2017-07-15

FCUK: fruity computer user knowledge (Raspberry Pi meanderings)

Setting up a Raspberry Pi on my parents' new fibre connection was a project for this morning. It was purchased online from PiShop in the Vaal at about half the price of the previous package that I had ordered for a collaborator from TakeAlot. First, the delivery was two days later than expected but everything was in the package and the case is particularly nice. However, I spent more than an hour discovering and confirming that the SD card that I had ordered in the package, contained neither the operating system nor, indeed, appeared to work at all. One of the reasons this took so long was that I do not have an appropriate SD card reader etc. After this, however, I drove to the shops and got a new SD card for R89, downloaded piCore Linux and installed the image on the card.

piCore booted up super quickly and is easy to access in a "headless" environment. Actually, it is a beautiful, small (less than 40MB) operating system that really got me going very quickly and is working hard as I write this. The lesson learned is to never order the SD card with the package...

Hands-on with piCore 7.0: Tiny Core Linux for the Raspberry Pi

2017-03-01

Where not to learn about blockchain

I have been looking at writing a short introduction to blockchain (for managers and investors) and in looking at what other people have done, I have come across some really inadequate examples. Even Wikipedia (in English) does not clearly distinguish between the blockchain and applications such as cryptocurrencies. I have also looked at the Afrikaans and Dutch entries in Wikipedia but I think the German one says it best, in the first sentence.
"Unter einer Blockchain (auch Block Chain, englisch für Blockkette) wird eine Datenbank verstanden, deren Integrität (Sicherung gegen nachträgliche Manipulation) durch Speicherung des Hashwertes des vorangehenden Datensatzes im jeweils nachfolgenden gesichert ist."
This is simple and accurate! The two items below are, in my view, examples of unnecessarily confusing attempts to explain.

What is Blockchain – Explained in simple English https://mybroadband.co.za/news/internet/200218-what-is-blockchain-explained-in-simple-english.html

Chain introductory video – https://chain.com

2017-01-17

Electronic Soleau envelope sees the light

For about 100 years now, the French Patent & Trademark Office (INPI) has been offering the Soleau envelope service that allows one to deposit two copies of a document with the Office, individually sealed in envelopes that are stamped and perforated by INPI. One envelope is then returned to the deponent. The Office keeps their copy for five years, during which the deponent can request its return by mail and the idea of course is that this can prove the age of a document because the two envelopes can be opened, for example, in a court. Deposition itself confirms no rights, however. It simply provides a cheap way to prove authorship or prior art etc. and the current price of the service, for up to seven A4 pages, is €15.

There is now an electronic version for which INPI provides an electronic fingerprint (hash) and stores the original file (in the owner's account). This is better described at the French-language link below. Casual inspection did not reveal a public proof checking facility, something that is in fact provided by the company MaPreuve, for example. MaPreuve requires a Java application, which none of the browsers on this computer wanted to load, but this would be a really useful service. Storing the original document electronically, in my view, detracts from the value of the INPI service and I would have been happier if they had just stored the electronic fingerprint.

Set up of electronic Soleau Envelope – https://www.ipside.com/content/set-electronic-soleau-envelope
e-Soleau – https://www.inpi.fr/fr/services-et-prestations/e-soleau
MaPreuve Proof verification service – https://www.mapreuve.com/en/verifier-une-preuve.php

2016-12-30

OCRed Kindle edition of Pinball Games

I just finished reading (on the beach) Pinball Games by George Eber, a book recommended (I think) by a year-end edition of Forbes magazine, dealing with the War and subsequent Russian occupation of Hungary. It was very informative and although it covers a sombre period, very amusing and sweet in places. Nevertheless, there were some very problems with the edition.

  1. Obvious OCR errors like "carne" instead of "came". This is not really acceptable in an e-book edition selling for more than $10 (US).
  2. Inconsistent and incorrect use of Hungarian diacritical signs with some place names having all, some only some and some none ("Mosonmagyarovar") of the correct accents. It is possible that this was the case in the printed edition as well.
  3. Inconsistent use of translations, especially of place and personal names and honorifics (sometimes "néni" without explanation and sometimes "aunt" and so on) which were probably inconsistent in the original manuscript and should have been fixed by the original editor.
The book was actually rather moving and one has to admire the fortitude of the author and other characters. It was also a beautiful insight into the lives of the bourgeoisie of pre-War Budapest and contained many interesting vignettes of economic life during the difficult years. Nevertheless, I think that the traditional publishing industry needs to produce a much higher-quality product if it wants to distinguish itself from new media but perhaps they have already given up...