Recent Dell Optiplex “mini tower” models have a space below the optical bays and behind the front panel USB ports for something to be installed.  I’m not sure the original intent but there is a bracket that will fit a typical hard drive, although the mounting holes may not match up.  These mini tower systems like the Optiplex 9020 or XE2 have two optical bays and two hard drive bays.  But they have no specific SSD bays.  You could get an adapter to fit an SSD in a hard drive bay or an optical bay.  But why sacrifice one of those bays when you can put an SSD or two in this found space?

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Today is the day that the Electoral College “votes” for our next President. I’ve long said the Electoral College is stupid. I had not previously realized, however, that the electors could actually choose to vote for somebody other than the individual that “won” the state. I only began reading about this as a potential hail-mary to keep Trump from getting elected. And why is it possible for an elector to do that? Apparently, the people who created the Electoral College had the sense that from time to time, the voting populace could be duped by a charlatan and that it would be smart to add a layer of protection between said populace and the Presidency. (Also, there’s likely a slavery aspect to the Electoral College too.)

To review, we’ve had a nonsensical way of choosing a President for over 200 years and for all of that time, we have not exercised this protection option.  The people who are electors don’t seem to have had cause to stray from the voting populace in the past.  But if ever there was a time when the voting populace needs to be protected from itself, now is the time.  In the weeks since Trump was elected we’ve seen him back down from promises he made during the campaign all but stating for the record that much of what he said during the election was merely to get elected.  And we’ve learned that Russia’s hacking extended to both political parties but only information that would be damaging to Clinton was leaked for the express purpose of putting a thumb on the scale for Trump.  All this has been happening while the vote tally for Clinton continues to increase her “win” over Trump.

Just today at the bank, I overheard a customer saying to a bank teller who was reluctantly engaging in conversation that he was a Trump supporter and even owned “a few Make America Great Again hats” but is now starting to question Trump.  He seemed surprised.  I’m sure this is a typical sentiment among Trump voters.  It seems to me that there was an instant in time when Trump could have won the electoral votes and that instant was voting day.

Assuming that the Electoral College does not change the expected outcome, there’s no question any more that the Electoral College is dumb and needs to go.  The only reason it wouldn’t is because for it to disappear, the people who benefited from it would need to advocate for it to be destroyed.  One thing we know about elected politicians is that they like power and anything that would reduce that power is a nonstarter.

So, Electoral College, prove your worth.  Show that you are not an irrelevant extra layer of bureaucracy.  This is your chance.  Miss your chance and the world will know the pointlessness to your existence and that you only serve the politicians that you elect, not the nation and it’s people.

MythTV sound problems… again

| by Ken | in Technology No Comments »

My main MythTV system (AKA “backend”) is in my entertainment system rack in the old family room.  My office is merging into that room and I needed to move the system rack a bit to make room for additional furniture.  And the rack had a few things that were no longer in use (like ReplayTV [still mourning that]) and a bunch of wires that had been used for things and hadn’t been pulled out.  Also, my APC UPS had proven defective (what good is a UPS if you can’t rely on it) so I removed it but needed to rework some stuff to get in the new one.  For all of these reasons, it made sense to disassemble the whole entertainment system and rebuild it clean – figuratively and literally.  Lots of dust to vanquish.

I put it all back together meticulously tying cables together and running cables in layers so everything was neat.  Once I got to the point when it was time to power everything up, I hadn’t gotten the TV put back on top yet.  (That old Panasonic plasma weighs 250 pounds and I needed to make sure I only moved that when I was sure I was done.)  I wanted to give MythTV a chance to catch up on database activity since it had been off for the better part of a day and I didn’t need to see that happen.  I made sure I had the MythTV parts set up and connected before I powered it on and the attached the Comcast cable box and HD-PVR.  And When I was certain everything else was working, I hoisted the TV back in place and hooked up all the HDMI.  Then I could test out the whole setup.  Everything worked with the exception of two problems with MythTV: the network didn’t come up and I didn’t hear any sound.  The network problem turned out to be because my Panamax power protector doesn’t work with Gigabit so I’ve ordered a separate network protector and in the meantime, I have the network cable skipping surge protection which is how I had it before – easy resolution.  But the sound problem turned out to be a bear to resolve.

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Clinton vs. Trump: Postmortem

| by Ken | in Politics No Comments »

Hello world.  It’s the USA here.  Hey, listen, I know we look like a bunch of idiots.  I can understand how you would think less of us now.  We’ve done something really wrong and we have some making up to do.  But before you write us all off as a lost cause, let me try to explain why we aren’t all as bad as the results might make us seem.

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A Summer Under Siege

| by Ken | in House & Home No Comments »

It was a summer under siege by wildlife.  We had all kids of critters causing all kinds of new issues.  And it isn’t like we moved deep into the suburbs.  We are still in our near-urban location with our same density of houses.  (Sorry, but on the blog, no specific places to be named.)  Yet the critters found us this year in great numbers.  Here’s the roundup – as of November.

