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Young couple cycling around the world

April 21, 2019 — BarryK

I borrowed a book from the local library, "The road that has no end", by Tim Travis, which details the first leg of their journey, from the USA to Panama. I have not read the second book, which covers the segment from Panama to Argentina. fascinating, they took seven years to get that far, really getting to know each place they went through.

A lot of danger too, and in some places the locals hate Americans, due to US military support of dictactorships, and the young couple pretended they were Canadian.

A few days ago, I borrowed the third book. I would like to have read the second, but will do so when it becomes available. After Argentina, the young couple, well, not quite so young after seven years, now in approx late 30s, flew back to stay with family in the USA, then decided to change their original plan, flew to Thailand, with the intention of cycling through Cambodia, Vietnam, up to China.

Their experiences in Vietnam have brought back sad memories for me. I was in my 12th year of school when conscription was introduced here in Australia. Call-up was by a ballot system, and fortunately I missed out. Anyway, those going onto higher education would have had their call-up deferred. Some members of my class joined the "home guard", forget what it was called, a part-time military service, being a member of was a way of avoiding the military call-up and being sent to Vietnam. The war began in 1965, not sure when compulsory conscription was introduced, but it was in place in 1968 when I reached the 12th year of school.

Quoting Tim from his book:

The Vietnam war lasted eight years and killed 57,000 Americans and millions of Vietnamese. It all but destroyed Vietnam, and came pretty close to wreaking America as well, with anti-war protests splitting the country in two. In 1975, two years after the war ended, Communists took over South Vietnam anyway, making the entire ill-conceived adventure for naught.

In Australia, we watched the horror of those millions getting killed, as the US carpet-bombed the North, as well as neighbouring Cambodia. Then there was the spraying of Agent Orange over vast areas. Tim wrote:

Agent Orange, the defoliant used by Americans to clear away Vietnam's lush greenery to prevent the VC [Viet Cong, the enemy combatants) from hiding. Even today, decades after the war, children are being born with no limbs, curved backs or other disfigurements due to the dioxin in Agent Orange.

And again:

It's hard to be proud of America's so-called high moral ground after riding through village after village with deformed and crippled children due to their parent's exposure to something paid for by American taxpayers.

Tim also made a very sobering comment on what he learned in school about the Vietnam war:

Growing up in America, studying history in public schools, and watching television, it was never clear to me exactly how the war came to an end. I tried to remember what I was taught about the Vietnam war, but it seemed fuzzy; possibly a tie.
Not only did the USA lose, we lost using some pretty underhanded tactics -- another thing that schools do not teach.

It is all very sad. More recently, we have the war in Iraq, where the US trumped up a story about "weapons of mass destruction", as they needed an excuse to invade Iraq. More massive bombing. I could go on. But, enough, it is all too depressing.

On a bright note, Tim and his wife found the people of Vietnam to be very friendly. Of course, they asked people about their feelings toward Americans, and the general response was of forgiveness. 

The authors have a website: 

EDIT 2019-04-23:
It was "Tricky Dicky" (Richard Nixon) who authorized the carpet bombing, and John F. Kennedy who authorized the use of Agent orange. This website documents the Agent Orange horror story:

Did they know in advance that the dioxin in Agent Orange and other herbicides (known as Operation Ranch Hand) was very dangerous? Yes, they did, and guess who manufactured it: mostly Monsanto, also Dow Chemicals. Quoting:

In 1988, Dr. James Clary, an Air Force researcher associated with Operation Ranch Hand, wrote to Senator Tom Daschle, “When we initiated the herbicide program in the 1960s, we were aware of the potential for damage due to dioxin contamination in the herbicide. However, because the material was to be used on the enemy, none of us were overly concerned. We never considered a scenario in which our own personnel would become contaminated with the herbicide.”

US servicemen mounted a class action, and were awarded compensation by the chemical companies, but when a group of Vietnamese people mounted a class action, it was rejected by US judges. Quoting:

Fred A. Wilcox, author of Scorched Earth: Legacies of Chemical Warfare in Vietnam, told the Vietnamese news source VN Express International, “The U.S. government refuses to compensate Vietnamese victims of chemical warfare because to do so would mean admitting that the U.S. committed war crimes in Vietnam. This would open the door to lawsuits that would cost the government billions of dollars.”

