This is the 64-bit version of Ubuntu. There is little point to running down the entire catalogue. Almost everything works Out of the Box® as we have come to expect from Ubuntu. When it doesn’t is when we have something to say. Further, having something to say is often limited to what little we each tend to mess with, so we only know what we use. I’m not a grand testing guru, but I’m sharing this with those who are doing something similar. Nobody here is pretending this is a proper technology review.
The primary big problem is Alsa. Currently, the hardware detection is unable to recognize every pertinent detail. For the impatient — on most recent Inspirons using ICH9 sound chips, edit
/etc/modprobe.d/alsa-base.conf by adding the following line to the bottom of the file:
options snd-hda-intel model=6stack-dell
Then reboot. It’s that simple.
For those of you seeking clues to working it out with other machines, the solution means you have do some research, then get your hands dirty with modifying the config files by hand. I assure you it’s worth it. The context is realizing a great many recent onboard chipsets, Intel in particular, are configured in so very many different ways, there is no way to know exactly what does the trick. The details are buried on the Alsa website, and can be gleaned from a hundred different bug reports and forum discussions. A good starting place is this page on the Ubuntu Community documentation website. The critical items start under the heading “Manually Specify Module Parameters”:
- Find the codec used by your chipset. My Inspiron reports “Realtek ALC888″.
- Check the listing of possible model names Alsa uses in your distro bundled documentation. For Ubuntu, that turned out to be
/usr/share/doc/alsa-base/driver/HD-Audio-Models.txt.gz, which was easily read by using
zlessfrom the commandline.
- If you cannot identify what’s most plausible for your hardware, start with the “auto” parameter.
- Prepare yourself to keep testing different options until you get something which works properly.
In my case, the primary issue was a small amount of popping in the output, but worst of all, plugging in headphones at the front panel of the tower didn’t cut the main speaker output. Alsa didn’t know which output channel did what until I identified the layout by the model name. Most of the complaints were along the lines of “no headphone jack sense control”. The fix I found does not fix that peculiar problem with the mixer interface, but it did fix the problem automatically.
When testing different distros to find which will work the best, I realize perfection on any particular hardware is unlikely, for the simple reason the developers can’t buy a sample of everything out there. A limited number of glitches, and some do-it-yourself fixes are always acceptable with every OS. Some things are simply too much, or there may be too many little things together. Here is my experience on what I’ve tested so far on this machine:
- CentOS 5 — This would have been my preference. I couldn’t get past the IDE detection, since the installer kept loading the wrong driver first and finding nothing. The IDE driver
ata_piixis unable to read it, and would prevent the AHCI driver from loading. This is a highly debated bug in the RedHat world, and it seems the developers insist the manufacturer is wrong for not including an option in the BIOS for it. They don’t appear to have any interest in fixing it, and it affects Fedora, as well. Nice.
- openSUSE 11.1 and 11.2 — Both were afflicted by numerous issues. Aside from the same failure to understand which model was appropriate for the ALSA driver, the instructions for debugging are missing critical steps not obvious to ordinary users trying to figure it out. Their whole approach is different from the Debian world, so the above advice may not help at all. However, there were still a large number of minor flaws which have come to characterize SUSE these days.
- Debian Lenny — The installer could never find my Realtek RTL8101E ethernet port. Without having the full DVD on hand, I would not have gotten enough installed to work out a fix. (I didn’t get around to testing Squeeze.)
- Ubuntu 9.04 — Everything was pretty good, but I kept getting random I/O freezes. I would be typing away on something important and the system would lock up hard. A full reboot was required, and I always lost my work — that’s unforgivable. Something in the way the X server interacted with the hardware was very wrong.
Update: (16 Jan 2010) After having some trouble with Ubuntu 9.10, I ran openSUSE 11.2 for quite a while. However, it just wasn’t quite right, either. So I decided to give Karmic one more try, but this time I installed from a Live-Run session. Apparently this made some sort of difference in how the hardware was configured, because it is working far better than the first time.
It’s easy to confuse things talking about the US Government, as if it were one single thing. It’s not. The federal bureaucracy is multiple governments under a single umbrella, and occasionally competing. I have long said one of the greatest threats to the average US resident is the CIA. It’s not as if they spend all their time actively ruining our lives individually, but what they really do spend their time doing is a real threat. The CIA, insofar as we can think of it as a single entity, is responsible for a very large portion of what makes it hard to live here in the US.
