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BREAKING NEWS: Two girls kissed

Some women's football match. I'm not being dismissive of female footie, it's more that I have roughly zero interest in the game. Anyway, at the end of one match, two players, from opposing teams, had a snog.
This, for some reason, has become news.

I mean, no guy in the aggressive world of male football has ever gone and snogged one of the WAGs, right? And shall we talk about the gestures made after scoring goals that are best described as "humping a ghost"?

But then I stop and think. Is it two chicks kissing that is causing some easily-offended cretins to lose their minds? Or is it the fact that the players involved were on opposing sides? After all, in the male football world the opposing team is the mortal enemy and it's best left to the fans to find inventive ways to maim the fans of the other team. If this is the case, well, what a refreshing change to see people playing for the enjoyment of the game rather than treating the pitch as a battlefield.
Maybe this is what happens when people aren't paid millions. They do it for the right reasons, not a lot of wrong ones.

Anyway, For Fred's Sake, it's 2023. Two women kissing is not a spectacle any more. Get over it.


Pi missing memory

I posted my problem in the Pi forums, under user assistance or something. As it was my first post, I had to wait for it to be manually approved (to check I'm not a troll or spambot).
Whoever did the approval noticed that I mentioned RISC OS and moved it to there, a forum buried in the "Other systems" submenu. Which was a little annoying as, yes, I use RISC OS, but the problem was the machine booting up with only 128MB visible. I don't imagine it would have been different for anything else.

Eventually cleverca22 responded to tell me that the problem resembled what happens if the fixup files are missing or mismatched.

Uh... a what now?

Oh, right. The "fixup.dat" file.

More specifically, the "fixup.dat" file that I had forgotten!

As far as I can glean from the information given, the Pi's little internal bootloader looks for bootcode.bin. In the past, it looked exclusively on the SD card but I believe later models can boot from USB, network, etc.

The bootcode.bin is the second stage bootloader that gets the GPU running. It handles the initial memory allocations, reading the configuration file to set up things like the GPU memory allocation, and which startup file to use.
Note: Within the binary, you'll see a string "BOOT_UART=0". If you change the 0 to 1, the bootloader will output some debugging information as the boot begins. In case it helps...
Anyway, once the DRAM is set up, the bootloader will then load the GPU firmware, which is usually the start.elf file.

start.elf is the usual third stage bootloader. This is the actual firmware for the GPU, which is why it's a fair bit larger. It brings up the rest of the hardware, starts the ARM running, loads the kernel (or U-Boot, or in our case RISC OS), and then hands control over the the co-processor, the ARM.

But, there's a missing step between the second and third stages. You see, start.elf by itself is designed to load at &CEC00100 which is the "C" alias of the VC4 bus address, this means direct uncached access to SDRAM, not L1 or L2 cache. Which means the actual effective address is &0EC00100, or just a mite above the 236MiB mark.
At a guess, I'm going to say this was for the original Pi 1 (with 256MiB onboard), so if the GPU defaults to claiming around 20MiB RAM, that would fit.
I'm not sure why the firmware downgraded my machine to 128MiB. Maybe something prefers powers of 2 rather than odd amounts like 236MiB?

Anyway, clearly we can't stuff the GPU firmware at ~236MiB for everybody. It wouldn't make sense on a machine with 1GiB.
Enter the "fixup.dat" file, which contains details of how the "bootcode.bin" bootloader should patch the "start.elf" file to relocate it to a higher address.

So, I downloaded fixup.dat, dropped it onto my µSD and rebooted. Now RISC OS tells me I have 1,015,808 KiB (992MiB) of memory and 959,932 KiB (937½MiB) free.

That's more like it!


Summer holidays

My summer holiday choices have been validated. I will be working all of August (I don't care if it's a heatwave, it was so damn hot last year I spent a week doing next to nothing).
I will be taking two weeks in the middle of September, finishing on Friday 8th and returning on Monday 25th.
My third week will be the third week of October, the week of 16th-22nd.

As it turns out, October is one of the eight-hour-day months. So I will probably end up losing five hours on that week, as jurisprudence in France has said that "holiday days are entire days" (and they happen to usually equal seven hours). So what I think the company will do is subtract the pay for the eight hours I'm not working, and credit me with the (seven hour) holiday entitlement.
Some people would probably skweem and skweem over that, but I'm not fussed. It's a nice break in the middle of a busy period.

