BBQ Aftermath
grok_mctanys
First, huge thanks to everyone who turned up, and ate food, and drank drinks, and sat around chatting and having a generally relaxed time. I really enjoyed the afternoon because you were there.

Thanks also for the food and beer that was left behind. They've been yummy. :-)

However, I seem to have gained two 35cm metal kebab skewers with looped ends, and one 16cm translucent white plastic bowl/container. If these sound like escapees from your kitchen, let me know, and we can arrange to rehome the prisoners at some later date.

Plus, I have defeated all the tidying, and the large items of washing up. Just a few dozen mugs, cups and glasses to go now...
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Vivaldi no more :-(
grok_mctanys
So, Improv, and by association Vivaldi tablet, project, is apparently dead. Which means my search for a fully Free-Software phone/tablet is one avenue down.

According to an email by project leader Aaron Seigo:
This entire project is on hold indefinitely. That has been noted on the MPL forums as well; we haven't been keeping that secret. The tablet project stretched out much longer than it should have and exhausted my resources in the process,

News to me, even though I'd been following the Vivaldi threads at the MLP forums, of which there were (at my last count before the site disappeared) about 3 - none of which had been posted to in months - and I didn't see anything about that at all.

So, there's the Blackphone which looks interesting. Although it was meant to be shipping, with the ability for non-pre-orderers to buy one "in June 2014", but that's not happened yet. Plus, there's suspiciously little information about the OS stack it's running on, other than it's called PrivatOS, and is a modified version of Android. No mention as to whether they've got rid of all the binary blobs and managed to get a fully-auditable Free Software stack through the bootloader, kernel, drivers and display manager, which is something I'd have expected them to shout about if they'd actually done it.

I don't think any of the FirefoxOS devices are any better, either.

The PiPad is looking good now that the specs are open and progress is being made - if only I had the copious spare time I'd need to muck about with that sort of thing.

Which mostly leaves the Nexus 7, now that the Freedreno driver seems to be doing well, which I think is the main blob that was missing an open replacement there.

Unless anyone else knows of another smartphone/tablet running a full Free Software stack? Anyone? Anyone?

ZOMG BYO BBQ LOL
grok_mctanys
Quick reminder, BBQ at mine this Saturday. Open invite to anyone I know, and your hangers-on, from about 4pm-ish, aiming to be cooking from 5ish.

If you would like to bring pig-derived BBQables, in memoriam of my home village pig roast that is no more, that would be appreciated, but it is definitely not required.

Note that if you were thinking of driver over, having a couple of drinks, finding an alternate way home, and picking your car up on Sunday, that's going to be near-impossible because of Tour de France road closures between 9am and 7pm on Sunday.

Happy Summer Solstice Everyone!
grok_mctanys
Have a great summer.

World Cup overload antidote - inside the FIFA sausage factory
grok_mctanys
Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: FIFA and the World Cup

Edit: Bonus comic: For a non-sports person, this is sorta what it's like to be on the internet right now.

And because this hadn't got around as many people as it should have, here's him weighing in on the USA's ongoing attempts to screw up The Electronic Cat Database: LWTwJO: Net Neutrality

Bonus link: John Oliver Crashes FCC Comments System After Net Neutrality Segment.

Snowden and the Future
grok_mctanys
I recently ran across this series of lectures by Eben Moglen - who was part of Phil Zimmerman's Pretty Good Privacy legal defense team against the US govt., and helped write the GPLv3 for the Free Software Foundation.

