So Long HP; Seeking Computes…

So I’m posting this from my Samsung Galaxy Note.  I bought a bluetooth keyboard for it.  Still needs a mouse.  I can ‘sort of type’ on the keyboard.  It is a bit slow and bouncy, and the key spacing is a bit off, so more ‘fixes’ needed.   But a world better than the faux keyboard on the screen with hunt and peck.

Still sucky at ‘mark text cut and paste’.  Hoping a mouse fixes that.   For now it is what it is.

And it is what I have.

The HP Laptop is dying.  

First the battery said it would not charge.  That was about 2 years ago.  So it has lived on life support to the wall.

Then the keyboard lost it’s key markings.   No big.  I touch type.  That was about a year ago.

Now it is saying, at boot, that it has detected a fan not working and it will shutdown in 15 seconds.  (Or I can choose to continue and it might end horribly….)   So that’s where I’m at.  

Need to suck off about 1/2 TB of data (mostly on backups already… in California…) and move onto a new laptop.   Until then, this poor excuse for a typing station is what I’ve got.  Barely workable for straight text posting.

OK, I took a look at Chromebooks.  Found one that woud let me instal Linux and with a 350 GB hard disk.  No longer made… Sigh.  The others are all SSD Solid State Disk now.  OK.  Except FLASH has limited read/write cycles (about 10,000 to 100,000 ) and forgets things in a few years ( so those archived SD cards of photos ‘forget’ in 5 to 10 years…)   Put Linux swap on one of those, you have a brick in months… or weeks…   

All the “Windows Afflicted” are Win8, with EUFI, so buggered and not secure no màtter what you do.  Can”t even slide TrueCrypt under the OS.

Dell has a Linux Laptop sold by Amazon so I can wait a long time and   hope the bios is not EUFI buggered.  Sigh.


So postings will be thin until I work this out.  It woud be easier if I was happy with Mico$oft crap and lack of security, but I’m not.  I’ll likely get an old Win-7 laptop used and just scrub it.


I did try using my Raspberry Pi.  Got it to work with the HDMI TV and external keyboard.  The TV has flicker and with X windows running it is way slow in FireFox.   Midori (sp?) was fast, but both didn’t have any video player.  Sigh.  Again.   So I’m thinking if I want a ‘mix your own’ workstation I need a different card / computer for it.   


So I’m “seeking computes” and largely limited to small comment sized blocks of typing until I sort this out.  Oh, and I second Anthony’s distaste at the “beep beep boop’ editor at WordPress.  Stupid and sucky and slow.

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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48 Responses to So Long HP; Seeking Computes…

  1. A C Osborn says:

    Have you thought building a normal computer for the main work?
    Or are you time critical?
    Or Portability essential?

  2. Simon Derricutt says:

    EM – I’ve had an MSI Wind U90 netbook for about 4-5 years now. It came with Suse Linux, and I changed it to Ubuntu for ease of use – these days I just want things to work and not to spend hours tweaking the OS. The battery life was around 2 hours when it was new, and now it’s around an hour 30. If you find one of these secondhand, it’s probably worth getting it especially if it has the double-life battery pack (the later U100 had a 10″ screen – easier on old eyes). I don’t do a lot of typing on it, so although some keys have dips in by now it still has the key designators OK. It’s actually a pretty usable keyboard – not quite full size but works well.

    It’s difficult to get a machine without Windoze on it. At the time it was a choice of that or the Asus EEE which really isn’t good enough.

  3. E.M.Smith says:

    @A C Osbourn:

    Portability really helps as I’m a bit itinerant with very limited space while posting from places like Starbucks is most convenient much of the time (or from the couch or bedroom where it’s hard to snuggle up with a tower…) I might go with a ‘rat on a rope’ approach. Lump of compute server with a small display and bluetooth KB / mouse.

    @Simon: I’ll look at them.

    Strange thing is that I have an old Compaq from about a decade+ back that still runs… It’s about 64?mb of memory and in California, heavy as a brick and running a very old Linux / browser. But still runs… The HP variation is just not as sturdy or durable.

    We’ll see where I end up. “Roll your own” or just get another temporary “crap top” with Win8 or Chrome on it. Both work, just have IMHO”security issues’ in the way they have built in holes or backdoors and share information with their parent…

    Or maybe I’ll just repackage the HPguts into a nice wooden wrapper ;-)

  4. Clay Marley says:

    I was at NewEgg looking for small laptops to replace an old XP machine. Still plenty available with Windows 7 and real rotating hard drives. Some descriptions say “…with Windows 7 Professional 64-bit (available through downgrade rights from Windows 8 Pro) “. Not quite sure what that means beyond MS recognition what a dud Win 8 was. Windows 9 is coming out next month. But I have learned never to be an early adopter with an OS.