Since I have renounced my ability to claim "days of fractionment" (a really weird law where taking holiday days outside of the official holiday time (June-October) can credit you with additional holiday days in some arcane manner that doesn't make much sense), I will not be forced to take my fourth week within the official holiday period, and will instead probably take it, again, at the end of March.

Of course, it's a bit of a slog between my end-of-March holiday week and mid-September, but then I remind myself that it's already less than two months until Longest Day - the Summer solstice (Litha) this year is June 21st at 4.57pm (French time). It's a Wednesday, and I ought to be finishing at 4.45pm so... can pop an alcohol free bottle of bubbly in the car. ☺


Lidl gas lantern

Lidl is doing "camping stuff" this week. So I popped by to pick up another gas lantern. Useful to have, just in case.

Lidl gas lantern
Lidl gas lantern.

What I particularly like about this lantern is the carrying handle and the piezo lighter.
I find it weird that the light output is measured as "up to 500W". A 500W incandescent bulb can throw out around 9,000 lumens (plus or minus a bit depending on what type of bulb). A gas lantern of this sort is typically around 300-500 lumens, and is notably dimmer than a 100W lightbulb.
So... what does 500W mean in respect to a gas lantern?

This lantern, usefully, comes with three mantles. It's good to have two spares, especially seeing as how these things just don't seem to be available in the shops.

Three mantles
It comes with three mantles.

As I mentioned a while back, the mantle is a strange thing. It's a woven bag usually impregnated with a mixture of cerium and yttrium.

They used to be made of thorium instead of yttrium, but while thorium is weakly radioactive (using it every weekend for a year would release around 3-6 microsieverts of radiation; normal annual background radiation is around 2,400 microsieverts), the big danger isn't so much the release of radium-224 thrown out every time the mantle is lit. The danger is dust, which can happen if the mantle breaks (or sometimes just natural wear), which can be ingested in food or drink if it should fall in. In this case, the particles can remain in the body (often in the lungs or liver) and they will continue releasing radiation that, locally, can exceed the normal background radiation. And you know what radiation does to a body...

When the mantle is lit for the first time, the fabric burns away and those metallic salts turn first into nitrites and then into solid oxides, forming a very brittle ceramic shell that has a high melting point.

Here I am using a very weak flame to burn off the fabric for the first use of the mantle. I'm doing this outside as it's unlikely (being a European product) that the mantle is using thorium, but whatever, the stuff that gets burned away isn't worth breathing in.

Burn baby burn
Burn, baby, burn.

My new lamp (right) compared with my older lamp (left). They're about the same, and they're both powered by those little C200/C206 gas cartridges.

My two gas lanterns
My two gas lanterns.

The mantle performs two jobs. The first is that it helps to keep the flame contained, which means less gas is being used compared to a naked flame, and secondly when heated it emits a lot of light in the visible range, but relatively little in the infrared. That is why such weird chemicals are used.
The heat from the lantern is literally the gas flame, and yes, the inner metal pole does rapidly reach being red hot.
This photo was taken just after turning the lantern off.

Red hot
Red hot but not triple X.


Too little too late

So Tucker Carlson has been booted from the sewer known as Fox News, and elsewhere lawyers are prodding the living corpse known as Murdoch for his part in a long litany of media scandals.
We are so far into a post-truth world that rightwing politics doesn't resemble anything even remotely sane, and prominent politicians seem to be proud of their ability to spout misinformation to a waiting crowd.

The problem is, it's far too little far too late. Carlson is an irrelevance, really. He is one man. One very unpleasant man, but he's not the one pulling the strings. He's just the shouty person on the box stirring up angry old white men over imaginary bogeymen.
Carlson, and indeed Trump, are not outliers. They existed purely because the mainstream right enabled them.

