Computer Woes

The problem does not happen often but every now and then it happens.  The computer cannot find the boot drive.  Huh!?  Why?  I honestly do not know.  The bios simply forgets that the boot drive is an SSD drive on the SATA3 connections.  It defaults back to one of the Regular HD drives on the SATA2 connections and predictably boot fails since this drive is not a boot drive.  Fairly simple fix…  for me.  When Denise wanted to use the machine she was stuck.  And there was no way I was going to successfully talk her through the procedure to get into the bios and reset the boot drive sequence.  So as a result.  Denise could not use the computer which had her most recent work on it.

This brings me to a bit of a gripe.  The SSD and the HD drives in question are all SATA3 rated.  However the SSD drives simply refuse to work on the SATA2 ports.  I do not know if this is the SSD drive’s fault or if it is something to do with the motherboard’s chipset not knowing how to handle the SSD drive properly.  Initially I was thinking of putting the SSD drive on the SATA2 ports and leaving the HD drive on the SATA3 port.  SSD on a SATA2 port would have been more than fine since all it is really doing is being a boot drive an not much else.  But that plan was scuttled because of the above problem.  So now I get this boot sequence issue every now and then.

I would not doubt it is the motherboard.  I bought it when SATA3 and USB3 was just starting to get popular so it is possible that the chipsets are not 100% with newer drives like the SSD.  However I did not expect the SSD to fail on something that should have been more solid and standard like the SATA2 ports.  All in all, pain in the ass.  Stupid computers.

This is not the first incompatibility I have hit so far.  I have a Thermaltake BlacX5G USB SATA hard drive device.  It does not like dealing with certain hard drives.  I have a HP 1536 multi-function printer, it does not like certain USB ports on the computer.  Lots of frustrating hours lost trying to figure out these problems that really should not have been an issue.

SSD drive is a Samsung 850 EVO, HD drive is a Western Digital WD6402AAEX, Motherboard is an ASUS Sabertooth X58.  ASUS has been pretty good all in all but I have found, when thinking about it, that they have always caused some subtle problems for me.  Nothing ever serious that makes the computer totally unusable or a pain to use but still, minor nigglies that can sometimes annoy.

Failed drive.

When I was away in Hong Kong we had a particularly nasty black out.  This caused one of the drives in my Qnap to develop bad blocks.  Not a problem really because I bought the Qnap with 4 drives in total to replace the drives in the machine when they go belly up.  The Qnap only uses 2 at a time.  I thought the procedure would be difficult.  It is not.  It is brilliantly simple.

Without turning off the machine, pull out the bad drive.  Remove the old drive from the tray.  Install the new drive onto the tray.  Toss it back in.  And you are done.  The machine takes care of the rest.

Brilliant!  The easiest drive failure change I have ever done.  I am glad I have the Qnap.

Walking in Hong Kong…

I have recently returned from Hong Kong, visiting my wife’s family and friends and doing a little sight seeing.  You would think with a city that has that many people in it, the people would know how to walk about efficiently.  My god, I am really surprised there is not any ‘walk rage’ in this city.  No one knows what to do and you are constantly walking right into someone else.

In Canada it is basically following the road rules a bit.  Keep right unless you are passing.  Japan it is generally the opposite because they are the British system when driving.  This applies to the escalators as well.  Stand on the right (or left if British system) and walk on the other side.

But in Hong Kong!  British system for driving.  Escalators you stand on the right (not the left) and walk on the left.  Huh?  Then to add insult to injury, in high traffic areas they have arrows on the walls and ground to indicate the direction the people should walk (which is a good idea because no one there would know otherwise) which is, for the most part, keep left.  Problem is when you get to the escalator you have crossing streams of traffic of those who do not walk the escalators and those who do.

Worse, those arrows I spoke of, are not consistent everywhere!  In some cases it is keep right!  And of course there are people who just do not follow the rules and walk against traffic anyway.  Even worse, I have seen a pair of escalators where going down is on the right and up on the left, then on the next floor they are swapped.  So they have engineered a traffic mess on purpose where down traffic has to cross paths with up traffic!

Side walks, and places without the direction arrows are just chaos.

Walking in Hong Kong is just a big mess.

Canadian Election 2015: Niqab

Now I know this may garner me a little bit of flack but I am going to risk it.  I do not often agree with the Conservatives but I do agree with them about their stance on the Niqab.  The full face covering that some Muslim women wear. The Conservatives are against the use of a Niqab.  NDP recently mentioned that they support it.  I do not know what the stance of the other parties are on this matter.