Which reminds me, there was a class action mounted against Tony Blair, Prime Minister of the UK, for war crimes in Iraq, based on the trumped up "weapons of mass destruction", but it was rejected by judges. George W. Bush seems to have been immune from such action. Both men were religious zealots, making "faith based" decisions rather than logical, and not minding using "spin" (often considered to be euphemism for a lie) to achieve their goal of Western-style democracy in the Middle East. Then there was John Howard, our Prime Minister in Australia; I conclude that he was a weak man, who sucked up to Bush and Blair.

You might think from reading the above, that I am left-wing. But no, I have always been very conservative, and have tended to vote for the right-of-centre political parties. However, as I became more mature, understood more, I gradually came to understand just how sick the US is, in certain respects, not all. I am not exonerating other countries such as China or Russia either.

I know that Americans are patriotic, and that patriotism is for the principles established by the Founding Fathers. They are very noble. But, many things have gone wrong. Partly, I think, it is individuals and corporations having too much power, as per that old saying "Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely".

This started out as a blog post about a young couple cycling around the world, but the book sparked old memories. Enough. Unlikely that I will post anything more about these wars, as there is enough already out there on the Internet. So, signing off, getting back to blogs about Linux, solar power and camping! 

Tags: ethos

Fcubed solar water distiller

April 13, 2019 — BarryK

About five years ago, I mentioned to my daughter how cool these are, then, darn, she went and bought me one. For my birthday. Cool it is, but I did not have a circumstance to use it, so it has been in the shed ever since.

The manufacturer is F-Cubed, and here is their website:

In a nutshell, they manufacture a solar-powered water distiller:


They don't seem to make mine anymore. Mine is about 1.1 x 1.1 metres, very short. Much less efficient than the full-length ones. I can't find the water-output specs, but I do recall it is considerably less.

Fast forward to now, I have got it out of the shed and assembled it. There is now a potential use, for when I "go bush" for extended periods, where there is brakish/salty water available. Here it is:


The plan is to mount L-brackets to slide it under my car roof-rack. At the remote site, slide it out, attach the legs, and the water supply.

Curiously, the desalinator is made of aluminium and plastic, the legs of steel -- and the legs weigh as much as the desalinator. So, might just cut some marine ply for each side, something simple to sit it at the right angle.

An overhead water supply is required, but it will also handle pumped water. So, I could just bring brakish/salty water in a bucket, put a 12v pump into it. It would need a filter. Anyone reading this have experience, can recommend a product? Pumps used in fish tanks? 

If you want to see videos: 

EDIT 2019-04-14:
Ah ha, the F-Cubed Malaysian website mentions my panel, it is the "Carocell 1000", with these specs:

Temperature 20°C 5 Litres / DAY
Temperature 30°C 7 Litres / DAY
Dimensions: 1150 x 1150mm x 50mm
Surface Area: 1m2
Weight: 7kg

So, on a hot summer day here in AU, I should expect more than 7 litres. That's good. But, how much water would I have to put in?

I have decided against pumping, gravity feed is good enough, can easily put a water tank on the roof-rack of the car. Bunnings has a cheap 20 litre collapsible water holder. And, as 'scsijon' pointed out in an email, plywood sides is probably not a good idea, as it would restrict air flow -- so will rethink that. 

EDIT 2019-04-17:
My website now has a "nomad" section, and a webpage where I plan to document the water desalination project as it progresses: 

Tags: ethos

Microsoft fails on new laptop

March 01, 2019 — BarryK

Very early in the New Year of 2019, I went on a bit of a spending spree. One item was an Acer Aspire1 14 inch laptop, 4GB RAM, 64GB SSD, Apollo Lake CPU, for just AU$240. I wanted something to replace my baby laptop with Intel Cherry Trail CPU, that being very Linux-unfriendly.

So, have had this Aspire1 for almost a couple of months, it has Windows 10S, and have not tried Linux on it, haven't done anything to it, just used it to browse the web while reclining in my lounge chair.

I couldn't even change the web browser, as it will only install from the Windows Store, so was stuck with Edge.

It was doing upgrades automatically. Then, a couple of days ago, was browsing the web, suddenly Windows crashed, with the message:

Your PC ran into a problem and has to restart. We're just collecting some error information then we will restart for you

So it sends off a report to Microsoft, then restarts, then informs me that it is finishing an update. Then got the desktop, then after a couple of minutes, crash again, and the same message as above.

It seems that the last update broke my computer!

This cycle of crash and reboot repeated itself three or four times, then Windows decided, enough, and booted to the Recovery window. Various options, and I chose to reset the computer.

