Gessel On…

…this and that.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012


What happened to 1920×1200 laptop displays? Why are all new laptops regressing to 1920×1080? That’s the most asinine, disappointing regression since the end of commercial supersonic transport. It is so sad to be living in a world that is moving backwards at an ever accelerating pace.

My first transportable computer was a Mac Portable with a 640×480 screen and I lived with that through a couple of generations. Eventually I got a Dell with 1440×900 pixels and could actually do some real work on it. About 10 years ago I got a Dell M70 with 1900×1200 pixels on a 15.4″ screen and found an acceptable resolution for portable work. Little did I know that the era from about 2000-2010 would be the apex of laptop technology. It is all downhill from here.

Once I looked forward to a bright future with 17″ displays sporting about the same generally usable pixel pitch (about 147 pixels per inch). If the world had continued to advance technically, if the now retired SR71 wasn’t still the fastest, highest flying plane ever built, if the now retired Concorde wasn’t the only commercial supersonic aircraft, if the retirement of the space shuttle didn’t herald the end of US’s manned space flight capability, if we weren’t living on the burnt out ruins of our former capabilities watching our technical competency spiral down the toilet, we’d have WQXGA (2560×1600) 17.4″ laptops right now. Maybe even QXGA 15.4″ options for those of us with good eyes.

But we don’t. We have bizarre stupid Vaio VGN-AW11M/H with kid friendly 104 PPI displays sporting useless 1680×945 pixels on an 18.4″ screen. That’s a pixel pitch straight out of 1990. Thanks for nothing.

Nobody even makes a reasonably sized laptop with a 15.4″ screen with more than 1920×1080 pixels any more (the only WUXGA laptop I can find at any size is the oversized kidz pitch 17″ macbook pro). I’m going to have to stick with my W500, or buy used ones for the rest of my life. Laptop makers – there’s no way I’m going to regress to a less productive smaller pixel count. That’s just stupid. Pull your heads out and give us pixels. The only thing that really matters for productivity is pixels. More pixels=better. Less pixels=worse. Don’t bother releasing a new laptop if it is worse. If you’ve lost the competency, just pack it up.

Apple: the 264 PPI pitch of the 3rd gen ipad is pretty good. If you build a 15.4″ macbook pro with that pitch in QFHD (3840×2160) pixels instead of the bizarrely large type kid’s book useless 1440×900 pixel resolution the current 15″ macbook pro is crippled by, I would actually buy one to run Ubuntu on. And maybe even have a bit of hope for the future.

(I’d suggest refraining from buying a laptop until 2013: ivy bridge will make 1920×1080 laptops as quaint as those 640×480 displays from 1990: the era from 2010-2013 may be known as the dark ages of laptops.)

posted at 00:18:47 more on... Negative,reviews,technology   Geotag Icon Map It

Friday, January 20, 2012

The SOPA/PIPA Fight is Not Over

Megaupload, the company that enables easy file transfer used by 50,000,000 people every day, was sized by the DOJ. Check

This is an illegal, unconstitutional seizure. It is an example of the scum who run entertainment companies like Universal (who illegally got MegaUpload’s video yanked from youtube by filing a false DMCA takedown) turning US law enforcement and the US judicial system into criminal enforcers to create a business model around theft and intimidation to replace their obsolete and irrelevant role as gate keepers and toll collectors between artists and their audiences.

If SOPA/PIPA pass, links to the sized domain would have to be expunged from any site even talking about them. This is intolerable. It is a subversion of democracy and outright theft of the public domain by those who would retard or even reverse progress to protect their profits and wealth.

The constitution grants the privilege of a temporary copyright to artists and inventors as a mechanism to promote the progress of science and the useful arts. Laws that extend this privilege in a manner that fails to promote the progress of science and the useful arts are plainly unconstitutional. Record companies have no natural right to stop you from using your hardware, your devices, to rearrange the bits on your systems in any way you like. They have turned the discussion to claim they have a property right to your data through manipulation and outright lies. The only fair response to their illegal and heinous acts is to revoke their privilege and drive them swiftly into bankruptcy so they no longer have the resources to bribe our representatives into ignoring the constitution.

