When PC Freezes, Check Your Cables

My Dell 8300 i7 computer with Windows 10 Home began freezing up periodically. It began freezing up once every two or three days, but gradually it began freezing up more frequently, sometimes several times in one day. The only way to turn it off was to hold the power switch down until the power supply turned off. Then, when it rebooted, the various drives would need to be repaired by Windows. After the hard drives were repaired it would work fine until it froze up again. Sometimes as it would start to freeze up, I could close a few open windows, but I could seldom get it to shut down using the Windows software.

I ran every hardware test I could find, and they all said the hardware, including the motherboard, the hard drives, the graphics card, and the memory were fine. I got no errors, but when it started to freeze up, I could not start up the hardware tests. Since the hardware seemed to be okay, I decided it must be the software, probably Windows. I thought maybe Windows had been damaged by some improperly installed update. I rolled Windows back to several restore points. Each time the computer would work fine for a while, maybe several days, but then would freeze up again. I decided that perhaps the problem Windows update was trying to install itself after restoring the older version of the OS and was freezing up the PC again.

After several days or weeks of this, when the computer rebooted after freezing, it would boot in Windows 7 from an old hard drive in the PC. The problem C: drive was connected to the Sata 0 socket on the motherboard. The old drive with Win 7 on it was connected to the Sata 1 socket. Win 7 did not run well and was extremely slow, but it ran.

I thought perhaps if I upgraded from Windows 10 Home to Pro, the new installation would overwrite the damaged part of the OS. When I went to Sam’s for other stuff, I found they had Win 10 Pro. So, I bought it; it was expensive but cheaper than replacing the whole computer. When I tried to upgrade to Pro, the installation said that Windows Home was installed in an incorrect folder. Nothing could be saved; the installation would delete everything on the PC.

Before I allowed Win 10 Pro to erase everything, I made a copy of the Windows 10 Home C: drive with Macrium Reflect. I also backed up all of my data. After I installed Win 10 Pro, I found it was very difficult and time consuming to install all the programs or applications that I had installed in Win 10 Home. Although I had the data, I did not have the programs to run the data. The biggest problem was Microsoft Office 2010, which I had installed as a download years earlier. I couldn’t find an ISO file, if I ever had one, and I did not have the Microsoft key for the software.

After several days of trying to reinstall software, find passwords for web sites that I visited regularly, etc., the computer froze up again running Win 10 Pro. When I tried to repair the C: drive in Win 10 Pro, I got more than the usual errors. So, I decided maybe the drive was bad, although every hardware test said it was good, and I bought a new hard drive. I installed it; it worked for a while, and then froze up again. I decided to swap around some of the hard drive to see if they all behaved the same way. While swapping them, I realized that I had always been using the same Sata cable to connect the C: drive to the Sata 0 socket. I swapped the cables around, and the computer seemed to run fine for several days. So, I bought a new Sata cable to connect the new hard drive, and since then it has not frozen up again.

After a few days, I thought I would try to restore the Macrium Reflect image of my old C: drive to the new hard drive I was using as C. The Macrium Reflect worked perfectly. It took several hours, but the old Windows 10 Home was restored with all the applications, including Office 2010. Macrium Reflect, thank you. The PC has been running well for over a week now. I don’t need Win10 Pro, but since I have it and can’t return it, I will probably try to install it after a few more days, if all goes well. However, if it says that it cannot keep all the apps and data, I will not install it. Perhaps I will just keep it and use it to upgrade a new computer if and when I buy one, before it has as much stuff installed on it as this one does.


Encryption and the Fourth Amendment

Apple should be willing to help the US government access information on the iPhones of terrorists and other criminals. I do not think that anyone living under a democratic government has an absolute right to inviolable privacy. If someone’s home is subject to a search warrant issued by a proper judicial process, his other possessions should also be subject to search when properly approved. Apple refuses toallow any search and seizure, even when there is probable cause as determined by a court of law. While the Fourth Amendment is explicitly a protection against unreasonable searches and seizures, the implication is that the government should be allowed to carry out searches and seizures when there is probable cause.