The argument being made by these women is that it should be protected by their freedom of Religion.  And this is where I have a problem.  They may believe it is mandated by their religion but a lot of Muslims will disagree and say that it really is a cultural mandate and not a Religious one.  Some may say I or we are splitting hairs but, I will admit if I am wrong, Islam teachings specify a ‘conservative’ dress code and not the over the top dress code you would get with a Niqab.  That was dictated by men in those regions of the Middle East due to whatever cultural reason.  In Canada, there is no cultural reason for a Niqab and so it should not be allowed.  Note, I am saying cultural not religious.  I believe the Niqab is cultural and not religious so it should not be protected under the Freedom of Religion laws.

Plus I would support Banks and Corner Stores who mandate that no face covering of any kind (Helmets, ski masks, Guy Fox masks, Niqabs, etc.) are allowed.  They do that to make it harder for robbers to hide their identities.  It happens in the Middle East where wanted men would hide under women’s garb to avoid capture and detection.  Who’s to say it would not happen here.

I understand it might be a cultural shock for the women to leave the house without one but it is something they should be encouraged to do here.  Canada is a pleasant place to live without bringing it down with oppressive cultural artifacts from less pleasant places.  And yes, it is an oppressive cultural artifact.  Anyone who really argues against it really never grew up in a freer society like Canada.

I actually find it rather sad for those Muslims who dictate a public dress code for their women.  I see quite a few near my work where they have a head scarf and their long…  I do not know the correct name but I will call it a “Moo Moo”.  I see their little girls and boys in normal clothes and cringe that eventually those little girls will be forcibly told they will have to dress like their mom one day and if not, there will be consequences.  This will bring a lot of confusion and heart ache for these girls as they see their brothers not having to abide by any similar nonsense.  It makes me worries that these families will eventually force their girls back to the Middle East to get married and fall in line with their “Culture”.  It is a cruel fate for them if that happens having lived in a society like Canada and then send to a place where their freedoms that they enjoyed here are next to non-existent there.

That is my stance.  It may not be a popular one but I just think that when “Religion”, or more correctly, “Culture” is dictating an unfair disparaging dress code and rules specifically for women, we should not stand for that.

Canadian Election 2015: POT!

Like the last point Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau (JT) was getting a knocked by a Conservative attack ad about “Not being ready” partly for saying he would legalize pot.

Let us think back for a while, or not.  Sleeman’s does plenty to remind us of the prohibition era and how we once had a similar thought about alcohol.  Now it is legal, taxed, and enjoyed responsibly by millions.  There are a few that are not as responsible but then, all those tax dollars come in handy to fund the programs that deal with substance abuse and such.

But then there is also the medical benefits which municipalities are finally wising up to and are now allowing medical pot to be sold for those who suffer from cancer and other ailments that prevent them from properly eating or living.

Yes it is more serious a drug than nicotine but I would probably put it on par with over indulging in alcohol.  Both are equally bad when consumed irresponsibly.  But since we have alcohol, pot is not that different.

So legalizing it, we tax it.  Those taxes will help pay for the substance abuse expenses the government pays for already.  Police will no longer have to deal with the crime freeing them up to concentrate on more serious crime.

In the end, is it really such an out in left field thought?  Have Police, Hospitals and Doctors, and the sick indicated anything that this is such a bad idea?  Or is this just old fashioned prudish thought at work that “we just can not have that in our society!”

To me, it is not a small issue.  Legalizing pot could have a huge positive impact on our society.  Granted, I hate the smell, that would be the only reason I would ban it.  Which is pretty pathetic as a reason.

Disclaimer: I am not Canadian, so I cannot vote in the upcoming election.  That attack ad just irks me and makes everyone in that ad look like a glib idiot.

Canadian Election 2015: F35 Fighter.

I am not really a fan of politics.  Especially when all I see is attack after attack which just amounts to the people involved looking like a bunch of babies.  Grow up.  Work together and make something great.

One thing I recently came across was the stance on the F35 fighter purchase from Lockheed Martin.

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau (JT) wants to scrap it.
Conservative Leader Steven Harper (SH) started the purchase order so he is committed to buy them.  And basically saying that JT out to lunch in the process.
NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair (TM) says he’ll back the fighter because, basically, it has gone through a process and we just cannot back out so easily.  He might be right but still, seems like a very politic answer.
Green Leader Elizabeth May (EM), I am guessing, is also against the planes, but no real mention what they would plan to do if they were in power; or at least I do not see anything as definitive as JT’s statement.
(Sorry Bloc Quebecois, I do not really care what you think.)

