I wonder about the new machine

I brought the “new to me” 1GHz AMD to the cottage last weekend, and funny enough it didn’t power up at all. My brother declared the power supply fried, and that that was the likely reason why I found it on the side of the road.

Today I got around to plugging it in, forlorn that a perfectly good computer was suffering from “no power”.

Go figure. I’m typing this from the PC-BSD setup.

I had tried two or three outlets and three power cords. It likely isn’t circuit overload since the current circuit it’s on is also likely overloaded, and I’m using one of the same power cords.

As for the screen, I had difficulty getting it work here too last week but am still holding off until I get a proper cable, since the “cottage test” doesn’t seem to have been valid.

Found a ‘puter, it seems useful, installed P-CBSD!

(yes, I know it’s really PC-BSD. I was trying to sing “Found a Peanut” to the tune of Clementine.)

Today I found an old computer AND a 19″ flatscreen on the street, and as per my wont I picked them up, hoping that they would be vaguely useful.

The flatscreen should hopefully prove useful, once I get myself a cable for it.

And the winner is … it’s an AMD 1.0GHz with 512megs of RAM and a hard drive that the windows install said was about 35-ish gigs; I remember the PC-BSD install seemed to only mention about 18 ish but I could be wrong, or it could have done a partition … I don’t know what I’m talking about right now, so I’ll look things up.

The point is, the computer isn’t a clunker, and I’m typing this on the PC-BSD setup (somewhat frustratedly: I’m accustomed to a French-Canadian keyboard, and despite having specified one during setup it’s still acting like an US-English keyboard — I have the same problem with Fedora, funny enough, the installation ignores the designation and even occasionally “forgets”.)

So now I have to decide what to do with it:
– Have a second server (I barely if at all need the first, it certainly does little that my desktop does beyond a few technicalities which could be resolved by switching things around, and of course generate heat);
– Offer it to my brother, but he’s already declined on the basis of claiming to not need another computer in his life at the moment;
– Bring it to the cottage — not much use since I have a laptop, although I suppose that there could always be an argument for it;
– Or, do what I’m planning: Test out various distros with it. I figure I should give each one a couple of weeks or so and try to put things through their paces. One of these days, I’m going to have to try Slackware. Just to annoy my brother, who has always worked on the warning from a friend along the lines of “steer clear of slack, it almost cost me my business.” (In 1995-ish, I should point out.)

I’m going virtual, and hitting a real brick wall

This week after reading the June 2010 issue of Linux Format I decided to do what the cover article was about, which was “Try any Distro!” “Luckily enough” I use the base distro that they recommend, Fedora, “because it has the best implementation of Virt-Manager”.

Certainly the setup of Virt Manager was easy (yum install kvm virt-manager libvirt). And the next part was as easy: I downloaded the PC-BSD net install ISO. PC-BSD because I’ve been wanting to try BSD for a while, and PC-BSD because the same issue of Linux Format happened to review it.

After that things went well: I follow the setup — 10 gigs virtual hard drive, “1” processor of two (my machine only has one, but I guess the hyperthreading is up and running, so the system identifies two processors) 512 megs of ram, etc. And I go through the easy setup. The whole things takes about 3 hours to download all the packages and do the setup. Bedtime comes around, and it’s ready to reboot. Darn, I have to go to bed on an error message: “No /boot/kernel/kernel”.

So the next evening, I decide to try OpenSolaris and OpenSuSE, the latter in the netinstall option. Things fare worse: OpenSolaris says that there’s “No bootable device”. Huh? Isn’t it supposed to boot off of the ISO so that I can go through either the install process or see the live-CD? OpenSuSE gives me the same result.

