Lower Your Pitchforks

This statement could be applied to basically every event where you see someone doing something that, at first look, is egregious. At least, when one doesn’t have the whole picture and all the information, the head should be kept cool and trying to burn someone in the pyre should be avoided.

But we live in the era of shocking news, the era of instant news and, even more importantly, the era of anger. Because we’ve never lived as good as we live nowadays, and we somehow feel the need to be angry at something.

In the last 24 hours I’ve observed one of these somethings. A marathon runner, Morhad Amdouni, from France, was shown in a few videos causing his fellow runners to not be able to get any water at a watering station in the Tokyo Marathon at the 28th km. Outrage. Calls for suspension from competitions. Insults. Racist slurs. Pitchforks.

Of course, if the video you’re shown only shows that one table, in very low resolution, you might miss important details about this event:

  • That one is the second table in a row of three full of water bottles.
  • He bumped on the first row out of two rows for bottle waters.
  • You can see him trying to grab bottles in the way to the last, and only managed to grab the last.
  • There are people taking care of the water bottles at each station, which are going to replenish the bottles, whether because they run out of them or because accidents like this happened.
  • That happened at the 28th kilometre of a marathon. Anyone who has started running any distance close to that know how hard it can get. Anyone who’s run in the dreadful conditions these guys had to endure knows that all you want to do is stop, go home, turn on the AC and call it a day, or a week.

I’ve only run two half marathons. I’ve tried to go further, but it’s hard as hell. Those two had watering stations, and it was basically as chaotic as this looked.

The others didn’t seem to have such a hard time. So what? Not everybody is the same, not all athletes are perfect machines. Mistakes happen.

The problem here was the awful journalism that we seem to be delighted with nowadays. «Hey, look, if I zoom into this image and remove all context, this person looks like the devil». Or «hey, if I remove all context from this, this person looks like he was beaten up by police for no reason at all».

Seriously, mainstream media can be awful. They are biased, no matter in which country you are. But cutting relevant information just to create a foe, is way worse than any of such bias.

So, where did I see it how it happened? Look in Eurosport. The commentary was much better than the website title. «Lots can go wrong at the drink station». And you can see the three tables and definitely that Amdouni was trying to grab a bottle from one row, while not touching the other row in the same table. Of course, as soon as he managed to grab the last bottle, he didn’t continue knocking bottles at the next table. And nobody in that group touched the first table.

Did he do that on purpose? Unlikely. If he did, that would have been a very dumb thing to do, because:

  • He left 5 rows of bottles untouched.
  • He’s surrounded by cameras, and he knows it.
  • The people taking care of the tables and the water bottles are there ready to replenish the tables.

But more importantly, he wasn’t disqualified.

Please, people, lower your pitchforks.


Paneles solares en el suelo, una idea tremendamente estúpida

La tecnología de paneles solares no es nueva. Sabemos muy bien cómo funcionan y cómo instalarlos para maximizar la eficiencia. Sabemos que, instalándolos con cierto ángulo respecto al suelo, obtienen los siguientes beneficios:

  • Se puede optimizar el ángulo de incidencia solar, aumentando cuánta radiación solar absorben.
  • Cuando llueve, se lavan solos.

Sin embargo, parece que el conocimiento sale por la ventana en el momento en el cual un cantamañanas convence a un político de que poner paneles solares en el suelo es una buena idea. Llevamos casi una década con esta imbecilidad, y lejos de parar, hoy me entero de que han montado uno de estos en Barcelona. El titular correcto debería ser Barcelona tira el dinero en paneles solares en el suelo que funcionan peor que puestos en tejados y cuestan más.

¿Por qué es una mala idea?

  • Al estar en el suelo, no se puede optimizar el ángulo.
  • Al estar horizontales, no se lavan solos con la lluvia.
  • Al no tener espacio entre los paneles y el suelo, la ventilación es inexistente, reduciendo considerablemente la eficiencia de los paneles con el calor.
  • Al estar en el suelo, la gente pasa por encima (ya sea a pie, en bici o en coche). Para evitar que se rompan, hay que reforzarlos, incrementando el precio y disminuyendo la eficiencia.
  • Al haber obstáculos pasando constantemente por encima, se reduce la irradiación sobre los paneles.

¿Y qué idea es mejor?

  • En primer lugar, poner paneles en los tejados. Ah, que el político de turno no se puede hacer la foto tan fácilmente y no se ven tanto.
  • En segundo lugar, si se quieren poner paneles en las zonas de tránsito, ahí va una idea loca: hacer una cubierta y ponerlos por encima. Se reduce radiación solar, lluvia y nieve sobre la calle, y se mejora la eficiencia de los paneles.

¿Por qué no probarlo por si funciona?

Porque ya se ha probado. En Francia, un tramo de 1 km de carretera quedó hecho trizas tras tan solo 3 años. En Países Bajos, ¡un carril bici! también tuvo que ser reemplazado.

¿Y qué tal para derretir la nieve?

Pues fatal. Usar electricidad para calentar la superficie es mucho menos eficiente que pasar con una máquina quitanieves, nos pongamos como nos pongamos.

