Apple Ecosystem

Apple gets a lot of flack for being seen as the epitome of wealthy consumerist culture.  I suppose being at the top attracts al the haters on the planet. I used to be in that bandwagon and regularly gagged when I heard the prices of their computers, laptops, and phones. Used to wonder what kinda morons would spend their money on a brand name when you could get a machine with higher specs for a fraction of the price.

I was soon to eat my words when I got myself a Macbook Pro. The build quality, stability and support from the mothership was amazing. It helps when there are limited versions of a product from a company thus allowing a critical mass of users for them to be able to iron out any flaws. It also allows for a better design.

Anyhoo, last week my harddrive finally died after warning me for many months. I tried doing what Apple suggests and walked into one of their resellers or service centers and asked them what a replacement would cost. The figures quoted were beyond ridiculous. They even wanted to charge me for installing the OS. A whole 6,000 bob.  Please note that every Macbook comes with OSX and so it follows if I show up with a macbook, then at some point OSX was installed on it. To charge me to return it to that state is rather ridiculous and actually illustrates why people see Apple as a money hungry beast.

I decided to just buy a harddisk of the shelf and I managed to get a 1TB disk from Bestell in town and bought the T3 screwdriver set long Luthuli Avenue and replaced the harddisk myself using the iFixit guides.

Am not rich so paying some guy to pop a DVD into my drive and clicking Next didn’t sound like a plan. Attempts at cloning my drive were fruitless as the thing was barely spinning up.

I was frustrated and just went home, connected to ethernet and switched it on. Didn’t know what to expect but after a minute or two it asked me if I want to start internet recovery. I had few options and so said yes. Long story short, it downloaded a bunch of files and installed  a recovery partition after which I was asked if want to install OSX Mountain Lion. It downloaded the files and installed with very little intervention from me.

I doubt there are any other software platforms that offer such a service from a fresh harddisk with no software on it. Ofcourse this means that there is some rudimentary or maybe not so rudimentary OS that runs above whatever is running on the harddisk and that connect to the internet and send or receive whatever it wants. This is clearly a nightmare to security conscious people but this is a non issue for me. I am not running a govt agency from my laptop, yet.

I am liking this also throwing in the free software upgrades and maturing ecosystem I am slowly getting sucked into the Apple Universe. I hate the locked up nature though and this may be what will prevent me from getting an iPhone. Its too limiting and they have no twin SIM configurations. Thats a deal breaker.

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2013 Conclusion: Arusha

2013 has been or rather was a good year for me. Ticked off a couple of items on my bucket list and added others and proceeded to tick them off.

Fiiiiinaly graduated from campus, Attended the World Youth Day in Brazil, became the subject of a documentary still in production, got a good job and witnessed many happy moments with friends and family.

So me and the sister decided to ‘jump’ the year ‘Overseas’ . . ok fine over land next door in Arusha. Its a rather short trip over land and the border crossings are not fussy at all. I think we spent all of 15 mins getting cleared inclusive of our car. I suspect though that my sister was well armed with all requisite documents.  I was happy to clutch my beer can.

We were however looking suspicious or maybe its a Kenyan number plate thing but we were stopped several times by Tanzanian cops who were very interested in the Drivers license and Comesa Insurance. If these two are in order most would let you pass but there are always the stubborn types who simply want a bribe. they will angle for silly things like the fire extinguisher type and the log book etc. Not wanting to get acquinted with the legal system of the Swahili speakers we gave a token, and we were waved away with very broad smiles. They however take bribes rather awkwardly as though they don’t know what to do during the process. twas hilarious.

Did not encounter a single pothole on the Tanzania side and all road markings were intact and more or less made sense with busstops clearly marked and plenty of road signs to guide drivers. Traffic lights are mostly obeyed however their equivalent of yellow lines are totally ignored and guys overtake anywhere. Their police have shiny new speedguns which they use with relish like our cops and Alcoblow. Its however pleasurable driving with breathtaking scenery in along the plains especially about 20km past Arusha which seems predominantly Maasai populated.

We stayed at Pamoja Expedition Lodge a small bed n breakfast on the outskirts of Arusha with very nice facilities and nice whether you want peace and quiet or want to paint the town red, the staff will accommodate you either way.

Booze and food is cheap in Arusha though depending on where you are buying but in most stores, stuff is cheaper than in .ke

Arusha, located next to the Kilimanjaro, is on...
Arusha, located next to the Kilimanjaro, is one of three cities in Tanzania that provides continuous water supply. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I would like to tour more of Tanzania especially the less talked about southern areas. I am sure there are gems down there that are not frequented by many.

My new year resolution is to find a way of crossing over into Malawi.

 

 

 

 

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The Flat World

I must admit I keep finding new depths of my ignorance every time I look into a matter I thought I was an expert on.

For the longest time I presumed Galileo was the proponent of a spherical earth and that the catholic church was being frigid and refusing sense and subsequently placed him in house arrest for blasphemy. It turns out that at the time, a spherical earth was as obvious as it is today. ok maybe not they didn’t have satellites back then.

But the point is Aristotle and the other old greek mental badasses knew all this and in fact fellows like Eratosthenes had calculated the radius pretty accurately. Note these are guys whose best computer is an Abacus. The conflict was actually about whether the Earth revolved around the sun or vice versa.  If you don’t know the answer to this you are what is wrong with the world.