  5. Paul Hanlon says:

    A friend of mine’s computer died and I helped him choose a new one. In the end he went for a Chromebook. The selling points for him were price €220, ease of use (he only wanted it for browsing, email and storing his pctures), just right size 12″ screen with a keyboard big enough for working hands, 7hr battery life, 10-15 second boot time.

    I have to admit, I’m seriously thinking of getting one purely for social stuff, although it does mean buying into Google’s ethos, i.e. everything “in the cloud on their servers” with all that that entails.

    I also got a Banana Pi (I feel a bit of a traitor), and I’m very impressed with it. It is well built, noticeably faster and being able to attach a SATA hard drive directly makes a huge difference. It’s still a work in progress, but I’ll soon have it as my web, mail, file, backup server, wireless access point. Costs about 5c a day to run, no privacy worries and with HTML5, everything can be done in the browser, like dragging files directly into the page and they uploading all by themselves.

    More than fast enough for a low traffic website, it can be accessed through TightVNC with no noticeable lag. A free subscription with, and it’s available anywhere in the world. So that’s why I don’t mind getting a ChromeBook, because I’ll still be able to keep my private stuff private.

    There’s also the Cubieboard 2, which is based on the exact same chip, is slightly cheaper, slightly more mature, a better layout on the board, and shouldn’t have the wait times. I have one on order from Amazon, which I should be getting Monday or so, whereas I waited over two months for the Banana pi (it is brand new after all). So in a space 4″ wide by 4″ high by 6″ long, I have my own personal cloud for less than a year’s subscription to Dropbox or Spotify. It’s streaming music to my main PC as I write.

  6. R. Shearer says:

    Fan transplant is cheap and easy and might help keep the patient alive a little longer.

  7. philjourdan says:

    From the mostly irrelevant information category:

    replacing a fan is not a big deal on an HP laptop (Qualifier: I am no Laptop Tech, but have replaced some of the easier parts like hard drives, memory, screens, and now one fan). But since that is just the latest, this looks like the junker that is going to nickle and dime you to death. So yea, a second hand laptop is probably the best way to go (given your requirements).

    SSDs are better now. The 100k is the bottom of the barrel, but you still have a limit that a regular drive normally does not have. I would offer you one, but unfortunately the only laptops I have available, the MB is DOA (as I said, I can do the easy replacements). And if you are going to replace the MB, you might as well get a new one. Or at least a second hand one.

    Good luck on finding one. The data is easily retrievable with a $20 external USB case from Amazon.

    p.s. Saw R. Shearer’s post just before clicking post, and so I guess that is 2 for fan replacement – except of course it is just the latest, so the question is “what’s next?”.

  8. philjourdan says:

    @Clay Markey

    Some descriptions say “…with Windows 7 Professional 64-bit (available through downgrade rights from Windows 8 Pro) “. Not quite sure what that means beyond MS recognition what a dud Win 8 was.

    What it is SUPPOSED to mean is that you get a Win 7 key along with the Win 8 Key and then can download the OS and install it overtop of the Win 8. A hassle, but a much better option than using Win 8!

  9. Greg Hall says:

    I have been using a Toshiba Netbook, NB505 for 3 yrs now. 8 hrs battery. After you remove all the Toshiba “Bloatware” and strip down W7 starter of its “Bloatware”, add “Classic Shell”, it runs better than its specs say it should. I do a lot of typing and the keyboard is quite good.

  10. j ferguson says:

    I did this but it may not make sense for you. 18 months ago the then 4 year old HP GP-42 developed an intermittent connection in the screen feed such that with some tweaking of screen position it was possible to get an image. tweaking got trickier and then became impossible. Historically I rebuild these things, starting with Osborne, Ampro little board, the Suns, TI’s, a Sinclair, the armada m-300s, and the ibm butterfly, but not this time.

    I called hp for an out-of-warranty fix and was asked by the nice guy in bangalore (he was sharp, too) what the machine was worth to me. I asked why and was told that it was old and many people balked at the repair cost and just bought a new machine. I told him I thought that the cost of the repair ought to be $125-$150 since a new cable was $35 and it was likely the problem and of course labor to get the case open and closed and the shipping. He agreed and we arrived at a cost of $135 including shipping. this was contingent on no-other problems being discovered. I changed the drive to one with nothing on it, and sent it off in the very nice shipping box they fedexed to me. it went to memphis and was back in 4 days. The screen issue was gone, it had a new case and keyboard, my drive and my ram.

    I had also told them not to fuss with the OS since this was a dummy drive.

    I got the impression that the price was a negotiation and that for a moderate “event” cost, they would take care of the obvious and easy things. Likely not a new battery.

