kevin_standlee: (SFSFC)
As soon as I could get away from Day Jobbe today, we loaded up and headed for the Bay Area. Including grabbing lunch in Sparks, stopping for 30 minutes to see my sister in Sacramento, and dinner in Tracy, it took about nine hours to get to San Jose. This is our first stay in the San Jose Marriott, where we'll be at a Worldcon 76 division heads meeting this weekend.

Unfortunately, my computer refuses to boot up in regular mode. I've managed to get it up in safe mode, and I'll fiddle with it more when I get a chance. I hope it is not serious. I don't have time right now. I need sleep.

Hot Stuff

May. 13th, 2017 08:23 am
kevin_standlee: (ConOps)
In order to run a piece of legacy software (no internet connection required; in fact, it boots from the CD-ROM drive to run a specific task, so it's relatively immune from outside hacking), I needed to dig out one of the Dell D600 machines. Not surprisingly, the batteries were dead for having sat for a long time. I plugged it in and the green charging light came on. Then, while I was working on the legacy-software job, the green light turned into a flashing red light, meaning "charging error." I hastily shut down the computer and pulled the battery, which was very hot to the touch.

That model of Dell laptop battery has been known to go bad. I set it aside and put in another. (I have lots of them.) After a few minutes, it also turned red and I pulled it. Same for the third battery. Fortunately, the fifth battery worked, as did the sixth, and there are others available if I need them.

I also managed to (eventually) get the legacy job done. Although Dell might possibly still replace the old defective batteries, I'm not sure there's much point, given how rarely I use the old Dell machines. I may just take the defective batteries with me and put them in the battery-recycle box at work. But I'm sure glad I was paying attention, because I really don't want a battery fire, and that first overcharging battery felt almost hot enough to burn my hand when I pulled it out.
kevin_standlee: (Confusion Ahead)
Did I say it took 90 minutes to get Skype running on Lisa's computer? Let's make that more like 120 minutes. The version we installed that was supposed to make it stop asking for an update that it would then refuse to install did that, and after a reboot the computer's sound came back. However, Lisa discovered that it also wouldn't work for voice communication, which is of course the main point of having the program! More uninstall/reinstalls and we got a version running that (a) works as a voice communications program and (b) doesn't disable all of the other sounds on the computer. Unfortunately, it continues to ask you to update it every time it starts, and saying yes is pointless because it refuses to actually do the download. But otherwise, the program works.
kevin_standlee: (Kevin and Lisa)
Lisa's computer would no longer work with the very old version of Skype installed on it, nor would it download the newest version. After a lot of fussing about, I was able to download the full version of Skype to my computer, transfer it to her computer via USB, and she was able to install the new version. Whereupon all sound on her computer died except a Skype conversation. That means she couldn't hear voicemail greetings or voicemail, or any other Windows sound at all, even the Windows startup sound. Much troubleshooting ensued. Eventually, she was able to get sound running again by running Control Panel/Sounds and Audio Devices/Voice/Test Hardware... and running the Sound Hardware Test Wizard.

I think the Skype installer was trying to implement a setting in Windows 7 and later (but in XP) that mutes/reduces all other sound when it thinks you are using communications software like Skype. Since the setting isn't in XP, it ended up killing all sounds all the time (whether Skype was running or not) other than Skype, and not all of Skype to boot! You could talk and listen on Skype, but you couldn't hear it ring nor hear voicemail greetings, nor voicemail recorded for you.

This entire updating and installation of Skype took us about 90 minutes, which is about 80 minutes more than I think it should have taken. But it seems to be working now, except that every time you launch the program on her computer, it prompts you to update it. But it won't actually update if you say yes on that screen.
kevin_standlee: (Confusion Ahead)
Getting to my mechanic in Fremont, taking the train to BART to SFO, no problem. Getting through Terrorization was no worse than usual. Even repacking my luggage wasn't a problem; I had 2.5 kg spare space. Except when I got to SFO and was putting my computer away after Terrorization, I realized that it was the wrong computer. That is, it's not my "primary" computer, but an alternative one I have to carry with me to access a couple of applications that are locked to that computer. It's not a catastrophe, but since I have the power supply for the primary machine and the computer I'm carrying uses a different supply, I don't expect to be online much for the next week, save a tiny bit through my phone.

Now I'm sort of wishing I had driven the RV to SFO. If I had, I could have gone back and got the right computer.
kevin_standlee: (Kevin and Lisa)
Lisa doesn't come down to the Bay Area that often, so while we were there on Saturday, we took advantage of the trip to go shopping for electronics not generally available in Reno/Sparks. Our first stop was Fry's, where we did get her some things, but where I also bought a medium-ticket item for Cheryl Morgan's benefit. Then it was on to Weird Stuff Warehouse. Again, Lisa found a few things for which she was looking, but I was the one with the biggest purchase, as they had a good deal running on surplus 24" monitors. Lisa bought me one. It will trigger a cascade of monitors in our home office that should lead to Lisa getting a replacement for one of her monitors that is starting to fade away on her.

