Restoring Sound After Eject

Mental note for the next time I take my laptop to a meeting.

Undocking the laptop will gray out the headphone. This makes sense because the headphones are plugged into the dock jack. Putting it back in the dock will not restore it.

You will need to go into Sounds > Playback.

  1. Enable the Headphone option. (NOT the same as “Speakers / Headphones” as that plays through the speakers on the laptop.)
  2. Set Headphone as the Default Device. This changes the applications to use it.
  3. Make sure the Speakers (Plantronics) are set to Default Communications Device.

Probably USB headphones automatically restore. At least, the USB ones I have for phone calls did. (They suck for wearing a long time for listening to music.)

Keyboard Layouts

k375s-multidevice-keyboard.pngCurrently annoyed that every keyboard I am using has the Insert key in a different place. See, as a shell jockey, my work mostly consists of connecting to a server via command line and inputting commands. Shift+Insert is the paste command within these shells.

I am very much used to the standard keyboard layout where there is the upside down T with the arrow keys. Above them are two rows of three keys with Insert/Home/Page Up and Delete/End/Page Down. My hands know where to find them which allows me to work fairly quickly inside the shell. The past several work computer refreshes were fine because the replacement keyboards still used the standard layout.

logitech_waveNow we have a Logitech Wave keyboard. It rotates that row into a column with delete as a giant key and moves Insert way up to the top row. Basically, the orientation ensures that I hit Shift+Insert All. The. TIME. At this point, I am amazed when I get it correct after a few minutes of slamming very hard typing as I get more and more frustrated.

Another part of the issue is I use the Insert key 100+ times a day and the key is way far out of the way when I am used to it being conveniently located.

I guess I could re-map the Home and Insert keys, but I use Home quite a bit too. I use End, Page Up, and Page Down too so I am hesitant to move those out the way. And to physical profile of Insert would be out of place anywhere else.

I guess I could get a different keyboard.

But I have a similar problem with my various laptops. The Insert is located in a different place on each one. Or in a Chromebook’s case entirely absent.

The bottom line is I am now officially old.

Bad Guesses

Usually the best way to guess which technology product will be successful is to bet against the one I like. Betamax, Apple, Linux, Picasa.

So it surprises me Barnes & Noble are giving up on the Nook since I went Kindle. I’m not usually in this position.

Then again, I was on the brink of going webOS but went Android. Maybe though iOS will win out over Android and keep me on track.

Of course, this is post is confirmation bias. I’m sure if I really thought about it, then I could come up with lots of technology I like that predominate their markets over rivals.


Work gave me a new computer. An internal group does the initial setup and hand it off to me to do the rest. This has been the easiest setup I have had ever. (It would be easier on a Mac.)

At my previous job, I would get CDs with the operating system and other software and install it myself. Letting someone else install this for me was a test in professionalism for me. With my third machine, I no longer care that I am not in control and even rationalize it as more efficient.

After work and dinner I started installing some of the software I like to use. Chrome, Tweetdeck, and instant messengers automatically synchronized by pulling my data from my account. Lastpass, Dropbox, and Keepass gave me easy access to setup accounts. I dreaded having to find my various configurations, credentials, and data files to get everything working.

Still, I put away the new toy after lunch because email mysteriously stopped downloading. A window asking for my password (the one workstations said I would not need to enter at work) was hidden going through the Alt+Tab list. Windows 7 is waaaay different from WinXP. Of course, I had been using WinXP for 9 years. Change is hard. Change is good. (Maybe.)

Quarter the 2006 Price in 5 Years

I love it when I run across a prediction about the time of the deadline. Jakob Nielsen made one on November 20, 2006 that computers will be 1/4th their current price of $379 in five years. Five years later is November 20, 2011. That is today!

In areas like North America, Europe, Australia, and Asia’s advanced countries, computer cost is no longer an issue. Dell’s cheapest computer costs $379 (with a monitor) and is about 500 times as powerful as the Macintosh Plus I used to write my Ph.D. thesis. While it’s true that a few people can’t even afford $379, in another five years, computers will be one-fourth their current price. Would that all social problems would go away if we simply waited five years.

So $379 / 4 = approximately $95.

Dell, the company Nielsen picked on, the cheapest I found was in Dell Outlet a Latitude laptop for $239.

Walmart’s cheapest non-refurbished I found was $212 laptop. (There was a Pentium 4 refurbished desktop for $115 which is old even for 2006 but adding the cheapest $89 monitor is still $109 too expensive. You would be better off going to a garage sale and picking up the same computer for $25 and getting a kid in the neighborhood to refurbish it.)

Best Buy has a $205 laptop.

I guess after five years they are getting close to half? Maybe this is why the FCC started a $4 billion program to help close the digital divide at $150 a refurbished computer + training + $10 a month broadband. Even this is not Nielsen’s a quarter of 2006 prices. (FCC and “Connect to Compete” Broadband Fact Sheet)

TED Talk: We Are All Cyborgs

Technology is evolving us, says Amber Case, as we become a screen-staring, button-clicking new version of homo sapiens. We now rely on “external brains” (cell phones and computers) to communicate, remember, even live out secondary lives. But will these machines ultimately connect or conquer us? Case offers surprising insight into our cyborg selves.