    My GP-42 is giving me the battery warning, but since I like it and its terrabyte drive, will probably buy iit another one.

    good luck with this.

    btw, it came with windows 7. HP employees run a website which had all of the drivers I needed to load-up XP on it. it is unofficial but thorough. trick was to get a sata driver on a streamed system disk. Despite this machine never (afaik) shipping with xp, all the necessary drivers were available.

    Now I run Ubuntu 12.04 on it with XP in a VirtualBOX which runs very well btw. Except for damned Quicken, which requires a Windows affliction, I’ve gone completely to Linux. 10.04 for the cnc machine, 12.04 for the rest of them, and SunOS 4.1.4 on the Ten.

    good luck with all this.


  11. Eric Barnes says:

    I’ve been very happy with the hp2145dx that we got for my wife a few (well quite a few) years back.

    Does well as a desktop replacement and will allow you to take it to the coffee shop for a couple of hours (the battery life isn’t great, but I’m not going to be spending an afternoon on battery).

    The graphics card is good enough for me and it has an HDMI port. Runs my 47″ tv well. Works with mythtv in ubuntu 12.04 and does fairly well at OTA 1080i. Lower resolutions it does well.

    The fglrx software for the graphics card is necessary if running 12.04. The support in ubuntu 14 is still beta. Hopefully that is released soon? I’d hate to be stuck at ubuntu 12. The AMD proprietary driver doesn’t compile currently. Getting it to build/run would be a bit of trouble.

    Pretty good little machine if you can pick one up cheap off of ebay or craigslist.

  12. Speed says:

    If I was trying to sell you a device, I would start by figuring out exactly what you needed. Your description is neither detailed nor specific. And I wouldn’t be looking for technical specs (processor, RAM, Disc etc) but functional …
    o What software do you use?
    o What do you use the software for?
    o What level of security do you require?
    o How much data do you want/need to have with you at all times?
    o Do you need to back up your data hourly, daily, weekly monthly?
    o How do you feel about cloud backup vs. disk backup?
    o Do you need connectivity in places that have no wifi?
    o What type(s) of pointing devices do you prefer?
    o How’s your eyesight?
    o What’s your budget?

    I think that your concerns about reliability of solid state disk drives is a little outdated. More and more devices with no mechanical drives are shipped and used daily (phones, tablets, laptops) without any discernable outcry about reliability — possibly because there is no problem or because SSDs still fail but at much lower rates than mechanical drives. Your willingness to store your backups in, for all practical purposes, an unreachable (or at least inconvenient) location indicates that drive failure (all drives fail) is a red herring. By the way, how do you update your backups when you edit files?

    In any case, Microsoft’s current backup philosophy is to automatically backup data-only either to an external drive or OneDrive (or both) since most (all?) applications can be downloaded from the vendor in the case of loss or failure. This seems to be working well.

    My view is that I spend too much time working with a computer (on my desk or on the road) to not a first class reliable tool. One unrecoverable or inconvenient failure would be costly in both time and money. Having a reliable machine and a workable recovery plan lets me sleep at night.

  13. John Robertson says:

    As far as hardware goes, what about checking out your local pawn shop, reuse or salvation Army?
    These older laptops often wind up there, often in amazing shape.

  14. Bill S says:

    You did not mention model of HP.
    I have had one (NC6000?) that was not worth fixing.
    I have a Dell I cannot toss out because it will never die – except for the battery.
    Needs a good home. Free if you pay shipping.

  15. gallopingcamel says:

    Wow! All that stuff resonated with me.

    I used to have a Toshiba laptop that served me well for several years until a chip desoldered owing to overheating. I went to “Best Buy” and asked for their cheapest laptop. It turned out to be another Toshiba Satellite laptop. The salesman warned me that 50% of these laptops were returned owing to overheating problems but that did not bother me as I am into “Cheap”.

    My shiny new Toshiba laptop “Bricked” within two hours so the next day I showed up at Best Buy to replace it with the second cheapest laptop in the store. That turned out to be a HP 2000.

    What a magical experience! With an Intel “Core i3” CPU running Mint Linux nothing I did caused any of the four processors to function above 25% loading. One of my sons was so impressed that he sold his $2,000 Apple and replaced it with a $500 HP 2000. He loves it, so eat your heart out Apple!

    My beefs with the HP 2000 relate to the fact that it has a DVD drive that I don’t want and a huge (500 GB) hard drive. I bought a 128 GB “Solid State Drive” from Samsung to extend the battery life (600 mW dissipation). Linux Mint now boots up in an eye blink. It makes one wonder why anybody is selling laptops with drives that include electric motors……..or Windoze.

