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Hello 2019!

So 2018 (or 6768 in the Assyrian calendar) has finally come to a close. The year in which Britain demonstrated great degrees of excellence in "taking back control". Yes, I'm extracting vast quantities of urine. This may have been the last year that Britain, and its citizens, were proper active Europeans (in the political sense). Or maybe not. There could be a second referendum now that the reality is starting to become clear and blow away the Brexit rainbow-coloured-unicorn fantasies. Or maybe not. It's bad that the citizens don't know. It's utterly reprehensible that the leadership (leadership? what bloody leadership?) don't know either. It's just as likely to be a disorganised crash-out due to complete mind-numbing incomprehensible incompetence.

Here's my review of the year. I probably should have written this last night, but I really didn't feel like it. I went to bed early, watched "Hot Rod" on Amazon Prime (a very weird movie), and went to bed at 11pm. Tomorrow is January 2nd, back to work, so excuse me for not celebrating the new year.


The year started off well with the so-called "Beast from the East" freezing the gonads off of brass monkeys. Something the Daily Express has been regularly predicting for this winter for several months now. In January, the American government shut down. It's shut down right now, so... no change there then. I think it says a lot when disputes close down entire government functioning.
At the end of January, a... what was it - super blue blood moon. To take all three events and roll them together. Oh, and because that just wasn't epic enough, it eclipsed as well. Some crackpots were predicting the end of the world, and to be honest that might have been preferable to a year of unbelievable British politics.

Speaking of unbelievable, Meltdown and Spectre became widely known in IT circles as a proof-of-concept that rapidly evolved into a huge potential security nightmare, as well as being proof that speed and security are mutually exclusive concepts. How it worked was ingenious, what it could do was terrifying. Operating system creators and microprocessor makers alike scrambled to make ways to mitigate the problem. In some cases, the penalties were heavy.

I got myself a nice, fuzzy logic, rice maker. Haven't looked back. If you're used to making rice in the "boiling bowl" sort of rice cooker, I'd suggest you look at the smart cooker. Much better results, much less mess. Especially if you're cooking Japanese style gloopy rice.

Moving on to February, SpaceX launched a very large rocket that didn't explode. Those halcyon days when Elon was cool and not a pot-smoking moron. The Winter Olympics made strides in getting both halves of Korea talking to each other. And there was "yet another school shooting" in America. This one was notable because of the number of tips that weren't acted upon, and also because the school actually had an armed guard but he wussed out, as apparently did the initial police who arrived; leaving seventeen dead and another seventeen injured. Unfortunately because Republicans really like their guns, there will be more...

March was the season of flowers and the arrival of Spring and the education for the British public as to what exactly "Novichok" is, and in the months to follow, people still aren't sure if this was a test by the British biochem wizards (incidentally only a few miles down the road) or mighty posturing by The Kremlin. It seems a little too messy and badly executed to me...
Speaking of Russia, Putin gets elected. Again. Nobody is surprised.
And some 20 countries expel Russian diplomats in reaction to the novichok poisoning.

Here at home (and by home I mean France), there was a terrorist attack in the most unlikely place, a little Super U supermarket in a town called Trèbes. Of course, the nutjob's opening line was "Allahu akbar" so there wasn't much doubt in anybody's mind.

In March, we got a Linky smart meter and I picked up a little domestic laser printer at a vide grenier.

April Fool came and went, with my piece on buying the sources to RISC OS to reunite the two branches, following a lottery win. Many thanks to Vince for running this on riscository at the same time, and a big smile too all of those taken in by the April Fool. That said, in light of more recent events, maybe it was an early prophetic vision rather than an outright fool? Well, all except the "I've won the lottery" part. That hasn't happened...yet?

I got myself a little 3.5" LCD with HDMI input (and the ability to resize whatever HDMI input (including 1080p) to fit the display). So accordingly the first thing I tried was running OSMC on the Pi Zero to have a DIY media player. Well, it worked. And also the display worked perfectly with the Beagle xM.

Canada had an unpleasant April. It started with a truck cutting a junior hockey team bus in half, and just twelve days later a van was rammed into pedestrians in Toronto. The suspect was a possibly-autistic software developer.

I fell off my bike, buggered up my thumb/wrist, and get signed off work for three weeks. Three very nice sunny weeks where I was instructed to do nothing. Accordingly I read a lot. And drank a lot of tea.

Heading into May, the Spanish group "ETA" finally disband after 40 years (and 800 deaths). Hawaii blows up. Trump throws more toys out of more prams and walks away from the Iranian nuclear agreement. I 'hack' my Tassimo coffee/beverage maker to spit out hot water to make it quick and easy to brew a nice cup of Tetley.