The DOJ should be using RICO to shut down entertainment companies that use intimidation to protect profits, not innovative companies acting to expand the public domain in a manner clearly consistent with the goals of the framers of the constitution.

YouTube Preview Image
posted at 19:03:59 more on... films,Negative,politics,technology   Geotag Icon Map It

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Fight ProtectIP/SOPA

I am a constituent and I urge you to reject the Internet Blacklist Bills (PROTECT IP Act in the Senate and the Stop Online Piracy Act in the House).

This bill is deeply, deeply flawed and fails completely to live up to the fundamental constitutional basis for copyright: “to promote the progress of science and the useful arts.”

I am deeply concerned by the danger these bills pose to Internet security, free speech online, and innovation. The Internet Blacklist Legislation is dangerous and short-sighted, and I urge you to join Senator Wyden and other members of Congress in opposing it.

If this bill passes, those entire “middle class” of moderately successful collaborative and user-generated sites will be driven out of the internet. The 1% sites like Google or Facebook can afford tier one lawyers to protect themselves from the prima facia unconstitutionality of this absurdly ill-considered bill, but the vast 99% can’t afford the legal resources or the infrastructure resources this bill mandates and they will vanish, hobbling the internet as the most fruitful incubator of science and the useful arts so far created.

Promote science and the useful arts by blocking ProtectIP/SOPA.

posted at 16:19:49 more on... Negative,politics   Geotag Icon Map It

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Phew. Now Jeff can buy another jet.

As you may have heard, California Governor Jerry Brown has signed legislation repealing the law that had forced us to terminate our California Associates. We are pleased to invite all California Associates whose accounts were closed due to the prior legislation to re-enroll in the Associates Program.

Best Regards,

The Amazon Associates Team

I first read this as Amazon giving up and quietly reinstating their associates program and thus paying the sales tax they owe.  Alas, not the case.  I guess California vs. Amazon, Amazon wins.

posted at 21:41:15 more on... Negative,politics   Geotag Icon Map It

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


I was searching for something random on Google (no, not that, regular expression examples) and noticed that funny little bar they put up there a while back when Google+ had the world all a-flutter. My little box had a [1] in it. Hmmm.. A few people I’d never heard of had “circled” me. Nobody I knew. I think I last checked G+ a few weeks ago, maybe it was a month. Oh well, so much for that one. Facebook will eventually do a MySpace, taking everyone’s cleverly crafted content out with it, but G+ won’t be the Facebook that does it. Or something like that.

Typing of Google, anyone else notice that Google has become much more aggressive about implicit substitution? I’m used to it autocorrecting typing, which actually led to ever more lazy typing, at least on my part. But I thought it always let me know when it was making a presumptive change. Search for [Congres] (using square brackets to denote the text box since “” has meaning in this context) and it used to note “Do you mean “Congress”" Yeah yeah, just fat-fingered the last letter, NP. Now it just silently corrects unless you use quotes. Maybe you actually wanted to find the “Hotel Du Congres.”

OK, annoying, but not fatal. But what is actually quite tedious is when you search for something slightly esoteric like ["white screen of death" client certificate]. 122,000 results. Whee. Oh, wait, most have nothing to do with client certificates – how can that be? ["white screen of death" "client" "certificate"] yields 367 results, almost all relevant. So for about 121,000 results Google assumes I just accidentally typed “client” and/or “certificate”? Those do not seem like common typos for [ ] (blank). If I went to all the trouble of typing out the words “client” and “certificate” does it not generally undermine the utility of a search function if it arbitrarily decides to ignore any inconvenient terms?