  16. agimarc says:

    Acer & Asus make pretty good laptops. We’ve been running a store for 4 years on Acer Win7 pro laptops. Worth a look. Cheers –

  17. Wyguy says:

    OT. At least your not out in the mud flats of Nevada trying to set a drenched burning man afire.

  18. Ursa Felidae says:

    galloping camel: I’m interested in the HP2000. Did it come with mint linux or was it the standard windows 7/8? I was also curious about the gains in battery life going from disk to solid state?

  19. Sera says:

    My replacement fan cost $2.71- had to wait 2½ weeks for delivery (China). Free shipping from Ebay. Too many people throw stuff away nowadays that is easily fixed. When my washing machine stopped agitating, I went online for the sevice guide and quickly figured out that it was the agitator coupler ($5.95) and not the transmission ($200.00). I haven’t seen a shoe repair shop in 30 years. I’m starting to feel old (but not worn out).

  20. Sera says:

    And while you’ve got it open, replace the batteries.

  21. j ferguson says:


    the observation about the hazard of running a swap partition on an SS drive seems reasonable. I looked to see how the MAC air swmbo wanted did swap. It runs on what looks to me like an evolved Berkley Unix but uses files instead of a partition for SWAP. It has a 128 gig SS drive. My suspicion is that this swap method would not be prone to the risk you suggest. But a Linux system with a dedicated partition?

    Maybe this is another area that Speed is sharp on.

  22. R. de Haan says:

    Still working with a Macbook Pro which is now limited to the use of OSX 6.6.8 because I bought it new in 2007.
    When the fans started to make noise I took a toothpick, dipped it in Molycote to lubricate the bastards and haven’t had a problem since. Only replaced the battery and the charger, that’s it.
    For me this is a daily user running almost 24/7.

  23. R. de Haan says:

    OSX 10.6.8 that is of course.

  24. Bill S says:

    Decided to give Linux a shot because of all of you. Not impressed. Cannot open a 20 mb JPG. In fact it crashed Mint Cinnamon 17. I need Excel, a kick ass JPG viewer, and want privacy. Any suggestions?
    I have a Dell 630 that you can have (battery dead) but I need a Linux version that will let me “Wine” Claris Draw for windows before I can give up my last XP machine!

  25. adolfogiurfa says:

    So, my dear E.M. It seems that we are at a twilight zone right now in computing, though I suspect that´s because the old guys retired and there are is not a new generation to replace them, or perhaps the case is that any new hardware/software is classified. My hunch is that we should revisit old and more reliable hardware with simpler software.

  26. R. de Haan says:

    There should be done much more.
    We’re loosing our history faster than aging back up media and disappearing playing systems store it.

    At the same time entire libraries with priceless book collections are closed and the books send to the shredder for destruction.

    This is happening with numerous libraries and book collections.

    We have only recovered a fraction of the Greek civilization, a fraction of the Roman- and Egyption Civilizations and we have huge gaps in our more recent past but today we’re even loosing the data from the moon exploration.

    You know what will happen if we no longer record and register our recent history.

    History will be falsified and abused by government and destroy our heritage.

    Maybe that’s why I still love books and collect them whenever I have an opportunity.

  27. adolfogiurfa says: Haan: Symbols are imperishable. The problem is that WE reject knowledge. It is out there and it has been there all the time, from eons ago….We should be able to read the MUTUS LIBER, the “silent book” (literally: the Dumb Book). We function thanks to the basic laws of the Universe, those two laws we, lost in the Babylonian “confusion of tongues”, have forgot to comprehend: The Law of three (or the Pythagorean Triangle) and The Law of Seven (Or the Law of the Octave), one generating the other by the attraction of love in between the positive and negative, between Yang and Ying, producing the helical movement of ascension towards our source.

  28. Ursa Felidae, 26 August 2014 at 11:45 pm said:
    “galloping camel: I’m interested in the HP2000. Did it come with mint linux or was it the standard windows 7/8? I was also curious about the gains in battery life going from disk to solid state?

    I was intrigued by the Felidae. Fidelis (faithful) or felix (cat)? My guess is that you are the “Cat Bear” or possibly “Bear Cat”.

    Perhaps Latin would add a touch of class to my moniker:
    “Camelus Quadrupedus”?……………………….Nah!

    My HP2000 came with Windoze 8 which was so horrible that I immediately reformatted the hard drive and replaced it with Windoze XP that I keep for a couple of programs that won’t run in WINE.

    Then I installed Mint 13 and found that the wireless card would not work. Called HP but they declined to support Linux. So I tried Mint 14 and magically the wireless card worked perfectly. The only other problem I have with Mint is that the screen goes black just before the log in appears. Apparently there is a minor problem with “grub” (Grand Universal Boot Loader). Just hit the F3 button to see the login.