Mid-May was the annual Eurovision Song Contest, where we fell in love with Ieva something-complicated and watched in disbelief as the gag entry won. In the months since then, a number of people have called for a boycott of the contest because it is being held in Israel, yet oddly enough nobody seemed to care that much about the football being held in Russia...

A British royal married an American. 1.9 billion sad-sacks considered that a huge event.

Of potentially greater importance is the European GDPR imposing strict privacy controls for European citizens worldwide. Immediately the internet is split into five factions:

  1. Those who don't care (and while it may seem as if HeyRick is one, I simply don't set cookies on your machine)
  2. Those who offer simply accept/reject choices (like it is supposed to be)
  3. Those who offer horribly complicated choices like one easy "accept" button, and dozens-hundreds of "reject" buttons
  4. Those who offer an "accept" button, with no opt-out, or who opt you in (with or without an obvious opt-out)
  5. Those who slam the door to all EU IP addresses, like The Baltimore Sun's publishers.
Funny thing is, in the latter case it is easy to get around ( but the GDPR still applies as I'm still a European citizen regardless of how I'm actually accessing the site.
Giant kettle of worms? You bet...

Ireland bans abortions, America wants to ban Chinese imports. Though, clearly, Trump isn't aware that capitalism has basically evolved into "getting stuff made dirt cheap by foreigners to sell at top dollar to natives" - this is basically Apple's business plan and it's made them fabulously wealthy.

June had the G7 summit in Canada, with the bizarre sight of the American president pushing for Russia to be reinstated to bring the G8 back. I bet a dozen ex-presidents are spinning in their graves at the idea of a Republican cosying up to the Russian leader. That said, it does appear to be Russian interference that got the man elected in the first place.

The football world cup is held in Russia, France wins. England do better than expected, but not quite good enough for a top three placement. The following day was marred by epic rain in a lot of northern France.

Canada, who seems to be popping up a lot in 2018 for one reason or another, legalised cannabis. I guess they've seen the writing on the wall. If that was 2018, we'll need something to get us through 2019...

July was perhaps the first month that I had no blog entries. Between the heat and work, I had little time. A heatwave killed people in... tat-dah... Canada.

A flooded cave led to an epic rescue effort, with Elon Musk proposing something far more grandiose than simply going in and getting the trapped boys. His offer was declined in favour of something realistic. He didn't take it well. The divers received honours from the Queen, Musk's legal people received paperwork...

August brought us the spectre of Ebola, Apple became worth a trillion dollars (uh, how many zeroes?), and a bridge collapsed in Genoa leading other countries to have an "Oh Crap!" moment at the state of their bridges. I got, and took apart, a Minitel. France's ancient videotext terminal because France had its citizens online in the eighties.

September morn...., or rather it should be "mourn" for the Inonesian tsunami that killed over two thousand people and injured a further ten thousand. An incident to be repeated, less drastically, three months later.

In October I updated the available Frobnicate PDFs to include the missing ones. In some form or other, every issue is now available. And it's a sort of weird time capsule...

The IPCC made a big deal out of a 1.5°C rise in planetary warming, warning that "rapid, far-reaching, and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society" are needed to keep the temperature down. What nobody mentions is whether or not these temperature fluctuations would happen anyway if mankind didn't exist. Our planet has been a lot warmer, our planet has been a lot colder. Are we wasting our time fighting a battle we cannot win while ignoring things that really ought to be done instead?

Speaking of wild out of control weather, hurricane Michael brought 155 mph winds and a barometric pressure of 919 millibars to Florida.

700,000 people march through London demanding a second referendum. The Brexiteers freak out, the PM flatly refuses "because the people have already spoken" (and apparently aren't allowed to change their minds after realising what a load of bollocks everybody said the first time around).

Another mass shooting made the news. This time not a school but a synagogue. Because being nice and helping the vulnerable doesn't fit into the right wing narrative that is basically a fancy version of "me! me! me! me!".

RISC OS' licence changes from being almost open source to being fully open source. Licenced under the Apache licence... nothing much has changed. At the time I predicted that the Castle licence not being OSI approved was of little relevance except to zealots who could conceive of nothing other than the almighty "GPL". Truth is, a barely-known minority platform with all of the core operating system (kernel, UI, filesystem) being written in assembler, with practically zero debugging tools (hell, we don't even have a debugger capable of working with module code yet!), scant memory protection, zero system privilege protection... the licence is the least of our concerns.

