Saturday, March 21, 2015

An Important Principle to Remember about the Future of Oil

"The value of effectively every asset class on Earth is influenced by the assumption that a fossil fuel-based economy will persist for so long that any potential for future change to asset values can be ignored. That assumption is wrong. The global industrial economy operates on an assumption of available and relatively inexpensive energy, either in the form of electricity or liquid fuels. If the form, availability of, or cost of, those energy sources changes it will fundamentally change the cost to use and produce virtually every other asset on Earth. And that will necessarily change the value of every one of those assets. There will be both positive and negative impacts, and understanding this change, in both scope and speed, will provide insight on one of the largest wealth shifts ever experienced.
The owner of the most valuable fossil fuel reserve on Earth [Saudi Arabia] just started discounting for a future without fossil fuels. While they would never state this reasoning publicly, their actions speak on their behalf. And that changes everything."
-Elias Hinckley

Thursday, February 19, 2015

The Windows Ecosystem is now Ad-supported.

The Windows Ecosystem is now Ad-supported. least for anyone outside of a business. And it has gotten much worse than the average boatload of crapware these manufacturers are known for. It is extraordinarily sad how heavily laden with advertising the entire Windows experience has become. Let's say you buy a Windows 8.1 PC today. As it turns out, your Metro start screen is littered with dozen of tiles for third-party services and apps that have paid $$ to the OEM for placement. Removal requires the user to delete all the tiles, and any new user on the machine will have to delete the tiles for themselves as well. It takes going into Powershell to remove these "provisioned apps" on a machine-wide basis.
Now let's move past Metro. You get to the desktop, only to find more shortcuts for third-party stuff. There are multiple programs installed (whose developers have paid $$ for placement) which are "lite" versions or trialware intending to get you to spend $$ to buy the full version.
Perhaps the worst is whatever anti-virus is included. The computer will usually come with a 1, 3, 6, or maybe even 12 month Norton subscription. Which is fine until the subscription runs out, at which point the AV becomes nag-ware trying to get the user to pay $$ to re-up the subscription. The average user doesn't necessarily grasp the importance of this and figures if the program is still there it must be doing SOME good. But it is actually exposing the user to risk. The user is unlikely to know that they can UNINSTALL the AV and use Windows Defender.
It doesn't stop there. The user goes online. Invariably they end up at a site serving ads that trick the user into installing crapware such as false anti-virus programs, media players, you name it. Stuff they don't need. But even worse, these installs also go ahead and install additional crapware in addition to the crapware that the user was tricked into installing.
So the user might choose to go download something reputable like VLC or PDFCreator or even Adobe Flash. Well now they have more crapware because the download site they use for these programs install other stuff by default. Choosing not to install this extra stuff means knowing that the grayed out "Decline" button, or the grayed out "Custom install" option, really is clickable. Or some other weird user interface trick that makes the user think they CAN'T opt-out.
And this, my friends, is why in addition to the normal crapware cleanout I perform on my family and friends PCs, I also uninstall the antivirus, and I install Firefox and Chrome and configure ad-blocking for IE, Firefox, and Chrome. I don't have a problem with ads, but no possible moral obligation to view ads is worth 2-hour crapware/spyware/malware cleanout sessions every other month.
Macs may not come with crapware but they are increasingly getting targeted by online advertisements that lead to Mac malware.
For a long time, Linux enthusiasts have said the best way to clean and repair Windows is to format and install Linux. Given that malware has become a virtually unavoidable structural component of the consumer Windows ecosystem, I finally have to say they are right. It is high time for the techies in people's lives to burn a Linux Mint install disc and use it regularly.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Figuring out CFM and Grille Sizes (including Return Grille) for Central HVAC systems