I’ll have to look into this … the second two experiences make me wonder if the PC-BSD problem is not coincidence, but I think that it coincidentally tells me that there is a problem with reading the virtual hard drives, but the problem with the second and third cases is just getting them to properly boot the ISOs …

More on the CNBC schedule

In my last post, I followed the correspondence of CNBC’s actual programming to what was announced on the electronic guide supplied on Shaw’s satellite service in Canada over the period of a long weekend. I found enough time slots whose actually broadcast programme did not correspond to the announced schedule over the weekend to make me conclude “CNBC, announce what you’ll be broadcasting, and broadcast what you announce”.

I figured that for my own edification and to actually see whether what I’d found was a fluke, just how flagrant it was, and to just get a larger sample size, I’d actually do some more in-depth “research” and gather a whole lot more data, which I present here in PDF format.

Basically the conclusion I came to from this larger data set was “Outside North America’s Eastern Time Zone’s business hours Monday to Friday, CNBC’s announced schedule isn’t particularly reliable.” (Count the number of instances that they don’t correspond.) That’s the polite, reserved conclusion, partly tempered by the fact that I really don’t know what CNBC thinks about schedule accuracy — I did send the contents of my last blog to CNBC, and was told that it was passed on to the programming department — partly tempered by the fact that often enough, while it still doesn’t trump the announced schedule, the actually broadcast shows were much more relevant to CNBC’s apparent mandate of broadcasting business news, partly tempered by the fact that during said business hours, I’m also out earning a living (and don’t watch TV during those hours), and partly tempered by a nagging feeling that something is afoot.

/side note on:

My suspicion that something may be afoot comes from the following:

In Canada, the Canadian Radio and Telecommunications Commission has rules about “Canadian Content” to protect “Canadian Culture”. (Since for the moment I’m not interested in tackling that issue, I won’t. 🙂 ) One of the consequences of this is that on cable / satellite / etc. when a Canadian channel is showing an American show at the same time as an American channel that can be viewed by the same person on the same TV — let’s say the Super Bowl is being broadcast, obviously on an American channel, and a Canadian channel carries it — the cable company must substitute the American feed on the American channel with the Canadian feed from the Canadian channel. So for instance, during the Super Bowl, while we get to watch the same game live, we don’t get to see the American commercials, not even on the American channels; these days at least we can go to YouTube the following day to see them.

As a result, in such a case, at the beginning of the broadcast on the American channel, we sometimes will see a flicker when the feed is being switched from the American feed to the Canadian feed. Over the course of the past couple of weeks, one of the things that I have occasionally though not always noticed and didn’t document, at the beginning of some of the broadcasts that weren’t as announced was this flicker, making me wonder if it’s a fluke, or if the feed is being switched for one reason or another, regardless of who’s doing it and whether or not the CRTC is involved.

/side note off

Another conclusion I came to was a confirmation of my original conclusion that the switches — with one exception — were usually not of the type where there was breaking news or some other reason that obviously would trump the announced schedule, despite the fact that sometimes what was broadcast actually seemed more relevant to CNBC’s mandate than what was announced; think of broadcasting Squawk Box, a live business news programme, instead of one of the announced aforementioned excellent business documentaries. I also found it interesting that over weekends there were a number of half-hour slots that were either “Paid Programming” or named paid programming along the lines of “Get Sexier in 90 Days”, “Insane Sexy Bodies”, or “Relieve Back Pain”, while very respectable CNBC documentaries or international financial news programmes were actually broadcast. Given that normally there would be two such half hour programs announced — usually “Paid Programming” THEN a named infomercial — and that a one hour program would be broadcast, be it a one-time documentary or an episode of “American Greed”, a combination investigative journalism / documentary program, and that such shows would often be directly announced at other times, it was obvious to me that sponsors don’t call up CNBC and say that they’d like to buy a block of time only to pay for one of these shows.

So enjoy the data. Of course I’m also sending it off to CNBC.

CNBC, take a lesson from the March Hare: Announce what you’ll be broadcasting, and broadcast what you announce

When I got satellite TV last year from Shaw, one of the channels to which I got access in the package to which I subscribe is CNBC. CNBC has some very interesting programming and documentaries. Some remind me of why I got hooked on cable channels over the traditional network channels in the early nineties, and are comparable to series such as the (excellent) Bill Kurtis’ American Justice on A&E and take your pick of any the mainstays on The Discovery Channel like Frontiers of Construction, Mega Ships, Ultimate Engineering, and the like.

