Thursday, 2 March 2017

09:16 – It was right at freezing when I took Colin out this morning, with winds gusting to about 50 MPH (80 KPH). The next couple days are to be the coldest since mid-February, but still well above normal.

Barbara’s Windows notebook has been giving her fits. Have I ever mentioned just how much I hate Windows? It’s a progressive operating system, versus the libertarian Linux. The latest problem is that Windows insists on changing “connect to WiFi automatically” to “connect to WiFi manually”.

Enough is enough. Barbara’s and my notebooks are identical, and I run Linux Mint on mine without any problems. So I’m going to switch her over to Linux Mint. Rather than install Linux on her hard disk, I decided to pull her hard drive, put it on the shelf, and install an SSD. She doesn’t use the system for much other than reading email, browsing the web, keeping her blog, and keeping checkbook register spreadsheets and personal documents. Her current Windows installation takes only 52 GB of disk space, most of which is probably bloat. I was about to order her a 240 GB SSD, but upon reflection I decided that a 120 GB SSD was more than large enough. So I ordered her a SanDisk 120 GB unit, which is to arrive tomorrow.

When it arrives, I’ll pull a backup of all her data, pull the old hard drive and put it on the shelf, install the SSD, install Linux Mint, and restore her data. She’s already running Libre Office, Firefox, and Thunderbird, so there won’t be much work involved in getting her up and running.

* * * * *

45 thoughts on “Thursday, 2 March 2017”

  1. Mid 70s predicted here today. I won’t be going up to Hollywierd to look for him.

  2. Good luck with the install. I just ordered a CMOS battery, SSD and IDE adapter to rejuvenate my old (pre-Lenovo) Thinkpad X40. It’s a beautifully-built and very tidy laptop, bought on a trip to the US years ago, that is definitely worth keeping serviceable. I will be putting some flavor of Linux on it, perhaps Puppy or one of the other distros optimized for old / portable hardware.

    Do any of you Linux gurus have distro recommendations for this?

  3. Do any of you Linux gurus have distro recommendations for this?

    I don’t. I put Linux Mint on my wife’s old Fujitsu S2210 where it works fine, but your laptop is even older. I’d go with any Linux distro that supports 32 bit systems.

  4. I’m actually installing Linux Mint 18.1 (32 bit, Cinnamon) on a 12 year old Acer at the moment. The first thing I did was add memory, going from 1/2 gig to 2 gigs, then I swapped the drive. I wish I had a SSD to test, but the best option was a spare 250gb Toshiba. It’s got a 1.86 Ghz, single core Celeron, so when doing very many things it slows down, but it’s not a terrible machine so far. I can’t claim any familiarity with Mint, but installation & upgrade seem to be going just fine.

  5. Her current Windows installation takes only 52 GB of disk space, most of which is probably bloat. I was about to order her a 240 GB SSD, but upon reflection I decided that a 120 GB SSD was more than large enough. So I ordered her a SanDisk 120 GB unit, which is to arrive tomorrow.

    Depending on the brand of SSD, you may need to keep a minimal Windows 8 or 10 install partition on the disk to upgrade the drive’s firmware and run the manufacturer’s diagnostic utilities.

    I have a “no Windows, none of the time” laptop booting Mint and Fedora but still needs a 40GB Windows 10 partition to run Crucial’s utilities on the installed m300 SSD. Sigh.

    The alternative to the dilemma is a hybrid drive. I have a Firecuda 1GB installed in an old MacBook I use for Windows 7 (no filesystem trim support). Low noise, reasonably fast/cool once the cache is stable, but it is way too early for me to give a read on longevity since I’ve only had it running for a few months.

  6. Barbara’s Windows notebook has been giving her fits. Have I ever mentioned just how much I hate Windows? It’s a progressive operating system, versus the libertarian Linux. The latest problem is that Windows insists on changing “connect to WiFi automatically” to “connect to WiFi manually”.

    My old, old, old Windows XP netbook was giving me fits at the hotel. I finally figured out that the Microsoft wireless mouse left button was working intermittently. I went by a Walmart in Norman, got a new Logitech wireless mouse for $9.99 plus tax, and life is good. I guess that wireless mice are only good for 5 or 6 years.