Running into his blog  http://jandyongenesis.blogspot.com/ just threw even more of my assumptions into disarray. But then again they were not assumptions. Its what we have been taught since pre-school. However weird some of the stories in the bible sounded strange in the context of the Middle East and present day Israel we simply shrugged and swallowed it.  I mean we were kids any way with more pressing matters like where to get the shiniest marbles to play with.

Egyptian V
Egyptian V (Photo credit: yamaha_gangsta)

 

Reading conventional Eqyptian history or consuming popular media that claims to document Ancient Egyptian culture, tradition and peoples would lead you to think Ancient Egyptians were basically white with a bunch of black slaves. It would also appear that the Egyptian culture borrowed from e roman and the greek. The opposite is what happened. The dualistic nature of most religious systems including the popular motifs of a virgin birth, a divine son, resurrection etc are all Egyptian in Origin. And the Egyptians probably assimilated it from an older more sophisticated society from deeper in the continent.

Human life is thought to have started off somewhere in the region of L. Turkana, Kenya. The Petrified forests in the area are evidence that the area was once a lot more lush than the barren landscape that is existent now. The story of Eden is thus more likely to have been set in Africa rather than the Middle eastern junction of the Tigris and the Euphrates.

 

Egyptian Domesticated Animals
Egyptian Domesticated Animals (Photo credit: Believe Creative)
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Safaricom 3G underperforming

I intend to keep my interactions with Safaricom to a minimum because contrary to their impressive PR machine they are not affordable at all. I kinda like keeping money in my wallet where possible and Safaricom tends not to like that. Not that I have a problem with their profits or anything. I think anyone who is smart enough should make as much money from the market as is sensible. They also have the best Customer Service this side of the continent. That helps.

I am usually on orange for data and voice and mostly on Safaricom for MPesa.

Early last week, I got sent to Kwale by the office and knowing that the only hope of getting broadband here is through Safaricom, I promptly bought 1GB of data and prepared to instagram the sh** out of some palm trees. The experience I go was far from broadband and could only be described as EDGE on Heroin. I could barely do anything despite the network icon indicating I was on HSDPA+.

Side Bar::

When looking for todays weather forecast, came across this:

http://www.meteo.go.ke/pws/wx/web.mpg

Can’t make this stuff up.

End of Side Bar::

Now for Safaricom to have such issues makes a mockery of the premiums they charge.

Thinking this was an extension of the Pwani-sio-Kenya vibe i tried it out when I went upcountry to Nyeri. The performance was better but more sluggish than expected. I discovered this morning that my case was not isolated and as of yet no word from the affable CEO to anyone from the rank and file. This may not register on the QoS dashboard of the line managers but I think a sizable no. of subscribers is affected.

Not a problem anymore for me though when in the city  since I am on Orange on the go and Wifi at work and home.

 

 

 

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Tecno Phantom A+: First Impression and how to root

Soon after being relieved of my second Tecno smartphone I stuck to my policy of buying electronics. Its pretty simple buy more expensive in the event that I am careless and loose or are relieved of said gadget. I decided to always replace any gadget I loose with a better and more expensive one as soon as I can.

In order to adhere to the Mwangi policy, I proceeded to call up one Gideon Sigei, my go to guy for all things Tecno.  Since buying the N7 there have been several launches of droids sporting Android 4.2 most in the mid-range on price and feature sets. I wasn’t that interested in getting something I had previously owned. I thus went for the Tecno F7 (They call it the Tecno Phantom A+ but ain’t that such a mouthful?)

I gotta say I expected way less for the 20,000/- that was asked for the unit. I get a quad core  processor, a gig of ram, a GB of internal storage and an 8GB men card. Comes with a 5 inch screen in a better form factor than the Tecno N7 which was/is quite bulky in the hand, pocket and even on the desk. Its also lighter and easier on the eyes.

I tend not to store much on the phone apart from say a couple of pics and using the storage like portable storage. Tecno however need to try and up the internal storage, its really lagging behind competitors on this front anyway.

The 971mb ram seems to be handling tasks just fine with barely any lag or jittery operations.

Tecno Quadcore
Tecno Quadcore

Holding this phone in your hand makes you wonder exactly why you would buy a Samsung    phone. I know I am NOT getting a software upgrade to KitKat while some Samsung handsets will get an upgrade. I also have less internal storage but is that sufficient to warrant double the price for similar specs?

Well I will stick to my broke lanes while holding a gadget faster than my PC for half what it cost me several years ago.

Now for all the tinkerers out there here is how to root the gadget.

Requirements:

  • Windows 7 PC/laptop
  • ADB drivers(Just download the Android SDK and it should have all you need.)
  • eroot v1.3.3 found here

Now simply connect your phone to the PC and run the eroot software. Its in Chinese so you won’t understand much of what is going on(unless you are chines that is.) The only button you need is labelled ‘root’ and just click on it and thats it. Your Tecno F7 is rooted.

I doubt there is a need for a custom rom at this stage unless you are some kind of modding freak. Anyhow I have not explored past here.

 

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Securing your Smartphone : Antitheft Software

Smartphones have become a vital part of modern life at least to most urban dwellers of my age. I still meet people my age who can easily afford a smartphone but still operate rudimentary devices and I can’t help but be puzzled.

With the ever increasing computing power in our pockets, a lot of our lives is managed through the touchscreen be it managing finances, love lives, business or pleasure most of us turn to the palm sized bricks in our pockets.