I think that some of the technical objections to requiring breakable encryption on private phones could be overcome by requiring that decrypting the information could be done only by physically connecting to the phone. This could mean that some sophisticated decryption device would have to be connected to an iPhone through a lightning cable, for example. There might be some difficulty enforcing this physical requirement, but smart people should be able to do it. It would mean that your phone could not be hacked from China or Russia, or even by American law enforcement while you are walking down the street with it. Presumably experts could set up the connection protocol so that the phone would sense whether the decryption device was directly connected to the phone, and not connected through the Internet or iTunes.

As things currently stand, I think that Apple should help the FBI access the data on the terrorists’ iPhone. Software updates could come later, as well as hardware updates on new versions of smart phones.

My view includes the requirement that encryption software such as texting apps also should be breakable in some way. Other countries and the military will be able to create unbreakable communication software, but we could make it illegal to use in the US. This is not unlike a restriction on assault weapons. I don’t think that everyone needs to have an AR-15, although that is not currently the law in the US. Even though arms dealers can physically sell AR-15s to anyone, I think there should be restrictions on their right to do so. Similarly, the military and diplomatic services should have encryption that is unbreakable, but private individuals do not need it. The ability to do search and seizure under the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution is more important than individual privacy. National security justifies the use of unbreakable encryption; personal privacy does not.

Annoying Windows 10

The Windows 10 calendar reminder window has become very annoying.  At some point it downloaded the birthdays of everybody I knew on Facebook.  Now Facebook has apparently disconnected Windows/Microsoft from Facebook, so that the birthdays are now stored in some mystery calendar file.  But Windows 10 desktop keeps reminding me of them, every five minutes, and telling the reminder to dismiss does not help.  It just comes back over and over and over again.  And you can’t delete the calendar entry, because it’s not in a normal calendar.  The engineers at Microsoft are surprisingly stupid, despite doing a much better job in general on Windows 10 than on any previous version.

Happy that Intuit and Netflix Are Down

I am happy that Intuit and Netflix stocks are down. this morning.  I am still mad at Intuit for deceptive practices in marketing TurboTax last year.  I bought what I thought was the same version of TurboTax that I had bought for years to do my income tax, but when I tried to use it, I found that it would not work.  I had to upgrade it.  I was supposed to get a $25 refund after I filed my taxes, but I never got it.  I am somewhat over a barrel, because I like the fact that TurboTax carries forward data from previous years.  If it weren’t for that feature, I would switch for sure.  I’ll see this coming year what other options there are.

I am not a Netflix fan because it doesn’t offer any good movies on the Internet.   We signed up with Netflix to get “House of Cards,” which was good.  Since we had Netflix after we watched “House of Cards,” we occasionally thought we would watch a movie.  We could never find anything interesting that we had not seen.  I am a Cary Grant fan, and there were usually only one or two of his movies, and they were not he best.  I never saw “North by Northwest” or “Bringing Up Baby” listed.  By contract, Apple has almost any movie you want, but you have to pay for it.  For us, it is probably better to pay Apple by the movie than to pay Netflix a monthly fee that provides no decent movies.

1and1 Web Site Hosting versus GoDaddy Hosting

To experiment with  my web site skills, I set up two small web sites, one in 1and1 and the other in GoDaddy, using their discount offers.  1and1 was much better and offered more services than GoDaddy did.  Both offered in-house web building programs, but 1and1 also offered an FTP option for designing pages yourself.  GoDaddy did not, unless you upgraded to a much more expensive package.  Both tried to make it difficult to use the basic system that you got for paying about $1.00 for the web site address, and then $12.00  for one year of hosting .  GoDaddy was more aggressive and deceptive in trying ot make you upgrade to a more expensive package.  1and1 offered the possibility to have several email addresses, while GoDaddy limited you to one address managed by Microsoft Office 365.  For managing the site, 1and1 only offered their own control panel, while GoDaddy offered the standard cPanel option, but only with a much more expensive package.

