Western Digital's Long Trip from Open Standards to Open Source Chips

Date Published: Thu, 22 Aug 2019 21:16:39 +0200

Not all standards were free and open. Western Digital's senior director of systems and software technologies Jorge Campello pointed out large OEMs that insisted on certain specifications he referred to as "de facto standards." These were "not real standards, but more of companies monopolizing niche markets."

Western Digital leadership recognized "the reality of a world that's driven by open-source software and we started to get engaged and contribute to foster technologies that we were developing."

On the plus side, having software for your hardware being developed in the open cracks the door for outside developers to find new ways to consume the hardware. A lot of the distributed computing work by "the hyperscale movement" has been done in open source, leading to the storage devices being used "in completely different ways" than they were as part of proprietary legacy storage arrays and systems, Campello said.

"That's exactly one of the main advantages of an open architecture like that with a permissive license," he said. "We can start from a core functionality that's useful for everyone and then adapt it to our needs as opposed to you get what you get and adapt yourself around it."

I would like to think that many techies would prefer something like this that is ready to use but can be adapted for their needs and is sustainable in it's usage, and where you could leverage off the innovation of others who make contributions.

See #^

#westerndigital #openhardware #opensource
#^Western Digital's Long Trip from Open Standards to Open Source Chips


It started as a microprocessor pioneer in the 1970s. Now, the company is charting a new course in open source silicon.

Buying a Chromebook? Don't forget to check that best-before date because updates expire as cellphone updates do

Date Published: Thu, 22 Aug 2019 20:58:56 +0200

It is unlikely to be printed on the box, but every Chromebook has an "Auto Update Expiration (AUE) Date" after which the operating system is unsupported by Google.

This is actually not unusual as it happens with cellphones, Windows OS, Ubuntu Linux.... mmm maybe just not MacOS as you keep getting free updates. But unless you reformat your Chromebook at this point with trusty Linux, you can't easily just put some upgraded ChromeOS on it.  So it is something to think about especially if you buy it say 1 year into its 3-year lifecycle.

What happens when the dreaded AUE date passes? This means there will be no more automatic software updates from Google, no technical support from Google, and "business and education customers... should not expect that they can manage their devices as expected using the Google Admin console".

Hopefully, Google finds some way of extending this easily more like MacOS works to something more usable like 5-7 years.

See #^

#^Buying a Chromebook? Don't forget to check that best-before date


Google's little-known Auto Update Expiration D-Day leaves users bereft of auto software refreshes and more – here's how to check yours

Android 10 will not get a dessert name, Google reveals new branding - Well that takes much of the fun out of it!

Date Published: Thu, 22 Aug 2019 19:44:56 +0200

Today is truly the end of an era. Google announced that Android Q will not get a dessert nickname. A tradition that has been going on for a decade has come to a close. Android Q will simply be called “Android 10” and Google has rolled out a new look for the Android brand to go along with it.

I can understand why there are the reasons given but its yet a bit more of the fun that disappears from Google in 2019. Now we know the next version will be called 11.

See #^

#^Android 10 will not get a dessert name, Google reveals new branding


Android Q will simply be called "Android 10" and Google has rolled out a new look for the Android brand to go along with it.

US Subsidizes Fossil Fuels To The Tune Of $4.6, $27.4, Or $649 Billion Annually, Depending On Source

Date Published: Thu, 22 Aug 2019 19:31:03 +0200

There are frequently complaints bandied about by the usual suspects about the horrendous subsidies for renewable energy, along with claims that renewables would die without them. It’s worth looking at the state of energy subsidies in the US in that context.

There are a set of increasing numbers that are worth considering. Congressional research puts the minimum number at $4.6 billion annually. An NRDC G7 annual analysis puts the number at $27.4 billion annually. An IMF full accounting including negative externalities related to health and global warming puts it at $649 billion annually.

The United States, unlike many countries, doesn’t have a direct consumption subsidy for fossil fuels, which is what some defenders of the industry use as the basis of their false claim that there are no subsidies. The International Energy Agency tracks direct consumption subsidies in material it publishes annually, and the United States doesn’t show up in that list. Iran, Saudi Arabia, and China lead the pack in terms of those subsidies, but China is tracking well in terms of reducing subsidies across the energy space, including on fossil fuels.

And it’s also worth noting that nuclear generation also has permanent tax code breaks worth $1.6 billion annually as well. That excludes the insurance liability cap on nuclear plants which the United States taxpayer is on the hook for in the case of a Fukushima- or Chernobyl-scale incident. Anything over $13 billion is the responsibility of the US government, hence taxpayers. Since Fukushima’s total economic costs are likely to be closer to a trillion USD than not if everything is counted in, $13 billion doesn’t look like a lot.