The problem is, this isn't just an American nonsense. The same thing is happening on this side of the ocean too. Do you remember that Vote Leave advert that basically outright stated that Turkey was joining the EU and EU citizens have free rights to enter the UK? The very easy joining of the dots would suggest the opportunity for eighty million Muslims to wander freely into the UK. They didn't outright state that, as that would have been blatantly racist, but by highlighting Turkey joining the EU it made it pretty clear what was meant.
Then we have successive Tories openly disregarding the advice of "experts" in favour of... what? Something BoJo's mate Dom scrawled on the back of a pack of fags I guess. A lack of understanding that experts are experts because what they are talking about is literally their job led to a negligent Covid response with the lingering spectre of herd immunity that never quite went away.
Speaking of BoJo (I have to keep reminding myself not to write BlowJob), his endless rhetoric referring to things like "the surrender bill", that "betrays" the will of the people, and "frustrating" the result of the referendum. This was no mere accident. It was quite calculated, like a Daily Mail headline, to incite anger in the believers who will be led to believe that something is being stolen from them, while being overly hostile towards the moderates who may decide that it would be better to not engage - thus helping utter dangerous concepts like Rees-Mogg's sunset bill become an actual thing that might actually happen.

So, Carlson might have gone, but we now have a Home Secretary further to the right than the BNP ever were, and a government that is outright hostile to, well, pretty much that isn't from an affluent part of the City (or, at a push, a snazzy part of the Home Counties). Braverman has just said that illegal immigrants are at odds with British values. What, exactly, would the hysterical far-right daughter of immigrants that is such a massive hypocrite that she's denying people the opportunities that her own parents were able to use, what would she know about "British values"? The values that she demonstrates are that of being a massive self-righteous twat who has no qualms about dumping on the less fortunate in society. After all, the poor and unfortunate choose to be that way so they can scrounge off The System, right? It's basic Tory ideology.

But we can't dump on Braverman too much, even as she tries so very hard to dance with the devil and is such a horrible rancid person that she makes Priti Patel seem nice. We can't dump on Braverman too much because she's really only just a politician of the times. And the times are shit bordering on absymal, so what else can you expect in the Cabinet other than people who are shit bordering on abysmal?

As queues back up at Dover, and Brits have to potentially spend hours in the non-EU queue at foreign airports, the inept and corrupt who were the right wing fringe that have found themselves in the mainstream and taken to wrecking the country will do what they have always done. They will blame the French, the Spanish, anybody else. And their Sun-reading Sky-watching voter base will believe every word. And that's why there are queues that take hours.

Oh, and it's going to get worse. There's a new plan that the EU is rolling out Real Soon Now that will involve biometrics and fingerprinting. I await the Daily Mail headlines screaming about how this is targetting poor little English people who shouldn't be treated like criminals just because they want to go to Ma-jor-ker and drink too much.
It's more likely simply tightening up immigration from outside the bloc and in response to what America has been doing for ages. But, hey, don't let facts get in the way of a good Piers Morgan style rant. It's all France's fault, right?

And there, my friends, is why big media outlets knowingly spreading lies is a really bad thing. The damage of Brexit is already going to take a long time to get over (think generations), lies and misinformation are not helpful. They're how we got in this mess in the first place. Which is why it's far too little far too late.


So, EU rules state that companies can't easily trade outside of the EU

That was one of the Brexit things. How much easier it would be to set up trade with other countries.


The company I work for recently welcomed visitors from companies that we supply to. We've recently been visited by some Japanese, by... I think Brazilian, and two people from an oceania country (I don't recall if it was Australia or New Zealand).

As it happens, while the post-Covid rebound was good and we all got to keep our jobs, the export (out of France) side has blown up. We have so much to do we'll be switching to eight hour days as of next Monday.

If a company in France can do that, there's no reason why one in the UK couldn't.

But, then, only the delusional have yet to understand that Brexit was just a massive con job perpetuated by "the elite".


Japanese style strikes

I don't recall much of this story, as I sped-read it while downing my final tea before work, but there is a group of paople on strike in Japan. Bus drivers, I think. And how they strike is... interesting.
They want to punish the company they work for (as is the wont of most strike action), but they do not want to inconvenience their clients.
So they have taken their buses, and they drive their routes, and they refuse to accept any payment whatsoever from the passengers.

Wouldn't it be refreshing if strikers in Britain/France were like that? Well, not all of them, it clearly wouldn't work for junior doctors, but you see what I mean.



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Zerosquare, 27th April 2023, 18:44
Every time the topic of the "Japanese style" strike method is brought up in France, drivers claim that it would be illegal (something about part of the ticket cost being for insurance purposes, in case an accident happens). Whether that's true or not, I don't know.

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