One of the features of Shaw Satellite is that there is a “Guide” screen that shows the current programming as well as future programming; so far — for the purposes of this entry, in fact — the furthest into the future I have ever checked is a touch over 24 hours.

What I am wondering is how much CNBC actually cares to accurately report their schedule in advance to the cable carriers who arguably are their bread and butter, put aside of course their advertisers. I am obviously aware that I am perhaps at best on the fringes of CNBC’s prime target audience, since I’m not a stock broker or a financial analyst.

Of course a small part of me is wondering about how much effort Shaw puts into requiring accurate reporting of scheduling from the stations that they broadcast, at least to the extent that they have power over such matters and wish to try to exert such power over the stations they broadcast. I am aware that Shaw is but one player in the Canadian market, and that CNBC is a player in the much larger Amercian market.

But in researching this post I have come to the conclusion that Shaw probably has little to do with the issue at hand.

Over the last few months, I have occasionally wandered over to CNBC because of a scheduled show that sounds interesting, usually as a result of channel surfing. And what do I find but a substitution program, however interesting it may be. I can count at least four such times prior to this past weekend that the actual program is different from the announced program. This phenomenon caught my attention again this past Thursday, April 01 2010, after 10:00pm when I “wandered” over to CNBC, interested by the announcement of “Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room”; what was in fact being broadcast was a one hour documentary called “Ultimate Fighting — Fistful of Dollars”. Note that from now on I am referring to times in Eastern Daylight Time.

My conclusion was a presumption that the occurrence was no doubt a semi-regular occurrence given the sporadic nature of my noticing this at random intervals over time; the perceived regular occurrences seemed a bit beyond the usual occasional errors due to technical difficulties such as:

– transcription errors due to a clerk for either party entering the wrong information into the schedule;
– the station expecting to secure the appropriate broadcast rights in time to a given show or episode but not managing to, hence the switch;
– the station losing a last-minute scuffle with the show’s copyright holder(s) and having to show something else as a result;
– the station realizing, after sending off the planned schedule, that there was an accounting error and they had used up their broadcast rights for the show or particular episode, or neglected to renew it;
– a major news event making a last-minute substitution appropriate, such as a market crash or the sudden arrest of the CEO of a major multinational;
– etc.

In this case I’m usually discussing a repeat of, say, their Wal-Mart documentary instead of their Marijuana production in the US documentary, both being otherwise very interesting documentaries, but neither being of particular greater value or time-sensitive interest over the other. However in a couple of cases live market shows have been actually shown, which I am aware are CNBC staples.

So for the past few days I have been, without going much out of my way, noticing the schedule versus the actual show being broadcast on CNBC. (I of course won’t bother mentioning the times that I checked and the schedule was accurate, or could have but didn’t check.)

Saturday April 03 2010 at 11:30am, the schedule announced the half-hour “Sexy Beach Bodies” (I’ll presume it was a show about Beach Culture, Suntan Lotion, and possibly Skin Cancer. Or an infomercial on how to get ripped in 28 days or less 🙂 ) The actual show was “Cruise Inc.”, a documentary about the cruise industry, which, being an hour-long documentary, began at 11:00am.

Saturday April 03 2010 at 10:00pm and 10:30pm, the schedule said “Till Debt Do Us Part”, a Canadian personal finance reality TV series about various couples’ train wreck spending habits heading straight for more debt after bad, and how to get out of it. The actual show was a one hour documentary called “Game Changers” about innovative entrepreneurs who were very influential in their field.

As I was writing this post on Sunday afternoon, I checked CNBC again, for my amusement and to add to the case either way:

Sunday April 04 2010 at 5:00pm was announced as “Paid Programming”, while the announced show for 5:30pm was “Relieve Back Pain”. The actual show from 5:00pm to 6:00pm was a one hour documentary called “The Money Chase: Inside Harvard Business School”.