I would definitely recommend 1and1 over GoDaddy, but there are probably some smaller hosting companies out there that offer better deals.

The web sites I set up were A News Hog (with 1and1) and Dixie Gone with the Wind (with GoDaddy).  I connected free WordPress blogs to both of them, and have been very happy with WordPress, as you can see from this blog.  Perhaps I should try setting up a web site from scratch with WordPress.  1and1 offers the option of using WordPress templates to create a web site that is hosted through 1and1.

My Vietnam War – Part 6

From Firebase Barbara we went back near Dong Ha, to Charlie-1, one of the bases along the DMZ. It was in theory the safest of these bases because it was the southern-most and eastern-most of this line. Those closest to the DMZ were labeled A, as in A-1, A-2, etc. The next line were B bases, and the third and last line were the C bases. The numbering started from the east, near the coast with 1, and went up as you went west. Presumably Khe Sanh would have been the western anchor of this line of bases.

At Charlie-1 we did more shooting during the daytime. Often an Air Force forward air controller would fly up and down the DMZ in a small plane like a Cessna. If he found something big, he would call in an air strike, but if he found something small he would call us. Often he would call a fire mission on “footprints in the sand.” We would start shooting where he said the footprints disappeared, and usually someone would emerge running back toward North Vietnam because they knew that we were forbidden to shoot into North Vietnam. We would try to get him before he could get back to the river dividing the north from the south.

At least once, maybe more times, the Air Force would fly what we called an Arc Light mission. A fleet of B-52s would fly over the DMZ and carpet bomb it. The rumble and shaking was like an earthquake. We could see many vapor trails in the sky, but I don’t remember their being challenged by the North Vietnamese.

As I neared the end of my two year hitch, the Army offered a deal to let people out a few weeks early to go to school. I needed to leave a few weeks early to make it to the first day of law school. I wrote to both the University of Georgia, where I had finished my first year, and the University of Alabama, where I was a state resident. For some reason, Alabama replied quickly and said that they would accept me. I used the Alabama paperwork to get my early release approved. Just before I left Vietnam, Georgia finally replied that I could return, but by then the paperwork for Alabama was done.

When I had first arrived in Vietnam, the officer in charge of the fire direction center had persuaded me to sign for all of the equipment in the section. His argument was that if anything went missing, he as an officer would be personally responsible, while I as an enlisted man would not be.  The equipment included our generators, computers, radios, an M-60 machine gun, but also an M-577 mobile command post (an armored personnel carrier with a high roof) and a trailer to carry the generators. On an artillery raid, the trailer axle broke, and I gave it to the motor pool sergeant to repair. He either buried it or sold it on the black market. After I had been in law school in Tuscaloosa for a few months, I got a “report of survey” from the Army billing me about $1,000 for the missing trailer. I went to see an Army lawyer at nearby Ft. McClellan. He gave me some forms to fill out, and I never had to pay, but the Army had followed me to law school.


My Vietnam War – Part 5

From LZ Sharon, we moved to Firebase Barbara on a mountaintop west of Quang Tri, close enough to Laos that we could shell the Ho Chi Minh trail that ran along the border. At Barbara we had two eight-inch howitzers and two 175-mm guns. The eight-inchers could fire about ten miles, and the 175s about twenty miles, but less accurately. They gave us pretty long coverage up and down the Ho Chi Minh trail. We also did more close support of American troops than we had done since we had parted from the 101st division. I never knew who we were shooting for, but they sounded like Special Forces, if only because they were so calm in combat. We would be adjusting fire for them, walking the rounds in closer, and tbarbara-hqhey would very calmly say something like, “They are in the wire, too close for you to shoot at now; you’ll have to wait awhile.” I only learned from a Time magazine subscription I had that an American Special Forces base at Mai Loc had been overrun. I recognized the name because it was marked on our charts as a no-fire zone. I wondered why we had not been asked to shoot support for them, but I realized that they were east of us and our battery was designed to shoot west, terraced down the western side of the mountain. If we had tried to shoot east, we would probably have blown off the top of the mountain. Somebody on the internet says that former Secretary of Veterans Affairs General. Eric Shinseki (then Captain Shinseki) was sent to relieve Mai Loc, but obviously didn’t make it in time.

