Thanks, Google Chrome — I Wanted to Spend Friday Night Troubleshooting

I’ll just be brief here. I have had a recurring issue for a LONG time, wherein my wifi connection drops and will not come back. I am using time-honored troubleshooting methodology such as powering everything down from the keyboard to the wall, and then powering up from the wall to the keyboard; re-booting three times (language warning), and periodically staring at the resource monitor while swearing and pulping a potato in each hand.

First the web goes dark with sites not loading (not resolving, technically), and then the whole machine gets bogged down.  Even after shutting down Chrome, it still has tens of processes sucking up processor power, RAM, network, or a combination.  Sometimes quitting Chrome will help, but usually not.  I found a culprit that I’m not used to seeing, taking up fifteen percent of CPU while everything else (including habitual offenders like Skype, Chrome, and of course System, which pays its own way no problem) each had less than one percent.  This new thing is called “software_reporter_tool.exe”, and I smelled a rat!

Long story short — IT’S ALSO CHROME!  This unwanted, uninvited, inalterable and immortal piece of crapware is tool that Google uses to scan for any software issues which might jack with your Chrome install.  This is good and bad.  First off, we do not want major software providers to write and forget, to wipe their hands of the problems they cause.  This was Microsoft’s approach until the XP business got dastardly.  Windows XP SP2 and SP3 marked inadequate but well-intended efforts to in-house some responsibility, if not competence, for anti-malware and pro-security tasks.  So I get where Google is coming from with this — the software_reporter_tool (let’s just call it “stool” for short) looks for very bad problems indeed, like malware that hijacks your browser, grabs your credit card and login info, reads your mail steals your keystrokes, re-directs you to Chinese/Nigerian/Chicago scam sites, and so forth.  Google is doing the responsible thing here.  There is a problem, however.

The problem is that this thing is set to run once a week (rumor has it), cannot be deleted, mutilated, or blocked* without just being replaced the very next time Chrome takes an update.  And it KILLS my system.  I don’t want *anything* to run whenever it wants, regardless of what I’m doing, which will absorb so much system resources that I get blasted off the web.  I have a theory as to why my internet connection dies and will not come back when this thing runs.  I think that even though Chrome has 52 threads running in one process and 40 running in another, and still requires another 50 threads to run The Stool, it locks up when I try to navigate to a URL that needs resolution.  I believe, with no particular tech savviness, that the browser offloads a DNS request to a WIndows subsystem somewhere, and that process hangs waiting for a response — it blocks everything else the process is doing.  And I think that the Stool process gets to block other Chrome processes, all 90-odd threads.  That’s a lot of junk halted on the way to the processor.  Annnnnd even if the response comes back from DNS, there’s now nobody home to process it.

My theory.


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The King is Probably Dead

The King is probably dead! Long live the King!

My beloved early 2013 HP Envy, which has literally been through a war zone, will give up the ghost at some point. I have already replaced it twice (three times if you count re-incarnation), once with an HP tablet-hinge-PC thing which black screens occasionally, so I never moved aboard, and once with this magnificent Microsoft Surface 5, which brings me to you today. I have run this machine as a power traveler, never intending for it to become the one-and-only. It is my main machine, but I don’t have any games or novelty software. This one hosts Scrivener writing, a Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) version of Ubunyu (text-only, which is the goal), and some goodies such as PuTTY and FileZilla. The old HP has my Oracle VirtualBoxen, some DosBoxen, World of Tanks (a huge install with the potential to be full of whatever spyware or malware might come through), Audacity, a huge variety of toy-and-project software, and what seems like every browser known to man. It also hosts a ton of media.

The fan gets off-center sometimes, which can be re-centered with a single well-placed tap on the far right corner of the thing. The c key quit working reliably two years ago, and that machine has sat with an external kb and mouse (which I prefer anyway) since then. It never leaves home anymore.

I use VirtualBox to play with: DOS, CP/M-86, SLAX, Haiku, and various tiny/damned small distributions of Linux for experimenting.

