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Photo of the LattePanda with an external screen

These look cool, and I love the name. Think of Raspberry Pis, but with a quad-core Intel Atom CPU instead of an ARM chip, and Arduino compatibility. It seems the world is moving towards the latter CPU architecture, but you can’t beat amd64 compatibility.

The site lists the following specifications:

Processor: Intel Cherry Trail Z8350 Quad Core 1.8GHz
Operation System: Pre-installed full edition of Windows 10
Storage: 32GB
GPU: Intel HD, 12 EUs @200-500 Mhz, single-channel RAM
USB: One USB 3.0 port and two USB 2.0 ports
Wireless: WiFi and Bluetooth 4.0
Arduino Co-processor: ATmega32u4
Video output: HDMI, MIPI-DSI, touch panel overlay connector
Ethernet: 100Mbps
• 6 GPIOs from Cherry Trail processor
• 20 GPIOs from Arduino Leonardo
• 6 Plug and play Gravity sensor connectors
Power: 5v/2A
Dimensions of Board: 88 * 70 mm/ 3.46 * 2.76 inches
Packing Size: 110 * 94 * 30 mm/4.33 * 3.70 * 1.18 inches
Weight: 55g net, 100g gross

I wonder if it’d run FreeBSD, or NetBSD?

Music Monday: Book-end, Happy-end

TVアニメ『ガイコツ書店員 本田さん』ED主題歌 「Book-end, Happy-end」 MV Fullsize/TECHNOBOYS PULCRAFT GREEN-FUND feat.高野 寛

It’s Music Monday again, that time of week where we take a look at a song I may be obsessing over.

Today we have this delightful song by the TECHNOBOYS PULCRAFT GREEN-FUND, with Hiroshi Takano (centre-right above) providing his unique vocals.

Everything about this is perfect. I loved the visual imagery, the shots of all the vintage electronic gear they’re using, the endless shots of Tokyo. I badly want to get back there as soon as humanly possible!

And of course, the music is great. Their smiling is infectious! The closest I can describe the sound is soft, happy electronica.

What a beautiful song :).

Haruhi in the 2007 Megami magazine

2006’s smash hit Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuutsu was the the series that got me back into anime. I thought I’d seen all of Ikeda Shouko’s art for Kyoto Animation, but her one for this 2007 Megami issue slipped under the radar.

Itsuki looks like he’s having so much fun being the ace of clubs! Then again, when was he ever not smiling? I think we could all learn something from that.

Signed, decade-long SOS団 member Ruben.

The new MacBook Air isn’t 2:1 Retina

I was doing some more research into the new kit Apple released last week, and came across this worrying FAQ on Apple Insider:

The 13.3-inch LCD display on the new MacBook Air has a native resolution of 2,560-by-1,600 pixels, with scaled resolutions of 1680 x 1050, 1440 x 900, and 1024 x 640.

This means the MacBook Air doesn’t have native 2:1 Retina scaling. It should default to 1280×800, not 1400×900.

It’s not the first time Apple has done this, but it’s still a worrying trend. Benjamin Mayo summarised the issue for 9to5Mac when Apple did this on the MacBook Pro recently, emphasis added:

The images the GPU is creating cannot fit cleanly onto the native display resolution; they are not integer scalings of the native resolution.

macOS cheats a little by squeezing in the images into the screen pixel matrix using algorithm tricks to smooth out the effect. The consequence is that text is not perfectly sharp and things like 1px lines will never quite fit the pixel grid. Some UI elements will look a little fuzzy.

Perhaps they wanted to fudge the Air’s resolution to appear higher than it really is; we can only speculate. But the end result is the same: a MacBook Air bought today will have a blurrier screen.

Since the iPhone 4, Apple sought to define Retina as being 2:1 for pixel ratios in the same physical space. So a 2560×1600 display was 2x horizontally and 2x vertically of a 1280×800 display. It makes so much design work simpler, and screens automatically look crisper. Double the resolution of assets, and be done.

By comparison, Windows 10 and PC manufacturers default to 1.5:1 for high resolution display scaling. That’s to be expected for cheap hardware, but not for the calibre and attention to detail Apple is known for. Or at least, used to be.

I hope Apple Insider was wrong, and we get hardware with the correct scaled Retina resolution. Otherwise, it’d be hard for me to recommend buying this machine.

WordNet and Problematical

A few technical podcasters I listen to keep using the term problematical. I didn’t think it was a word, but according to WordNet:

Overview of adj problematical

The adj problematical has 2 senses (no senses from tagged texts)

  1. debatable, problematic, problematical – (open to doubt or debate; “If you ever get married, which seems to be extremely problematic”)

  2. baffling, elusive, knotty, problematic, problematical, tough – (making great mental demands; hard to comprehend or solve or believe; “a baffling problem”; “I faced the knotty problem of what to have for breakfast”; “a problematic situation at home”)

I’ll stick to problematic, but there you go.

Also, you owe it to yourself to install textproc/wordnet, or WordNet from homebrew. Then you can get a definition overview with:

$ wn problematical -over

Or the “-sensa” option, which returned the following synonyms:

Sense 1
debatable, problematic, problematical
=> questionable (vs. unquestionable)

Sense 2
baffling, elusive, knotty, problematic, problematical, tough
=> difficult (vs. easy), hard

A new type of blog referral spam

If you’ve been blogging for a reasonable length of time, there’s a fair to strong chance that websites you’ve linked to no longer exist. There’s a wider question about the implications of this, but that’s for a future post.

These unintentional broken link archives have attracted a new, specific type of referral spam. Akin to a spearfishing, the junk mailer attempts to persuade you they’re providing a service in return for trackback links to their site. Here’s an example:

Hi Ruben,

I noticed you’ve shared Frostwire ( on this page, as you might be aware, Frostwire announced at the end of September that it would be shutting down.

We’ve put together a guide to the best alternatives. Here’s the link.

Perhaps you could update your page to include a link to our guide so that anyone still interested in Frostwire has an alternative.

I hope this helps.

I was almost tricked the first time because the phrasing seemed plausible. But I get at least one a week now, and it’s clear they’re cookie-cutter templates based on web searches sprayed out to bloggers.

The nail in the coffin was when I received a specific one about the Zune. I had been joking about how bad Microsoft’s iPod killer was back in the day, and unsurprisingly the link to the Microsoft site is now gone. Clearly having never read the article, someone attempted to convince me my great Zune articles need updated links.

Since writing this post, I got a flavour of did you get a chance to review spam, though with the same content pasted again:

I’ve not heard from you, so I’ll take the hint and leave you alone but if you do want to fix the broken link here are the details.

A tale of two Finders

Force Quit Applications showing multiple Finders

I’ve been using Mac OS X, OS X, macOS, or whatever they’re calling it now, since the original betas. And I don’t think I’ve ever had multiple Finder processes running. I’ve had no Finders many times, and multiple BBEdits back in the day.

More curious is the fact Activity Monitor only lists iTunes Helper as Not Responding. I know how it feels.

Rounded internal SCSI cables

Need to connect a series of internal SCSI hardware in your vintage computer, but you don’t want to restrict airflow with a ribbon? PC Pitstop has your covered:

Internal Rounded SCSI Cables: For all 68 pin cables with 3 or more connectors, one connector is reserved for the controller and one for the terminator. You will need a terminator unless you already have one. All Ultra 320 cables are fully backwards compatible with older U160/Ultra2/SE devices.

Not pictured are the rounded SCSI cables themselves, owing to the store being out of stock.