As I was editing this post on Monday evening at about 9:45pm, I happened upon CNBC and decided to amuse myself again:

Monday April 05 beginning before 9:30pm and ending at 10:30pm, the schedule said “Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room” followed by “Till Debt Do Us Part” at 10:30pm. “Squawk Box” was at 9:45pm. At 10:00pm, “Cash Flow” came on.

Now in the defense of either party, strictly speaking — and I mean, during the same period I only noticed the following example in the course of my TV consumption, and at the same time do not recall in the past several months noticing another such occurrence outside of CNBC — the phenomenon isn’t just limited to CNBC: On Saturday, April 03, 2010 at 9:00pm, I was watching KCTS PBS Seattle and was watching “As Time Goes By” (Yes, I am a boring person with nothing better to do on a Saturday evening!) The schedule was accurate about the show and time, but the episode description was off, so it’s not strictly speaking limited to CNBC. However for the moment I’m willing to classify this occurrence within one of the excuses listed above, and in any case I don’t recall observing the phenomenon for other stations, which generally have been accurate within my experience.

But here’s the clincher: At about 8:30pm on Saturday, April 03 2010, CNBC had a commercial announcing “Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room” for Sunday, April 04 at 9:00pm to 11:00pm, so at that time I checked the Shaw schedule for Sunday evening, and sure enough the schedule listed the Enron documentary. At about 9:57pm on Sunday, April 04, finishing another show on another channel, I checked CNBC: It seemed as though “Squawk Box” was finishing, although I held judgement for five minutes, never having watched said show and figuring that maybe it could be a business update during an end-of-the-hour commercial break. Funny enough, at 10:00pm, they had a show called “The Run Down”, a live news show providing daily reporting on Asian markets, which are twelve to fourteen hours ahead of the New York Markets. Despite the currency of the live information, it seems to me that such a show would not trump the former in a last-minute showdown, certainly not from what they seemed to be showing in the first few minutes. However, to look at the opposite side of the same coin, this is the kind of show that, being another component of the station’s bread and butter, would be a matter of “Well duhhh, we always have those shows on, why is the programming guy announcing in the Enron documentary?” making me wonder why the Enron documentary would be listed at that time; but no matter, whether CNBC intended to show one then quickly changed its mind, or didn’t bother to check whether the “listings announcement” guy is doing their job properly, the problem is the same: There seems to be a rampant problem with the concordance between the Announced Broadcast Schedule, and the Actual Broadcast Schedule.

Come On, CNBC, what’s up with your programming? You’ve proven that at least not all the inconsistencies belong to Shaw’s clerks taking too many coffee breaks! In fact, it seems to be that were it not so blatantly obviously due to a case of laissez-faire on your part, I dare say there could be a bit of “Bait and Switch” going on.

So my message for you CNBC, is a paraphrase of the March Hare’s message to Alice: “Announce what you’ll be broadcasting, and broadcast what you announce.”

The Enron documentary schedule as announced on the CNBC website on April 06, 2010 at about 8:00pm EST

Google Maps seems to need to learn that some streets go East AND West

I think that Google Maps is overlooking a basic function: In the real world, people sometimes go east, and sometimes go west.

Yesterday for the third time in a couple of years I relied upon Google Maps for directions and was sent to the wrong place. Caveat Emptor strikes again.

In Montreal, east-west streets which bisect St. Laurent Boulevard (which, no surprise, goes sort of north-south), start their numbering in both east and west directions from there. Hence you can have two equally valid addresses on a given street, given the proviso that one is designated as “East” and the other “West”. (Hey! It’s Captain Obvious!)

