Month: January 2017

Breaking down

Reading Time: 4 minutes
  • Weight: 285
  • BP: 130/75

Dear Miss:

Over the years your boy has had aches and pains, but over the last 6 months, it seems he’s had more than ever before.  It seemed to all start several months ago when he was at work, lifting a 40 lb box of chicken when he had a sharp pain in his right wrist.  The pain stayed with him, it didn’t go away as other aches and pains have over the years.  The next time that he had a Dr appointment he mentioned it to the doctor and he suggested using an over the counter wrist brace, that had metal plates in it, to keep the wrist rigid so whatever had been injured was able to heal.  Grand idea, except for boy’s job is very labor intensive, so there’s really not too much time for ‘leaving it be’ and it continually gets tested every day that he works.

Even so, your boy tried the brace and has been wearing it at work, but as expected, there’s little to no progress in healing.  Your boy consulted his Doctor again, and the doctor suggested going to physical therapy.  Your boy went to the PT place, spoke to the therapist and underwent his tests, before having the therapist come up with a series of exercises that would be done in-house as well as in your boy’s home.  Over the last 2 1/2 months, your boy has been dutifully going to PT, and doing the exercises, which mostly have to do with stretching, and manipulating the injured area but there doesn’t seem to be any progress in healing.  Your boy has talked to the therapist more than a few times, asking him what the end result would be, and the therapist has said more than once that he’s trying to strengthen the area that was injured, but without your boy being able to rest that area for a significant period of time, all the work seems to be for naught.  But it’s worth a try, at least until the insurance runs out.

In the intervening time, your boy has been using his non-dominant hand/arm for more things and probably has over taxed that area as well, since yesterday he felt a sharp pain in his left shoulder.  The pain stayed fairly steady throughout the day and by the time he got home, it was pretty noticeable.  Enough that your boy took a shower and let the hot water pound on that spot, then post shower your boy worked some Ben-Gay into the area.  Over the course of the evening it felt a little better, but by no means perfect.  There was a definite burning sensation as the analgesic cream worked its way into the skin and muscle, but that soon went away and there was the warming sensation that’s indicative of what it does for you.  This morning it still hurts, but certainly not as bad as it was yesterday.

It definitely seems acute when your boy is stretching that shoulder putting on a shirt, or removing one (or a coat etc.) but the analgesic is helping to a certain degree, so today being your boy’s day off from work, perhaps the rest and recuperation will pay some dividends.  At any rate, it’s getting warmer here, it’s already in the 40s today and that’s certainly far better than the teens and single digits it was last week and over the weekend.

boy

Technobabble

Reading Time: 4 minutes
  • Weight: 282
  • BP: 128/75

Dear Miss:

As you may recall, your boy had a little disaster last week with his main desktop computer.  In the interim, he’s been considering what sort of power supply to get to replace the one that burnt out, and how to reconfigure how his computer works (or doesn’t) and where it might end up being in the scheme of the house layout.  While that has been going on, he’s been sort of limping along using his various laptops, and that got him to thinking.  While he had the laptop on the computer desk, it occurred to him.  Why not attach the peripherals that were right there, to the laptop?  So he started out with the keyboard.  Easy enough, the keyboard is connected via a USB cable, and on his Lenovo Flex, there are 4 USB ports, two 2.0, and two 3.0.  So he had the keyboard connected and that worked fine.

What next?  Mouse!  The mouse connects via a small USB dongle, and that popped right into a 2.0 port and he now could use his Logitech mouse, instead of the Touchpad that is installed on the laptop.  While he was smiling over his ingenuity, it occurred to him that his large 27″ LED monitor was sitting right behind the laptop, completely unused.  How could he connect that up?  As it just so happens, the laptop has an HDMI port.  Coincidentally, so does the monitor.  So one HDMI cable later, your boy was staring at what was on the laptop screen, on the monitor.  But the lid of the laptop was getting in the way of the whole thing…how to keep that from happening?  Glad you asked.  He went into the power settings and discovered a menu that dealt with what happens when the lid on the laptop is closed.  Your boy opted for ‘Nothing’ and when he closed the lid…ta da!  Nothing happened.  The computer didn’t shut down, go to sleep, or hibernate.  So now your boy has a computer that’s using all the peripherals he had before…except one.  The hard drives that have his other information are still attached to the old desktop.  How to work that into the equation?

