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Wrestling with the infrastructure and Nazis
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Published Tuesday, June 19, 2018 @ 8:39 PM EDT
Jun 19 2018

In addition to the Windows system problem I talked about last week, the overall tech situation worsened on Saturday with a power outage. West Penn Power restored service in a little over an hour, but the reinitialization surge apparently took out our Comcast Xfinity X-1 cable box/DVR in the living room and the main surge suppressor/uninterruptible power supply in my office.

Dealing with the cable box was simple. I scored a new one as well as a new cable modem/wireless router just by driving to the local Comcast office- it was open on Saturday until 7 p.m. Getting the unit up and running was uneventful. The X1 boxes store recordings and schedules in the cloud, so we didn't lose anything.

The only aggravations were getting used to a smaller remote (Comcast calls it the XR11) and having to fix the 30-second commercial skip feature.

The older boxes supported entering a code into the remote to enable the 30-second commercial jump feature. With the new configuration, the page up button jumped five minutes ahead. A workaround is using X1's voice command feature: tell the remote "jump ahead 30 seconds." You can apparently tell it to jump forward or backward in five second increments up to 30 seconds. It's neat, but it's a lot faster just to hit the page up key a couple times.

In the new setup, the "jump ahead" stuff is not stored in the memory of the remote, but in the X1 box itself. You have to program the box via a secret input sequence: get the remote close to the box, point the remote at it, hit the exit key on the remote three times as fast as you can, followed by 0030. I had to try it a few times before it "took." There's no indication whether or not the input worked. In fact, hitting the exit key three times and the four digits results in the box going back to wherever the main tuner was set, and displaying the mini-guide with channel 30 highlighted. Patience and persistence will win out, though.

Regarding the UPS system blowout, I think it was just time to replace the batteries in the unit. I've done it twice already, though. The unit's over ten years old, and I need one with a greater capacity, anyway. I ordered a 1,500-watt unit via Amazon Prime. Pulling the old unit out, installing the new one, and re-cabling everything is a long and tedious operation. I wanted to get the replacement in ASAP. Aside from West Penn Power's "normal" summer fair weather blackouts, it's also thunderstorm season. I decided to take a vacation day from work and do it today, instead of waiting for the weekend. So, of course...

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On the brighter side, replacing the hybrid drive on my Toshiba laptop with a standard mechanical drive appears to have solved all my Windows 10 problems. There was absolutely no indication the drive was the source of the trouble; it passed all the diagnostics with flying colors. The problem is the way in which a hybrid drive manages the solid state drive (SSD) portion of the device. It is totally opaque to the user. I suspect something was cached in the SSD that wasn't compatible with a Windows 10 or driver update. That's just a guess, based on my observations that the system started to act up each time I installed a new application, or a new Windows update was applied.

I'm not comfortable not knowing if the drive was actually the cause of the problem, but I have no software tools to dig deeper into the system, and I can't waste any more time investigating. Four to eight hours every weekend for three months, plus another four hours during the week just getting the thing to boot correctly... I'm too old for this stuff.

Final results: From a system with no user apps running, shutdown, reboot, and Windows load to the desktop with taskbar populated and the "Windows" chime: two minutes. I can live with that.

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Godwin's law
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Godwin's law (or Godwin's rule of Hitler analogies) is an internet adage asserting that "As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Hitler approaches 1"; that is, if an online discussion (regardless of topic or scope) goes on long enough, sooner or later someone will compare someone or something to Adolf Hitler or his deeds. Promulgated by the American attorney and author Mike Godwin in 1990, Godwin's law originally referred specifically to Usenet newsgroup discussions. It is now applied to any threaded online discussion, such as Internet forums, chat rooms, and comment threads, as well as to speeches, articles, and other rhetoric where reductio ad Hitlerum occurs.

So, how bad are things now in the United States?

Pretty bad. Godwin's suspending his own law.


Categories: Adolf Hitler, amazon.com, Evil, Godwin's law, Mike Godwin, Nazis, West Penn Power, Windows, Xfinity


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