Jun 112024

Given the amount of noise and flames that have arisen over this debate, it seems kind of unnecessary to describe the debate, but might as well. If you were a woman, what would you rather encounter whilst lost in the woods? A man or a bear?

If you ignore all the emotions involved and think about it logically with statistics, you may well come down on the side of picking a man.

There’s a study “out there” which shows that for every 1,000 women, “only” 4.7 will be attacked (and it’s 9.5 for men) – see https://bjs.ojp.gov/content/pub/pdf/vvcs9310.pdf. There is plenty of evidence that women are far more likely to be attacked by a man they know rather than a stranger – See :-

  1. https://rapecrisis.org.uk/get-informed/statistics-sexual-violence/. 1 in 7 rapes against women are carried out by a stranger (it’s stated as 6 in 7 rapes are carried out by someone a woman knows).
  2. https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/crimeandjustice/articles/homicideinenglandandwales/yearendingmarch2023. Of murdered women, just 6% were murdered by strangers (as opposed to nearly 20% for male victims).

We are very poor at judging risk – we (women and older men – which I’m rapidly becoming) tend to stay in at night not because we’re likely to be attacked but because we fear being attacked. And fear doesn’t respect logic.

So women widely choosing the bear shows :-

  1. On average women are no better at judging risk than men. Well that’s a no-brainer – people are still people.
  2. Women fear strange men. It’s irrelevant if statistically they’re safer walking around late at night than sat in their own home, they still fear men.
  3. To a greater or lesser extent (and perhaps unintentionally), they may be picking the bear to make the point about men doing something about violence against women.

It’s a great way of making that last point; perhaps even better for being statistically the wrong choice. We should be doing more to stop violence against women.

But I would go on to say we shouldn’t stop there; we should be doing more to stop violence against all people. And indeed any sentient creatures.

Who Are You Looking At?
Jun 092024

So on Friday my workstation blew up … which goes some way to explaining why this server has been down for much of the weekend (it’s a container on my workstation). The operating system boot drive magically went read-only – which as some of us know is a clear indication that an SSD is on its last legs. Or a few steps beyond.

So I re-installed on a new drive, and for various reasons I chose Ubuntu Server again. An upgrade which made things a bit more interesting.

Now whilst I know that most servers are installed in ways other than interactively, but the interactive experience is bloody awful.

For a start, if the text console is a ridiculous large size – perhaps $COLUMNS is greater than 160, then change the bloody console font. It may be a rare case that someone is installing Ubuntu server on a screen where the resolution is so high, but it can (and in my case does) make the text far too small to read.

And secondly, do something about the logical volume manager creation; I wanted to create a logical volume with a name other than “ubuntu-vg” (the old drive was still readable and creating two VGs with the same name struck me as a dumb idea). The default method didn’t seem to offer a way to rename the VG; the custom method kept giving me an installation error.

The later could possibly be my mistake – I was reduced to using a magnifying glass.

And yes everything is working now.

But sort out that installer!

In The Crack
May 262024

Way back when the Tories got into power (2010), they had a bit of a cheer-a-thon when austerity measures were announced. I said at the time that even if austerity was necessary (and it probably wasn’t), it wasn’t the sort of thing to cheer about.

We’ve since seen the effect of their austerity fetish taking effect on our public services – NHS waiting lists grown out of all proportion, trouble filling public-sector vacancies, pot-holes in the roads, libraries closed left, right, and centre.

Even if it were necessary, the initial cheering tells us everything we need to know about Tories. They don’t give a damn about most of us – they would rather cut taxes for their rich pals.

So remember when you vote – the Tories aren’t on your side.

A long road to the gatehouse
Dover Castle Gateway
May 252024

Voting doesn’t change much of anything, so why bother? Particularly with our present voting system (FPTP) which tends to favour establishment parties. Which is particularly off-putting to those voters who want to see real change. Which probably consists of mostly young voters plus a few weird old farts (like me).