Your boy has quite a few hard drives (6 or 7) that have information that he uses, and hasn’t consolidated.  What he would need is something that can hold them, but doesn’t necessarily require a separate operating system, just be attached storage.  Now there are two different options for this dilemma.  Either what’s called NAS or Network Attached Storage, or an enclosure that is lovingly called JBOD or Just a Bunch Of Disks.  Both have pros and cons, but in this instance, your boy doesn’t need to connect his hard drives to the network, in fact, he could do that via the router if necessary.  Matter of fact that might not be a bad idea in the long run.  But in the interim he just needs to connect the drives to the computer that he’s using now..the laptop.  That actually solves several problems…since he wouldn’t necessarily need the desktop anymore, the laptop is already running Windows 10 in the 64-bit variety, and the extra drives could be used to augment the limited hard drive capacity on the laptop.  Too, your boy could use the extra hard drives to backup the laptop, and it won’t be a power drain on the laptop or a power hog like the desktop was being. The only thing your boy wouldn’t have is a CD/DVD burner, but he could always use the desktop for that if necessary.  But for the most part, your boy hasn’t used the CD/DVD drive for many months, so that’s not necessarily a negative selling point.

Your boy went to eBay and found a 4 bay hard drive enclosure that was a great price and went ahead with purchasing it.  Add in the fact it was on sale for 25% off, had free shipping and was $300 cheaper than either the NAS or JBOD enclosures he found at other places (NewEgg & TigerDirect as well as Amazon and a few other resellers).

Now that that has been attended to, your boy can get to some of the other things he needs to do on his day off.  But that is another entry.

Yours

 

Not again ?!?

Reading Time: 5 minutes
  • Weight: 283
  • BP: 134/75

Dear Miss:

People ask your boy sometimes why he has so many computers in his house (workable ones).  It’s for times like this; when one computer goes down, and then he’s working with a back-up, and suddenly something unexpected occurs with his backup.  Last night your boy was computing with his relatively new Lenovo Flex 3 when the battery began to wane.  He plugged it in for the night and went upstairs to bed.  Upon coming back downstairs, he powered it up and that’s when the problems began.  For some reason, neither the keyboard or the touchpad were working on the computer.  Very annoying for someone that would rather not use the touchscreen options that the computer has.  Can, but would rather not if he can get away with it.  Suffice it to say, he tried just about every trick available, even going so far as to restore the computer to its factory specs, which naturally eliminated everything that was on the computer at the time, but there really wasn’t any choice.  Kind of why computer nerds like your boy refer to it as the ‘nuclear option‘.

At this point, your boy powered up one of his older ThinkPads and went to the Lenovo website looking for a solution.  As expected, lots of people have had this problem in the past, but there’s little in the way of easy solutions.  Too, even though Lenovo advertises they have ’24/7 support’, they really mean they have forums online that are available 24/7, if you want phone support, that’s only available Monday to Friday, from 10 am to 10 pm.

More happy happy frustration, at that point the Lenovo wouldn’t stay online.  The WiFi connection wasn’t working, and wouldn’t stay connected.  Too, when your boy connected the ethernet cable to use the router, the computer stated there wasn’t any hardware to support it.  Your boy would have presumed there was a virus at work here, but he was running a well-respected anti-virus/malware suite, and that just wasn’t the case.  Your boy finally opted to schedule a callback from one of their techies for tomorrow at 4 pm;  since the computer is still under warranty it would be their nickel for the call as well as for any hardware issues that might need to be fixed.  It was just more than a little disconcerting to watch system after system go belly up on this practically new computer, and not be able to do anything to rectify it.

After scheduling the callback your boy left the laptop to discharge it’s battery, hoping that as a last ditch option.  If the battery completely flatlined, and then your boy recharged it, there was a possibility that might be some sort of ‘fix’ to the problem.  It was a long shot, but worth trying.  As it turned out, it worked.  boy was never confident that would be the solution, but he’ll take it.  Sometimes computers need to sort things out for themselves.  It’s not an issue of artificial intelligence, it’s a hardware issue.  Things need to re-align and get back to where they need to be, on their own time frame.  Boy is certainly pleased that it worked, just makes more work.  Has to reconstitute the things that he lost in the system restore.  Fortunately, he has the programs since he installed them the first time.  Just a time waster when he has other things he’d like to do with his day off.  But it keeps things moving.  And the computer (for the moment) is fixed.  Hurray for that.

On the other computer front, boy is still shopping for the right power supply.  He knows he needs at the very least a 650 watt one, but there are differing options to consider, besides the obvious one of the price.  Don’t necessarily want to spend too much, or too little.  And the one he chooses needs to have sufficient connections for all the peripherals he’s going to be powering inside the computer.

