General Musing

I just completed one of the easiest – and most frightening – things you can do on your computer. I updated my BIOS, so that my computer can take advantage of some of the new hardware that’s out there.   What is the BIOS?  Colloquially, it’s the “master chip” for your computer.  It’s that screen you see when you first turn on your computer, where it detects everything your computer has, then boots your main operating system.  It’s actually easy to update it.  You download a small program from your computer/motherboard manufacturer, and run it.  It erases the old information on the chip and writes the new.  Takes about a minute or so.  Why is it frightening?  Because it’s the easiest way to turn your computer into a paperweight if it goes wrong.  I’ve seen people do it, in case you’re wondering.  Since I’m writing this, it went right.

One of the other things I’ve been doing recently is playing with my newest operating system:  Ubuntu 11.10, also known as Oneiric Ocelot. Yes, they name their operating system versions after animals.   This is a Linux operating system, and really is one of the easiest to install and use right out of the box.  It comes with most of the things you’d need standard:  A web browser, e-mail, messaging package, a complete office package (LibreOffice), music player, media player, photo organizer, etc.  You can – and I recommend this – run it together with Windows, using the “Wubi” installer.  That puts it as an Add/Remove Program in Windows Control Panel, and you can choose which one to go to when you turn on your computer.   You can also run it off a CD or a USB stick.  Some things to remember, though: This is NOT WINDOWS!  This is a different operating system.  The benefit is that it’s free.   That said, it’s remarkably easy to use, and it comes with a nice “Software center” of  programs you can try.

If you ever thought it was simply American liberals who complain about high executive pay, this report from the BBC shows that it’s not just us. The reality is that while workers pay has remained flat – even declined – in real terms over the past few decades, executive pay has climbed far above that, even beyond what could be pointed to as “value added” to their companies.     In fact, it often seems their compensation is totally divorced from their performance.  Look, I have no objection to people making good money.  Heck, if you can take a company that was losing money or doing poorly and turn into a highly profitable, stable company, great, you deserve to be paid for that.  But it seems that’s not the case in many instances.   You have extraordinarily highly-paid people running companies into the ground, or getting nowhere, then being paid large sums to go away.   That doesn’t strike me as “talent.”

I recommend Jonathan Chait’s article on “liberal disappointment.” :

Here is my explanation: Liberals are dissatisfied with Obama because liberals, on the whole, are incapable of feeling satisfied with a Democratic president. They can be happy with the idea of a Democratic president—indeed, dancing-in-the-streets delirious—but not with the real thing. The various theories of disconsolate liberals all suffer from a failure to compare Obama with any plausible baseline. Instead they compare Obama with an imaginary president—either an imaginary Obama or a fantasy version of a past president.

Bolding mine.  I’ve said that here as well, on a number of occasions.   Seriously, it’s apparent none of them bothered to read the platform, or look back at the actual history of various “liberal icons” as presidents.  If they were discussing baseball, they’d be the people who would tell you that Babe Ruth really sucked as a baseball player.  After all, he struck out over 3 out of every 5 times, and lost a third of his games as a pitcher.

In the category of “things government does that gets taken for granted, until it’s being taken away”  is this story about stream gauges.  These are devices installed by the US Geological Survey to measure water height and flow in various streams around the country, providing real-time information on streams and lakes.  The data they provide is used by construction engineers for roads and bridges, emergency response personnel, scientists, recreational groups, and a number of others.  Unfortunately, they cost money to operate, and the USGS budget was cut, so there’s not enough to operate all of them.   It’s not meeting with joy, to put mildly.

I see a lot of stories like this, from around the country.  It’s easy to say “cut government.”  It’s easy to say “cut spending.”  The hard part is when people realize that it means them, or something they take as a given goes away.   That means businesses as well.  Think about how many depend on weather reports – generated by the government.  Think about how many need roads or bridges.  All of those are being impacted by cuts by the federal government.  So if you’re bitching about “big government” and “spending,” and your bridge falls down or the road is crappy, don’t complain.  You didn’t get a warning about a flood or a storm?  You asked for that.

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4 Comments

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4 responses to “General Musing

  1. I have had a BIOS failure turn a computer into a boat anchor … it was technically too large for a paperweight. I had a set of 4 idential computers (model, BIOS, memory, everything) and I needed to upgrade the BIOS to allow me to put Windows 2000 on them. The first two computers went perfectly. The third failed and could not be revived. And then I had to decide if I wanted to risk the 4th. I did and it worked fine. I ended up finding another computer for that client as a replacement for the one I bricked (on my nickel).

    The Chait article is very good. My favorite line:

    There is a catchphrase, which you’ve probably seen on bumper stickers or T-shirts, that captures the reason liberals have trouble maintaining political power: “Stop bitching, start a revolution.” At first blush it sounds constructive. If you consider it for a moment, though, the line assumes that there are two modes of political behavior, bitching and revolution. Since the glorious triumph of revolution never really pans out, eventually you’ll return to the alternative, bitching. But there is a third option that lies between the two—the ceaseless grind of politics.

    The ceaseless grind of politics is boring. But it is where stuff gets done.

    • I never did it myself (thankfully), but I’ve seen it happen. My favorite was the self-described “supertech” 🙄 who bought 3 motherboards from me – 2 new, 1 salvaged. At his request, I found and made disks containing all the newest drivers and bios updates for his motherboards. Why he couldn’t do that himself? Because the only person who thought he was a supertech was himself. 😆 I told him when I handed him the disks “for gods sake, make sure that you have the right disk for the motherboard when you run the bios update!” Which he rolled his eyes, said “yeah, yeah, yeah” and went off.

      The next day I got a chastened phone call asking me if I knew how to recover a bricked bios. Yes, he had just thrown the first disk he had in and ran it without checking. There is a way to do it, but it’s a pain in the butt. You need either an EPROM programmer or an identical motherboard. Neither one of which I had, and no, I wasn’t interested in getting them. 😉 He didn’t get his money back, either (he asked). 😆

  2. Woke up with some insomnia in the middle of the night and decided to read some blogs. I got out of the habit of reading yours, something I regret. I’ve been reading your recent posts and enjoying them. I am not going to repeat the mistake of neglecting your blog again!