Losing your smartphone thus becomes a micro nightmare especially if you saved a tiny fortune to keep up with the trends. Kenya Orient insurance have recently launched a mobile insurance product that is rather discriminative in terms of the gadgets they consider qualify for insurance cover. All I know is my Chinese android gadget is not swanky enough to merit insurance. Their loss either way.

So I recently got mugged and lost my phone (A Tecno N7) that was more infamous for its humongous size than for its tacky brand. I must say for its price point it more than delivered on it promise and I pretty much managed my life through it be it todo lists, maintaining social contacts, and planning work. The google navigation also saved our skin several times when making road trips.

On advice from a good friend,  I had installed avast! mobile security suite that includes backup, antitheft, antivirus etc. I was rather sceptical about the abilities of the antitheft module but I have now swallowed my words. I installed it as a system application and obfuscated it by giving it some generic name so that it doesn’t raise alarm amongst the bandit fraternity.

I was headed for Kericho the following day and so did not even report to the police or even attempt to lock or wipe remotely. A week later after a trans rift valley road trip, I settled down to see how useless or useful the avast! app was. There was no response for a few days and I assumed that the damn thing was already uninstalled. This morning however I logged on to the avast account dashboard and there it was. The bloidy pilferer in glorious GPS.

Gotta hand it to him though he aint daft. Whoever he sold it to is in Morogoro, Tanzania. Crossing borders makes it that much harder for the authorities to nail the bastard. If he was still in Kenya I would have his name by now and would be pestering the cops to nail the guy seeing as I would have his current position and no. and interactions.

Culprit's GPS positions

 

Apparently the root app is not so easy to get rid off however many times you factory reset. And it will not budge if you don’t know the PIN, which I only know. . muhahaha.

So now my interest was piqued. I promptly asked to receive all call and SMS activity sent to my line.  and they started trickling in. If this is anything to go by, then being a smartphone thug is becoming more and more dangerous.

Le Bagga

 

For now this is pure entertainment and the thought that the guy is having his airtime drain inexplicably is hilarious from all the way over here.

For now lemme watch.

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Why Dissing our MPs never gets old

Today I saw a meme that questioned the profound wisdom of older guys. The punchline was that daft people grow old too. I suppose in the past being daft meant you are likely to die fast and thus unlikely to be an old man. Possibly to live to be old meant you were smart enough to avoid the numerous risks.

Nowadays though walking into a hungry lion or cheetah or bumping into a buffalo in a foul mood is less likely. AlShabab is more likely to kill you in this part of the world than a wild animal pissed of at you fondling its children(Why do we call them wild anyway? they must think we are the weirdest things ever with all sorts of different feathers everyday and the propensity to murder each other for fun )

This reminded me of our members of parliament. The baggas always try and sound relevant to the times but in the effort they wind up showing  collossal amounts of ignorance and a significant waste of salaries. A week or so ago, a bunch of them(100 plus) all trooped to the airport to fly to the Hague “in a show of solidarity” with the Deputy president as he starts trial for causing Genocide. Such headlines are the stuff of movies.

The guys still vote by thumping their feet 3 years since seats fitted with electronic voting systems were installed. Why this happens should be investigated by Mr Ripley’s Believe it or not. Th e=recent utterances following the Westgate attack are what gripe me the most. They promised to ‘punish’ the armed forces for their dismal performance during the raid. How many of them have served in any of the forces even for a month remains unanswered.

Now Members of parliament are there to do only one thing. make laws. Foaming at the mouth trying to sound authoritative and dishing out orders for the walls to carry out is a waste of taxpayers resources in a purely fiscal manner.  Being loudmouths shouldn’t cost 1 million bob plus a month.

The link between poachers and the terrorists has long been established and the lacklustre treatment of the poachers shows more than the Westgate attack does. As is always best practice, always follow the money and you will find the culprits 99% of he time. The Ivory and Rhino horn is not sold to horn loving extraterrestrials.  If the NIS is half competent, then they have known his for decades. Why the security organs generally do nothing about it is again a bigger statement than any flurry of activity they take when a herd of elephants is found lying dead and tusk less.

Not one to be left behind, the institution of parliament has ben on a roll all year. From wailing like children to get more pay, to passing a horrendous VAT bill that I doubt any read or put any thought to, to spending mindless hours debating on even more mindless referendums to change the constitution.

As we speak a poacher caught in the act or an individual caught with ivory gets such a pitiful fine that its generally risk free to be a poacher or trafficker. No MP has bothered to sponsor the Wildlife Bill that has been prepared by the professionals at KWS. Not one.

So when I hear them shouting hoarse about national security I wonder what the hell they are talking about. Our Cabinet secretaries are even more clueless with some thinking hostage corpses are insignificant.

If there are no hollywood producers setting camp here, there is massive amount of content going to waste.

 

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The last Question

The Last Question by Isaac Asimov — © 1956

The last question was asked for the first time, half in jest, on May 21, 2061, at a time when humanity first stepped into the light. The question came about as a result of a five dollar bet over highballs, and it happened this way:

Alexander Adell and Bertram Lupov were two of the faithful attendants of Multivac. As well as any human beings could, they knew what lay behind the cold, clicking, flashing face — miles and miles of face — of that giant computer. They had at least a vague notion of the general plan of relays and circuits that had long since grown past the point where any single human could possibly have a firm grasp of the whole.

