Igor Bubelov

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October 2020

Notes ยท Nov 1, 2020

Table of Contents

Ubuntu 20.10 and Raspberry Pi 4

As you may have noticed, I’m very excited about Raspberry Pi 4. Many people consider it a toy that can’t do anything serious but this “toy” is the most stable and reliable computer in my house. How so?

I have two MacBooks and they are barely working pieces of garbage. I have a Dell XPS 13 laptop running Ununtu and I have many hardware and software issues with it too. All of that fancy hardware is considered “high-end” and “quality stuff”. Maybe it’s just laptops? Well, I also have a beefy desktop PC with all of the bells and whistles. It runs Windows and it can’t even keep a reliable WiFi connection. My PlayStation 4 PRO fails to open its store 4 times out of 5 so I’m constantly denied the privilege to buy their overpriced bug-ridden games.

All that expensive hardware with up to date software fails miserably at the most basic tasks and use cases. That’s why Raspberry Pi feels like a breath of fresh air. It’s simple, it’s transparent and it’s reliable. It “just works” and it’s also quite cheap which makes it hard to regret such a purchase even if you won’t find any use for it.

Raspberry Pi 4 is my favorite piece of hardware but it didn’t get enough love from the operating systems for a long time. Well, times are changing and Raspberry Pi hardware have got an official support from the Ubuntu developers. Running the latest Ubuntu Desktop and Ubuntu Server is as easy as writing its official image on a USB stick and plugging it into your Raspberry Pi.

That’s a big deal, really. Try finding a desktop or a laptop with guaranteed Linux support. Most of the retail hardware supports Windows, but it’s only the current version of Windows of course. No one is promising that you’ll be able to use anything else on such hardware. Same thing happens with the Android smartphones. The manufacturers don’t care about the hardware they already sold because they’re too busy pushing the new devices as quickly as possible.

Raspberry Pi 2 was released in 2015 but you can still use the latest Ubuntu with it. I’m not even talking about a theoretical possibility, this thing will work and it will work well. How can we be so sure? Well, Ubuntu had tasked a few of their internal teams to make sure all of the Raspberry Pi models announced since 2015 work flawlessly with this distribution.

Ubuntu Desktop tends to be more demanding, thanks to GNOME shell. That means it only works with Raspberry Pi 4 and it requires four or more gigs of RAM. That’s annoying and it says a lot about the inability of programmers to utilize the underlying hardware in an efficient way. That said, Ubuntu folks had confirmed that they’re trying to optimize GNOME shell for Raspberry Pi so we might see some improvements here in the near future.

The last thing I want to mention is the long term implications of this new collaboration between Canonical and Raspberry Pi Foundation. The fact that they’re in sync gives us hope that we’ll get a timely support for all of the future Raspberry Pi hardware. That makes Raspberry Pi and Ubuntu a perfect match for anyone who wants to have a cheap and reliable computer that “just works”.

U.S. Justice Department Sues Google

https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/justice-department-sues-monopolist-google-violating-antitrust-laws

Capitalism is a beautiful thing but its a tool and every tool has its purpose. We use this tool to better our lives and it works most of the times. Countries that have free markets are wealthier, healthier and happier than their more restrictive and authoritarian peers.

Google was a force for good once but not anymore. It stopped contributing to our well-being and now it just breaks the rules to satisfy its hunger for ever increasing profits. We need to take down that beast and I’m glad U.S. Justice Department realizes that.

Surprisingly, some people I know still support Google on the grounds that suing it would somehow damage the market and so its anti-capitalist. I believe it’s not the case. As Milton Friedman wisely noted, people find it hard to separate pro-business and pro-market actions. Trillion dollar corporations don’t need our support, they have enough money to defend themselves fairly. Not supporting a dirty business isn’t anti-market. I’m still surprised people confuse those things.

Firefox Sucks!

It’s been an interesting year for Firefox. They fired a lot of staff while rising the CEO compensation and now they’re barking at U.S. Justice Department to satisfy their true master: Google. Not cool, Firefox, not cool.

https://blog.mozilla.org/blog/2020/10/20/mozilla-reaction-to-u-s-v-google/

https://drewdevault.com/2020/10/22/Firefox-the-embarassment-of-FOSS.html

Uber Pressures its Workers

Another case of a big corporation doing nasty things and manipulating numbers to satisfy their greed. Asking workers about their loyalty inside the closed source app that is able to collect that data and punish disloyal employees, what might go wrong? Looks like a pretty normal thing to do, absolutely no reasons to think that those answers were given under pressure.

https://news.bloomberglaw.com/daily-labor-report/uber-drivers-sue-company-over-pressure-to-support-prop-22

The Fall of Silicon Valley

https://www.robrhinehart.com/the-fall-of-silicon-valley/

It’s kind of a rant but I liked it. The funny thing is: most of the new products I use aren’t from Silicon Valley. It used to be a default location for cutting-edge technology but it’s not any more. No doubt, it’s still where most of the money is made (and paid) but money disconnecting from value isn’t a good sign in the long run.

Trezor Suite

https://suite.trezor.io/

Good news from Trezor Bitcoin wallet. I taught a few people on how to use Trezor and one of the hardest parts to explain is finding the wallet web interface. People tend to type “trezor” in a search box and click on the first link in their search results. That’s not a good idea since this search result could lead to a fake website and trick them into sending their bitcoins to criminals.

Trezor Suite is a desktop app so there is no browser to open. This makes the whole process of managing bitcoins safer and easier which not only benefits the existing users but also makes Bitcoin more approachable for a wider audience. SatoshiLabs is a great ethical company that creates wonderful hardware and software. Quite a rare bird nowadays.

Game: Fallout 4

I pre-ordered Fallout 4 and I finished it for the first time several days after its initial release. It’s a great game, in general and it’s what you expect form a Fallout game made by Bethesda, with all of the good and bad parts.

There is something extremely appealing in this post-apocalyptic world. I spent a lot of time as a child exploring the remains of Soviet Empire and I still like to explore abandoned collective farms and industrial buildings when I’m visiting Russia. It looks so distant, like the artifacts from another world. Fallout games feel similar, it lets you explore the ruing of something more complex and mysterious. Some another world that you know very little about.

Illustration

This time, I’ve decided to try the so called “survival mode”. That adds a few interesting twists in the gameplay. It simulates hunger and thirst and you can even get sick for various reasons. You can cave the game only if you’re nearby bed and yeah, you need to sleep too. If it’s not challenging enough, the damage from your enemies is much higher and a couple of bullets or a single Molotov cocktail is enough to kill you.

Illustration

If the survival mode isn’t challenging enough: Bethesda is always ready to add some real challenges. The thing is, Bethesda games are full of bugs and they crash a lot. This is more or less tolerable when you have an auto save in a normal mode but it’s extremely frustrating in survival mode. Hard to blame Bethesda, they only had five years to fix this game.

Ubuntu   Raspberry Pi   Google   Firefox   Uber   Trezor   Games

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