Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Problems posting comments to this blog
UPDATE: Problems continue to persist into 2010, but Internet Explorer and Opera browsers appear to work reliably. Comments can't be published with Firefox and, ironically, Google's own Chrome browser because the comment input section is not rendered properly.
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
Asus G1S: Cold failing NVIDIA Geforce 8600GT
I bought an Asus G1S notebook about a year ago from Best Buy. I have been very happy with it other than the notebook will not boot to the desktop on cold days.
All overclockers know that the key to achieving high frequencies is keeping the part cool. Consequently, producing aftermarket computer component thermal solutions has become a sizable industry unto itself.
Less well known is that many semiconductor devices have a distinct cold limit as well. In fact, some devices will not function unless they are hot. Semiconductor device manufacturer have to ensure that these "cold failures" do not occur within normal operating temperatures.
My Asus G1S will not boot to the desktop if the room temperature is lower than 70 degrees Fahrenheit. The failure occurs when the GPU is initialized for desktop compositing engines like Vista's Aero or Compiz in Linux. Particularly for Aero, as soon as video initialization is attempted, the notebook either freezes or spontaneously reboots (Compiz might limp along for a few seconds before locking up).
If the room temperature is only a degree or two cooler than 70, the notebook will eventually warm up enough to reach the desktop, but if the ambient temperature is much lower than 65 then the notebook will enter a perpetual reboot cycle, if it doesn’t lock up first.
This is especially annoying when resuming from S3 or waking from hibernation, since rebooting totally defeats the timesaving aspects of these measures and could potentially corrupt files.
So apparently NVIDIA had, at least for a little while, a hole in their screening process that allowed for cold failure test escapes. Since the failures begin to manifest just below room temperature, it looks like NVIDIA did not test under cold conditions using a refrigerated thermal head, which is an odd screening omission.
I don’t want to infer that this is a widespread, serious issue, because there does not appear to be many cases of this failure in the wild. I’m simply recounting my personal and apparently rare experience with the NVIDIA Geforce 8600 GT in my Asus G1S.
Although I first witnessed the failure soon after I purchased the notebook, I procrastinated until my warranty almost expired before returning the G1S for repair. Best Buy provides warranty service for Asus, so after I backed up all of my data and reinstalled Vista from scratch, Kathy took my notebook to them about two weeks ago. The “Geek Squad” sent me an email last week reporting that they are currently awaiting parts. The only viable repairs that come to mind are either mainboard replacement or a new notebook. We’ll see. I miss the G1S since I used the notebook daily.
In the meantime, Kathy bought me an early birthday present -- my birthday is not until March 22, but who am I to complain? -- components for an AMD Phenom II system as an upgrade for my two year old Dell Core2Duo E6600 desktop.
Yeah, it’s not like my old reviewing days when companies would literally send me more free computer hardware than I knew what to do with. But Kathy bought a great collection of components including a Cooler Master HAF, a really fantastic case for a geek like me. The Phenom II also has exceeded my expectations, providing stout performance while consuming little power.
It’s smoothly running 64-bit Ubuntu 8.10. I’ve installed VirtualBox and will run XP from it and Vista from an e-SATA drive that I will take back and forth to work where I have an identical test system.
Speaking of NVIDIA, the economic apocalypse overtaking the world now is going to rapidly bring down broad swaths of familiar companies. The computing industry is already hurting. I made a prediction earlier this year that a major player will be on the brink of collapse by 2010. It won't be NVIDIA.
Three computer hardware vendors that will still have a pulse come next year are Intel, NVIDIA and VIA. These are times of great hardship for AMD, I am afraid. But that is a story for another sleepless night.
Friday, February 20, 2009
Thursday, February 19, 2009
Sunday, February 15, 2009
Saturday, February 14, 2009
Friday, February 13, 2009
Somewhat more than you'd think.
During the season that they molt,
They all seem sad in sync.
If you feed them eggs and potatoes,
They'll turn to black and white.
They'll eat fifteen to twenty minutes
All day and most of the night.
They make up most of their songs,
Yet they borrow ten percent.