Weird Stuff and Goats )

After Weird Stuff, we continued on to HSC Electronic Supply, who have moved to a new location not far from their previous warehouse. This time we struck out, finding none of the things for which we were searching. None were critical, but Lisa likes to look here when she gets the opportunity to do so.

Slogging Home via Tracy, With Added Mattress Fire )

By then we had been on the road for at least three hours and had gone maybe 100 miles or so, and I was already worn out. Lisa took the wheel. We stopped for a late lunch at the Denny's in Lodi Junction, then continued to Sacramento to visit my sister for a while. Lisa was still better off than me, and we went on with her driving to Colfax where we had a short rest stop, and Lisa continued driving us the rest of the way home from there, where as I wrote briefly last night we got home before 10 PM.

This morning, after a good night's sleep, I felt a little bit better, and leaving Lisa to sleep, I walked up to the Wigwam Restaurant-Casino, had a good breakfast, and once again managed to win enough playing blackjack to pay for breakfast.

I'm now using my new-to-me monitor, and it does make a difference.
kevin_standlee: (Reno)
We went into Reno today to pick up a pair of shoes that Lisa had ordered from the SAS store, and also to look for a computer cable I need to make the new laptop computer work more effectively. (Specifically, a DisplayPort-to-DVI adapter.) There's no place I could find in Reno/Sparks where I can get it. There are times when I do miss being so close to Fry's Electronics. If I'd been in Fremont, I would have just gone to Fry's and picked it up. The guy at Staples said he could order one, but I said not to bother. I can live without it until I'm in the Bay Area again (and indeed, there may be some of them in my office down there). It would have just been more convenient for me.

Things are rather busy at our usual haunts, and when, after picking up some stuff at Whole Foods Market, we saw that the restaurants at the Atlantis and Peppermill were too crowded for us (what we get for going in on Saturday instead of Sunday-Thursday), Lisa said, "Let's go to our favorite place," and without even having to ask, I took us to the Sparks Nugget and John's Oyster Bar, where the shrimp pan roast never disappoints.

Because we got off to such a late start today (and because I'd spent about six hours wrestling with computer configuration trying to get all of my files off the backup media onto the new machine), we didn't get as much done today as we expected, and that means we'll have to go in again sometime early next week to do our larger-scale grocery shopping. I do, however, have sufficient supplies for my one-man watching of the Superb Owl show tomorrow. Lisa says she'll leave me to it. And here I didn't even put down a small bet on either team, just so I'd have a dog in the fight.

I'm glad to be home.
kevin_standlee: (Confusion Ahead)
I accidentally disabled the webcam microphone today while trying to straighten out the settings on the various sound-input devices. The webcam disappeared from the list of devices, and I couldn't figure out how to make it come back. After much fussing around, I learned from an online search that in Windows 7, you have to right-click in a blank area of the recording devices screen and select "show disabled devices." How would anyone actually know to do this? It seems like a terrible idea to me. But anyway, when I did so, the webcam reappeared and I re-activated it.
kevin_standlee: (Conrunner Kevin)
Several people suggested that the problem I was having with the external hard drive clicking instead of spinning up was that it couldn't draw enough power through the USB3 port, especially because my laptop is pre-USB3 and therefore I have a PC card with the USB3 ports in it. A suggestion from [ profile] nojay sent me back to Fry's for the fourth time in six days, where after much hunting I found the only "splitter" cable that ends in the USB3 connection for the hard drive. That allows me to plug the USB3 data line into the PC card and the power-only USB connection into another port, with the result being that the hard drive (which is an exchange for the first one, just in case it was actually defective) is working just fine now.
kevin_standlee: (Conrunner Kevin)
One thing I can do on my trips to the Bay Area is to make trips to Fry's Electronics. There's no equivalent in the Reno area. (People have said, "But Fry's has stores in Nevada!" I say, "Yes, in Las Vegas." The geographically illiterate, which appears to be about 90% of the people I meet, say, "So?" I reply, "That's like telling me in San Francisco that I can get what I want in Los Angeles." But since statistically, everyone in Nevada lives in Las Vegas, I guess this just doesn't penetrate.) Anyway, this trip I bought a 2 TB external USB3 drive so that I can do more backups more often. (The latest round of trouble with one of my computers having led to some data losses, but as far as I can tell nothing catastrophic.)