Fortunately, the address I was looking for was 151; during an hour of going around the neighbourhood looking for parking around “151 Laurier” (East as proposed by Google Maps), I found out that that address wasn’t a dépanneur that sells a huge variety of microbrewery beers, and looked like it never was, and finally decided to go further down the street looking for similar businesses. I suddenly had a V-8 moment and realized “Ooops what about 151 Laurier WEST?” I high-tailed it in the opposite direction and found the business in question. And to my disappointment, they were out of the particular beer I was seeking — Weizenbock, by La Brasserie Les Trois Mousquetaires, which has replaced my previous definition of ambrosia, Trois Pistoles by Unibroue.

Twice before I have had similar experiences:

About a year ago, while in Western Canada in completely unfamiliar territory on a business trip, I had looked up a client’s address, and not knowing about any local east/west splits that addresses on the Trans-Canada Highway may have in that locality, I tried to find the address, on the east end of town, that Google Maps had provided; I was about 45 minutes late by the time I finally managed to suspect that my client’s address was a “West” address and got there.

And just to quash any participant in the Peanut Gallery out there about to say “Aha well when using Google Maps you should know that in such cases they’ll always send you to the East address, so be sure to always check both!” a couple of years ago I had looked up a local address for client, and Google sent me to Gouin Boulevard West here in Montreal, a solid 45 minute drive away from my client’s Gouin Boulevard East address.

Now the Peanut Gallery may have a point: In the real world, people sometimes go east, and sometimes go west. And when it comes to using a free online service, you get what you paid for. As such, when looking up an address on any online service, one should notice “Hmmm this is an east-west street which may bisect such and such a street and as such have East addresses and West addresses; I should specify both east and west in my address search.”

But I wonder how many other people place enough faith in Google that under such circumstances — such as when they don’t know that there’s an East and West of a given street — they would reasonably expect in the case that a street has valid East addresses and valid West addresses (and likewise for North and South addresses) that Google’s response page would come back with “Did you mean (A) 151 Laurier East, or did you mean (B) 151 Laurier West?” Certainly Google seems good enough at asking such a question when you slightly misspell a street or city name, or decides that it doesn’t recognize the address you supply and provide you with half a dozen options, as often spread across the country as spread across the city.

Ubuntu and Fedora LiveCDs — Ubuntu a clear winner!

I’m trying to convince a certain group to wipe their virus infected (and no doubt with trojan horses, key loggers, and spyware) computer over to linux, and so I’ve burned the Fedora 12 Live CD and the Ubuntu 9.10 Live CD.

I don’t want to bother giving them the Fedora Live CD. The Ubuntu CD is far too slick. And, the Fedora Live CD is far too vanilla. And that’s despite my usual rivalry with Ubuntu; at first glance, the killer is the inclusion of OpenOffice.org on the Ubuntu CD, while Fedora has the lightweight (albeit otherwise capable) AbiWord. Even the brown looks bright and welcoming, as opposed to Fedora’s more conservative, dull greyish-blue.

Add to that the directory of various files introducing Ubuntu, what it’s about, and even a sample mortgage calculator, and it’s little wonder that Ubuntu gets a whole lot of first timers straight out of the gate, or that first timers settle on Ubuntu after trying a bunch of other distros. As a marketing tool (at least for the desktop), the Ubuntu CD wins hands down; I’m not even sure that fully set up via traditional means from the DVD or full set of CD’s Fedora is this flashy.

I’ve been telling people for a while that “I use Fedora, but you’ll find Ubuntu easier”. I’ve just seen the proof. Seeing the CD, I would want to start afresh with it. I won’t of course, but I was impressed.

I’m wondering, though, which is the real killer — the inclusion of OpenOffice.org, or the directory introducing Ubuntu? I bet that were Fedora to mount a similar directory, including how to expand upon the base supplied on the CD, that people might take it up a bit more. I’m thinking of things like “Accustomed to OpenOffice.org? Go here and this is what you do.” or a “top five” “what to do once you install the Fedora base (or even just the Live-CD)” based on “Common desktop tasks”, “Setting up a home file and media server”, or the usual choices found in the standard anaconda setup.

