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The Raspberry PI Sucks.

It sucks be­cause it's ex­pen­sive. Or at least it's ex­pen­sive for how lame the hard­ware pro­vid­ed is.

The oth­er day I got a Mele a1000 box for which I will do a full re­view soon, I hope. But I re­al­ly need to get the word out: this thing kicks Rasp­ber­ry PI in the ass so hard it's not even fun­ny.

For starter­s, it costs twice as much. Which may seem bad, but trust me, even at twice the cost, it's cheap­er. Be­cause if you are the kind of per­son for whom the $35 makes a dif­fer­ence, then you are al­so prob­a­bly some­one who does­n't have a HD­MI-­ca­pable TV or mon­i­tor. And the Mele works with HD­MI, but al­so with RCA con­nec­tors and VGA, which means pret­ty much any TV or mon­i­tor man­u­fac­tured in the last 20 years will work in a pinch. You can re­pur­pose an­cient mon­i­tors (1024x768 CRTs from 1996? WORKS FINE) that are avail­able ev­ery­where.

Al­so, it comes with Wifi, wi­hch the Pi does­n't. And of course Eth­er­net, too.

It comes with 4GB of in­ter­nal stor­age and 512MB of RAM. The Pi? None and 256m­b. See a pat­tern here? You pay twice as much and it comes with more than twice as much hard­ware in it.

Al­so, it has two USB con­nec­tors (1 in the Pi mod­el A, 2 in the Pi mod­el B).

One im­por­tant fea­ture: it comes in a box. A nice, stur­dy, small box, that can be nice­ly placed so that it does­n't break apart.

The CPU is sev­er­al times faster and sev­er­al gen­er­a­tions more mod­ern. The GPU is slight­ly less pow­er­ful, but you won't no­tice, the on­ly thing the Pi can do with that GPU is de­code video re­al­ly quick, for any­thing re­mote­ly in­ter­est­ing the CPU is a bot­tle­neck.

And both are pro­pri­etary, but at least some­one is work­ing on open Mal­i400 driv­ers.

The Mele is use­ful out of the box, you can just in­stall Ubun­tu on it, or use An­droid, which is open source. It's ful­ly root­ed, you don't need to do any­thing strange to in­stall oth­er op­er­at­ing sys­tems in it (just like the Pi!) ex­cept that since the CPU is so much bet­ter, it can just do stuff eas­i­er.

Did I men­tion that while the Pi has on­ly a SD card for stor­age while the Mele has 4GB of flash, and a SD slot, and an eSa­ta slot? And that us­ing that it could be a nice small file server?

And the kick­er: it's not a char­i­ty. It's $70 be­cause you are pay­ing a busi­ness to cre­ate the things, and does­n't de­pend on get­ting se­vere­ly dis­count­ed chips from Broad­com, it just is a good prod­uct at a good price. And that's just awe­some be­cause it means in 2 years we will have some­thing about as pow­er­ful as the Mele at the Pi's pri­ce­point, and some­thing much more pow­er­ful at the Mele's price, and that's sus­tain­able, be­cause the peo­ple who are build­ing it and de­sign­ing it, and sell­ing it, and ship­ping it, are mak­ing a liv­ing out of it, while kick­ing the ass of the char­i­ty. And that's good. And if you want 100000 of the­se, you or­der them, and you get them, in­stead of hav­ing to pre-buy, and wait month­s, and see them ship in tiny batch­es.

So, buy this, or some­thing like it.

Al­so: $92.60 with free ship­ping

Fear the Oso

Since I have a small kid, I know stuff oth­er peo­ple don't. Specif­i­cal­ly, I know that a sur­veil­lance state is forth­com­ing and that noone will care. Noone that mat­ters that is. Be­cause they all will have learned about it when they are three. So, by 2035, the ex­pec­ta­tion of pri­va­cy will be: None.

There is a clas­sic south amer­i­can left­ist book called "To Read Don­ald Duck" that ex­plain­s, from a marx­ist-the­o­rist point of view, how Don­al Duck forges the pub­lic con­science. If Dorf­man saw one episode of Spe­cial Agent Oso he would have an aneurys­m. Let me sum­marise ev­ery episode:

  1. Adorable Kid in any coun­try. The show specif­i­­cal­­ly shows what coun­try it is, and the char­ac­ters have lo­­cal­ized fea­­tures, names and dress­es.

  2. Adorable Kid has a prob­lem.

  3. His pred­i­ca­­ment is filmed by a ro­bot la­dy­bug, which re­­ports via a satel­lite to an un­­named or­­ga­ni­za­­­tion.

  4. The mis­­te­ri­ous boss called "M­r. Dos" (By the way, the chief of the ar­­gen­­tini­an se­cret ser­vice is called "Señor Cin­­co". Just say­ing!) as­signs the mis­­­sion to one of his "a­­gents", usu­al­­ly our main char­ac­ter, Os­­o.

  5. Oso us­es ad­­vanced tech­nol­o­­gy to find Adorable Kid, and with the guid­ance of his "Paw Pi­lot" (how dat­ed is that?), teach­es Kid the three easy steps to solve his pred­i­ca­­men­t.

  6. Oso learns a val­u­able les­­son for his ap­­par­en­t­­ly end­­less Spe­­cial Agent train­ing pro­­gram.

This is wrong at so many lev­els it's hard to keep track of them, but let's try any­way.

  • There is an un­­named or­­ga­ni­za­­­tion that has the re­­sources to know when ev­ery kid can't tie his shoes, and send an agent to help.