In particular, the CIA is the number one supplier of illegal drugs in the US, and maybe the whole world. In times past, that could easily be the number one reason for just about anything the CIA was doing in any place at all, here and abroad. Whatever else was suckering us into Vietnam, the reason the CIA was involved was simply to keep the Southeast Asian drug supply line open. It’s probably the number one reason our POWs were left there. Then, when opium lost it’s popularity in favor of cocaine, the CIA stayed busy south of our borders. You may recall the “Dark Alliance” series by Gary Webb in the San Jose Mercury. By whatever means, the CIA killed Webb for daring to expose the truth so very clearly. Nowadays, the number one project for the CIA is supplying heroin again, but this time mostly in Europe, including Russia. Naturally, this is a major reason for our involvement in Afghanistan and the surrounding region.
Did you know our combat assets in Afpack are used to guard poppy fields? Ask a Conservative why they don’t press this issue, and it’s left to Liberals to talk about it. Not that I’m supporting either side in politics, since they are both holding forth illegitimate agendas as measured by the Covenant of Noah.
Commonly abused substances are a serious threat, but we don’t deal with them properly at all. In the West, we simply cannot imagine keeping government out of the picture. There are some folks fully aware of how our drug laws are what keeps this trade by the CIA so profitable. While the CIA and DEA seldom cooperate — the Lockerbie Bombing was the CIA killing DEA agents who had evidence of CIA drug running — they are two halves of the profit equation. That is, making drugs illegal and building a massive federal bureaucracy to enforce those laws is what raises the street price of things like cocaine and heroin. It takes extraordinary efforts to get past all the enforcement. The CIA doesn’t control the entire supply line, but takes advantage of their free pass across the border with anything they want to ship. However much they bring to the market, while seldom threatened until delivered to lower level dealers, is very high profit.
Making the whole thing so clandestine, so criminal and socially unapproved is what makes it so dangerous. Under Noah, if you knew your neighbor (typically a cousin or such) was buying and using crack, you’d keep an eye on him. You might have a hard time justifying direct intervention in the use itself, but you’d be there to make sure that nasty habit doesn’t hurt anyone else. That’s how it should work. You can’t prevent sinners from sinning, but it’s your duty to prevent their sin from splashing all over you and anyone for whom you are responsible. Some sins are inherently dangerous to all, but not this one. If a man is determined to destroy himself, it’s his choice before God. He isn’t your property. So we focus on the results of his dissolute choices, and God holds us accountable for things like cleaning up his messes. That’s the way it is. By having some bogus cultural expectation we can intrude more directly, we have the false justification for making a crime of what is really nothing more than self-abuse, because we reject God’s call to deal with the associated consequences. If his kids starve, God says we feed them. If he beats them, God says we doctor them up and censure him for abuse, but they are not our kids — “thou shalt not covet.” Our cultural malaise is what builds this hideous justification for confiscating all sorts of private property under Satan’s beloved forfeiture laws. It’s all about the money.
So the likes of the CIA grab big wads of illegitimate tax appropriations, then milk whomever they can via drug addictions, and sell arms at outrageous profits for wars they provoke, and who-knows-what-else to justify their existence and perquisites. The DEA scrapes in lots of dough from forfeitures, taking a share of what local police agencies haul in under some of the most egregious abuses. Meanwhile, all that military occupation keeps the contractors busy. And when the CIA wants to keep their hands clean for some obscene reason, there’s always the mercenaries, like Xe (AKA Blackwater), who we now know do a lot of dirty work — assassinating Bhutto, arming the terrorists, producing false-flag bombings to keep warfare alive, etc. And if you find out Xe wants a chunk of land in your neighborhood for their terrorist training camps, God help you if you dare to resist. What they won’t do they can get the CIA or some other federal or private agency to handle. What holds them all together is the money and the federal government umbrella.
He stared into the darkened ceiling.
The concept of “bureaucratic efficiency” had been an oxymoron since the creation of bureaucrats. His request for a separate space to simply sit and think quietly was almost unheard of in that day and time, so the agency disregarded it. Instead, he got a ship like all the others. It was therefore necessary to set the control for sleep mode, darkening the only living space in the ship, while he let his mind wander. Simply closing the eyes didn’t do it. He wasn’t sure why, but it simply worked that way. He would never have considered using the escape pod, as the ship itself was confining enough. Still, it was far better than hitching a ride with a freighter or military transport.