The rest of the day has been delegated to breakfast (waffles and bacon!) and getting ready for tomorrow.  Your boy has inventory at work and will be going to bed in about 2 1/2 hours.  He has to be awake at 3:15, and to work by 5.  The upshot of that is he’ll be getting out of work around 1:30 tomorrow afternoon, so that’s not a terrible trade off.

An interesting start to the year.  At the very least, it wasn’t a smelly disaster like the one a few nights ago.

boy

Humorous Update:  This morning boy had just finished his shower, and come downstairs, he noticed that the light on the answering machine was blinking.  Pressed the play button and apparently at 4 am, Lenovo left a message for the service call that had been scheduled the day before.  Now your boy remembers quite clearly that he scheduled the call for 4 PM, not AM. Fortunately, the computer had repaired itself, so he really didn’t need to speak to the tech.  Another fortunate happenstance, the wife didn’t hear the phone ring when it did, so it did not wake her up.

Disaster

Reading Time: 4 minutes
  • Weight: 284
  • BP: Elevated

Dear Miss:

On the night of the 30th, your boy was chatting with you, and suddenly there was a loud buzzing sound from under his computer, then there was a very distinct burnt electrical smell and his UPS started emitting a long tone as everything quite suddenly shut off.  His monitor was still working, but the computer most definitely wasn’t.  Your boy spent the better part of the next hour trying to determine where the smell was coming from, but something was very obviously wrong with the computer since it wouldn’t turn on again.  He was finally able to get in touch with you again on his laptop, but you understandably were a bit upset with the way that your boy abruptly disappeared in the middle of a conversation.  Had boy been able to quickly determine what had happened, he would have contacted you again sooner…feels bad about that, but then again, he wanted to be certain that he wasn’t in the midst of burning the house down.  That’s always an important thing not to do.

Of course, while he was troubleshooting, time slipped away and he didn’t get to bed until almost 2 am the next morning.  Seeing as he was scheduled for an early shift and had to get up at 5, that made for a very short sleep period.  Come the next morning, he was most definitely feeling the lack of sleep, but seeing as it was his own doing, there wasn’t much to be said or done about it.  Your boy has New Year’s Day off so he’s going to catch up a bit on his sleep today, as he has his inventory on Monday, and will need to be going to bed early on Sunday evening.

Getting back to the computer problem, your boy is about 60% sure that it’s the power supply that failed.  Upon opening the case, he determined the only thing that smelled like burnt component was the power supply in the bottom of the case.  Certainly, the case was way overdue for a cleaning, as was the area behind his computer desk, the dust bunnies have been frolicking and expanding their numbers en masse, to the point where it might have caused a problem on their own.  Boy is going to have to order a new power supply, either from one of the two vendors that he uses the most (NewEgg or TigerDirect) or from Amazon.  Generally, your boy doesn’t buy computer components from Amazon; some exceptions would be things like routers or switches or things of that nature when it comes to computer components, he prefers to go with the vendors that specialize in that sort of product.  For the most part, the prices are comparable, and there’s a better selection.  If worse comes to worse and it turns out that boy fried his motherboard, then he’s going to have to get a whole new system…well not a completely new one, but at the very least a new motherboard.  He can reuse a lot of the components in the one he has now, the case, the processing unit (the chip), the memory, hard drives and CD/DVD drives that are currently installed the current case are all still salvageable and wouldn’t have been affected by a failing power supply.  boy did a little checking and he could probably get a suitable i5 compatible motherboard for about $100-150, which is a good price for something that’s a generation out from the current offerings by Intel.  Buying/upgrading to an i7 series chip doesn’t make a lot of sense since boy isn’t running a gaming rig and doesn’t have a need for all of that computing power.

If anything perhaps this was all a blessing in disguise.  At the very least it got boy to give the area behind the computer desk a good cleaning, there were a lot of unnecessary cables from components that no longer are working, (or even connected) and even the phone line that had for 15 years been connected to the DSL modem and accompanying phone needed to be coiled up and moved out.

boy will be keeping you updated on the progress with the computer, for the time being, he’s still (obviously) connected since he still has 3 working laptops.  The only wrinkle right now is his email program is locked on the desktop on one of the hard drives.  If the problem continues for an interminable amount of time, boy will have to excise the Thunderbird information from the hard drive and integrate it into the laptop, to keep up with his various email accounts.

But that’s a discussion for another day.

Your boy