INSPIRATION! Work experience meets home, and playing meets problems — I want to clone my old HP’s Windows7 system onto a virtual disk, and let the hardware go. This is called a physical-to-virtual (p2v) migration, and it worked miracles in the office several years ago.  I’ve been playing with the VirtualBox software again recently, and am now much smarter on the whole thing.  What I *think* I would like to do is archive a copy of the system, and run an active copy on a USB3/4 HDD, and see if the performance increase of the more modern systems can overcome the obvious penalties of 1) virtualization, and 2) running an OS from USB.

I have never used Windows’ Hyper-V (a virtualization host, similar to VirtualBox), which promises near-full-speed execution of virtual machines so long as the host and guest are both windows.   On the other hand, if I go with VirtualBox, I can set up on a Linux box and oh, finally get re-established with decent backups. Been running naked for a while, which is *not good*.

So I need to select a file format, and a virtualization system. Having done some reading, the speediness of Windows Hyper-V is not all that it’s cracked up to be *unless* you just need to run servers. Why would servers be more simple? Because servers typically run a limited number of applications, and support a limited set of hardware options. Ideally, each server should be a one-trick pony working in the self-described fashion of the immortal Doctor Charles Emerson Winchester (played by the late David Ogden Stiers on the TV series M*A*S*H) — “do one thing at a time, do it *very* well, and then move on”. Look at all the stuff that you have on your own PC. No server would ever have that much stuff on it. And so they are not prepared to handle that much by design — servers are *simple*, and so it’s easier to support them in much greater depth than a regular old Window10 PC. That’s what the Hyper-V is really designed for — so at any rate it has fallen from my list to things to consider. VMWare is good and free, VirtualBox is good and free, and I already know a thing or two about VirtualBox. Simple enough. And now I know the file format to use is either VHD or VDI. VHD is limited to 64GB, and is supported natively by the windows program Disk2VHD.exe, which will take my PC and slap it into the virtual afterlife. VDI is VirtualBox’s native format, but I’ve never used it, knowing absolutely nothing about these things until today’s reading. There are converters for the file formats, but that all remains to be seen. Therefore my strategy is to lighten the ship as much as possible, removing bulky media collections to attached media before virtualizing the old HP. Then see if maybe I should cross-install some application (like the bulky World of Tanks) to another partition, in order to set up virtualizing those partitions as separate (each one gets me another 64GB) disks for the virtual machine.

Yup. BUT FIRST: make backups of EVERYTHING involved. The last time I tried to rescue a system, a few years ago, the newer, more powerful machine DOING the rescue gave up the ghost. Someday I’ll get back to that — Heck, someday I’ll tell you the story — but for now I remain to disgusted by the whole thing to even unbox the whole mess. So step 1: make backups. And I already did Step 0 last night: bought storage for bulky media so it doesn’t clutter up my backups. Bulky media stuff, after all, belongs on a server.

If I meet with spectacular success, I will be able to play World of Tanks on my Windows10 Surface by running a VM on a USB drive with my old Window7 install on it. Moderate success will be getting the 7 system virtualized and the media collected elsewhere. The bare minimums will be a complete backup of the 7 system, and an updated backup of the Surface.

EOF


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Another Air France 447, This Time over Portugal — Landed Safely

Here’s a harrowing story:


From the video’s description:

“The aircraft departed from Alverca Air Base (LPAR) where it arrived on 02/OCT/2018 for a Class C inspection/maintenance in the OGMA facilities.
The aircraft landed safely at Beja Airport (LPBJ) escorted by two F-16s of the Portuguese Air Force that were scrambled from Monte Real Air Base (LPMR).
Stay tuned for PART #2 which has some communications with these fighters.”

There’s a second video to be released soon. Spoiler, there’s no crash and the situation seems to get better toward the end of this (the first) video. I’ll link to the second video here when I see it.  Here is the second video, with a hat tip to ctlaw for posting it in the comments below:

————
Right away, I’m thinking gyro tumbled. His gyro is turning left at a variable rate. I believe there is nothing wrong with the aircraft as a flying machine, and it is responding to their inputs. But the pilots and the autopilot make bad inputs based on bad instrument readings. This is like AF447 all over again.
How is it that nobody does the troubleshooting of ASKING HIM TO REPORT HIS HEADING on a continuing basis?
The aircraft is NOT “totally uncontrollable” or it would have crashed a long time ago (assuming random inputs and inability to trim it up right based on bad instruments.
My guess is that when they finally are able to fly long distances along a decent heading — they were following lights on the ground, which of course were unavailable due to ex in this first video. Mark my words. I’ll eat my hat if there was anything wrong with this aircraft besides a gyro (or the equivalent).

