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Comment Debian on an Ultra 5 (Score 1) 109 109

The standard desktop at the company I work for used to be a Sun Ultra 5, and when the company imploded I picked an Ultra 5 with a fast processor (400 MHz), put some more memory in it, took it home and put Debian on it. It worked fine. Entirely decent interactive performance, like a fast Pentium 2. Not a box for video editing or other high-CPU/bandwidth activities, but fine otherwise.

I was amused to note that it wasn't a Windows box, so it was immune to Windows attacks. It wasn't an x86 box, so it was immune to x86 attacks. I guess I amuse easily. :-)

We had a pile of 32 bit SparcStations. We (literally) couldn't give them away.

...laura

Comment Re:Pre-cambrian computing (Score 1) 191 191

And I am guessing that spaceyhackerlady does, in fact, know she is surrounded by linux machines.

My employers pay me to do cool shit, and we use Linux to do it. Company standard is CentOS, but my personal research/playpen box is Slackware.

FWIW, I've run Linux on x86, 68k, ARM and UltraSPARC. My home computer, the one I actually spend my own money on, is a Mac. It shares desk space with an x86 Linux box and a Raspberry Pi.

...laura

Comment Pre-cambrian computing (Score 4, Informative) 191 191

Prior to the IBM PC there was enormous diversity in computing. I have some early issues of Byte and the hardware in the ads is all over the place. Most of the names are long forgotten now.

The BBC did Micro Men, a cute (and mostly historically accurate) program about the rise and fall of Acorn, which happened in the same time period. They too got broadsided by IBM, but managed to develop the ARM processor before they imploded.

...laura

Comment Re:What about Data in Star Trek TNG (Score 1) 236 236

Yup. There are some examples of good AI in tv shows. Data and the hubots in Real Humans stand out in my mind.

I remember the scene in The Offspring where Data's daughter Lal was complaining about not being able to feel emotions. While doing an awfully good imitation of anger and frustration...

...laura

Comment Re:And when she is questioned by CBP... (Score 1) 334 334

1. I am an American citizen, and I have the right to enter my country.

You do. Just as I, a Canadian citizen, have the right to enter Canada. I do not have the legal right to enter the United States, but can do so with official permission. Which usually amounts to the Customs agent at the border or airport telling me to have a nice day.

If the government want to be difficult, your citizenship must be verified. Then Customs can give you the once over: yes, you can enter the country, but they want to know what you're bringing with you.

...laura

Comment I ride the bus (Vancouver, Canada) (Score 1) 654 654

I ride the bus to work. It's a non-issue. It's the right thing to do. No parking required, let somebody else deal with the traffic. I have a car that I drive on weekends. One day a week I drive to work to remind myself why I take the bus the other four days. The bus takes a little longer than driving, but not enough that I worry about it much. I save up mid-week errands for the day I drive my car.

If I'm going to downtown Vancouver I take the bus. Parking is scarce and expensive. The traffic is impossible. UGH!

...laura

Comment Re:Infrastructure or the lack thereof (Score 1) 688 688

And now Seattle is going on a war against vehicles by eliminating required parking in new apartments and condos. So everyone must revert to on street parking. Good luck plugging your vehicle into an outlet if you are 200 feet down the street. It's back to gasoline for everyone.

Always ready to jump on a bandwagon, many new buildings in Vancouver are doing the same thing.

Most of our electricity here in B.C. comes from hydroelectric systems, so fossil fuels/emission elsewhere is a non-issue.

...laura

Comment Infrastructure or the lack thereof (Score 5, Informative) 688 688

A middle-of-the-road EV like a Nissan Leaf would cover 98% of my driving. I can afford one easily. I could afford a Model S if I put my mind to it. I've even looked in to buying an old banger and converting it myself.

The problem is I have nowhere to plug one in. I live in an apartment building and there is no wiring in the parkade. Nor is there any requirement (or incentive) to retrofit the building. I've talked to the building management, but we've never come up with any answers.

New buildings must have EV support. Old ones don't.

...laura

Comment At the airport (Score 1) 409 409

I see this with many of the older light airplanes. Types like the Cessna 150 and Piper Cub were designed when people weighed less, and it's difficult to get two 2015-size people plus a usable fuel load in either. There have been commercial plane crashes due to portly passengers (e.g. Air Midwest 5481).

I can fly a Cessna 152 solo with full fuel tanks, but if I have anybody in the plane with me I have to calculate how much fuel I can carry without being overweight. I can't do anything meaningful with a 150, and I'm not that heavy.

...laura

Comment Up close and personal (Score 3, Interesting) 151 151

I've seen two quasi-startups go down the tubes from the inside.

One company had some very clever ideas, but were chronically incapable of making reliable hardware, or of making software that worked. They had no internal procedures to track what they were making, what it was supposed to do, or how they knew it worked. Too many releases were "we have to ship something to keep from losing what little credibility we still have".

Another company tried to reinvent itself after its prime business peaked and then started to implode. The idea we tried to develop wasn't commercially uninteresting, but we had major focus issues. What, exactly, do we want to do? Who is going to buy it? For how much? Having owned our old industry we weren't very good at competing with others in our new industry.

Both companies had issues with ineffectual leadership, flavour-of-the-month development, and business decisions made to help friends rather than make money. Both were broadsided by external developments that eventually rendered their products commercially irrelevant.

...laura

Comment International security theater (Score 1) 510 510

It's not just in the U.S.A.

In Canada we've just had a verdict in a supposedly homegrown terrorism case (do a search for the names Nuttal and Korody), but it's clear that the defendants only have a handful of brain cells between them (heroin will do that...), and the undercover cops had a major part in turning a couple of harmless losers who aren't quite sure what day it is in to a major threat to national security. Needless to say, their lawyer is going for entrapment.

Also needless to say, the media are going entirely with the government/party line...

...laura

Comment My first Windows (Score 1) 387 387

Windows 3.0 was the first version I used to any significant degree. It looked so high-tech, though to 2015 eyes it looks like something from the old stone age. It did some cool stuff. It also gave us General Protection Faults, the predecessor to the Blue Screen Of Death.

For a long time I recommended Windows 98 to non-technical users. Some people claimed there was a USB implementation for Windows 95, but after careful study I have come to the conclusion they were mistaken. My first exposure to Windows 95 was an early alpha (I worked for the evil empire at the time) that crashed and required reformatting the hard disc after attempting to reconfigure the mouse.

I was intrigued by some of the other options out there. I sent my resume to Quarterdeck - I thought DESQview was neat - but only got a thanks-but-no-thanks postcard back.

...laura

"Summit meetings tend to be like panda matings. The expectations are always high, and the results usually disappointing." -- Robert Orben

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