A HVAC system is sized for the volume of air in your home. If your house is 1200 sqft and the ceilings are 7 ft tall, the air volume is 8400 cubic feet. A properly sized HVAC system will perform at least 6 full air changes per hour, so it would need to move 8400x6=50400 cubic feet of air per hour. 50400/60 minutes then would equal 840 CFM.
(A real HVAC installer would also want to measure leakage to tweak the CFM rate for your specific house construction but that's beyond the scope of this post.)
To find the size of the compressor in tons, divide 840 by 400 (400 CFM per ton), giving 2.1 tons. Round up to a standard size 2.5 ton unit.  If you are going to use a heat pump you've already done your heater sizing.
How big to make the return air grill? You don't want so much air rushing past the grill that it is noisy but you don't want a large grill either. The grill should be sized for an air speed of 300-500 FPM, or feet per minute. 400 FPM is the usual target.
We know you'll need to push 840 CFM. We'll divide by 400 FPM giving 2.1 sqft as the necessary filter face size. Convert to inches: 2.1 x 144 = 302.4 sqin. Take the square root of 302.4 = 17.389. So let's look at some standard size filters near 18in:

18x20 = 360sqin
16x20 = 320sqin

A 16x20 return grill would provide the necessary air flow and actually take us a little under 400 FPM.

If you already have an HVAC system you can work the numbers and see how well your system is sized. Also nice to know if you are planning on adding square footage somehow (new floor, finishing the basement, enclosing a porch, etc.) You can check your HVAC guy's recommendations this way.

You'll want to further assure you can get a full 840 CFM by checking the technical documentation for the air handler. You want to find the max external static pressure drop (intake resistance to air) that still allows the air handler to deliver 840 CFM. Then purchase filters that do not exceed that drop. Ideally, purchase the filter with the highest MERV rating that has a pressure drop for your size filter that is below this value. Most filter manufacturers don't provide detailed pressure drop information, unfortunately.

The air handler will also not push the right CFM if the pressure is not balanced throughout the home. This usually happens in a closed room with no air return (very common). All closable interior doors leading to living spaces (office, bedroom, bathroom, den) should be shortened by 1 1/2 inches on the bottom, or have an air vent installed in the door, or a jump vent.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Diagnosing CPU Thermal Throttling

