Your leaking thatched hut during the restoration of a pre-Enlightenment state.


Hello, my name is Judas Gutenberg and this is my blaag (pronounced as you would the vomit noise "hyroop-bleuach").


decay & ruin
Biosphere II
dead malls
Irving housing

got that wrong

appropriate tech
Arduino μcontrollers
Backwoods Home
Fractal antenna

fun social media stuff

(nobody does!)

Like my brownhouse:
   finally leaving Windows 7
Monday, September 13 2021

location: rural Hurley Township, Ulster County, NY

This morning when I went to use Woodchuck, my main computer, it failed to come out of what seemed like sleep. The problem was bad; it didn't come up even after I powered it off and and back on. It would make a brief spinning of fans and then go dark, without showing anything at all in the little two-digit motherboard display for showing error codes. At first I thought maybe the power supply had failed, but a different power supply didn't fix anything. Later I determined that memory wasn't the problem and neither was the CPU (a Core i5 3570). By the process of elimination, this meant the motherboard, which has been in near-continuous use for over seven years, had failed. That was unfortunate, since I didn't have a good replacement on hand. I have a compatible motherboard (which already contains a Core i7 3770), but its PCI Express slots are arranged in such a way that I can't use the two video cards I want to use, and without them I can't drive my five-monitor setup. I could, however, put those two cards in one of my two AMD-Ryzen-based motherboards, and at first I thought this might make for a painless way to transition Woodchuck to a contemporary processor. But Woodchuck's Windows 7 installation didn't boot very far on the Ryzen before dying with a brief flash of blue screen followed by a restart. It was looking like I was finally being dragged kicking and screaming into the Windows 10 era. Mind you, I've been using Windows 10 on my work-issued laptop for three years and have several Windows 10 installations of my own. But I'm always conservative with Woodchuck, never "upgrading" its OS until I am forced to. This was why I stuck with Windows XP until June of 2012. Fortunately for me, I had a number of pre-built Windows 10 installations that I've been copying and modifying for months that are pre-configured to be almost exactly the way I want them (to the extent this is possible with Windows 10). So I took one such installation (on a 500 GB M.2 drive) and added a few things to make it do about 95% of the things I do on Woodchuck. Fortunately, Chrome's configuration is in the cloud, so that is easy. And Filezilla's setup can be cloned by copying some XML files. After that, all I had to do was install Adobe Photoshop (my preferred version is 8 from 2003), the Transmission GUI Client (my comprehensive alternative to Netflix and Spotify), and HomeSite, the ancient text editor I use to write my personal web content, since I've never found a suitable replacement. The installation I use dates to April, 2005.
I also had to tinker with the video cards in order to get all five of my monitors working. This should've been a straightforward process, but to get this working, I had to repeatedly try to add undetected screens and do a number of reboots, some of which caused the computer to forget my careful arrangement of things. Compounding these headaches, on several occasions, the computer insisted on doing a disk scan to correct disk errors, though of course Windows is so infuriating that it doesn't bother to tell you which disk it is scanning. (Woodchuck always has two: an SSD and a bigger mechanical drive for less time-critical data.)
While I would've preferred to keep my old Woodchuck setup, replacing it with something new has a number of benefits. Chief among these is that a weird glitch wherein a Chrome window would occasionally (and very unpredictably) get focus simply from my mousing over (and not clicking) it. This has been annoying me for weeks, and I've been unable to fix it. Now, though, it's completely gone.
There are some downsides as well. I hate the two different interfaces Windows 10 has for various important WIndows features, such as the Control Panel, and I hate the ugliness of the flat Windows 10 look, which has flattened things so severely that it's often difficult to tell where one window starts and another one ends. There's other software that I rely on that has only gotten worse over the years, such as FileZilla, whose interface keeps growing ever-more cluttered even while it continues to insist on presenting a window of local files, though that functionality is provided well enough by Explorer and supported by inter-application drag-and-drop. Another maddening thing about Windows 10 is that at some point they just turned off support for SMB 1.0, making my network file shares unfindable when addressing them as "\\SERVERNAME" (and not explaining why). It's only when you try to mount such a share as a drive that you get a proper error message that can steer you to an easy solution. But at least I don't have to get rid of the stupid Windows XP search dog! (Remember when a simple query input was considered too complex for mainstream users?)

All of this hassle kept me from doing what I wanted to get done in the remote workplace. And then the day was over, and I felt like Gretchen would want me to cook dinner. So I made chili for the first time in months. We didn't have any mushrooms, tofu, or tempeh, but we did have a vegan sausage that I could cut into little slices and fry up.


Woodchuck's old dead motherboard, with the processor, cards, and most of the memory removed.

The heatsink on Woodchuck's Core i5 3570 processor after over seven years of nearly continuous use.

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