Republicans vs. Facts

| by Ken | in Admin No Comments »

The recent Congressional hearing with Sundar Pichai provided some useful insight into how many Republican congressional members’ brains work – or don’t work as the case may be. 

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Updating MythTV Channel Lineup

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Updating the MythTV channel lineup shouldn’t need to be so confusing but based on some misinformation on the Internet, I wasted a lot of time heading down wrong paths.  The upshot is mythfilldatabase does do the right thing but it may not be clear initially.  And if you don’t care about channel numbers at all, and you have only one source, then just run “mythfilldatabase –do-channel-updates” and you are done.  If you do care about channel numbers (which can be useful when watching live TV switching between sports programs on neighboring channels, for example) or you have more than one source, read on.

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Migrating Windows XP To SSD

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One of my family members is still using Windows XP on an older computer and they got a “no boot device found” error.  Apparently the hard drive had finally given up.  But the computer does what they need it to do and they don’t want to buy a new one and of course, there’s stuff on the hard drive that they didn’t want to lose.  Here’s what I did to get the system disk switched to an SSD and get them back to where they were before the hard drive failure.

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It started with somebody saying they didn’t get my e-mail message.  Weird, but the Internet isn’t perfect.  Resent; problem solved.

But then it started happening more often.  It was still only to one client of mine, though, so I passed it off as some weird incompatibility between their servers and my servers.  It was annoying and something I intended to look into but it was easy enough to check via IM and confirm e-mail receipt when I didn’t hear back with an e-mail reply right away.  And I was starting to be able to track that it really was only messages I would send, not ones I was expecting to receive.

Then in late October, the problem got bad enough that I was not receiving about 1 in every 5 e-mail messages sent.  At least, that’s as far as I know because over the course of a couple of days I was told that how many messages needed to be resent.  And confirmed that the sender wasn’t getting any notification of any problem.  So on October 22 2015 I sent in a request to my ISP, Arvixe, to have them look into it.  In the past, they had been pretty responsive to such things.  Not so this time.

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Fixing MythTV tables

| by Ken | in Admin, Technology No Comments »

You just never know when MythTV is going to do something goofy. It is the best option I’m aware of but it isn’t without it’s quirks. Periodically something goes haywire and this time, I ended up with screwed up database tables, apparently.

Fortunately, this isn’t an entirely uncommon issue. I found some info at There’s a process to run to fix tables. But you have to ask yourself, if the system knows that tables are crashed and has a script to fix them, why do I need to be involved to tell it to fix them?

Hello From The New Home

| by Ken | in Admin, Technology No Comments »

I started with Yahoo hosting long ago – 12 years ago, I think.  And every year since I’ve thought about switching hosting providers when I get the annual notice of renewal.  Last year I started the effort by signing up with a new hosting vendor with a temporary domain as a placeholder and planned to transition over the summer.  It didn’t happen.  So this year when I got the notification of renewal from Yahoo, I realized a whole year had gone by without switching and I wanted to get it done before I got billed.  So I started the transfer process… and it turned out it takes a long time for it to get through.  The first time it failed because my domain registration was still private.  The second time it worked but even that wasn’t speedy.  All told, it took about 2 weeks for the transfer to go through.  I thought it would take about 2 hours.  That was not fast enough to beat the billing charge so I am going to need to see about having that reversed or maybe I can “return” the unused portion?

Now here in the new home at Arvixe, things are already looking better.  Web site response is speedy and tech support is easy to contact and helpful.  And as you can see, the blog has transferred from the old location to new, seemingly intact.

Also, I should note, I had a problem with Yahoo’s e-mail services during the summer when some messages were being delayed for as long as a day or more.  But if the sender resent the missing message, it could get right through.  So I started using my temporary domain’s e-mail account and messages there got right through.  Also, that is an IMAP server which beats Yahoo’s silly POP server.  So e-mail is going to be easier to deal with now too.

Now, it’s back to business as usual.  And hopefully, with this new hosting provider, business will be usual and I probably won’t even think about them – which is the way it should be with a hosting provider.

Samsung 204B Repair

| by Ken | in Admin 1 Comment »

My main desk has two monitors.  The monitor that is centered on my desk is hooked in through a KVM to my laptop dock and my Hacintosh.  The other monitor sits off to the side and is hooked in through a second KVM to my Linux server and to my Win XP server.  So while the laptop/Hac monitor is my primary, I got the same monitor for my servers to share.  I figured that way I’d have maximum flexibility and I really liked the monitor.  Both are Samsung 204B monitors.  They are 20″ diagonal with 4:3 aspect ratio and both are running at 1600×1200.  I’ve had the primary since 2006 and the secondary, probably early 2007.

Three years ago, the primary gave out.  It wouldn’t stay “on” – the backlight kept shutting off.  Fortunately, it was under warranty and Samsung was great about the repair.  12 days after reporting the problem, a replacement was waiting at my local UPS Store – I walked in with the broken one and walked out with the replacement.  I thought that was it.

