The Breakfast Club (Hello)

Hello again-

I don’t spend all my time serenely listening to long hair music outside in the sun or even the moonlight, vast vistas of land scenically stretched before my gaze as the wind whispers my flowing locks and I stride purposefully toward my destiny.

In fact mostly I’m locked up in a dusty dungeon of my own making, tangled by wires and the past, bound like Sisyphus by chronic deceitfulness and pride to keep the tides of entropy at bay.  Oh sure, it’s fun for the first thousand years or so, but then it kinda gets… old.

breakfast beers photo breakfastbeers.jpgThank goodness for excitement, even of the bad kind.  At least it’s a change.

My excitement was that on Friday I had a power surge.  Inexplicable, random.  Took out the common circuit I share with most of my office floor AND the separate one my air conditioning is on, didn’t touch the rest of the house (I can tell because of the clocks).

Lasted like 2 seconds and at the end everything re-booted except my main computer which gave me the totally redundant message, “Hey, you had a power surge” and then went into an electronic funk.

I must admit I was kind of sanguine about it, I have 3 surge protectors before the motherboard and I’ve survived Hurricanes and Transformer explosions (those are fun, there’s a big bang and then power goes down for a day as the guys in the Hazmat clean up the PCBs before they replace the unit), and the computer behaved as Windows computers typically do when you’ve corrupted the virtual memory swap file- it re-boots once or twice and then goes chug-chug-chug as it attempts to repair the damage.

So you wait and you wait but I’m very impatient and after a couple of hours I hit the reset button and try a few technician’s tricks to no avail.

Now let me brag on my departed and defunct system, Asus M4A88T-V Evo/USB3, 6 Core Athlon II 3.7 Ghz, 16 GB RAM, 3x 2 Tb Seagates- each with a bootable OS installed.

Normally to cure a corrupted Swap File you boot to a good OS, run a chkdsk to fix up the crosslinks (almost always the problem) and then you unconfuse things (chug-chug-chug).  In this case NONE of my bootable partitions umm… booted.

Ok, time for strong Juju.  So I turn everthing off except for a brand new, never been touched hard drive, memory, motherboard, and CPU (all of which test fine in the BIOS), and my genuine non-evaluation copy of Windows 7, and proceed to attempt a fresh install which has the additional benefit of being a strong hardware test.


Well, that’s about enough frustration for one day so I called up TMC and got her to cover.  Thank you.

Today the goal has been to get functional again.  I’m fortunate enough to have generous patrons and I’m in possesion of an HP 6475b laptop.  The notable features of this particular platform are that it has a 2.5 Ghz AMD Dual Core, 16 Gb RAM, and (absolutely critical for a laptop as far as I’m concerned) a PCI card slot and a USB 3.0 port.  It has a usable (if crappy) keyboard and 15″ display and an intolerable touchpad (hate ’em).

Of course I’ve pimped it out.  Maxed the memory for starters.  Had a dual USB 3.0 PCI card so now I have 4 ports base and 2 are hooked up to 4 port hubs for 10 total (for now).  My USB 2.0 port is for my real wireless keyboard and mouse.

I struggled a bit with the display which is a miserable 1320×768 (only 1280×1024 is acceptable) but while my old Princeton VF723 is still clunking along, it’s pretty old and washed out.  My Vizio TV is a mere 720p but my BenQ GW2250 main monitor is 1920×1080.  The problem with both the latter solutions is that the HP only has a DisplayPort and VGA out and VGA is inferior to the DVI (BenQ) and HDMI (Vizio) channels.  So I bought some cables.

Frankly, my intended purpose was to use the laptop for traveling emergency communications and as a video server for Netflix and it was in this primitive condition I had left it.

Whoa, emergency!  And I am as stranded in my own office as I would be in any Starbucks.

The first step is to robust the software so my Bookmarks and Passwords and Cookies are all restored and the next to fish the wires so that all the parts connect up and as you can see there are many pieces that move.

The final step is to try an salvage the data on my impressive 6 Terabytes to a 500 Gb Drive.

Hmm… NSA capabilities without the ambition.

The truth is you can write a whole lot without filling up a floppy.  I’m not parading this in front of you to incite envy, to me it’s the most normal business in the world because each repair starts with a backup of the system in the state that it’s in before you screw it up any more than it already is.  I have a tool (2 actually) called a ‘Universal Drive Adapter’ that allows me to take just about any drive, plug it into any computer with a USB port and rip the contents onto another drive.  The reason to have 2 is so you don’t overflow your host machine.  You record directly to a target drive using your host as an intermediary.

Easy peasy.