    I hope that the Walmart brick and mortar stores do not go away. It is so nice to run by there and grab something. However, the future does not bode well though for brick and mortar. One of my acquaintances was telling me about Amazon’s new Prime Plus that he has in the inner ring of Chicago. He can order just about any common item now and a dude will show up at his front door within two hours for no extra charge. He orders a lot of fresh food that way now.

  7. My old, old, old Windows XP netbook was giving me fits at the hotel.

    XP on hotel WiFi? You are asking for trouble. You can’t install CentOS 6 on the machine?

    However, the future does not bode well though for brick and mortar.

    As I’ve stated before, we’ll see what happens when Wall Street starts expecting Amazon to actually make money like normal businesses. Hopefully, this happens while there are viable alternatives left in the country.

    Also, have you ever been in a supermarket in a heavily union dominated state like IL? They put the “gross” in groceries and charge premium prices for the privilege.

    Think Randall’s … or at least the Randall’s around Austin.

    I grew up in FL where Publix (think cleaner HEB) rules. Safeway and Fred Meyer (Kroger) in WA State came as quite a shock.

  8. Here is a list of 50 Must-Haves for TEOTWAWKI:
    http://countrysidenetwork.com/daily/homesteading/emergency-essentials/survival-items-list/

    One item that I was reminded about that I remember both of my Grandmothers having was this:

    Ichthammol ointment: This sticky, dark, slightly stinky goop is also known as drawing salve and it works incredibly well for extracting splin­ters. Just a dab will do ya, so a one-ounce tube of it will last years. Every medicine cabinet should have this.

    Hope this list reminds you of something you might have forgotten.

  9. Back from vets group and dealing with car issues and random controlled chaos in the AO here.

    Our young vet is expecting a baby daughter to add to his two toddler sons, and is still upset and angry over treatment here in the U.S. on return from the Suck and the Sandbox. But he’s more patient and better able to express himself calmly and listen to others now, and has a good sense of humor. One look at his eyes, though, and you can see the torment and pain. Another work in progress for us old farts. He’s pissed that he can’t get life insurance; he says they refuse because of his PTSD diagnosis; neither wife nor I have it but I haven’t tried yet, so I think I’m gonna just to see how it rolls.

    We have wife’s Saab convertible back and she says it’s working OK, so that’s good news so fah; she’s driving the Matrix to Moh-ree-all tomorrow to swap it for my RAV4, but I expect there will be some late monkey-wrench thrown in the works, per usual.

    I gotta contact the town clerk tomorrow and ask her about what they need for paperwork so I can get us a property tax reduction, due to my new disabled vet status.

    Thanks to Mr. DadCooks for that link to the forgotten prep supplies; I’m printing it out. Which reminds me; we rarely get Navy vets in our group; one or two or three have come, stayed briefly, and then left. I keep forgetting to ask about that. Not very many AF vets, either; it’s me and one other guy, who’s in Floriduh for the winta. Of course the ‘Nam and other war capers fell/fall to Army and Marines mostly, anyway.

    The former Army Special Forces guy, age 70, and I are agreed: the catch-all solution for all problems is to buy more ammo.

  10. Wife/job update: she decided she wouldn’t apply for it; doesn’t wanna be a boss again; not interested in running someone else’s little empire; and doesn’t dig the politics. She intends to cut down to one gig per month ASAP, probably by the end of the year, and keep at it while also building up her jewelry and art stuff. I told her to go for it; between that, her eventual SS, her state retirement, and my SS and VA disability checks, we can make it OK here. We are not big on four-star restaurants and luxury vacations and buying expensive toyz, and we need to get our asses outdoors much more often anyway, in this beautiful region.

    More time at the range, hiking, canoeing, etc.

  11. doesn’t wanna be a boss again

    Again? She still has you.

  12. However, the future does not bode well though for brick and mortar.

    As I’ve stated before, we’ll see what happens when Wall Street starts expecting Amazon to actually make money like normal businesses. Hopefully, this happens while there are viable alternatives left in the country.

    Amazon is somewhat profitable, $2 billion net on $136 billion in sales in 2016.
    http://finance.yahoo.com/quote/AMZN/financials?p=AMZN

    Walmart was $15 billion net on $482 billion in sales in the year ending Jan 2016. Jan 2017 is not available yet.
    http://finance.yahoo.com/quote/WMT/financials?p=WMT

    There is extreme pressure on both to get way more profitable. They are drastically different cultures and philosophies. Walmart has cut theirs SKUs to 175,000 in the stores. Amazon probably has one billion SKUs with many duplicates. Walmart stands behind their sales, no matter who is at fault. Amazon, not so much and with a hard 30 day cutoff.

