September 22, 2016

Social media

I've been trying to stay clear of "social media" but it's difficult. I eventually had to open a Facebook account because it made it a lot easier to leave comments on sites like Instapundit. But I don't use it for anything else, and I don't have any "friends" there. I don't have a Twitter account and I visit LiveJournal about once every three years. (The only reason I signed up for LiveJournal was so that I could comment on Pete's posts there before he moved elsewhere.)

This morning Twitter suspended Instapundit's account, and the result inevitably was a firestorm. They turned it back on again with a face-saving demand, but Glenn says he isn't going to keep using it.

Another one of those comment systems where you have to be a member is Disqus. I actually joined that one something like ten years ago, but I had to do some searching to figure out what password I used. And it turns out that you can "follow" people on Disqus. I just noticed a couple of days ago that I had 1 follower.

I'm not sure if this is a good thing or not.

Which brings this up: Severtember!

UPDATE: And more.

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September 18, 2016

Ouch Comcast!

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Comcast's local infrastructure is unstable this evening. It's not enough of a failure to be completely unusuable, but enough to make some pages not load properly or not load at all. I hope they get it cleaned up by tomorrow; there better be someone out there working on it.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Computers at 08:49 PM | Comments (7) | Add Comment
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September 13, 2016

Windows 10 -- Humongous update

I woke this morning to find my torrent machine turned off. Which means Windows UPDATE installed something that required a reboot, and it timed out and auto-shutdown afterwards.

So... power on, log in, start uTorrent again, and then switch over to my main machine and manually invoke the same update.

Man, it was huge. Between downloading and installing it took about 4 hours! They must have replaced most of the OS.

It pinned Edge on my task bar, so I gave it a try. It doesn't interest me, if for no other reason than because it doesn't run flash. I visited Chizumatic and the top rotation was blank. It also doesn't like the way my LAN is set up; it works, but when it starts it complains that it isn't working, even though it does work. It also used Times New Roman (which I despise) as the default display font. Probably there are ways to fix those things, but frankly I can't see any reason to bother trying to find them. I did try to figure out where the font was controlled and spent about 5 minutes before giving up. I don't need the hassle.

So it got unpinned, as well as a couple of other cruft icons which automagically appeared.

My biggest problem right now on the main computer is that the clock at the bottom of the task bar is displaying in black on a black background, making it pretty useless. Strangely, it's white-on-black on the other computer.

I really don't like having the taskbar being black, anyway, but I can't find anywhere that allows me to control that color. Anyone know where it is? And it would be nice if I could make the clock be white again instead of black.

I just noticed something else: windows used to be blue on the top line and gray all the rest of the way; now they're blue all around. (When selected.) Which is an improvement, but I would like to find the place where that's controlled and do some adjusting.

I do hope I'm not going to regret installing this update. I always feel a bit of fear when I install something like this. I don't think it's going to be a problem, however. The torrent machine, which installed it first, seemed to be working fine afterwards before I did the update to my main computer.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Computers at 11:31 AM | Comments (11) | Add Comment
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August 30, 2016

Win 10 complaints

My biggest complaint so far isn't with Microsoft, it's with ASUS. I cannot disable the damned touchpad, and it's a real hassle.

As to Microsoft, the problem is automatic shutdown after idle time. In the power control setup frame I have everything set to "never shut down", but if I leave my computer alone for 15? minutes? and come back to it, it has auto-hibernated anyway. Oddly enough, it wasn't like that when I first switched to Win 10. I wonder if one of the auto-patches was responsible?

Under Win 7 we had "Gizmos" I think they were called. Microsoft decided eventually that they were a security problem and WIn 10 doesn't have that feature.

I used to have two of them on my desktop. One was a clock, and that was nice but not critical. The other was a couple of dials, one of which showed memory usage and one of which showed CPU loading. Memory usage is kind of a non-issue for me; this computer has 12G of RAM and I don't do anything very memory intensive. But the CPU loading dial was very useful because it was a convenient way to notice that a job had hung and gone 100% CPU intensive.

This computer is quad-core and each core is hyperthreaded, so to the OS it looks like 8 processors. If that dial stuck at 12%, it meant a job had run away.