To my annoyance, the USB3 drive won't connect as a USB3 device. It connects okay on one of the USB2 ports, although the system warns me that it will work better on a USB3 port, so it can see that it's supposed to be USB3. But when I connect the drive to the USB3 port, it merely sits and clicks without actually spinning up and recognizing the drive. I don't know if this means the drive is defective or that my USB3 ports don't have enough power to run the drive. I'll try the former and exchange the drive for another one before I head home. I hope it's the drive and not my computer.
kevin_standlee: (Kevin and Lisa)
It's a rare rainy day here in Fernley, which is just as well because I spent the final day of this four-day weekend fighting with Lisa's CF-29 Toughbook, downloading 157 updates (not an exaggeration; that's the actual count, and it took about three hours for them to download and install), and otherwise try to get the machine back to a semblance of what it was before she dropped it yesterday. We sort of have been able to get most things back into it, but it has not been easy. This is why we use DriveClone as our backup system. Besides any data we might lose, configuring computers is such a pain that being able to swap in a replacement drive that has all of the settings the way we like it is a huge win.

I only wish my work machine could be cloned, but the security software they put on it makes it impossible; the hardware signatures don't match and the clone will neither boot nor even be readable as an external drive. Which is to say that the "security" features make it more likely that I'll lose data someday, although I do regularly backup the data files to an external drive.
kevin_standlee: (Reno)
We did go to Reno this morning, and managed to make breakfast at the Atlantis just barely. (One minute later and we would have paid $4 more for lunch.) This was good because you get the last of breakfast and the first of lunch.

After a fairly leisurely brunch, we went to SAS and took advantage of the buy-one-get-one-half-price sale to get Lisa and I each a new pair of shoes. The place was very quiet, but the clerk said it had been madness earlier in the day. A couple more small errands included getting the stuffing mix we liked from Whole Foods (if they run true to form, you won't be able to get it outside of the holiday season), a specialty battery for the radio scanner (so it doesn't keep losing its programming when the power fluctuates as it does quite a bit here), and a small potted Christmas tree. We were able to get home before the sun went down, even with these short autumn days.

It was a pretty decent day until Lisa accidentally dropped her Panasonic CF-29 Toughbook. It wasn't turned on, but unfortunately, the Toughbook wasn't as tough as it was supposed to be and the hard drive broke. We had to start over from scratch with a new Windows installation and tracking down all of the drivers and hotfixes. Even after that, ActiveWorlds, which is very important to Lisa, won't install properly. The latest version won't give you an option where to install it, insists that it must be installed in the root of your hard drive, and even then only runs once; the second time you run it, you get a Blue Screen of Death. You can't even uninstall it; Add/Remove Programs gives an error when you try. You can install it again, and it will run one more time, but then the next time you run it you get a BSOD again. Lisa is Not Happy.
kevin_standlee: (Kevin Sketch)
I had more thoughts about the Hugo Awards to write tonight, but I'm too tired now. I've spent the evening at BASFA and then in the hotel where I'm staying the rest of this week, where I've spent the past hour-plus trying to get its wired internet access to work. I've concluded that so few people are using wired connections that the hotel's wired router needs kicking, and the front desk is closed this late at night, and it's not urgent enough to get someone out of bed. Maybe I'll convince them to restart the router when I get back from work tomorrow afternoon. This hotel (the Candlewood Suites; I needed to check off one more IHG brand and three more nights to complete the Big Win Promotion for a pot o' points) is adjacent to a Caltrain station, and I'm thinking of using Caltrain tomorrow instead of driving to work. It would be one way to keep me from spending another 12 hour day at the office.
kevin_standlee: (Conrunner Kevin)
I have been obliged to buy a new printer as the existing one broke a tiny plastic hinge that is effectively irreplaceable. Consequently, I have an unopened, unused, and unusable-to-me Lexmark 44XL black ink cartridge. Can anyone reading this use it?
kevin_standlee: (Conrunner Kevin)
Google Reader is being discontinued as of July 1, 2013. I guess I'm a stick-in-the-mud, but that was how I was following a bunch of feeds.
kevin_standlee: (Kevin and Lisa)
I spent about ten hours today doing Day Jobbe from Fernley. After work and dinner, Lisa and I spent an hour or so chopping and clearing brush from the property. Unlike Mehama, we only have to do this about once a year. We still can't figure out where the plants are getting their water, as we're not watering them.

I had hoped to process and post the photos from UP150 this evening, but instead I got to spend several hours wrestling with trying to find keyboard drivers for the IBM UltraNav keyboard (that's a particular keyboard that's very similar to how the T series laptops are laid out, including an built-in touchpad) so that the keyboard would work on the new desktop computer we got for Lisa. Specifically, we wanted to be able to disable tapping. [Edit: see comment below from me if you don't know what touch-pad tapping means.] Lisa doesn't like tapping. (I don't either.) But the generic keyboard/mouse drivers have it turned on by default and you can't disable it without the device specific drivers.