Uselessness of Showing Up Early

AC Power
AC Power

Came into work early. I was paged just as I was waking up, so I thought it would be easier to deal with the issue first thing from my desk as to deal with it then restart getting ready for going into the office.

I didn’t plan on getting greeted with a message I’ve never seen before:

Your system is docked, but the AC adapter type cannot be determined. either undock or insert an appropriate adapter. strike the F1 key to shutdown. —

The AC adapter may be installed incorrectly, or the AC adapter or docking station may be defective.

Naturally the power cord was partially plugged into the dock. I guess it was enough turn it on but not enough to completely work. Easy fix to just make sure the power cord is plugged in securely.

Selected Quotes About Computers & Software – The Core Memory

10 Types of People Ran across Selected Quotes About Computers & Software at a site called The Core Memory. I have the teeshirt for this first one. The rest are for inpiration.

There are 10 types of people. Those that understand binary and those that do not.

— Ray Roton

Old programmers never die… They just decompile.

— Peter Dick

I haven’t lost my mind, I have it backed up on tape somewhere.

— Unknown

Beware of bugs in the above code; I have only proved it correct, not tried it.

— Donald Knuth

Beware of programmers who carry screw drivers.

— Leonard Brandwein

Programming today is a race between software engineers striving to build bigger and better idiot-proof programs, and the Universe trying to produce bigger and better idiots. So far, the Universe is winning.

— Rich Cook

Computers are useless. They can only give you answers.

— Pablo Picasso

If it’s there and you can see it – it’s real.
If it’s not there and you can see it – it’s virtual.
If it’s there and you can’t see it – it’s transparent.
If it’s not there and you can’t see it – you erased it!

— Scott Hammer

I have a spelling checker,
It came with my PC;
It plainly marks four my revue
Mistakes I cannot sea.
I’ve run this poem threw it,
I’m sure your pleased too no,
Its letter perfect in it’s weigh,
My checker tolled me sew.

— Janet Minor

Programming is like sex, one mistake and you have to support it for the rest of your life.

— Michael Sinz

Computers are not intelligent. They only think they are.

— Unknown

I’d love to change the world, but they won’t give me the source code!

— Unknown

If a train station is where a train stops, what’s a workstation?

— Unknown

As soon as we started programming, we found to our surprise that it wasn’t as easy to get programs right as we had thought. Debugging had to be discovered. I can remember the exact instant when I realized that a large part of my life from then on was going to be spent in finding mistakes in my own programs.

— Maurice Wilkes

They have computers, and they may have other weapons of mass destruction.

— Janet Reno

Computers are like Old Testament gods; lots of rules and no mercy.

— Joseph Campbell

The most likely way for the world to be destroyed, most experts agree, is by accident. That’s where we come in; we’re computer professionals. We cause accidents.

— Nathanie Borenstein

The real danger is not that computers will begin to think like men, but that men will begin to think like computers.

— Sidney J. Harris

Man is the best computer we can put aboard a spacecraft … and the only one that can be mass produced with unskilled labor.

— Wernher von Braun

Man is a slow, sloppy and brilliant thinker; the machine is fast, accurate and stupid.

— William M. Kelly

Ada Lovelace Day

Today is Ada Lovelace Day to celebrate women in technology and science. I’ve read women need role models more than men. If true, then movements like this to promote those who are doing great work in fields like technology are good. First a little about Ada.

Ada [Lovelace[ called herself  “an Analyst (& Metaphysician),” and the combination was put to use in the Notes. She understood the plans for the device as well as Babbage but was better at articulating its promise. She rightly saw it as what we would call a general-purpose computer. It was suited for “developping [sic] and tabulating any function whatever. . . the engine [is] the material expression of any indefinite function of any degree of generality and complexity.” Her Notes anticipate future developments, including computer-generated music. Women in Science

If you recognize someone who ought to be recognized, then blog about her and note the post at I’m stoked Valdosta State University recognized Lisa Baldwin. I’m also stoked VSU noted the other IT staff, especially Amelia Reams who I supervised some of her tenure as a student assistant working in IT at VSU.

Too bad there’s not a similar sort of thing from the University System of Georgia?

More reading:

Racist Camera?

This is actually kind of amusing. Dark skinned Desi and light skinned Wanda demonstrate the HP’s MediaSmart webcam tracking software can track her but not him.

HP says:

We are working with our partners to learn more. The technology we use is built on standard algorithms that measure the difference in intensity of contrast between the eyes and the upper cheek and nose. We believe that the camera might have difficulty “seeing” contrast in conditions where there is insufficient foreground lighting. Voodoo Blog

… and…

It has been reported that lighting conditions can affect the performance of the face tracking feature. To improve performance of the face tracking feature try to increase the light to the face while decreasing the amount of light in the background. HP Support

When skin is dark, there isn’t much of a contrast between the eyes and upper cheek in anything other than studio lighting. Sounds like HP’s partners didn’t do much testing for real world conditions. Even my Canon SD800IS camera has a face auto detection feature which seems to have a hard time when dark skinned faces are in shadow. Here is where it is good not to be black enough. 🙂

P.S. Did you notice how he almost called Wanda his wife. Freudian miscegenation?