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31 October 2017

The new Nissan Leaf and the future of electric cars

The new Nissan Leaf is finally here. This was one of the most anticipated cars of 2017, and with good reason, since it is the most successful electric vehicle in the auto industry history. Over 300&nbsp000 units have been sold worldwide so far, with certainly more to come, the new Leaf platform giving shape to other vehicles later to be marketed by Nissan and Renault.

What is the exact significance of this car? What is it telling of the future of electric cars vis à vis conventional internal combustion engines? This note approaches these and other questions from a mostly numeric based perspective.

22 September 2017

Dismissing misunderstandings on the EEA Agreement

Much confusion - or outright misinformation - continues to circulate in the UK media regarding the exit of the country from the EU. Particularly inflicted is the difference and relationship between the EU, the political union, presently governed by the Lisbon Treaty, and the European Economic Area (EEA), the trade union, ruled by the EEA Agreement.

Days ago The Independent newspaper published an enigmatic article in which it is claimed, among other oddities, that article 127 of the EEA Agreement can stop the current process of exit from the EU. Reproduced below is a short note I sent the editors of The Independent clarifying some of the misunderstandings in the article.

20 August 2017

What the fall of the Sterling really means

Last Friday the Sterling closed at 1.094 to the Euro. Not only is it a remarkable figure for crossing below 1.1, it is the lowest weekly close since 2009. In effect, since the common currency was introduced to currency markets in 1993, the Sterling closed against it below this level only in eleven other weeks. They all took place between December of 2008 and October of 2009, at the height of the housing crisis, when European institutions failed to address financial markets with the haste seen in grown-up economies.

This brief note puts this monetary devaluation into a broader perspective, within the context of the UK's exit from the EU. Sterling is just a visible facet of an overall economic setting deteriorating in anticipation of the UK's shift into a new - and largely unknown - economic paradigm.

17 July 2017

How BP is detracting renewable energy in its Statistical Review

Every June it happens more or less the same way. British Petroleum (BP) publishes its Statistical Review of World Energy, venting out a few catchy phrases that the mainstream media mindlessly repeats. This time the catch-phrase was: "overall energy consumption is growing faster than renewable energies put together". This discourse is naturally convenient to those set on promoting fossil fuels and/or detracting renewable energy. But is BP really a trustworthy source on the matter?

BP's statistics are a rare source of energy data available for free to the public. For that reason I used it to study fossil fuels for several years. However, its quality visibly degraded with time, and by 2010, as it become impossible to reconcile consumption and extraction figures, I stopped using it. If the BP's data is unreliable regarding fossil fuels, should it be taken as such on renewable energy? That is what this short note tries to find out.

17 April 2017

Why Gnome 3 can not replace Unity 7

For a few seconds I thought it was just an April Fool's prank, but the date of the article dismissed any doubts. Canonical is to put an end to user interface development towards the vision of Convergence. The arguments are pretty compelling: the market does not exist. Four years after the Ubuntu Edge campaign it is indeed startling that not a single carrier joined in to experiment the novel concept.

Together with this shock announcement there was something far more overreaching: Canonical is to drop Unity 7 from Ubuntu in 2018. The desktop environment developed in house is to be replaced by Gnome 3. Further news reinforced the trend: staff to be laid off and the CEO stepping down. Canonical seems to be abandoning user interface development all together.

It was great while it lasted, but after almost five years using Unity 7 it is time to move on. But where to? Is Gnome 3 really an appropriate replacement? Below the fold is a detailed account of my experience of two days of work on Gnome 3.

15 April 2017

Time is ripe for open source labelling

In what is largely an acknowledgement to the influence open source has today in the software industry, it is becoming increasingly common for corporations to promote commercial products as open, when they are anything but.

Beyond the obvious ethical objections to this practice, the negative impact it has on the industry is to no one's interest. Open source products are often developed with public money, be it through research programmes, public administration initiatives or local authorities. These initiatives have created an implicit open source brand, synonym with freedom of development and local based support and maintenance.

By misleadingly identifying their products as open, corporations cash on the open source brand, essentially promoting monetary flows that invariably end outside Europe. This is a complete subversion of the economic and social dynamics of open source software.

05 March 2017

Tailor made politics

2017 is election year in various economic heavy weight members of the EU. The Netherlands comes first, with the suffrage scheduled for the 15th of March.

Polls keep showing the PVV of Geert Wilders ahead, with twenty odd percent of votes, almost double of the record score the party obtained in 2010. In face of such projections the foreign media focuses almost exclusively on Wilders, the candidate that easily produces sensational headlines with his extreme right rhetoric.

If the rise of Wilder's party is substantial, more important is what is happening with the remaining parties.

This article first appeared in Portuguese language at BomDia.eu.