But then only a little more than a year later, that replacement monitor had the same problem.  I was worried this time since I was out of warranty and since the serial number had changed with the replacement.  Fortunately, Samsung was able to figure it all out and give me warranty work on the warranty replacement.  The downside was that I had to wait 3 weeks for the monitor to be sent away, repaired, and then returned.

Now the secondary monitor is exhibiting the same symptoms.  I suppose it makes sense that the secondary one took a lot longer to have a problem since much of its existence is in energy saver mode.  But of course I’m long out of warranty.  So I started thinking that maybe I’d get a new monitor for my primary and shift the primary to the secondary.  Unfortunately, to get a monitor 1200 pixels in height, I’d need to go with a 1920×1600 monitor for close to $400.  And considering I got the originals for $300 each and that was 5 years ago, it’d really hurt to spend that kind of money today.  Especially since I’m still happy with the monitors.

I did a little poking around on Google late last night and discovered a number of other people with the same issue with the same model monitor and other similar models.  The problem turns out to be with some capacitors on the inverter board.  And even better, the caps can just be replaced by anyone with soldering capabilities!

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Blog Fixed and Updated

| by Ken | in Admin 1 Comment »

I had some freaky problem with writing a blog entry in the last week and the whole blog subsequently went poof. I checked the MySQL database and the content was still there but obviously there was a problem with the data that was causing blog issues. I’d been meaning to update the blog to the latest WordPress version (it was at 2.6) so I decided I’d fix the data issue and upgrade the version at the same time.

Interestingly, the new version of WordPress (3.0.1) didn’t help with the broken data. The blog still showed no posts. I tried an export/import cycle and proved that there were three posts that got lost during the process, apparently indicating that at least the first of the three was bad. I ended up running myisamchk on the database which fixed everything. It even fixed the internal comment page that had been broken for probably more than a year (making it difficult for me to know comments were coming in).

I also took the opportunity to implement a new theme. I never liked the original but the WordPress themes at the time weren’t very good. I still didn’t find one that was just right, but I found one that was close and adapted it to suit my needs. And if you are reading this entry on the blog right now, you are looking at the result of my work. Nice, huh? Let me know what you think.

Theater: Rock Of Ages

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If, like me, you heard about Rock Of Ages and thought that it might be the bottom of the pop-music-to-musical-theater evolutionary barrel that has Mama Mia at the top and Movin’ Out somewhere in the middle. Having enjoyed the era of 80s rock music personally, Rock Of Ages seemed like it would be just a blatant attempt to cash in on the same nostalgia that brings people to see veteran rockers on their 401(k) tours. And while I was right about my cynical assumption, there was also more to the show.

The story has a lot of self-deprecating humor in it – the show isn’t afraid to make fun of the music even though it is that music that holds the show together. The result of this clever feat is that you are smiling enjoying the music and laughing at the absurdity of the show at the same time. There’s also a lot of comedy in the show – amped-up caricatures that provide plenty of fodder for jokes (Lonny and Stacee) but some straight comedy too. And on top of all that, there’s also some fourth-wall breaking bits like when Lonny holds up the CD soundtrack to the show and talks about it to another character.

The cast had some real standouts in it too. I can’t imagine the role of Stacee Jaxx being performed by anyone other than MiG Ayesa and likewise, I can’t see how Ayesa could do anything to top his role as Jaxx – definitely made for each other. Constantine Maroulis, playing the male lead of Drew, has the perfect voice and the right measure of timidity and likability that the part needs. Also, Nick Cordero as Dennis seemed to be having so much fun in the role, it was hard to not just have fun along with him.

I left the theater smiling a big stupid grin. Truth is, though, that is the kind of high you get from seeing a comedy show – feels kind of hollow afterward. So I wouldn’t say it was as good as Mama Mia, but the show was definitely better than Movin Out.

Rating: 8 (out of 10)

This Week’s Islam Town Hall

| by Ken | in Admin No Comments »

Having seen the tease for “next week on This Week with Christiane Amanpour”, I was curious what they had in mind for the Town Hall format to discuss Islam. Of course, with the so-called “Ground Zero Mosque” in the news, and the reaction to it, there is no shortage of discussion opportunity. But what could This Week do to elevate the discussion? The answer is, sadly, nothing. In fact after watching the show, I’m wondering if ABC made decisions solely on what was best at stirring up controversy – the opposite of the purported intent.

The show started with Amanpour narrating the setup as though it was a boxing event. Not only is it tacky to introduce the panelists with “in this cornah!” rhetoric but it was also very meta considering that This Week is ostensibly a news program and it was covering itself. The show was edited heavily with what may have been lulls or perhaps longer individual introductions removed and replaced with Amanpour’s voiceover.

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