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Brexit

Let's be honest. The entire question of "Brexit" has been a parade of stupid.

From those who voted and now saying "I didn't think leave meant leave" (WTF did you think it meant dumbass? Vacuum the carpet while eating Pringles with a fork?) to an actress better left unnamed who obviously thinks that the economy and international trade is less important than the kilowatt rating of her hairdryer.
That big £350M figure? Well, that was said to be a mistake (by Farage, no less) the day of the result being known. The Boris Bus also was made over to no longer show that figure.
Farmers are starting to wonder if their subsidies will be covered. Scientific research, likewise. If the government is going to take that non-existent £350M and splurge it on the NHS, how exactly does it plan to pay into all of these other things? People were unbelievably stupid to think of the EU as a simple equation of "money paid in is less than money paid back". The argument, when you look at it, is akin to moaning about your Sky or Internet subscription because the company doesn't take your money and hand it right back to you.
If course, some people are just terminally stupid - such as the residents of the Welsh town of Ebbw Vale, which has perhaps the most EU support in the entire UK, and also the highest vote for Brexit in Wales. Of course, it is easier to believe the lies on TV rather than, you know, open their eyes and attempt to engage the grey matter.

As if this catastrophe isn't enough, within days the country has landed itself with effectively no functioning government. The Tories are stabbing each other in the back in order to figure out which of the power crazed losers is so enamoured with having this Control-with-a-big-C that they will actually willingly inherit this mess. No doubt one of them will be dumb enough to go ahead and sign Article 50 formalising Britain's withdrawal from the EU, thus running the risk of relegating the country to a status somewhere between Guernsey and Greenland in world importance. That might be just as well, given the increasing anti-foreigner sentiment, where words like "nigger" and "paki" are re-entering the language (and no, I won't use asterisks in the bad words like the British press, it's no good hiding from these things or trying to cosy it up with punctuation marks). But, then, a campaign primarily focussing on demonising "immigrants" is going to empower the country's bastards to the point where they think that shouting such epithets at random "foreigners" (often defined as tourists and/or people born in the UK) is now acceptable. Plus, for what it is worth - African or Pakistani ancestry? That's got bugger all to do with the EU. Like I said, it's a parade of stupid.
Of course, the opposition party is useless. Corbyn won't quit despite the party losing more cabinet members than the pound lost percentage points. Despite an overwhelming vote of no confidence. Despite bigotry within the party itself blowing up in everybody's face. Despite... oh, I can't be bothered. I'm surprised that there hasn't been a snap election to let the public figure out which of these cretins out to be in charge now. Because, you know, it's the will of the people, right?

Just after Brexit, girls at work asked me if the British were mad. Now they don't. A week has passed and it is quite clear that slightly more than half the country is, indeed, batshit crazy.

All the way through, the word oft used was control. Control of what? Control of the country from the EU? Control of the citizens from the elite? Well, we're going to fail on both counts. A certain amount of EU interaction is necessary to interact with the EU (even as members of EFTA). As for the elite? Yet another fine job of setting one side of the common people against the others. We'll all be like the Labour party, too busy squabbling to understand that we are utterly missing the big picture.

Or, to put it another way - following Brexit, trillions were wiped off the global economy. It actually caused more damage than the American near-meltdown of 2008. But, wait, money doesn't just appear from nowhere and it doesn't just disappear from nowhere. America cannot fix its huge debt problem by simply printing more $. That's not how it works. So ask yourself - where did all that money go? You aren't supposed to think that, you are supposed to think "Polish scum!" or "oh what have we done" while the section of society that is really damaging (and trust me, it isn't EU immigrants) just grabbed more money and power than we will comprehend. We, the normal people, we just got shafted. Congratulations everybody for absolutely failing to notice.

You know, in numerous cases, the colours or pattern of a flag have meaning. Here is what the Union Flag (not "Union Jack"!) means to me now:

 

Pocketbook Basic 2 (e-reader)

It is sale time again, and I saw this for twenty euros (normal retail price, about €70):

It is a basic, but functional, e-ink book 'reader' using mostly open source software inside.

Its primary function is that of permitting you to read books. In this respect, it handles a variety of common formats. The user guide says: EPUB with and without DRM, PDF with and without DRM, FB2, TXT, DJVU, HTML, DOC, DOCX, RTF, CHM, TCR, and PRC (MOBI); however I have only tested it with PDF and stripped MOBI files.