And it’s not about money either.  I seldom spend more than $200 for any particular part and most are in the $50 to $100 range.  My base laptop (a fine machine and worth every penny) was about $500.  Add $100 for the RAM.  The keyboard and mouse $25.  The monitor $120.  I mention the keyboard and monitor first because, outside of the software, those are the most critical components to your computing experience.  I paid a premium on the computer for the PCI card slot which are getting rare nowdays as are Optical Drives, the card itself was $50.  The USB 3.0 Hubs were $40 a piece, the drive adapters the same.  I have 368 Gb of 3.0 Flash Drives, all under $100.  My 2 Tb Hard Drives?  $100 per.  I have 2x 1 Tbs that are $70 each.  My departed Motherboard?  The one I’m so proud of?  $150 with CPU + $100 for RAM.

You can see why I mourn.  I’m convinced it is toasted and it’s about the most expensive part of my setup.

But change is good, I’ve been putting off moving to 7 as long as I could keep XP-64 creeping along and a quick survey of motherboards (which have not evolved much in the last 3 years) seems to indicate I can re-use most of my parts (that work) and indeed ultimately build a system with twice the speed, twice the memory, and a whopping 32 Tb of drive. and in the mean time I can try and convince myself that my little blind slab with it’s rat’s nest of “enhancements” is good enough for now and has the additional virtue of being more “portable” than my 30″x20″x6″ box.

Next week I shall attempt to sing in tune and on tempo, but for now you get Obligatories, News, and Blogs, and late at that because while I pretend I have a magic wand that erases the limitations of space-time it’s actually a back scratcher and I do like my naps when I can get them.


Welcome to The Breakfast Club! We’re a disorganized group of rebel lefties who hang out and chat if and when we’re not too hungover we’ve been bailed out we’re not too exhausted from last night’s (CENSORED) the caffeine kicks in. Join us every weekday morning at 9am (ET) and weekend morning at 10:30am (ET) to talk about current news and our boring lives and to make fun of LaEscapee! If we are ever running late, it’s PhilJD’s fault.

I would never make fun of LaEscapee or blame PhilJD.  And I am highly organized.

The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves, that we are underlings.

Julius Caesar (I, ii, 140-141)

This Day in History


State of emergency declared as Toledo tells residents: don’t drink the water

Associate Press

Saturday 2 August 2014 13.31 EDT

The city advised about 400,000 residents in Toledo, most of its suburbs and a few areas in southeastern Michigan not to brush their teeth with or boil the water because that would only increase the toxin’s concentration. Showers and baths are fine, the mayor said.

Toledo leaders were setting up water distribution centers around the city, limiting families to one case of bottled water. Some stores that were receiving new shipments of water were putting limits on how much people can buy.

Toledo asked restaurants to close for the day because of the water warning. Toledo’s public school system canceled all its events. The University of Toledo closed its campus for the day and encouraged students from outside the Toledo area to return to their homes.

US Ebola victim arrives at Emory University hospital in Atlanta

Jessica Glenza, The Guardian

Saturday 2 August 2014 15.24 EDT

Dr Kent Brantly of Texas was transported to the Emory University hospital in Atlanta, where he will be quarantined in a sophisticated isolation unit. He returned to the US in a private jet outfitted with a containment tent.

Transport of the second aid worker, the South Carolina missionary Nancy Writebol, is expected to be completed early in the week. She is also expected to be treated at Emory. Writebol is travelling later because the jet is only designed to carry one patient at a time.

“I want to underscore that Ebola poses little risk to the US general population,” said Dr Stephen Monroe, head of the Centres for Disease Control’s National Centre for Emerging Zoonotic and Infectious Diseases, in a press call last week. “While it’s clear there is an increased risk for working with patients with Ebola, we’re confident that the standard of care in the US would prevent much of the transmission if a case were to show up here.”

Arizona inmate Joseph Wood was injected 15 times with execution drugs

Tom Dart, The Guardian

Saturday 2 August 2014 10.40 EDT

Wood’s death, on 23 July, was the third highly problematic execution in the US this year, following those of Dennis McGuire in Ohio in January and Clayton Lockett in Oklahoma in April, which were also drawn-out and led to accusations that the inmates may have endured a level of distress prohibited by the US constitution’s ban on “cruel and unusual punishment”.

The sedative midazolam was used in all three cases. McGuire’s death marked the first time a state had used it in a two-drug protocol with hydromorphone, a painkiller. Even before that execution, medical experts warned that the experimental combination risked being ineffective and causing undue suffering.

The revelation that Arizona injected Wood 15 times, amounting to a massive dose of the drugs, raises fresh doubts about the efficacy of the combination and the competence of those tasked with designing and implementing the procedure.

Soldier believed captured by Hamas was killed in action, says Israeli army

Harriet Sherwood, Jason Burke, and Daniel Boffey, The Observer

Saturday 2 August 2014

The Israeli authorities confirmed that Goldin, 23, was related to the defence minister, Moshe Ya’alon. His funeral is scheduled for 5.30pm local time on Sunday, suggesting that remains had been recovered.

Israel had rebuffed attempts to negotiate an end to the Gaza conflict amid signs that it was moving towards unilaterally declaring a halt to fighting without an agreement that would involve concessions to Hamas. Military and political sources said the goal of “neutralising” cross-border tunnels was on the verge of being achieved.