Personally, from what I have read and heard about the F35.  We are better off without them.  Like in this Youtube video from the 5th Estate and there is something similar from 60 minutes if you google..  Around 27:10 sums up the plane from other places I have read and heard. They are not great for…  basically everything.  The newer Russian planes, the Eurofighter, the Super Hornet and probably our aging fleet of CF18s are probably better than these planes in some way or another.  This plane has been designed to fit too many situations such that design and specification compromises had to be done in order to fit the bill.  The end result.  Neat looking plane, shame it will put our pilots at risk.

So JT out to lunch?  I do not think so. Unless the Conservatives really bent over and let Lockheed Martin royally shaft them on the deal that backing out and buying an equal amount of half the cost Super Hornets will amount to about the same cost, then I would agree, JT “may” be out to lunch.  However, even in that scenario, we would probably have a better plane that that is way cheaper to service because the Super Hornet is not too different than the CF18s that we currently have.  So we have the expertise to maintain them and we do not have to re-equipe with entirely new hardware.

Hey, I am a guy, I like new toys as much as anyone else.  But if those toys do not add up or are way too expensive, then I am definitely not going to buy.  That is the reason I have a Denon receiver paired with a PS3 for bluray and Totem Arrow/Dream Catcher speakers instead of a Bang And Olafson with Bowers and Wilkinson Speakers.  (Mind you, I actually really like the look of the Totems over anything from BW but that is besides the point.)  I bought within my means.  Canada should as well.  Which means, F35 is not really our jet even though SH and the Conservatives would like to think it is.

So I think JT and EM are probably on the right train of though.  TM is being diplomatic I suspect.  SH is committed and, I get the impression, someone who will not admit to being wrong and will stay the course no matter how painful it will be.  A change in decision would appear, in their eyes, would be a very grave error politically.

Disclaimer: I am not Canadian but I live here as a Permanent Resident.  So I can not vote in the upcoming election.  I will say I am biased against the Conservatives mainly because of their record on stifling scientific research that does not agree with them, their obvious military slant as well as jails building.  This is by no means a claim of support for any party even though it might appear to be supportive of JT.  I do not take everything as it is given to me.  If it sounds off then I will “Question Everything, Trust Nothing, and Verify.” (Not an exact quote but was part of lecture I attended once.  Or in other words, “Think”.

Movie: Inside Out and Minions

Both pretty good movies but I think nothing too memorable.  That sounds a bit like a slag on the movies, not being memorable, but they are still fun movies to see.

Inside Out was interesting personifying the emotions.  Plenty of humor there.  Simple situation for the real life characters but your typical travel movie for the emotions.

Minions felt a little on the long side but still pretty fun to watch.  Although I do agree with other reviews which stated that the minions are sort of better as a side kick instead of the main attraction.  It has its moments though.

The nearly hit the floor laughing in the trailer for Shaun the Sheep.  There’s a scene in the pound where you see Hannibal Lechter as a cat.  “ths ths ths”…  Not many in the crowd got it though.  Laughing alone just makes me look crazy.

Both movies I would say are still worth the price of admission.  Maybe not for the 3D admission but ok.

So annoyed…

So very annoyed.  I have…  had a very nice working Netgear Nighthawk AC1900 wireless device.  Simple to set up.  Performed well, before it started to act completely funky.

Yesterday morning it was just flooding a port that was connected to my firewall machine with stuff.  I don’t know what kind of stuff but basically no one was using the device wirelessly or via the wire at the time it started till the time someone wanted to use the wireless in the morning…  I couldn’t log into the blasted machine either way to figure out what it was so busy about.  Reset.  Reconfigure.

A few hours later after working well for that time, it just closed up shop.  Could not connect to the device wirelessly or via the wire.  Ugh…  Reset.  Reconfigure.  Checked and updated firmware.  Checked everything…

Do this a few more times at seemingly shorter intervals and now the thing is a brick.  I can’t even do the hard reset.  It’s ignoring that reset button on the back.

So so very annoyed.  I had issues with my WRT54G that I had before this but it lasted months to years before acting up.  I’ve only had this Netgear since Feb this year.  Sigh.  RMA’ing the thing and probably selling the return device when I get it ot immediately flashing it with DD-WRT which seems to the be only stable thing for it or…

I’m now looking for something rock solid, hopefully better, like the WRT54G.  Any suggestions?  Doesn’t have to be 1900ac either.  Just something that has good signal strength, faster than the WRT54G, and doesn’t brick.  I’ll be happy with an N level router.