His lack of adventurous spirit was a major factor in his career choice and status. His intellect was unremarkable, but it was sufficient to use the spooler system. His one advantage was what he called “intuition.” By any other name, it was simply the mental trick of leaping across logical steps, even stepping outside the path somewhat. At any rate, the process was not entirely logical, but the results were sufficiently useful to give him an edge. He wasn’t sure he could teach anyone else how to do it, but that was for the neuroscience guys, and he wasn’t one of them.
As with many things, neuroscience had chased a great many false leads before settling into a fairly mature path of progress. As soon as it became possible to make cyborgs by mating computer hardware directly to the neural system, it was performed on a large number of volunteers. Everyone wanted the advantage of improved memory handling and abstract number crunching. But of course, as soon as any hardware was surgically implanted, it was already obsolete. By the time any lab could produce a working prototype, someone else had already discovered a better way to interact with the nervous system.
Then the research chased a rolling upgrade by making the linking hardware modular, but even that became obsolete all too quickly. So they had on the one hand a bunch of test subjects either stuck with unsupported hardware, or undergoing a string of repetitive surgeries. Medical science, for all its advancements, never could find a way to poke artificial holes in people without causing problems of one kind or another. The tissue eventually broke down and refused to heal any more. That, on top of all the times when the process of “welding” man and machine itself went wrong.
Adding wireless technology created a really huge mess, and was still the number one problem some two centuries later. Make the receiver chip too sensitive and people couldn’t easily shut off the mass of background noise from proliferating environmental signals. Automated filtering and range of other attenuations never quite worked. And what any good lab could do with decent intentions, a criminal lab could pervert with evil intent. So the entire human problem with addictions moved to this new wireless receiver neural implant technology, and each improvement only gave the “dope dealers” a new way to addict their victims. It became possible to stream into the mind an entire virtual existence, and the market in pre-recorded fantasy worlds was still the largest economic engine in the galaxy. Connoisseurs could discuss the fine-grained differences between the engines which competed in blending reality with fantasy, so you could be blissfully lost even while normally productive.
It made it also too easy to turn people into the most horrific killing machines. Rather early in the game, some worlds became almost uninhabitable. It helped to confuse things for Dr. Plimick’s research, because of the constant shifting alliances and battlefields, markets, and all the other manifestations of mass human madness. For all it’s good, the cyborg sciences very nearly ended the entire human race more than once. They were currently in a fairly stable and boring cycle, and he greatly preferred that sort of boredom over the alternative.
By the time he was born, Dr. Plimick was in a fairly safe environment. The huge amount of human knowledge which made up the minimum these days required at least some computer assistance, so the spooling system came into use. It was simply a very minimal, very weak wireless receptor which allowed a fairly conservative and routine transfer of actual knowledge into the brain. It did so with a minimum of disturbance to the psyche, and by its very limitations prevented anyone hijacking his mind, though it could hardly help him verify what he was being fed. That was the ancient ways of academia, something which thankfully never died out.
But it was often entirely too objective and factual, and seldom gave meaning to all the mass of data. The very safety of the system for learning also made it essentially lifeless. He would have been the same as anyone else that way, but one day during a localized power outage which hit in mid-stream of a spool, he found his brain went right on as if the data was being fed. Having no actual input, there was something which kept processing — not exactly synthesizing and extrapolating, but pulling sense from some “outside” source which was actually inside. Most importantly, it added a coloration, a value and a sense of demand which mere spooling data didn’t have. He had no words to explain it, so he kept it to himself. Instead, he tested it carefully, and found it worked best when he was away from other people, and in quiet, low-light settings. It didn’t always come to full blown life, but it came most reliably in such an environment.
About the only time he could reasonably do that in the hurry-hurry, high efficiency culture around him was during those times when most people were forced to use the pocket spoolers. One day, he simply didn’t turn it on, but held it in the usual place so no one would notice he was not spooling, but doing something else with his brain time. Eventually, he would go to a spooling booth and simply keep the transmitter just outside the range of his receiver implant. It was this stepping outside, so very carefully, the mainstream of his academic world which gave him the edge among the mass, among whom all were accelerated by spooling to the point only a rare few could distinguish themselves. When others wasted their time with entertainment spooling, he was doing that other thing, which is how he found himself in competitive standing for one of the survey missions.
