Sep. 4th, 2015 08:52 am
miriam_e: from my drawing MoonGirl (Default)
[personal profile] miriam_e
Weirdness happens. My computer's sound output circuits built into the motherboard lost one channel recently, making music almost impossible to listen to. I tried adding a sound card, but initially it failed to work. I tried rebooting my computer today (something I don't often do, it being Linux) as some other weirdness happened where the USB circuits servicing my wireless comms and keyboard stopped working too. I think this computer is slowly dying since the lightning strike a while back that killed its network circuits.

Anyway, I shutdown the computer for a little while, then rebooted. I went into BIOS setup (the keyboard works again -- yay) and made sure the onboard sound was turned off. Now when I let the computer boot properly the added card works, though I had to do quite a lot of fiddling with the card's settings. But we have more weirdness. Some applications (e.g. Aqualung) add a fraction of a second delay about every half minute when playing music. It is barely noticeable, but irritating. Other programs (e.g. mplayer) which gave perfect sound before are all chopped to bits now, sounding like they're being rapidly switched on and off. Others, like VLC, seem to play flawlessly. I wonder if the card might not be good at buffering sound and the tiny gaps are the the buffer running out before being refilled, though why it should take longer for some programs than others I don't know. It's very annoying though.

I've continued mucking about with things -- can never leave well-enough alone, I guess, and sound has vanished entirely. Yeah, I think this computer is dying at last. Oh well, I'll continue fiddling. I can't afford a new computer. I have a lot of dead computers that people give me to rebuild and give away to other people who can't afford computers. Maybe I'll put one together for myself. [sigh]

When I rebooted this time I noticed the computer's surge protection had been tripped. So there I think I have the cause. The damn power company has been allowing surges down the line. I so wish I wasn't on mains power.

We have solar panels on the roof, but the government would only give the subsidy for them if they were mains-tied, which means we cop all the problems of an unstable mains supply, including blackouts and surges, with almost none of the benefits of solar power... well, except that power doesn't cost anything anymore... so I guess that's a major advantage. I just wish we weren't tied into the grid. It's too dangerously unstable.

Julie has said that when the power company starts charging more than they pay for buying back power she'll disconnect from the grid, as I expect millions of people will. In the meantime I really need to look more into solar panels for myself and lithium batteries to run a low-power computing system. I'm fed up with having to buy another computer every couple of years because of damage from the electrical grid.

I've already done some of the work needed. I've set up a low-power computing system with lead-acid batteries (ugh!) that let me continue to work for a day or so during blackouts. I can't use my desktop computer, but the power-hungry behemoth annoys me anyway. I'd love to be free of it.

Final (hopefully):
I switched it off, rebooted again, went into the BIOS and re-enabled the onboard sound, let the computer boot normally, changed all the settings for sound again, and now the sound works perfectly again! Wha...?

Reminds me of this famous joke, more typical of MSWindows than Linux, but uncomfortably close to truth for all computing:
Three engineers are riding in a car. One is a mechanical engineer, one is an electrical engineer, and one is a computer engineer.

The car breaks down and coasts to the side of the road.

"Hang on," says the mechanical engineer. "The problem is probably the engine, let me have a look at it and I'll have us on the road again in no time."

"Wait," says the electrical engineer. "The way it just stopped like that, I think it's the electrical system. Let me have a look and I'll get us going again in a minute or two."

"Hold on," says the computer engineer. "Why don't we all just get out of the car and get in again, and then see if it starts?"


miriam_e: from my drawing MoonGirl (Default)

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