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Clinton vs. Trump: T Minus 3 Days

| by Ken | in Politics No Comments »

I don’t usually revisit the same topic so soon but I had to comment on the purported lying equivalency. On Thursday (Nov 3), I heard an interview with a Millennial that went something like this: “It’s tough to choose because on the one hand Trump says a lot of things I disagree with and has positions I disagree with. On the other hand, I can’t vote for Clinton because she’s a liar.” While I understand why people believe Clinton is a “liar”, I don’t understand why people don’t think Trump is. Maybe the bar is higher for her because she’s a politician whereas Trump doesn’t seem to understand “facts” when they pertain to his statements.

Whatever the reason people feel this way, remember your choice is between two liars and as the story here points out, Clinton’s are fewer. Also, as a bonus, with Clinton there is no misogyny, we get to stay in NATO, and there will be no state-sanctioned religious discrimination. So for anyone thinking that their best option is to not vote, that’s a cop out. Most elections are about choosing the lesser of two evils so be a grown-up and choose the one you think is “better”. Even if on a scale of 1 to 10, with one a 3 and the other a 1, 3 is still more than 1 and therefore you prefer the one you give a 3 to so that’s who you vote for. The only reason to not vote, or vote for somebody other than these two is if you really believe that Clinton and Trump are equal. And I’m pretty confident that most people don’t truly believe they are really equal!

Clinton vs. Trump: T Minus 8 Days

| by Ken | in Politics No Comments »

I haven’t written much about the 2016 presidential election.  Like a lot of people, I’m surprised that the USA can’t do better than Trump and Clinton.  Or Johnson and Stein.  Or Jeb Bush, Rubio, Cruz, Santorum, Huckabee, Fiorina, and so on.  The only two candidates who seemed to be presidential material to me were Sanders and Kasich and they were both laughed aside for being unelectable.  It’s all remarkable.  And there may be fixes for that involving removing the public element of a primary, changing the way people vote, and campaign finance reform.  But none of that matters for the 2016 election so I’ll save that for a future post.

Regardless of what has happened leading up to now, we are now down to two.  Yes, two.  Johnson and Stein aren’t going to get elected.  If with 8 days remaining, you think that either could get elected, you have too light a grasp on reality and should close this window and open a new one seeking professional help.  So let’s talk about the two we are left with.

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Installing MacOS Guest in VirtualBox

| by Ken | in Technology No Comments »

I’ve experimented with VirtualBox before but today I had a legitimate work need to try out VirtualBox with a MacOS Guest. So I installed VirtualBox on my Windows 7 64-bit laptop and pulled out my Snow Leopard DVD and… it didn’t work. Nothing could be that easy, right?

I Googled for an hour or so looking for the trick but all the posts I found were about how to work with a drive image or a hacked install or to use special bootloaders that would function as a sort of handoff (such as the Empire EFI which is interesting since it touches on the Hackintosh concepts I’ve talked lots about in this blog). I eventually found the trick I needed at something called “LeaseWeb Labs” in a post titled “How to run OSX in a VM on VirtualBox“.
So here’s what I did:

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After some recent network improvements at the house, I discovered the new router was causing interference with my old phone system.  Rather than replace the phone system with a newer one that is both technologically better and feature poorer, I decided to stick with the current one and change what I could.

Figuring that the new router is only causing interference where the old one did not must be because it the signal is somehow stronger.  Fortunately, I’m running dd-wrt on my routers so I there’s more tweakability than with stock firmware.  And fortunately one of the things you can tweak is the “TX Power”.  The default value for TX Power for the 2.4 Ghz antenna was 71 (out of a reported 1000?  that doesn’t seem right).  I changed it to 60 and the warblyness in the cordless phone went away mostly.  I can still get interference if I walk to the router and touch the phone’s antenna to the router.  Since that isn’t something I need to do to use the phone normally, I think I’m good now.

I’ve been using the same cordless phone system for probably 15 years.  It is a Panasonic KX-TG2720 base with lots of handsets.  An important feature for me is that it has 2 lines.  We still have a landline for the “house” and I have a work line.  I use the speakerphone.  We have Comcast voicemail on both lines and the handsets are setup to show when there is new mail and you just push a button to listen to your messages.  The handsets also include speakerphone capabilities.  The range is fantastic and covers our whole house including basement and all of our yard which isn’t saying too much, but the point is it is exactly what we need.

A month ago I re-jiggered our home network and replaced one of the older routers with a new one.  Since then we’ve been having interference between our handsets and the WiFi.  Frankly, it’s surprising we haven’t had a problem before since the old phone system is a 2.4 Ghz system and of course, that’s the band that WiFi has been operating in for years.  (And while I’d love to disable the 2.4 Ghz antenna from the routers, I have too many devices that don’t work with the 5 Ghz band.)  The new router has been a problem, though, making the phone sound really warbly when anywhere on the first floor – i.e. close the new router.

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