Category Archives: Administrative


No, not the theory, the software. Is there some good reason why it won’t synchronize with an IMAP server? I have this crazy idea that if email gets marked as junk locally, it should be removed from the inbox on the server, but it doesn’t happen. I don’t see it in the local inbox, but if I look at the server with roundcube, it’s all still there, and I have to manually remove it. The only thing I can find in a search to deal with it is to use offlineimap to synch, and point Evolution at the local files. But that seems like a PITA to set up. Why does this have to be so hard?

Off The Air

For those wondering, I flew from LA to Dallas on Thursday, and drove down to Austin, to attend the New Worlds Conference. Patricia flew in to Austin on Saturday, and we’re spending a couple days in Texas Hill Country. I’m sitting in a little house we rented in Comfort, overlooking a creek and deer in a natural meadow across it. A couple of them came up to the window last night and looked in. Between funerals and family visits, and house renovation, it’s the first real vacation we’ve had in a while.

I should be back in the saddle (so to speak) on Wednesday, surveying the aftermath of the electoral disaster to come (regardless of the outcome).

SSD Question

Patricia’s Windows machine is almost out of disk, because I have the OS installed on a 120G SSD. I have a spare 240, but it’s been used for another OS. Do I need to wipe the bigger drive first to use it, or can I just DD the contents of the smaller one to the bigger one, and it will all be available?

[Update a while later]

OK, from what I can tell, since I’m not trying to wipe the drive, just make it all available to Windows, it looks like the way to go would be to get anything off it I want (probably nothing), format it in Windows, then dd the old drive to new?

[Update a while later]

OK, I formatted the drive in Windows, in a single NTFS volume that filled it. I copied the old OS to the newly formatted drive. It boots fine, but it only shows as 120G drive. When I use Windows disk tools to look at it, it shows half of the volume as unallocated. But it won’t let me expand it, because it’s the system disk. When I boot from the other drive to try to expand it, it simply shows it as a 240G drive. How am I supposed to recover the rest of the drive for use?

[Friday-morning update]

I didn’t update yesterday, but I rebooted with the original drive, then expanded it using the Windows tools. Unfortunately, it now refuses to boot. I get a blue screen with an error that C:\System32\Winload.efi is missing or corrupted. When I look at it, it’s exactly the same as the one on the original drive, so I suspect that it’s misdiagnosing the problem, but don’t know where to go from here. I ran chkdsk on it, but to no avail, keep getting same error message.

[Saturday-morning update]

OK, I tried again, except this time, I used the software that Lifehacker recommended. It cloned the drive, and it booted just fine. But as with dd, it cloned it so well that it made half the disk unavailable. And as before, when I used Windows disk management to expand the partition, it breaks it in such a way that it not only won’t boot, but Windows installation disk can’t fix it.

Next I’m going to try cloning only the front partitions, and then format the rest of the disk in NTFS, and copy the files from command line.

Computer Problem

I’ve got a weird problem with Patricia’s Windows 8.1 machine. It stopped working while I was in Florida, dying without her being able to restart it. When I got back, I turned off the supply, then back on, and then it booted up (though sometimes it took almost forever). But it kept going to sleep without warning, and couldn’t be woken up without recycling the PS switch. I decided it was probably a bad power supply, the original one from the HP that she had bought, but that I’d kept when I upgraded the motherboard a year and a half ago. I went out and bought a whole new case (the HP case was a PITA to work on), and put in an older 580W supply that I’d had from a previous build. It worked for a day or so, but then started to flake out again in a similar manner. Since it was an old supply, I decided to just go out and buy a new one, a 500W for $40 at Fry’s. But it’s still acting up, so it has to be something other than the supply.

What I don’t understand is how it can not even start up the fans when I hit the front-panel switch. I sometimes have to leave it turned off for a while, which indicates a thermal issue, but just what is the signal to the supply from the MB to turn on? Is there any solution to this other than a new MB?

Python Problem

Anyone have any idea why the following script doesn’t work?

#!/usr/bin/env python3

# import modules used here — sys is a very standard one
import sys
#import re

# Gather our code in a main() function
def main():
infile = open(‘File1’, ‘r’)
outfile = open(‘File2’, ‘w’)
for line in infile:

#print(“Found string”)

# Standard boilerplate to call the main() function to begin
# the program.
if __name__ == ‘__main__’:

When I run it, it simply copies the old file to the new one, without doing the replacement. I know that it’s seeing the pattern, because if I run the replace function in an if statement, it says that it found it.

Back In CA

We flew home yesterday. I hadn’t been here in six weeks or so. Trying to catch up, and I’ll have to go back to FL. We have an agent there whom we feel like we can finally trust, but there are some things to be done that only I can do, in terms of determining dispensation of things in the house should it sell (she is fairly confident that it will, with the spruce up, and repricing). Hope to be back to blogging today, but when you’re away for a month and a half, there are a lot of things to take care of at home first.

