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Too Much Heat!

A lot of weather alerts and advisories today. Global warming slowly cooks the North Eastern states. Really?.

CPU temperatures push past recommended operating limits. Now that seems plausible, or does it?

Regardless of what you believe to be the cause of our current weather, we all agree……It’s hot!

The power grid continues to provide air conditioners precious energy to cool all those lucky enough to avoid the heat and humidity. If you work outside in the heat, you know bitter cold is just a few months away and you’re probably thinking about it. Keep hydrated, and remember that the ice age we were all warned about doesn’t sound so bad now.

This weather brews thunderstorms, and thunderstorms have a tendency to knock out power. When the lights go out on hot summer nights, the heat can really make things uncomfortable.
If the power is out, then maybe your computer is off, or maybe it isn’t.
So you run on emergency back up power sources, but do they provide enough juice to cool components that don’t like to run hot? Maybe they do, maybe they don’t.
Whatever your backup solution is, hopefully it can maintain the correct temperature regardless of the season. You definitely want to prevent heat overload, and limit humidity in the air around your computer hardware.
Fans are better than nothing, but sometimes they are not practical.
Mobile air chillers can put heat back into the same area if their ventilation medium isn’t insulated properly. (that hose that looks like it hooks up to a dryer vent)
Sometimes it makes more sense to shut all non critical equipment down on hot days.
Nobody likes to do that. Shut stuff down? That means, at some time everything you shut down needs to power back up, and that’s where you can run into all kinds of problems.
I’m pretty sure there are some devices you really don’t want to shutdown without a backup option handy, and yet there are devices that tend to run much better after a reboot. Can you say memory leak? That’s an old problem that shouldn’t be a factor with today’s “improved” application architecture. (yeah sure)
Even today’s smartphones don’t like too much heat. Try to avoid leaving your phone in the sun or in a hot car too long.
If ever I start thinking about moving too far south, it’s days like this that remind me that I can handle the cold a lot better than the heat. My laptop works just fine on cold days. The Arctic circle is a bit too far north, but the north east part of North America is not too bad.
I’m surprised by how many people I meet that are fascinated with snow.
Snow does make commuting somewhat of a challenge, but that’s what snow tires and four wheel drives are for.
You learn that pretty quick up here.
Telecommuting is even better if you can do that. That’s why you need a reliable computer and Internet connection.
If you love the heat and humidity, great.
I like the sun too, but not the humidity.
Keep an eye on your support system’s temperatures on hot days, and compare the performance to a much cooler operating time. Remember to clean any parts that can get loaded with dust including any fans or ventilation ports.
Heat’s great for cooking, you just don’t want to cook your computer equipment.
This includes any switches, routers, or firewall hardware. Keep it cool if you can. That goes for humans too. Don’t get overheated.
I like visiting warmer climates sometimes. The people are great, the southern hospitality is amazing, it’s beautiful, and I love the food. It’s just too hot for me. I can visit, but I don’t know if I could handle the summers if I were to relocate.
I think I’d miss the snow too. (I’ll have to remember this in January when I’m shoveling it.)
Oh yeah, listen to that thunder!
The storms are rolling through now, they won’t cool it down much, but we could use the rain. Hard to believe after all the rain we’ve had earlier this summer.
It’s been weird weather for the past couple of years. Weird weather can cause weird problems, but there are many you can avoid if you know how to keep your computer and yourself cool and dry. Know you’re equipment’s environmental limits for operating under normal conditions. Avoid overheating and ensure proper ventilation if it’s required. Don’t let anything run to fault.
It’s usually not a good idea.

Area 51 Goofy Goofy Goofy!