    What I like about Mint is its elegant simplicity……..just like Ubuntu before the “Unity” GUI was implemented. Not to mention the blinding speed when compared to Windoze.

    The solid state drive consumes 600 mW, quite an improvement over the 4,500 mW hard drive.
    My HP2000 used to consume 14 Watts so with its 47.5 Wh battery it ran for about 3 hours and 20 minutes. With the SSD, the drain is down to 10.1 Watts so I can now run 4 hours and 40 minutes cordless. However, the main benefit is the faster response of the SSD given that I don’t need a huge hard drive.

  29. j ferguson says:

    GC, another way to sorta rid your machine of windoze is to install Oracle’s VirtualBox which is free. It is a virtual machine host which provides an environment in which you load XP. I’m running it in Ubuntu 12.04 (classic GUI, not damned Unity) and it runs everything I’ve tried to-date but especially Quicken. I have an ancient version of AutoSketch and it runs. It didn’t in Wine.

    This rids you of dual boot and offers some opportunity to better firewall your xp applications, although I’m not positive you cannot do similarly with a conventional XP installation. You do get access to printers and the web and it otherwise seems to run exactly like a native installation. I’ve also installed in SWMBO’s Apple Air and it works just as well there. It appears that more recent versions of Apple won’t run XP as a dual-boot installation.

    I’m toying with putting an SSD in my HP G42 hoping to get results similar to yours. Unfortunately I do have a lot of stuff – movies and music, but maybe they can be put somewhere else. In 2003 Emusic had unlimited download for $45 month. We had a T-1 and I got a couple of months of swing and classical. FWIW, Benny Goodman cut an astonishing number of unimpressive recordings over the years. We play them in the car during our recent long trips and I must say that once you get past the ‘standards’ he slips a lot.

  30. Zeke says:

    Chief is away. Let’s get off topic!

  31. Zeke says:

    Does anyone know about movie making? I think there is a mysterious play book somewhere, which many movie makers use, esp. in the action and adventure/supernatural. Explain please.

  32. Sera says:

    Here is something related-

    I just received a black screen on my Compaq Presario (stop laghing!) “Internal fan not working, Press F2 to continue”. So I shut it down and took the cover off. After I vacuumed the dust lagomorphs from the fan, it started working again!

    I should probably vacuum the others, too.

  33. Zeke says:

    Our next computer is going to be a desktop. The kids are telling me that they last longer than laptops, which have moving parts and give out because of all the movement.

    This stands to reason, esp in our house. There was a scene in a movie we saw in which two characters were in a plane at high altitude, and as it broke apart, they were both holding on to the laptop, trying to get it away from the other. We try to emphasize the peaceful transfer of power, as we call it.

    Hello to pacsvaks, dirkh, Gail Combs, dave Evans, David, and agiurfa, and everyone who has not been by in à long time.

  34. p.g.sharrow says:

    Since EM got a real job, this place has gotten very quiet.
    I should talk! ;-( I have been too busy to post on my own blog.
    I do see him occasionally commenting on blogs that we both frequent, so we know that his fingers are not broken.
    A posting can take several hours of thinking and preparation so please excuse. pg

  35. adolfogiurfa says:

    Well, we have not been around as things evolve and we must be up to the circumstances and events happening around us. We need, indeed, Chiefio back, and he will be for sure to opine about the next Climate Change Summit to be held next december in Lima, Peru, South America. Bad kids insist in their silly games though they will have to accept, willingly or unwillingly, their time is due and the “party is over”.

  36. Zeke says:

    “Since EM got a real job, this place has gotten very quiet. I should talk!” ~PG
    “Well, we have not been around as things evolve and we must be up to the circumstances and events happening around us.” ~a giurfa

    Life is for living. Cheers to times when we can talk, and cheers to times which are crowded with work, marriages, births, travel, and study. And cheers to a suitable computer for Mike soon.

  37. adolfogiurfa says:

    @Zeke: Cheers to you and all other friends. Events are different now, and though the bad kids keep on with one of their memes “Climate Change” so as to get their “Global Governance”, other things are moving along and we should be discussing those. Hope Chiefio is not programming a New MATRIX :)

  38. j ferguson says:
    17 September 2014 at 12:47 pm

    Ubuntu 12.04 is a good choice. VirtualBox runs well in my Linux Mint (very similar to the old Ubuntu) and I think this may in part be due to the fact that Linux requires less resources than Windoze. I am not really up to speed with VirtualBox so I tend to try Wine first.

    I used to use Quicken even though it worked badly under Wine. As that was several years before I installed VirtualBox I switched to GnuCash for my business as well as my personal accounts even though it is not as slick as Quicken. TurboTax was unsatisfactory under Wine so I switched to TaxAct which I consider superior to Turbotax. TaxAct has a version for “S” corporations which I find very handy.