When he spooled the prospectus listing of what was known or guessed about these “lost” worlds, one jumped out at him. It was the first time he could recall having such a reaction during spooling. Normally, just about everything which wasn’t automated routine physical behavior, or linked to that behavior, was almost smothered by the process of spooling data into his receiver. But that other hidden process seemed to have been waiting in the background, like a trap set for a specific prey, and it sprang on the one, oldest set of data. But its age was not what called up that other process. It was clearly something germane to the way the process worked itself, because nothing he could identify consciously made it all that special. Yet his intuition shouted this was what he had been waiting for, even though he never knew he was waiting for anything at all.
He was hoping that process would activate, giving him some new perspective, during this quiet time in the ship before the alarms notified him it was cycling off the anchor point. He knew it had, but this was the first time he sensed it without any obvious signs in his conscious mind.
Novell has taken the safe path like RHEL, in that they don’t include any controversial codecs and such with the distribution. However, unlike RHEL, Novell actually cripples their bundled media players, so that you have to rebuild them, get someone else to do it, or use something else. For most releases up to 11.1, the openSUSE community provides a one-click upgrade to fix all that. You can click here for the KDE desktop and it should immediately try to install.
This has not yet been set up for 11.2, in part because the Packman part of the deal is not yet ready. But there is a repository for it, and it’s part way there. I tracked down the manual route which does the same thing as the one-click. If you don’t want to do Zypper from the commandline, you can, you just have to enable it through YaST: YaST > Software > Software Repositories. Click the “add” button at the lower left-hand corner and select the Community Repositories button. From the list, select Packman and Videolan and that should cover it. Then use YaST to install the packages listed in the instructions there, but not all of them.
There is one thing I don’t understand: Why does the Packman Team insist on forcing 32-bit on a 64-bit system? I’ve never gotten an answer to that. It seems almost obscene, and I don’t know of any other distros or third party supports which do that. It’s not necessary, nor even the best way any more. So don’t install the flash-player and the w32codecs. Instead, go get the codecs package from Mplayer HQ directly, open the package and copy the resulting files to
/usr/lib64/codecs and it should work just fine. You can get the 64-bit Flashplayer directly from Adobe.com. Once you open that package, it’s just a single file you should copy into
Further, as a fan of Opera’s browser suite, let me warn you the version you get from SUSE is broken, trying to add some sort of Qt4 support. Just install Qt3 and use the browser you get directly from Opera; they have one marked for openSUSE 11.2 64-bit. I admit the fonts are ugly on mine, but it’s functional. Flash didn’t work at first, lacking any sound. After poking around, I found the mixer by default had the PCM slider all the way down. After pushing it up to about 75% I got good sound from the Flashplayer. I note in passing the installer didn’t turn on the Pulse Audio, and I didn’t bother trying to change that.
So maybe — just maybe — we will have a SUSE release good enough to keep. It’s been awhile; the last one I kept as long as possible was 8.2.
Because this machine is so new, I realize it will take awhile for my favorite Linux distro to catch up (CentOS). So I use what does work, and it gives me a chance to review other stuff I might not normally touch.
I just finished a couple of weeks with Ubuntu 9.04. It works okay, and there are some nifty tricks, and all. It did install pretty nicely. Still, at times I would get an unexplained X-server lockup. I thought it was caused by Opera, but when I quit using Opera altogether, I still got the freeze. I’d be typing and suddenly the whole thing would freeze up totally — no keyboard, no mouse, nothing. I’d have to do a hard reboot because there was no other access to the system. I can’t have that sort of thing happen just because I’m typing. Since it didn’t happen under other distros, I concluded it’s something in the way Ubuntu implements the drivers and such.
So right now I’m testing openSUSE 11.2-RC1. It’s a good bit better than 11.1, but right now the repos are in flux, so updates and just finding extra packages is a pain. It’s tolerable, but things could be better. I’m waiting for stuff to finalize in two weeks, and I’ll probably keep it. So long as there aren’t any major show-stoppers like that X-server freeze business.
Frankly, I don’t like jumping around from distro to distro. I’m not a hobbyist. I just want to get my work done.
