mailto: blog -at- heyrick -dot- eu

Twenty years

It's been twenty years since the two tallest skyscrapers in New York were reduced to rubble, by the improbable act of flying large airplanes into them. As if something from an action movie, billions of people around the world watched as the North Tower burned. Was this some horrible accident? It was a sunny morning. How the hell did the pilot fail to miss that?
Seventeen minutes later, a streak of colour in the sky followed by a massive explosion. It was at that moment that pretty much everybody knew three things:
  • It was not a mistake, it was planned.
  • Whoever it was attacked America at it's heart - the financial district of New York.
  • On this ordinary sunny morning, the world changed.
To date, the deadliest terrorist attacks in history, the events of 9/11 shaped the narrative from that moment onwards. As part of a response, Dubyah came out with the idea of "The War on Terror", which sounds good, but is fatally flawed due to not having an actual enemy in mind. A concept, "terror", is not an enemy. You can't win against an idea.

Fast forward twenty years, and as we remember that day and the astonishing images in newspapers and on television, we also have to take some sadness in the fact that the anniversary also signals America having lost the war on terror. They've left Afghanistan. They've given up. They've gone home. The Taliban are now in charge.
It was bad enough of America to lose in actual wars (such as Vietnam), but to create a fictional adversary and lose to it? What?
I think what we are really seeing here is the decline of American influence in the world. Some may say this is a good thing, others will worry about what sort of influence will replace it. The two big players (Russia and China) are not really who you want dictating global politics.

So, today. The 20th anniversary of something that many wish had never happened. It's not a day of happiness.



Having taken the scenic route around bits of western Europe on it's way to the UK, my passport finally arrived at its destination on Friday morning. And was signed for by what looks like "SP". The text says it was signed for by "DEBS". I take it this is supposed to be somebody acting on behalf of Debs Chittenden?
The passport site makes no mention of it being received, but then since loads of civil servants are working from home, I wonder how long it'll take now?

At any rate, it's there... Libérée, délivrée, je ne mentirai plus jamais!


Migrants into Britain - redux red ducks ☺

Yet another thing to be ashamed of as a Brit-in-France is Patel's latest idea of how to deal with the influx of migrants in Britain.
Well, I suppose we should be glad the idea wasn't "blow them out of the water", though I bet she would if she thought she could get away with it.

But, you know, the thing that really grates on the nerves is that Patel is the child of immigrants. Somehow... I don't know... Somehow it wouldn't seem half as bad if the idea passed the lips of somebody with a long lineage of Englishness, such as Rees-Mogg. But to have a child of immigrants hating on immigrants as much as she does? She's definitely in the right party, the hypocritical cow. Trust a Tory.


Speaking of which...


The rest are hypocritical cows too

In order to somehow "save" the NHS, social care, and blah blah blah, the British government has decided that it would be a good idea to add some extra to National Insurance contributions rather than anything useful like a small wealth tax, but then the Tories have quite the history of stealing from the poor to give to the rich. I can muster up a wry smile though, given that everybody was so wanting to "get Brexit done" that they voted to keep this shower in.

Anyway this little addition of 1.25% is expected to hit younger people and those in lower paid jobs disproportionately. It also comes at a difficult time as dealing with the fallouts of both the pandemic and Brexit are also impacting jobs (well, y'all could train to be HGV drivers, I suppose?).
To further screw the young, the government is also getting rid of (they said "suspending", but are you dumb enough to think they'll unsuspend it any time soon?) the triple lock on pensions, a scheme that is often derided as being unfair but was actually introduced thanks to the previous methods of calculating pension increases having little basis in reality (a cost-of-living index that didn't exactly consider what people actually spend that money on, like food and utility bills).

The new regime introduced by the government suggests that the total amount anybody will have to pay for their care is £86,000 excluding food and accomodation.
Firstly, where does he think people are going to find eighty six thousand? Secondly, by excluding food and accomodation costs (so, um, what's that 86K for, then?), he's basically handed a big fat "screw everybody as usual" notice to those running care homes and the like. From what I remember working in residential homes back around Y2K, the accomodation charges far outweighed everything else. It was probably an inflated price in order to make other things (round the clock trained nurses on site?) seem cheaper.

As it turns out, the majority of the 36 billion that will be raised by this new tax in it's first three years will have nothing to do with social care, but will instead be funnelled into the NHS to help clear (or, at least, somehow reduce) the current backlog of treatments. I am guessing the NHS is such a disaster because the promised £350,000,000 a week that was no longer being paid to the EU failed to materialise.
Well, it's been eighty three weeks since the UK did all their flag-waving Hello Freedom! nonsense. Hmmm, eighty three multiplied by three hundred and fifty million is about twenty nine billion.