  • Ev­ery la­dy­bug may be a ro­bot­ic satel­lite-­­ca­­pable sur­veil­lance de­vice.

  • This or­­ga­ni­za­­­tion will send agents to get in con­­tact with kids in any coun­try with­­out any adult su­per­vi­­sion.

  • They have un­lim­it­ed re­­sources, in­­­clud­ing space sta­­tion­s, ar­ti­­fi­­cial­­ly in­­tel­li­­gent bird-robo­­copter­s.

  • Their agents are not on­­ly good, kind and help­­ful, they are adorable stuffed an­i­­mals.

The mes­sage is so blunt that it's not even mild­ly hid­den to re­quire marx­ist anal­y­sis, this car­toon says, loud and clear, that un­named or­ga­ni­za­tions look at ev­ery­thing you do, but it's for your own good, and when those or­ga­ni­za­tions en­ter your life, it's on­ly to help you and pro­tect you, and in the pro­cess, these vir­tu­ous groups be­come even more vir­tu­ous.

Hav­ing lived in latin amer­i­ca in the 70s and 80s, I can say: bug­ger, we wished for that to be so! In re­al­i­ty, these things usu­al­ly hire very few stuffed an­i­mal­s, and quite a bunch of plain old an­i­mal­s.

The con­stant sur­veil­lance is not even thought about, it's just as­sumed to be there, there is no con­sid­er­a­tion that kids de­serve, need or even have pri­va­cy or a pri­va­cy ex­pec­ta­tion, the la­dy­bugs rou­tine­ly film the kids in their homes or even bed­room­s, and send the im­ages to a satel­lite for au­to­mat­ed mon­i­tor­ing. Jere­my Ben­tham lacked the imag­i­na­tion and tech­ni­cal re­sources to imag­ine this, so he had to put his pris­on­ers in a cir­cle, to be watched by mere hu­man guard­s.

So, what can we do? Prob­a­bly noth­ing. I ful­ly ex­pect my kid to grow up with no ex­pec­ta­tion of pri­va­cy, and no con­cept of do­ing things out­side the purview of a gov­ern­men­t, of­fi­cial­ly or un­of­fi­cial­ly.

Is that evil? May­be, but it will be their nor­mal. Just like we don't ex­pect to have si­lence, or pri­vate elec­tron­ic com­mu­ni­ca­tions un­less we take spe­cif­ic mea­sures (y­ou all know that, right?), and we ex­pect all our on­line ac­tions to be tracked by some­one (y­ou do ex­pect that, right?)

My hope is a world of hyp­ocrites, who have a pub­lic fa­cade and a se­cret life. I can on­ly hope my son will be­come Bat­man.

Nikola 3.0.1 Available for Testing

Ver­sion 3.0.1 of Niko­la my stat­ic site gen­er­a­tor is ready for ini­tial us­er test­ing.

I have merged a bunch of patch­es from Kay Hayen and Kade­for:

  • dis­­qus_de­vel­op­er is gone

  • ad­dthis but­­tons are op­­tion­al (con­trolled by a new op­­tion)

  • You can have more than one stat­ic files fold­er to be merged in­­­to out­­put.

  • Im­age gal­­leries sup­­port up­­per­­case ex­ten­­sion­s.

  • Tem­­plates can not link to CSS that is em­p­­ty/mis­s­ing

  • Bet­ter Google Sitemaps

  • Pre­serve (some) meta­­da­­ta when copy­­ing files, like time­s­tamps

  • Don't over­write ex­ist­ing posts with doit new_­­post

  • Gen­er­ate valid URLs from uni­­code ti­­tles

So, if you want to try it out:

http­s://github.­com/ralsi­na/niko­la/zip­bal­l/3.0.1

I will make it a re­al re­lease if noth­ing bad shows up be­fore sun­day or mon­day.

Now that's a nice theme.

I have been flood­ed by awe­some patch­es for Niko­la by dif­fer­ent con­trib­u­tors, so there will be a new re­lease very soon. In the mean­time, see what hap­pens if some­one with de­sign skills does a theme for it:

//ralsina.me/galleries/random/k4y.thumbnail.png

The au­thor says he's pol­ish­ing it and will be done in a few days.

Nikola is FAST.

A fast-load­ing site is a good thing. Your site's speed mat­ter­s. Which is why cre­at­ing fast sites is one of Niko­la's de­sign goals.

Sure, it's not meant to cre­ate e-­com­merce sites, but if you are do­ing just a sim­ple cor­po­rate site, or a per­son­al blog, why would you not make it as fast as pos­si­ble any­way?

So, here's one da­ta point, from Kay Hayen

http://www.nuitka.net/posts/images/nikola-speed-improvements.png

Guess when Kay switched to Niko­la.

But you don't have to just be­lieve that graph. Here's Ya­hoo's YS­low re­port on this blog, which is host­ed in a $5 VPS (as are oth­er sites, BTW. The same VP­S. As is a bunch of ser­vices. And my Quas­sel core)

http://ubuntuone.com/6Xsg1blhiJK7nEcnhPFOM7

It scores 94 on that test. That's 94 out of 100 pos­si­ble points in the "S­mall Site or Blog" rule­set.

How much serv­er tun­ing was need­ed? I added one line to the Apache con­fig:

AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/html text/plain text/xml text/css

That makes it com­press those files be­fore send­ing it to the us­er and im­proved the third item from F to A.

So, when I say Niko­la makes your site fast, don't take my word for it, just check it out.


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