One night we received a warning from our battalion headquarters back in Dong Ha that intelligence (probably infra-red sensors) showed a large group of enemy soldiers assembling at the bottom of our mountain. At Barbara, we had swapped our old anti-aircraft quad-50 machine gun at Sharon for a pair of “dusters,” old anti-aircraft tracked vehicles that fired twin forty-mm cannons, again a steady stream of tracers. Because these anti-aircraft artillery units were almost always stationed in the “boonies” in somewhat danbarbara-viewgerous locations, they had a reputation as “space cadets,” who didn’t pay much attention to doing stuff by the book. They were our main defense, although in theory we also had Vietnamese infantry to defend us. After the attack warning, our battalion supply officer in Dong Ha came on the radio to tell us not to give any gasoline to the dusters. We had gasoline to run our fire direction center generators. He said it was too difficult to resupply us, and the dusters were notorious for not maintaining their supplies. However, we decided that if the dusters were our main line of defense, we were going to give them all the gas they needed. The dusters blew away a grid square (a square kilometer) or more where the intelligence said the enemy was forming, and no attack occurred. We never knew whether we had averted an attack or the intelligence had just picked up a herd of deer grazing at the bottom of the mountain. I think Barbara is the only place I remember seeing an air strike by Phantom jets. They bombed one of the mountains nearby, but we never knew why.

On April 29, 1970, while we were firing at something on the Ho Chi Minh trail, the breech blew out of one of the 175-mm guns, killing two of the crew and wounding several others. The names of those who died, Paul Kosanke and Willie Austin, are listed on the wall of the Vietnam memorial.

A more pleasant memory was when a helicopter flew out a huge bladder of water, which it tried to drop on the mess hall, a bunker. He dropped it from too high up. It bounced off the roof of the mess hall and rolled down the mountain. Later, a flatbed truck made it all the way to the base along the dangerous, often-mined road back to the coast, carrying a new “tube” (barrel) for one of the 175-mm guns. He was almost at the top of the steep, winding road up the mountain, when the tube began to slip off the back of the truck, and it too rolled down the mountain. Since it weighed several tons, it’s probably still there.  Barbara is also the only place where I ate C-rations on a regular basis.  Although in theory we had a mess hall, it did not get used much.


My Vietnam War – Part 4

After a few months, we parted ways with the 101st and went off on our own to an old Marine fire base called LZ Sharon. The Vietnamization of the war was starting, so instead of American infantry protecting us we had Vietnamese troops and American air defense artillery. At LZ Sharon, the Vietnamese troops were draft dodgers who had been caught, but the Vietnamese Army would not give them guns; so they had clubs and knives. Our air defense artillery was a quad-50 machine gun, four 50-caliber machine guns mounted together on the back of a five-ton truck. Because it was closer, when it fired the tracers made almost as good a fireworks show as the platoons of infantry back at LZ Sally. For some reason, probably because as chief computer I was pretty good at calculating how to aim artillery, I had my own eighty-one mm mortar. However, I only had illumination rounds to support the quad-50; I did not haveMortar any high explosive rounds. Most of our battery’s shooting was done at night. Usually around 4:00 in the morning everything would quiet down, and the guys on the quad-50 and I would be about the only people awake. I would shoot some illumination rounds along our perimeter and the quad-50 guys would look for any movement. If they saw any movement, we would have to clear a whole map “grid square,” a square kilometer, with higher authorities before the quad-50 was allowed to shoot. It was not exactly rapid response, but perhaps it let the bad guys know, if there were any out there, that somebody was awake.

We were at LZ Sharon during monsoon season, and the moisture meant that the powder in the eight-inch howitzers burned more slowly. As a result there was usually a huge flash as the projectile left the barrel and the unburned powder hit the air. In our fire direction center, the explosion would make the dust on the desks and the floor rise up about an inch and then settle back down. One night, after a particularly loud shot, the plywood walls of the “hooch” where we were working fell off, and we were left standing in the two-by-four framing in the middle of the night.