I want that one back.

UPDATE: I went into the power control and set all the timeouts to 25 minutes and then restarted, and then changed them all back to "never" and restarted again. Just now I left the computer on while I took a nap, and it was still on when I woke up.

I think that's fixed.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Computers at 03:43 PM | Comments (4) | Add Comment
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July 11, 2016

Oh my aching bones and white hair

How many of you have ever even heard of TECO? Know what it is? Know how to use it?

For extra credit, what does the name mean?

UPDATE: And for extra extra credit, what command do you use to get out of it if you get into it by mistake? 

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Computers at 03:26 PM | Comments (11) | Add Comment
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July 05, 2016

The most terrifying commercial competition

Microsoft was the first company to realize the ramifications of the fact that software costs nothing to reproduce. No matter what it is, it costs $10 to make a copy (or even less now, with internet distribution). That means the entire cost is amortized development expense, and thus the more copies you sell, the less amortized cost there is per unit and the lower the price you can charge.

And with that realization, history was made.

Now Microsoft is finally up against a competitive wall, facing a competitor it is having a hard time dealing with: itself, five years ago. If software costs nothing to manufacture, the problem is that it also doesn't wear out.

Each new iteration of its products have been intended to be improvements over the previous version, enough so as to convince people to shell out for the upgrade. But that's a treacherous path because you eventually run out of obvious things to add or change, and you end up adding things that people see as being a "gimmick" instead of an obviously valuable change. And they don't shell out for the gimmick.

Microsoft is also facing a technological revolution. The self-contained PC is now being challenged by tablets with touch screens. (And also phones.) The PC with a built-in keyboard isn't going to die; there are a lot of uses for which it is simply better than a tablet. But its percentage of the market place will decline, and Microsoft is facing a crisis the like of which they haven't seen since OS/2. The problem is that Android is eating Microsoft's lunch in that arena. Partly that's because Google is giving it away and partly that's because Microsoft doesn't have any kind of competing product, or it didn't.

The goal of Windows 10 is to make it possible for Windows to run on a PC and also to run on a tablet. Windows uses the Desktop metaphor which has ruled the industry for 30 years, and Android uses the new Bookshelf metaphor, which an increasing number of users find to be very comfortable.

Microsoft is thus facing a bootstrapping problem: they need a lot of copies of Win 10 out there so developers will create apps for it, but before those apps appear there is no advantage to Win 10 for PC users, who would rather stay with Win 7. Without those apps, Win 10 simply isn't a compelling upgrade for Win 7.

They've been reduced to giving it away and using annoying nags to convince people to switch, and I have a suspicion they've taken to sabotaging Win 7. And they're rolling out the mother of all nags this month.

This is an act of desperation, and they're not fooling anyone. It's also a last ditch. They can never do anything like this again or customers will get angry. (They already are; this will make it worse.)

Some percentage of PC customers may switch to Linux or switch to OSX, but most PC customers are locked in with Microsoft. But that's not true for tablet users, and there's a lot of overlap between those two bodies of customers. If Microsoft blackens its own eye this way, a lot of PC users will say, Fuck Microsoft and buy tablets running Android.

Microsoft is already badly behind in this market segment and they may never be able to catch up at the rate they're going.

In the 1980's Microsoft gained a stranglehold on the PC OS market. Since then there have been three major attempts to break it: by IBM with OS/2, by Sun with Java, and by Netscape with Navigator. All the attempts were credible but ultimately Microsoft was able to fight back.

Now Google is making the fourth attempt, and I think they're going to succeed. It's hard to compete with "free" but "free" alone isn't enough to win, as Linux freaks have found.

Android is also free but it's also friendly like Linux isn't. And Google isn't going to start charging for it, either. Part of Google's business plan is to make internet access into a commodity, because the more time people spend online the more money Google makes. That necessarily means they need to badly harm Microsoft, but they aren't doing it out of any kind of animosity. It's just that Microsoft is in the way and needs to be moved.