It's generally interesting if you're particularly concerned or interested about privacy, government spying, how we got here, and where we're going in the wake of Snowden's revelations, but Part III - The Union, May it be Preserved contains some of the clearest and most insightful thinking on the subject of the nature of privacy on the Internet that I've read in a long time. If you're only slightly concerned or interested about privacy, I think it's worth checking out.

we can decompose “privacy,” the concepts that we float around under that word, into three more specific parts: First, secrecy: that is, our ability to have our messages understood only by those to whom we intend to send them. Second, anonymity: that is, our ability to send and receive messages, which may be public in their content, without revealing who said and who listened or read what was said. Third, autonomy: that is, the avoidance of coercion, interference, and intervention by parties who have violated either our secrecy or our anonymity

Strangely, despite generally having no problem with reading long tracts of text on a computer monitor, I preferred watching the videos in this case. Despite Mr. Moglen's eloquence sometimes interfering with his clarity; his slightly irritating habit of turning away from the microphone and tailing off towards the end of a sentence only to turn back towards it and begin another with vigour in a way that makes it feel like he's started SHOUTING; and of course their sheer length, the videos do add a compelling dimension to his treatises.

SpaceX Dragon v2 spaceship
grok_mctanys
Unveiled!

(via SpaceX webcast, Edit: news permalink)

Absolutely no need for trampolines now. :-)

Edit Also commentary

Angecryption
grok_mctanys
Or, "When AES(☢) = ☠ – a crypto-binary magic trick".

The challenge: make a jpeg that is valid after being encrypted with AES

Video, Slide deck.

This is monumentally clever. I'm not sure what I'm impressed by more - that this guy was able to do this at all (and extend it to PDF, PNG, and other formats) or that he was able to explain it in a way that I can actually follow in real time.

(via HN)

BBC Worldwide WTF?
grok_mctanys
So there I was, looking forward to reading an article about bees, and all I got was:
We're sorry but this site is not accessible from the UK as it is part of our international service and is not funded by the licence fee. It is run commercially by BBC Worldwide, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the BBC, the profits made from it go back to BBC programme-makers to help fund great new BBC programmes.

I've seen this before, but this time I was more WTF than normal, so I looked into it. And was a bit confused because that the page above, and their "about" page, and the BBC "online" FAQ, and Wikipedia, and a whole bunch of other places, don't actually explain this in any detail.

I mean, why can't BBC Worldwide Ltd. show me stuff? BBC Worldwide Ltd. isn't funded by the license fee, but is a separate company (even if it is owned by The BBC) and relies on adverts to pay for its content. But then, 21st Century Fox is a separate company from the BBC and relies on adverts to pay for its content too, but that doesn't stop them from showing me their content.

It appears that the problem is that BBC Worldwide Ltd., despite being a separate company from The BBC, still operates under The BBC Charter and Agreement, which prohibits it from showing content which is "wholly or partly funded by advertisements, subscription, sponsorship, pay-per-view system, or any other alternative means of finance..." to UK residents. (Agreement, ¶75(2)(b), ¶76(1)(a), ¶102, others?) Although, as far as I can tell, The BBC is not meant to turn a profit, but BBC Worldwide Ltd. apparently has some kind of exception which allows it to do so.

Anyway, although it might be easy for BBC Worldwide Ltd. to show UK residents their content and simply not bother them with any adverts, or even to have a simple exception for BBC Worldwide Ltd. where there were a clear separation between advertising and content, the "partly funded by ... sponsorship" clause is presumably the real deal-breaker there. Where the line between content and advertising breaks down, and BBC Worldwide Ltd. can't claim editorial independence over content that nevertheless has their name on it, the merest possibility of tarnishing the good name of The BBC with UK residents and licence fee payers would seem to be a step no-one is prepared to take. (Although tarnishing their name in this way with Johnny Foreigner is fine?)

Needless to say, this is not a problem for the previously-mentioned 21st Century Fox.

And that's why I can't read about what would happen if bees went extinct.
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Uncleftish Beholding
grok_mctanys
or, "English minus the non-Germanic words". For longhairedhippy and also morecake:

[Here is Poul Anderson's essay "Uncleftish Beholding" ("Atomic Theory"), reprinted from the revised edition appearing in his collection _All One Universe_.]

For most of its being, mankind did not know what things are made of, but could only guess. With the growth of worldken, we began to learn, and today we have a beholding of stuff and work that watching bears out, both in the workstead and in daily life.

The underlying kinds of stuff are the *firststuffs*, which link together in sundry ways to give rise to the rest. Formerly we knew of ninety-two firststuffs...

(via HN)