Category Archives: Administrative

Computer Problems

So the parts arrived today, and I’m installing the motherboard. The problem is, in addition to the 24-pin power connector, there are slots for an 8-pin and a 4-pin, right next to each other. But the PSU has no 4-pin connector; it only has an 8-pin, and four 6+2s. What am I supposed to do? I see that on my own X570 board from MSI (similar to the new one, but a different model), I didn’t use it, and it seems to be running OK. So just ignore?

[Update a while later]

Well, it seems to be running fine without it.

The good news: It works. The bad news: The new processor isn’t compatible with Windows 8.1; it says it needs to upgrade to 10. And I can’t get good screen resolution, which will probably get fixed after an upgrade.

[Wednesday-morning update]

OK, $200 later, we upgraded to 10, but still crap resolution. Had to install Nvidia drivers to clean things up. But now all seems well. So far.

Computer Fun

Patricia’s machine has been acting up for months, dying unexpectedly. I tried replacing CPU, memory, and power supply. Also cleaned the CPU heat sink. But to no avail, and now it shuts down almost immediately after boot. So it’s probably the motherboard.

And of course you can’t buy new FM-2 mobos any more, so it means new processor and memory as well, plus a graphics card, because the Ryzen doesn’t support on-board integrated graphics. So we just had to lay out about $600 for an upgrade, but it will be a much better machine, with a Ryzen 5 3600X (same as mine) and 32G of RAM in a single stick (upgradable to 128G). It will also be able to support multiple monitors. Unfortunately, it won’t be here before Tuesday.

[Sunday-morning update]

Wow, time flies. I just realized from an old blog post that her mobo was five years old.

Quarantine Lessons From Spaceflight

Thoughts on the similarities.

Meanwhile, we’re back home. As noted, we did drive up to Cambria (with the cats, which was…interesting — it was their first road trip, and Ember cried most of the way). It was relaxing up there, but a little weird, with all the restaurants being closed except for delivery or carry out, and most of the motels empty (we had a vacation rental across the street from the beach). We drove up to Ragged Point on Saturday (which was also closed except for gas and the general store), but no further into Big Sur, then perused the elephant seals on the way back to town. Not that many on the beach; it was just past mating season. A few week ago the beach at Piedras Blancas would have been full of them, fighting and fu**ing (I could have just written “mating,” but I liked the alliteration), and the mothers and pups trying to avoid being crushed by the bulls.

Did a three-mile hike Sunday on the bluffs above the ocean, and shot lots of pictures of breaching and fluking gray whales and their spouts as they migrated north. Very weird being up there on a weekend with so little traffic. I may post some, after we look at them to see how they came out.

Got back to Redondo Beach yesterday (the lack of heavy traffic on the 405 through Sepulveda Pass and West LA on a Monday afternoon was a little eerie), and now get to put the house back together after fumigation. The cats (who cried all the way back) are looking around and at each other like they’re wondering “Was that all some sort of weird dream?” Not infected, as far as we know (seems unlikely, considering that we were already hermits before this all started; it’s an introvert’s paradise).

[Update mid-morning]

One thing we saw up there that we never see in LA: Stars. We were across the street from the beach, and it was quite a dark neighborhood. Orion was very obvious, and I could easily see the Pleides naked eye. Milky Way wasn’t obvious, though.

Safer At Someone Else’s Home

California turned up the screws last night, but extermination is an exempted activity, so the fumigators are still coming today, and we’re still driving up to Cambria (and returning Monday) with the cats. If anyone stops us, I’m pretty sure that once we explain the situation, we’ll be waved on. But there is still plenty of traffic on the highways (though nothing like normal), so no reason to pull us over (unless I actually do something wrong). I may be a little less leadfoot than usual.

[Saturday-morning update]

Probably the quickest trip from LA to Cambria ever–about three and a half hours, which was good because we had a crying cat. Traffic was light, and moving along at 80 mph on the freeways. More anon.

Internet Problems

I seem to have lost the ethernet connection to my desktop. There is nothing to indicate a problem; Fedora tells me it’s connected, but I can’t ping anything. Not sure how to troubleshoot. I’ve tried switching cables, but it doesn’t help. But I know that there’s no problem with the router, because wireless is up (I’m typing this from my notebook).