Multivac was self-adjusting and self-correcting. It had to be, for nothing human could adjust and correct it quickly enough or even adequately enough — so Adell and Lupov attended the monstrous giant only lightly and superficially, yet as well as any men could. They fed it data, adjusted questions to its needs and translated the answers that were issued. Certainly they, and all others like them, were fully entitled to share in the glory that was Multivac’s.

For decades, Multivac had helped design the ships and plot the trajectories that enabled man to reach the Moon, Mars, and Venus, but past that, Earth’s poor resources could not support the ships. Too much energy was needed for the long trips. Earth exploited its coal and uranium with increasing efficiency, but there was only so much of both.

But slowly Multivac learned enough to answer deeper questions more fundamentally, and on May 14, 2061, what had been theory, became fact.

The energy of the sun was stored, converted, and utilized directly on a planet-wide scale. All Earth turned off its burning coal, its fissioning uranium, and flipped the switch that connected all of it to a small station, one mile in diameter, circling the Earth at half the distance of the Moon. All Earth ran by invisible beams of sunpower.

Seven days had not sufficed to dim the glory of it and Adell and Lupov finally managed to escape from the public function, and to meet in quiet where no one would think of looking for them, in the deserted underground chambers, where portions of the mighty buried body of Multivac showed. Unattended, idling, sorting data with contented lazy clickings, Multivac, too, had earned its vacation and the boys appreciated that. They had no intention, originally, of disturbing it.

They had brought a bottle with them, and their only concern at the moment was to relax in the company of each other and the bottle.

“It’s amazing when you think of it,” said Adell. His broad face had lines of weariness in it, and he stirred his drink slowly with a glass rod, watching the cubes of ice slur clumsily about. “All the energy we can possibly ever use for free. Enough energy, if we wanted to draw on it, to melt all Earth into a big drop of impure liquid iron, and still never miss the energy so used. All the energy we could ever use, forever and forever and forever.”

Lupov cocked his head sideways. He had a trick of doing that when he wanted to be contrary, and he wanted to be contrary now, partly because he had had to carry the ice and glassware. “Not forever,” he said.

 

“Oh, hell, just about forever. Till the sun runs down, Bert.”

“That’s not forever.”

“All right, then. Billions and billions of years. Twenty billion, maybe. Are you satisfied?”

Lupov put his fingers through his thinning hair as though to reassure himself that some was still left and sipped gently at his own drink. “Twenty billion years isn’t forever.”

“Will, it will last our time, won’t it?”

“So would the coal and uranium.”

“All right, but now we can hook up each individual spaceship to the Solar Station, and it can go to Pluto and back a million times without ever worrying about fuel. You can’t do THAT on coal and uranium. Ask Multivac, if you don’t believe me.”

“I don’t have to ask Multivac. I know that.”

“Then stop running down what Multivac’s done for us,” said Adell, blazing up. “It did all right.”

“Who says it didn’t? What I say is that a sun won’t last forever. That’s all I’m saying. We’re safe for twenty billion years, but then what?” Lupov pointed a slightly shaky finger at the other. “And don’t say we’ll switch to another sun.”

There was silence for a while. Adell put his glass to his lips only occasionally, and Lupov’s eyes slowly closed. They rested.

Then Lupov’s eyes snapped open. “You’re thinking we’ll switch to another sun when ours is done, aren’t you?”

“I’m not thinking.”

“Sure you are. You’re weak on logic, that’s the trouble with you. You’re like the guy in the story who was caught in a sudden shower and who ran to a grove of trees and got under one. He wasn’t worried, you see, because he figured when one tree got wet through, he would just get under another one.”

“I get it,” said Adell. “Don’t shout. When the sun is done, the other stars will be gone, too.”

“Darn right they will,” muttered Lupov. “It all had a beginning in the original cosmic explosion, whatever that was, and it’ll all have an end when all the stars run down. Some run down faster than others. Hell, the giants won’t last a hundred million years. The sun will last twenty billion years and maybe the dwarfs will last a hundred billion for all the good they are. But just give us a trillion years and everything will be dark. Entropy has to increase to maximum, that’s all.”

“I know all about entropy,” said Adell, standing on his dignity.

“The hell you do.”

“I know as much as you do.”

“Then you know everything’s got to run down someday.”

“All right. Who says they won’t?”

“You did, you poor sap. You said we had all the energy we needed, forever. You said ‘forever.’”

“It was Adell’s turn to be contrary. “Maybe we can build things up again someday,” he said.

“Never.”

“Why not? Someday.”

“Never.”

“Ask Multivac.”

You ask Multivac. I dare you. Five dollars says it can’t be done.”

Adell was just drunk enough to try, just sober enough to be able to phrase the necessary symbols and operations into a question which, in words, might have corresponded to this: Will mankind one day without the net expenditure of energy be able to restore the sun to its full youthfulness even after it had died of old age?

Or maybe it could be put more simply like this: How can the net amount of entropy of the universe be massively decreased?

Multivac fell dead and silent. The slow flashing of lights ceased, the distant sounds of clicking relays ended.

Then, just as the frightened technicians felt they could hold their breath no longer, there was a sudden springing to life of the teletype attached to that portion of Multivac. Five words were printed: INSUFFICIENT DATA FOR MEANINGFUL ANSWER.

“No bet,” whispered Lupov. They left hurriedly.

By next morning, the two, plagued with throbbing head and cottony mouth, had forgotten about the incident.