    And yes, Safeway (Randalls) sucks in comparison to HEB whom I love in a brotherly way. And so does Whole Foods (75 cents for a banana, are you kidding me ?).

    BTW, I have been price matching HEB and Walmart for their groceries over the past several years. No much difference whereas Randalls is 30% higher. And I don’t go in Krogers.

  13. And I don’t go in Krogers.

    Why not? It’s Smith’s here. My primary grocery store.

  14. BTW, when I take a road trip now, the first thing that I do when I just about reach the target is fill my gas tank. That way, my vehicle is full if we have an apocalyptic event (local, state, national, or global) and I need to skedaddle home. In this week’s case, a full tank would not have gotten me home the entire 480 miles but dadgum close to it. And if I drove 50 mph home instead of 80 mph, the 28 gallon tank would suffice at 20 mpg at 50 mph instead of the 17 mpg at 78 mph.

  15. And I don’t go in Krogers.

    Why not? It’s Smith’s here. My primary grocery store.

    Same prices as Randalls, 30% above Walmart and HEB.

  16. @OFD said: He’s pissed that he can’t get life insurance…

    Has he looked into what the USAA has to offer? They are Vet friendly and have a full suite of offerings with no hard sell. https://www.usaa.com

    Disclaimer:I use them for our Medicare Part F, Medicare Part D, and life insurance. I am planning to switch to them for my auto and home insurance. They also have a good selection of credit cards, savings plans, and more.

    More from @OFD: Which reminds me; we rarely get Navy vets in our group; one or two or three have come, stayed briefly, and then left.

    May be an area specific thing. Since I have stayed away from dealing with the VA (an hour-and-half drive away in Walla Walla) my only experience is my circle of Vets (all Vietnam Era, all branches, some spent time in SEA) who are in good shape mentally and physically, I am the only grump and cripple 😉

    Yes, buy more ammo… check

  17. Apple to push iPad as a laptop replacement

    More and more I am finding my Surface a complete replacement for my iPad. Not much bigger, more capable, touch friendly, removable keyboard, real mouse support. Only thing I use the iPad for is watching movies on airplanes and showing photos to clients as they understand the swiping on an iPad.

    As more of the big players enter the Surface market, Dell, Samsung, Lenovo, etc. it will become crowded with some very capable players. Why would I not want the power of my desktop in a light portable unit that can also function as a tablet.

    Imagine if you will, an Apple device. Add a keyboard and suddenly you are running OS/X with access to the iPad file folders or at a minimum a shared folder. Remove the keyboard and you are now running IOS with access to OS/X folders or a shared folder. There is little reason Apple could not do this now. I think what is holding them back is that Apple does not want to impact Macbook sales.

    MS sort of does this with the Surface. Remove the keyboard and you have a tablet interface albeit still Windows with a different cover. Add the keyboard and you have a full desktop. I like it and find it quite useful. Even more useful is when you add the docking station and can support three monitors (one being the Surface, two external), multiple external hard discs, full network connections. I think the Surface is an amazing machine and I will be buying the Surface Pro 5 I think when it comes out.

  18. I think Apple poked the pooch by letting Microsoft get a foothold in the tablet/PC market with the Surface Pro. Apple will say they’ll lose their iPad base, but users have wanted a macOS iTablet since the Newton.

  19. Apple poked the pooch by letting Microsoft get a foothold in the tablet/PC market with the Surface Pro

    Yep. Microsoft got it correct with the Surface lineup. The Surface 3 keyboard and pen where not that great. I added the Surface 4 keyboard and pen to my Surface 3 and typing is much easier and the pen now makes sense in it’s operation.

    Apple will say they’ll lose their iPad base

    That may be the case. If Apple produces a tablet that can convert to a desktop they will most certainly lose one of their bases, iPad or Macbook. There should not be many technical challenges that cannot be solved for such a system.

    I use the pen on my Surface without the keyboard when the device is in tablet mode to run regular software that is not tablet aware. The pen just becomes a mouse. Not as easy a mouse but just as functional. Typing in tablet mode is still with a virtual keyboard and thus not fast as I like key travel for confirmation.