So we know Obama declared a national emergency over the alleged threat from the Swine Flu. If you review all the various laws and declarations which are linked to this, you could justly say we are one phone call from national martial law. You might reasonably expect any emergency decisions and actions would have to be linked to the perceived danger from the H1N1 virus, and it seems the official mouthpieces are saying just that. Tell that to the hundreds of people against whom the PATRIOT Act was employed, whose cases had nothing at all to do with terrorism. In other words, given the track record of federal officials, if the doorway is there, however improbable the linkage, somebody will try to use it. That there are literally hundreds of officials in Washington DC eager to institute full blown federal martial law and the attendant crack down on the US population is too easy to prove.
That there are plenty of cooler heads who are unwilling to go out and take a bullet for this zeal is the reason it hasn’t been tried. All it takes is something so horrific the enforcers will think it worth the risk, or the likelihood of taking a bullet is reduced considerably. Efforts are under way on both fronts. But we aren’t there, yet. And we may not get there. Just because some really powerful and influential folks really want it, that’s no reason to assume they’ll succeed. There are too many factors and folks in play. There are overlapping, competing, contradictory and altogether different agendas all at work. True zealots seldom get everything they want. If nothing else, the sheer incompetence of those they command would make almost everything like that dubious. For example, that fancy expensive anti-terrorist exercise in California this past few days, when heavily armed SWAT groups and such reacted to faux terrorists. The latter were played by folks who were little more than paintballers, for goodness sakes. And the cops lost miserably almost every time. Folks truly talented at that stuff aren’t willing to become LEOs, so government is left with picking a little lower in the barrel.
Don’t get me wrong: We are in for some very rough times. I seriously doubt the dollar will hold up much longer. Of course, the bankers may have another trick or two up their sleeves, but the only question is not whether, but when. Will that end our economic activity altogether? No. Too many folks are already prepared to operate without the dollar. Will the stock market collapse? Sure, but no one knows how far or for how long. Let’s face it, the stock indexes are nothing more than a barometer of investors’ perceptions; it has nothing to do with the actual value of anything. Will there be social chaos? There is already, but it’s not making the news, and it’s not in full flower. It most certainly won’t be everywhere at once, and pretty much never in quite a few parts of the US.
I note the generals who make the most noise in the military are not the ones who get things done. So the request for some half-million here as security on US soil? Won’t happen. The five to ten full divisions requested for Afghanistan? Where are they gonna come from? We don’t have them. Recruiting is good, and other jobs are scarce, but they have to be trained, clothed, equipped (however poorly) and transported. Will we go to war with Iran? Not with enough to do any good. Israel might, but they are so far off the path of reality, nothing they do should surprise us. When we run out of money, so will they. Don’t think for a moment there aren’t real commanders with stars on their bars who aren’t keeping an eye on the mutiny option. That is, we should hardly be surprised if there is some kind of coup de etat against idiotic politicians from a military which says they are tired of being ordered to chase insanity.
The various players on the global stage are not yet united enough to do all that much, either. Say what you want about Rothschilds, Bilderbergers, Freemasons, or whatever. They are very intelligent, very powerful, and evil as can be, but they aren’t all powerful demigods. Their proxies, servants and agents aren’t infallible, and there are still some things money and fear can’t buy. I’m quite sure those folks would like for you to fear them, but they haven’t entirely succeeded in their grand plans so far, and they have been caught trying repeatedly. Still, there are some really bad things coming which will certainly be the work of globalists. They will hurt us, but the means to fully take control just aren’t there.
But things are really going to get bad, and the world collectively will stumble from one mess to another. Some where down the road, the US will cease to be a significant military threat to the rest of the world, and other nations will vie for our spot at the top. They’re doing it already. And we are still slumping down, altogether likely to break up into several regional states, a few independent states, and some other divisions you’d never expect. Our time is past, and we squandered it badly. Most of the world hates us, and justly so.
Just another big mess in the story of human passage on this fallen world.
In the ancient literature, they called it “hyperspace.” Lacking the conceptual tools for discussing the means for spatial displacement which didn’t require actually crossing the space, they came up with a word which missed the point, but was still popularly used. The technical explanations were not his specialty, but he was aware enough to be able to say the something about the process of cutting across vast physical distances between star systems in modern travel. The mathematics made it seem like grabbing hold of some anchor point and sliding space around until you had brought your destination to you. The process of grabbing that anchor point and moving space took time, and they referred to as stepping into hyperspace.