Jerrodd, Jerrodine, and Jerrodette I and II watched the starry picture in the visiplate change as the passage through hyperspace was completed in its non-time lapse. At once, the even powdering of stars gave way to the predominance of a single bright marble-disk, centered.

 

“That’s X-23,” said Jerrodd confidently. His thin hands clamped tightly behind his back and the knuckles whitened.

The little Jerrodettes, both girls, had experienced the hyperspace passage for the first time in their lives and were self-conscious over the momentary sensation of inside-outness. They buried their giggles and chased one another wildly about their mother, screaming, “We’ve reached X-23 — we’ve reached X-23 — we’ve —-”

“Quiet, children,” said Jerrodine sharply. “Are you sure, Jerrodd?”

“What is there to be but sure?” asked Jerrodd, glancing up at the bulge of featureless metal just under the ceiling. It ran the length of the room, disappearing through the wall at either end. It was as long as the ship.

Jerrodd scarcely knew a thing about the thick rod of metal except that it was called a Microvac, that one asked it questions if one wished; that if one did not it still had its task of guiding the ship to a preordered destination; of feeding on energies from the various Sub-galactic Power Stations; of computing the equations for the hyperspacial jumps.

Jerrodd and his family had only to wait and live in the comfortable residence quarters of the ship.

Someone had once told Jerrodd that the “ac” at the end of “Microvac” stood for “analog computer” in ancient English, but he was on the edge of forgetting even that.

Jerrodine’s eyes were moist as she watched the visiplate. “I can’t help it. I feel funny about leaving Earth.”

“Why for Pete’s sake?” demanded Jerrodd. “We had nothing there. We’ll have everything on X-23. You won’t be alone. You won’t be a pioneer. There are over a million people on the planet already. Good Lord, our great grandchildren will be looking for new worlds because X-23 will be overcrowded.”

Then, after a reflective pause, “I tell you, it’s a lucky thing the computers worked out interstellar travel the way the race is growing.”

“I know, I know,” said Jerrodine miserably.

Jerrodette I said promptly, “Our Microvac is the best Microvac in the world.”

“I think so, too,” said Jerrodd, tousling her hair.

It was a nice feeling to have a Microvac of your own and Jerrodd was glad he was part of his generation and no other. In his father’s youth, the only computers had been tremendous machines taking up a hundred square miles of land. There was only one to a planet. Planetary ACs they were called. They had been growing in size steadily for a thousand years and then, all at once, came refinement. In place of transistors had come molecular valves so that even the largest Planetary AC could be put into a space only half the volume of a spaceship.

Jerrodd felt uplifted, as he always did when he thought that his own personal Microvac was many times more complicated than the ancient and primitive Multivac that had first tamed the Sun, and almost as complicated as Earth’s Planetary AC (the largest) that had first solved the problem of hyperspatial travel and had made trips to the stars possible.

“So many stars, so many planets,” sighed Jerrodine, busy with her own thoughts. “I suppose families will be going out to new planets forever, the way we are now.”

“Not forever,” said Jerrodd, with a smile. “It will all stop someday, but not for billions of years. Many billions. Even the stars run down, you know. Entropy must increase.”

“What’s entropy, daddy?” shrilled Jerrodette II.

“Entropy, little sweet, is just a word which means the amount of running-down of the universe. Everything runs down, you know, like your little walkie-talkie robot, remember?”

“Can’t you just put in a new power-unit, like with my robot?”

The stars are the power-units, dear. Once they’re gone, there are no more power-units.”

Jerrodette I at once set up a howl. “Don’t let them, daddy. Don’t let the stars run down.”

“Now look what you’ve done,” whispered Jerrodine, exasperated.

“How was I to know it would frighten them?” Jerrodd whispered back.

“Ask the Microvac,” wailed Jerrodette I. “Ask him how to turn the stars on again.”

“Go ahead,” said Jerrodine. “It will quiet them down.” (Jerrodette II was beginning to cry, also.)

Jarrodd shrugged. “Now, now, honeys. I’ll ask Microvac. Don’t worry, he’ll tell us.”

He asked the Microvac, adding quickly, “Print the answer.”

Jerrodd cupped the strip of thin cellufilm and said cheerfully, “See now, the Microvac says it will take care of everything when the time comes so don’t worry.”

Jerrodine said, “and now children, it’s time for bed. We’ll be in our new home soon.”

Jerrodd read the words on the cellufilm again before destroying it: INSUFFICIENT DATA FOR A MEANINGFUL ANSWER.

He shrugged and looked at the visiplate. X-23 was just ahead.


VJ-23X of Lameth stared into the black depths of the three-dimensional, small-scale map of the Galaxy and said, “Are we ridiculous, I wonder, in being so concerned about the matter?”

 

MQ-17J of Nicron shook his head. “I think not. You know the Galaxy will be filled in five years at the present rate of expansion.”

Both seemed in their early twenties, both were tall and perfectly formed.

“Still,” said VJ-23X, “I hesitate to submit a pessimistic report to the Galactic Council.”

“I wouldn’t consider any other kind of report. Stir them up a bit. We’ve got to stir them up.”

VJ-23X sighed. “Space is infinite. A hundred billion Galaxies are there for the taking. More.”