Without subsidies, fossil-based fuels and energy would be unaffordable but at the end of the day, the taxpayer still pays. If renewable energy could garner $649 billion I suppose it could quickly solve the energy storage problem it still faces. The time comes when you must start shifting funds towards future energy generation sources to ensure they grow and become sustainable. Otherwise, we'd all be stuck with 1950's technology still today!

See #^

#environment #fossilfuel
#^US Subsidizes Fossil Fuels To The Tune Of $4.6, $27.4, Or $649 Billion Annually, Depending On Source


In 2022, new wind energy will get zero financial assistance of any kind and new solar will get very little, while fossil fuels will continue to get $4.6 billion annually in the best possible accounting, $27.4 billion in a reasonable accounting and $649 billion in a full accounting including negative externalities.

BlitzWolf BW-FYE1 True Wireless Earbud - Budget-friendly value at $33-$49 with Bluetooth 5 fast pairing

Date Published: Wed, 21 Aug 2019 21:36:53 +0200

This is by no means a high-end product but it contains enough of the "kitchen sink features" to be excellent value (especially if you pick them up at around $33 on some online specials). Secure fit, reasonable sound, auto-on and quick pairing, with some extra functionality available via the button found on the earbuds make it quite attractive.

Only relative weakness is the battery life is not very long at 3 hours (longer also means larger earbuds). My Airpods used to get 5 hours but that has already degraded very noticeably recently and they are 23 months old and 4-5x the cost. Although it does not appear to support Google Fast Pair it has Bluetooth 5 and seemingly does a very good job of fast pairing. The consensus across a few reviews is that the pairing is really fast.

Yes there are excellent Sony and Apple Airpods but at over $200 you have to wonder if "good enough" at $50 is not actually a more practical deal. A choice of black or white colours makes that twice as good as Apple Airpods! I also like the better 4 light LED charge indicators on the case than Apple has. The micro-USB charging port is a bit dated but not a showstopper.

See a review at #^ and another at #^

#blitzwolf #earbuds
#^BlitzWolf BW-FYE1 True Wireless Earbuds Review


The BlitzWolf BW-FYE1 is a pair of budget-friendly true-wireless earbuds which promise up to 3 hours of music playback (call time may differ), a comfortable wearing experience and a painless pairing experience, all that while ensuring a decent sound quality. We keep on hearing about these new TRUE w

Vim Text Editor Isn’t That Scary - Here are 5 free resources you can use to learn it

Date Published: Wed, 21 Aug 2019 20:29:12 +0200

Unknown things can be frightening and usually cause resistance; Vim is no exception. Still, despite the fact that a Stack Overflow question about how to leave it has been accessed over one million times, Vim is still one of the most-used editors by developers around the world.

Many people who don’t use Vim are accustomed to other editors and think they don’t need to switch. They don’t want to leave their comfort zones. They think Vim takes too much time and effort to learn, and that it doesn’t make that much of a difference.

By taking the time to read this article, you’ve shown that you already have some type of interest in Vim. Before we see some resources that make it easier for you to learn it, let’s see the reasons why should we even consider using a text editor from the 1980s.  A key one, of course, is that it is often the default editor you'll find on any new Linux install so before you can install anything else you may often need to use it.

See #^

#VIM #linux
#^Vim Isn’t That Scary


Here are 5 free resources you can use to learn it

The World Health Organization (WHO) now calls urban pollution levels a “public health emergency” because 91% of us live in areas where air pollution exceeds the agency’s guidelines

Date Published: Wed, 21 Aug 2019 19:14:29 +0200

A recent study has likened city air pollution to smoking a pack of cigarettes each day for 29 years. While the effect on our lungs is undoubtedly troubling, we should also be wary of what the air we breathe is doing to the rest of our bodies.

The new study monitored ground-level ozone exposure in 7,000 adults living in cities across the US. Generally, urbanites were exposed to between 10 and 25 parts per billion of ozone, where an increase of three parts per billion equates to smoking an extra pack of cigarettes each day. So, even moving from a low-pollution area into one of the cleaner cities could still increase your risk of respiratory diseases like emphysema – which is more commonly associated with smokers.

The article goes on to highlight the effect this air pollution has on mental wellbeing, education and weight and what differences green spaces can make.

See #^

#health #airpollution
#^How city health effects your health and happiness


Links between urban pollution and respiratory diseases drive most calls to clean our cities’ air. But the effect on our lungs is only one reason to be concerned by city living.