    The small SSD makes sense for my laptop which I use primarily for business. The extra battery life has been useful on occasions. All I need is Windoze (30GB) , Mint (10 GB) and a few GB of data for my teaching activities. If you are wondering why I waste 30 GB on Windoze, my favorite Optical Time Domain Reflectometer has a serial COM port with a chip set for which no Linux driver exists. I also use the Quickfield Finite Element Analysis program that won’t run in Linux. My big data files are on our two desktop machines (his ‘n hers).

    My car has a high end electronics package so I have a tiny 32 GB music flash drive that plays for over 200 hours before repeating itself thanks to the amazing compactness of MP4. No more shuffling piles of CDs! People tell me that MP4 is no good for my classical music but I seldom notice any problems. Besides all the Bach, Beethoven & Mozart there is plenty of Jaques Loussier, MJQ, Edith Piaf, Flanders & Swan, Stanley Holloway, Tom Lehrer etc. for light relief.

    I keep all my data files in Microsoft compatible formats to make it easier to share them with others. Even so, as you point out, “Dual Boot” is a real annoyance when you want to access data that is on a partition Windoze can’t see. Linux can see all partitions so it is a one sided problem.

  39. j ferguson says:


    My God, tom lehrer too. I’ve done the same thing for the car. ours are mp3’s though. problem is album selection which can be done by talking to the nice lady in the dash and asking her to “Play Artist Django Reinhardt” and so she does. She could even handle “Sviatislav Richter.” When I get time -(retired with no time- same old story). i’ll go through collection and rename albums to be easier to call out – change artist names for more phonetic. We tour a lot – 9,000 miles over Summer – and so listen a lot. I printed out a key to the collection such that SWMBO can dial up whatever we want to listen to using the buttons and blue screen – all this on a 2013 Ford Focus.

    We like Jazz from ’50s and older. Swing too. there is a wonderful web-site,, which has an immense downloadable collection of this sort of stuff. We downloaded all of the Benny Goodman work. Surprise! now that we’ve listened to it all, we’ve realized that a good part of it is not too good – maybe terrible. At the same time it is interesting to see how Blue Skies for example evolved over the years. There are also multiple recordings of some studio sessions, Breakfast Feud for example which are fun to listen to, maybe not in a car though.

    Have you tried running your FEA in VirtualBox? I know this is probably nuts, but how about the drivers for your i/o device?

    I guess all of this is based on my very bad experience with Wine on which most of the things I tried wouldn’t run or if they did had terrible performance – marine navigation programs for example. On the other hand they all worked in VirtualBox. Same experience on SWMBO’s Mac.

  40. Graeme No.3 says:

    With apologies to Michael Flanders.

    Global warming is Rockall,
    but we’re told we must fear Rockall.
    The polar bears are in peril,
    So we mustn’t quarrel,
    we must empty our purse,
    for fear of something worse,
    In return we get Rockall.

    So pay for more wind farms,
    no matter what they harm.
    Our power bills are rising,
    It’s really not surprising,
    When will it ever end?
    When banks no longer lend,
    and we’re left with Rockall.

  41. Graeme No. 3,
    Rockall rocks!

  42. j ferguson,
    Quickfield runs in VirtualBox. I need to spend some time getting more familiar with VB.
    Given the gadding about you do, call me if you are anywhere near Cocoa Beach or Melbourne. There are some great places to eat and drink around here. It would provide an excuse to get together with the amazing Mr. & Mrs. Chiefio who live nearby.

    I also gad about so another possibility is that we could meet when our paths cross somewhere. This approach worked well earlier this year when I finally met the awesome Mr. & Mrs. Gail Combs in North Carolina. Here is a link to my schedule which also includes my phone number:

    In addition to the schedule above I also make a few unscheduled trips each year working for corporate clients up and down the east coast of the USA. Now that I am no longer in full time employment I don’t have to bite my tongue to ensure I don’t say something that might undermine the efforts of Duke university to get funding for the Nicholas School of the Environment.

    Are there other fine gentlemen or gentlewomen who meet the following criteria?
    1. Love Chiefio’s web site.
    2. Travel in Florida.
    3. Enjoy meeting like minded people.

    If so let’s get together! It would be great to meet P.G. Sharrow but I get the impression that he is nearer the west coast than the east coast.

  43. p.g.sharrow says:

    @EMSmith; glad to hear you have decided to get a real computer for blogging. If you are a student or a senior, a refirb can be had for $200 Desktop or laptop. Good used modern computers are cheap, Just a bit scraped and dented. ;-) After a few days, all computers are used. pg

  44. E.M.Smith says:

    Well, after a few weeks of trying to make a tablet with keyboard work, I’ve officially given up on it.

