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Zap's Digital Lighthouse is
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Wed, 09 Nov 2016

2016 Elections in the USA

Hmmmm. At this late time of night (or early time of the morning), media outlets have called the election for Donald Trump.

Apparently, Hilary Clinton has phoned him to concede the election, even though she will not give a speech tonight.

Throughout the primaries and the election, pollsters have underestimated support for Donald Trump. Seems to me like the biggest losers in this election are pollsters and people who try to interpret polls: they just seem to be consistently wrong these days. Actually, this has also been true regarding #Brexit (and the last Canadian election also).

Seems like pundits consistently underestimate the degree to which voters are upset these days.

Listening to Donald Trump's victory speech... and then off to sleep. Tomorrow will be crazy in the markets.

Good night to all.

/misc | Posted at 02:52 | permanent link

Sat, 15 Oct 2016

Installing FreeBSD 11

Very busy time lately, but I'm glad to see that FreeBSD 11.0-RELEASE is now out, so I started upgrading my systems to this latest release this morning. It is quite easy:

/usr/sbin/freebsd-update -r 11.0-RELEASE upgrade
/usr/sbin/freebsd-update install
then reboot
/usr/sbin/freebsd-update install
pkg upgrade

and that's it.

On one of my Soekris boxes (the net6501) that has an external USB disk for backups and general storage, the new kernel seems to try to check the filesystem faster than it used to... this means that it tries to fsck the filesystem before the USB disk has been mounted, and hence I get:

        ufs: /dev/da0s1a (/usbdisk)
Warning! Some of the devices might not be available; retrying
Waiting 30s for the root mount holders: usbus7 usbus3
uhub7: 3 ports with 3 removable, self powered

and then it retries and works fine. The filesystem is tagged as 'late' in fstab, but that doesn't appear to do the trick.

OK, back to PuTTY to complete the upgrade of my various systems.

/FreeBSD | Posted at 08:15 | permanent link

Sun, 31 Jan 2016

Touchpads are annoying.

I've lived through many generations of laptops, from the Osborne 1 through various Toshibas, HPs, Dells, IBMs, Lenovos, and Macbooks to today's Ultrabooks and various tablets.

Of course, using a mouse with a laptop has always been annoying: you're trying to use the laptop on a plane (on one of those ridiculously small tray tablets), and there is no place to use a mouse properly. Various companies have tried various tricks to make the experience a bit easier: tiny mice (Kensington has produced those for years), trackballs, ... but with limited success. The only one that I found I could use proficiently, is the IBM trackpoint.

However, in recent years, probably due to the influence of Apple MacBooks, more and more laptops come with touchpads (or should I say, all laptops come with touchpads?).


I find touchpads really annoying as devices to interact with laptops. It's difficult to reliably do many of the operations that I need to do when using a computer:

  • accurately selecting things on the screen
  • dragging and dropping things
  • doing multiple selections
  • and many more...

I am even annoyed by my Lenovo Yoga laptop at work, even though it has a trackpoint in addition to the touchpad, but I find that even just as a "right and left button" replacement, the touchpad is not working as reliably as a pair of dedicated buttons :-(

I still prefer a trackpoint nib with two buttons over a touchpad, even if some of the gestures on the touchpad are nice (e.g. to zoom on a picture).

However, if I look at the industry, this is clearly a battle that is not worth fighting: this ship has sailed and touchpads are definitely part of the modern laptop configuration these days.

Grin and bear.

/hardware | Posted at 13:18 | permanent link