And we need real change :-

  1. We need to reform the voting system away from a system that effectively disenfranchises the majority who don’t vote for the incumbent MP in a constituency. If you look past the “sexy news” in an election where seats change from Tory to Labour or Labour to Tory, a massive number of seats stay passively with the incumbent. That’s not good. Particularly when the majority of voters went for someone other than the winner – if you look at Wycombe, in 2019 the Tory winner had 45% of the vote; the others added together came to 55% of the vote.
  2. Taxation needs to be reformed to be fairer and less evenly distributed (i.e. the rich should pay more – and I’m one of the “rich” relatively speaking as I’m a higher rate tax payer). Close loopholes that allow the rich and companies to avoid paying their fair share of tax.

Are any of the mainstream parties likely to do these reforms (although I’ve only listed 2, I could go on for so long that both of us would fall asleep)? Of course not. Labour might tinker with tax a bit and they might have a look at voting reform.

But which one is the worse?

Vote against the one that’ll probably be the worse. Is that negative? Sure it is, but with the present system it’s the best we can manage.

And voting only takes 30m. So vote!

Tactical Voting

If you are currently in a constituency represented by a bloated Tory, who do you vote for to get them out?

You could just pick the party that you prefer, but if you vote Labour and all the pissed off Tory voters all vote LibDem, you may well find that the Tories win by default. A tactical vote may be of more use.

Visit https://stopthetories.vote in a week or two to see where your vote would most usefully be dropped to get the Tories out. Be very, very wary of other sites; not all will be using the best analytics to come up with a prediction. Some may even be stealth Tory “tactical voting” sites intended to sabotage tactical voting.

Don’t feel good about tactical voting rather than voting for your preferred party? Well, don’t. Just bear in mind that you could end up with a Tory as a result.

The Evil One
Apr 172024

Well that was interesting …

So I decided to upgrade the firmware on my ASRock TRX50 WS motherboard tonight. Partially because I had planned on trying it to sort out a mysterious crashing problem (which turned out to be the world’s worst SATA SSD ‘error’), and partially because I’d like to make sure I know how the process works. And funnily enough, finding ASRock’s instructions aren’t so simple.

The first really rather obvious step is to download the firmware from the ASRock support site. This comes down as a ZIP file, which needs to be unpacked :-

  • TRX50-WS_9.03.ROM

This needs to be copied to a USB stick formatted as FAT32, but whilst you’re checking that make sure that the partition type is set to an appropriate value (0x0b is the value I used; the second time), because it turns out that the ASRock firmware won’t recognise a FAT32 filesystem just based on the actual filesystem – it checks the partition types.

But before you shut down and start the upgrade process, record any firmware settings you may have made … for better or worse, the upgrade will reset any changes you have made.

Starting the upgrade is fairly simple – go into Setup, move across to Tools and select the “Instant Flash” option. This will pop up a menu of different firmware version files it has found that are compatible with your motherboard. Select the version you want (in my case it was just one option), and press Return.

After a warning, it’ll start the upgrade process; this consists of :-

  1. A progress bar which slowly progresses to 100%
  2. A reboot which takes you back into the firmware.
  3. A second progress bar which also progresses slowly.
  4. At some point when this has finished, it’ll just sit there for a few minutes and finally start booting with the new firmware.

Of course in my case, the settings reverting to default values resulted in the SlimSAS controllers both being reset to “NVME” rather than “SATA” meaning half my storage array wasn’t present! But it all worked in the end :-

✓ root@pica» dmidecode -s bios-version

Of course ASRock claim you only do a “BIOS Upgrade” (I hate that word “BIOS” – it’s not really appropriate) when it is absolutely necessary, but an upgrade when it isn’t necessary isn’t a bad idea. Just to get practice.

It should be noted that the firmware should be update-able with fwupdmgr so any urgent updates may well come via that route.

The Missing Sign