Monday 1 May 2023
Sunday 22 November 2020
For the past month I've been working on a Live USB stick/DVD version of the operating system for the One Laptop Per Child project, "Sugar", based on the work of Jean Piaget and Seymour Papert on the "constructivist" model, in which you learn not by remembering stuff but by doing and by building things.
As a "desktop", it's twenty years ahead of the ubiquitous 1970's Xerox PARC Windows-Icons-Menus-Pointer systems that we are all still using, and an outstanding example of "less is more". I'm using it as my main desktop (on and off) and despite its spartan simplicity I find I can do everything that I used to in the old, hairy interfaces.
My work was outpaced by some people who were already working on something similar Trisquel_On_A_Sugar_Toast and I'm flattered that their "release announcement" for it is just a link to my post in the Sugar developers' mailing list in which I evaluate it. Well worth trying out.
Update 2021-02: I've quit sugarlabs because it's corrupt. They have no public acounts, most of the money is attributed to "legal" without receipts, and the thrusting developer, James Cameron, weans people in, to increase the "developer" count, then blocks their work in every way he can to retain his illusion of supremacy.
Take a copy and do what you wish. Don't bother with the org.
Wednesday 23 September 2020
[In 1931 Gandhi visited Mussolini and later described him:]
He has the eyes of a cat, they moved about in every direction as if in constant rotation. The visitor would totally succumb before the awe of his gaze like a rat running directly into the mouth of a cat out of mere fright. I was not to be dazed like that but I noticed that he had so arranged things about him that a visitor would easily get stricken with terror. The walls of the passage through which one has to pass to reach him are all overstudded with various types of swords and other
weapons. He keeps no arms on his person.
["Was he not a remarkable personality?" asked a visitor of Gandhi's.]
Yes, but a cruel man. A regime based on such cruelty cannot last long.
From Louis Fischer, "Life of Gandhi"
Monday 15 July 2019
The other day, for the first time, I was denied services point blank if I didn't supply a valid cellphone number.
The first was Google Mail, which now refuses to create a new account unless you have a cellphone number. Well, that's OK, I'm not forced to use Google's services if that's their policy.
The other one, which sends a shiver down my spine, is HMRC, the UK tax authority. In view of my forthcoming 55th birthday I wanted to sort out my UK tax position... but to register on their web site the only "verification" option that applied to me was outsourced to Experian, the credit rating agency. That they wanted a scan of my driving licence is fine, but to do this they require me to buy a cellphone and - can you believe it? - install an Experian App on it.
Now, not using callphones for five years makes it much easier to view what a spying and tracking device they have become. Security zero. Facebook Apps that re-install themselves if you delete them, back doors in many apps, apart from the fact that I don't run proprietary software any more, partly for this reason.
So, my question is this: Is it legal for a government service which I pay for, to require me to buy 500 quid of product from some private company and install a dodgy app from a dodgy company?
I think not. The reply from their "help" center was a boilerplate "You don't have to use our services" memo. Well, actually, I do.
THE LANGUAGE OF DOGS
Friday 22 February 2019
Common Swifts express themselves copiously with their voices.
This example is the third trill of fourteen in a ten-second sequence. Amazingly, the swift produces not one note but at least three simultaneously.
Blogger deosn't seem to do audio clips yet, but you can see the spectrogram, listen to the call and read a little analysis of it on the page Spectrograms of the call of the Common Swift.