Wrote some thoughts on electronics, software, longtermism. Trying to make sense of all this in my head.

@neauoire this is a good musing post! low tech magazine has a good post about compressed air energy storage that you'd probably like if you'ven't read it already

@amsomniac I'm in the middle of something right now, but I'm sure that soon, I'll be able to put together a little video that shows the rig we've got going on the boat. :)

@amsomniac @neauoire The Amish and Mennonites get a lot of utility out of it.

@neauoire I tend to agree with you re-hardware and software that is focused in it's task.

The beauty of the CPU is that it is so generally applicable and powerful that we humans are nearly incapable in using its entire power on one task. I'd wager you'd even be hard pressed to fully use a gameboy cpu outside of game development.

So we use a multiuser/timesharing operating system to achieve that, because that was Ken Thompson's entire world when he wrote unix.

@neauoire That said, if every piece of software we used needed custom hardware then computing would be exponentially more terrible for us.

At the very least we can hope for lower power consumption from ARM/RISC.

@neauoire One of the attractive parts of ipad's is they force single task in a strong/complete hardware software package.

It's a shame they are so locked down because I have original ipad's that currently work fine and are beautiful and will likely continue to work due to the environments they are used in.

@peregrine That's lucky, our apple devices have a history of briking themselves from being offline for too long, they fall into forced recovery mode and won't boot until we connect to iTunes.

That has been a hassle for us. They seem to be designed to fail when offline

@neauoire Agree that its software ruins it. I have a stack of android/ios devices from years of testing I would love to install linux and use as a low power server farm. Most of the android's won't even boot up, all of the iphones will but won't update to a useful state.

@neauoire Would be amazing if apple or another firm put the care into hardware/firmware design but also didn't lock us into planned obsolescence.

@neauoire My buddy got that pinebook pro and the build hardware is infinitely better than I expected in terms of quality. Its nearly as good as the original macbook air's.

So I'm hopeful for the future.

@peregrine likewise, I've been eyeing it a lot. But I don't want to buy new hardware. My next laptop will definitely be a second hand one.

@neauoire Been holding out for hardware that meets my needs AND is hopeful about the future. So far pinebook pro doesn't meet my memory needs. If my current laptop dies I'll prolly look into older lenovo x1

I don't think we will ever have some kind of "sustainable" electronics. Electronic devices are just too fragile and integrated to be manufactured in a "cradle-to-the-cradle"-way.
But I think we should start to design electronics around longevity, repairability and complexity reduction. This would reduce the ecological footprint greatly, just by changing the design objectives.
Reducing usage of harmful substances or usage of biodegradable PCBs is way more difficult.

@marsue @neauoire It's a shame that FPGAs, which have some potential to reduce waste by avoiding permanently committing all the embodied energy in a semiconductor to a fixed single task, are also the most proprietary and least well documented things in electronics. :(

@neauoire This was a very nice post which struck a real chord with me, and reminded me of an old phlog post of my own (gopher://zaibatsu.circumlunar.), which even though it was supposed to steer my electronics tinkering in new directions, ultimately kind of caused me to drift away from the hobby for some years. I'm slowly getting interested again, though, and will follow your projects closely!

@neauoire I do wish software was less bloated
and smaller binary. One thing I love about Debian and Linux distros or BSD is you can download the repos. And install what's needed. IMO we should be able to download software over a slow connection and not have to rely on always on internet connection. We could of course mirror our on repo to assist in that.

@neauoire Good musings, it helps. Btw, the link titled "environmentally councious" to seems broken right now.

@neauoire It's interesting to note that CPUs physically can't get much faster than they are now. It's possible for that part of things to stop growing. Screens are also pretty much at maximum density (though I suppose we'll keep pushing for higher framerates for a while)

I think you are putting too much concern on software distribution emissions. I heard that those numbers have been overstated by orders of magnitude.

@neauoire I don't know if this is something you were discussing, it might not be all that relevant to climate, but I like the idea of building software that never has to be maintained or replaced. Where does that thought lead?

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Merveilles is a community project aimed at the establishment of new ways of speaking, seeing and organizing information — A culture that seeks augmentation through the arts of engineering and design. A warm welcome to any like-minded people who feel these ideals resonate with them.