Amid confusion

One recent development your ‘umble scribe has noticed in respect of the vocabulary used by members of the Fourth Estate is an unprecedented rise in the use of amid.

This preposition has the following definition:

in or into the middle of;surrounded by.

A useful synonym in this context is among.

Other definitions include during and with the accompaniment of.

Needless to say. these definitions are not always adhered to by the more illiterate members of the press and poor old amid is consequently used out of context, as per today’s example from the Powys County Times.

Headline reads Historic Newtown church struck by vandals amid appeal for witnesses

The confusion apparent in the headline was succinctly explained by the @KeepBristolTidy Twitter account, who helpfully stated the following.

Tweet reads So the church was struck by vandals on the middle of the appeal for information about the same vandals?

Patron saints and language

Today, 23rd April, is the saint’s day of the patron saint of England, St George.

<However, George is not just the patron saint of England. Other states and nations having this Cappadocian Greek who served as a Roman soldier and died in 303 CE include Ethiopia and Georgia, the Spanish regions of Catalonia and Aragon, along with the Russian capital Moscow.

Very little is known about George’s life, but he is believed to have been martyred in one of the waves of persecution that preceded the accession in 306 CE of the Roman emperor Constantine.

According to Wikipedia, the legend of St George and the dragon was first recorded in the 11th century in Georgia and arrived in Europe in the 12th.

In England specifically, St George had by the 14th century, been declared both the patron saint and the protector of the royal family. and thus replaced Edmund the Martyr (also known as St Edmund or Edmund of East Anglia. Ed.) as England’s patron saint. Edmund, who died on 20 November 869 had been king of East Anglia from about 855 until his death at the hands of Viking invaders.

George’s dragon-slaying efforts were ultimately worthwhile, not only for the the city of Silene, Libya, which the dragon was menacing, but ultimately for the English, as was pointed out yesterday on Twitter by some wit recalling WW2-style the benefits of the good saint’s deed.

Tweet reads If it wasn't for St George we would all be speaking Dragon

If you don’t feel like celebrating the life and work of George of Lydda, the 23rd April is also recorded as the day upon which playwright William Shakespeare was baptised.

Infant caprine security?

Ever since newspapers mostly did away with sub-editors some while ago as a cost-saving measure, standards of written journalism have visibly declined. Poor punctuation and clumsy use of language have become more commonplace. Sub-editors used to play a vital role, helping reporters to become better writers and thus journalists.

Nowadays, authors are supposed to check their own output.

Even with the best will in the world, it is sometimes difficult to stop errors in one’s own copy.

That being said, there is an absolute howler in today’s online edition of the Shropshire Star, as per the screenshot below

headline reads Safety kids to be handed out to women in hot-spots for crime in Newtown

Unless young goats really are to used to promote the safety of Newtown’s women and girls, which is not readily apparent from the subsequent copy, one would think that checking a headline before hitting the ‘Publish is a skill that should be taught on journalism courses. 😀

The headline has since been corrected.

Free software explained in under 3 minutes

Your ‘umble scribe has long been an avid user of free and open source software. For a long time, read for over 2 decades.

Indeed, GNU/Linux (often simply termed Linux. Ed.) has been my operating system of choice for over 17 years.

But what exactly do the terms free software and open source actually mean? How does software bearing these labels differ in comparison to the proprietary software used by most people and organisations? And finally, why does any of this actually matter?

To answer these questions, the Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) has recently produced the video embedded below. It takes under 3 minutes to watch and provides succinct answers to the questions posed above.

New Turkish LibreOffice guide

Yesterday the blog of The Document Foundation – the German non-profit organisation behind the free and open source LibreOffice suitereported on the release of a Turkish language guide for the productivity software.

Cover of LibreOffice Turkish user guide

Image courtesy of The Document Foundation

The guide has been translated from the English Getting Started Guide by Ayhan Yalçinsoy, a member of The Document Foundation and Board of Directors deputy.

Ayhan comments:

I’ve been using LibreOffice since 2010. It makes me happy to support and contribute to this application that I use with pleasure. For this reason, I have been trying to contribute by translating the interface and help text since the day I started using it. I know that every contribution counts in the open source world.” says Ayhan. “I would like to thank Muhammet Kara for what he has done for LibreOffice here. I learned from him how I can contribute to LibreOffice apart from interface translation. I solved some easyhack issue with his support.
After all these contributions, we established a certification team. We started the translation work for the LibreOffice Getting Started Guide 6.2 about a year ago, but for some reasons we could not continue. This issue remained in my mind. Finally, with the encouragement of Muhammet Kara and the sponsorship of TUBITAK/ULAKBIM, I completed the translation of Getting Started Guide 7.2.

Ayhan is currently working on a Turkish guide for Calc, LibreOffice’s spreadsheet program and is also appealing for volunteers to help him with this task, as his ultimate aim is to make Turkish language guides for all of LibreOffice’s constituent applications.

NASA – Open MCT 2.0.0 has landed

US space agency NASA is an extensive user of free and open source software (posts passim). Today German tech news site heise reports on the release of Open MCT 2.0.0.

With version 2.0.0 has released an update of the Open Mission Control Technologies open source framework. Open MCT was developed at California’s Ames Research Center and is used by NASA as a mission control framework for data virtualisation on desktop and mobile devices.

Screenshot of the WARP software showing a layout that includes plots, images, and other display elements

Image courtesy of NASA

NASA utilises Open MCT for analysing space missions and for planning and implementing experimental rover systems. Included in the latest release is a plug-in which enables adaptation of the framework to be used as an API from Angular to node.js, which is now supported. Critical bugs have also been fixed. Firstly, newly created items which shared a name with an existing object were not displayed in the tree structure. Furthermore, a faulty CSS selector prevented the correct mapping of plans in the timestrip display.