It seems that almost every router out now has issues.  Nothing is considered solid.

Movie: The Avengers: Age of Ultron

This is one movie I think the hype I read of it hurt it.  I like Joss Whedon as a director.  I like Avengers.  But I think my expectations were higher than what I got with the movie.  Also I sort of expected Ultron to be a touch better with the voice of James Spader.  That’s not to say the movie is bad.  It’s still a fun romp.  I think the with first Avengers I ended up walking away a little more excited and pleased with what I saw.

The trailer showed Ultron with a bit enigmatic voice and goal.  In the end he wasn’t all that enigmatic which sort of removed some of the potential ‘surprise’ when he was on screen.  And with an alien and super advanced Artificial Intelligence, surprising behaviour should have been the norm.  Not predictability.

Was it worth the admission.  I’d still say yes.

Vancouver Transit Vote

Vancouver transit is a bit of a joke.  Compared to other cities our system is almost adequate now but it will quickly be overwhelmed if even a partial shift of car drivers switch over.

So the mayors realize this and came up with a plan to address the transit issue.  Which is great, nothing wrong there.  At least they are thinking about it.  The problem, no matter what will be done to improve the transit (and road) system in Vancouver, it will mean a rather hefty bill to pay for those improvements.

The bigger problem as I see it, Vancouver’s mayors know that the money has to come from some where but they are a bit ‘gutless’ to pull the trigger on making a decision themselves.  Instead they are doing a ‘politically’ safe thing and making it a public vote.  So if the vote is yes, the PST increases by a little bit.  To me the problem is that the mayors should have made the decision without a public vote.  It’s a hard decision for sure but that’s why we voted you into office to make the hard decisions.  Not to be all gutless.

I get the feeling they are doing this more to improve their re-election odds.  They know if they raise taxes that it will bite them in the butt when they go for re-election.  But if the people voted yes they can distance themselves from the tax increase as if saying “Hey we didn’t really raise taxed, you asked for it!”

On one hand I hope the vote results in no just to piss off the gutless mayors.  On the other hand, something needs to be done about the transit and road systems in Vancouver and so it has to start somewhere.

Some of the changes need not be that big.

I would change…:
1. Left turn lanes (lanes at lit intersections or suicide lanes for uncontrolled areas) on some of the major arteries so that the @#$^&@*#^ left turners don’t block traffic.
2. Right turn lanes (cutouts) to get the right turners out of the $@#*($&@ way.  It is amazing that they didn’t design the roads with anything like this.  Oak, Granvile, Fraser, Main, Knight all are arteries out of downtown and very few places have left turn lanes, and pretty much NO right turn cutouts.
3. Bus stop cutouts to the the @#$*(#@ bus out of the way.
4. (maybe) Play with the idea of delayed left turns.  I know Tucson does this which always gets me when I’m down there but this means that straight through traffic has priority, get them moving.
5. Remove toll roads/bridges and collect the fee from licensing.  Based on how much you drive that will be how much more you pay.  This way people won’t try to avoid the Port Man bridge and divert to the Patulo.  This way people won’t avoid the Patulo when it gets updated and made into a toll bridge and people will then clog the Fraser bridge and Massey Tunnel.
6. Stop building super expensive rail systems and build something with cheaper technology.  The Skytrain is over priced.  And from the Olympics it looks like they went with a cheaper system with the Canada line (not the same tech.) Keep building with that!
7. Connect the universities with the Skytrain.  You have a guaranteed user base there that will use it.  Plus it’ll remove the B line bus which suffers from fare evaders and clogs the roads.
8. (maybe) No parking on major artery routes.  I know some businesses will hate that but maybe necessary to keep these arteries clear.  Mind you if you do the left and right lanes above that’ll fix a lot of it.
9. Ditch the Seabus.  There should have been a Skytrain line or something that connects to the north shore to Park Royal Mall (at least).  Make it a new line if connecting to the exiting Skytrain is too expensive.  Street cars even as long at it isn’t a bus and it is a dedicated unobstructed connection.

What the mayors like to think is that if the bus system improves that there will be that many less cars.  This won’t happen.  As the city grows, more people will drive and more people will use transit.  So the situation is still going to get worse even with a yes vote.