I find my self quote-forcing (["white screen of death" +client +certificate] yields the same 367 results) most of my searches. Since when did my search terms become optional? WTF Google? Search is the one thing you do well. Well, that and advertising. Please don’t break it. Trust me, if you blow search you are not going to make up the difference with Social Networking.

Update: I recently searched for a scholarly article to back an assumption that document collections stored in structured databases can be accessed faster than document collections stored in file systems.  I used the word “median” rather than “average” in my search, but clever Google knows the two are often synonyms and rather than limit my search to documents that use the typically academic “median,” I got almost entirely useless results referencing various colloquial “average” constructions.

posted at 01:37:41 more on... Negative,reviews,technology  

Monday, August 29, 2011

Lenovo System Update breaks Windows Update

An unfortunate series of events afflicted my poor Lenovo W500. At some point I started to get odd errors and ran sfc /scannow and found a large set of uncorrectable errors in a variety of packages. Nothing caused me too much trouble, so I ignored it. I kept hoping some giant windows update would overwrite all the broken bits and save me the trouble of debugging it, so I was happy when Win 7 Service Pack 1 was finally available – at 70-400MB it has to overwrite just about everything, but my happiness was short lived.

windows update broken.PNG

sfc scannow fail.PNG

Sadness… somewhere in the preamble updates something got hosed and a check of my disk showed bad blocks. Chkdisk confirmed it and it seemed a failing disk was likely the cause of many of my woes. I strapped as many belts and suspenders around the disk as I could – windows backup, clonezilla, copying files. Clonezilla couldn’t read all the blocks, so I had to use the recover option, but that version still had problems. Dang.

Windows recovery was fail, rollback, in place upgrade, system restore. All fail. Fine. Life sucks – reinstall from scratch and then reinstall all my applications. This is a huge pain in the ass, but windows just get sluggish in a year or so without a complete reinstall anyway; it isn’t like Microsoft cares whether you can get your work done or not, what are you going to do? Pay 100% style premium so The Steve can dictate what you can do? When choosing one evil empire over another, pick the cheapest.

So I do a reinstall from scratch. Windows reinstalls more than a few weeks out from the release of the OS are a monumental undertaking as the updates take forever. Bringing a windows 7 computer up to date takes between 1-1.5GB of updates, after installing a DVD’s worth of software. There’s the endless reboots as patches are installed and removed and whatever, multi-hour downloads. But eventually, you get a perfect, up-to-date OEM blessed configuration. Or so you think… duh duh duh.

I finished the whole mess, including the Lenovo System Update drivers and windows update stopped working and sfc /scannow gave me errors. Crappenfest. Reverting to the first system snapshot failed, uninstalling every single thing – all windows updates, all Lenovo updates was fail. Whatever did this can’t be fixed after it is done. You’re screwed.

Nothing to do but try again from scratch, this time paying attention and not using the computer at all until everything was installed, including anti-virus. Another 36 hours of updates later, same result. CRAPPENFEST.

How could that be? Some OEM/M$ update is breaking the system, and so began the hunt: reinstall from scratch #3. I used a binary search algo, saving disk images between each iteration so I wouldn’t have to do install from scratch 4. All windows update updates were fine, so the problem was with Lenovo. Updating only essential components was fail, restore windows. Installing just the really important bits one or two at a time (not quite binary splitting the install batch) got me through about half the useful lenovo updates, so time to create an image.

Reviewing the Device Manager, I saw 5 “?” devices – and searching around I found they were related to 3 drivers:

4-in-1 Card reader
Setup from “4in1″ folder

  • Base system device Ricoh Memory Stick controller
  • Base system device Ricoh SD/MMC host controller
  • Base system device Ricoh XD- picture card controller

the above 3 unknown devices in device manager will be resolved by the Ricoh cardreader drivers.

Turbo Memory
Some models may or may not have a turbo memory module.
To verify, open “device manager” and check for a unknown device listed as “PCI Memory Controller”.
If such a device is listed, then install the Turbo Memory driver via setup from “turbomem” folder.
You may see a hardware device install popup from systray.
Reboot is required.