I think it was while we were at LZ Sharon that I saw Bob Hope’s Christmas shBob Hope Stageow in December 1969. It was at the Phu Bai combat base near Hue, which was a long drive for us. I don’t remember much except telling my mother to look for me on TV, sitting about ten rows behind the guy with a monkey on his shoulder. She always claimed that she saw me, although it was unlikely in that sea of uniforms. Still, it was very patriotic of Bob Hope to come, and it was encouraging when there was so much opposition to the war to feel that there was someone publicly supporting us

My Vietnam War – Part 3

We arrived from the US at Cam Ranh Bay, where we waited for a plane to Dong Ha. I remember looking at a map there, where the dot for Dong Ha would not fit entirely in South Vietnam, but jutted across the DMZ into North Vietnam. This was what the Army called northern I Corps. From Cam Ranh Bay we flew to Da Nang, where I was amazed at the busiest airport I had ever seen, with fighter jets and transports tailgating each other down the runway. In the terminal, however, things looked pretty normal. Everybody was pretty clean and relaxed looking. One soldier, though, looked like someone out of the old Willie and Joe cartoons from World War II. He was dirty, his uniform was ragged, and he had a glazed, far-away look in his eye, the only one like that of the hundreds in the airport. My friend asked him where he was from. It turned out that he was from the DMZ. When my friend told him we were going to Dong Ha, he said something like, “I just came from there. I heard the A-2 base was overrun the night before last. I suppose you are going to replace some of the men who were killed there.” We were not pleased to be going to where the one man in the airport who looked like he had been in a war had just left

I remember flying into Dong Ha on a C-123 transport plane. I don’t know whether the pilot was putting us on or not, but he said that they had had a lot of planes blown up on the ground in Dong Ha, so they were not going to stop. They would land, slow down, lower the back cargo door, and we should grab our stuff and run away from the plane as fast as we could. We did, and the plane accelerated and took off without turning around. There we were in the bright sunshine, in the middle of a quiet, green grassy landing strip that could have been a park in any American city.

That night we joined twenty or so other men in a tent waiting for assignment. There was a lot of drinking and poker playing going on despite some shooting heard outside, until someone came running in to say that we were under mortar attack and Vietcong were using the lights in our tent as their target. The next day I was assigned to A battery of the 2/94th Artillery, a heavy artillery battery with eight inch howitzers and 175 mm guns, which was stationed with one brigade of the 101st Division at LZ Sally, ne8 inch firing 1ar the town of Quang Tri.

It felt pretty good to be stationed with 101st Airborne. The LZ Sally base camp was on a ridge looking north, and we could often watch the firefights in the valley below. From our safe distance the tracers were like a fireworks show. There was another fireworks show every night when another artillery battery would adjust fire for defensive targets on our perimeter using white phosphorous rounds which lit up the sky so that you could see them easily.

During one firefight, the battleship New Jersey was off shore, and she joined us in providing support to the troops in the field. When we talked to her on the radio, it was like listening to a commercial FM station back in the states, compared to the weak hissing and cackling communications we had with individual forward observers with the infantry. When it shoots close support for troops, an artillery battery tells them, “Shot” when the guns fire and “Splash” about five seconds before the rounds hit, so that they know to duck to avoid shrapnel from the friendly fire. When the New Jersey told the troops, “Splash,” everyone in our battery who could, ran outside to try to see the 2,000 pound rounds go off, but we never saw or heard them.175 mm 1

There were some Cobra helicopters stationed on the LZ which would periodically go out and shoot at stuff on our perimeter. Watching the Cobra miniguns fire a solid stream of tracers was pretty impressive. Even more impressive was watching the occasional visit of “Spooky” to shoot around the perimeter. An even bigger column of tracers streamed out of the side of the converted cargo plane. During these operations there were usually loud speakers broadcasting the “Chieu Hoi” invitation to the enemy to surrender.