“A hundred billion is not infinite and it’s getting less infinite all the time. Consider! Twenty thousand years ago, mankind first solved the problem of utilizing stellar energy, and a few centuries later, interstellar travel became possible. It took mankind a million years to fill one small world and then only fifteen thousand years to fill the rest of the Galaxy. Now the population doubles every ten years –”

VJ-23X interrupted. “We can thank immortality for that.”

“Very well. Immortality exists and we have to take it into account. I admit it has its seamy side, this immortality. The Galactic AC has solved many problems for us, but in solving the problems of preventing old age and death, it has undone all its other solutions.”

“Yet you wouldn’t want to abandon life, I suppose.”

“Not at all,” snapped MQ-17J, softening it at once to, “Not yet. I’m by no means old enough. How old are you?”

“Two hundred twenty-three. And you?”

“I’m still under two hundred. –But to get back to my point. Population doubles every ten years. Once this Galaxy is filled, we’ll have another filled in ten years. Another ten years and we’ll have filled two more. Another decade, four more. In a hundred years, we’ll have filled a thousand Galaxies. In a thousand years, a million Galaxies. In ten thousand years, the entire known Universe. Then what?”

VJ-23X said, “As a side issue, there’s a problem of transportation. I wonder how many sunpower units it will take to move Galaxies of individuals from one Galaxy to the next.”

“A very good point. Already, mankind consumes two sunpower units per year.”

“Most of it’s wasted. After all, our own Galaxy alone pours out a thousand sunpower units a year and we only use two of those.”

“Granted, but even with a hundred per cent efficiency, we can only stave off the end. Our energy requirements are going up in geometric progression even faster than our population. We’ll run out of energy even sooner than we run out of Galaxies. A good point. A very good point.”

“We’ll just have to build new stars out of interstellar gas.”

“Or out of dissipated heat?” asked MQ-17J, sarcastically.

“There may be some way to reverse entropy. We ought to ask the Galactic AC.”

VJ-23X was not really serious, but MQ-17J pulled out his AC-contact from his pocket and placed it on the table before him.

“I’ve half a mind to,” he said. “It’s something the human race will have to face someday.”

He stared somberly at his small AC-contact. It was only two inches cubed and nothing in itself, but it was connected through hyperspace with the great Galactic AC that served all mankind. Hyperspace considered, it was an integral part of the Galactic AC.

MQ-17J paused to wonder if someday in his immortal life he would get to see the Galactic AC. It was on a little world of its own, a spider webbing of force-beams holding the matter within which surges of sub-mesons took the place of the old clumsy molecular valves. Yet despite it’s sub-etheric workings, the Galactic AC was known to be a full thousand feet across.

MQ-17J asked suddenly of his AC-contact, “Can entropy ever be reversed?”

VJ-23X looked startled and said at once, “Oh, say, I didn’t really mean to have you ask that.”

“Why not?”

“We both know entropy can’t be reversed. You can’t turn smoke and ash back into a tree.”

“Do you have trees on your world?” asked MQ-17J.

The sound of the Galactic AC startled them into silence. Its voice came thin and beautiful out of the small AC-contact on the desk. It said: THERE IS INSUFFICIENT DATA FOR A MEANINGFUL ANSWER.

VJ-23X said, “See!”

The two men thereupon returned to the question of the report they were to make to the Galactic Council.


Zee Prime’s mind spanned the new Galaxy with a faint interest in the countless twists of stars that powdered it. He had never seen this one before. Would he ever see them all? So many of them, each with its load of humanity – but a load that was almost a dead weight. More and more, the real essence of men was to be found out here, in space.

 

Minds, not bodies! The immortal bodies remained back on the planets, in suspension over the eons. Sometimes they roused for material activity but that was growing rarer. Few new individuals were coming into existence to join the incredibly mighty throng, but what matter? There was little room in the Universe for new individuals.

Zee Prime was roused out of his reverie upon coming across the wispy tendrils of another mind.

“I am Zee Prime,” said Zee Prime. “And you?”

“I am Dee Sub Wun. Your Galaxy?”

“We call it only the Galaxy. And you?”

“We call ours the same. All men call their Galaxy their Galaxy and nothing more. Why not?”

“True. Since all Galaxies are the same.”

“Not all Galaxies. On one particular Galaxy the race of man must have originated. That makes it different.”

Zee Prime said, “On which one?”

“I cannot say. The Universal AC would know.”

“Shall we ask him? I am suddenly curious.”

Zee Prime’s perceptions broadened until the Galaxies themselves shrunk and became a new, more diffuse powdering on a much larger background. So many hundreds of billions of them, all with their immortal beings, all carrying their load of intelligences with minds that drifted freely through space. And yet one of them was unique among them all in being the originals Galaxy. One of them had, in its vague and distant past, a period when it was the only Galaxy populated by man.

Zee Prime was consumed with curiosity to see this Galaxy and called, out: “Universal AC! On which Galaxy did mankind originate?”

The Universal AC heard, for on every world and throughout space, it had its receptors ready, and each receptor lead through hyperspace to some unknown point where the Universal AC kept itself aloof.

Zee Prime knew of only one man whose thoughts had penetrated within sensing distance of Universal AC, and he reported only a shining globe, two feet across, difficult to see.

“But how can that be all of Universal AC?” Zee Prime had asked.

“Most of it, ” had been the answer, “is in hyperspace. In what form it is there I cannot imagine.”

