January 06, 2013


My Kindle Fire is dead. It won't turn on. I think I may have broken the connector.

When I push the power button, it turns green for a moment, and the display backlight turns on, and then a couple of seconds later it turns back off again. Pushing and holding the power button has no useful effect.

I guess this is an excuse for me to buy a Fire HD, isn't it?

UPDATE: By the way, no suggestions or advice are needed.

UPDATE: Actually, this is how it acts when the battery is run down. I had it plugged in to recharge overnight but the light was still amber, not green, when I looked at it this morning. I was using a USB cable, and it doesn't seem to have worked.

I just plugged it into its power brick, and we'll see if that does any better.

UPDATE: And so I walked to Fred Meyers and bought an 8.9" HD. The display is gorgeous, and for my old eyes it's a lot easier to read the text, though I wish there were other sans choices besides Helvetica and Lucida.

It didn't come with a brick. The only charging cable is a USB connection.

They've made some changes to the UI; I had to hunt a bit to find functions I needed to use.

The photo viewing app is still disappointing. I copied a couple of pictures which were 4000*3000, and it won't let me zoom all the way in.

By the way, this is the longest walk yet. My legs were sore when I got back, but I made it!

UPDATE: I just did some searching, and apparently Adobe has abandoned Flash support for all mobile devices.

I still think it would have been nice for Amazon to give us the last version that did exist for Android.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Computers at 09:02 AM | Comments (8) | Add Comment
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December 10, 2012


I can't get DHCP to work properly on my LAN. I've got a DHCP server package for my Windows Home Server, and my Netgear hub does DHCP. Using one, or the other (but never both) I have the same problem: IPs are getting assigned but the DNS server addresses aren't getting loaded. So the computer can communicate, but it can't look anything up.

The way I've been coping is to manually set the DNS's in my slate and my fire. But that won't work with my phone, so far as I can tell. It doesn't give me that level of control.

UPDATE: Fortunately, I did not do this to my LAN.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Computers at 09:48 AM | No Comments | Add Comment
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December 09, 2012

uTorrent 3.2.3

I just tried installing the latest uTorrent, version 3.2.3. It didn't do any uploading; it couldn't establish any connections. So I had to retreat again to version 3.2.0.

They sure lard up the installer with cruft. No, I don't want your browser tool bar, nor do I want RealPlayer anywhere near my computer. I understand why they do this; it's a source of revenue, and since I'm using the free version, I can't really complain.

Well, yeah I can. But I shouldn't. And at least I'll give them credit: when I say I don't want it, they don't install it. There was one package I got a while back where I told it "no" and it went ahead and installed things anyway. Took me a couple of hours to find and remove all the trash.

I've been noticing that nearly every day about my dinner time, BakaBT's performance goes to hell for a couple of hours. Most of my torrents announce "unable to access the tracker" and I can't load the BakaBT web page. I mailed one of the mods to ask if they were considering a server upgrade, and he told me that was when they did backups, most days. So I guess that makes sense, but usually backups don't bring a system to its knees that way.

UPDATE: 1915 PST and it's wedged.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Computers at 06:50 PM | Comments (4) | Add Comment
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September 23, 2012

Kindle Fire -- nothing's perfect

The bookshelf metaphor for the GUI in the Kindle Fire is a clever one, and it has the great benefit of being easily accessible to new users.

But it has a drawback, too: it doesn't really scale well. I currently have 36 books in mine, and that's the point where it begins to get unwieldy. The books can be sorted by name, by author, or in order of how recently I've read them, but it's still a matter of scrolling up and down to find a particular one.

What I really want is the ability to make my own bookshelves, and give them names. I don't know how that would fit into the GUI, but it would allow me to organize my books myself, to make them easier to find.

It's still not outrageous with 36 books, but it seems like it would be a real issue if I had a hundred or more. Considering that I've bought more than 30 in the last six months, reaching a hundred is certainly not out of the realm of possibility.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Computers at 06:54 PM | Comments (12) | Add Comment
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September 16, 2012

Offline backups

I took a look, and it's been ten months since I last did an offline backup -- by which I mean, a backup to storage that I don't routinely leave connected to my computer.

I've got two 3TB USB drives which I alternate for this. The last time I did a backup was last November. The previous time was the June before that. So that's the drive I'm doing now.

These drives are huge but they aren't record breakers for speed. I started copying my anime collection yesterday afternoon and it should be finished about midnight. Then I've got few hundred gigabytes of other stuff, which should take through tomorrow night, and then I'll feel a lot more secure.