    It is fine as an output / reader device, even for making (small) comments on sites. It is sucky for doing production typing (that needs a real, fast, right sized keyboard) and for doing ‘cut / paste’ where the interface is just too overloaded (as in operator overloading) to work well. All sorts of minor gestures cause it to leap to the wrong conclusion. Fat Fingers don’t work well on small touch screen hot spots. It sometimes gets into a ‘mode’ and can take a long while to convince it to go back to some state where it will accept the same gesture to do the other thing… etc.).

    At any rate, I’ve placed an order for an HP ChromeBox since it can also run Linux and is not encumbered with Windoze… I used the money in the Tip Jar to buy it (thanks to all who put a bit in!).

    I already have a keyboard, mouse, and HDMI TV, so no need for peripherals. It can do simple web page editing just with the Chrome browser “on arrival”, and once Linux is installed, a whole lot more.

    It will also let me find out if a ChromeBook is sucky too, or not ;-)

    I do intend to get some other ‘windows’ box. I’ll likely also take up the offer of a laptop that lives on life support due to a dead battery since I’m happy to do that and like the idea of making a ‘cluster of junk machines’ as a test bed for distributed processing.

    The new box does not arrive until the 15th, so thinks are likely to stay slow until then (just one week ;-).

    Oh, and part of the slowness has been ‘other issues’. Dead car, so being driver for spouse. Son got married, so a long weekend trip coast to coast and back with zero time in between (that also compresses the work schedule), and more. Trying to maintain two lives on two coasts has it’s own issues. But some of those are resolved now too.

    I have queued up about a dozen post ideas, ready to research and type up though ;-)

    More a bit later…. time to go be ‘driver for spouse’ again…

  45. Zeke says:

    A hale and hearty carbon dioxide toast to the new addition, Chief, and may all your distributed processing dreams come true!

    Speaking of toasts, gallopingcamel, if you are able to meet up be sure to raise a glass to the ones who could not be there. I have to tell you, after many years of discussions on the internet, it is very nice to put a fact to a name. Ty. In fact, I used to think that Alan Caruba’s picture was EM Smith, and did not realize my error until recently.

    Adolfo, perhaps you are on to something about that Matrix. (:

  46. E.M.Smith says:

    @Bill S:

    Linux is an ‘aquired taste’… First off, there are dozens of releases to choose from. That, alone, puts some folks off (often via trying one not suited to thier needs ‘first’…). Then there is just the fact that it runs best on slightly out of date hardware. Finding the ‘mix’ of hardware and OS that play well together can be a bit of work.

    But then there is the question of ‘look and feel’. Another 1/2 dozen decisions as to what interface to run. Gnome? KDE? and all the rest.

    Per ability to look at large jpg files:

    There will be plenty of Linux releases / HW combinations that can do that. Finding the one you like takes time and effort. Since *nix runs on things from the microcontroller in SD Cards (yes, inside the card!) all the way up to 64 bit gaggle of CPUs supercomputers for graphics animation; at some point some release does everything and anything…. (But learning enough to find the one that fits your needs takes more work than booting a random Linux your friend liked… I’ve wasted weeks of time on this ;-)

    WIth all that said:

    I would be very surprised if some distro of Debian or Ubuntu didn’t do what you want. The other ‘well shaken out and stable’ release tends to be in the Red Hat family. CentOS is the industrial strength one for Data Centers (thus the name).

    Also realize that QEMU is an emulator inside Linux where you can run / install Windows if you really really need it. Unlike WINE, it’s a PC emulator, not an OS work around… so it is real Windows you install inside of it… ( I’ve not used it that way, mosty running Linux on Windows hosts, but is reputed to work well).

    But, in reality, if you want a ‘no fuss does it all without being a tech guy’ OS based on *nix, get a Mac. Has the *nix under the skins. Pretty well security hardened. Nice GUI on top. Typically “just works”. Costs a bundle.

    (God I like a real keyboard…. I can type more in a minute than I can in an hour on that hunt and peck tablet…. Even with a KB on it, the CPU can’t keep up with me and ‘things happen’…)

    @R. de Haan:

    OTOH: I have an ever grown library of eBooks on archival media. Ancient texts, and more recent, that I could never possess or preserve in paper form…

    More than I could ever read in a lifetime…


    My “issue” with doing swap onto SSD comes from direct experience with some earlier stuff. I like doing “variety Linux” and it often can swap heavily. I have no doubt that ChromOS is tuned to avoid that problem and the SSD is likely to last the life of the device “in normal use”… but I tend to not do “normal use”… And having blown a few devices that way, I’m reasonably concerned.