There are eight control buttons. An up/down for previous or next page/entry. A four way button around the OK/ENTER button for menu navigation, and the On/Off button. As you can imagine, the interface is a little bit clumsy. On the other hand, being a basic model without touch screen, I don't need to worry about finger prints all over the screen. ☺

The main menu looks like this (green border to show the screen dimensions):

The native screen dimensions are 600×800 in 16 colours in a 6 inch screen. The e-ink is capable of displaying shades of grey, though I'm not sure how many or if it is actually performed using clever dithering.

As for the menu, recently read books/documents appear on the big part of the display. Four icons along the bottom allow access to more features. "Books" is a sort of file explorer that lets you navigate the filesystem in order to choose what to read. The filesystem (the non-Unix part, at least) appears as a drive letter when the device is plugged into a PC and you tell it to go to file transfer mode (the other mode is charge only). You can create subdirectories to organise your content. My PDFs are in directories according to theme - DDE user guides, Datasheets, etc.
Notes is for notes attached to documents. You cannot create notes other than while reading something and choosing to add a note. I don't know if the notes are associated with the file, or if they only exist on the device, however since text input is clumsy, I can't imagine this being used that much.
Applications call up additional functionality. More on that later.
And, finally, Settings to configure the device.

 

Let's read a PDF document "comfortably" in only seven easy steps!

First, we pick the document to read and load it. Here, I am looking at The Cathedral and the Bazaar, one of the famous texts of the open source movement.

It can be read like that, but we can make it better. Press the OK button to call up the menu:

Navigate down to the Mode entry, then press OK. A new set of choices will appear:

Navigate to "Margins cropping" and press OK:

We could define the margins by hand - and this is useful on scanned documents that trip up the automatic detection. However as this is a regular text document, we can let the device figure out the margins for itself, so choose Automatic and press OK:

The is better, but being used to tablets and with flexibility not offered by a dead-tree book, I can do more. Go back to that menu and navigate right to Rotate and select that:

How should we rotate? The second option. It places the buttons on the right. And, nicely, alters the four way buttons to the orientation in use:

That's better. Much easier to read.

You can do similar things with e-books (like EPUB and MOBI) however since these are not fixed format like PDFs, you have different options. Instead of setting up margins and such, you can alter the text style (font face, size, spacing...).

 

Applications give you a few games, a scarily over-complicated Calculator, a basic RSS news reader, and a somewhat crashy browser that I think is based upon Midori. The browser does work, in a manner of speaking (the UI isn't particularly friendly towards browsing) but it does permit me to look at RISC OS Open's forums. That said, while this device has WiFi capability, it is better not used as it would consume more battery power.

An interesting omission is the absence of anything that resembles a "book store". The device is co-branded "TEA" (The Ebook Alternative) that is a French group providing ebook functions as an alternative to the eponymous Kindle. Some of the more advanced ebook readers have TEA store portals. It looks like they just didn't bother here.

You can add your own applications, if you write them using the available SDK, or download ready-made ones. There are a few things around, but not much. One that was of use was a terminal. Not a terminal as in VT100, but a simple command line. Indeed, as the root account is locked away (akin to a mobile phone), it is a very restricted terminal. However, it is enough to poke around the internal workings of the device:

From my poking around, I can determine:

Processor:Allwinner A13 (ARMv7, Cortex-A8) clocking 1GHz
Flash:4GiB (shared between firmware and FAT filesystem)
RAM:256MiB
Expansion:Can accept a micro SD card (up to 32GiB)
Connectivity:Micro USB socket, filesystem appears as a drive letter in Windows
Weight:About 190g

The A13 is a slightly cut-down version of the A10 aimed at tablets. It is missing one of the GPU modules and it has no HDMI output - expecting instead to be connected to a display panel of some sort.

 

Speaking of which, the e-ink display is... interesting. It uses purely reflected light (it isn't backlit) however the contrast diminishes in the dark and gets better in sunlight (unlike most tablet and phone displays). As such, reading is pleasant in the daylight, even in bright sunlight (as can be seen from the picture at the top of this article).
When the page turns, there are minor artefacts of the previous page left behind. This is removed by flashing the entire screen black, then clear, then drawing its contents. You can choose how often this is performed - from every page (consumes more power) to once every ten pages. I have it set to every three pages. When reading, the effect is minor so I wouldn't worry too much about it.

Like a tablet, it is useful to have content available, but I'm not sure it would ever be capable of replacing a proper book. This device has been stripped to the minimum (no audio or anything like that) so it should offer a good battery life. The interesting thing about e-ink is that it behaves a bit like an etch-a-sketch. Once the display has been drawn, the device can essentially power down until you want it to do something else. Indeed, the device displays a logo when it is switched off.

 

 

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Anonymous, 10th July 2016, 01:15
RISC OS, more like RICK OS, right? Haha. Anyway, sorry if I bothered you with this comment.

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