Earthquake at China Lake, Power outage in NYC, tropical storm, flooding, strong thunderstorms and more strange weather – all random events with very little in common other than a cautious reminder that things happen. Sometimes you can avoid trouble, sometimes you can’t.
Now there are those who can’t get into enough trouble, so they look for it.
The idea that there are people toying with the idea of walking into Area 51 (Groom Lake)to see what’s there.
This seems like a bad idea. You’re either going to get in trouble and have a big let down, or you might actually find an alien who is famished. That would probably be much worse.
If there are actual space aliens at Area 51, leave them alone. They’re probably doing important work redesigning the next iPhone, or working on Hot Fixes for Windows 10.
You most likely wouldn’t notice a space alien if you walked right past one.
Look for the antenna. They usually disguise the antenna on top of their head as a “man bun”, but it’s really just to hide their Omni directional antenna.
A tall hat will also work in some situations. I know there are non-aliens who wear tall hats and have a man bun,
So it’s not an exact science. You need another test to determine if the being you are conferring with is a space alien from another world. This is where you swap out the Jiff peanut butter with Skippy. Extraterrestrials can’t tell the difference – some even think there eating Peter Pan.
Now if you can’t do the peanut butter test because there might be a slight allergy to Peanut issue you’d rather avoid, the next best test to determine if you’re dealing with another human being is the “Wish I had a MAC” Test.
If the subject you’re dealing with already uses a Mac, but wishes they could trade it in for any other Operating System Laptop – run away!
If they use Windows 10, and are perfectly happy with it – you’ll never know. If they use Linux or a Chromebook – they’ll just ignore you anyways as they finish off the Jiff and Skippy.
This is of course just plain goofy, but so is some of the silly stuff you find on the trending Internet.
There are a lot of strange events and interesting news you can find, not all of it is true – or meant to be anything more than entertainment. Unfortunately most news is basically someone’s idea of entertainment. Some news is “enhanced” to make it seem more important. Weather event coverage can often seem over the top. All this noise is setup to attract more viewers, not just for them, but their advertisers too. The same is true for some stories you find on the Internet.
If you want to find out what’s really going on, don’t expect to always find it on the mainstream news. Sometimes you’re going to have to look for it.
I’m not planning on going to Area 51. They’ve probably already relocated all the cool alien stuff somewhere less conspicuous. Ill be happy when we use the alien technology to make a bug free Operating system.
So far it looks like we have yet to decode their alien computer systems. Maybe extraterrestrials still use UNIX.

Temperature Rising

It’s days like these that make me appreciate the cold winds of November. July is hot and muggy, and if it’s not humid, it’s raining but not cooling down. Air conditioning is nice if you have it, but not so great if your power is out. Everybody running their AC puts a strain on the power grid, and sometimes the grid struggles to keep up with the demand. Brown outs and black outs aren’t uncommon in some places. Your power goes out and eventually you begin to feel the heat. Computer equipment, servers, and network devices don’t like heat. They also don’t like power interruptions. UPS doesn’t last very long, and some generator backups don’t always work as hoped. The old joke that air conditioning only fails when it’s needed is based in reality. It’s a good idea to be proactive for power outages and heat related problems. Generators, fans, and backup equipment – referring to replacement parts and devices – make good sense. You don’t need a storm to start seeing failures. Things break on blue sky days. Things happen, and it’s a good idea to be prepared. If Internet connectivity is important to you, than maybe you need an alternative network path out of your location. Fiber and copper can break, maybe a cell modem (hot spot) can carry you through a land line outage, but maybe the same outage that affects your land line is impacting your local cell tower. Satellite may be a logical primary or logical backup route to look into.
I’ve had to rely on my phone’s “Hot Spot”, but that’s not something I’d want to do for very long. It could get expensive and you might find out it’s not that great.
Have a plan, and think it through on days that you don’t need it, because someday you may. Don’t just wait for bad things to happen, because when the storm clouds gather you might not have time to react fast enough. Some problems are unavoidable, but doing nothing to prevent or at least mitigate problems is usually not good.

 

Trust or Bust

As the news spins tales of Cyber War threats, malicious activity between power brokers, privacy loss, and now UFO activity the focus still remains on political angles to convince the public all is not well. Everything must have an angle for someone’s agenda, whether it be political, or financial. Yes, we live with the possibility of Cyber War offensively and defensively to some degree. Could this be because we rely way too much on computer networks, a limited selection of operating systems and applications? What’s the average user supposed to do? Simple, don’t rely on something you can’t control. Businesses are limited by financial decisions – sometimes this is not so good. Individuals are also limited by financial realities but will often find that they have more flexibility in the choices they make towards technology reliance.