November - so we're finally getting towards the end of the year. I release a Koi-Koi game (it's a Japanese thing) for RISC OS, while California suffers disastrous wildfires. New Caledonia has a referendum on independence that results in a preference for not being independent. Everybody except the UK goes to Paris to commemorate the hundredth anniversary of the end of the first world war. The British, used to standing apart and doing their own thing, have a parade in London.
To the horror of much of the world, a Chinese scientist claims to have altered the DNA of twin girls (recently born) to try to have them HIV resistant. I'm not sure what is worse, the long slippery slope to editing the human genome, or how exactly they plan to test to see if they were right...

The Junior Eurovision was broadcast on S4C due to Wales participating. While I may like certain songs "on the night", these songs are not necessarily the ones that I like in the long run. So, for what it is worth, my overall favourite song from JESC 2018 is... Perta from Wales. Even with the very wobbly (at times) vocals, it just comes across as a happy song. It's pleasing to listen to.

December in France is the month of the yellow vests. The time when many of the people had had just about enough and, in French style, decided to show their dissatisfaction. As is usual, however, the right wingers, anarchists, and nutters that just like smashing stuff up took over and turned the yellow vest movement into a reason to break things, riot, and set stuff on fire. The British media were, on the large part, rather impolite towards what was happening in France; seeming to be completely oblivious to the anti-austerity protests of 2011 that ended up with days of rioting in London that rapidly spread to other major cities.

Speaking of violence, an act of terror at a Christmas Market has put France back on high alert. As is all too depressingly common, the perp "was known to authorities" yet again.

The ITU reported that over half of the world's population (51.2%) now use the internet. Of the rest, I remember Bill Gates giving Mark Zuckerberg a masterful slapping down. Zuckerberg wanted to bring Facebook to Africa. Gates, for his part, pointed out that food, medicine, and electricity might be more useful.

And the year ended with Gatwick being closed because of a drone. But there might not have been any drone. Or maybe it was a police drone looking for a non-police drone. It's all a bit of a farce.


Elsewhere in the year:

The Doctor is a chick. One with a weird wobbly face, but still female. And in what might be the best series ever, they tackled a lot of social issues head on. Thank you, Doctor Who, for bringing to my attention the Partition of India. I had always figured Pakistan and India were neighbours that hated each other. I was not aware of the role that Britain played in causing the problem, or in the many deaths and lifetimes of hatred and persecution that followed. Oddly enough, my school history lessons completely failed to mention anything about this.

Some minor ranking royal with delusions had a big fancy marriage. In these times of austerity. Clever move.

A bunch of famous people died - Stephen Hawking, Ken Dodd (I bet you never thought you'd see those names in a sentence together), Kofi Annan, Burt Reynolds, Charles Aznavour, and loads of other people you've never heard of...

Oh yes, and I had an advent playlist of opening a Playmobil ice hockey advent calendar, a Celebrations one, and a Lindt one. All culminating in a little animation at the end. Link on the right hand side if you've not watched the videos yet.


And so to 2019

Stabbings in Manchester, all hell breaking loose because eight migrants turned up in a dinghy. Sadiq Khan had a big blue and yellow (EU colours) firework display that was not missed by those idiot Tories that still think Brexit is a good idea, cars driven into crowds in Germany and Japan, May desperately pleads for support for a "deal" that nobody wants and she won't let ministers vote on, 39 arrested over a stabbing in London and are then released, a shooting in Hackney, Trump... was Trump..., Germany adds a third gender for the sexually confused, and this is just the afternoon of the first day.

Oh boy.

Happy New Year.



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Rick, 1st January 2019, 19:57
And a woman stabbed to death in Camberwell. Oh yeah, we're on to a great start... :-/
David Pilling, 3rd January 2019, 18:22
"Ireland bans abortions," or legalises them. Partition - been a lot of material about it for a long time in the mainstream media. I've known about it for a long time, TV series "All Our Yesterdays" which showed newsreels from exactly 25 years previously, might be the first place. Famous TV series Jewel in the Crown. Oddly (being from t'North) I'm not too keen on a Dr Who with Northern Accent, alas Hilda Baker is not around to play the role.
David Pilling, 5th January 2019, 22:30
There are about 10 murders per million people per year in the UK. It's about the average for a large country. Its a lot less than in the USA (about 50). That's about 2 every day - TV news could do to report these to put things in perspective.
Rick, 20th January 2019, 19:40
I have a question for any Welsh speakers reading this (Emlyn, you still it there?): 
Why is the song called "Perta" when she doesn't appear to say "perta" at all? The subtitling of the chorus is "Hi yw y berta". 

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