I’m even thinking that the Ubuntu Live CD is productive — and “complete” — right away with its little directory, forget having little tutorials.

I guess that I should find out about whether or not Fedora does something like this, though … 🙂

Using apps to do a “Pothole and Poop Patrol”

Setting the stage: Last June I was blown away with an insurance company’s commercial for an IPhone/Smartphone App letting people properly document a car accident in order to help simplify the claims process.

Looking through the newspaper this morning, I noticed yet another example of an otherwise mundane app for smartphones: Apparently, a bunch of American (and presumably other) cities have apps which allow local citizens to collect data including photos and location (usually by but not always gps coordinates) of potholes, and using 3G/Wi-Fi hotspots to report potholes directly to the local public works, saving money by bypassing presumably more expensive operators, field inspectors and the like, as well as saving money by directing workers directly to where work is needed instead of waiting around for the information to trickle through the system. And, essentially, putting crowd-sourcing, or the notion of “many eyes will eventually reveal bugs” to work.

Many such apps also are more general and allow people to report all sorts of things beyond potholes, such as broken lamp standards, water main breaks, and the like.

Beyond being impressed, it made me think back to 2001-2002 when I’d just gotten a gps and started playing geocaching: One of the funny stories that came about in geocaching circles (and no doubt general gps circles) when people were learning about the uses of gps with 3m-8m accuracy involved some groups of people essentially going out on “Poop Patrol”, marking the locations of where they found piles of poop left by — no, I won’t indulge in the joke that just came into my mind and perhaps yours — ok, here it is, poople, who don’t clean up after their dogs. We thought “What, don’t people have better things to do with their lives than go around looking for piles of poop and filling up their gps memory with their locations? What are they going to do with the information and all the waypoints? Chase down and tackle the offenders? What about the local council meetings that will no doubt have people being laughed at during question period when they bring their lists of waypoints?”

Funny, mulling over the “Pothole Patrol” I read about in the paper this morning, the “Poop Patrol” seemed less amusing in the ridiculous sense and more viable as a way of measuring hot spots for increased street cleaning, or identifying dog walking hot spots where perhaps municipalities might consider adding dog runs where they might not have without the “Poop Patrol” data, or adding or reinforcing secondary services such installing bag distributors for dog walkers who forgot their bags to “poop & scoop” mounted on lampposts (and of course filled by conscientious dog-walkers who can bring their excess supplies of plastic bags) as can be found in many dog run parks, or add extra garbage bins in those areas.

Again, along those lines, I’m thinking about geocaching.com, which facilitates “Benchmark Hunting” (in its most basic form, taking the coordinates of USGS benchmarks and going out to hunt them for the pleasure of it, and then logging the finds as well as the adventures along the way on the website.) I bet the USGS takes advantage of the informal “inspections” in some way.

Or how, in about 2001-2002, again when I was starting off with geocaching, I’d registered for an account with Natural Resources Canada to search out Gravimetric Markers, essentially the same as geographic benchmarks but whose purpose and location are related to standard measurements for gravity; I live near one, and there’s one near my cottage, so the idea of doing volunteer inspections along the lines of doing simple check lists seemed like a fun complementary activity to geocaching seemed like fun. Such checklists could contain, say, 5 items on the physical integrity, access, and so on related to the marker which any person off the street could perform on a regular, semi-regular, or sporadic basis and the results of which could be useful to the maintainers so that the responsible body could channel resources to “more important” activities as well as proritize maintenance schedules, as above.

At the same time, I also “noticed” all the Bell Canada telephone switching boxes along the way to the cottage in the same light and thought about doing volunteer inspections, which I never pursued.

Unfortunately home networking issues at the time made accessing my account with Natural Resources Canada difficult and the charm of both ideas fizzled out.