Or, we can work this out the other way too. Three years is about 156 weeks. Dividing £36B by 156 gives us a figure of around £230M. Well, where's all this lovely post-Brexit cash then?

It is amusing to see these changes were widely touted as "breaking manifesto pledges". This, being a Boris Johnson governmen: A man (and government) that considers the truth to not only be optional, but some sort of peculiar alternative reality.
It's hard to have too much sympathy, mind you, given that people voted for this. There's a reason that Tories are known as The Nasty Party. There's a reason the normal working man would normally vote Labour. Johnson had a snap election and promised (there's that word again) that he could deliver Brexit, and it's like everybody's mental faculties got suspended and everyone was all "yes! yes! deliver us from EUvil!".
You reap what you sow.
Only four more years until the next (planned) election!


It was mind numbing to hear Johnson decrying the decades of neglect to the NHS, social care, and so on.
Gordon Brown lost to David Cameron in 2010. Each and every bit of neglect since then must be owned by the Conservatives. The privatisation issues, the record shortage of nurses (43,000 in Autumn 2019), endless cutbacks which forced some NHS trusts to downgrade their nurses from band 7 to band 6 (read: same work, less pay). Back a bit further, in 2016, a boringly titled "Sustainability and Transformation Plans" document started a series of severe cutbacks that resulted in fewer wards, fewer beds, and even entire A&E units closing.
Essentially, the Tory government that wants to tax you extra to rescue the NHS is the same Tory government that started dismantling it, perhaps in the hopes that it would go away of its own accord?

And, excuse me if you think that this final thought is extremely cynical, but it is Johnson (and the Tories) we're talking about. Perhaps this sudden rush to "reduce the backlog" isn't so much aimed at reducing the backlog (when has a Tory ever cared about the sick, the unemployed, the jobless...or anybody other than themselves?) but rather a way of boosting the perceived value of the NHS before privatising big chunks of it to flog off to the Americans. Like they did in 2013 when the UK's blood plasma company was privatised, renamed "Plasma Resources UK" and then had 80% sold for £230M to an American private equity firm (Bain Capital) with a reputation for asset stripping. Instead, three years later, they sold it (now called "Bio Products Laboratory") to a Chinese state-owned company for £830M. Well, at least Bain quadrupled their investment. If only the Tories had that sort of acumen...


Security questions

My forum has a set of security questions. When you sign up as a new user, one will be provided. You have to answer it.

In what year did everybody start going into lockdowns as a result of Coronavirus?24
In what year did the United Kingdom hold a referendum on leaving the European Union?51
In what year was Windows98 released?31
The ARM is an XX bit processor. What number is 'xx'?16
The BBC Micro used a 6502 processor, YES or NO?74
The BBC Micro used an 8086 processor, YES or NO?65
What are the initials of the current President of France (as of 2021)?05
What do you get if you subtract Pi from itself?24

Since the forum has turned up in Google, for some reason, the four latest signups were spammers. They're fairly easy to spot - a username that bears no relationship to the email address (which is often GMail). These days, I just copy the email address and paste it into Google and, invariably, there is an entry (from India or Thailand) on the StopForumSpam site. I ought to see if there's a plugin to automate this...

I have picked a set of questions that ought to make sense to people who are likely to want to sign up to the forum. People reading this are likely to know a little bit about the ARM processor. It defies belief that anybody can fail to understand that Coronavirus was a kind of a show stopping story as of last year. But, then, just as many people couldn't figure out what Pi subtracted from itself is.
And, sadly, poor Emmanuel Macron, clearly not as important as he would like to be, given that not one single person got his initials correct.

Note - no answers in the comments please!


An easy weekend

I'm having an easy weekend. No going mad in the garden or anything. Next week, I'll be working Saturday. Thankfully my boss has scheduled me to work a short day (7am to 12.30pm) rather than a full day (starting at what, 4.30am?). One of my cow-orkers said I should complain, because of all the money I'll be losing (uh, about €24 in my pocket). Some people are easily bought. Me? If it's a choice between ~€24 and a completely messed up weekend...screw the money.


Raspberry Pi 3B+

On the ROOL forums, Gavin was having unexplained trouble with his Raspberry Pi, a model 3B+. He wondered if it was a hardware problem, but as the issues persisted, he felt he should chuck it in the bin.
I emailed him to say "don't bin it, send it to me, I'll take a look".

Raspberry Pi 3B+
Raspberry Pi 3B+.
I'll need to get a non-nylon paintbrush to clean off that dust.