The tower was worse than useless in this. How can they not notice that FROM THE BEGINNING, the aircraft’s reported course is not what they see on the screens? Maybe they’re not watching this same picture, but an aircraft with a mayday can be tracked by a GREASE PENCIL on the screen. “I am climbing through 4000 ft on heading 030” says the aircraft going 150. I believe that altitude is reported by the aircraft to the ground, but the ground radar tracks the range and azimuth; it knows what course the plane is actually making good over ground.
So in addition to the usual automation-dependent pilot mode of failure, the tower did not help them break out of their understandably over-focused point of view in the cockpit. At least AF 447 had the excuse of not being tracked by anybody.

Here’s more on the AF447 debacle, in which an experienced crew stalled a perfectly flyable jumbo jet from 40,000 feet right down to zero.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Air_France_Flight_447

A feature in the AF447 incident and, I SUBMIT, in this one as well is cognitive capture:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inattentional_blindness#Cognitive_capture

Cognitive capture or, cognitive tunneling, is an inattentional blindness phenomenon in which the observer is too focused on instrumentation, task at hand, internal thought, etc. and not on the present environment. For example, while driving, a driver focused on the speedometer and not on the road is suffering from cognitive capture.

EOF


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Why I Feel Good About This Election

I am a sturdy fan of Bayesian inference.  This means we get to think like grown-ups, taking recent experience into account, rather than treating every event as if it were a tidy disjoint probability.

The same electorate and issues from 2016 are very much with us in 2018. That is our most recent data point.  And since the politicians, pollsters, and pundits got it so wrong in 2016, their poor reliability is also the most recent data point.

So I feel good.


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Science, Anecdotes, and Man at Yale

There is a process to science — the process *is* the science — and anything which is not that process is not science. Now the results of science — a particular body of knowledge — is frequently wrong, but there are methods within science to rectify these things. Opinion is not science, although the two can inform each other. Just as opinion has BS filters, so does science, and the two do not have a full-duplex trust relationship, to mix AND mangle an analogy or three. The IPCC can have as many scientists as it likes vote on a thing at a panel, and that still does not make it science — that is opinion. Science does not claim an omniscient infallibility, although many argue under its aegis as though it did. This is not good for either side in any debate. Science presents us a body of knowledge which is the best it can be at a given point in time, subject to being reproducible *or falsifiable* by anybody interested enough. Not that reproducibility does not confer confirmation. It just fails to falsify. In the real world, we understand that nothing is absolutely certain, and that as close as we can get is going to have to be good enough. Falsification is sufficient to change my opinion. Other people’s opinions, not so much.

Anecdotal stories which rely upon an ever-present third party linking the tale-teller to the object of the tale handily omit the third-party from questioning, and from results.  While the good-faith teller of the tale implicitly trusts the third-party, the rest of us are under no compunction to do so.  Rather, anybody forwarding a point may expect intelligent conversation to get around to assessing the piece-wise validity of the chain of custody — so to speak — of the facts in the tale.  It is good manners to challenge and question not only points made, but people making points.  Unassailable sources such as my uncle’s sister-in-law who knows about these things may very well be spot-on, but they are beyond the reach of the conversation.  They cannot be questioned directly.  Frequently, the tale-teller must stand in, and offers his own reputation as collateral.  This is rarely productive, and leads to a personal involvement in representing pedestrian claims as gospel.  Many times, a probationary act of faith is undertaken by the listener, a gentle assumption of not only good faith on the teller’s part, but of competence in maintaining the integrity of the chain of custody which brought these facts into our conversation.  Literally’ for argument’s sake the underlying support is assumed to be good so that we may debate the issue as presented.  But it is still right and good, even good manners, to challenge the support for that argument, and at times, the veracity of the tale-teller, if presented with inappropriate resistance to kicking the tires on the car for sale.

I got nothing on Yale.


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Pilot Waves: a Gentle Introduction

Here’s an annoying but remarkably informative short on the whole “particle/wave duality” problem, and the foundation of the double-slit experiment:

Here’s a short on de Broglie (“de broy”) waves.