But now, the ideas from “The Poop Patrol” to volunteer inspections of Gravimetric Markers and Bell Canada switching boxes, in the light of “The Pothole Patrol” and taking into account human idiosyncracies and the human penchant for such trivial pastimes, seem less silly …

Handheld computer Apps

Here’s a blog entry I meant to post last June, 2009, but for whatever reason I never got around to it. I’m doing it now to set the scene for my next entry. 🙂

*****

I just saw a commercial for Nationwide Insurance. And I was blown away.

They have this several times mentioned “accident app” for the unnamed but clearly identifiable iPhone / iPod Touch. It brings you through the process of what you need to do if you have a car accident — take photos of the damage, the area, the other car, the street, where the cars are relative to everything, then the address, the license of the insured car, your details, the other car’s and driver’s details … of course all this just from the commercial.

And I’m thinking … that’s the kind of thing a handheld with an integrated camera is for, not just taking pictures of Fluffy, Rover or the kids every five minutes and sending them to friends, or playing some inane game. I was thinking that the Apple App Store, without having checked it out myself, was probably full of useless apps like tip calculators and calorie counters.

I used to have a Palm Pilot. I still have it, in fact, but I don’t use it. You looked all around the net for little apps, and there’d be plenty of useless ones, and you get tired when the one or two useful apps just don’t cut it anymore and in the process required so much effort to find what was (usually) a second-rate app.

Or maybe I am glimpsing at why Ubuntu is doing so well.

I think I’ve been so high on my horse about open source that I’ve missed something.

Or, maybe one of the open source drawbacks is that there isn’t an open-source Linux “App Store” out there, creating the buzz that “you need this, it’s a killer app” or “it’s a killer appliance” creating the desire for the product (and then of course the apps would follow) or whatever (March 2010: Hello Android!)

(addition in March, 2010) Now of course this of course is a really bad observation on a technical level; the Apple “App Store” is a kind of repository for the IPhone and IPod Touch, and there are plenty of linux repositories; and, despite the completely different paradigms between a desktop (and even laptop and netbook) and a handheld device, of course there are plenty of little programs that would be apps for your computer available. Despite its convenience, I wouldn’t want to use my Acer notebook to fill out all the details of my latest car crash, even though it has a web cam in it and wi-fi, and I suppose I could get a 3G dongle for it. My meaning was more along the lines of when I was responding to a survey about a tax program, which asked why I used the version I used, in my case, the web version: I said I used it because I use linux and they don’t have a linux version, and that in order to have a linux version, the best way would be to push it through the repositories or have their own repository, in order to maintain bug fixes and updates in tax laws, meaning that the afore-mentioned buzz is no longer there surrounding a computer (or more) in every house, and the fact is what makes handheld devices so buzz-worthy is the combination of small convenient size and processing power. See next.

(back to June, 2009) My brother, who has an iPod touch, says the big difference between handheld computers today and those of five and ten years ago — aside memory and processing power and the like — is the presence of wifi abilities and hotspots; the inclusion of a camera was implicit to his comments. And nowadays, gps antennas, motion detectors, and the like. Things “that could be done” five and ten years ago just weren’t there of because, well, the instant connectivity — and the integration of connectivity into the applications and related software — suddenly makes it seem like an obvious thing, not just loading the handheld into a dock and syncing it with your desktop.

It’s tax time, and the Government of Canada supports linux!

Doing a bit of research for tax-time, I went to Service Canada’s website to get some extra information needed. I finally figured out how to navigate through some pages, and whaddya know, they support two linux distributions: Fedora (they added, incorrectly, “Core”) 8 — which of course now is out of date — and Ubuntu 7.1, which I suppose was really 7.10. I suppose to some government person who doesn’t quite understand Ubuntu’s version numbering system, 7.1 and 7.10 are “about the same” — of course, were there any validity at all, it would represent the January 2007 release of Ubuntu, which never existed, as opposed to the October 2007 release. 🙂

I was pleased to see them finally picking up the slack, even if this was put in place about 2 years ago. 🙂

And of course, here’s the screenshot, with the appropriate areas highlighted.

Service Canada Supports Linux!