Y ahora un par de datos extra. La instalación de la noticia es de 9 kWp. Esto significa, que en condiciones ideales de insolación y de ángulo de incidencia (que jamás se alcanzará), puede generar hasta 9 kW. Esperan generar 7560 kWh al año (la noticia dice kWp, pero eso es incorrecto, aunque no espero que prácticamente nadie use las unidades correctas para nada). Yo tengo en mi casa de Alemania una instalación de 7.92 kWp, en un tejado con orientación este-oeste, que no es ideal, pero no tenemos tejado orientado al sur. El instalador espera una producción anual media de 7286 kWh. Según la calculadora de sistemas fotovoltaicos de la UE, 6681 kWh. El precio de mi instalación rondó los 15000€ en diciembre de 2020.

¿Cuánto generaría mi instalación, igualita, en la ubicación de este esperpento? Unos 9.5 MWh al año, según la calculadora mencionada. Con paneles mucho más baratos y eficientes, con menos mantenimiento y menos imbecilidad. Y me váis a permitir que dude de esos 7560 kWh al año, por las razones anteriormente mencionadas.

Lo cierto es que la zona donde vivo en Alemania tiene una cantidad de casas con paneles solares encima que ensombrece las que ví en mi último viaje por España. En verano de 2019 nos recorrimos en coche de norte a sur y es lamentable que no sea posible tener algo comparable con un país que recibe muchísimo menos sol al año que España. Y aplaudir gilipolleces como estas «Solar Freakin’ Roadways» no ayuda.

Para los que tengáis ganas de más, unos vídeos:

¿Podemos, por favor, de una puta vez, empezar a escuchar a expertos en vez de cantos de sirena y tener pensamiento mágico?


Fighting this bitch of a pandemic, together

Do you think the only thing you can do to help with this virus outbreak is stay at home to stop the spread? OK, that might not be as small a contribution as one might think in some places (I’m looking at you, Corona-Parties in Freiburg), but I’m sure a few of us can do a bit more. And not necessarily by spending large amounts of money.

Folding at Home

So, most, if not all of the ones reading me have a computer at home. And, assuming the electricity prices are not a problem (mine are outrageous but I’ll deal with it), Folding@Home is a nice thing to do, either by running it while you use your computer or by leaving your computer on all the time. I, personally, have my desktop computer with a basic gaming graphics card and an i7 processor running most of the time, as well an extra computer with two RX580 graphics cards running 24/7 at home. Re-purposing mining rigs is not a big issue although some considerations have to be taken into account (from a short few web searches, some might be inaccurate):

  • Use as many GPUs as threads your processor can handle
  • Don’t use risers, to use the full bandwidth of the PCI Express lanes
  • Linux typically has a higher performance than Windows (10-20%). But don’t let that prevent you from using Windows if you’re not proficient in Linux, as there might be problems that are not as easy to solve.

I’m actually a newbie when it comes to Folding@Home, so if you have questions you probably will have a better chance at googling them 🙂

3D Printing

A team in Spain has designed respirators that can be 3D printed. If you can understand and can help, go ahead. Inspired by them, RightToBreathe is an option for non-Spanish speaking lads.

Help Thy Neighbour

Do you have neighbours that can’t go shopping on their own? Offer to help. Be cautious when doing so and try to disinfect all the products before delivering them.

Get Creative

Have new ideas for things to do that might help? Share them with your colleagues!

Spread the Word

Talk to your friends about those things above. Post on social media. Try to get people involved.

Stay Sane

Can’t do any of the above? You can still do something.

We’re just as strong as our weakest point. Find a way that this situation doesn’t get you mentally and physically obliterated. Exercise, TV, board games, PC games, smashing your head against the wall… Whatever suits you.

Stay safe, take care of yourselves and your loved ones. We’ll get through this.


Out of memory issue with Vivado Installer

It shouldn’t be a common issue that one wants to install a development suite such as Vivado in a system with not a lot of memory. But it so happens that I tried it on my laptop with 8 GB physical RAM and only 2 GB swap space. The error that the installer shows is not very helpful:

# ./Xilinx_Vivado_SDK_Web_2017.4_1216_1_Lin64.bin
Verifying archive integrity… All good.
Uncompressing Xilinx Installer………………………………………………………………………………..
INFO : Log file location – /root/.Xilinx/xinstall/xinstall_1543839793529.log./xsetup: line 71: 16291 Killed ${X_JAVA_HOME}/bin/java ${ARGS} -splash:${root}/data/images/splash.png -jar ${root}/lib/classes/xinstaller.jar

But ‘dmesg’ shows much more useful information:

[1459339.152707] Out of memory: Kill process 16291 (java) score 168 or sacrifice child
[1459339.152760] Killed process 16291 (java) total-vm:5680084kB, anon-rss:1753772kB, file-rss:0kB, shmem-rss:1024kB
[1459339.263118] oom_reaper: reaped process 16291 (java), now anon-rss:0kB, file-rss:0kB, shmem-rss:1024kB

Hence, the solution was to just close Firefox and Thunderbird, which had been running for a while (months?).