Tis a shame we think they mock the songs
When they make melody as God has meant.
Flora Smith - Age 11
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
D.C. to have it's own house member makes me wonder what sort of grand ideas they will contribute to running the rest of the country.
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
Essential Free Windows Programs
Whenever I load a box with Windows, I usually install the following programs.
- OpenOffice: OpenOffice 3 has become a very polished alternative to Microsoft Office.
- Firefox: With additional addons, Firefox is the best browser available.
- Irfanview: Irfanview is a great image viewer that also boasts a number of handy editing features. Be sure to also install the plugins.
- K-Lite Codec Pack Full: This software bundle includes a long list of useful media players and codecs.
- Notepad++: You will only use Notepad by accident once you try Notepad++.
- Filezilla: If you need a powerful and easy to use FTP client, Filezilla is a good choice. I also always install WinSCP.
- Lazarus: Lazarus is an Open Source cross platform version of Delphi.
- Peazip: Developed in Lazarus, Peazip is a flexible archiving tool.
- aMSN: Featuring webcam and voice support and working on Linux, aMSN is the best alternative to Microsoft Messenger -- and it is advertising free. Don't forget the plugins.
- Qt4: If you download the version with mingw bundled with Qt4, you'll have one of the most power C++ development toolkits around. Although Qt integrates well with the popular Eclipse IDE, QDevelop is faster and easier to use. To get debug features to work, you must install gdb.
- KDE 4.2: It is now possible to install the KDE 4.2 Desktop inside of Windows giving you access to a lot of powerful KDE applications.
- MySQL: MySQL is a rich and highly polished Open Source relational database that can be accessed from network locations. Also take a close look at the slick utilities that are available like MySQL GUI Tools and MySQL Workbench. If you plan to code and interface for MySQL, you may want the ODBC connector. And don't forget Ruby. HeidiSQL is very nice.
- GIMP: No, it's not just like Photoshop, but the GIMP is still a great photo editing package.
- Gnumeric: This is a good spreadsheet that handles data pasted from other applications very well.
- VirtualBox: VirtualBox is a great product for installing operating systems within operating systems. The virtualized environment can then be run on any computer powerful enough to handle it. VirtualBox is also cross platform.
- Thunderbird: While the editor is still clunky and primative, Thunderbird is probably the best free email client available.
- Komposer and BlueGriffon: These are decendents of Nvu, a WYSIWYG HTML editor.
- ActivePerl: This is an outstanding perl implementation for Windows.
- FreeCommander: FreeCommander is probably the best free file browsing utility for Windows outside of the KDE world.
- WinMerge: Although there are several very good, free file and folder comparison and merging tools for Linux, the Windows world is not as blessed. Thankfully, WinMerge exists and it is a super program. FreeCommander, above, also has helpful folder comparison features.
Wednesday, February 4, 2009
England's Porritt with an unapologetic "two child limit on British couples" sites the impact on the environment as the problem. United States's House Speaker, Pelosi, offers a subsidized "tax-payer child prevention" plan "... to deal with the consequences of the downturn in our economy.” Where is the population growth in both these countries? IMMIGRATION. The CIA World Factbook sites these statistics for United States immigration and Great Britian immigration.numbers. Excluded are illegal immigration numbers. So, why are two high-ranking political figures in highly industrialized democratic countries calling for government intervention to reduce their own populations?
Living about five-million years after the dinosaurs were wiped out by an errant bolide (or, more likely, several bollides), the serpent ruled a Columbian jungle during a period when earth was much hotter than today.
Dr. Trent Pierce, Chairman of the Arkansas State Medical Board was injured when his car caught fire. Mechanical failure of his Lexus hybrid is suspected.
Update: CNN now reports explosive device evidence has been found.
Tuesday, February 3, 2009
Population growth in Britain is occurring primarily through immigration. Statistics provided in the linked headline article reveal that British nationals have a fertility rate of 1.7; that's not a number that makes for growth. Fortunately, this editorial takes Jonathon Porritt, Chair of the British government’s Sustainable Development Commission, to task for the atrocious idea of limiting Brit couples to two children.
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