Yes, I Am MIA

Thanks for the concerned emails, but I am alive, despite the lack of posts (and tweets). This week has been the final throes of getting the house ready to sell, and we’re doing open houses this weekend.

[Monday-morning update]

We got several bids on the house, but none high enough to accept. Now that it’s in showable condition, we’re going to continue to list by owner. I’m going back to CA tomorrow (after six weeks of not being home) but I’ll be back. We’re probably going to add a laundry room. Millennials seem to want that. Doing laundry in the garage was good enough for us, but apparently not for them.

Light Blogging, And Reusability

Things have been kind of quiet on the blog because a) I’m still busy renovating the house in Florida and more importantly, b) my bandwidth is limited here, as there’s no Internet service to the house, and I have to rely on tethering to my phone.

I didn’t post about it at the time, but my Twitter followers know that I drove up to the Cape on Saturday afternoon, with a press pass to the SpaceX launch early Sunday morning. It was the first Falcon launch I’ve seen on the east coast (I did see one pass through the clouds at the January Vandenberg launch).

It was impressive. I don’t know what the quantity distance is for that vehicle, but we were on a causeway in the middle of the Indian River at CCAFS, and I think the pad was only a couple miles away, judging from the time that I saw the ignition and started to hear (and feel) the roar. It was sufficiently bright that it temporarily shut down the center of my retinas, but I could see it all the way downrange past staging. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a rocket naked eye that far downrange. It was very impressive, but I hope it becomes routine, including the landing, if it hasn’t already. The next step is to start reflying those stages that they continue to collect (six now). I told John Taylor that SpaceX now has a bigger fleet of reusable rockets than NASA ever had.

Speaking of which, Stephanie Osborn has a guest post from a fellow former NASA colleague with thoughts on the failure of reusability of the Shuttle.

I think that whether single pour or the selected segmented design, solid rockets on a reusable crewed vehicle were a mistake. And the fact that Jim Fletcher was head of NASA (and “Barfing Jake” Garn) is also part of the explanation for building them in Utah, Florida’s environmental regulations notwithstanding.

But as I’ve noted in the past, it’s a huge fallacy of hasty generalization to attempt to draw lessons about reusability of spacecraft from that program.

House Renovation Blues (Part 2)

Here’s a weird one. After the fridge thing, I decided to put in a shut-off valve for the fridge line only, so if it ever happened again, to either me (I hope not) or the new owner, I could shut just that off and still have cold faucet and filtered water in the kitchen sink. Shortly thereafter, the garbage disposal (which I’d installed about a decade ago, when we remodeled the kitchen, along with all the appliances) quit working. There is no action when the switch is flipped. I checked the breaker, and it’s not tripped. I can turn it freely with an allen wrench from below, so it’s not jammed, and there’s no hum. However, the armored cable to it from the switch is broken at the interface to the machine, and I can see a black wire-nutted wire sticking out the side, though it seems to be connected, at least from visual inspection.

OK, here’s the weird part. I went to Home Depot to pick up a non-contact voltage detector and a multi-meter to trouble shoot. When I bring the detector near the cable at the interface, I get a voltage signal. But only when the switch is off. When the switch is on, it disappears. When I kill the breaker, I get nothing either way. WTF?

Anyway, I was hoping to avoid pulling (and even worse purchasing a replacement). But it looks like I won’t figure it out without doing so. On the upside, if I do pull the device, it will make it easier to get at the new shutoff valve behind it, which is dripping…

[Tuesday-morning update]

On further inspection, the neutral wire is clearly broken going into the disposal, so off it comes to repair it. I must have done it when I was installing the shut-off valve. That’s why it was sensing voltage on the hot line.

House Renovation Blues

The bad news: We discovered a water leak behind the refrigerator in the last couple days.

The worse news: We pulled the fridge out, and it’s not leaking from there.

The even-worse news. It’s leaking from the copper supply line inside the wall.

The even-worse news than that. The supply line runs down the wall to the fridge, through the attic, from up another wall from the cold-water supply below the kitchen sink. So I get to go up into the attic to cut and pull copper and new attached PVC line through two walls. In south Florida. In August.

[Friday-morning update]

Huzzah! It’s not inside the wall. We just saw the water leaking from the back of the fridge when the icemaker valve opened. I just changed the inlet valves a couple months ago; the joint must have come loose. It just went from a major PITA to a minor repair.

[Update a while later]

OK, as noted in comments, I disconnected the leaking tube from the icemaker line, cut it off square, and reinserted. No joy. It appears to be leaking from the side of the fitting itself, which is integral to the valve, which costs fifty bucks (and I just replaced it less than three months ago). Sigh…