I'm getting transfer rates of about 21 megabytes per second, which is fast enough for something like this that I don't do all that often. But no matter how fast the drive, it's gonna take a hell of a long time to copy and store 2 TB of fansubs. Ye Gods.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Computers at 06:06 PM | Comments (1) | Add Comment
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September 10, 2012

uTorrent 3.2

Occasionally uTorrent 3.1.3 seems to lose its way. Lots of torrents active, but it can't seem to fully utilize my uplink. Had that going on this morning, with it kind of fluctuating around 100Kbytes/s, even though my limit is 200.

So I decided to upgrade to the latest version, to see if they might have found and fixed a problem.

The upgrade is fast and easy. You download the installer and run it. It tries to get you to accept a bunch of crapware, but you can say "no".

For everything, that is, except the uTorrent bar in IE and Firefox. Oh, it asks you, and you can say "no", but it installs it anyway.

So I got into IE and disabled it, and then went to the control panel and outright uninstalled the damned thing. Then I checked Firefox. It was still there, and still enabled. I figured out how to turn it off -- or at least, how to get it off my screen. But I can't figure out how to uninstall it outright. Grumble.

As to the scheduling thing? Well, at least for the first few minutes it looks like it's better. It isn't absolutely saturating but it's running about 185. I won't really know for sure for a few days, though in a couple of hours I'll have a pretty good idea. I'll let you know.

UPDATE: Four hours now, and it's been nicely pegged at 200K for most of that. I think there was a bug that's been fixed.

UPDATE: Late in the evening: maybe not. It's back to bouncing up and down again, albeit it's running at a higher average level while doing so.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Computers at 09:52 AM | Comments (4) | Add Comment
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July 24, 2012

Kindle Fire -- bookmarks

Last night I discovered a new feature. If you're on a page in a book, you can click the upper right corner of the page and a little blue ribbon shows up. Clicking it makes it go away again. If it's there, then if you click the "book" icon at the bottom of the screen, one of the things that show up is a list of all your bookmarks.

Wish I'd known that a long time ago -- but to find it out I'd have had to read the documentation. And manuals are for wimps.

Back in the day, when I was at Tektronix and was doing user interface design, one of our basic principles was this: when our product gets delivered to a customer, the unit gets unpacked and put on a desk, and the manual gets unpacked and locked in a file cabinet. So our user interface had to be immediately accessible to any user without assuming he'd seen the manual.

I blew that once (7D02) and aced it once (1240) when I was in the Logic Analyzers group.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Computers at 10:55 AM | No Comments | Add Comment
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July 10, 2012

Microsoft Expression Web

Anyone have any opinions about Microsoft Expression Web?

I do a lot of my composition using Frontpage 2002, but it has some problems. The biggest problem is that when I have two pages open, and want to put a link to one of them into the other one, it crashes instantly.

And there are things about it that are pretty clumsy. Microsoft stopped supporting it a long time ago, and I'm thinking maybe it's time for me to buy something more modern. If I stay with Microsoft, that would apparently be Expression Web. (Though it appears it can't be purchased singly, so it would be Expression Studio.)

The things I'm reading about it say that it requires Silverlight and NET Framework 4. Does that mean I can only create things to run on servers which have those things? (which would be bad) or only that I have to have them on my computer in order to run the program? (which would be OK)

Frankly, for what I want to do (compose basic HTML with no frills) it seems like overkill. So is there an alternative? Anything under about $200 would be fine; quality is more important than cheapness.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Computers at 11:52 AM | Comments (12) | Add Comment
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June 28, 2012

What kind of video files can the Kindle Fire play?

I tried copying ep 25 of Mouretsu Pirates onto my Kindle Fire, just to see what would happen. I renamed the file to get rid of a lot of cruft and to shorten it, and put it in the "Video" directory on the Kindle.

When I tried the "Video" tab, it didn't show up there. Just for the hell of it, I tried the "Gallery" app, and it did show up there. But when I tried to view it, it told me it didn't understand it.

The file is MKV. MediaInfo says the video is AVC (High10) and the audio is AAC. High10 may be a bit esoteric; I should try something older, I think.


Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Computers at 05:24 PM | Comments (9) | Add Comment
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May 22, 2012

Merope -- low power

There's an applet running in Merope's tray which can report in real time just how much power it's using when you mouse-over. And what it usually says is "11.3 watts".

Which is really tiny, if you think about it. I'd already noticed that before I noticed the applet. Merope has been running continuously since it was delivered, and there aren't any hotspots. Not even any warm ones.

Admittedly, uTorrent isn't very CPU-intensive, but that's still quite impressive. Arcturus used to get quite warm to the touch. And after a couple of hours of use, I can tell easily where Alcyone's graphics chip is located.

This will make Merope a good roommate when weather gets hot. 11 watts is about the heat load of a couple of flashlights.


Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Computers at 10:18 AM | No Comments | Add Comment
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