Nor could anyone, for the day had long since passed, Zee Prime knew, when any man had any part of the making of a universal AC. Each Universal AC designed and constructed its successor. Each, during its existence of a million years or more accumulated the necessary data to build a better and more intricate, more capable successor in which its own store of data and individuality would be submerged.

The Universal AC interrupted Zee Prime’s wandering thoughts, not with words, but with guidance. Zee Prime’s mentality was guided into the dim sea of Galaxies and one in particular enlarged into stars.

A thought came, infinitely distant, but infinitely clear. “THIS IS THE ORIGINAL GALAXY OF MAN.”

But it was the same after all, the same as any other, and Zee Prime stifled his disappointment.

Dee Sub Wun, whose mind had accompanied the other, said suddenly, “And is one of these stars the original star of Man?”

The Universal AC said, “MAN’S ORIGINAL STAR HAS GONE NOVA. IT IS NOW A WHITE DWARF.”

“Did the men upon it die?” asked Zee Prime, startled and without thinking.

The Universal AC said, “A NEW WORLD, AS IN SUCH CASES, WAS CONSTRUCTED FOR THEIR PHYSICAL BODIES IN TIME.”

“Yes, of course,” said Zee Prime, but a sense of loss overwhelmed him even so. His mind released its hold on the original Galaxy of Man, let it spring back and lose itself among the blurred pin points. He never wanted to see it again.

Dee Sub Wun said, “What is wrong?”

“The stars are dying. The original star is dead.”

“They must all die. Why not?”

“But when all energy is gone, our bodies will finally die, and you and I with them.”

“It will take billions of years.”

“I do not wish it to happen even after billions of years. Universal AC! How may stars be kept from dying?”

Dee sub Wun said in amusement, “You’re asking how entropy might be reversed in direction.”

And the Universal AC answered. “THERE IS AS YET INSUFFICIENT DATA FOR A MEANINGFUL ANSWER.”

Zee Prime’s thoughts fled back to his own Galaxy. He gave no further thought to Dee Sub Wun, whose body might be waiting on a galaxy a trillion light-years away, or on the star next to Zee Prime’s own. It didn’t matter.

Unhappily, Zee Prime began collecting interstellar hydrogen out of which to build a small star of his own. If the stars must someday die, at least some could yet be built.


Man considered with himself, for in a way, Man, mentally, was one. He consisted of a trillion, trillion, trillion ageless bodies, each in its place, each resting quiet and incorruptible, each cared for by perfect automatons, equally incorruptible, while the minds of all the bodies freely melted one into the other, indistinguishable.

 

Man said, “The Universe is dying.”

Man looked about at the dimming Galaxies. The giant stars, spendthrifts, were gone long ago, back in the dimmest of the dim far past. Almost all stars were white dwarfs, fading to the end.

New stars had been built of the dust between the stars, some by natural processes, some by Man himself, and those were going, too. White dwarfs might yet be crashed together and of the mighty forces so released, new stars built, but only one star for every thousand white dwarfs destroyed, and those would come to an end, too.

Man said, “Carefully husbanded, as directed by the Cosmic AC, the energy that is even yet left in all the Universe will last for billions of years.”

“But even so,” said Man, “eventually it will all come to an end. However it may be husbanded, however stretched out, the energy once expended is gone and cannot be restored. Entropy must increase to the maximum.”

Man said, “Can entropy not be reversed? Let us ask the Cosmic AC.”

The Cosmic AC surrounded them but not in space. Not a fragment of it was in space. It was in hyperspace and made of something that was neither matter nor energy. The question of its size and Nature no longer had meaning to any terms that Man could comprehend.

“Cosmic AC,” said Man, “How may entropy be reversed?”

The Cosmic AC said, “THERE IS AS YET INSUFFICIENT DATA FOR A MEANINGFUL ANSWER.”

Man said, “Collect additional data.”

The Cosmic AC said, “I WILL DO SO. I HAVE BEEN DOING SO FOR A HUNDRED BILLION YEARS. MY PREDECESSORS AND I HAVE BEEN ASKED THIS QUESTION MANY TIMES. ALL THE DATA I HAVE REMAINS INSUFFICIENT.”

“Will there come a time,” said Man, “when data will be sufficient or is the problem insoluble in all conceivable circumstances?”

The Cosmic AC said, “NO PROBLEM IS INSOLUBLE IN ALL CONCEIVABLE CIRCUMSTANCES.”

Man said, “When will you have enough data to answer the question?”

“THERE IS AS YET INSUFFICIENT DATA FOR A MEANINGFUL ANSWER.”

“Will you keep working on it?” asked Man.

The Cosmic AC said, “I WILL.”

Man said, “We shall wait.”


The stars and Galaxies died and snuffed out, and space grew black after ten trillion years of running down.

 

One by one Man fused with AC, each physical body losing its mental identity in a manner that was somehow not a loss but a gain.

Man’s last mind paused before fusion, looking over a space that included nothing but the dregs of one last dark star and nothing besides but incredibly thin matter, agitated randomly by the tag ends of heat wearing out, asymptotically, to the absolute zero.

Man said, “AC, is this the end? Can this chaos not be reversed into the Universe once more? Can that not be done?”

AC said, “THERE IS AS YET INSUFFICIENT DATA FOR A MEANINGFUL ANSWER.”

Man’s last mind fused and only AC existed — and that in hyperspace.


Matter and energy had ended and with it, space and time. Even AC existed only for the sake of the one last question that it had never answered from the time a half-drunken computer ten trillion years before had asked the question of a computer that was to AC far less than was a man to Man.