    I have not used the Surface Book and probably won’t. It is too bulky for my needs and nothing I do requires a dedicated GPU and other features. Processing photos is definitely much slower when doing batches. Doing individual photos the reduce speed is not noticeable.

    Rendering video sucks on the Surface. I did a 6 minute slideshow with transitions and text overlays. Took 3 minutes to render on my desktop. Same video, same software, took 30 minutes on my Surface. Slower memory, narrower memory path, 4 cores vs 8 cores, etc.The surface was OK for creating the slideshow but rendering is a real dog in terms of speed.

  20. Here ya go, gardeners.

    I can’t vouch for the information there except for a couple snippets, but others say this is good stuff. (Though I can’t vouch for their reliability, either.)

  21. WRT @SteveF’s Here ya go, gardeners.
    It does look to have some good information. The only item to check on is the Planting, Care, and Harvesting chart, you need to adjust it for your area and I do not see what area this one is for.

    Edit/Add: sort of hidden is a link to the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map:
    http://planthardiness.ars.usda.gov/PHZMWeb/

    I didn’t see it until I did another read.

  22. What? No cactus on the graphic. Many parts are edible, and growable in the KneeVaduh desert.

  23. Amazon is somewhat profitable, $2 billion net on $136 billion in sales in 2016.

    Walmart was $15 billion net on $482 billion in sales in the year ending Jan 2016. Jan 2017 is not available yet.

    Amazon’s losses over the last 20 years dwarf whatever profits they manage to generate year to year. On the whole, the experiment has been a poor return on capital but made Bezos, his managers, and the early Ponzi contributors very wealthy.

    And yes, Safeway (Randalls) sucks in comparison to HEB whom I love in a brotherly way. And so does Whole Foods (75 cents for a banana, are you kidding me ?).

    HEB is good, but we miss Publix. The HEB near our house is an old Albertsons that I don’t think will ever be truly clean unless they totally gutted the building. The staff tries hard to make it work, though.

    I talked to HEB yesterday at career day on campus. Sadly, I think I’m too O-L-D even for their HR department, but they had cool swag!

    Maybe I’ll reconsider that PhD. The annual stipend is reportedly $40k.

  24. We need to understand teenage peer pressure.

    My fourteen year old granddaughter just had to have an Apple laptop, no exceptions whatsoever. So, I caved….about $2,000 and she could not have been happier.

    My sixteen year old grandson was going to give his laptop to his mother, my daughter, so he needed a new one. He was quite happy at Fry’s picking out a new Windows 10 laptop. It will do everything that his sister’s Apple will do and he is very happy with it, and it was 1/3 the price.

    YUUUP, Tim Cook really new how to do it. Windows machines are the cannibas and Apples are the opioids.

  25. We’ve got our two iPhones and daughter also has an iPad but that’s it; they’re only looked at as convenient toolz by us anyway. All the computers are now Linux except for wife’s notebook, running 7. I’ve gotten used to the iPhone but will be researching and considering other phones this next year.

    “Has he looked into what the USAA has to offer?”

    He specifically mentioned them, along with several other supposed military-affiliated insurance companies and made the point that their “fronts’ may be mil-spec-looking but the underwriters are not, and when they look into the VA records or other paperwork and discover PTSD mentioned, it’s buh-bye. I’ll see if I can get some for myself via USAA and report back here and if it works, I’ll also see if I can get it going for him, too; he’s got a wife and three young kids and is afraid (for some odd reason) that if something happens to him, they’ll be left high and dry.

    Thanks for that gardening link, Mr. SteveF; hats off!

    Wife now extremely nervous and worried about the upcoming Jeopardy show she’ll be on; I am getting her into watching the shows and doing little pep talks, as only I can give them:

    “Don’t worry, hon; they won’t let you fuck up their show.”

  26. My younger nephew talked my sister into getting an Apple laptop for herself. She couldn’t be happier (she’s a n00b with computers.) I’d rather just get a cheap Windows lappy.

  27. So, I caved….about $2,000 and she could not have been happier.

    Did you get the Macbook Pro with Touchbar? If yes, you get a ticket on the Apple “Spaceship.” Elysium here you come!