    Per my backups being remote and that saying anything about me at all ( like “red herring”): Uh, No. I had a full set up office. I needed money and got a gig “on the road”. I’m now living in Florida with a house full of stuff 2800 miles away. NOT by design. Look, life is complicated and often “shit happens” and you just adapt to it. Not my choice, just my reaction.

    I had to hop in a car, drive 2800 miles in 4 days, and show up at work. Not much you can pack into an old Mercedes SLC…

    Now yes, I’d love to have a $700 new PC (or better yet a $2000 new Mac) and just glory in having all that nice ‘reliable machine’. You going to put the money in the tip jar? ‘Cause I don’t have it. Some of us live with ‘modest disposible incomes’… Oh, and the present contract ends in about 7 weeks and nothing is presently lined up for after that. So “saving some cash” is a prudent thing to do right now. I might be ‘on the road again’ with no paycheck very soon.

    So, like it or not, I packed the HP Laptop and figured it was ‘good enough’ for a couple of more years. It wasn’t. After about 9 months it has gone into marginal / dying land. OK… So I’m going to hack together a solution as best I can out of what I’ve got and what I can do. (Or, of course, you can deposit a solution over in that tip jar… ) That, it turns out after a fair amount of looking and pondering is going to be an HP ChromeBOX. That’s right. I’m going to ‘risk it’ with that SSD. I’m going to be very careful about what swaps where, and how much. (Likely I’ll install a low swapping small release like Knoppix, but ‘we will see’ when it gets here. I might just do Debian and toss swap onto a dedicated SD card. At $4 / month or so it would likely be “OK” to burn them ;-)

    Why the ChromBox? Fit in the budget ( under the $200 in the tip jar account). Comes with a browser that is know to work (Chrome) and some modest Chrome Apps. The limitation of ‘must be connected to the internet’ is OK for supporting a Blog, by definition. And, it does let me play around with installing Linux. Oh, and NOT being a “book” or laptop: It lets me plug in a Real Keyboard (that I’ve found is critical fo rme), and a real mouse (that is also very helpful).

    Oh, and per “how do I update backups with changes”: I don’t. I keep full on backups forever. Every so often I dump a whole set to new media. In between, I’ll keep duplicates of recent work. So, since the fan went dodgy, my ‘new stuff’ lives on 2 x SD Cards (on the backup) and I’ve slowly snagged a duplicate of the HP disk for most stuff. ( It overheated and CPU shutdown during a large copy of a set of Linux release archives…) Hopefully I’ll get that last be off the machine in the next day or two. THEN I’ll be comfortable sending it to someone to try repairs on the fan / keyboard / battery.


    No plans for The Matrix, but I do want to make a climate model that substitutes lunar / tidal for CO2 “forcing” and I would like to have a full on Temperature Series made. That takes more computes and storage than one old 1/2 dead laptop. I’ve been planning the design for a while, but it will be longer before I can try it ‘in the real world’. (Linux cluster with distributed data store and distributed computes using COTS – a.k.a. whatever junk I can scrounge…)


    I’ll be slowly working my way through comments for a while. I will catch up…

  47. E.M.Smith says:


    It’s now “First Life” for the new computer. So far, so good.

    I can type at a decent rate, have a workable mouse, and the browser is all the interface I need for blog stuff. (Eventually I’ll install Linux on the box, but for a little while I’m just going to use it as an info appliance).

    I’m sure you will all be happy to know that I’m once again able to do posting without a painfully slow interface and / or clumsy ‘in the lap’ posture. ;-)

    The only “issue” so far is that the (cheap, free, sitting around in the closet gathering dust) “monitor” I’m using (a Vizio digital TV with HDMI input about 21? inch diagonal) projects the screen surface with masking taking out a small bit of the perimeter all around. Likely that would not be a problem, but for the control buttons tending to be at the top and bottom edges… I’ll see if I can “fix it” somehow, or I’ll just get a real monitor…

    But that aside, it’s a vast input improvement over “hunt and peck” on a fantasy keyboard image and trying to “pinch select” copy / past text with way overloaded ‘gestures’ on a too sensitive touch surface. Never realized how much I like having a mouse ;-)

    Oh, and the HP Chromebox has a decent sized processor in it. So far, not a hint of the slowness and occasional ‘pauses’ mid typing that the ARM chip tablet had.

    OK, on with the show… I still have a load of stuff that is backed up to post about, and it is on the other computer, some SD Cards, or an external disk. So all of that has to be integrated / moved over ‘somehow’. That will be done slowly over time. For now, I’m just going to do some fast stuff and see how it works.

  48. philjourdan says:

    @E.M. Smith – shame you do not live up here. An Office Max is having a “moving” sale, and I just picked up a 23″ LED for less than $100!

    My wife asked me if we needed a new one. I told her it was less than $100! So we would use it.

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