Dumping Windows and Apple and switching to Linux

My regular readers know about my utter contempt for Microsoft and its terrible Windows operating system. Any company that treats its customers like dirt, as Microsoft routinely does, does not deserve the business of anyone. I realized this reality two decades ago, and successfully switched to Linux back in 2006. I have never regretted it.

Moreover, the increasingly intolerant behavior of big tech companies like Microsoft to free speech increases the need for people to free themselves from them. The willingness of these companies to also treat your privacy and personal data as a plaything for their use, without your permission, is another rational reason to stop depending on them.

Linux accomplishes this, in that its open source software structure is really controlled by no one. There is also no software company using the operating system to gather your data for its own purposes.

In 2016, after seeing a number of my posts noting the advantages of Linux (or anything) over Windows, one of my readers, James Stephens, offered to write a series for Behind the Black describing step-by-step the process by which one gets and installs Linux on either a desktop or laptop computer. Below are the links to this series. I have since used it myself as a guide to convert two used Windows 7 notebooks (purchased for $35 and $80) to my favorite flavor of Linux, both of which I use regularly as my travel computers.

I wish more people would do the same, which is why I am reposting the links to this series again. Though six years have passed, James instructions still apply perfectly, as I can attest as I used this series to convert the second laptop only a year ago. Nonetheless, James has added an addendum to Part 2, which brings the entire series up to date.

I am sure almost everyone has an old computer they don’t use anymore. It will work like new with Linux. Dig it out, follow James’ instructions below and free yourself from Windows. I guarantee you will not be disappointed.

Blender FLIP Fluids Addon

An evening pause: What you are looking at here appears to be a demo video of a software addon that provides users with all types of liquid visuals. And creating realistic flowing water is not easy, as the splashes and waves represent chaotic behavior which is very hard to model.

Hat tip Cotour, who adds, “At some point in the future there will be ‘reality’ and no one will be able to tell the difference.”

United Airlines buys 15 Boom Supersonic airplanes

United Airlines today announced that it has signed a deal with Boom Supersonic to buy fifteen of its supersonic Overture airplanes.

Under the terms of the agreement, United will purchase 15 of Boom’s ‘Overture’ airliners, once Overture meets United’s demanding safety, operating and sustainability requirements, with an option for an additional 35 aircraft. The companies will work together on meeting those requirements before delivery. Once operational, Overture is expected to be the first large commercial aircraft to be net-zero carbon from day one, optimized to run on 100% sustainable aviation fuel (SAF). It is slated to roll out in 2025, fly in 2026 and expected to carry passengers by 2029.

Boom has been developing this supersonic passenger plane since 2016, though little progress has appeared to take place during most of the last five years. This contract appears to be the company’s first real sale. It also appears that it makes United a partner in the plane’s development.

Meanwhile, another company, Aerion, is developing its own supersonic passenger jet, in partnership with Boeing and scheduled for launch in 2023.

We shall have to wait to see which company wins the race to begin commercial flights.

Mechanimations – It’s Worth It

An evening pause: An animation that actually is real and useful, showing the full rebuild of a dirt bike engine.

What struck me is the number of parts and pieces and their complexity. Pause and consider the engineering thought that went into creating this and all such engines.

Hat tip David Eastman.

Bell Telephone: Explaining mobile phone technology, c1946

An evening pause: Hat tip Jim Mallamace, who notes that he watched this video on his modern mobile phone.

What strikes me is how much we take this capability for granted, especially when you watch and see how “compact” the car units were. Yet, in the 1940s when this technology was first being developed the use of telephones themselves was only a few decades old. The very idea of being able to communicate instantly with anyone over long distances was still relatively new. Now it included talking to people at random locations. For the people of that time, this was exciting news harboring a bright future.

Stockholm 1913

An evening pause: The footage is gently colorized but with little else changed. Like previous such pauses showing film footage from the past, it gives us a glimpse into a different world that appears more dignified and civilized.

Hat tip Björn “Local Fluff” Larsson, who notes, “All men wear suits and hats. All ladies are dressed up. All buildings are beautiful. Then socialism happened.”

SpaceX in Starlink negotiations with the Philippines

Capitalism in space: SpaceX and a major internet company based in the Philippines have been in negotiations about offering Starlink to its citizens.

US tech billionaire Elon Musk’s Space Exploration Technologies Corp (SpaceX) is in talks to bring broadband satellite services to the Philippines through a partnership with fibre internet tycoon Dennis Anthony H Uy of Pampanga.

Representatives from SpaceX and Uy’s Converge ICT Solutions Inc met on multiple occasions to discuss a potential venture, a source with direct knowledge of the matter told Philippine Daily Inquirer.