The simplest way to see what's going on was to power down my Pi2, switch the bits over to the Pi3B+ (but not the RTC or OLED screen for now) and power that machine up.

Well, I did.
My immediate thought is, it's a nippy little critter. Of course, I am comparing a 1400MHz processor with a 900MHz one, so it's pretty obvious that it'll perform better!

In terms of specs, it's a quad Cortex-A53 device clocking at 1.4GHz (though RISC OS can only use one core). It still has 1GB SRAM, though not a big issue with RISC OS. The network speed is technically Gigabit, but since everything is pushed through the same USB2.0 interface into the processor, it'll probably max out at around 300Mbps. Half that if you're using USB storage at the same time.
There's also Bluetooth 4.2 and 2.4/5GHz WiFi, but... RISC OS...

In terms of failures, I loaded just about everything I could (and still had ~640MB free!). The two problems that I experienced were:

  • Otter browser and Qupzilla failed to start, bombing out with a segmentation error.
  • PrivateEye (image viewer) failed repeatedly on some JPEGs. The failure address was consistent, even after loading several other apps and trying again, which indicated a software fault, not a hardware one.

Resolutions - I have not updated the big browsers since forever (many years). They are slow and clunky and, frankly, if I need something NetSurf can't do, I turn to a phone or tablet. So it's extremely likely that there is something inside either the browser or one of the many shared libraries that ARMv8 is choking on.
PrivateEye was fixed by updating the version from 2012 to the latest from 2018.

Other than that, the machine has been in use since Friday evening, reading the weather every five minutes (making a recording every half hour) and was in use earlier today to do some programming (using Zap, which seems to be ARMv8-friendly) and the DDE.

I wonder if it was a slightly inadequate power supply? The Pi's firmware is supposed to pop up little symbols to warn of this, but possibly it was glitchy rather than completely under voltage?



Your comments:

Please note that while I check this page every so often, I am not able to control what users write; therefore I disclaim all liability for unpleasant and/or infringing and/or defamatory material. Undesired content will be removed as soon as it is noticed. By leaving a comment, you agree not to post material that is illegal or in bad taste, and you should be aware that the time and your IP address are both recorded, should it be necessary to find out who you are. Oh, and don't bother trying to inline HTML. I'm not that stupid! ☺ ADDING COMMENTS DOES NOT WORK IF READING TRANSLATED VERSIONS.
You can now follow comment additions with the comment RSS feed. This is distinct from the b.log RSS feed, so you can subscribe to one or both as you wish.

Gavin Wraith, 11th September 2021, 21:30
Strange to see that familiar shiny green heatsink on these pages. I had not realized that my desk got so dusty. I don't mind a layer of soft dust under my toes, but it may be different for the Pi. Dust has always been with us, so I was surprised to discover that it is an important academic study; astrophysicists and others. Stars condense out of dust, go bang and cook the elements we need for life.
David Pilling, 12th September 2021, 03:38
Hopefully the "cow-orkers" don't read this. 
We're getting up to two years of BoJo, so max of three until the next election. According to Google "The next United Kingdom general election is scheduled to be held on Thursday 2 May 2024, in line with the Fixed-term Parliaments Act." 
Zerosquare, 12th September 2021, 15:42
"The ARM is an XX bit processor. What number is 'xx'?" 
"What do you mean? ARMv2 or ARMv9?" 
"...I don't know that... AAAAAAAAHHHHHH"
Rick, 12th September 2021, 16:21
Either response works. 😉
Rob, 14th October 2021, 17:48
"The ARM is an XX bit processor. What number is 'xx'" 
But is your mental interpreter case-sensitive? 
I'm fairly sure I'd have got all those questions right. Even Macron's. What I wasn't sure about was if he was /still/ the president!

Add a comment (v0.11) [help?] . . . try the comment feed!
Your name
Your email (optional)
Validation Are you real? Please type 50426 backwards.
Your comment
French flagSpanish flagJapanese flag
«   September 2021   »

(Felicity? Marte? Find out!)

Last 5 entries

List all b.log entries

Return to the site index



Search Rick's b.log!

PS: Don't try to be clever.
It's a simple substring match.


Last read at 15:01 on 2024/05/26.

QR code

Valid HTML 4.01 Transitional
Valid CSS
Valid RSS 2.0


© 2021 Rick Murray
This web page is licenced for your personal, private, non-commercial use only. No automated processing by advertising systems is permitted.
RIPA notice: No consent is given for interception of page transmission.


Have you noticed the watermarks on pictures?
Next entry - 2021/09/13
Return to top of page