A Raspberry Pi Based Open Source Tablet is in Making and it’s Called CutiePi

Date Published: Tue, 20 Aug 2019 20:40:49 +0200

CutiePie is an 8-inch open-source tablet built on top of Raspberry Pi. For now, it is just a working prototype which they announced on Raspberry Pi forums. You can second-guess the pricing of this tablet by analyzing the bill for the materials used. CutiePi follows a 100% open-source hardware design for this project. So, if you are curious, you can check out their GitHub page for more information on the hardware design and stuff.

CutiePi plans to work on DVT batch PCBs in August (this month). And, they target to launch the final product by the end of 2019. Officially, they expect it to launch it at around $150-$250.

See #^

#cutiepi #raspberrypi
#^CutiePi Open Source Raspberry Pi Tablet: Specifications, Price & Availability


CutiePie is an 8-inch open-source tablet built on top of Raspberry Pi. Read more to find out about its specification, pricing, release date and availability.

South Africans are the world’s unhealthiest of 191 countries - the doctor or a tablet is not going to fix it - lifestyle has to change

Date Published: Tue, 20 Aug 2019 18:39:33 +0200

The obesity rate among South Africans is alarming and needs to be urgently addressed through interventions on changing the population’s mindset on health issues. This was the sentiment of Dr Riekie Smit, an aesthetic medicine practitioner of Pretoria, with a special interest in weight management. She commented on the results of a recent global health survey.

The Indigo Wellness Index, for which 191 countries were surveyed according to 10 health measures, ranked South Africa as the unhealthiest country in the world. These measures included healthy life expectancy, blood pressure, blood glucose (diabetes risk), obesity, depression, happiness, alcohol use, tobacco use, inactivity (too little exercise), and government spending on healthcare.

‘South Africans can be very lazy and expect their doctor or a tablet to fix their health problems. Changing lifestyle, diet and habits are not viewed by our population as the first step to cure diseases.’

It's a vicious cycle as bad lifestyle increases the burden on the healthcare system. South Africa wants to introduce a National Health Insurance scheme but I'm wondering if the lifestyle issue should not be tackled first as a matter of urgency? In the mind of most patients, there is no connection between a disease/condition and their lifestyle at all.  I still see people scooping 4 or 5 spoons of sugar into their coffee and I'm nearly sick at the sight of it, or office celebrations that only include a massive cake or doughnuts. A healthy lifestyle needs to include both a healthier diet and moderate exercise - it cannot just be the one or the other.

This latest news comes hot on the heels of the 2nd worst air pollution in one of South Africa's Provinces in the World.  It's just not good for people so hopefully, the cause of both issues can be addressed and not just have a band-aid stuck on the symptoms.

See #^

#obesity #health #diet
#^South Africans are the world’s unhealthiest - Zululand Observer


A change to healthy lifestyles would make a vast improvement on our life expectancy

Microsoft's SMS Organizer is the perfect messaging app, and it's now making its way to US, UK and Australia

Date Published: Tue, 20 Aug 2019 07:45:31 +0200

SMS Organizer is designed to cut through the clutter and provide a messaging experience that surfaces useful information at the top. Therefore, the app's main interface is split into four sections: texts, reminders, finance, and offers messages. The reminders feature is one that is particularly useful to me: it parses the information in the texts and creates cards with actionable data. For flights, SMS Organizer will surface the date and time as well as the booking reservation number, and for things like credit card bills, it will show the due date and the total amount due. This feature isn't new — Xiaomi has been doing the same in its stock MIUI messaging app for a few years now, but with SMS Organizer you can use it on any device.

It has a dark theme, cleanup rules, an option to automatically back up to Google Drive, and a reminder feature.

SMS Organizer uses machine learning models to classify SMS messages into personal, promotional and transactional categories. Within the transactional category, the model identifies a class of messages that are actionable through reminders and parses them for important details that are required for triggering and displaying reminders.

"We took user privacy very seriously from the beginning and designed the app around the fundamental premise that SMS is a very private entity for a user. The user should have absolute control around how they manage and backup their SMS. Hence, all the data classification is done on the device and none of the SMS content is ever uploaded to the cloud."

See #^

#SMS #microsoft #messaging
#^Breaking down the Microsoft and Samsung partnership


Microsoft's and Samsung's partnership is a big deal. But it isn't just about mobile; it's about Windows too. Let's break it all down and see what we've got in store for the future.

Subscribe to GadgeteerZA Blog Posts