If Intel’s Adaptive Management Technology is implemented in anenterprise enviroment, then the AMT drivers can be installed viasetup from the “AMT\MEI” folder.
If AMT is not employed, AMT can be disabled via Bios.
The drivers from the AMT setup will resolve the unknown devices within “device mananger”, the PCI Simple Communications Controller.

I install just those.


recover using windows system recovery tools (format disk, reinstall from image)

One of those three. AMT I don’t want anyway, so I tried to disable it in BIOS, but there were no entries in my BIOS for AMT so I just disabled it in device manager. ?->! np. I don’t trust it, too deep in the OS. This seems like the problem.

Install Ricoh, seems benign. Reboot, system works. Just Turbo Memory to go.

Turbo Memory is kind of cool, especially for a laptop. As Intel says:

The benefits of Intel Turbo Memory include:

  • Faster application load and run time when multi-tasking
  • Faster boot time
  • Lowers PC power consumption by reducing hard drive spin

It uses some special on the mobo Intel cache memory to speed up disk access like a hybrid SSD/Rotating disk. I want this to work ’cause it cost money to put in the computer. Since it had to be that evil AMT security thing, no problem. FAIL. The problem is Intel’s Turbo Memory driver. If you install it, you’re screwed. Now that I know what the problem is, I find I’m not the only one with it.

I tried both the Lenovo supplied Turbo Memory Driver and the Intel supplied one here . Both are fail. No Turbo Memory For You. There are some hints in forums that maybe Turbo Memory isn’t compatible with advanced format disk drives, so possibly replacing my older 500GB disk with a newer 700GB uncovered a latent incompatibility.

Given how much of a disaster installing it is–the only recovery method is to restore a previous disk image–I suppose that’s one feature of my MoBo that is obsolete now. Bummer. Ate just about a week of work time to find this little monster of a driver. Thanks WinTel.

(my sfc /scannow log was filled with entries like:

POQ 119 starts: 0: Move File: Source = [l:192{96}]"\SystemRoot\WinSxS\Temp\PendingRenames\a52557019366cc01d63500006c0a3c08._0000000000000000.cdf-ms", Destination = [l:104{52}]"\SystemRoot\WinSxS\FileMaps\_0000000000000000.cdf-ms" 1: Move File: Source = [l:162{81}]"\SystemRoot\WinSxS\Temp\PendingRenames58759019366cc01d73500006c0a3c08.$$.cdf-ms", Destination = [l:74{37}]"\SystemRoot\WinSxS\FileMaps\$$.cdf-ms" 2: Move File: Source = [l:224{112}]"\SystemRoot\WinSxS\Temp\PendingRenames58759019366cc01d83500006c0a3c08.$$_microsoft.net_3296b36dbe4c7fa3.cdf-ms", Destination = [l:136{68}]"\SystemRoot\WinSxS\FileMaps\$$_microsoft.net_3296b36dbe4c7fa3.cdf-ms" 3: Move File: Source = [l:244{122}]"\SystemRoot\WinSxS\Temp\PendingRenames\c6495e019366cc01d93500006c0a3c08.$$_microsoft.net_framework_83386eac0379231b.cdf-ms", Destination = [l:156{78}]"\SystemRoot\WinSxS\FileMaps\$$_microsoft.net_framework_83386eac0379231b.cdf-ms" 4: Move File: Source = [l:266{133}]"\SystemRoot\WinSxS\Temp\PendingRenames\26ab60019366cc01da3500006c0a3c08.$$_microsoft.net_framework_v2.0.50727_e9368840261e60ee.cdf-ms", Destination = [l:178{89}]"\SystemRoot\WinSxS\FileMaps\$$_microsoft.net_framework_v2.0.50727_e9368840261e60ee.cdf-ms" 5: Move File: Source = [l:288{144}]"\SystemRoot\WinSxS\Temp\PendingRenames\860c63019366cc01db3500006c0a3c08.$$_microsoft.net_framework_v2.0.50727_redistlist_2e6ab8b35e9ef953.cdf-ms", Destination = [l:200{100}]"\SystemRoot\WinSxS\FileMaps\$$_microsoft.net_framework_v2.0.50727_redistlist_2e6ab8b35e9ef953.cdf-ms"

