Intel's Ronler Acres Plant


Silicon Forest

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Kodak Goes Digital

In 1975 Steven Sasson, a Kodak engineer, produced the first working prototype of a digital camera. It was the size of a toaster, weighed eight pounds, had a resolution of 0.01 megapixels, and took 23 seconds to save a black and white image onto a cassette tape. Picture: KODAK
Via The Telegraph and Posthip Scott.

Mischief Reef

Mischief Reef. You couldn't find a better name for this place.
How do you make a mountain out of a molehill? You put half a dozen sand sucking dredges to work sucking sand from the floor of the lagoon and piling it up on the bits that are already above water. I was thinking that China was just making noise about the South China Sea in order to distract us from their conquest of Africa. Looks like I might have been wrong about that. Seems they are mounting an attack on multiple fronts in their efforts to secure an adequate supply of oil. Besides their escapades in the South China Sea and Africa, they are also working on a pipeline across Pakistan.

I've been hearing a lot of noise about how China is overstepping their bounds in the South China Sea, but this the first time I have seen a map that shows just how far over the line they have gone. Mischief Reef is in the Spratlys, about half way between the Philippines and Vietnam.

Duckworth–Lewis method

  1. Cricket mad: You'll be knocked for six by Duckworth (Thomas Walsh, left) and Lewis (Neil Hannon)
    The Duckworth–Lewis method is a mathematical formulation designed to calculate the target score for the team batting second in a limited overs cricket match interrupted by weather or other circumstances. Wikipedia
    It's also the name of an Irish band (photo). Just in case you were wondering. I tripped over this in a discussion of what you should call an Islamic terrorist who holds a Western passport. 

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Prison Riot

in Raymondville, Texas, which is in far South Texas, about 20 miles north of Harlingen, which is about 25 miles northwest of Brownsville, which is right on the Mexican border. It's not a big riot as these things go, but it's a little disturbing to see who all's involved.

UNICOR   "We're life changing." Government website.
NICIC       National Institute of Corrections. I don't know what the second IC is for.
                                Also a Government website.
CI Willacy County "A contracted correctional institution, operated by a private corporation."
                                Also a Government website.
MTC         Management and Training Corporation. "A Leader in Social Impact." Private company.

Wikipedia has a couple of interesting things to say about the place:

  • Willacy is funded for 109 ICE employees, but the facility has only 60, with many of these ICE officers often being away accompanying detainees or handling other off-site activities.
  • A further 422 employees from Management & Training Corporation work at the facility.
  • Most of the guards are male between 19 and 24 years of age, having a high school education, and earning $6.00 to $7.00 per hour. Each undergoes a criminal background check before being hired, and all receive two weeks of academy training, followed by a week of on-the-job training.

Human trafficking
In November 2007, four Willacy employees were charged in relation to their use of company vehicles to smuggle illegal immigrants through checkpoints. They were allegedly caught smuggling 28 illegal immigrants through the U.S. Border Patrol's Sarita checkpoint, situated approximately 100 miles north of Brownsville. The immigrants were from Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador. Two of the men charged were wearing their uniforms and driving a company van, apparently overloaded with the immigrants.[28]

Friday, February 20, 2015

Zotac & Linux

Scanned copy of Linux Mint Printer Test Page
My old Windows XP machine has been getting flakey. Programs would lock up, files would disappear. Last night the mouse quit working. At first I thought it might have just been a piece of dirt over the lens (sensor? You know, the giant red spot in the middle of my miniature misshapen model of Jupiter). But no, a short while later it quit again. Tried different mice, checked the mice on another computer, by passed the USB hub, tried other USB ports, nothing. And then I get a notice that 'new hardware has been detected', a USB mouse in fact. Now, isn't that nice. You stupid bag of bolts.

I try looking on the net, but that's no help. To paraphrase engineer Mike, if something is broke that shouldn't be broke, it can't be fixed. We pile up these houses of cards and one day one the cards flakes out and the whole thing collapses. Is there any point in digging through the wreckage to figure out what went wrong? If it was an airliner and hundreds died, well then, yes, we'll do it. But your mouse quit? Throw the whole pile of cards in the trash and buy a new deck.

So now I'm running Linux Mint on my old Zotac Zbox, and it seems to be working pretty well. Last time I tried Linux, which was a couple of years ago, I went with Ubuntu, because that was apparently all the rage. That didn't work so well. Ubuntu was trying out something that was supposed to make it work with phones and tablets. What it did was make it clumsy and slow. It was so bad I gave it up in short order.