Many companies are still using Windows 7 and are struggling with transitioning to Windows 10. Many users who use Windows 7 at work usually have already switched to (Windows 10) many years ago – because it’s what was available to them when they purchased a new computer. Why are large companies much slower to transition? Many have expensive software applications and licenses that may incur a cost when updating, or simply require expensive upgrades. (financial reasons). You too may have had to upgrade some software and/or hardware. I’m sure there are still individuals using Windows 7 but remember that corporations often use enterprise versions as opposed to Home or even Pro editions.

You don’t even have to use the same operating system or distribution that everyone else uses – you have more freedom to choose other systems, and other software. The bad guys are going to focus on the most popular and dependent systems. They know who is slow moving and often constrained by inadequate support mechanisms. It’s an odds game, but a smaller company or individual user can be a little nimbler when reacting to and dealing with rapid changes required to operate effectively. Let the propaganda machines spew out their discombobulated sensationalism.

You have freewill – at least for now. Use it wisely. I don’t think anyone should disregard the real news or the fake news. Be prudent and keep your options open. With all the bad press lately about Google, I still have faith in their Chromebook security. I trust it way more than any Microsoft OS. You may have a different opinion, which is of course your choice. It’s good to have choices. I’ll continue to work with Linux distributions, and will on occasion see what’s new with the latest Windows 10 release. I think Windows 10 is secure and stable, just not to the same degree that I feel Chromebooks do for minimal application use. There are many programs that only run well on Microsoft, but I don’t usually need to use them.

I’ll use a Mac once in a while because it is good for content creative work, and to stay up to date with new software developments for Logic Pro X and some video editors, but for basic writing and research the Chromebook is just enough and more.

I did start up my generator yesterday to make sure it’s ready for any type of power outage, but after a few bad storms, it’s a pretty common thing to be prepared. This doesn’t mean I’m worried about UFO invasions, another war, or Cyber-attacks. It just means I choose to be ready for any type of storm – real or imagined. If the Internet goes down, I still know how to get through the day without looking everything up online or checking social media. Believe it or not, computers are still useful without connectivity to the web.

Computers and phones still require power, but solar power is usually sufficient if done correctly. There are still radio communications which include shortwave, cell towers, and even satellite (unless the aliens start messing with them). Usually most disasters around here are local and short lived – weather seems to never take a vacation. Trees continue to fall over onto the power and phone lines. Stay warm in the winter and cool in the summer. The Chromebook won’t be connected, but I can always take on the road to somewhere it can be – or simply take a break from computers and do something else.

Have enough coffee on hand to last at least two weeks, donuts (usually gone by day one), and cans of chicken soup. Water always comes up as a big thing to have on hand, and some cans of tuna fish. I’m not sure how long Mountain Dew lasts because I don’t drink it, but it might be a useful bartering tool for trade should you need to trade for more donuts. This is probably bad advice, but about as believable as most of the news out there.

 

 

Forward Thinking?