POQ 119 ends.

posted at 17:12:45 more on... Negative,technology  

Tuesday, June 28, 2011


The Department of State is proposing a new questionnaire as a precondition of getting a US passport. If the applicant is a newborn it might not be too much of a burden, but for an adult it reads like it was written by George Orwell.

If you’re a grown up and considering getting a passport, you should check in at the comment site or just email and let DoS know that their estimate of 45 minutes to gather the required information is probably off by a couple of years.

A few of the questions, which I swear I am not making up:

5. List your mother's residence one year before your birth:

6. List your mother's residence at the time of your birth:

7. List your mother's residence one year after your birth:

8. Mother's place of employment at the time of your birth:

- Dates of employment:

- Name of employer:

- Address of employer:

9. Did your mother receive pre-natal or post-natal medical care?

- Name of Doctor:

- Dates of appointments:

10. What type of document, if any, did your mother use to enter into the United States before your birth?

11. Please describe the circumstances of your birth including the names (as well as address and phone number, if available) of persons present or in attendance at your birth:

Section D

Please list all of your residences inside and outside of the United States starting with your birth until the present.

Section E

Please list all of your current and former places of employment in the United States and abroad.

Section G

I declare under penalty of perjury that all responses contained in this document are true and correct, to the best of my knowledge.

False statements made knowingly and willfully in passport applications or in affidavits or other supporting documents submitted therewith are
punishable by fine and/or imprisonment under the provisions of 18 U.S.C. 1001 and/or 18 U.S.C. 1542.

This is so far beyond idiotic, so completely utterly absurd, that I’m tempted to believe that someone is pulling a hoax in releasing the document to get people riled up, like claiming there will be death panels or some stupid fabricated outrage like that. I suppose filling in “I’m sorry, but my memory of the circumstances three months before I was a zygote is a little hazy these days” would at least be true and correct, but might not lead to quick issuance of a passport. It is not just the flabbergasting stupidity of asking questions that no adult could possibly answer, but questions that utterly irrelevant to providing a passport that is galling.  Dear DoS: derp?

posted at 15:59:26 more on... Negative,politics,reviews,travel   Geotag Icon Map It

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Hand dryer FAIL

Gross standing water filled with soap scum, bacteria, and stink is hardly a hygienic improvement.


posted at 20:24:45 more on... Negative,odd,planes,reviews,travel   Geotag Icon Map It

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

eat pray love

I get the Julia Roberts is a hot chick, even at her current age, but why… why are they showing Eat Pray Love on the airplane? She’s pretty enough, but the “eat” part is disgusting. Close ups of people eating is a standard trope for illustrating how revolting the super villain is, not a mechanism to make the pretty people seem sensual.

OK, maybe an ice cube is sensual, but stuffing pizza in a huge mouth on screen is just gross. No wonder the movie failed; without sound, this whole movie is Julia Roberts stuffing her gigantic mouth.

posted at 20:36:32 more on... films,Negative,reviews   Geotag Icon Map It

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Rental Cadillac DTS

Wtf? Another Caddy? They drive OK, but what is up with the mid-90s vintage entertainment system? Analog in only? American cars always have really crappy music navigation interfaces, but even low-end cars with the janky microsoft sync interface at least can read off a 2GB FAT USB stick (no larger).

If you’re trying to compete with Mercedes an Infinity, you have to be able to read at least a FAT32 file system if not an ipod and usefully navigate folders and playlists.

posted at 11:07:28 more on... Negative,photo,rental cars,reviews   Geotag Icon Map It
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