Computer processors are designed to run under specific environmental conditions, including temperature. With an Intel processor, the responsibility for ensuring a processor does not overheat is split between the motherboard and the CPU, and the motherboard constantly monitors CPU temperature by way of a temperature sensor next to the CPU, and alerts the CPU if that temperature exceeds certain threshhold. This is known as a PROCHOT signal. The CPU receives the PROCHOT signal from the motherboard and immediately drops down to it's lowest multiplier. This reduces the speed of the CPU, causing it run cooler. With an AMD processor, this is all handled by the motherboard, which forces a lower clock on the CPU.
It may not be apparent that your processor is having overheating problems. As mentioned above, the system is always ready to compensate by slowing down the CPU. If you don't perform many processor-intensive tasks, it may not be noticeable. The reason is that once the processor cools down, throttling turns off until the processor is put under stress again.
Where it becomes noticeable is when CPU-intensive programs are run. For most people, this means Netflix. However it could be any HD video playback including YouTube HD and Blu-ray. It could also occur when running distributed computing clients like Folding@Home, doing video editing, or playing 3D games.
In a nutshell, a properly built and working computer should have a CPU that is capable of handling any load thrown at it without overheating and/or triggering the PROCHOT signal from the motherboard. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise.
If you suspect thermal throttling, there are two programs that can be used to test this on Windows. First, you need a program that will push your CPU to the max, like Prime95. Second, you need a program that will display CPU speed in real-time and allow you to block the PROCHOT signal temporarily for testing purposes, like ThrottleStop. It would also be helpful to search online and find the maximum temperature listed for the processor.
Before running tests, go into the Control and into Power Options, which may be in the Hardware category. Drop down the list of extra power modes and choose High Performance. This will ensure that Windows isn't the one bringing down your processor speed. If this is a laptop, make sure it is plugged in.
Run Prime95 and choose Stress Testing, and choose the test that is listed as generating maximum heat (sometimes they change around which test is good for what between versions). Once the test is running, open ThrottleStop. At the top right of the main ThrottleStop window, the processor speed will be given, as well as the multiplier and frequency. The processor speed should not drop lower than 10% of the rated speed for the processor. It may go over if the processor supports Turbo Boost. The processor model and type are also listed so you can search online to find out what the rated speed is if you aren't sure.
If the processor dips farther than 10% below the rated speed you likely have thermal throttling. To be certain, uncheck the box that says "BD PROCHOT". IMPORTANT: ONLY LEAVE THIS BOX UNCHECKED LONG ENOUGH TO OBSERVE WHETHER IT SOLVES THE PROBLEM, THEN TURN IT BACK ON. Unchecking this box basically "muzzles" the motherboard PROCHOT signal and leaves the CPU blind as to how hot it is running. Any overheating can potentially damage the CPU and/or motherboard, so this is all at your own risk.
(If you have an AMD processor, you won't have the capability to disable this. You'll have to diagnose based on throttling patterns alone.)
Assuming that disabling the PROCHOT signal solves the problem, you need to correct the issue(s) causing the processor to overheat. Consider the CPU fan and heatsink, as well as the case fans. If the room the computer is in is uncomfortably hot that might also be an issue. But probably the most common culprit would be dust bunnies inside the computer. You'll need to blow out the internals with air.
If you've eliminated dust as the issue and the problem remains, consider case temperature, unless it is a laptop. Any desktop computer should have these fans: a fan on the CPU heatsink, a fan on the back of the case, and the fan inside the power supply. Are the fans fighting each other, especially if you have more than these three fans?
If it's not dust and the case temperature is fine, remove the heatsink/fan from the CPU, and clean off and replace the thermal paste. Then remount the heatsink/fan.
If all of the above fails to correct the problem, consider a more robust heatsink/fan for your CPU. If you are overclocking, maybe also consider water cooling.
I should also mention that it is entirely possible that the motherboard temperature sensors are bad. If you suspect this, try a BIOS upgrade first, if available.
I know all of this because I had a problem with this on a laptop. It all started with Netflix HD movies not playing right. I went through all kinds of drivers and software and BIOS updates before realizing my problem was CPU thermal throttling. It's been a long road. The laptop is under an extended warranty and the repair tech barely understood what I was talking about. I would hazard a guess that a not insignificant number of professional PC technicians don't even really understand the issue of thermal throttling. Hopefully this post will be a help.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Unable to Open Secure https Sites in Internet Explorer

Solution from HERE, sans pics and with some modifications in italics:

Re-register following dll files
Click on Start button and go to Run (Press and Hold windows key + press once R key)
Copy the following one line and paste it into run box one by one and press enter
Register all the dll files as same. Don't worry about any errors that come up.

regsvr32 urlmon.dll
regsvr32 wintrust.dll
regsvr32 initpki.dll
regsvr32 dssenh.dll
regsvr32 rsaenh.dll
regsvr32 gpkcsp.dll
regsvr32 sccbase.dll
regsvr32 slbcsp.dll
regsvr32 cryptdlg.dll
regsvr32 shdocvw.dll
regsvr32 mshtml.dll
regsvr32 browseui.dll
regsvr32 jscript.dll
regsvr32 vbscript.dll
regsvr32 oleaut32.dll
regsvr32 softpub.dll
regsvr32 urlmon.dll
regsvr32 actxprxy.dll

Check Security settings under trusted sites zone in internet explorer
Open Internet explorer and click on Tools menu and go to Internet option, then expand Security tab

Tool menu >> Internet Option >> Security Tab >> Click on trusted Sites >> and then click on default level
Add Secured website as your trusted website, under security tab click on trusted sites and then Sites button will be activated click on that add button your website what do you want.
then do apply and OK to get effect the changed.

