Plastic cereal ?

CSIRO has developed a biodegradable plastic that’s made from wheat starch. They say:

The wheat starch plastic has similar properties to conventional plastic, but it will break down in the compost heap in 40 to 50 days.

They also claim that it won’t contaminate the food it holds, but I wonder if it is suitable for coeliacs given that wheat starch is known to contain residual gluten ?

(Hat tip to Jeremy for that).

Humphrey Lyttelton takes last train to Mornington Crescent – RIP

At the ripe old age of 86 Humph has left the building.. 🙁

The master of trumpets, wit and innuendo will no longer be hosting I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue, leaving us ISIHAC addicts to ponder what will happen next ?

Perhaps the BBC will finally get around to publishing that final compendium of Mornington Crescent rules, which might finally bring together the warring standards bodies of the game in a mark of respect to its most notable (and knowledgeable) referee (( it is, of course, sheer irony that the Wikipedia page for Mornington Crescent has part of its entry labelled as requiring citation; don’t these people listen to the wireless ? )).

Humph could be surreal, rude, funny and incisive all in the same sentence. His wit, humour and timing was second to none and he will be very much missed.

Here’s to you Humph, don’t get caught in the Dollis Hill Loop..

Microsoft demonstrates why DRM is a Bad Idea ™

From Techdirt:

Playsforsure was so bad that Microsoft didn’t even use it for its own Zune digital media device. Along with that, Microsoft shut down its failed online music store, and now for the kicker, it’s telling anyone who was suckered into buying that DRM’d content that it’s about to nuke the DRM approval servers that let you transfer the music to new machines. That means you need to authorize any songs you have on whatever machine you want — and that’s the only place they’ll be able to reside forever. And, of course, any upgrade to your operating system (say from XP to Vista) and you lose access to your music as well.

So now you find out that with DRM you don’t really own the music you bought, it can get taken away from you very easily, but you won’t get your money back I bet!

Hardy broke my server (updated)

So, I thought, I’ll test out the latest shinyness in btrfs on my old test box (an Olivetti Netstrada 7000) with 5 SCSI drives. But first, I’ll quickly upgrade to the latest development release of Ubuntu, Hardy Heron, to get the latest goodness of compilers, etc.

Except now my box won’t boot..

initrd extends beyond end of memory (0x0ffef173 > x01000000)

It looks like the kernel is getting the memory size wrong, but sadly even forcing it with the boot option mem=256M doesn’t do anything to fix it. Fortunately the kernel that comes with Gutsy still works on it..

Logged as bug #219868, but no response yet.

Update: This appears to be a bug from the mainline kernel, I’ve reproduced it with 2.6.25 and am in contact with the i386 boot code maintainer about it.

Norways OOXML “yes” vote was down to ONE person

It appears through a process of elimination of the nearly 30 attendees at the Standard Norway meeting on OOXML the decision to vote yes was made unilaterally by the vice-president of Standard Norway.

When the original attendees could not reach consensus on 8 of the 12 comments (having agreed that 2 were not satisfactorily resolved and 2 were) he dismissed 23 attendees. When the remaining 7 could not agree he dismissed another 4 and when the remaining 2 could not agree…

The VP thereupon declared that there was still no consensus, so the decision would be taken by him.

He voted “yes”.

So this one bureaucrat, a man who by his own admission had no understanding of the technical issues, had chosen to ignore the advice of his Chairman, of 80% of his technical experts, and of 100% of the K185 old-timers.

Ross Anderson’s “Security Engineering”

Back in 2006 Ross Anderson (Professor of Security Engineering at the Cambridge Computer Laboratory) announced on his blog that he had published the full contents of the first edition of his book “Security Engineering” in PDF format. The book covers a whole range of security issues from creating, managing, accrediting & breaking the mechanisms themselves through security politics and into topics like DRM.

Now the second edition of Security Engineering is about to arrive (published April 14th in the US, Amazon say stock expected in 1-4 weeks) and mine is on order already (along with a copy of Linus Torvalds Just for Fun).. 🙂

Google AdSense adverts activated

Well, I asked for feedback on putting adverts on the previously and got all positive responses, so I’ve now activated Google AdSense text-only adverts using the excellent no-adverts-for-friends WordPress plugin.

So, if you don’t like adverts, just leave an appropriate comment somewhere and you won’t see them. Either that or use Firefox and the great Adblock Plus plugin!

If for some reason you want to see adverts after leaving a comment I’m afraid you’ll need to go and delete any cookies for from your browser first.

OpenMOKO GTA02 FreeRunner pricing announced

The OpenMoko Project has announced the pricing for their GTA02 FreeRunner phone that is designed to run Linux:

The FreeRunner will ship from at $399. For early customers
I’m looking at throwing in a few free things. More details later. […] The debug board will be available as a separate product for $99 USD.

There will be a 10 pack for bulk orders (some people locally are already soliciting for people to muck in on one):

For these people we created a 10Pack. instead of 399 per phone, we will
charge 369 per phone.

It’s not 3G (but then again, neither is the iPhone, unless the rumours about the Aussie version are right)..