Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Windows 10 and Other Stuff

We are now officially a Windows 10 household. My PC was force-upgraded several weeks ago after I told Microsoft emphatically that my system was NOT to be upgraded. But Microsoft upgraded it anyway. I could have rolled back, but as I had planned on upgrading while it was still free to do so, I let this violation of my personal property stand. I mean, life in these united States is nothing but an endless grab-your-ankles-and-stick-your-ass-in-the-air operation anyway, so what's one more insult?

The change was mostly painless. Windows 10 is ugly as sin as everything was made big and square to accommodate the twelve remaining Windows Phone users. The start menu now has some insipid Life at a Glance thing that currently tells me that it's Tuesday the 19th, and that some Twitter twit going by the handle "Lesdoggg" feels like he is in a personal hell. There are several blank blue squares implying that I'm missing out on Something Very Important.  Oh, and SHOPPING!!! I'm sure there is some way to make all that go away, but frankly I don't often use the start menu much now that I can pin important programs to the task bar. (And if they are not important, then why are they on my system in the first place?) So over all, no worse than some Microsoft "upgrades" and much less painful than many in the past.

That left us with one Win10 PC (mine) and one Win7 PC (Debbie's work PC). We had already told her work they needed to get their crap together and upgrade the office prior to July 29 unless they planned on paying the $100 to upgrade after that. Debbie has been periodically bugging them for months while the owners of the company have been pointedly ignoring her. Then a couple weeks ago, one of them finally admitted that a PC in the office had been force upgraded around the same time my PC was, and the world didn't end. Last weekend, we made the plunge and finally gave Microsoft permission to do its worst. At first, I thought that there was a roll-back in our future. Debbie has two screens on her PC, with the second one running off an external display adapter that plugs into a USB port. Windows 10 didn't know what to do with it. It was in the Device Manager. The driver was installed, up-to-date and running properly, but Windows insisted there was only one monitor on the system. Disabled and enabled the driver. No joy. Uninstalled and reinstalled the driver. Nada. Started poking around in Google and came across a discussion board thread that mentioned a cleaner tool from the display adapter manufacturer. Downloaded and ran that, then rebooted. Windows found and installed the driver automatically during boot-up and all was well. The driver was identical, across all four dots of the version number, to the one that Windows was running after the upgrade, which was identical, across all four dots of the version number, to the one that I had downloaded and installed.

Three decades later, the first rule of Windows still applies: When in doubt, reboot. Sheesh.

Everything seemed to work other than the VPN connection to the company office, but we already knew that would need to be tweaked to get it working 100%. It's now near the end of Day 2 and all seems well other than a few UI issues like audible notifications for Office 365. We'll get those ironed out over the next couple days while I'm off work.

Next up is upgrading the PC's in the lodge office. I'll probably tackle those over the weekend while I'm the only one in the office. My PC is non-critical, so that one will go first. The two PC's are identical hardware (or as identical as any purchased PC is these days), so if all goes well with the one on my desk, I'll take a crack at the Administrator PC. That one has several mission-critical apps running on it, so it'll be squeaky-tight-sphincter time while I'm running the upgrade. But I've been assured by the best tech minds in Moose International that there won't be a problem. Heh.

Speaking of sticking your ass in the air, I wonder if the blacks currently agitating for (or actively participating in) a race war understand just how out-numbered and out-gunned blacks are in the US? I see a couple possible outcomes if this continues. One, black urban areas are simply abandoned leaving the black populous to fend for themselves without cops, firefighters, utilities, etc. This has largely happened already in Detroit. If cops and whites shooting blacks is a problem, not having cops or whites in majority black areas will solve that problem quite nicely. Sure, there may be other problems as a result, but if there ain't no cops or whites, then blacks will no longer be shot by cops or whites, assuming blacks stay where they belong. This is the optimistic outcome.

The second, more pessimistic, outcome is some line is crossed and whites begin the systematic extermination of young, urban black males. Anyone who thinks I'm nuts for considering such a thing as a possibility really needs to read some history. No need to go digging too far in the past. In just the last 150 years, we have Armenia, the Holocaust, Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia, Darfur... well, you get the idea. Those responsible for killing people in any of those places, and the dozens I didn't list, are just like you and me. They are not some sub-human species. They are not necessarily brain damaged or mentally ill. They are just like the hundreds of people you walk by every day and don't give a second thought about. John Shanahan was right: civilization is a thin veneer over barbarianism. And the veneer is looking a bit worn lately.

I'm sure this will come as a shock to those who make a habit of reading this site, but I generally assume the worst. I'm told that makes me "sick" and I really need to think differently, but the rare occasions when I have gone into a situation assuming the best of all possible worlds have, without exception, ended in bitter disappointment. I'd much rather go through life being pleasantly surprised that everything doesn't suck as hard as I assumed it would. The only downside to my worldview is when the universe manages to suck even harder than my most pessimistic expectations:

So oil prices have surged from their low earlier this year, though they bounced off the apparent ceiling of just over $50 a barrel. Natural gas prices too have surged. Yet, four more E&P companies with $1.5 billion in combined debt filed for bankruptcy in June, according to Haynes and Boone’s Oil Patch Bankruptcy Monitor:

  • Warren Resources ($486 million in total debt, including $180 million unsecured)
  • Tauren Exploration ($23 million in debt)
  • Maxus Energy ($295 million in debt, all unsecured)
  • Triangle USA Petroleum ($692 million in total debt, including $382 million unsecured)

This brought E&P bankruptcies tracked by Haynes and Boone in the US and Canada to 43 filings in the first half of 2016, involving $40 billion in debt – of which $30 billion is unsecured.

I expected the fracking bubble to keep leaking air in 2016. I didn't expect this. In one month, $30 billion just poofed out of existence. I wonder how much of that was in retirees pension funds and 401K's? On a personal level, we received yet-another letter from some energy company we've never heard of who now owns the gas wells we get a small chunk of income from. This makes the fourth company since we left Michigan. And if there has been a "surge" in natural gas prices, we certainly haven't seen any of it. Our payments have gotten so small, we don't even bother entering them into the checkbook until it's time to do a bank reconciliation.

Almost time for us to head up to the lodge for some Special Doin's, so I'll stop.

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