Without that means of spatial displacement, there would be no particular need for him to travel. That is, there would really be no place for him to go. Humanity had long ago stumbled upon that technology, and immediately sent probes to places they had only dreamed. At first, they had to send them out, then bring them back. Information traveled at the speed of light, and this business of stepping aside from space was immeasurably quicker for unmanned machines. Send enough probes into enough distant places, and when they came back, they would have data which hinted at worlds which, as statistical probabilities had long told them, were almost like Earth. Given the vast number of stars, it was inevitable they found quite a few. It was human nature to want to explore these Terran planets first hand, with hopes of colonizing.
It took some time before anyone realized how to pass humans through that experience. First, the machines had to scale down the process of hooking up to those imaginary anchor points. All the previous speculation couldn’t guess what it did to the mind of humans, and even now they still weren’t exactly sure. The people came back from the initial attempts in all manner of different psychoses. Some were foetal, some permanently unintelligible with irregular noises and gestures which no computer could diagram into consistent patterns, some were afraid of everything, and the worst were those unafraid of anything. The range was limited only by the limited number of failed attempts. Eventually the scientists simply slowed the process until some invisible threshold was crossed, and folks were able to adjust.
Then the search and classification began in earnest, followed quickly by colonization. And again followed quickly by the wars. For all their brilliance, humans could not tame that instinct, could not breed it out, reason it out, technology it out — it was a permanent feature. Oddly, it was the technological advances of war which made colonization easier. They found a way to pass some weapon strikes across the anchoring process without leaving it. With weapons came the ability to transmit data, since what’s the point of striking if you can’t aim the weapon? They discovered it meant adding another variable to the mathematical algorithms, because an anchor point wasn’t actually in any one place. As long as the anchor point was validly constructed, so to speak, something could be released from it anywhere in space. It took some doing to figure out a way to calibrate the multiple points of exit, and correlate them with known places for targeting, then receive the feedback, but it all made colonization all that much easier and efficient, since any anchor point could examine any place.
Eventually someone with power or influence got sick of the fighting and convinced others to feel the same way. Then there were truces and pieces of peace, but was never really any great peace without first an exhausting war across most of human space. This last war was particularly widespread, and many colonies lost contact with each other. Centralizing control would wax and wane with the winds of fashion, but centralized contact seemed always fundamentally essential. So after massive galaxy-wide wars like the last one, the academics who had been waiting for things to calm down would send out their researchers to survey what had changed among the known human systems. When, as was this case, they stumbled across a colony long forgotten, they were all the more eager.
Dr. Plimick was just such an eager researcher. His specialty was currently referred to as Interstellar Anthropology. Only half-way through his expected life span, he was already a member of several academic boards and associations, and on staff with three different governing entities. They had recently gotten in contact with a world which seemed to have missed the last three wars, which meant even Plimick’s grandfather was not alive when this one went out of contact. So it was, Dr. Plimick was watching the few instruments he could understand on the ship’s command console, indicating the predicted cyclical timing of anchoring, swapping space around, then releasing the anchor in hailing distance from the recent find. His education and experience indicated caution was essential in their approach to this “lost world.”
This happens often enough it seems to be trend. I’m not the only one who experiences this. I found complaints on forums at Ubuntu and other Linux distros, as well as the Opera forums. It appears on all sorts of hardware, and the only common thread so far is Linux 64-bit.
When running 64-bit Linux, Opera can freeze. Not just the application, but it locks up the X-server with it. This happened with older versions of Opera on Linux 64, both with me and others. Apparently this is something fairly random. For some, it’s so frequent, Opera becomes unusable. Others, like myself, can’t seem to find a pattern. Yet, it’s persistent, more with with 64-bit than 32-bit. Something about the way Opera addresses the X-server is different than most other apps which have ever troubled me. Suggestions offered don’t help.
In my case, this is a show-stopper. I can’t afford to have this happen. It raises the risk of having a lock-up when I am in the midst of writing something, and I have already lost material a couple of times. Given this is something going back to my experience with early Opera 9.0 releases, I suspect there is something Opera does which is not quite kosher with X and 64-bit. Until I learn something the Opera folks have done to address this, I’ll be avoiding Opera in the future.
Sure as the world, some smart aleck reading this will insist there is no reason to use 64-bit for anything except databases and heavy graphics rendering. My response is something I’ve read in a couple of places from people who know a lot more than I do: The reason 64-bit seems helpful only in those two uses is because far, far too many developers don’t yet think in 64-bit terms. Given it’s been around so very long already, and is now the standard, and we aren’t all that far from 128-bit hardware, it’s about time folks took this more seriously. I choose to run 64-bit, exposing problems on desktop apps (let’s talk about Motif, for example) until developers start getting used to it. I strongly believe it hasn’t been exploited fully.
