There’s one thing that should frighten everybody who uses a desktop or laptop computer or server, and that is disk failure. Your storage should be the only part of the computer that you really care about. If not backed up, the information on your disk can be irreplaceable: when it’s gone, it’s very probably gone for good. Yet your precious information is entrusted to one of the few components in a computer that can break down completely, without warning, or literally wear out.
Alice began by demonstrating using Apache Spark, an alternative to MapReduce with Hadoop, to analyse Leeds Road Traffic Accidents. Using the Scala shell, she read in the text file, created a Scala class, created an RDD (Resilient Distributed Dataset), cached it and then queried it to find the Pearson (linear) correlation between, for example, accidents with more than one casualty and the type of vehicle. It works faster because the data is held in memory and it is scalable. It can also query data held in other types of database including SQL. Since the latest version of Excel will link with Hadoop, it can be used to query Excel data.
Alice sent their apologies via Twitter as she was still in Kazakhstan time.
Brian asked about Swanky Paint and asked for help with hostapd which was no longer working as he expected.
John H began with a short demonstration of cleaning up digital transfers of LPs using the noise removal and repair effects of Audacity to remove noise and eliminate clicks from the transfer. He then did a presentation arguing that LyX outforms any other software in document production though there are a few uses cases for which it is not suitable.
Windows refused to boot? Hard drive failing? Got a ransom virus that won’t let you use Windows? Then System Rescue may be what you need.
System rescue is a suite of utilities developed primarily by a team of French developers which will allow you to overcome most problems you may encounter in these and many areas. You can download it and burn it to a CD or to a USB stick (though a bug in a recent version may appear to stop you doing the latter, I found that burning it to a CD and then copying the resulting image to a USB stick got round this problem).
Kriss and Shi demonstrated the Raspberry Pi 2. It is faster and more stable, the power issues have been fixed and it has four USB sockets. However, the separate composite socket has gone and it is obvious that more work needs to be done on the video drivers.
Alice first introduced the Star Wars API which claims to have ‘All the Star Wars data you’ve ever wanted’ and gives you a chance to try out with claim and then the Beyond PNR presentation which takes you through the ways in which data is handled by the airline industry and the governments who want to know who is travelling where. (Click to advance the slideshow.)
Alice brought in a North Paw haptic compass which he passed round. Worn on the ankle, it contains eight mobile vibrators each of which is turned on when it is the nearest one to north enabling the wearer gradually to learn the direction of north.
Alice talked about the past three years working for a company which supplies a lot of entertainment. Every evening they get a spike for ‘Game of thrones’ as people log in and a double spike for football matches where people leave during the interval.
It is over 25 years since Richard Stallman set up the Free Software Foundation and Intel commissioned Michael Tiemann to write the first open source software and less than 25 years since Linus Torvalds issued the first version of Linux and Berkeley Systems Department issued the first version of Unix to run on PCs. Yet today, these operating systems dominate computing in super computers, space exploration, scientific computing, digital televisions, smartphones and Internet services and are gradually being taken up by motor vehicle manufacturers and the creators of household equipment and gadgets. Only on the desktop and in medical devices has free and open source software not made significant inroads.