I think Microsoft is making a huge mistake in all this; they're sacrificing 30 years of customer good will. On the other hand, I'm not really sure what else they could do, except to find some other business to be in. And they've been trying to do that for 30 years and their only successes were the XBox and the Microsoft Mouse.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Computers at 07:14 PM | Comments (7) | Add Comment
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June 28, 2016

The Borg -- You will be assimilated

My second computer is an HP notebook I picked up several years ago for the sole purpose of running uTorrent. And it works fine for that. In fact, it's kind of overpowered.

Anyway, it's running Win 7 Home Premium. I never upgraded it to Win7Pro since it didn't seem to justify that. Starting a couple of weeks ago, however, Windows Update stopped working. When I try to run it, it wedges and goes CPU bound. Task Manager shows it burning CPU in one of the system helper tasks, so there's no telling whats happening. I let it run for several hours one time just to see if it might finally clear and get on with it, but it didn't. Closing Windows Update didn't make that task stop; only rebooting the computer would do it.

So today I decided maybe it was time for me to upgrade to Win 7 Pro, and I ran the "Windows Anytime Upgrade" applet from the control panel. Surprise! You can't upgrade to Win 7 pro any longer.

The Borg have me. The Win 10 upgrade is running as I write this. Pixy did the upgrade recently and said it was pretty painless, so I'm finally willing to take the chance, and we'll see how it goes. More later.

(Please note this this is not a request for advice or suggestions.)

UPDATE: The download is complete and verified and the upgrade just started, and here's hoping we don't get a power blip in the middle.

UPDATE: And the second phase of the upgrade begins...

UPDATE: And complete! That was a lot less painful than I thought it would be. And the good news is that uTorrent works fine. And so does Pingplotter, which I usually keep running just as a check on whether my internet connection is working properly.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Computers at 04:27 PM | Comments (11) | Add Comment
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May 21, 2016

Backups

I've been a bit worried about my lack of backups lately since my WHS died. I still have one NAS but one of the two drives in it reports as being dead. (Probably I could get it back by hitting it with the handle of a screwdriver when the power is off; likely the problem is the seek head is jammed. But it's been months and it's RAID and I don't know what would happen after that. Not worth the risk.)

A better answer is to have some other backup. A while back I bought six 128G USB2 flash disks and this evening I rolled copies of a bunch of my anime onto three of them. But you'd be surprised how few series will fit on 128G. My Railgun directory is 71G all by itself.

So another visit to NewEgg was warranted, and by damn they were selling 512G USB3 flash drives for about $250 each. So I just ordered two of them, and they're supposed to arrive on Tuesday, and we'll see how it goes.

Turns out all the USB ports on my computer are USB 3. The new drives are nominally rated 250MB/s write speed. I don't expect to make that, but surely these will be faster than the USB2 sticks I bought last time, which have been averaging about 12MB/s.

One reason I won't reach 250MB/s is that my NAS, where my anime is stored, can't feed data to me that fast. But it surely can exceed 12 MB/s.

I hope.

Regardless, even if these new drives are not very fast, this is 1TB of reliable storage that can't lock up because of a sticking seek head. And that's worthwhile all by itself.

(Oh, and by the way: this post is not a request for suggestions or advice. Just thought I'd mention that.)

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Computers at 08:29 PM | Comments (8) | Add Comment
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April 21, 2016

Surprise! Log in!

I just turned on my Fire HD to read a book and found out that I had to log in and register my unit again.

I gather that Amazon just pushed out a new version of the software. But it meant that none of my books were in the Fire memory, so I had to force it to download them all again. (Amazon, take your cloud and shove it.)

Part of this update was that I got given the WaPo app for a 6 month trial. I just told the Fire to get it off my unit. I bet in 6 months I get nagged to subscribe, which I won't do.

I wonder what else got updated? And I wonder what other "free" trial things just got pushed into my face, which will eventually nag me to subscribe?

UPDATE: It says "System Version 8.5.1_user_5159720" but since I don't have the slightest idea what it used to say, I have no idea whether it changed.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Computers at 10:07 PM | Comments (2) | Add Comment
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April 10, 2016

A good name

If I hadn't already named this site, I think I'd go with zen ryoku zenkai (全力全開)

It means "full power, full throttle", which is pretty awesome. It's an idiom that means "going all out".

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Computers at 08:21 PM | Comments (1) | Add Comment
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