Finally, here is an epic video on an human-scale analog to pilot waves, which is the thing that de Broglie shied away from.  But he may have been right all along.  I subscribe to this guy, and saw this video about two years ago:

Bombs Away

Rhetorical bombs, that is.  I’m glad they caught the guy who allegedly sent bombs recently, and I understand he is supposed to be some sort of right-wing kook.  Sending bombs is bad, m’kay?

And this changes nothing.  The media can hardly be bothered when their leftist friends shoot, beat, intimidate, hound, and eject my people.  Now we’re all supposed to take a minute on the fainting couches and reconsider electing this President?  Not hardly.

I dare you to step in front my car, Antifa.


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Lincoln and Party

The Republican Party owes its very existence to a bunch of bomb-tossing ideologues who refused to accept the direction of an increasingly out-of-touch party, its forebear, the Whig party. Lincoln had been a Whig, but was part of the exodus, and had re-established himself as a member of the new Republican Party. Abraham Lincoln’s hinge-of-fate speech was his magnificent House Divided speech, delivered when he had merely been selected as his party’s candidate for the U.S. Senate.

His speech was in the context of slavery, but that was more like the working fluid of an engine, where the engine itself was the problem. This speech is primarily an accusation of wide-ranging, conspiracy such as the Democrat-media complex presents today — they need not coordinate — they think in the same direction, work toward the same goals, and understand an obligation to rescue a comrade in trouble. He actually referred to the conspiracy of judges, legislators, governors, and even the President as “a piece of machinery,” designed to deliver an understood policy regardless of contrary inputs.

Slavery at the time could be defined narrowly or broadly, and broadly it was a social issue, an economic issue, a Constitutional issue, a national security issue, and a foreign policy issue. Voices and documents alike called for those who opposed it to leave such decisions to their proper venues, but the crux of the matter was the machinery assembled against any abolition of slavery.

His chief criticism was reserved for those in his own party who worked with insufficient vigor to oppose the other party. He accurately assessed the cause as a lack of belief in the principles which mattered to him, and which he felt not only undergirded the foundation that his party *should* operate from, but which conform to the requirements of the Constitution and the promise of the Declaration of Independence. He had his sights set not at the next election but at a distant horizon, and he had no use for Douglas’ pragmatic refusal to engage on a paramount moral issue. He knew that without attacking the internal party problems head-on, there would be no victory worth having no matter how many paper points may be run up.

Lincoln was derided as a buffoon and a radical. The speech and his unapologetic stance were credited with costing him that Senate seat. Yet it was also credited with gaining him the Presidency soon afterward. He had staked a position and owned it on principle.

By wounding the Whig Party and gathering influence under a new banner, a new party arose in the exact footprints of the old, at first from within, and eventually coming at it from everywhere. The change did not amount to a destruction of the two-party system and an inevitable string of Democrat victories. Instead, it shifted the fight onto ground more suitable for having a worthwhile fight.

There is an argument that the Missouri Compromise is the real parent of the awful Civil War. Bruce Catton himself says that the war was unnecessary because slavery was on its way out anyway. That may well have been so, but we have not been able to examine that alternative in any detail, as it never happened. Facts not in evidence. What was clear in 1858 was that a terrible engine for the perpetuation of slavery had been assembled and was rumbling to life. If Dred Scott was a single wrongly-decided case, the machinery referred to by Lincoln was a factory for cementing into place a generation of wrong decisions. Those who like to dabble in alternate histories might consider for a moment a world in which the United States becomes the first global slave superpower.

One way to phrase the current seemingly unkillable amnesty “debate” is that the government has decided to throw off its disagreeable electorate and convene a new one. We are confronted with great stakes indeed. For those who view the country, the culture, the civil society and all as a property and a responsibility, we have everything to lose.

Abraham Lincoln blew the whistle on it, and took his own party to the woodshed. I’m with Immoderate Abe.

— Dredged up from drafts while searching for a different post.  Written of course in the run-up to the 2016 election.  I suspect that this is published over on another site, as is a post I remember dealing with the House Divided Speech — which is what I actually sought in my dredging.  But this alludes to some of the House Divided points I linger on in the other post.  If that makes sense.


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