Check the Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) slate.
Open Internet explorer and click on Tools menu and go to Internet option, then choose Content tab.
Tool menu >> Internet Option >> content Tab >> Click on Clear SSL State
You will get a message that the SSL cache was cleared Successfully, click on OK

Check that Internet Explorer set as default to use all SSL states
Open Internet explorer and click on Tools menu and go to Internet option, then expand advanced tab
Tool menu >> Internet Option >> Advanced Tab >> then Under security >> all SSL and TLS boxes should be checked. (If those were not checked so please make them checked and click on OK.

Check your computer date and time.
Check your date and time because it might a possibility if date and time are not correct. Correct your date and time
Click on Start and go to control panel and find the tool name as DATE & TIME, and Set your current time

Saturday, January 17, 2015

On the Movie "God is Not Dead"

I want to go through some of the important bits of this movie, which is hard to do because it is a bit ham-fisted, with the debate scenes wildly overplayed. Also, I just cannot stomach the evangelical subculture that permeates the movie, between Christian Rock groups, Franklin Graham, and Duck Dynasty cameos.

I have a verse for the hapless student, Josh Wheaton. Proverbs 27:12 - The clever see danger and hide; but the simple go on, and suffer for it. The poor guy got warning after warning that the professor was a jerk. Even with all of that he could've dropped the class. I thought God calls Christians to peace, not conflict.

The movie comes straight out of the burgeoning conservative evangelical movement. Besides the evangelical subculture cameos listed above, the Scripture quotations are all from the ESV (English Standard Version). More formal and more conservative than even the 1984 NIV, the ESV represents a new evangelical center composed of rightward drifting classic evangelicals and the majority remains of fundamentalism. (For the record, I quote from the NRSV.)

Speaking of the Bible, I found it unfortunate that, in all of his preparation, Josh Wheaton never picked up or studied the one book that the professor recommended to the rest of the class in preparation for the debate: Why I Am Not a Christian by Bertrand Russell. Instead he is shown reading a bunch of the world religion books. Unfortunately this is a common tendency among Christians to not really examine the other side of whatever the debate is, even if it is among Christians themselves. I ran into this debating King James Onlyists.

So Josh's two main arguments are the argument from design and the argument from morality.

In the argument from design he puts forward intelligent design, admitting the big bang and leaving the question of evolution open, attributing all of these things to God. The problem is, the time scales of the events as given by fossil records and radiometric dating completely shred any concept of these events borne out of an evangelical, inerrantist view of Scripture-or borne out of the most likely views of the early church contra Epicureanism. We're not just talking about contradicting six-day creation. We're talking about the gospel itself and Christ as a Second Adam. We're talking about repetition of the argument from design throughout Scripture in ways that imply a very literal reading of Genesis 1.

As a matter fact, Christian organizations have used Intelligent Design not as a good faith answer to modern scientific evidence, but as a wedge to introduce traditional creationism. It is beyond the scope of this post to go into documenting this. However, even if conservative evangelicals held to ID in good faith, the fact remains that it is highly inconsistent with their own theology.

The argument from morality is also not so straightforward. Anyone who has taken Sociology 101 understands the concept of utilitarianism, in which morals are part of cultural development of a society in the interest of self-preservation. Only in today's highly individualistic society can people uncouple their existence from broader social norms. Morals, purpose, and meaning all find their import in sociological terms and suffer under the influence of individualism. To restore these to an individualistic society requires personal relationships to a transcendent rule giver--God.

The fact that this is A way out doesn't mean it is the answer, as squabbling Christians and dueling denominations will attest. As a matter of fact, a Christian's relationship with God prior to the Reformation and the Enlightenment was a much more corporate affair (think "church") and continued to be quite the corporate affair until American Revivalism came on the scene. Under such a corporate conception of divine relationship, culture and morals can just as easily find its footing in national identity as it can the church.

I give the movie way too much credit by discussing these points in detail. The movie was not anywhere close to being a serious apologetic work. What it was was a rally for the (evangelical) faithful, complete with "faith-affirming" cultural references, and lumping Atheists, Left Wingers, Professors, and Muslims on the bad side.