Strange hardware problems

Ok when u use computers enough the usual problems get fixed. Such as bad drivers or lack of uodates or hard disk corruptions. Here’s my current list of mysterious problems and what I think is going on

  1. Spontaneous reboots of an iMac 2008. This has been bugging me for a while. I will get visual freezes where cursors and junk appears on the screen. Lately I’ve been getting spontaneous reboots. Causes have varied from new gpu improvements put into later OS X releases. The interesting thing is that the spontaneous reboots happen without any kernel panic messages or anything in the console. Current ideas range from hard disk corruption but I don’t see any. Lately the reading has been about bad ram. That makes some sense. I put 32GB of third party ram into the thing and the macinrbis 9 years old as well. So on to using Apple hardware diagnostics and loading memtest86 onto a USB. 

  2. PC boots to black screen. All the lights flash but nothing appears on the monitor. actually fixed this. It seems to have something to do with gtx1080 and starting in overclock mode. But he won’t tell me!

  3. PC boots occasionally but when you hit the power. The last time this was a blown motherboard where an m.2 ssd had slid under. This one I’m not sure but looks like a short. 

Notes on cool apps and random buying guides

Ok the monthly notes about cool widgets I’ve found:

  1. My favorite status monitor is now broken on Sierra, so swapping to a new one called called Menu Meters with hat tip to Lifehacker, so that is still open. One confusing things is that there is a dead site that has menu meter but to use for macOS Sierra, you need to go to a GitHub fork that has fixed it.
  2. Flashlights. These are really commodities these days but getting the brightest and longest lasting is still a thing at candlepower
  3. Sun hats. Same thing here. I finally lost my Australia Cancer Society sun hat so time for another. Outdoor Gear Labs

MacBook Pro video issues and Monoprice cables

OK, I’ve been trying to use the Satechi ($59) USB C hub. I actually brought the wrong one, there is another version with a 1Gbps Ethernet connection as well ($79), but I’ve been having trouble getting it to work reliably on a Benq 32″ monitor. Here’s the main lesson, I think it is the active Redmere cable from Monoprice.

I’ve never had this before, but when you plug in the dongle, it does not reliably turn on the monitor. This works fine with eh Cablematters USB C to DisplayPort, but the HDMI of the Satechi.

I’ve never had trouble like this before, but come to think of it, the Monoprice Redmere is an active cable (which is why it is so thin and nice), so I think this is because the active electronics are getting fooled. On the Mac side, it thinks it is projected to another screen, but the display remains black.

Just switching to a true (thick and ugly!) passive cable seems to fix the problem. Now this is not perfect in that the Satechi is 4Kp30 (that need 10Gbps alone!), so we will have to wait a bit more to get the dream cable. That is something that is Thunderbolt 3 to the MacBook so that it can carry, 4Kp60 (which is 18Gbps by itself), has gigabit ethernet, HDMI 2.x with 4Kp60 and a bunch of USB A legacy ports for old stuff plus an SD care reader.

The other thing that is a problem is that with the laptop closed, you can’t use the TouchId at all! I had not realized that until it asked if I want to use it. I like to leave the laptop closed and out of the way, but I need to rethink that strategy now.

LG’s 2017 OLED 4K HDR TVs Now Available for Pre-order, Prices Revealed if you can wait then let the 2017 LG oled drop in price. If I can’t wait the 2016 b6 is a great value. The main features at 25% greater brightness for a tv that was already the brightest. And a little more color space. Net the 2016 b6 is good enough for many videophiles.

Monoprice MPCP28UHD DisplayPort and Satachi USB C to HDMI do not work

OK some more strange things about this 4K display. Besides really being washed out and inaccurate color-wise, it has another problem. It does not seem to advertise itself properly with DisplayPort.

On an older MacBook Pro 2010 that can display 2.5K properly on other monitors, like the ASUS 2.5K or the Benq 32″ 2.5K, this one only shows that 1080p is available. It sure looks like upscaled, but it doesn’t seem to advertise properly. So beware.

Also the Satechi USB C dongle doesn’t seem to output HDMI properly so neither the Monoprice nor the ASUS recognize it. Sigh!

Buying a laptop

Well someone just asked me what laptop would you buy. The good news is that with Intel performance stalking you have lots of choice. Even three year old laptops are the same speed as even the newest Kalby Lake versions. PC Magazine remains a decent source of reviews for this so here’s a summary but right now there is a split in the choice you can make. The main issue is laptop longevity. 

  1. Chromebooks. Let’s face it for $250 you can consider a laptop a throw away commodity. It’s something with an ok 

The math of MacBook Pro battery life and trickle charging

Batteries are rated in one of two ways. Watt Hours which means for how many hours can they supply 1 watt of power. The new MacBook Pro 2016 has a 76 Watt-hour battery

Put another way if you load Battery Doctor and see you are drawing 18 watts then you will have roughly 76/18=4 hours of life. 

Another common measure is amp-hours. This assumes you know the voltage that you are pull out. For a MacBook Pro 2016, it says it has a 6773 milliamp hour or 6.7Ahour. By the way that means that the output voltage for the battery is 76/6.7 since V x A = W so it is a 11V battery internally. 

Now for the reason for the low battery life. Apple says the MacBook Pro should last 10 hours or they think average battery usage is 7.6 watts. 

Today when I started my MacBook Pro it was running at 4 watts so the mystery is why yesterday it was 18 and today it is 4.8. Sounds like a background process or Safari going crazy to me. 

As a final aside the older MacBook Pro 2015 had a 99.5WHr battery. The FAA maximum for a battery is 100WHr for safety reasons. That means that for their 10 hour use they were expecting 25% greater power usage at 9.95 watts. So the new mbp 2016 is supposed to be much more efficient. 

One interesting thing is that such a lower power consumption, you can use a tiny 10 watt, 2 amp USB charger to keep your laptop powered up. U can even use a car charger to freshen the battery. That’s one of the nice things about USB C. In fact even a lowly 1 amp 5 watt USB outlet is pretty good with today’s low power consumption laptops. I now need a USB A to USB C cord when going to meetings as it’s lighter. And your little iPhone charger even at 10 watts should be able to charge a battery in eight hours or over night. 

The huge 87 watt charger you get with your MBP 2016 should be able to recharge a completely dead 76 watt hour battery in less than an hour. Even with power losses which would make it longer, that’s pretty impressive. 

So on to figuring how why the laptop is drawing so much! But this USB c does add lots of flexibility. 

So what happens when you get an exclamation point on your android phone

Ok so this weekend, I’m staring at a phone on a Verizon MVNO (the AARP sponsored one) which worked fine and suddenly it can’t access the Internet. I also see an exclamation point next to the LTE signal symbol. 

And when you click on the internet you get to a site called and it says page not found. 

Well it turns out that the days of just getting a new phone and swapping a sim in don’t quite work. A few calls to product support and it turns out the solution is simple but you can’t do anything about it by yourself. The carrier had to turn on and off the account from their side and all was good!