This task turned out to be far more work than it should have been. I kept searching for drivers and kept getting different sets of them, all from Lenovo's web site. The didn't work. About the fifth set of drivers — astonishingly, the one that claims to be for PS/2 keyboards instead of USB — actually worked, at least enough to get us the advanced settings tab where we could disable tapping.
kevin_standlee: (Goo For It)
Lisa and I got away into Reno later than we originally planned. The plan was to go have lunch at the Peppermill's buffet, but we got there after lunch closed and before dinner opened, so instead we went to the Sherwin-Williams dealer on South Virginia Street. The place was empty when we got there (although apparently we'd just missed a big rush). The guy was very nice to Lisa and me. When we explained that we were painting a porch, not just any outside woodwork, he recommended a particular type of their paint intended for such surfaces. That particular type isn't manufactured in Fernley — he showed us how to read the codes on the cans so as to find out if a given can was manufactured here — and it's more expensive than the ordinary exterior paint, but it's meant for foot traffic. We bought a quart of it colored to the shade of red we think is closest to the dark red/crimson ("fireweed") we want to use. Lisa figures she can paint a step or two to see how well it works and looks, and if it's not what we wanted, we can just paint over it later. The guy at the shop made Lisa feel very good about this purchase, too, unlike the folks at Lowe's who either ignored her or made her feel uneasy.

The SW paints will probably be more expensive that what Lowe's is offering, but they also look like they should wear better, and there's something to be said for spending your money in places that treat you better.

After dealing with paint, we went back and had an early dinner at the Peppermill, then went to Winco for groceries. We meant to go by Work World so I could pick up some more slacks and shirts, and Lisa some socks, but we forgot about the time and they'd already closed by the time we got there. Lisa did check in the adjacent Home Depot and found a particular US-made piece of EMT fitting that Lowe's only carries in the Chinese brand (and the US-made item is less expensive, to boot). Then there was Whole Foods, where we got the nice undyed pickles they have, and also a brand of cereal that seems to agree with my blood sugar control. Finally we stopped by the Nugget to tickle my club card. Lisa had poor luck with Paradise Fishing today before we headed home.

Tonight I am tasked with duplicating a few disk drives. Unfortunately, some of the blank drives we bought seem to want to draw more power than my Dell D600 can produce through the USB port, although they seem to work okay off of my work computer (A Dell E6510). You can't duplicate a drive if it won't come up to speed.
kevin_standlee: (Menlo WWL)
The more I work with the graph tools in MS Access, the more I think that Microsoft must have bought that package from someone else and bolted it onto the program without giving a lot of thought to how well it meshes with the other Office applications. I'm sort of managing to get the reports I want with much messing about, but boy is it a lot of work. And if you make a mistake, Undo doesn't work. Talk about working without a net! I've been having to stop and save a backup every few minutes in case I botch things up, which I have done when something behaved a way I never expected it would.

Still, once you get one report written, the rest start getting easier, as you can make copies of the first one and re-use as much of the design and VBA code as possible, so we're getting there.
kevin_standlee: (Pensive Kevin)
After yet another bout of the hard drive on my personal machine refusing to boot (black screen, blinking cursor), even after having done exactly nothing since the last reboot, I decided that I needed to try something new.

Things I've Already Tried )

Another bit of information I found while trying to find something about this problem that I hadn't seen before — most of the advice on the internet involves variations of stuff I've already tried — was a tidbit that the Dell D600 laptop's BIOS (latest revision A16, which I do have) doesn't handle hard drives >137GB very well. Some of the Dell documentation says that while the BIOS still will tell you that you only have a 137GB drive, it can actually address everything above that with WinXP SP3 or later operating systems, but other things online suggest that once something on your computer writes anything above 137GB, the drive will get confused and refuse to boot.

What I'm trying this time )

Now I'm going through the laborious process of re-installing software. But being paranoid about this, I'm going slowly, and after the next re-installation (the drive-cloning software), I'm going to make a complete clone of this new 3-drives-in-1-box before installing any more software. And I'm going to reboot after installing each new program, and probably re-clone several more times along the way. If it really is a software incompatibility with one of the programs, I'd like to try and isolate it!
kevin_standlee: (Default)
I got back to Fremont around 8 PM this evening. While unpacking, I found my phone charger. It was in my computer backpack all along; I just had put it in a different pocket than the one in which I normally store it while traveling.

I popped the most recent backup clone of my personal computer's hard drive into the computer and it booted right up. The refuses-to-boot drive is, as usual, perfectly readable in all other ways and I'm restoring all of My Documents back to the working drive. This will take a couple of hours. I must remember to archive off videos and photos — which take up an inordinate amount of space — to offline storage. It's just too easy to keep accumulating this stuff.

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