God’s justice assumes you’ll do your best to stay out of other peoples’ way, but that their way won’t mean harming you. It’s a never-ending tension and renegotiation. The biggest source of conflict is unrealistic expectations, particularly regarding what God considers just, and what is possible.
Perception of some things is buried under tons of idiocy. For example, the very nature of the Internet is poorly understood by many. They expect it to be like any broadcast medium, but more convenient because you get to choose the content and timing. While it does do that, it’s much more, and it’s the “much more” which makes expectations unrealistic. Most people have been conditioned to operate as if their perception of the world is the most obvious one of all. A different expectation is not just different, but somehow flawed by virtue of being different.
There are a lot of folks on the Net who do understand something of it’s true nature. While they chafe at restrictions arising from that nature, they at least understand it and what it takes to get around those limits. The Internet is wires and fiber lines running between computers. Because it costs money to put that hardware out there, somebody has to invest up front to get that electronic pathway installed.
It means crossing a lot of land owned by other entities, so legal access has to be negotiated under the assumption it’s a necessity. It becomes a necessity not when the folks who have to surrender access want the Internet, but under a much broader notion that, if enough people on either side really need it badly enough, the guy in the middle has to yield. If we didn’t have that notion, there would be a lot fewer roads, pipelines, wire networks, etc. Even paper letters in envelopes are included, because someone has to carry those things across someone else’s territory. All of those things are a form of “communication” in the broadest meaning of the word. Whether the folks in the middle like or not, human life is unnecessarily burdened if public access across their domain is not allowed, so it became a matter of law and government. The bottom line is if you don’t cooperate, people with guns will come and make your life miserable. There is a general assumption your right to your property is not quite absolute when that property is adjoined to others.
But the folks who are granted access can’t just do what they want, either. If the government does them a special favor, the government has to make sure they don’t go overboard. All the more so when the government presumes to operate somewhat according to the will of the people, or at least in their best interests. Somebody with no interest, or at least limited interest, has to referee between the two. The problem comes when that third party — government — is on the take from one of the other two. Getting your side of the negotiations heard becomes a matter of money, which can be a substitute for force, because it can hire the guns. Governments are made up of people, too, and they have personal interests. Welcome to the real world. So we discuss and debate what is fair and just, and sometimes money isn’t the only thing that matters to governments, since government people have been slaughtered in the past for going too far. We can make laws to protect access in the public interest, but you really can’t prevent someone destroying a means of communication crossing their land. It’s too easy to make it look like someone else did it, since there are plenty of folks willing to do it for their own reasons.
It’s a big mess, but so far things have fallen just above the minimum tolerable. All these things requiring access are classed as a “public utility.” It has to be regulated because, let’s face it, having free competition on access is not possible. A farmer can be forced to let a two-lane road cross his pasture, but he can’t be forced to let five competing companies each build their own road. And the same applies to pipes, wires, etc. So we have this commonly accepted notion you put in enough means of communication to anticipate future need for some time to come, and try not to repeat the process too often. That means making it low maintenance, which is more expensive, but probably worth it for everyone involved. Sometimes folks on the other end want it bad enough they’ll tax themselves to pay for it, because the folks who are best able to put the stuff in or on the ground may need a little convincing. By now, it’s become the norm, so that the Internet is really a public-private partnership of sorts.
Somewhere in the mix of all this, somebody has to broker access to the Internet wires. They put big expensive computers at the end of those wires, and parcel out the signal to lots of ordinary folks. You would hardly believe how many people think having a computer with a web browser entitles them to access that privately controlled Internet. Not only do they not want to pay for that access, they aren’t even fully aware of the physical necessity of plugging a wire into the back of their computer. If we add in a discussion of wireless, it changes things only a little. You can’t have two competing signals on the same frequency in the same area, but the air is hard to “own,” so the government manages the transmission spectrum on behalf of the governed. So access is still limited and somebody has to pay for the power to push those electrons either through the wires or through the air. At some point, you’d have to expect the resources for doing this to run into limits. As more and more powerful computers are sold more cheaply, and old ones keep working so folks can buy them used, more people want access. Worse, more and more of those wanting access have an increasingly poor understanding how it works and what they should expect.
