Thursday, April 28, 2016


So I am looking at upgrading to SSD drives in about a half dozen Lenovo ThinkCentre M93z All-in-One PCs. I can either get 2.5" drives and use a bracket, or use the mSATA connector on the motherboard. But which is faster? mSATA is typically based on the PCI Express 1x standard. The speeds for each are as follows:

PCIe v1 1x = 2.5Gbps
PCIe v2 1x = 5.0Gbps
PCIe v3 1x = 8.0Gbps
SATA 1 = 1.5Gbps
SATA 2 = 3.0Gbps
SATA 3 = 6.0Gbps

Now the question is if the mSATA slot conforms to PCIe v1, 2, or 3. If it is v3 it will be faster. The chipset on the M93z is the Intel 8 Series/C220. Intel's technical documents show that the SATA controller is capable of SATA 3 6.0Gbps speeds, while the PCI Express implementation is v2.
So this indicates that an SSD mounted on the mSATA slot would max out at 5Gbps, while the SATA connection would allow 6Gbps, making it faster.

The problem with going to SATA route is the way the hard drive is installed. Although many of the other components in this system are laptop form-factor like the RAM and optical drive, a full 3.5" desktop hard drive is being used. There are no SATA cables with the drive mating right up to the connectors. So I can either use a standard 2.5" to 3.5" bracket and find really short cables that may not make the clearance, or I can buy a bracket that features integrated SATA connectors that route down to the spot where they normally would on a 3.5" drive. Fortunately, these exist!

Lenovo just had to make it hard. But of course they probably don't care too much about making it easy to upgrade.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Windows 10 Psuedo-ESR/LTS Option

I am a fan of Extended Service Releases and Long Term Support releases since they tend to stay very stable and cause me less trouble, either personally or by way of the people I support. Which is why Windows 10 was always a bit concerning to me; they can change the OS anytime. However, as long as you are not on the "Home" edition of Windows 10, there is a setting whereby you can defer feature upgrades for several months, making you less of a guinea pig! Of course if you are in a company running the Windows 10 Enterprise Long Term Servicing Branch, you don't need this.

Go to Start > Settings > Update & Security and click on "Advanced Options".
Check the box for "Defer Upgrades".

Note that you can't access Windows Update options in Windows 10 through the classic Control Panel.

Honestly this little tidbit is going to result in me recommending that people avoid Windows 10 Home, so they can do this. Stability first!