Linux Mint seems to be pretty good. Booted and installed off of the DVD, recognized my screen. Even recognized my printer, set up and connected when I asked it to, and even printed a test page. This is looking pretty good. But does the scanner work? Yes, indeedy. Scanned the test page I just printed.

Linux is supposedly all Open Source all the time, but Mint is operating under relaxed rules, which means they allowed Adobe in, which means Adobe flash works. I'm not real happy with Adobe. They seem to be bent enhancing Acrobat until it dominates the universe. I suppose it works for some people, but I prefer Foxit for PDF files. One trick I have found is that by disabling the Adobe Flash extension, most of those video ads that automatically pop up and start playing are blocked, which is really nice. You do have to enable Adobe Flash every time you want to watch a video or play a game, but right now it's a worthwhile tradeoff.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Melilla, Spain

Storming Spain's Razor-Wire Fence: In episode one of our series, VICE News correspondent Milène Larsson travels to the border between Morocco and Spain, where West Africans in their thousands storm the razor-wire-clad fences.  - from a blurb for a VICE video.
Cool, continental drift has accelerated into overdrive! Europe and Africa are colliding, tsunamis and earthquakes run rampant! Real-life disaster movies in the making, film at eleven.
    Uh, no, not really. Morocco and Spain are still separated by the Mediterranean Sea. The closest they ever get is the strait of Gibraltar. Gibraltar, now that's fortuitous. Seems Spain has a city on the Mediterranean coast of Morocco, much like England has the rock of Gibraltar on the coast of Spain. Actually Spain has a couple of cities in Morocco. Naturally, Morocco thinks these cities should belong to them. Spain disagrees, hence the fence.
    Melilla has been there a long time, and it's been Spanish for quite a while. Thought this was curious:
General Francisco Franco used the city as one of his staging grounds for his Nationalist rebellion in 1936, starting the Spanish Civil War. A statue of him – the last statue of Franco in Spain – is still prominently featured. - Wikipedia
I've been wondering about refugees in general. Seems like if someone is tearing up your homeland you might want to try and do something about it. Standing up by yourself against thugs is a good way to get yourself killed, so I can see how exit stage left might be reasonable choice. With a little organizing and some money for weapons, you'd think the people could form a militia that could eliminate these thugs. But that doesn't happen. Why is that? Capable organizers do not exist, or they are too busy combating other organized militias to worry about a few bands of thugs. And if people leave, well that's great, gets rid of a bunch of people and saves us the trouble of killing them.
    I am beginning to see how a state religion could be a good thing.


Oregon Governor Kitzhaber resigned the other day. He denies doing anything wrong and I am inclined to believe him. He probably did do something wrong. Seems that you can't go outside these days without getting crossed up with some kind of tom-fool rule. But I doubt it was bad enough to force him to resign. Looks like I was wrong again.
   At first I thought the scandal mongering was being orchestrated by the Governor's enemies. Why else would they be making so much fuss about this stuff? Then I realized we didn't really need anyone to be directing this assault, the media were perfectly capable of stirring it up all by themselves. If the governor did anything wrong, it was that he failed to squash this media frenzy. Maybe his friends are not as powerful as they need to be, or maybe they underestimated how big an impact this scandal would have on 'public opinion'.
    I think what we've got here is a fight between the 3rd order reformation and the 4th order reformation. People don't want to deal with any of their real problems, so they'll pick on someone else for chewing gum in public:
I was walking across a bridge one day, and I saw a man standing on the edge, about to jump off. So I ran over and said "Stop! don't do it!" "Why shouldn't I?" he said. I said, "Well, there's so much to live for!" He said, "Like what?" I said, "Well...are you religious or atheist?" He said, "Religious." I said, "Me too! Are you christian or buddhist?" He said, "Christian." I said, "Me too! Are you catholic or protestant?" He said, "Protestant." I said, "Me too! Are you episcopalian or baptist?" He said, "Baptist!" I said,"Wow! Me too! Are you baptist church of god or baptist church of the lord?" He said, "Baptist church of god!" I said, "Me too! Are you original baptist church of god, or are you reformed baptist church of god?" He said,"Reformed Baptist church of god!" I said, "Me too! Are you reformed baptist church of god, reformation of 1879, or reformed baptist church of god, reformation of 1915?" He said, "Reformed baptist church of god, reformation of 1915!" I said, "Die, heretic scum", and pushed him off. -- Emo Phillips