Additional changes include two bug fixes and seven Open MCT maintenance and testing problems, including a display error in which a grid remained visible when the inspector was closed and an error message that popped up during client-side URL redirection. The project is working on four aspects on the maintenance side: the event generator has been adapted from the Angular-based legacy API for node.js and re-implemented.

Besides its use for space missions with NASA Open MCT is an open source framework that could be adapted, according to the developers, for applications as varied as:

  • Monitoring of IoT devices;
  • Drones;
  • CubeSats;
  • Robotics;
  • High altitude balloons;
  • Electronic health monitoring;
  • Computer and network performance monitoring;
  • Enterprise data visualisation; and
  • Process control monitoring.

More information on this latest release may be found on GitHub.

No Microsoft account, no Windows 11

French tech news site Frandroid reports that there has been a very unobtrusive but significant change to the installation procedure for Windows 11, but one with major implications for users’ privacy and security.

Since the launch of Windows 11, users of the home edition have been obliged to have a Microsoft account and an internet connection for the initial configuration of a machine if a fresh installation is involved. The company could soon extend this obligation to the operating system’s Professional edition.

Windows 11 desktop

Do I look like a Mac in this?
Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

This week Microsoft has released build 22557 to members of the Windows Insider programme. This is a rather ambitious new version of Windows 11 packed with new “features“, including a change in policy regarding Windows 11 Pro.

As Microsoft wrote on its blog announcing the release:

Similar to Windows 11 Home edition, Windows 11 Pro edition now requires internet connectivity during the initial device setup (OOBE) only. If you choose to setup device for personal use, MSA will be required for setup as well. You can expect Microsoft Account to be required in subsequent WIP flights.

As you have read, Microsoft has stated in black and white that people will need to have an internet connection and a Microsoft account, even from Windows 11 Pro to enable a machine’s personal use (as distinct from business or educational use).

As a matter of fact, Microsoft is stating what the obligation will be included in all future versions of Windows 11 in the Insider programme. It can therefore be assumed that this new constraint only affects the initial configuration of machines with versions of Windows 11 from the Insider programme.

We will have to await the next major update of Windows 11 which incorporates the new features of build 22557 to check if having a Microsoft account has really become mandatory for the operating system’s Pro edition.

The use of an online account has long been required by Apple and Google on iOS and Android respectively, but less so for Windows, since historically there has not been any Microsoft account to connect, much to the chagrin of the software publisher. Users are therefore not accustomed to such a requirement, which Microsoft has been trying to promote since the launch of Windows 8

Colston Four Road disappears

What a difference a couple of days make.

Just yesterday this blog reported on the unofficial renaming of Slaver’s Road in Easton, Bristol (posts passim).

Today your ‘umble scribe ambled past the end of the road and observed the following where the “Colston Four Road” unofficial street sign had recently been installed.

Here yesterday. Gone today. Note the screw holes where the unofficial sign was affixed.

Officially changing a street name is a long, involved process in which an overwhelming majority of the property owners have to agree to a proposed change.

Changes are much swifter in the unofficial world.

Toppled Road renamed

Nearly half a year ago, your ‘umble scribe reported that Colston Road in Easton, a road named after Bristol-born slave trader, insider share dealer, financier, religious bigot and former Tory MP for the city had been unofficially renamed as Toppled Road (posts passim).

On the other side of the road from the crudely painted Toppled Street on the side of a house, a new more official-looking street name sign has appeared in recent days.

Colston Four Road

The original street name sign is painted out as a token of the regard in which Eddie the Slaver is held locally.

The new unofficial sign commemorates the acquittal by a Bristol jury of the so-called Colston Four who were tried for criminal damage when Colston’s statue in the centre of the city was brought down and dumped in the city docks during the course of a Black Lives Matter protest on 7 June 2020.

Local residents have been uneasy for years about living in a street named after a so-called philanthropist who made his money from kidnapping, trafficking and exploiting to death thousands of unwilling Africans and have long campaigned for it to be changed, along with other reminders of the late Victorian Cult of Colston.

Speaking to Easton councillor Barry Parsons yesterday, your correspondent asked him for an update on how the name change was progressing.

He responded that the whole matter of street renamings was one of the topics handed over to the We Are Bristol History Commission, which has just recently issued its recommendations in respect of Colston’s statue, backing the general public view it belongs henceforth in a museum.

However, any words of wisdom from the Commission regarding the fate of Bristol’s street names commemorating Eddie the Slaver have yet to be uttered and it would appear the matter has been (so to say) kicked into the long grass.

In a final twist, the Bristol Post/Bristol Live is claiming that some of its less perceptive readers are “outraged at the change of name, with some actually believing the new sign has been erected by the city’s perfidious council, even though the sign’s design is clearly different to that used by the local authority, whose standard modern street name signs all include the first 3 characters of the road’s postcode

Resurrection in the Bible Belt

North Carolina is one of the so-called Bible Belt states where the influence of evangelical Christianity is the strongest, according to Wikipedia.

Faith can work miracles, we are told.

And this is definitely the case in Mecklenburg County in the aforementioned state. It would seem the residents of the county (population: 1.1m) have an uncanny ability to rise Lazarus-like from the dead if the civil registry section of the county’s website is to be believed. 😀

The person listed on the certificate is (2 choices) myself or someone else

Your ‘umble scribe has yet to ask Fred Smith, the elected register officer for a comment. In 2008 Fred ran as a Republican candidate for governor but was defeated in the primary. Now he’s reduced to dealing with the deceased in more ways than one.

One final thought: has the website been checked for accessibility for the no longer extant?

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