Monday, September 04, 2017

The Value of Sand

You may notice when a storm destroys a beach, the beach is "back" by the next summer.  The sand may just be dredged from the ocean, but still it's a big operation: everything has to come from somewhere.

Now, the BBC reports on some notable effects of sourcing construction sand:
The sand used for construction comes mainly from riverbeds and oceans. Desert sand, it turns out, is too smooth for the mix. Huge projects quickly exhausted Dubai's marine sand supply, so, despite being a city built on sand, it now imports the material from Australia. The irony: sand has become such a precious commodity it is literally being sold to the Arabs.
The Financial Times recently reported on the plan to create higher ground in the Netherlands with sand dunes: "Can Netherlands’ ground-shifting plan prevent flooding?"

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Lubuntu Saved My Netbook

I have a netbook from 2009 (Dell Mini 10): a smaller, lighter, lower-specification laptop that was sold before tablets became all the rage.  Running Windows XP, it was great for domestic and international travel.  About half the size and weight of my current laptop, it came along to Europe that same year.

Eventually, as the Internet and operating system bloated, performance dropped to such an extent that I only kept it around for emergencies.  (Such as trying to figure out why my normal computer wasn't working right.)  Uninstalling features and using the various cleanup utilities made little difference.

Then, last January, I came across a new old idea: Linux. Specifically, Lubuntu:
Lubuntu is a fast and lightweight operating system. The core of the system is based on Linux and Ubuntu. Lubuntu uses the minimal desktop LXDE, and a selection of light applications. We focus on speed and energy-efficiency. Because of this, Lubuntu has very low hardware requirements.
The netbook is useful again.  The interface is (obviously) different than Windows, but fairly intuitive.  The only major issues were addressed by Googling the problems (e.g., connecting to a wired network to get wireless to work).  It allows me to travel with a computer when I don't want to bring my regular laptop or be stuck with the diminutive interface of a smart phone.  And it was free.

Thank you, Lubuntu folks.