 

All other questions had been answered, and until this last question was answered also, AC might not release his consciousness.

All collected data had come to a final end. Nothing was left to be collected.

But all collected data had yet to be completely correlated and put together in all possible relationships.

A timeless interval was spent in doing that.

And it came to pass that AC learned how to reverse the direction of entropy.

But there was now no man to whom AC might give the answer of the last question. No matter. The answer — by demonstration — would take care of that, too.

For another timeless interval, AC thought how best to do this. Carefully, AC organized the program.

The consciousness of AC encompassed all of what had once been a Universe and brooded over what was now Chaos. Step by step, it must be done.

And AC said, “LET THERE BE LIGHT!”

And there was light –

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How Windows Phone could be salvaged

If there are investors that are not believing their misfortune it must be Research In Motion shareholders. watching your company move from dominating the smartphone market to limping about like an old diseased dog must be absolutely devastating.

Blackberry footsied about ignoring the growing dominance of iOS and Android devices and the rest as they say is history. At some point my adventurous self tried out the Blackberry Storm 2 and I must say save for the awesome camera the rest of the phone was crap. Slow to respond, heavier than a brick with some weird tactile feedback screen and the worst battery life I have ever seen in a new smartphone. Reminded me of pre 2008 laptops.

English: The BlackBerry Storm 9530 smartphone.
English: The BlackBerry Storm 9530 smartphone. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

But the one place Blackberry ruled and is still dominant to date is in the enterprise/corporate world. Suit wearers love the email and security features built into the device and I still see corporate types donning Blackberries albeit less and less.

And this is where the cousin of Blackberry (at least in the insignificant market share family) should be capitalizing and getting a foothold. As far as I can tell the dominant OS on most corporate desktops is still windows. Throw in a well thought out affordable windows tablet that can easily be hooked up to the offices intranet and CEOs will stop buying iPads. Put the same amount of effort if not more into a security and work conscious Windows phone and CEOs and their minions will go the Windows phone way. Make the entire ecosystem so rock solid and seamless that Windows phone becomes the default corporate hardware.

English: Picture from the Samsung Omnia 7 (als...
English: Picture from the Samsung Omnia 7 (also known as Samsung I8700) with Windows Phone 7 Homescreen. Deutsch: Bild des Samsung Omnia 7 (auch bekannt als Samsung I8700) mit Windows Phone 7 Homescreen. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Forget the consumer market for now, you will get them later. Fighting the Samsung galaxy’s and iPhones now is not going to be easy and a lot of marketing dollars will be wasted. Go for the sure budgets and they will soon trickle into the consumer market, just like the Blackberries did. Then take the entire Blackberry model where they have preferential data rates etc. Hell buy Blackberry outright. Why not? They are cheap enough now.

Wasting time fighting with Android gadgets about who is prettiest is only wasting their money flogging a limping horse.

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How to Root the Tecno N7 and install CWM

The Users of the Tecno N7 know what a bargain the device is and for the enthusiastic modders and those wanting maximum control of their device, having root is important.

Being a chinese device there isn’t much that happens in the mainstream developer circles (XDA) concerning it but there is an active community complete with very easy to use tools that you can use to root your ching chong thing and have just as much fun as the rest of the android crowd.

Now few of the regular tools seem to work so I dug around the interwebs till I found the simplest rooting tool ever. It goes by the name SRSRoot and all it needs is adb drivers and you are good to go. Be warned though that it needs internet access to talk to its servers. This got me worried for abit before I realised I barely know what rootkits Google has hidden in the OS for the US govt and that I barely have any sensitive info on the phone anyway. All you do is click root and it looks for the best way to do it and does it. Pretty simple and straightforward.

Screenshot_2013-09-03-14-21-03[1] Screenshot_2013-09-03-14-20-51[1]

Installing CWM was the hardest part no small part for the reason stated before, the community is still small.

I however found a no brainer resource that shows you step by step how to generate a CWM recovery for your device.

Requirements:

  • A windows 7 based PC or Laptop
  • ADB drivers installed on your machine
  • MTK Droid Tools v2.4.8 which can be found here
  • Tutorial which is to be found here
  • If you want to dump your ROM or backup here is a tutorial

Its a pretty straight forward process where the  software will do all the heavy lifting for you leaving you with a custom made recovery for the Tecno N7 allowing you to flash whatever zip you fancy and to mod it to your hearts content with custom themes etc. I believe the procedure will work with just about any other chinese or otherwise device that is based on the Mediatek chipsets. Ie if your processor is MTKxxx then this is likely to work. Just about all Chinese made phones i.e mi-Fone, Tecno, etc have MTKxxx chipsets and should work. It creates a custom recovery based on CWM specifically for your device. It doesn’t get more custom than that.

MTKdroidroot

 

I am informed that Tecno have not released the kernel source and thus building a custom ROM for the device will be impossible.  I don’t know how true that is since there are some for the N3 so there may be hope yet.

I went through all this trouble because of a problem with installing Google play services on this device. It kept popping an error when it tried to install and it was driving me nuts. Some apps require it to run e.g Foursquare, Hangouts, Avast Mobile Security etc.

All I did was clear the dalvik cache and wipe all the phone memory (that is do a factory reset and wipe ) and flash the gapps for ICS again from CWM and I was back in business.

Try it out and tell me what you think.

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