As we debate some of the trouble naturally arising from disputes over limited supplies of what the Internet provides, it’s too easy to forget what happened just a few years ago. The unhappy customers today aren’t the same ones from yesterday, and the character of the average user has shifted to a lower common denominator. No one should be surprised when their demands are increasingly unreasonable. The nature of the Net makes it more and more difficult to give them what they want. The folks who use the Net to cater to those demands want fatter pipes, as do the new class of users. The folks running the Net can’t do it on current terms, with the current hardware. Part of what we have forgotten are issues germane to the debate for other reasons.
It’s gotten pretty tangled and messy. Nobody has clean hands here. Government people have been taking bribes from different sides at different times, though usually in forms which aren’t called “bribes” under the complex laws. The folks who provide the hardware and put it in or on the ground were paid a huge amount of tax money to do more of it as a public benefit, but now they don’t want to offer full access to it. There are vast stretches of unused cable in the ground, and the owners of the cables flatly refuse customer demands, and very few people are even aware of this. They want huge profits, too. The folks who are providing the stuff on the Net, which users demand, are aware of this, but if they have said anything, nobody has reported it. That’s because the folks who do the reporting are usually paid by the folks who own the wires in the ground. Okay, it’s more complicated than that, but it works out about the same. Then there are the big companies who have their market share in the computer hardware used by ordinary folks, and the market share of the software which runs on it, and the operating systems, too. Everyone seems to have a slice of the pie, and wants more, and fights for it — mostly by lying about what they can or can’t do, how much it costs, or simply preventing anyone from a fully informed picture of the debate.
Right now, government seems inclined to do what is in its own interest, which is opening new paths to control. That hasn’t always been totally bad, but it seldom works out as well as we hope. It may still be better than letting things run their own course. On the one hand, the Net itself is a powerful need of government, but broad access is their greatest potential enemy. More people know more things about the secret machinations of folks in government because of broad Internet access, and openness is not what government people like. The people who own the wires would also like to control what goes over them, because there’s big profits in content right now. The folks who simply use the Net to transmit their content are threatened, and want the wire owners kept out of that business. Or, they want at least a regulated “level playing field” for competition. So far, those providers are far more popular with ordinary users. Regular users are tired of being told what they should want.
That final group of regular users is a very mixed bag, indeed. Those of us who understand best aren’t in a good position to be heard. I’m not alone in wishing there was a totally separate consumer-oriented “Internet 2.0″ for all this future nonsense. It’s not just old folks who pine for the Good Ole Days, but folks who use the Net as it was designed, who understand that design (to varying degrees, yes, but you have to draw your circles somewhere). I can’t estimate what proportion we are, but we are substantial. The Net is our work, or the best — even necessary — tool for our work. It’s not entirely a matter of how we’ll put food on the table and pay our ISP bill. There is no viable replacement, so much so many of us are preparing ways to keep it going through other means (like unregulated wireless meshes). What will all this do to us? Right now, most of us support Net Neutrality because we have had too much of the Big Network access providers pretending they are unaccountable. We know for a fact they are able to provide what we need, and can make a profit at it. We know for a fact they are growing more touchy about quarterly investor reports, and ignoring the long term opportunities, which makes them utterly unresponsive — even downright nasty and hateful — to serious Net users.
Finally, it was the government which gave us the Internet in the first place. Yeah, you forgot that, too. A collection of government owned science labs, government funded universities, and government funded programs at private institutions were the first Internet. Nobody else could afford it. Then, when some folks found ways to make money from it, the first corporate networks got involved. Now those corporate networks dominate, and they’ve been partially regulated for a long time. As always, regulation grows when people find new ways to break the old rules. Sometimes the rules are a good idea, and quite often they are not. To think this can somehow morph into something entirely corporate is fantasy. The wires have to go somewhere, and the airwaves are limited, too. It’s a give and take thing, and doctrinaire pontificating from any particular side is propaganda. There are no really good answers, and what we get won’t be pretty.
I’m fully aware of how government bureaucracy works, having been a bureaucrat myself. I’ve also had first hand experience with corporate bureaucracy. But what I can’t forget is how ugly the Big Telcos and network providers can be, how completely unreasonable and unaccountable they are after they have taken your money. Their lies have caused me more pain than government lies. I’ll take my chances; I’m voting for the FCC to enforce Net Neutrality.