(Monday-morning update)

Still haven’t solved it, but on a flight to Denver for suborbital researchers conference, so won’t get to it until Thursday.

[Thursday-morning update]

It’s clearly a weird DNS problem. I can ping Google’s IP, but I cannot ping I can ping, but when I manually set that as DNS, it still doesn’t work.

I tried plugging directly into the router instead of the Orbi, with same results.

I have not changed anything in the configuration; it had been working fine for many months as it was set up, with the router feeding the main Orbi via ethernet, and the Orbi providing both ethernet and wifi to my desktop and the house. But for some reason, I woke up almost a week ago, and the desktop had no Internet.


[Afternoon update]

Well, this is fun. It’s clearly a software issue.

I just pulled the SSD off my laptop and booted the desktop from it, and it now works. I’m suspecting that it has something to do with expressvpn. Since I installed it, I don’t have Internet until I connect it. But on the machine that has problems, I couldn’t connect, so I removed it, but it didn’t solve the problem. There must be some setting that doesn’t allow the machine to do DNS without expressvpn, which somehow went haywire last week.

I’m wondering if the best solution would be to just install a clean version of Fedora 31 (I’m currently using 30) on either the old SSD, or a new one.

[Friday update]

OK, it turned out that ExpressVPN was locking out the Internet when it wasn’t connected (for my “safety”), which meant that if something went wrong with the connection, it made it impossible to reconnect to ExpressVPN, or the Internet. After spending several hours this morning on chat with someone at ExpressVPN, and wasting my time going down various rabbit holes, I finally found someone who told me to just blow away /etc/resolv.conf, and reconnect, which gave me Internet again.

I did manage to convey that they had some serious bad practices that resulted in this frustration, and gave them some recommendations.

  1. Let the icon tell me whether I have a good connection. Ever since I installed the expressvpn package, it always has a question mark on it, whether it is connected or not.
  2. Have an autoconnect that actually works on login, rather than having to go into shell each time and manually connect.
  3. Provide an ability to override the lock (with a warning) rather than simply lock it when ExpressVPN isn’t connected.

They said they’d try to incorporate into the next version.

Electrical Problems

We’ve got a circuit out (most critical issue: Patricia’s upstairs office). No breaker is obviously tripped. Guess I’ll have to open the box.

[Late-afternoon update]

I appreciate the comments, but have heard nothing I don’t know. Fun fact: When I was a kid we didn’t have breakers; we had fuse boxes.

And yes, I know that some wags will say that when I was a kid, electricity hadn’t been invented.

[Update Saturday morning]

Bad news: There’s voltage on all the breakers. Not sure how to trace where the line opens up. Don’t know how much an electrician would charge, but I might be able to buy some kind of tracer for the same cost.


[January 27th update]

Threw in the towel and called an electrician. It took them an hour or so to run down the problem; a bad neutral line in an upstream outlet. Buried behind oak cabinets that were earthquake strapped, of course.

Good deal, though, for $225, plus they fixed a couple other things that had been an issue for a while.

[Bumped again]

Email Problem?

I’ve got a file containing all my sent email for the past decade in date order. I want to find it for the years 2011 and 2012. My bash (or perl?) scripting skills are pretty rusty, but here is the pseudocode for what I need to do:


Open original text file read only

Open new file for writing

Set Printflag to “false”

For each line of file

   If match regular expression “Date: .* 2011” set Printflag to “true.”

   If match regular expression “Date: .* 2013” set Printflag to “false.”

   If Printflag, copy line to new file

Close both files.


Note that the regular expression may have to be a little more specific (like maybe include a match for [Jan|Feb|Mar|Apr|May|Jun|Jul|Aug|Sep|Oct|Nov|Dec] between “Date:” and the year). The format for a full line would be

“Date: Fri, 02 Oct 2009 14:41:31 -0400”

The idea is to scan the file until 2011 begins, start echoing lines to the new file, and stop doing it when 2013 begins. Maybe exit at that point so it doesn’t waste time or cycles going through the rest of it.

[Update a while later]

Never mind, I got the answer from Twitter.

[Saturday-morning update]

For those curious, here’s the solution to the problem:

$ perl -ne “print if /Date:.*2011/../Date:.*2013/” $oldfile >> $newfile