I had a whole blog post written about using WMIC.exe for anyone still stuck with supporting a Windows 7 OS machine.
It’s a handy little command-line tool for gathering information-about your system, but then I started thinking “this is so backward thinking!” Who still uses Windows 7 in 2019?
We should be “forward thinking”
and realize that nobody’s still using Windows 7 anymore.
Extended support even vaporizes next January for any stragglers out there. Yeah this was probably going to be a bad idea. You could play around with WMIC.exe on Windows 10, but why? I still can’t believe Windows 10 is Microsoft flagship name even though it will be 2020 in less than seven months.
Of course I’m just kidding, I know a lot of corporate staff is still lugging old tired Windows 7 laptops around.  Maybe your IT department is secretly working on the migration to Windows 10. I’m sure it will be less dramatic than the move from XP to 7. sure sure sure
Imagine if you could do all your work with only a Chromebook and web applications. Now that would be forward thinking. It sounds like a pretty simple solution for a lot of the modern work force. It also might be very cost effective in more ways than just hardware purchases. Support would be streamlined, security simplified, and other time and resource overhead scaled back. Wouldn’t this be handy in a time when many companies are looking at their bottom line and contemplating cutting operating costs?
I’m sure this wouldn’t work for everyone, but does everyone need all the licenses and expensive applications we’ve all been told repeatedly over the years that we must have? (No, not a chance.)
There’ll always be those who are stuck working with old tired software and hardware from a bygone era. Some may need a self contained system that won’t always have a network connection, some will always think they need an over abundance of software and hardware resources – even when they probably don’t. Some just want everything and use nothing. Some want nothing and need everything.
It’s hard to let go of your comfort zone, and yes, change can be daunting.
The fleet footed are already operating and producing content with smartphones and tablets. Sure a lot of those happen to be Apple products. Remember when everyone had to have a Blackberry to be constantly accessible and working all the time? How about a typewriter or fax machine. Don’t tell me your company still uses a fax! Emails are even getting long in the tooth. Does anyone even know where to find an actual pencil?
The future is here for some, but not for those who ignore the lessons of the past. Somehow there a few who muddle through for a while continuing to make the same bad decisions over and over.
Is this fear of change or just laziness.
You go into a meeting and are told “We are the future!” And then you look around the room and see everyone using Windows 7. (or the dreaded PowerPoint presentation with default templates) Surely this cant possibly be the future! Get out of there fast if you can before they start handing out printouts of the same exact PPP shown on the projector overview.
I know that often you can’t pick the tools you are given to work with. I’m not even advocating for Linux as I usually prefer, but I do know that everyone has been given ample notice to upgrade before support ends – therefore I would hope you wouldn’t have to wait until the last minute before trying to retrain users, retool hardware, or upgrade a plethora of software applications that may or may not work in their current integration with Windows 10. Keep in mind the transition from 32 to 64 bit architecture also can cause a negative impact on your workflow. Not all programs that may have worked on a 32bit Windows 7 system will run smooth on a newer laptop running a upgraded OS. I hope you have tested all your required applications on your new system builds before the actual roll out. If you haven’t done this yet, then look out!
How many users are running “Virtual XP” in their Windows 7 laptops. You probably should be aware of this. Yes believe it or not, there are still some 16 bit applications floating around. Hopefully you can weed those out and upgrade to newer software. Maybe you’ll discover it’s not only no longer a supported program, but it may no longer be required for any critical or less than critical dependencies. (Possibly no one really needs that software any longer)

If you do move to Linux – which I would prefer, make sure you can still do whatever it is you need to do with Linux applications or by using “Wine” to support some Windows applications.
As with typing “HELP” at the Command prompt in Windows to list available commands you can also run, at the Linux bash shell a command called “compgen”.
Type compgen -c to list all the commands you can run. You can see how much potential a basic LINUX system has. Maybe you should get familiar with some, if not most of the available commands.
Linux has some great applications available in most repositories that do much of – if not more of what you need to be productive in many business environments. This doesn’t necessarily mean you should migrate from Windows 7 to a Debian based Linux distribution, but there are possibilities here.
What I’m looking “Forward “ towards is having a basic business work solution that leverages Chromebooks or IPads and web based applications as a very simplified alternative to the old guard standard of “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it” approach. This is really just a procrastination technique that can cause bigger headaches down the road. 
The big question mark will be about security updates and any patches you may need for your system beyond the January 14th 2020 deadline. I’m no Windows 10 super fan, but it is better than Windows 7, and it will be supported beyond the Win 7 support expiration date. Windows 10 will support web based applications via a browser of your choice – so there is some flexibility on how you approach productivity and collaboration among multiple users. I still think it’s way more than most need. I’ll be interested to see how many people start simplifying their approach to productivity via a very streamlined laptop, tablet, and or smartphone setup as they not only “forward think”, but actually “Forward Do”

If you are “the company” or run a small nimble operation you’re probably already way ahead of all this. For sure !