i always felt a little claustrophobic and the attack vectors would be very different in free space... interesting to think about the possibilities here, hmmm :)

United States

US Officials Cut Estimate of Recoverable Monterey Shale Oil By 96% 411

Posted by samzenpus
from the I-drink-your-tiny-milkshake dept.
First time accepted submitter steam_cannon (1881500) writes "The U.S. Energy Information Administration ( is planning to release a major 96% reserve downgrade to the amount of oil and gas recoverable from the Monterey Shale formation, one of the largest oil/gas reserves in the United States. After several years of intensified exploration the Monterey oil shale play seems to have much less recoverable oil and gas then previously hoped. This is due to multiple factors such as the more complex rippled geology of the shale and over-hyped recovery estimates by investors. By official estimates the Monterey Shale formation makes up 2/3 of the shale reserves in the US and by some estimates 1/3 of all crude reserves in the US. Not a drop in the bucket. Next Month the will be announcing cutting it's estimates for Monterey by 96%. That's a huge blow to the US energy portfolio, trillions of dollars, oil and gas the US might have used for itself or exported. Presently the White House is evaluating making changes to US oil export restrictions so this downgrade may result in changes to US energy policy. As well as have a significant impact on US economy and the economy of California."

Comment: Re:depinit (Score 1) 533

by lkcl (#46971009) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Practical Alternatives To Systemd?


"i have never even seen a PAM module which does this trick. it would be awesome to do the same trick for ssh as well."
you mean like pam_ssh for ssh keys or if you just want it to work with gpg and ssh you could also run the gnome key manager as I do.
True single sign on with all ssh and gpg keys.

no not pam_ssh. not "ask for a 2nd passphrase at a 2nd prompt which is entered into the ssh system to unlock the ssh key" - have ABSOLUTELY NO login credentials AT ALL, and LITERALLY use the success/fail of the ssh passphrase (or gpg passphrase) unlocking *AS* the login. no /etc/shadow, no password field in /etc/passwd - nothing BUT unlock the gpg or ssh key.

Computers can figure out all kinds of problems, except the things in the world that just don't add up.