That worked, and I have tried to set things so it won't do automatic updates. They can no longer be stopped, it seems, but I did turn on "metered connection". However, the monthly data limit setting that was in Windows 10 Home, is gone, so Microsoft will still force updates on me, despite having a metered connection.

I have on-going issues with every version of Windows, see the previous post:

I am truly amazed that a brand new Acer laptop has been broken by a Windows update. I saw on TV recently, a company named "Geeks2you" guys who come to your home and fix your computer -- obviously they are doing a roaring trade and can afford to advertise on TV. There must be so many people with broken computers, running slow, virus-ridden, and so on.

Yet, the great unwashed masses will stay with Windows. For now anyway. As they experience the reliability and security of their phones and ChromeOS (and the Apple OSes?), it must raise questions in their brains. Or maybe not. 

Tags: ethos

Annalakshmi vegetarian restaurant

November 07, 2018 — BarryK

I have two favourite Indian vegetarian restaurants in Perth. One of those is Annalakshmi, self-serve, eat as much as you want, and payment by donation! Website:

Open seven days a week, except closed for the rest of this week due to a festival. Mostly staffed by volunteers, and serves anyone from the homeless to the very affluent.

Annalakshmi is registered as a non-profit organisation, and this one in Perth is the only one in Australia. There are some others in India, Singapore and Malaysia, so if you are visiting any of those places, check them out!

Here are some of the ladies who do the cooking:


You can even have your lunch home-delivered, for AU$10:

My mouth waters just thinking about their food!

Tags: ethos

We are eating weed killer

October 19, 2018 — BarryK

A few days ago, on a day-outing to the little town of York, about 50 minutes drive out of Perth, I picked up the free local community newspaper, "the York & Districts Community Matters". This was an interesting read;



Depressing hey!

The article refers to this website: Monsanto, now Bayer, the Microsoft of the seed industry?

What is most depressing for me are the inroads that Monsanto and others have made into Australia. There were many people in Western Australia who were trying to keep the State GM-free, but it is a lost battle. What it all comes down to is one word: greed.

What is also depressing is how Bayer is likely to fight the ruling in courts, for years to come. 

Tags: ethos

CAPITAL F pdf magazine

August 09, 2018 — BarryK

This is interesting. "CAPITAL F" is created by Bryan Lunduke, and the first issue features an interview with the main guy behind Purism and the Librem 5 phone. It also has an overview of all the failed attempts to put Linux, or Linux-like OSs on a phone.

See here:

And here is the magazine, a pdf file:


And the website: 

Tags: ethos

Windows 10 is soooo awful

August 09, 2018 — BarryK

I don't normally use Windows, except for testing purposes, for example developing EasyShare to transfer files.

However, my Asus baby laptop currently has only Windows 10. I did have it dual-booting with Quirky, however there is only 32GB, and there was not enough space for Windows updates. So, restored the ntfs C: partition to fill the drive.

For the past few weeks, have been using it when relaxing in my lounge chair, for general web browsing. Have applied the updates, but the frequency and size of them, and the frequent notifications, makes for a frustrating user experience.

Today, the frustration reached a peak. Installed the latest updates, then on the next reboot, got the login window OK, but after login, just a black screen with a mouse pointer on it. Rebooted several times, even unplugged the power cord, no good.

At the login screen, held down the SHIFT key and then clicked the power button and chose "Reboot", which brings up various recovery options, including one to rollback.

Selected to rollback, but then it asked for my password... oh dear, I don't remember it. Have always logged in with the pin number. So backtracked and selected to bootup, got the login screen, and yippy, this time got the desktop.

I did three things, firstly applied for a new password, got that. Second, went into the Internet connection settings -- it is already set as a timed-data connection, however Windows ignores that and still forces downloads -- but, there is an option to set a data limit, and I chose 1MB per month.

Third, attempted to uninstall the latest updates. Was only able to uninstall a virus-checking-update. When click on the main Windows 10 incremental update, there is no option to uninstall -- very odd.

Anyway, now have a desktop.

I mentioned, years ago, that I was going to get rid of this laptop, as the Cherry Trail CPU is extremely Linux-unfriendly. That situation hasn't changed. Intel never developed proper Linux support for it, and it seems never will. I still have that laptop, but will one day retire it -- though, it probably has a residual use for testing Samba file and printer access.

Tags: ethos