Monday, April 11, 2016

Hillary Clinton and the End of the United States

Never underestimate the resentment of the disenfranchised.
I am speaking of the right-wing. Specifically, I am speaking of the traditionally dominant power group, conservative, older white people. They and their party, the GOP, are in terminal decline. The election of Obama marked the beginning of the end for their power. This is not news.
What is important to focus on is the reaction of this group. In the beginning of the Obama presidency this group decided on a scorched earth policy consisting of obstruction, lies and hate. They are ripping the sky from the ground in an attempt to check their loss of power.
Against this backdrop we approach the 2016 presidential elections. Who will win? Who knows! It is, however, important to note that the demographic shifts contributing to the decline of old, white conservative power are continuing unabated. If the GOP clinches the presidency in 2016 it will have won the battle but still be on track to lose the war.
The potential for a Trump presidency is greater than most people would believe. Trump knows how to play the game of hype and public perception, and his success in these areas has fooled him into thinking he could actually run the country. He's so good he's convinced himself!
Sorry everyone but Hillary is too waffle-y and slimy to trounce Trump. Trump will crucify her on the public stage, and mercilessly. She's an easy target for his type of invective. This doesn't mean Clinton couldn't win against Trump, but it will be harder than many people think, and not a sure thing.
Hillary would beat Cruz handily, though. A Hillary-Cruz matchup would be the kind of presidential election match-up we've gotten used to in the last few decades--bought and paid for politicians battling it out, kabuki theater style.
Either Sanders-Cruz or Sanders-Trump would be very interesting. Personally, I'd love to see a Sanders-Trump contest. It would pit the rhetoric of the right against the rhetoric of the left in a very stark way. Trump wouldn't be able to grab onto Sanders like he would Clinton; Trump would probably keep repeating "wacko commie" and "wacko socialist" lines while Sanders would show up how very hollow Trump really is. Trump will pander to the base too hard while Sanders will make more sense to most Americans.
Cruz has the substance to tie up Sanders with policy debates and then present himself to the American people as a champion of free markets and limited government while making Sanders look confused. I think Sanders would still win in this scenario because America knows Cruz is a Bible-thumper.
Ultimately I believe a Democrat will win the presidency in 2016. If you take the statistics for which states have voted Democrat in the last half-dozen presidential elections and which have voted Republican, the Democrats start out with a whole lot more electoral votes, making the Republican path to victory a hard slog. I don't know if Trump OR Cruz has what it takes, here.
Which brings me to my point: another Democratic presidency will take the old, conservative white right-wing from bad to worse. They will justify their hate and obstruction on the president being a commie (Sanders) or a traitor (Hillary). The only thing holding them back will be a time of economic prosperity stretching until after the 2020 elections. Nobody cares to revolt when things are "good."
An economic downturn in very late 2020 or 2021 will provide the fodder for the old, conservative white right-wing to move significant sections of the American public against the federal government. This will develop into significant social unrest bordering on if not turning into civil war. Our rivals (Russia and China) will take advantage of this discord to disrupt US military assets outside the country, severely compromising our ability to project force. There will be no elections in 2024. Sanders or Clinton, as the case may be, will invoke an FDR-esque third term in the face of what is quickly becoming WWIII, ensuring that our country maintains a fatal state of disunity. By the time WWIII begins in 2027, the US as we know it will be no more.
The intensity of disunity leading into these events suggests a little more than continued resentment, leading me to believe (unfortunately) that the winner in 2016 will be Hillary Clinton. Hillary has a unique ability to galvanize right-wing opposition. She is also the type to hold on to power even if it means the dissolution of the union.
A Hillary Clinton win in 2016 suggests that a Cruz nomination is likely. Dems who don't like Hillary will vote for Trump but never for Cruz. However Trump is only a little less likely.

OK this is officially the saddest post I've ever written!!   :`(

Tuesday, April 05, 2016

The Case for Xubuntu

I am using and recommending Linux more so of course I am presented with the question of which distribution to use. Of course Ubuntu gets all the attention. However the Unity desktop is polarizing and I don't like it. Next up is Linux Mint, which is very good. It builds off Ubuntu, providing a classic desktop environment with everything loaded for the average user. However the crazy gotcha in Linux Mint is that automatic updates are not configured by default. You have to install and configure it yourself.
This brings me to Xubuntu, a version of Ubuntu running the XFCE desktop. In days past, Xubuntu was the go to Linux distribution for older machines. Unfortunately, it is not so great on older machines anymore. But it is better than Ubuntu (no Unity desktop) and better than Linux Mint (automatic updates enabled by default). Xubuntu is not a heavy distribution in any case.

Friday, April 01, 2016

Stress Testing a Chromebook ( ChromeOS )

If you need to stress test the CPU and memory of a Chromebook, Chromebox, or other ChromeOS device, here are a few tools:

CPU test:
Make sure you use the KeepAwake extension so your Chromebook won't go to sleep during this test.
Close all apps and tabs.
Go to
and set the Folding Power to Full.
Let it run through at least one set of calculations after it downloads the software.
The nice thing about this test is that it works with the Google Native Client so it is running natively to the CPU, not through some layer like Javascript.
IMPORTANT: As of Chrome 57, background tabs will be throttled. So be sure to keep the tab running this in the foreground.

Memory test:
Close all apps and tabs.
Enter the crosh shell with Ctrl+Alt+T
run the command: memory_test
If the command is not available, run sudo dev_install to install it