Static Solution for Desk

| by Ken | in House & Home, Technology No Comments »

I recently moved my office in the house to a room that’s going to work better for me.  I spent a lot of time working out the desk area and planning the desk surface and the chair area.  It’s worth it to plan because my butt spends so much time parked here.  The room was already carpeted and I didn’t really want to pull up the carpet – at least not at this time.  I kind of like the sound deadening that comes with the carpet and the floor underneath is nothing great.  But that meant I needed some sort of solution to having the chair roll around.  I tried just on the carpet and as expected, the chair squished in.  It was hard to move the chair and I was pretty certain the carpet would be wrecked within a few weeks.

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Monitor Problems on the Hacintosh

| by Ken | in Technology No Comments »

About a week ago, sitting at my hacintosh, my wife had come in to ask me a question and as she stood in the doorway to the office, the second monitor image suddenly got sort of zapped (like you see in TV shows when the bad guys take over the TV feed that the hero is watching) and then went dark.  The main monitor flickered and then returned.  And no matter what I did, I couldn’t bring back the second monitor.  The display was still effective in that I could move windows into the darkness and the windows that were on that display didn’t move to the main display.  Downright freaky.

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We all remember Rick Perry’s “oops” moment from his 2012 campaign.  He famously forgot the third governmental department he intended to get rid of, the Department Of Energy.  Now, 5 years later, Trump is looking for people to fill cabinet positions and he seems to be using the method Michael Che describes as “You know what would be hilarious”.   In Trump’s view, the best person for the Secretary of the Department of Energy is the person who wanted to eliminate the department and then couldn’t remember it.

Earlier this week, we learned that when Rick Perry accepted Trump’s offer to be Energy Secretary, he was under the impression that the job would entail being an ambassador for the oil and gas industry.  It was only in the days following his accepting that he learned the Energy department is primarily responsible for the management of nuclear weapons and nuclear waste.  During his confirmation hearing this week, Perry made a statement saying that he regrets the suggestion to eliminate the department:

“My past statements, made over five years ago, about abolishing the Department of Energy do not reflect my current thinking.  In fact, after being briefed on so many of the vital functions of the Department of Energy, I regret recommending its elimination.”

Let’s recap.  In 2011 Rick Perry recommended eliminating a department whose primary purpose, he has now admitted, he didn’t understand until just this week.  A few weeks ago when Trump asked Perry to lead the department, Perry accepted while still not understanding the Department’s mission and still believing that it was unnecessary and Trump asked somebody to lead the Department who has no understanding of the Department.  And now that Perry is educated about what the Department does, he regrets his plan 5 years ago to eliminate it.

That neatly sums up the early days of the Trump Presidency, and indeed, the current state of Republican politicians.  All too happy to make a political decision based on what they believe – until they are educated about the facts and then are inclined to think differently.  Good for Perry for being able to come around, even though it was initially only motivated by getting a job.  Now if all of the Republicans in office could follow Perry’s lead and learn the facts behind all matters being considered, we’d have much more productive debates.

(Note that this revelation about Perry’s recent education about what the DoE does changing his prior view, where apparently he didn’t know reinforces my point in my prior post about how Conservatives make decisions based on some personal faith rather than on facts.  In this case, it was Perry’s belief in small government that helped him reach that decision to eliminate without ever learning the facts.)

The Political Divide Explained

| by Ken | in Politics, Soapbox No Comments »

Time for some blunt talk about politics.  Some are certain to be offended but I’m just really frustrated about how people keep talking about how polarized the country is and how it is a matter of some people feeling one way while others feel another.  The typical discussion about the polarized country describes the situation without reaching any conclusions as to why it is like that.

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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!

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