Reports from Rafah, in the south of the Gaza Strip and close to where Goldin was thought to have been taken, indicated heavy civilian casualties from Israeli bombardment of the area as troops continued to clash with Hamas fighters. About 100 people were killed and hundreds more were injured after fighting resumed. On Saturday night, the death toll of Palestinians exceeded 1,650 and Israel confirmed that it had lost 64 soldiers and three civilians, its highest death toll since the 2006 Lebanon war. Israel’s deputy foreign minister, Tzachi Hanegbi, said his government has evidence that almost half of Palestinians killed were combatants. Gazan human rights groups say at least 80% of the Palestinians killed have been civilians.

Lebanese army battles gunmen at Syria border, 16 killed

By Alexander Dziadosz and Tom Perry, Reuters

Sat Aug 2, 2014 6:41pm EDT

The gunmen included fighters from the Islamic State, a radical Sunni group that has seized control of large areas of Syria and Iraq, Lebanese security officials said.

The fighting in the border town of Arsal marked some of the worst spillover violence since Syria’s three-year-old war began, and risked exacerbating tensions in Lebanon among sectarian groups at odds over the Syrian conflict.

At least three civilians were also killed, and 16 members of the security forces were taken hostage after fighters from the Nusra Front, al Qaeda’s branch in Syria, seized the security building, security source said. A local Lebanese official said the men who had been seized were in “a safe place”.

California revises rules on use of force with mentally ill inmates

By Eric M. Johnson, Reuters

Sat Aug 2, 2014 4:42am EDT

Karlton found that the California prison system’s use of force policies had violated the constitutional rights of mentally ill inmates.

Filed in federal court in Sacramento, the revisions address the actions prison officials take against mentally ill inmates who refuse to take medications or are otherwise uncooperative, or who may be unable to understand what is happening to them.

“The goal of the revisions is to systemically improve (the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation) practice and culture regarding both when and how force can be used,” the court documents said.

“The system viewed pepper spray as harmless. It should be avoided at all costs. It is a serious weapon,” Michael Bien, a lawyer representing the prisoners, told Reuters.

Supporters, foes of pot legalization post rival ads in NY Times

By Eric M. Johnson, Reuters

SEATTLE Sun Aug 3, 2014 8:17am IST

The advertisements followed The New York Times’ decision last month in a series of editorials to call for repealing the ban, the biggest U.S. newspaper to do so. Opinion polls show a majority of Americans now back the legalization of pot.

The ads are also designed to undercut pot’s decades-old association with the counterculture and drop-outs by featuring people dressed in everyday working attire.

However, Saturday’s edition of The New York Times carried an ad from a group opposed to pot legalization, Smart Approaches to Marijuana, and allied organizations.

It featured a suit-and-tie-clad executive leaning over a conference-room table with a photo of a grinning, bandana-wearing hippy superimposed over his face. The word “Perception” is next to his flowing hair. The suit has the word “Reality.”

“The legalization of marijuana means ushering in an entirely new group of corporations whose primary source of revenue is a highly habit-forming product,” the advertisement says.

Ukrainian forces advance in east as Russia, West squabble

By Timothy Heritage and Maria Tsvetkova, Reuters

Sat Aug 2, 2014 3:35pm EDT

The seizure of Krasnogorovka and Staromikhailovka, towns just outside Donetsk, brought the army to the edge of one of the last cities still in rebel hands following its advances in the past month. The other is Luhansk, near the border with Russia.

The United States and the European Union imposed new sanctions on Moscow this week after accusing Putin of failing to use his influence with the separatists to end the fighting in the mainly Russian-speaking east.

Putin denies arming the rebels and accuses the West of pursuing a policy of containment against Moscow, using a Cold War-era phrase to suggest Washington wants to reduce Russia’s global influence.

Sunni insurgents, Kurds battle over north Iraq town


Sat Aug 2, 2014 3:09pm EDT

Control of Zumar by Islamic State fighters would give them access to the small Ain Zalah oil field and a nearby refinery. The insurgents have already seized four oil fields, which help fund their operations.

A Kurdish police official in Zumar said Islamic State fighters in pickup trucks mounted with weapons attacked the town from three directions early on Saturday. There were no immediate details of casualties.

Islamic State’s offensive has whipped up sectarian tensions and threatened to dismember Iraq. The sectarian conflict poses the gravest danger to the OPEC member’s stability since the 2003 fall of Saddam Hussein after a U.S.-led invasion.

Shi’ite militias and Kurdish fighters now rival the U.S.-trained and funded Iraqi army in their ability to challenge the insurgents.



    • TMC on August 3, 2014 at 9:15 pm

    On the road today with a visit to the NY Renaissance Faire. It was a bit muddier than usual due to rain yesterday and during the night which may have dampened the walkways but not the enthusiasm of the participants.

    I’ll be on my way home shortly, hopefully missing the heaviest part of Sunday traffic.  

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