    See you there!

  28. I remain an unrepentant chromebook user.

    Okay time on the book is now about 75% of my computer time and about half that is rdp to win boxes. Still it’s small light and has great battery time. Oh, and cheap, just like me.
    Sorry I won’t touch products with fruit pictures on them.

  29. This from my EMgmt newsletter:

    The Superbugs in the Sink Drains
    Antibiotic-resistant bacteria “superbugs” continue to be in the news, and recent
    research out of the University of Virginia Health System shows how superbugs can
    spread at medical facilities from something so simple that many staff don’t realize it
    is happening.
    Water splashing up from sinks onto countertops has been proven to spread
    antibiotic-resistant bacteria, according to this research. The bacteria grows very
    well in pipes and drains, and it is difficult to kill in that environment. Additionally,
    while the bacteria grows in the sink trap, it is also growing on the straight pipe
    leading to the sink and the mouth of the drain itself, making it very easy to splash
    and spread.
    In 2011-2012, 11 patients were killed in a superbug outbreak spread in this way at
    the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center. While identifying the problem and
    meticulous cleaning efforts helped end the outbreak, they report some sinks and
    drains took multiple wire brush scrubbings with bleach to completely knock out the
    colonies.
    Epidemiologists at NIH say sink and faucet design “is a big deal” but it may be im
    practical or cost-prohibitive to replace them throughout a medical facility or hospital.
    Regardless, consistent and repetitive cleaning along with attention to methods used
    are key to protecting patients and staff from the spread of these dangerous strains
    of bacteria. Medical facilities should review their methods to see if this could be
    come an issue in the future.

    nick

    added- bring on the mutant CHUDS

  30. Well, damn. There are so many things that are gonna kill us all: Athropogenic Climate Change (which is Real and we’re all gonna diieee!), superbugs (which are Real and coming to get you!), species collapse (which is happening now and we’re all gonna die!), the rise of the machines (which is Real and they’re just biding their time), and even Teh Killer Meteor From Outer Space (which is Real and will crack the Earth like a walnut and we’re all gonna die!). If I want to become an extinction event, I’m gonna have to step up my game.

  31. Yeah, we’ll really have to step up if we intend to become our own Extinction Events; the competition out there is fierce!

    As for computers, I am committed to eliminating any surviving (one) Winblows machine and the remaining machines with pictures of fruit on them. I just saw yet another story on Winblows 10 doing automatic reboots with system updates and I said to myself, how is that news??? Been going on like forever. With a good chance of something else being borked. To be fair, Ubuntu and Mint used to do that after updates, i.e, something else becoming dysfunctional. I still think it’s often a thing with your particular hardware config, but Winblows takes a large share of the blame, too.

    Temp here now 17 and dropping to 9 later; minus 2 tomorrow night. Yes, Virginia, it’s still WINTA! Another three weeks, technically, but we have had subzero cold and snow into April and May. Still the tropics compared to western Canaduh and Alaska, though. Just call this the Banana Belt.

  32. Maybe I’ll reconsider that PhD. The annual stipend is reportedly $40k.

    Ok, I will byte. What annual stipend ?

  33. Last week I put 32-bit Debian 8 on our old Lenovo IdeaPad S10, which is a small laptop that can be used as a tablet. It only has 2GB RAM with no expansion possible.
    I had to add the touchpad applet for KDE Settings, and add a non-free repository to get the wireless card firmware, but other than that installing was uneventful; the touch screen even worked. The only thing that doesn’t work is the automatic screen rotation.
    I had originally tried installing Debian 9 RC-2 via the net installer, but selecting KDE for installation didn’t install KDE, and installing it manually didn’t seem to install all of it; I’ll wait for Final….

  34. Be your own personal extinction event !

    I’ll go fly my large drone around McCarran airport and see how long till I get a mag emptied into me.

  35. WRT superbugs splashing out of drains:
    One of the stories I read on the interwebs said that the superbugs were actually crawling out of the drains and “walking” across the countertops and floors.

    We are living in a world of fiction.

    Did you take the red or blue pill today?

    Not quite the red or blue pill, but close enough:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WANNqr-vcx0&list=RDWANNqr-vcx0

    Now go chase some rabbits.

  36. Ok, I will byte. What annual stipend ?

    Yes, annually.

    From your employer ?

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