SpaceX apparently can’t just set up business to compete with this company, probably because it has deep ties in the government that can block it. Converge probably wants a cut, along with I suspect a number of Philippine politicians.

No deal has so far been made, but Starlink would be ideal in the more rural locations of the Philippines.

Bell Labs – The Transistor

An evening pause: This 9-minute documentary, made in 1952 by Bell Labs, provides a short and clear history of the transistor as well as its predecessor, the vacuum tube. It also tries to imagine the future that such a new invention might bring. As the youtube page notes,

While The Transistor’s vision of the future seems somewhat quaint in retrospect, it captures a moment in time before the transistor became ubiquitous; a time when Bell Labs wanted the world to know that something important had occurred, something that was about to bring tremendous change to everyone’s daily lives.

Hat tip Jim Mallamace.

New daily record for search engine DuckDuckGo

DuckDuckGo, the search engine that respects the privacy of its users, has set a new record for use with more than a 100 million daily search requests for the first time.

Privacy-focused search engine DuckDuckGo reached a major milestone in its 12-year-old history this week when it recorded on Monday its first-ever day with more than 100 million user search queries.

The achievement comes after a period of sustained growth the company has been seeing for the past two years, and especially since August 2020, when the search engine began seeing more than 2 billion search queries a month on a regular basis. The numbers are small in comparison to Google’s 5 billion daily search queries but it’s a positive sign that users are looking for alternatives.

The numbers are still too small. Why is anyone who reads this still using Google? It is incredibly trivial to switch. More important, you will find that you are getting better information in your searches, as DuckDuckGo does not play favorites nor does it squelch results from some websites because it disagrees with their politics.

And best of all, your privacy will be better protected.

Beals Science – Resurrecting a carbide lamp

An evening pause: Long time cavers are very familiar with the carbide lamp, as it was used routinely until around 1998, when LED lights arrived and finally superseded it.

Until then, the advantage of a carbide light was the quality of the light it produced, a soft bright glow rather than the harsh reflective rings produced by older electric lights.

The disadvantage however was the endless fiddling required to keep them working. For example, near the end of this video when he finally gets the light to work, he turns up the water flow to brighten the light. I guarantee that very soon the light would go out, as he was flooding the carbide. The water drip had to be precisely right. Too slow and not enough gas. Too fast and too much water.

I personally hated carbide lights because of that fiddling, especially because lamps made after 1970 were junk and didn’t work well. Most cavers who used carbide would scour yard sales to find old lights like this one, as older carbide lamps were made well and would work reliably.

Hat tip Jeff Poplin.

Scientists find method to store natural gas as a solid

Scientists at the National University in Singapore have found a way to quickly convert natural gas into a solid that is much safer to store while using far less space.

The end product is much more convenient and safer to store and transport. As a block of ice it’s shrunk in volume by 90 times, and is non-explosive and stable enough to be stored in a regular freezer at -5 °C (23 °F). The new method also apparently requires less toxic additives than usual.

It also takes only 15 minutes to convert. Essentially, the natural gas is chemically contained within a block of ice. The video at the link explains the entire concept nicely.

A new hard aluminum alloy resistant to space radiation?

According to this press release, engineers have developed a new hard aluminum alloy that is also resistant to the high radiation seen in space, which in turn could make this lighter-than-steel metal practical for spacecraft.

Making spacecraft from aluminium is one solution, as aluminium is a light yet strong material. Alloys help aluminium become harder via precipitation strengthening, but the radiation encountered in space can dissolve the hardening precipitates with potentially disastrous and fatal consequences for astronauts.

But the research carried out at MIAMI-2 in partnership with Montanuniversitaet Leoben (MUL) in Austria has discovered that a particular hardening precipitate of a new aluminium alloy – developed by a group of metallurgists led by Professor Stefan Pogatscher (MUL) – does not dissolve when bombarded with particle radiation when compared with existing data on irradiation of conventional aluminium alloys.

If I understand this, traditional aluminum alloys have not been useful for building spacecraft because they cannot withstand the radiation of space. This alloy appears to solve this problem.

I would be interested in hearing what the space engineers in my readership think.

Justin Johnson – I’ve been everywhere

An evening pause: I normally don’t post two suggestions in a row from the same reader, but this particular collapsible (!) guitar contrasts too nicely with Friday’s theorbo. From the youtube webpage:

If the ability to break down and re-assemble wasn’t crazy enough, it actually STAYS IN TUNE when you put it back together, thanks to the air-tight construction techniques and locking tuners!

The song is by Johnny Cash.

Hat tip Jeff Poplin.

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